Growing Threat - Upgrade Guide

Growing Threat
(Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos | Art by Uriah Voth)

Are You Threatening Me?

Hello again, this is Lenny from the Scrap Trawlers and I'm back with an upgrade guide for the Growing Threat deck from March of the Machine. Before we charge in and start wreaking some havoc with the commander, let's do some recon on that precon.

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Growth Spurt

Leading the deck is a cool Phyrexian Cat by the name of Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos. Brimaz wants to see you casting Phyrexians or artifact creatures and rewards you for doing so with an Incubator token with +1/+1 counters equal to the spell's mana value. For two generic mana, you can transform these into 0/0 creatures. He also Proliferates at each end step if a Phyrexian died under your control that turn. All this is slapped on a 3/4 body wrapped in a four mana package. Brimaz wants you casting creatures and making them die to grow his Incubators, or whatever else you want to add to the deck. Like Edgar Markov, Brimaz rewards you for casting a specific creature type with more creatures, though these can be bigger and come with an extra step. Speaking of steps, that Proliferate on the end step has serious Atraxa, Praetors' Voice energy. Much like Atraxa, Brimaz can support a variety of strategies and I think he has the potential to be a powerful commander, though not among the most powerful out there.

As I mentioned in my previous article, this deck needs some work. While Moira and Teshar are arguably more powerful, I'll be sticking with Brimaz as he won't be as easy to "solve." That average mana value of 4.1 needs to be cut down, and the deck desperately needs some more ways to draw cards. I also want some ways to maximize that Proliferate trigger by adding some sacrifice outlets and some alternative means of acquiring sacrifice fodder. In order to make some room, we're cutting some of the expensive removal pieces along with that Golem subtheme.

Growing the Growing Threat

First of all, we need to shore up the card craw in this deck. After all, how are we supposed to spread the glory of Phyrexia if we run out of Phyrexians to spread it? Like Night's Whisper, Infectious Inquiry is a no-strings-attached way to draw a few cards. The difference is that this one gives each opponent a Poison counter, which we could Proliferate each turn. I get why they might not include this in a precon, but when we're upgrading, card draw with a win condition tacked on is just too good to ignore. I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of Brimaz decks adopting this card.

Idol of Oblivion is a low-cost way to draw cards as long as we can make tokens, which our commander can do. Deadly Dispute can be used to cash in an unneeded Incubator token or creature for some extra cards, and Morbid Curiosity can turn one of our higher costed cards into a full hand. The adorable Towashi Guide-Bot takes advantage of all the Modified creatures we're going to have and benefits from the artifact synergies in the deck.

Brimaz has the potential to trigger a Proliferate on each turn, but unfortunately the precon doesn't have many sacrifice outlets to make this happen and most of the ones it does have are limited by needing to tap. I want those Incubator tokens to be huge, so I'm throwing in some better sacrifice outlets along with some Phyrexian token production to make sure we have something to sacrifice. Flesh-Eater Imp is a free sacrifice outlet with both evasion and Infect. It can take out a player on its own, but landing even one hit on an opponent means they'll have Poison counters. I know I complained about the sacrifice outlets that needed to tap in the deck, but Aron, Benalia's Ruin is showing up in 59% of the Brimaz decks on EDHREC and I think those folks are onto something. Adding counters to each creature alongside proliferating is going to add up quick. With the deck making giant artifact creatures, Ruthless Technomancer is a great fit. It sacrifices a creature when it comes in and the Incubators can be sacrificed to bring creatures back, especially something low power and high cost like Darksteel Splicer.

To support our additional sacrifice outlets, we're going to need additional fodder so we aren't constantly sacrificing the Incubators we're trying to grow. Mite Overseer allows us to spend mana for Mites, and it also gives tokens first strike and a power boost, making combat math more difficult for opponents. Essence of Orthodoxy will Incubate 2 whenever a Phyrexian enters the battlefield, so it's a bit of redundancy for our commander. Grafted Butcher grants menace to our Phyrexians when it enters the battlefield, is an anthem when it's on the field, and can bring itself back from the graveyard.

The original deck was very much lacking in evasive effects. The tokens Brimaz makes don't have any way to push through on their own and while it is possible to overwhelm opponents with the sheer number of creatures, and maybe some well placed removal, this deck is going to struggle against token strategies. Since those Incubator tokens come with +1/+1 counters, Sigarda's Summons will turn them into 4/4 flying Angels. Regna's Sanction is a way to tap our opponents' creatures (well most of them), and it puts a counter on ours for future proliferation.

We're rounding out our additions with a couple odds and ends. Bronze Guardian will protect our artifacts from spot removal, and with as many artifacts as this deck can create, it's going to hit hard with that double strike. Finally we've got some graveyard hate with Lion Sash, which can pick up a few counters and grow into a threat.

In total, these added cards will run you $15.63

Growing Pains

Now that we've gone over what we're adding, it's time to make some room. First of all, let's talk about Ichor Elixir and Fractured Powerstone. I love the reprint of the powerstone and the addition of new cards for Planechase, but the truth is I don't play it often, so they're getting cut here. Path of the Schemer also references the Plancechase rules, but I think it does enough even without the variant rules. If Planechase is a regular part of your Commander experience, then by all means, keep them in the deck.

Next I want to tackle that removal package. I think sixteen is a bit excessive and a few things can go for a smoother experience. Cataclysmic Gearhulk can set everyone back to almost square one, but with all the recursion in this deck, it's possible to repeatedly send everyone back to the stone age. That's powerful, but a lot of players will find it a miserable experience that drags out the game, so goodbye Gearhulk. Duplicant is a commander staple of old, and while exile removal is nice, this feels a bit redundant at six mana in an already bloated removal suite.

I'm not against having a few high cost cards in a deck, but I think this one goes a little overboard. In order to trim some of the fat, some big spells have to go. Coveted Jewel is a fun card that keeps games moving along as players try to get it. It's the kind of thing I like to see out of a political or a group hug deck, or in something that has a reliable angle to keep it out of the wrong hands. This isn't that kind of deck so it's an easy cut at six mana. Myr Battlesphere is a card I often advocate for, but with the sparse reanimation and no blink effects, this isn't a deck for the old battleball to shine. Phyrexian Triniform is also getting the axe. Sure it can make a swarm of Phyrexian Golems, but that's after spending nine mana to cast it and 12 mana to use the Encore ability.

Many of the cuts that were made are artifacts, so some of the cards that care about them are going. The original deck struck me as something that plays just fine at sorcery speed and with a lot of the cuts coming from the artifacts, it's safe to cut Shimmer Myr. Sculpting Steel is losing a lot of targets, and I wasn't a fan of it in this deck to begin with, as it won't trigger the commander if you copy an artifact creature since it's not a creature on the stack. Compleated Huntmaster is an artifact sacrifice outlet, but it just ends up trading Incubators for Incubators and needs to tap, so it's out in favor of better sacrifice outlets.

Master Splicer, and Blade Splicer are out. They only make one token and there are better things to do than give +1/+1 or first strike to a creature type we don't particularly care about. The deck is good enough at going wide and tall, so evasion effects would make the deck more effective in combat. This is also why Nettlecyst and Scytheclaw are getting removed. Psychosis Crawler is also out since even with the improved draw package, I don't think it's going to do enough.

Now that we've got our adds and cuts, let's look at the (not quite) perfected decklist.

Growing Threat - Precon Upgrade

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Miracle Grow

The Scrap Trawlers do EDH on a budget, but sometimes you have a deck you want to splurge for. If that happens to be Brimaz, I've got you. If there were any card that was a complete slam dunk for this deck and commander it's Mondrak, Glory Dominus. Mondrak is a Phyrexian, so she'll cause Brimaz to Incubate when you cast her. Once on the field she'll double the tokens you get, and can even be used as a sacrifice outlet to get that Proliferate trigger off the commander.

With Brimaz making all these artifact tokens, Krark-Clan Ironworks would be a great way to trade them in for mana to cast bigger spells, or you could add a Myr Retriever along with the Scrap Trawler to make infinite mana and, eventually, infinite Incubators.

Akroma's Will is one of the better ways in white to close out a game in a creature-heavy deck like this one. It's also useful as a way to protect that board if need be.

Liliana, Dreadhorde General can be a powerful draw engine that can be used to remove creatures. She can also be proliferated to ultimate range and cause the other players to lose just about everything, including their lands.

You have to pay top dollar for the top of the Phyrexian hierarchy, but the praetors can do some serious damage. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite is brutal against creature decks, and opponents will have a hard time keeping blockers on board. The back half of the new Elesh Norn from March of the Machine gives us an army in a can, double strike for all our creatures in the second chapter, and it scours the board, leaving our army of Phrexians intact. Sheoldred and her other side will keep opponents off their creatures, and if we get to that third chapter of the saga, we'll get all of those creatures along with any we lost along the way.

Hanging by a Threat

After all the changes, I think the deck is in a better spot. The average mana value is down from 4.1 to 3.8, which is still high, but the increased card draw will make things run more smoothly. I still think there's a lot of room for improvement with this deck, and the commander has many different directions you could go. I went with Phyrexians, but you could go heavier into artifacts, +1/+1 counters, or even planeswalkers. That's all for the Growing Threat precon, but be sure to check out the other guides from the Scrap Trawlers so you can budget before you buy it.

Scrap Trawlers is a Magic: The Gathering budget EDH streaming and video group, with gameplay, deck techs, chats, and more. Catch our videos at Andy, Lenny, and Bert.

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