Replacement Commanders - The Fairest of Phyrexian Mana

(K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth | Art by Chase Stone)

Stepping Out of His Father's Shadow

Hello again, Commander faithful! This is another installment of the 2019 edition of Replacement Commanders, the series dedicated to shining a light on those awesome legendary creatures from the precon product that weren't on the front of the packaging.

This week, we're looking at one of the 'bonus' commanders (commanders that are missing a color from the precon deck they originated in). He's mono-black and he's crazy powerful, and he's sure to make his father proud. This week, we’re going to discuss…

K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth

Let's not beat around the bush: K’rrik is one of the splashiest, most exciting cards in the entire precon product this year, and it's easy to see why. Instead of paying black mana, he lets you pay life, and using your life points as a resource, especially when you start with 40 of them, is absolutely broken. K’rrik technically has a CMC of seven mana, but can come down on turn four. Sure, it'll cost you some life, but the downside of paying life is even negated by the fact that he has lifelink and gets bigger with every black spell we cast. That's not even acknowledging the fact that black already gains life very well all on its own.

As always, we'll look at three different potential build paths for this commander. The first theme that came to my mind for K'rrik was a Voltron build where we concentrate on casting black spells to make him huge, give him evasion, and punch people for that sweet 21 commander damage. Of course, I would probably sprinkle a touch of Infect into the deck, both for flavor reasons and for when hitting 21 simply isn’t possible. The second potential theme will be a more typical“life is a resource” style of deck, constantly using our life total to pay for spells that then give us life back, then rinse and repeat for value. Finally, because the deck is mono-black, and black has tons of Demons that can be discounted by K’rrik’s ability, and the fact that I have an odd obsession with Liliana’s Contract, I decided that the last theme would be a Demon tribal deck that was dedicated to winning with my favorite enchantment!

Son of Yawgmoth, Bringer of Poison (and Commander Damage)

Mono-black does several things very well, and Infect is one of them. There are 30 cards that can be included in a mono-black deck with the word “Infect” on them, to say nothing of the number of Proliferate cards that help support the mechanic. Since we're going Voltron here, we want ways to make K'rrik the source of the poison counters. Grafted Exoskeleton, Tainted Strike, Glistening Oil, and Phyresis all made the cut. Both Contagion Clasp and Contagion Engine were auto-includes, as were Karn’s Bastion and dear old dad himself: Yawgmoth, Thran Physician.

For the more traditional Voltron package, Sword of Light and Shadow and Sword of Truth and Justice made the list, both because they provide protection (and evasion) from some of the best removal colors in Commander along with some incidental lifegain and Proliferate, respectively, while Sword of Vengeance rounds out our Sword package by granting even more evasion by giving trample. Blackblade Reforged also makes things really spicy really quickly.

Aetherflux Reservoir is the highest card in the “High Synergy Cards” section of K’rrik’s EDHREC page. Exsanguinate is also in his top three cards overall. It’s hard to deny how good the lifegain from these two cards can be. I figured they were ranked so highly that I would include them in all three lists. Tossing in the obligatory card advantage, removal, and board wipes, and we see the list look like this:

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Mono-Black Spellslinger?

Aetherflux Reservoir really shines for this next theme, given that we want to gain as much life as possible so we can pay into our spells. Exsanguinate is another wincon for this deck. Torment of Hailfire, much to my personal chagrin, will also be included in the deck. I like the idea of Pontiff of Blight allowing us to pay 2 life per spell per creature to Extort, pinging the table down and bolstering our life total. With enough opponents, paying life this way can actually increase our life total with every spell we cast!

Demon’s Horn, Staff of the Death Magus, and even Bontu’s Monument are all additional ways to bring our life total back up, a necessary consideration as we continue to cast spells. I was concerned about the target that Exquisite Blood would put on our back, since it's a known combo piece with Sanguine Bond, which I didn't include in the deck. Still, I think that for this list that it was a necessary evil as a means of keeping our life total as far from zero as possible. I also decided to include Polluted Bonds for two reasons: first, the lifegain, which adds up nicely after only a few turns; and second, because I’m a terrible human being!

Mix in a few removal spells that also skew toward lifegain, and the list comes out looking something like this:

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My Phyrexian Mana Brings all the Demons to the Yard

Demons have notoriously high casting costs. The more Commander-playable ones usually start around five mana. They also notably tend to have at least two colored pips in their mana costs. Casting Demon creatures by using life to lower their casting cost therefore seems like a very strong strategy indeed.

Happily, lots of Demons also help keep our hands full as we move into the later stages of the game. Harvester of Souls, Bloodgift Demon, and even Indulgent Tormentor can keep our grip overflowing with goodies, while Razaketh, the Foulblooded and Rune-Scarred Demon let us tutor for the cards we need. It goes without saying that Vilis, Broker of Blood is best friends with K’rrik, and I can’t building imagine this deck without him.

Unfortunately, Demon creatures are rarely concerned with gaining life. We'll want to balance this out with some critical support cards. Whip of Erebos has appeared in the other two lists, but I wanted to highlight it here because of how important it is to keeping us going. Demons are, on average, beefy creatures, so giving them all lifelink will keep us alive and kicking for turns and turns and turns! Kokusho, the Evening Star isn’t a Demon, and normally appears in decks that can bring it back repeatedly, but gaining 15 life in a pinch can turn the tide if we need it.

In the end, here's what I came up with:

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Another Compleated Article!

Wow, what a powerhouse K’rrik has proven to be! Even when he's in the 99, I cannot envision a scenario where we draw him and are unhappy about it. This was a very fun article to write, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. While we're waiting for the next one, I’d love to talk with you more about the best format in Magic. You can follow me on Twitter or join the Praetor Magic public Discord. Speaking of which, feel free to check out our YouTube channel and Twitch streams to enjoy even more of my takes and decklists for Commander!

Thanks for reading!

DM Cross started playing Magic: the Gathering when he was 8 years old. Currently 29 years old, he's become an avid lover of the EDH/Commander format and is constantly keeping an eye on everything coming out to see how to tune and tweak his favorite decks. DM can be found on Twitter @DM_Cross