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Budget Commander: $20 "Plunder the Graves" Upgrade


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You've picked Plunder the Graves as your preconstructed Commander 2015 deck. You like sacrificing creatures to a greater cause. You love the value you get from resurrecting creatures from your graveyard directly to play, every turn, for no mana cost. Now you want to take your first steps upgrading the deck with Meren of Clan Nel Toth at the helm. You've come to the right place.

Let's look at the deck list right out of the box:

While all the Commander 2015 preconstructed decks are fun and playable without any alterations, I must say this list interests me the most. Not only does it have the right amount of lands / ramp / utility / protection / disruption like all the others I've covered, Plunder the Graves also seems the most focused in what it wants to do: sacrifice creatures for value. This dedication is probably because the deck's secondary commander, Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest, has a playstyle that in many ways overlaps with Meren of Clan Nel Toth. There are very few cards that work for Mazirek but not for Meren.

 

Sacrifice For Value

Meren of Clan Nel Toth comes from a long line of Green / Black Sacrifice decks: Karador, Ghost Chieftain, Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, Shattergang Brothers, Savra, Queen of the Golgari, and many others.

What separates Meren from the rest of the pack is she can reanimate a creature in your graveyard for free. Karador, Ghost Chieftain is as close as it gets to this ability, but you must still pay the mana cost to cast the creature from your graveyard. With Meren, not only does your graveyard turn into a secondary hand, you can cast those creatures for free, giving you more things to do each turn!

To get the most out of Meren's ability, we're going to run a creature-heavy deck with a Sacrifice theme. We're going to prefer utility creatures over noncreature spells, and we'll need good sacrifice outlets to add experience counters to Meren. The best cards will be creatures that have built-in methods of sacrificing themselves to do something useful. Sakura-Tribe Elder is pretty much the best ramp card we could ever hope for, though Awakening Zone and From Beyond are similarly amazing.

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Cull the Weak

While most of Plunder the Graves does a great job employing the Sacrifice strategy, some cards either don't fit the theme or just aren't good enough. We have sacrifice outlets that just aren't good in multiplayer (Blood Bairn), creatures we don't want to sacrifice or reanimate (Great Oak Guardian), or cards that aren't up to snuff (Spider Spawning). These cards will be cut to make room for superior upgrades. Here are my recommendations on what to cut first when you're adding in cards:

 

$20 Upgrade

Here are the first cards I would consider. They stick to a creature-heavy Sacrifice theme to make the most use out of Meren of Clan Nel Toth's abilities:

Put it all together and here's a sample $20 upgrade list:

 

 

Here is the deck with the upgrade cards swapped in:

 

No Budget Upgrades

If you want to go all-out upgrading Meren of Clan Nel Toth and money isn't an issue, consider these more expensive upgrades:

As is tradition, I present to you a naughty combo you can win the game with: Phyrexian DevourerNecrotic Ooze + Triskelion. Devourer and Triskelion must be in the graveyard and Ooze on the battlefield. With the Ooze, use the Devourer's ability to exile the top card of your library and put +1/+1 counters on itself, which converts to damage with Triskelion's ability. Keep doing this and BAM! You win! You can also use Devourer's ability to get arbitrarily large and then sacrifice it to Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord to drain all opponents for lethal.

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Three Down, Two to Go!

Next up is the Call the Spirits preconstructed Commander 2015 deck with Daxos the Returned leading the way for silly enchantment shenanigans!


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