Archetune-Up - A Hunt Most Dire

(Neyith, of the Dire Hunt | Art by Magali Villeneuve)

Hungry Like the Wolf

Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, a weekly article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!

This week, we are on the prowl with one of the most interesting new legends from Jumpstart, Neyith, of the Dire Hunt!

Previously, there have been other commanders that have been able to helm a fight-centric deck before, like Rhonas, the Indomitable, Grothama, All-Devouring, and Ulrich, of the Krallenhorde, but none of them have ever really cared about fighting as a mechanic like Neyith does.

In the past, I have expressed my displeasure for certain commanders who have "Draw a card" tacked onto them for free, which include legends like Chulane, Teller of Tales or Korvold, Fae-Cursed King. These legends already reward players in other ways, and drawing cards off of them them ends up being unnecessarily powerful.

Neyith, on the other hand, draws us cards for being the aggressor and rewards us for getting into brawls with our creatures. Neyith is great because she functions similarly to the Monarch mechanic, which I consider the best-designed multiplayer mechanic of all time. Aggression in Commander should be rewarded with card draw, as it is a strategy that often struggles to keep up with grindy decks, or even the two powerhouse engines I mentioned above.

Being able to trade off creatures and still come out neutral or even ahead on cards is something I am very interested in, so let's take a peek at how the average Neyith Fight deck on EDHREC accomplishes its goal of terrorizing the table!

Average Neyith Fight

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Overall, I really like how this deck looks right off the bat since there aren't any huge, gaping holes in it like some of the average decks. This list has a solid amount of ramp, threats, and card flow, thanks to our commander, and ways to force fighting and blocking. That doesn't mean that there aren't ways to tweak the deck, though, so let's dig into it and see what the Gruul Fight theme has in store for us!

Fight For Your Right to... Fight?

First, I'm going to start off with the creatures. These are going to be split into two sections I aptly called "Fighty Friends", and "Non-Fighty Friends". I'm not always the most creative, okay? ?‍♂️

Starting off the list of combative creatures are Territorial Allosaurus and Polyraptor.

Territorial Allosaurus is a solid creature all around. At four mana, Allosaurus is a 5/5 Dino that gums up the board, and for seven mana, it enters the battlefield and fights another creature! While it doesn't seems that flashy at first blush, I think it is worth its spot. I normally wouldn't include a creature whose baseline is just a vanilla 5/5, but in this deck, having creatures with good power/toughness is important since we'll often be dictating fights/combat. I'm much more inclined to consider including creatures that have over-statted bodies in this deck since their stat lines are so integral; creatures like Leatherback Baloth or Gigantosaurus come to mind in particular here.

Unlike the efficient creatures above, the next card is the antithesis of a creature whose mana cost does not reflect its stats. Polyraptor will create a copy of itself whenever it is dealt damage, meaning it is a perfect target for Neyith to Lure into a combat. Polyraptor is especially deadly with other fight cards since you can creature multiple Raptors in a single turn! When you add Gruul Ragebeast to the mix, things get nutty, as it forces your new Polyraptor tokens to fight an opponent's creature when they enter the battlefield, which will then make a token, which will then force it to fight... which will continue this loop until all applicable creatures are dead, giving the deck an easy (and oppressive) way to consistently keep the board clear! This Raptor is always waiting to be broken, and I'm glad this deck gives it another home to do so.

Fighting isn't the only way we get to draw cards. Forcing our opponent to block is important, too, and Sunder Shaman helps with that admirably. Much like the Territorial Allosaurus, it is a solidly-costed creature, being a 5/5 for four mana. What's particularly nice about this Giant is that only one creature can block it at a time, preventing it from being swarmed with blockers and overwhelmed in combat! This can force opponents into trading off their creatures one by one with the Shaman if they have no good blockers, and also puts their artifacts and enchantments in jeopardy as well!

Golden Guardian has always been a card I've wanted to use, and it is perfect for this deck. Neyith will draw us a card whenever a creature of ours fights, even if it fights another one of our own creatures! This means that when we want to flip Golden Guardian, not only will we get a land that taps for two mana and can churn out 4/4s, but we will also draw a card! This isn't anything groundbreaking, but it definitely is right at home in this list, as we are always in the market for ways to fight and more ways to add bodies to the board.

Something, Something, Don't Talk About Fight Club

The last three creatures are ones that don't care directly about fighting or being in combat, but have a lot of synergy with the deck and help up move our gameplan forward in their own ways while also doubling as good combatants in their own right.

Skullwinder is a card that I love dearly, and it also lets us look at what this deck wants from a slightly different angle. In this deck, Skullwinder is a much better Eternal Witness, even if it does give our opponent a card, too. Why is that? Well, having deathtouch makes all the difference in this deck. Any fight spell now becomes a Murder, and will still draw us a card, which is awesome. While I didn't add a whole lot of deathtouchers to the deck, that is a possible route to pursue since there are around 40 creatures with deathtouch that can fit into a Neyith deck.

Soul of the Harvest is in the deck thanks to its sizable trampling body and the ability to draw us cards when our creatures enter the battlefield. Netting two cards per creature between Soul of the Harvest and Neyith lets the deck keep up with the rest of the table and allows it to be a bit reckless with trading creatures off. Having trample on Soul is incredible as well, so if we ever decide to let it attack, we can choose to double its power and take a huge chunk out of an opponent's life total! Utility and brawn!

Lastly, we have Elder Gargaroth. Gargaroth, on top of being one of the most egregious designs since Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath (gosh, that was only January? That seems like forever ago ?), fits great into this list. Though, let's be honest, with that many lines of text, it would be stranger if it wasn't great here. Much like Soul of the Harvest, Gargaroth draws us cards and tramples... while also making us tokens to fight with... and gaining us life to stabilize ourselves with... and also has vigilance to stay back on defense... and reach to knock fliers out of the sky.... While I hate this card's design, there is honestly no reason to not include it into the deck. It does everything we want and more, and all for just five mana. Ugh.

Tracking the Stragglers

Finally we make it to the noncreature spells I added to the deck. There are only three, but I think each of them is right at home in a Neyith deck.

As returning readers to my series know by now, Negate is a card that I will inevitably force into any blue deck. Due to our distinct lack of blue, I had to add a different card to compensate: Deflecting Swat. Swat is not a strict 1-for-1 substitution for Negate, but it does provide a degree of control over situations that you would otherwise be helpless against. Targeted abilities like draw, life loss, removal, and extra turn spells can all be redirected wherever you see fit, whether it is towards yourself or at an opponent! I love being able to interact with the stack, and having a potentially free way to do so is something I am loathe to be without.

Fiery Emancipation is the second card this year to triple an effect. Call me a curmudgeon after my Elder Gargaroth angst, but I'm not the biggest fan of Fiery Emancipation or its cousin, Nyxbloom Ancient, either. Triple is a lot. I mean, A LOT. Fiery Emancipation is just overkill. I want games to end as much as anyone else, but Emancipation is a very heavy-handed way of doing it. Much like Elder Gargaroth though, it is too good not to include in our deck. Emancipation ensures that almost nothing survives combat with our creatures, whether it is through fighting, blocking, or otherwise. Our 3/3s can now trade with 9/9s, and also draw us a card, too! Yikes. That is horrifying, especially when we add in trample and double power to the mix. Fiery Emancipation is a messed-up card, and for your sake, I hope that you see it on your side of the field more often than on an opponent's.

Since I've been going over absurdly busted cards, let's just look at an absurd one.

Guild Feud is an expensive (and at times, volatile) enchantment from Return to Ravnica that is about the same price as a gumball. While awful in 99.573% of all decks ever made, Guild Feud is perfectly at home here. Feud has the ability to potentially get us a creature into play for free, and potentially kill whatever creature your opponent cheated into play, and also draw us a card with Neyith to boot! While those are a lot of variables, I just couldn't help myself; I had to add it to the deck. Guild Feud is a lot of work for a red version of Phyrexian Arena, but after Elder Gargaroth and Fiery Emancipation, I needed a palette cleanser. I think Guild Feud is a fun card for this list, and while it isn't as flashy as the cards above, it is nice to see an incredibly niche rare from when I started playing Magic finally have a deck to call its own... even if it is still shaky at best.

Cull the Meek, Trample the Weak

Neyith of the Dire Hunt is the legend that caught my attention the most when Jumpstart was first previewed, and I soon plan on assembling my own deck with her. I appreciate her ability to reward aggression, along with interesting lines of play thanks to often-unused cards. Neyith carves out a sweet space in Gruul that even a spellslinger like myself is interested in playing with, and those are the kind of legends I always have my eyes out for.

I am very appreciative of legendary creatures that give archetypes new room to spread out in, especially if you are able to use fun, niche cards. Neyith also gives us multiple ways of looking at problems and situations, often allowing us to think from a different angle, like I mentioned with Polyraptor and Skullwinder. I really like Neyith and her design, along with all of the designs of the Jumpstart hybrid legends. I hope we see more of these kinds of creatures in the later half of this year, especially with Commander Legends around the corner. More Neyiths, and fewer Chulanes would be a boon for our format.

What is your opinion, though? Are you a fan of the more smashy-smashy Gruul, or does Neyith intrigue you as well? Maybe you have some interesting tech for her? Make sure to let me know down below!

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to reach me, I’m active on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.

A Dire Situation

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Angelo is a Connecticut resident who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. Along with Commander, he loves Limited, Cube, and Modern, and will always put his trust in counterspells over creatures. He is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation's rotation out of Standard.

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