The Toolbox – The Red and Green Special

(Overabundance | Art by Ben Thompson)

An Overabundance of Cheer!

Welcome back to The Toolbox! Here we take a look at underplayed cards and evaluate where they ought to see more play. Today we're evaluating not one but two Gruul ramp cards that definitely get overlooked.

First up is the mana-doubler, Overabundance!

Overabundance is basically just a Gruul Heartbeat of Spring, but with a mean twist: it also deals a damage whenever someone taps a land for mana. This could be seen as a downside, but it could also be used as a way to wear your opponents down over time.

This symmetrical ability makes the card somewhat difficult to evaluate, but the way I see it, the more the merrier! Let's take a look at where this card is currently seeing the most play, to get a more practical idea of how this card works:

Traditional ramp is apparently just not enough for Zacama, Primal Calamity. A mana-doubler such as Overabundance helps to turbo out this massive nine-drop commander, who can also gain you life to make up for the downside, when necessary. Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis is surprising to see among Overabundance's top commanders, to be honest. I could see it as a Group Hug card that aims to accelerate the game in one way or another. Finally, we see Rosheen Meanderer, another commander who wants lots of mana as fast as possible to slam giant Hydras and smash face. There's not a lot more to it.

Each of these commanders has their own way to utilize Overabundance, but where else can this overabundance of mana be used?


Borborygmos Enraged is not exactly a commander known for being subtle, which is why I was a bit surprised to not see Overabundance played with him at all.

Why would this eight-mana beast of a commander want a card like Overabundance? Well, just by itself, it can cast big Borb on turn four. That seems pretty good to me.

There is some risk associated with it, as your opponents get doubled mana before you do. The way to get the most use out of a symmetrical effect like this is by constraining the benefits your opponents receive and maximizing your own. You can do this through Stax, but this is not as popular in Gruul colors. Thus, focusing on maximizing the cost of the damage is what we can focus on.

This is where Borborygmos shines. He can output a massive amount of damage at instant speed by simply discarding lands, but there is a cap to that: the number of lands you have in hand, and the fact that you can only do so in increments of three damage. With the help of the Keen Sense/Snake Umbra + Abundance combo and especially the Borborygmos all-star Storm Cauldron, every bit of damage becomes a pretty decisive way to close out a game while wreaking absolute havoc on the mana your opponents have access to. Don't forget your Life from the Loam, Praetor's Counsel, and Creeping Renaissance!

You get the idea. There are a lot of ways to turn that 'one damage per land' into an immensely taxing effect that puts your opponents on the border between winning or losing, and it seems worth it to make sure you can play big Borb as soon as possible without committing too many of your precious lands to the field. Enough talk, let's take a look at the decklist!

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Golos Pilgrim vs The World

It's time for Golos, Tireless Pilgrim to shine, even though I'm a little late on this and he is clearly already shining! It's okay, though, because I have a feeling that a commander as powerful as Golos is going to stick around for a while!

Another way to mitigate damage and symmetrical effects is to increase your card quality and leverage the amount of cards you have access to in a game. Golos quite literally has an ability stapled to him that lets you cast the top three cards of your deck for just seven mana. Something I see a lot of Golos decks missing is mana-doublers. If your cards are hugely impactful to the game state and you can hit them consistenly with Golos's ability, you will come out ahead on symmetrical mana doubling every time. Sure, your opponents will have extra mana to cast the spells in their hand, but you'll have extra mana to cast spells that aren't even in your hand yet. Mana-doublers are the fastest and most efficient way to make that jump to activating Golos multiple times in a turn cycle and overpowering your opponents.

Some of the spells Golos can use to take over a game include Aminatou's Augury, Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh, Zacama, Primal Calamity, and Rise of the Dark Realms! If you can hit even two of these, the mana advantage your opponents receive will probably be irrelevant.

Check out the decklist below, and leave a comment below to discuss your thoughts on Golos and mana-doubling!

Wheel of Fortune

Commander (1)
Creatures (23)
Instants (4)
Sorceries (19)
Artifacts (7)
Enchantments (9)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (36)

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Part 2 of this article will involve another Gruul mana ramper. You may know that I quite enjoy mana dorks. If you missed my article on my other favorite mana dork, Treasonous Ogre, I strongly recommend you take a look here. If you have read it already, feel free to meet my friend Orcish Lumberjack.

Much like the Ogre, Orcish Lumberjack produces a lot of mana at a big cost. Instead of paying life, he chops down a Forest and turns it into three red or green mana. That seems pretty amazing, but it's still shocking to me that the most this card sees play is in 30.62% of Borborygmos Enraged decks.

Lumberjack is a pretty obvious include in Borborygmos because of the land synergies like Life from the Loam. It also shows up occasionally in Ruric Thar, the Unbowed decks, where it acts as a very efficient mana dork to get your big beasts out to smash face. FInally, Lumberjack also lets you cast Korvold, Fae-Cursed King on turn two. That should honestly be enough on its own, but Korvold turns future Forests you sacrifice into even more of a benefit. Heck, I'm inclined to drop the rest of the article and just talk about how nuts it is that Lumberjack isn't played more in Korvold!

Lumberjack is a lot better than folks think it is, so let's take a look at a few other places it could (and should) see play.

Jund 'Em Out

You know I had to talk about Lord Windgrace when I have a perfect card like this. Come on, a Lands commander that wants you to put lands in the graveyard? What more could you ask for?

First off, like Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, Lumberjack can help cast Windgrace on turn two. Better yet, you can also capitalize off of his effect immediately. You can either +2 him immediately to sculpt your hand or you can -3 to get back that lands you've sacrificed. There's no downside!

This Orcish mana dork also happens to synergize nicely with just a few other frequently played Windgrace cards, like The Gitrog Monster, Splendid Reclamation, Ramunap Excavator, Life from the Loam, Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar... the list just keeps going on! This deck is quite literally made to capitalize off of effects like Orcish Lumberjack but is only in 7.77% of Windgrace decks.

Some folks are wary of mana dorks, since they can be killed, but the big boost this one provides, coupled with its lands synergy, makes this a lot better than people think. It's an older card, but I hope as more people discover this card, its numbers rise up in the ranks. With that, here is the decklist so you can see all the awesome synergies available!

Cat Santa

Commander (1)
Creatures (25)
Instants (7)
Sorceries (16)
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (4)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (42)

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Kind of a Reindeer

Centaurs are kind of like reindeer right? Lord Windgrace can be Santa, and Nikya of the Old Ways could be Rudolph! Yeah... the comments are gonna destroy me for this one. Worth it.

I think a concept a lot of players struggle with is how to evaluate the cost of playing such a high-impact, high-drawback commander like Nikya. Traditional ramp like Nature's Lore aren't good options for her, which makes the lesser-known cards that much more important.

Out of all the Nikya decks, 46% are playing Llanowar Elves, but none are playing Orcish Lumberjack. Again, Lumberjack can get Nikya out on turn two but this manadork just gets scanned over in favor of the Elves.

Yes, Lumberjack costs a land, but the mana boost Nikya provides makes up for it in spades. This deck is all about hefty restrictions for big payoffs. Once you actually stick Nikya in play, her mana-doubling cascades into enough benefit to more than make up for the one sacrificed land; with access to the Elves, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Springbloom Druid, and Solemn Simulacrum, there are tons of ways to get that land back, and then some. And those are just the mana-making creatures. If you want to see the big baddies Nikya wants you to get out as early as possible, take a look at the decklist!

Kind of Rudolph

Commander (1)
Creatures (55)
Instants (1)
Artifacts (2)
Enchantments (3)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (37)

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Have a Happy Gruul Year!

Happy holidays to all, and I hope you have a great start to the new year! Thank you all for your continued support of the series. I hope you all enjoyed reading this installment, and I hope that you’ve found a new home for Overabundance and Orcish Lumberjack. Do you think these commanders pair well with these Gruul spells? Do you think I’m over-evaluating them or do you agree they're highly underrated? What other decks do you think should have these cards in their toolbox?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and as always, have a great day!

Elijah is a mildly obsessive EDH player from Georgia. He started playing during Battle for Zendikar with Green/Black Eldrazi Aristocrats and still pays tribute to the plane with his Omnath, Locus of Rage storm brew. He is always excited to innovate and try new things in Magic and Life. Elijah is currently a full time student looking to go into Computer Engineering but also has a bit of an artistic streak.