60 to 100 - Korvold the Value-Cursed King

(Mayhem Devil | Art by Dmitry Burmak)

Jund Food

Welcome to 2020, where Pro Tours and made up and the planeswalker points don’t matter. Here at 60 to 100 we accelerate 60-card constructed decks and bring them into the world of Commander singleton fun!

This time we have a most successful deck, so successful, in fact, that it took Piotr “Kanister” Glogowski to the top of Mythic Championship VII at the end of 2019! The deck he brought to the tournament isn’t anything novel for us Commander players, but certainly was for Standard, where it never seemed to make the push into the top level of decks until Golgowski used the insane value engines of Cauldron Familiar and the great Korvold, Fae-Cursed King to take down all challengers. Let’s take a look at the winning decklist.

I’m not sure a deck has found a way to get so much value from every little detail in a very long while. Mayhem Devil packs a monstrous punch in this deck, triggering off of every time a player sacrifices a permanent. Fabled Passage, Food tokens, even Thrashing Brontodons will trigger the amazing power of the Devil. 

This doesn’t quite get you the best picture of how many triggers there are to track, but as you can tell, once the deck gets rolling it’s near impossible to stop. In 60-card formats like Standard it can be hard to answer whatever the opponent puts in front of you with a single card, but Mayhem Devil really shines. After keeping the board clear for your combat step to down the opponent, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King or a massive Beanstalk Giant come in to finish off the game.

New-World Value

While Standard typically doesn’t have a successful deck playing this type of game plan, Commander decks welcome and embrace this strategy fairly often. After all, Korvold was printed in the Brawl preconstructed decks as a gateway for singleton formats and has been one of the most built decks on EDHREC since its release. Even other EDH decks of the Jund color combination aren’t shy about playing a grindy and value-based strategy before going over the top with a finisher; legends like Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, Kresh the Bloodbraided and even Shattergang Brothers could employ a fair amount of the same cards to drive home this strategy.

Korvold, Fae-Cursed King has a good amount of data we can use to transport Glogowski's deck into Commander. If we use the Brawl deck as a base and previous Jund commanders for more ideas, we can surely come up with a way to appease those value engineers out there.

Cauldron Familiar is a fantastic card for this deck. If you followed the Mythic Championship, you probably saw Glogowski looping Cauldron Familiar with Witch’s Oven to seal several games.

When we look at the scope of these effects though, we get a healthy dose of cards that aren’t just tied to the Familiar's life drain. Staples of these self-sacrifice decks, such as Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat, have been punishing players for years with their ability to ping the table for each death, similar to when the “death kitty” comes into play. Just a few punishing effects like a Mayhem Devil or Blood Artist are enough to quickly discourage anyone was getting too crazy with any of their own sacrifice outlets. They’re not massive effects, but they certainly add up over time to make a big difference.

Creatures dying during a game of Magic isn’t new, and the effects certainly aren’t just limited to pinging the opponents for a bit of damage each time either. In the above Standard decklist, Trail of Crumbs turned every death into an opportunity to accumulate even more advantage over the opponent. In 60-card formats the mana cost can sometimes limit the options that are realistic, meaning cards like Moldervine Reclamation and Vindictive Vampire never get their chance to shine as the mana cost in a quicker game push them out of playability. In Commander however, the name of the game becomes more about resource accumulation rather than resource management, and it becomes easier to slot these bigger effects into a deck.

Commander also gives us a chance to play cards that may have rotated out of Standard that would fit into the overall theme of the deck. Pitiless Plunderer gives a chance to make obscene amounts of mana when you are busy sacrificing your own creatures. Revel in Riches uses the same Treasure generation when your opponents lose their creatures. Diversifying the effects gained from creatures hitting the graveyard gives us multiple routes to victory, branching into additional pathways that weren't available to the 60-card version of the deck, which mostly hit opponents in the face with lots of damage.

One step that we can take to further glean some additions while we convert the deck is to head over to the Themes page on EDHREC and take a look at the theme that screams out to us: Sacrifice. These decks also are on board with every detail of the plan we’ve already set up, which means they'll have other excellent recommendations too. The Themes page continues to be one of the better resources on EDHREC to pare down all the information and get rid of some of the noise that might distract you from trying to get the information you need, and with over 4,800 decks in this theme, there is already a great deal of information for us.

Since Korvold, Fae-Cursed King runs the coop in the Standard version of the deck, putting him at the helm of his own Commander deck seems like a no-brainer here. Putting such a high-impact card in the command zone frees up spots in the 99 for even more high-impact cards in addition to having a naturally powerful card in the command zone ready to go whenever you need. Korvold is currently one of the top commanders on the Sacrifice Theme Page even despite being a fairly new card, already ahead of some legends that would have considered themselves the go-to for this theme. Digging further into the page gives us some great suggestions for how to round out the deck.

One of the most common issues players come into when getting into Commander from other formats is that they may overlook the importance of the resource accumulation aspect of singleton formats. Many content creators and sites will tell you there are certain categories of cards, the 'vegetables' of the deck, that need to be met even though they’re the boring (or at least not the most glamorous) part of building a deck. Mana acceleration is one of the most common of these categories that players can forget about. In this deck, though, it can be fashioned to fit our theme. Things like Springbloom Druid and Solemn Simulacrum are cards that we actively want in our deck, since they either initiate a sacrifice or can be used as fodder themselves; our commander is an expert at turning surplus bodies into a positive impact.

Springbloom Druid, as well as the possibility that Korvold may gobble up some lands, also leads us to recursion engines, as well as a couple of my favorite cards in all of Magic. Ramunap Excavator and World Shaper make sure that, despite us having to sacrifice permanents, we can choose to sacrifice our lands and just replay them right away. This means that we aren’t ever truly setting ourselves back too far and turns the deck into a “all parts of the buffalo” situation, where every card in the deck has multiple uses beyond just the face value presented. It becomes hard for opponents to keep up when there is a constant flood of card advantage just for playing the game!

And with that, let’s look at what this Jund Food deck might look like in EDH with these upgrades.

Korvold and the Cat’s Cradle

View on Archidekt

Commander (1)
Creature (29)
Instants (6)
Sorceries (9)
Artifacts (12)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (39)

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This seems like a fun and powerful deck, fitting of Mr. Glogowski indeed. This isn't one of the hyper-tuned decks you might see at the Commander tables, but is one that you can easily build using the core of the Brawl preconstructed deck and a few upgrades. The crazy part about the deck is that even if your commander takes a few tumbles and gets killed, you're almost rewarded for recasting King Korvold because of his enters-the-battlefield ability.

Some last play notes on the deck:

  • Whisper, Blood Liturgist seems tailor-made for a Korvold deck. The ability to sacrifice a couple creatures to bring back another gives a way to generate an insane amount of value when combined with our commander. If you're able to resurrect an Avenger of Zendikar or even a Tendershoot Dryad, the sacrifice fodder never seems to go away.
  • I really want a Smaug-themed deck around Korvold and Treasure token producers. Revel in Riches seems like a hilariously flavorful pair with any Dragon, and one that lets us sacrifice the Treasures for more value makes it not just a flavorful inclusion, but a legitimately powerful one at that.
  • I've never had a deck that included Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest but this is an incredibly powerful effect for any go-wide deck. In a deck where we want to be sacrificing as much as possible, this can make any unassuming army a very scary one in no time. With Treasure tokens and cards like Goblin Bombardment, we have the potential to make one very large Dragon, or a very large army at his command.

What do you think of the sacrifice theme decks? Has Korvold become the most powerful iteration of these decks, or is there still merit to playing other commanders to carry out the same game plan? I'm intrigued by the Standard version of the deck too, as it seems to get some powerful additions in the form of Woe Strider and even Slaughter-Priest of Mogis. Does the deck survive or thrive with the additions coming from Theros Beyond Death? Let me know in the comments!

Matt is a member of the EDHRECast, representing the 60-card formats and the Timmy's alike. He appreciates bad wordplay as much as a good alpha strike. A diverse nerd, you might also see him maining Lux support in League of Legends as well or on the deadlift platform at the gym.

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