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MtG Commander Decklist: Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

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Hello Commander players, and welcome to another Jake Petersen Original™ decklist! Today, I’ll be showing off my Ruric Thar, the Unbowed Creature-only Commander deck. First, I’ll begin with a breakdown of the Commander:

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Ruric Thar is an incredibly linear commander. He encourages you to play lots of creatures in order to get around his steep penalty for playing anything else. Additionally, being forced to attack each turn means that your commander will be constantly putting itself in harm’s way. The vigilance sightly makes up for this glaring flaw. 6/6 is a good size for him, making him a an unassisted 4-turn kill for Commander damage and ensuring that it will at least be able to take down a lot with him if is forced to swing into a powerful field. The most important power on Ruric Thar, however, is what he does to opponents who try to play noncreatures. Given the number of powerful-to-broken artifacts, enchantments, and spells there are running about in most metagames, Ruric Thar can do some serious damage even when not attacking. Hell, it’ll cost an opponent 6 life to even remove him from the board to eliminate the effect! Additionally, you can target his damage at planeswalker cards, killing or crippling them in one blow. Overall, Ruric is an eye-catching commander, and he demands an answer lest he ruin all your opponents’ days.

As to the rest of the deck, I’ve concocted a list composed almost entirely of creatures and lands. Thankfully, the deck can still function as well as most decks which aren’t as limited in card choice, with the wealth of utility creatures available, and a few utility lands. Play Ruric Thar if you revel in the simple beauty of the Red Zone, or want to play a creature-only build, an experience you won’t often have in Commander. This deck’s main weaknesses are Wrath of God effects and its utter lack of interaction on the stack, meaning that it can’t stop spell based strategies (besides hitting the caster for 6 if Ruric Thar is out). I’ll start my breakdown with…

The Baseline: Ramp Creatures

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The first part of most Commander games is spent ramping up your mana, so that the game can progress more quickly to… whatever it is that you want to do. Ruric Thar accomplishes this through the use of a small army of mana dorks (creatures that can tap for mana) like the classic Llanowar Elves, Greenweaver Druid, and Drumhunter (which also nets you cards) and creatures which fetch lands out of your deck, such as Farhaven Elf, Frontier Guide, and Krosan Tusker. Oracle of Mul Daya deserves special mention here, since it both gets extra lands onto the field, and it gets you through land pockets on the top of your library, meaning you’re more likely to draw creatures to play with your extra mana. Finally, there’s Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger, who doubles your mana, cuts your opponents’ ability to get mana, and tramples to boot. However, it’s best if you get use out of him the turn you drop him, because he probably won’t survive to your next turn because of the huge threat and annoyance he brings to the table.

The Beatsticks: Large Creatures

Ah, the simple beauty of “The Red Zone”, aka attacking people. This set of creatures is here to attack people and speed up the game as much as possible, preferably speeding it into your victory. All of these creatures can be easily substituted out for other large creatures, depending on user preference.

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Most of these creatures are pretty self-explanatory large beaters. However, there are a few good interactions worth noting. Vigor makes the Red Zone a much safer place for your creatures, and makes your opponents a LOT less likely to block your creatures, since it will only make them bigger. Use this fear to your advantage and swing away! Rubblehulk is a great combat trick if you hold it back in your hand (although I often find it more fun to play it as a creature). Engulfing Slagwurm and Moldgraf Monstrosity also discourage blocking quite nicely. Blightsteel Colossus, the “one-shot robot”, makes an appearance here as the massive top end of the mana curve. Finally, there’s Hamletback Goliath and Scute Mob, both of which can reach indescribably massive power with little to no input from you. With the variety of methods to give them Trample or unblockability, they can annihilate players in one blow in the middle and late game.

Up to 11: Buffing Your Creatures

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In a deck as saturated with creatures as Ruric Thar, making them better is a must. Use Kessig Wolf Run, Skarrg, the Rage Pits, and Skarrg Guildmage to give your large creatures, many of which lack trample, trample. Another big problem with the deck is the fact that board wipe spells like Wrath of God will completely wreck your day. To counteract that unfortunate weakness, there are a few creatures which grant haste on a massive scale, ensuring that you’ll get at least one attack out of your creatures. Spearbreaker Behemoth provides even more protection against board wipes. Finally, there’s Craterhoof Behemoth, which can often end games on its own, with the high number of mana dorks leading to a huge alpha strike to everyone at the table.

Red (and Green) vs Blue: Anti-Counter Cards

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In the metagame I play the most Magic in (my university’s Magic Club), Blue-based control decks are one of the most common archetypes seen at the EDH tables. To counteract them, I run this suite of anti-countermagic cards to allow me to play my creatures without interruption. If your meta is not as control heavy as mine, I recommend swapping in some more large beatsticks.

Card Draw, Tutor, and Cheating in Creatures

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More cards is always a good thing in EDH, and this group of creatures is a great way to get them. Zoologist has great synergy with Mul Daya Channelers and Oracle of Mul Daya, providing virtual card advantage. Heartwood Storyteller is a great Group-Hug style card, which can help keep some of the hate off of you in the early game; it doesn’t cede your opponents any cards from your actions, meaning that you get to draw cards off of every activation of the ability, eking out the slightest bit of advantage for yourself. Finally, Garruk’s Horde is a godsend when you’ve run out of cards in your hand, a very likely occurrence given the aggressive nature of the deck.

Fight to the Death: Creature Removal

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Unfortunately, creature and land based creature removal is hard to find in Red and Green, but the fight mechanic (two creatures deal damage to each other equal to their power) provides a great answer. Arena is particularly good, since you can use it even if your creature is tapped. Sure, your opponent gets to choose what creature of his will fight, but with this deck, you’re very likely to have at least one creature that’s bigger than anything they have. Silklash Spider takes care of flying annoyances, and Flameblast Dragon can take care of annoying creatures (or players, if you have enough mana).

Back to Nature: Noncreature Removal

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Artifacts, enchantments, planeswalkers, and nonbasic lands need taking care of, and these are just the guys to do it. Sylvan Primordial deserves special mention here, since it also ramps incredibly well.

The Coup de Grace: Primal Surge

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Primal Surge is the only noncreature spell. If you resolve it (and nobody has a fog), you just win that turn, with all the haste-giving effects, with Craterhoof Behemoth and Rampaging Baloths producing 20+ HUGE/HUGE tokens, on top of all the other creatures entering play that turn.

The List:

Commander:

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

Creatures (58):

Joraga Treespeaker
Llanowar Elves
Frontier Guide
Zhur-Taa Druid
Borderland Ranger
Farhaven Elf
Fertilid
Fyndhorn Elder
Greenweaver Druid
Krosan Tusker
Mul Daya Channelers
Somberwald Sage
Yavimaya Elder
Drumhunter
Oracle of Mul Daya
Elvish Aberration
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
Scute Mob
Hydra Omnivore
Rampaging Baloths
Rubblehulk
Vigor
Wurmcoil Engine
Engulfing Slagwurm
Giant Adephage
Hamletback Goliath
Moldgraf Monstrosity
Skarrg Goliath
Worldspine Wurm
Blightsteel Colossus
Skarrg Guildmage
Hellraiser Goblin
Ogre Battledriver
Urabrask the Hidden
Spearbreaker Behemoth
Craterhoof Behemoth
Gaea’s Herald
Dosan the Falling Leaf
Spellbreaker Behemoth
Fierce Empath
Heartwood Storyteller
Mwonvuli Beast Tracker
Elvish Piper
Zoologist
Clone Shell
Garruk’s Packleader
Soul of the Harvest
Garruk’s Horde
Ulvenwald Tracker
Silklash Spider
Flameblast Dragon
Gruul Ragebeast
Dwarven Miner
Viashino Heretic
Wickerbough Elder
Acidic Slime
Indrik Stomphowler
Sylvan Primordial
Terastodon

Lands (40):

Arena
Kessig Wolf Run
Rogue’s Passage
Skarrg, the Rage Pits
A bunch of Mountains and Forests

Sorcery (1)

Primal Surge

 

And that’s my Ruric Thar, the Unbowed Commander deck! Did you like it? Dislike it? Did you find any glaring card omissions in the list? Tell me about it in the comments below, or send me an email at Jake@Geekenstein.com!

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Jake Petersen

I am an avid video gamer and player of Magic: The Gathering. If you want to discuss either, or my articles, leave a comment or contact me at JakePPetersen@gmail.com. I love interfacing with fans, so feel free to hit me up.
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  • Andy B

    Good decklist sounds like a blast to play, Mold Shambler could be nice as an extra Planeswalker killspell, or Brutalizer Exarch.

    • Jake Petersen

      Thanks Andy! I’ve had the chance to play it some more. As expected, it folds to any amount of removal, but there’s always some visceral fun to casting huge creatures and seeing if they stick. I considered Mold Shambler, but eventually decided that there were better things that I wanted to be doing with my six-drop slot. Brutalizer Exarch definitely deserves another look, however. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Andy B

    Fair point a 3/3 isn’t the ideal P/T in that spot and at least B.E can tutor to the top of the deck or tuck troublesome artifacts / planeswalkers, I’d give this a go if I had the cards:/ I will probably cobble together a Standard or Modern deck with him in at some point as he’s just too cool not to build around.