Singleton Shmingleton - Lhurgoyf
Lhurgoyf | Art by Pete Venters
Ach! Hans, Run!
Hello, and welcome back to Singleton Shmingleton, where I bend the singleton rules of Commander by building decks with as many functional reprints of a certain card as possible. This week, the card in question is none other than the Lhurgoyf, the scourge of Erikssons and Eriksdotters everywhere. This monstrous cutie has spawned a whole creature type of scavengers, which range from icon status all the way down to Cognivore. Lhurgoyfs are remarkably similar to Atogs in this way, with one original card giving rise to many design variants. However, they've been held back as a tribe in EDH by their lack of a legend to helm a deck. They did get Altar of the Goyf recently, but it's no Atogatog.
I was tempted by going all-in on Lhurgoyf tribal, with all the different -goyfs and -vores, but since so many of them demand different card types the deck had no focus. That was when I looked at my old Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord deck and realised just how many creatures in there were essentially redundant Lhurgoyfs. Boneyard Wurm counts just my graveyard but costs half as much, Nighthowler comes with Bestow upside, and Lord of Extinction is supercharged, counting every card in every 'yard. It wouldn't be difficult to turn this into a deck that could draw a Lhurgoyf every game.
There are a surprising number of creatures that scale with your graveyard, formatted in different ways. I searched for different wordings until I was satisfied with my list, but if I missed any, please tell me. Just keep in mind that I intentionally excluded cards like Wight of Precinct Six and Consuming Aberration that only care about opponents' graveyards. We want to have more control over our Goyfs.
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
Wow, Wizards really likes this design space! Our different Goyfs all work slightly differently. Golgari Raiders and Golgari Grave-Troll enter with a fixed number of counters, meaning they can't grow but also don't get hosed later by graveyard hate. Fiend Artisan counts as a 1/1 off the battlefield, but gets swole as soon as it comes into play. Bonehoard and friends care about all graveyards, while Boneyard Mycodrax only looks at our 'yard.
There are some real stinkers in here, too. Zombie Mob requires you to exile all the creatures in your graveyard, which nerfs all your other Goyfs, but Frankenstein's Monster takes the cake for the worst version of this card. You have to exile creatures as well, and you have to pay a mana for each creature exiled. The monster only sees play in 72 decks, and most of them seem to be Frankenstein flavor-themed decks. But we don't need all of these cards to be playable, because we have twenty-six of them. We can breathe a sigh of relief and cut some of them right away. Sorry, Elephant Resurgence.
The most-played of these creatures is Fiend Artisan, at 21,552 decks, and it is an absolute house. It's as cheap as Goyfs get, and it comes with the ability to tutor up any creature. The least played is poor old Zombie Mob, at 28 decks. It was never good, but the endless march of new versions has left it in the dust.
Grow Your Own Goyfs
Now that we have our payoffs, we need a way to put as many creatures into our graveyard as possible. Luckily, this is one thing that the Golgari color pair (black, green) does exceptionally well. We can mill ourselves for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until our graveyard is taller than our library. Cheap creatures, like Satyr Wayfinder and Stitcher's Supplier, start the party off right, hopefully milling some of our many Dredge cards to keep the ball rolling. One of my favorite aspects of playing Dredge in Commander is that, unlike in eternal formats where Golgari Grave-Troll isn't used for anything but the ability Dredge 6, we actually cast our Dredge cards. The troll is a passable Goyf in this deck, and Stinkweed Imp is an exceptional blocker.
One thing we need to keep in mind is that most of our Goyfs only count creature cards, so we should try to run as many creatures as possible. Llanowar Elves and Springbloom Druid take the spots of Nature's Lore and Cultivate, and Reclamation Sage makes more sense than Krosan Grip. I even considered making this an Umori, the Collector Companion deck, but there were a couple of non-creature spells that I couldn't stand to cut. I don't think Umori, the Collector would add all that much to the power of the deck; starting with an extra card in hand is not as impressive in Commander as in two-player. Once we pay three-plus-four mana to put it into play, its cost-reduction ability doesn't give us a crazy boost.
Something that does port well into this deck from sixty-card Magic is Dryad Arbor. At worst, it's a fragile land that can't tap for mana when it comes into play. But it counts as a creature card when we mill it, and it does a good Llanowar Elves impression when we fetch it with Green Sun's Zenith. Another funky card that adds to our creature count is Grist, the Hunger Tide. It's good value for a three-mana planeswalker, letting us mill ourselves a bit and maybe removing a threat or two. We can fetch it using Zenith or even Fiend Artisan. We even have a chance to hit our Kraul Harpooner with its +1 to double up the value.
Here are some more gems:
Necroplasm: This card catches people off every time. In a deck like this, where we'll probably put this into the graveyard with little effort, it can act as a silver bullet against tokens. If anyone makes too big an army, we can Dredge it back to our hand on our draw step, play it, and then on our end step it will blow up everything with mana value zero. Despite the blowout potential and the game-warping body it leaves behind, and despite being included in two preconstructed decks, this little Ooze only sees play in 2,668 decks.
Gnaw to the Bone: Everyone knows that life gain isn't good. Especially in Commander, where commander damage can take you out no matter how cushioned your life total is, life gain is almost never worth a card unless you have a lot of synergy with it. But when does that stop being true? How much life do you need to gain for it to be worth it? Is it 30? 40? Gnaw to the Bone consistently delivers in a deck like this, and we often don't even need to spend a card to get our life. If we ever mill Gnaw, we can heave a sigh of relief and start playing as if we have thirty extra life, knowing we can flash it back at any time. This card deserves more than 1,552 decks. Players are being tricked by the discipline they've built up.
Genesis / Oversold Cemetery and Spore Frog: Infinite Fog Frog! This will only stop one player from damaging us, but often that's enough. We can find this combo with Buried Alive if it looks appealing, or just naturally set it up through our excessive self-milling.
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
View this decklist on Archidekt
This deck has 46 creatures in it (including Grist), so our Lhurgoyfs can grow nice and healthy. We can often get to a point where two Jarad activations sacrificing two Goyfs threatens lethal damage. With all of our milling, we get to see a ton of cards each game, and we can really take advantage of our toolbox.
One triumph of this deck is its resiliency to graveyard hate. While we would prefer not to run into hate, we don't fold to it like some other graveyard decks would. That's because of the redundancy of the deck. Cards like Scavenging Ooze might be impossible to deal with for a reanimator deck that focuses on getting back very specific creatures. But we're more interested in the total volume of creatures in our 'yard, and have tons of copies of our payoff. Cards like Bojuka Bog slow us down and may kill any Goyfs we have in play, but we have so many cheap creatures that mill us that we can just start again. Redundancy shores up a lot of the weaknesses of traditional graveyard decks, so this style of deck lends itself well to the Shmingleton experiment.
Until Next Time
Could this be another graveyard deck? Only time will tell. Next time I'll be looking at Merfolk Looter, one of my favorite little value engines. It can fix your draws, enable reanimator, enable Madness, even turn on Miracles! What can't this little fish do?