Conditions Allow - Chevill, Bane of Monsters
(Chevill, Bane of Monsters | Art by Yongjae Choi)
Welcome back to EDHREC and Conditions Allow, the series where I build around commanders with a drawback and turn it into a strength. This week I'm diving into the wilderness of Ikoria for the first time. Every good expedition needs a guide, and I've carefully selected someone with a lot of experience facing the many dangers of this plane: Chevill, Bane of Monsters.
Chevill, Bane of Monsters is the third card in all of Magic to mention bounty counters. Similar to Mathas, Fiend Seeker, whenever a creature with a bounty counter on it dies, Chevill, Bane of Monsters will let you draw a card and gain some life. Unlike Mathas, however, Chevill's effect only has you draw a card, not anyone else. Also, Chevill, Bane of Monsters can only place a bounty counter on an opponent's creature, and only if there are no other bounty counters on permanents.
This means you can't use The Ozolith to keep extra bounty counters floating around. Chevill, Bane of Monsters wants you to take things slow, prepare for the beasts you are hunting, and slowly wear them down until they can't fight back anymore.
Finding the Trail
To do that, however, Chevill will need a little help. He may be the thing that draws us cards, but something else is going to have to do the actual killing. Looking at Chevill, Bane of Monsters's EDHREC page, Ravenous Chupacabra and Bounty Hunter are both popular options, appearing in well over 50% of decks. Slightly less popular is Avatar of Woe. Bounty Hunter is the only other card that allows us to put bounty counters on creatures, doubling our ability to draw cards per turn cycle. Avatar of Woe is also very strong. Its cost reduction can kick in much faster than you'd expect, and then it can quickly start picking off bounties.
Viridian Longbow also appears at the top of Chevill's page. This Equipment gives Chevill, Bane of Monsters the ability to reach out and destroy his target himself, since he has deathtouch. Leyline Prowler, Poison-Tip Archer, and even Vampire Nighthawk all appear on Chevill's EDHREC page as well, suggesting that deathtouch tribal might become a common theme for this commander. Let's check out the Deathtouch Theme page to see if this is a path worth pursuing.
Chevill also reminds me slightly of Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons. They both gain value by putting counters on creatures. Maybe we can find cards on her page that don't show up on Chevill's yet.
A Cleric You Can Count On
Let's start with Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons. She comes down early, just like Chevill, Bane of Monsters, and can easily pick off value creatures early in the game with just a few -1/-1 counters. Proliferating bounty counters doesn't make us draw more cards, but it can quickly build a Snake army that will dominate the battlefield. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician can Proliferate if a couple of creatures already have -1/-1 counters, or he can put out counters of his own if you'd rather spend mana on other things. If the resulting 1/1 Snake tokens don't cut it for you, consider Ivy Lane Denizen to make your field much more threatening.
The perfect card for Chevill, Bane of Monsters, however, is Generous Patron. This card is obviously bonkers with Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons in play, not to mention Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, but it's still plenty strong with just Chevill. Every upkeep you'll draw an extra card, doubling the draw potential of your commander. This is very powerful in a slow, grindy deck. Your card draw won't be explosive enough to draw immediate attention, and is easily disrupted enough to not become distracting. Slow, innocuous, but steady card advantage is what will win games with Chevill, Bane of Monsters, and Generous Patron is the perfect card to make this commander start ticking.
Don't Touch Me!
Shifting over to the Deathtouch Theme Page to see if we can find any more hidden gems. Glissa, the Traitor strikes me as another commander with some similarities to Chevill, Bane of Monsters. She gains value when an opponent's creature dies by returning an artifact from your graveyard to your hand. This could be Executioner's Capsule, to continually destroy the creature you put a bounty counter on, or Soul-Guide Lantern, to make sure those creatures really stay dead. You can even rescue bigger artifacts, including Noxious Gearhulk and Wurmcoil Engine. My favorite card from Glissa's page, by far, is Triangle of War.
Much like Ulvenwald Tracker, Triangle of War gives you the ability to fight a creature at the moment that best suites you. Deathtouch creatures, like Skullwinder or Acidic Slime, are particularly good at fighting since they can trade up with pretty much any creature. With Glissa, the Traitor in play, you will immediately get Triangle of War back into your hand and repeat the process again. Vigor isn't on Glissa's page, but Questing Beast is, to ensure your damage can't be prevented. Depending on how much you want to focus on artifacts, Salvaging Station is a backup effect to continually recycle Triangle of War.
Finding Value in What you Have
This quick search has provided a nice outline for Chevill, Bane of Monsters which you can take in a couple of different directions. Whether you focus on artifacts with Glissa, the Traitor or creatures or fighting, there are a couple more cards to keep in mind.
I've already mentioned the importance of card advantage for decks that play the long game, but it's always the part I forget about so I'm going to mention it again. Underrealm Lich is particularly relevant here. Not only does it put two cards into your graveyard with every draw, but it can easily be given indestructible, so it's pretty good in a fight, too. Ohran Frostfang plays into the deathtouch theme and is a very strong source of card advantage. Guardian Project is another popular choice, but I think Path of Discovery is worth considering as well. It helps smooth our land drops and hopefully pulls lands off the top of your deck so you draw useful cards more often, especially in the late game.
Monarch is another great source of card advantage that adds a fun, unique element to every game it appears in. Having the Monarch in play will also encourage your opponents to play creatures and attack, which will give you creatures to place bounty counters on as often as possible. I've been including cards that create a Monarch in more and more decks lately, but I think that this is a place where the mechanic can really shine.
Finally, Revel in Riches. I've said a couple of times that this deck wants to play slow and wear its opponents down, but this card flies in the face of that. Depending on the exact cards in the deck, Revel in Riches can win very quickly. Even if you don't use this enchantment to win quickly, however, the extra mana from the Treasure tokens will ensure that you have the resources to handle any threat that your opponents can throw at you.
Without any further ado, here is my initial take on Chevill, Bane of Monsters.
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
I opted to focus on a few creatures for this list. Meren of Clan Nel Toth seemed like too much value to pass up, especially with all the fighting this deck can do. Thorn Mammoth seems very fun with the tokens from Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, but you might opt for Apex Altisaur for the top end of your curve. Yeva, Nature's Herald is another way to fight at instant speed with Somberwald Stag and Temur Sabertooth.
Overall, I aimed for flexibility. Chevill, Bane of Monsters is an open-ended commander who can support any number of Golgari's favorite strategies. He led me on a very entertaining hunt through EDHREC's theme and commander pages. If I had thought of different commanders first, though, I could have ended up with a very different deck. Toshiro Umezawa appears on Chevill's page, which could lead to a spellslinger style deck. Chevill, Bane of Monsters also seems like a great place for Aristocrat strategies similar to Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest.
Let me know in the comments what deck Chevill, Bane of Monsters makes you want to build, or what cards you want to play with this brand new commander.