Phyrexia: All Will Be One has given MTG players plenty of new Commanders and Commander cards. The set contains 28 new legendary creatures, alongside six additional choices released in the pre-constructed decks and in set boosters. The communities delight over the new Myr commander Urtet, Remnant of Memnarch is mirrored by the wary caution with which the Rules Committee are regarding Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines.
Amidst all of this, one new commander is quietly rising in popularity: Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut. According to data on the Commander deckbuilding website EDHREC Graaz is, at the time of writing, the fifth most popular Commander from the main set. With The pre-release just over a week ago, 393 decks are already listed with Graaz as their commander. This is somewhat surprising as Graaz is an eight-mana colorless card, making it a costly card in a niche archetype. Nevertheless, players seem to have taken a shine to this unstoppable juggernaut and are excitedly brewing decks around the gigantic Mirran menace.
An Unstoppable Strategy
The implied strategy is clear. Fill your deck with colorless creatures which are either mana dorks, like Palladium Myr, or provide ramp, like Solemn Simulacrum. Cards which generate a large number of small artifact creature tokens are also useful. This is especially true if those tokens have flying, or other relevant keyword abilities, like the ones generated by Thopter Assembly. Once you have reached eight mana, bring out Graaz and turn your board of unassuming utility creatures and 1/1 tokens into an army of 5/3 battering rams to overwhelm your opponents.
Cards that can help you get Graaz into play are in high demand here, due to the Juggernaut Commander’s high mana value. Ugin, the Ineffable makes all colorless cards, in other words, all of the cards in your deck, two mana cheaper which is hugely helpful. Forsaken Monument provides an absolutely immense amount of value. The monument gives all of your colorless creatures +2/+2 and gives you an additional colorless mana every time you tap a Waste or another permanent that generates colorless mana. As a bit of extra icing, the monument also gives you two life whenever you cast a colorless spell.
Other useful cards include: All Is Dust a board wipe that only wipes out colored permanent, leaving your board unharmed whilst setting all of your opponents back hugely. Commander’s Plate gives the equipped creature protection from every color and War Room allows you to draw cards without paying any life as your Commander has no colors in their identity. Stonecoil Serpent also shines in this deck. Since the card has default stats of 0/0, Graaz is essentially providing it with a +5/+3 buff, on top of the counters the card gains as it enters play. Trample also allows the serpent to push damage through.
If you’re feeling particularly devilish you can even include a few infect cards like Plague Myr and Ichorclaw Myr. Being buffed to 5/3 means with your commander in play means that these cards can finish off any opponent in two hits.
Quirks of a Colorless Commander
One of the most notable things about Graaz is that it is a Colorless card. Colorless Commanders present an interesting deckbuilding challenge as they significantly limit the cards you can use. While this may seem like a negative thing it also presents an inviting challenge, asking you to make the best deck possible out of a limited pool of cards. In the words of Magic’s chief designer Mark Rosewater, “restrictions breed creativity”.
Your removal options are highly limited, and you’ll need to rely on cards like Meteor Golem, Scour from Existence, and Introduction to Annihilation to get rid of problematic cards.
Colorless decks have their own basic land type in Wastes. The best land bases for Colorless decks often don’t feature many Wastes though. The game has several powerful utility lands which provide colorless mana alongside a positive effect. Examples includeRogue’s Passage, Thespian’s Stage, and Reliquary Tower. In most decks, the colorless mana they generate is a downside. In colorless decks, however, these cards are just as good at generating mana as your Wastes once they are in play.
You also have the option of including the famous “Tron lands“: Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Factory, and Urza’s Power Plant and the new Brothers’ War addition Urza’s Workshop. These lands can generate colorless mana incredibly quickly if they are all in play together, enabling you to race Graaz out. Just make sure you don’t include Command Tower in any colorless decks you build. Your commander having no colors in their identity, means that the tower cannot generate any mana.
There are many popular colorless commanders. The Eldrazi titans are probably the most famous, although Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is banned in the format. EDHREC data indicates that Kozilek, the Great Distortion commands over 5000 decks, as a giant 12/12 which lets you draw a huge number of cards as it enters play it’s easy to see why. Traxos, Scourge of Kroog is another popular choice, with over 2000 decks to its name. Even the very recent card Liberator, Urza’s Battlethopter which debuted in The Brothers’ War already leads more than 1000 decks.
Whether Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut will rise up to join these titans and become a popular colorless commander for the ages, or will eventually peak and drop off in popularity is an open question. One thing is for certain though, Graaz is certainly off to a promising start.