This deck is the result of my friends in my commander playgroup said they would like to play a mono-blue deck. My MTG collection is pretty big, so when I get together with friends I bring a good variety of decks so those new to commander who don’t yet have a deck, or those who want a break from their normal commander, can borrow one of my decks and join in.
I try to aim for building a decks that are somewhere between casual and competitive, so that people who are relatively inexperienced can pick up my deck and navigate it well enough to do something splashy, while keeping the deck complex enough that experienced players have something to sink their teeth into.
So when several of my friends asked if I had a blue commander deck and I didn’t have one for them to play I decided to build one. However this was a conundrum for me. Which mono-blue commander do I choose? While being the most powerful color in Magic, blue is also the most complicated to play correctly. This meant a full on control deck was out. I toyed with the idea of trying to put together blue Voltron, but considering I already have a Ruhan of the Fomori dedicated voltron deck I didn’t want to do another (besides that I also only have one copy of each of the “sword of * and * “ cycle). Then when looking through my binders while trying to build a Lazav, Dimir Mastermind commander deck I came across Stitcher Geralf and realized he was an almost perfect mono-blue commander for my playgroup. His gameplan is instantly grokkable to beginners, he has semi-broken “combo” potential for experienced players and more importantly didn’t force the inexperienced players to play control.
So what’s the “combo”? If you hadn’t guessed from the thread title, it’s Geralf’s ability combined untappers & artifact creature manadorks with Intruder Alarm. Players do the normal thing in the early game and cast untappers & mana dorks to ramp into Geralf and then they play intruder alarm after and go to town. Every time a zombie token enters, it untaps all creatures and then the deck’s manadorks & untappers allow them to make another Zombie token. Soon they’ve assembled a zombie army and can smash face.
When assembling this list I really went back and forth a lot on how to build it, ultimately I decided it was best to try to make roughly one third of the deck creatures to minimize the chance of creating 0/0 tokens after Intruder Alarm is played. It is true that Geralf can combo-mill out with mana dorks, Intruder Alarm and no other creatures ever getting exiled by his ability (he always creates a token even if no creatures are exiled, its just that the token will be a 0/0). Makeing the deck composed of at least 33 creature means that I don’t have to rely on any of my opponents’ decks being creature heavy to assemble an army if the mill plan goes ary. This is why cards like Hypnotic Siren is being played over the more traditional Control Magic and why I’m playing the full cycle of the blue artifact tutor mages, from Trinket Mage to Treasure Mage, over the more common cantrips and the like. Also this deck really has no reliable way to search for Intruder Alarm. I debated putting in Ring of Three Wishes & Planar Portal, But decided that I’d try playing a version with more generic draw spells in their place.
Sorry for the odd formatting, Decklist tags were breaking on me (perhaps because I’m posting in a mobile browser) and I finally gave up and went with card tags.
Hypnotic Siren: The obligatory blue theft effect. I went with the siren because she can always come down as a one drop to help out devotion if needed and I like that she gives the stolen creature a mild pump and flying. Though I wonder if the versatility of Agent of Treachery is still better for this slot?
Phyrexian Dreadnought: I had one and always wanted to find a deck for it, this deck seemed to fit the bill especially since it’s a meaty target for Geralf. Trinket mage can also tutor it up if I have a brainstorm effect or happen to be holding Stifle.
Silver Myr: The closest thing to an ideal mana dork for this deck, too bad there aren’t more colorless 2 drops that fit in this deck, I did toy with the idea of using Deranged Assistant and Plague Myr, but decided that sources that produce blue mana were better, even if they’re 3 drops.
Snapcaster Mage: Not a large hit for Geralf, but still a hit and helps with keeping the deck interactive.
Alloy Myr: A 3 mana manadork that produces blue, not much else to say.
Fatestitcher: Untaps Geralf most of the time, plus it can be the only mana dork the deck needs if it untaps Nykthos Shrine to Nyx when comboing with intruder alarm if there’s enough devotion. The unearth ability is icing on an already good card for this deck.
Glen Elendra Archmage: I looked at a lot of creature based counterspells, this is the only one that I think is good enough for the 99. Voidmage Prodigy might have found a place in this deck as well if I owned a copy since the deck naturally seems to have a lot of Wizards.
Havengul Runebinder: This card seems like it could be a fun anthem effect so I’m trying him out, but I’m still on the fence about including it.
Undead Alchemist: Even though this deck isn’t fully in on the mill plan unless it finds Intruder Alarm, this guy just seemed too nifty to pass up trying.
Vizier of Many Faces: It’s 0/0 stats means it’s a sad Geralf hit, but the truth is that I looked at several clone effects that work from the graveyard like Quasiduplicate and Cackling Counterpart, this card beats those because it can clone any creature, not just ones you control.
Wonder: Never meant to be cast and it is the main reason why the deck runs several looting effect. Who can say no to giving flying to your huge zombies?
Geralf’s Masterpiece: I’m not sure this belongs, it’s in the deck because it’s on the beefier side of creature for Geralf to exile and because it felt correct for flavor reasons.
Glyph Keeper: Mainly here to up the number of cards that are relevant in the graveyard. I don’t know if this 5/3 is worth it, but I’ll try it out.
Magus of the Future Adds a bunch of devotion and card “draw”, as well as being a Geralf hit and letting us get a sneak peak at future hits for our commander.
Archetype of Imagination: Pretty much says “all creatures you control are unblockable” since reach really isn’t a thing in commander.
Soul of New Phyrexia: It’s relevant in the graveyard and gives protection against opposing sweepers when counters are not in hand; it also can let our battlefield swing in fearlessly.
Colossus of Akros: A chonking 10/10 dude for Geralf that treasure mage can also find in the late game to play, because it’s pretty much a given that if this deck has access to 8 mana then it probably can pay for the monstrous cost the next turn.
Emrakul, the Promised End: Largest of all targets in the deck to hit with Geralf’s ability, plus she just felt correct to play in a graveyard based deck with a commander from Innistrad. There’s a total of 6 out of a possible 7 card types to mill, though the deck will most likely only ever have 4 or maybe 5 types in the yard since there’s 4 enchantments (three of them enchantment creatures) and one planeswalker. Still a 13/13 flying, trample mindslaver on a stick for 8 or 9 mana is impossible to pass up.
Notable exclusions and/or Possible Considerations:
(Aka cards I own but have chosen to leave out)
Diluvian Primordial: It seems like it could be great here, but I’m not sure my playgroup’s decks have enough spells to ensure I’d always get value when casting it.
Kederekt Leviathan: Even though it seems great in a graveyard based deck, I’m not sure how often I’d be willing to bounce my own board when there are other non-universal bounces in the deck. Maybe it will come in after I get a chance to actually playtest instead of just goldfishing.
Master Of Waves: While he can really flood the board, my 4 drop slot is crowded already and he doesn’t lend himself well to enter the battlefield trigger abuse with things like Crystal Shard since all his 1/0 tokens die when his anthem ceases to be in effect.
Riftwing Cloudskate: I never was a huge fan of suspended creatures and 5 mana it too much for what will most of the time be a creature bounce spell.
Aethersnipe: While it has a nice 4/4 body, the sorcery speed nature of the card feels clunky.
Karn, Silver Golem: I like that he can turn the mana rocks into creatures so Intruder Alarm can untap them, but in the end he was cut because I felt he had too few targets.
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy: While useful, his 0/2 stats are a miss for Geralf when Comboing, and while a 0/0 token is always enough to trigger Intruder Alarm I feel it’s against the spirit of what the deck is trying to do.
Azami, Lady of Scrolls: There are a lot of Wizards in this deck, but Azami I feel needed to be left out for much the same reason baby jace was, she’s a bad Geralf hit.
Crashing Drawbridge: The only way I could think of to give a huge amount of Zombies haste in mono-blue colors outside of Akroma’s memorial (which is in another deck). I left the drawbridge out because it’s an 0/4, but I might end up testing it anyway sometime in the future since it tutorable with a Tribute mage and fabricate plus it can be retrieved from the graveyard with Buried Ruin. Also it’s ability can be activated the turn I cast it if I have Thousand-Year Elixir on the battlefield.
Laboratory Maniac: Seems like a do-nothing card most of the time and if the deck is combo-ing out then it’s probably going to win with a Zombie horde if not from milling out it’s opponents. Also its not a great when paired with memory of Commit // Memory and Echo of Eons.
Sensei’s Divining Top: I only own one copy and this deck seems like the best choice for it since it cares the most about the top three cards. I’m still undecided about including Evolving Wilds & Terramorphic Expanse in as extra shuffle effects since the deck already has a ton of tutors and the like.
Sol Ring: The most efficient mana rock available outside of moxes and crypts, No explanation needed.
Mind Stone: Settled on this as my 2 drop mana rock because it cycles and can be used to dig a little when I’m doing top deck manipulation with top, jace, brainstorm and the like.
Swiftfoot Boots: It is an awkward commander protection card, but it narrowly beat out Lightning Greaves since shroud works against the deck’s targeted untapping effects.
Crystal Shard: It made the cut because there seems to be enough Enter the Battlefield triggers to make it worth it, also is nice as a form of creature protection. Not to mention the ability to bounce the opponents’ creatures if their controllers are tapped out.
Thousand-Year Elixir: Trying this out, not sure how relevant it will be since I don’t think this deck will ever have enough mana to activate Geralf the turn he’s cast, but it does make the mana dorks and creature based untappers better.
Crucible of worlds: It would be nice to not have to worry about land drops after Geralf gets rolling, but I opted for more Geralf enablers like Thousand-Year Elixir. If I do decide the deck needs it, then Elixir is probably the cut.
Grimoire of the Dead: While in theory it seems a good idea, I’m not sure if my opponent’s graveyards will be well stocked enough after Geralf has raided them to give the Grimoire a slot. It also is a negative that it’s casting cost puts it in the realm where none of the 3 drop tutor mages can grab it.
Mycosynth Lattice and Unwinding Clock. I thought it would be a funny make-your-own Seedborn muse combo, but Lattice I think is probably too easily broken in commander even by your opponents so I decided to leave it out. They might come in if I feel like ditching the combo-mill plan for a zombie beatdown one.
Mana Crypt: Because its amazing and I can never afford it. You may ask “Really, you can’t afford it when you have JTMS, Force of Will as well as a ton of other expensive cards?” My answer to that is while I do have these cards, I didn't buy them. I opened them in packs. I’ve been playing MTG off and on since 4th edition and never could convince myself to sell my collection.
Long Term Plans: I had totally forgot this card existed and then found a copy when looking through a box of unsorted cards in my collection. I just don’t know what to cut to make room, since it seems perfect for the deck. It can find Intruder Alarm at the end of an opponent’s turn which the deck then hopefully scrys, brainstorms, or Sensei’s Divining Tops it to be the next draw and it’s also great if a giant zombie is needed over alarm or if the deck needs to find any card it really wants to mill.
Expel from Orazca: It seems ideal for this deck, I just don’t have a copy and I don’t think it’s in demand enough for my LGS to have it in their stock lists.
Mindbreak Trap and/or Flusterstorm: I don’t own either and while I’d certainly like to have them I’m not sure they’d make the cut. I do have one Storm deck which is an unorthodox Athreos, God of Passage list. I feel if one of my lesser experienced friends is comboing out with that convoluted mess of a deck then I’d kinda feel bad raining on their parade.
Karn, the Great Creator: I briefly thought about using him as a hate piece with the Lattice as a lock, and because his +1 lets Intruder Alarm untap one of my mana rocks , but decided against it.
Boseiju, Who Shelter’s All: I have around 7 copies of Boseiju, so it’s kind of an auto-include in all of my commander decks. It might come out if I grow tired of paying 2 life to activate Geralf.
Buried Ruin: One of the better utility lands, helpful in retrieving any artifact that was accidentally milled, Academy Ruins would be in the deck as well if I owned a copy.
Castle Vantress: It seems like the perfect deck for this, even if it’s effect is somewhat mana hungry to activate.
Cephalid Coliseum: An all-star looter of a land, helping dump Wonder and other graveyard relevant cards that the player has accidentally drawn.
Drownyard Temple: In here in place of a Wastes for Kozilek casting purposes. I thought I’d try it out and see how I like it since it can also be played when milled or discarded.
Geier Reach Sanitarium: Another looting effect that allows the player to dump cards they‘ve drawn and would prefer to have in their graveyard.
Ghost Quarter: A cheap answer to problematic lands that the opponents’ control, I prefer it over Strip Mine because my playgroup doesn’t like land destruction. I would also run Field of Ruin if I had a copy.
Mystic Sanctuary: I’m experimenting with this even though it’s inconvenient when self milling with Geralf. I thought about putting fetchlands like Polluted Delta and Flooded Strand in the deck to be able to fetch this after activating Geralf, but decided that the deck already had too many shuffle effects which slow down the game.
Seat of the Synod: A land that the artifact tutors can grab if a land is what’s needed the most.
Soldevi Excavations: A cheap Scry 1 effect on a sol-land that can be untapped for extra mana with Fatestitcher and the like. I just hope there’s enough islands to not worry about paying for it’s sacrifice cost.
Blighted Cataract and Memorial to Genius: I don’t really think they’re necessary since they cut down on the island count even more, but they could go in if more draw is really needed.
Homeward Path: It doesn’t feel worth playing, since the deck has a lot of bounce effect available to nullify opposing players stealing its threats.
Miren, the Moaning Well: I only have one copy and it’s in another deck, but I could almost see it having a place here as a way to gain life when that’s what’s needed, especially if it’s sacrificing a giant zombie token that is about to die anyway.
Polluted Delta and Flooded Strand: They mostly are not here because I feel this deck already has too many search and shuffle effects, but still it could be useful to fetch Mystic Sanctuary when needed as well as shuffle after brainstorming two useless cards back to the top of the deck (I don’t own any of the enemy fetchlands, otherwise I’d mention them here as well).
Ancient Tomb: It’s mostly not here to minimize on the pain lands, if I find this deck doesn’t really need to worry about opposing counterspells then it would almost certainly replace Boseiju, Who Shelter’s All.
Shelldock Isle: It currently really doesn’t fit, if this deck decided to go much more toward the death by 1000 cuts mill plan rather than combo mill, then I could see it’s inclusion.
Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin: Both are almost appropriate here, but I can’t justify their inclusion when the deck has only two Eldrazi. Eye of Ugin might just about be worth it for it’s activated ability, but it also cannot tap for mana so it would be a spell more than a land and I think drawing it in the early game would just feel bad.
Academy Ruins: Easily one of the most glaring omissions from my list, I might just need to bite the bullet and get a copy.