General Medicine — Savra's Supreme Sacrifice Engine
Welcome back friends to another edition of General Medicine! Today we’re taking a look at a two-color deck very much built around the commander championing it, Peter’s brew of Savra, Queen of the Golgari! But before we get into the list and a preliminary diagnosis, I want to expand upon the color pairing in general.
Golgari in EDH
I certainly believe that Golgari is fantastic in EDH. Though blue could well be the single best color in the format and in Magic in general, neither green nor black are slouches. Green offers the format’s best ramp options, and black has what some consider to be the second best card draw ability, after blue, and by far the best tutoring options available. Combined, these two are a force to be reckoned with at any table.
On top of that, Golgari is spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a commander, with many powerful options. Meren of Clan Nel Toth is very rightfully one of the most popular commanders on this site, since she’s very powerful and can helm any grindy value engine with ease. Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord can either work as a kind of Voltron build, or combo the table into oblivion. Nath of the Gilt-Leaf can shut out opponents by forcing them to discard and at the same time generate value from the discard effects. The list goes on and on, and I didn’t even mention the plethora of other grindy value engines that are often but not always utilize the graveyard – The Gitrog Monster, Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, Glissa, the Traitor, and who knows – maybe even Slimefoot, the Stowaway will prove popular enough to usurp some of these choices.
My point is that Golgari is in many ways simply fantastic in the format, and this time we’re taking a look at a personal favorite of mine, a monarch of the color pair obviously – Savra, Queen of the Golgari.
We will begin by taking a glance at the list at hand. Peter’s brew looks like this:
Savra Edicts for daysView on Archidekt
Link to the deck on Deckstats.net: CLICK!
We can conclude from the list at hand that we already have a pretty functioning list as-is. We’ve got a nice mana curve going, there are ten or so ramp cards (eleven if you count Ashnod’s Altar), ten card draw cards, and a slew of great removal to work with almost anything our opponents can throw at us, provided we’ve got somewhat the correct answer to the threats presented. There are some sub-opimal choices, however, and some notable exclusions that I want to address, and we can work both of these angles to make a more consistent and reliable deck.
One issue with Savra, Queen of the Golgari is that, as a commander, she is pretty high maintenance. Though powerful, she requires not only a sacrifice outlet on the battlefield ready to go, she also needs another creature, preferably black, to be truly effective. One can sacrifice Savra, Queen of the Golgari to herself and get the double effect, but the command tax adds up very quickly in this case. We’ll try to address this as well in this analysis.
The EDHREC Take
When inputting Peter’s list into the site, we're provided a great sampling of suggestions. Most notably, the other “Grave Pact effects” show up very early on. While Peter didn’t quite specify a budgetary restriction, the eponymous card in this case is at the time of writing a cool $20 to purchase and even the previously inexpensive Dictate of Erebos is getting up there at $6! One can still count on Butcher of Malakir, however, at a measly 35 cents, to be affordable to anyone playing the format.
Another inclusion which EDHREC suggests to us is the no less than amazing Viscera Seer who definitely belongs in the deck. Merciless Executioner the almost-functional reprint of Fleshbag Marauder (the latter has a more relevant creature type, though not in this deck) is suggested, and we’re going to add that as well. A lot of lands are suggested as well, and while I don’t intend to poke around too much in the mana base of this deck – we’ve got more than enough ramp and fixing to work with basics for most games – I will say that Bojuka Bog belongs in every deck that can run it. The cost of having it coming into play tapped is well worth it to nuke somebody else’s graveyard, since a well-timed Bojuka Bog will ruin many graveyard-based strategies. Considering we’re essentially running a pseudo-Grave Pact as our commander, the graveyards will be stacked!
One of my own personal favorites in these types of decks doesn’t show up until way further down, and another isn’t even on the list. This means it’s time for the doc’s take!
The Doc’s Take
I quite like grindy decks in EDH that generate value incrementally over the course of a game. I’ve played Meren of Clan Nel Toth a lot in the past, and my local play scene is well aware of what happens if they allow my Dragonlord Ojutai to sit back and draw cards for too long (everybody learns lessons from The Great Teacher is what happens).
One of my personal favorites in these kinds of decks, and a personal favorite of mine in the format as a whole, is Phyrexian Reclamation which definitely belongs in this deck. Another simple inclusion that is both misunderstood and underplayed in the format is Diligent Farmhand. Some get stuck at the Muscle Burst rider, but we can leave that bit of the card aside. One mana to cast, two mana to sacrifice and get another land is worse than Sakura-Tribe Elder but better than Dawntreader Elk since the mana costs are flipped correctly for the early build-up of our board. The lower toughness of Diligent Farmhand means it can be Skullclamped without needing assistance from another sacrifice outlet, which is nice in a pinch. Though Diligent Farmhand is green and thus doesn’t synergize that well with our commander, it will work with other Grave Pact effects, as well as with Harvester of Souls and other sacrifice-for-value effects we’ll have.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel, aka "Gary", is a boring inclusion to be sure, but an effective one. We’ll need to be able to close out games after grinding value for long enough, and Gary is a good addition to Kokusho, the Evening Star who is already in the deck, so it can be included if needed.
Lastly, Living Death is a pretty hilarious finisher as well, though it needs to be played carefully. If other decks are getting their graveyards filled (which they will), this could be troublesome for us. If played correctly, however, Living Death can, and sometimes almost automatically will, generate enough of an advantage to either finish the game outright or create a board state which is nigh-impossible to catch up to.
The Ins and Outs
We’re going to focus on mostly improving the overall card quality of the deck, and make some new inclusions to the deck that will improve the overall strategy while not cutting too deeply into the patient.
ChangesView on Archidekt
Most of the cards that I’ve chosen to include are strict upgrades to cards I’ve chosen to exclude. Harmonize is a fine card, but Disciple of Bolas adds to the overall strategy of the deck and gives us a few life points to boot. Explosive Vegetation is also fine but as our very own Dana Roach points out in his latest In the Margins article, there are better options. A couple I’ve chosen to include in this deck are Diligent Farmhand, Deathrite Shaman and Yavimaya Elder. The latter might not ramp us, but it generates a lot of card advantage for the mana cost, and we’re on an intrinsically grindy plan, so we can afford to run a bit less on the straight mana ramp. Putrefy is a pretty great card, but I’ve chosen to include Beast Within as it is more flexible in what permanents you can destroy and the beast token should rarely matter aside the rare cases where our opponents get to keep something better they’d have if we’re lacking in Grave Pacty triggers. It deals with stuff like planeswalkers, which we can’t touch outside hitting them with our creatures. Reclamation Sage is fantastic, but Caustic Catterpillar triggers with dies effects, and Acidic Slime is broader – both of those are kept instead. Champion of Stray Souls and Mycoloth are both cards I’ve played with myself but never liked. Both are slow and will force a huge down payment before they actually do something, and I’ve never seen either really do anything at a table.
In the “OTHER” section I’ve chosen to include some quite expensive cards that all would fit the deck like a glove, and a couple of cards that just didn't make the cut. Any of these could and probably should be included, if the means to get them are there.
The Final Iteration
With these changes done, we’re left with this list:
Savras Supreme Sacrifice EngineView on Archidekt
Link to the deck on Deckstats: CLICK!
We’ve got a pretty awesome Savra, Queen of the Golgari build going, with some more creatures included, and with a bigger focus on what we’re really trying to do – sacrifice our own stuff and generate card advantage. I hope Peter is happy with my take in his deck, and that you, dear readers, have enjoyed the article. Are there any cards that you think belongs in the deck that I didn’t mention? Leave a comment, and help Peter out with his brew!
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