Ultra Budget Brews - Virtus and Gorm

(Gorm the Great | Art by Johann Bodin)

Bad Touch

Hello and welcome back to another addition of Ultra Budget Brews, the monthly article series that is really a ruse: I don't use a $1 limitation to help you save money. Far from it. I use it because of an unhealthy obsession with George Washington and I want everyone else to share that love.

Possibly the only thing more American than George Washington

Last week, I gave you all an opportunity to vote on which commander you wanted me to build around. I decided to go with a Golgari theme because I realized in the almost 2 years I've been writing, I have never built a Golgari deck. This is not to say that Golgari isn't powerful. Quite the opposite, in fact. You all just have never voted for it. So really, I blame you, the reader. Below were your options.

As a quick aside, my goodness, Golgari has a wealth of interesting commanders to build around. In the past, EDHRECast host Joey Schultz has said that he could play nothing but Golgari decks for the rest of his Commander career and stay satisfied because of the wealth of different options the color pair gives you. I'm not typically a fan of the color pair and have only ever built one Golgari deck (Savra, Queen of the Golgari), but after giving each of these commanders a bit of thought, I can at least see where he is coming from.

Double Trouble


  • Well costed
  • Very synergistic
  • Can be altered into the Hound and Arya or The Mountain and the Viper. Live those fanfic dreams


  • Really want to be out at the same time
  • Halving people's life totals tends to make them fussy
  • So much alliteration. Gorm/Great, Virtus/Veiled, Azra/Assassin

This week, we're not building around one commander, but two. This will be my first time building around any partner commander, Battlebond or otherwise, so I'm a bit excited. Our commanders suggest a very clear, fairly unique path. We want to allow Virtus to get past blockers untouched so it can do as much damage as possible. Gorm helps with this by taking all of the aggro, like that crappy hunter or rogue that was in seemingly every instance or raid I ever did playing WoW.

This accurately encapsulates my feelings

This would suggest that we need ways to protect Gorm, control the board so things don't get out of control, and have ways besides Gorm to get our Virtus through. Here's what we're looking at.

Our Deck

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

Total cost (Card Kingdom): $38.34

Looking at the above list, you'll likely notice two things off the top: first, we are running a lot of 'Taunting Elf' effects, and second, we have a strong Equipment subtheme. Cards like Noble Quarry, Lure, and Prized Unicorn all work wonderfully as Gorm substitutes, which is an important thing for our deck to have. Gorm requires opponents to block him, meaning he's likely to die in combat often, which can lead to a pretty cumbersome casting cost.

We also are running quite a few artifacts which typically either grant our creatures evasion/protection or grant them on-hit abilities. Cards like Trailblazer's Boots, Prowler's Helm, and Whispersilk Cloak all help our Virtus (or other cards with on-hit abilities) get through untouched. Cards like Infiltration Lens, Scytheclaw, and Fireshrieker all give on-hit effects, or double the effects our creatures already possess.

We are also running a number of cards with deathtouch. These all pair particularly well with Nemesis Mask and Viridian Longbow. Archetype of Finality pairs particularly well with our creatures that force blocks. Friendly reminder: if you manage to give deathtouch to a creature with more than 1 power, you can distribute one damage to each creature blocking it to kill all of them. It's an easy thing to miss, and I would be remiss not throwing out a small reminder.

We even have an alternate win condition with Revel in Riches. A lot of creatures are going to die blocking yours, so you might as well find a way to benefit off of all the death.

Outside of this, we are running a number of cards that are good in basically any Golgari deck. Reclamation Sage, Putrefy, Beast Within, and Acidic Slime all are staple removal spells for a reason. Night's Whisper, Read the Bones, and Find all get you cards in hand. Rampant Growth, Kodama's Reach, Cultivate, and Sakura Tribe Elder are all in basically every deck that can run them (at least, they should be).

One issue that this deck can have is closing the game out. Virtus' ability is great at dealing a lot of damage... at first. Barring lifegain shenanigans, it becomes less effective every time you connect. This is why we have a few cards like Crash of Rhino Beetles and Profane Command to work as finishers. Archfiend of Depravity and Demon of Wailing Agonies also do this exceedingly well.

Notable Inclusions

Here are a few cards to take special note of when playing the deck. Sometimes they don't look like much, but in this particular deck, they serve up something a little extra.

Skull Storm

Skull Storm has become a pet card of mine. It costs roughly a billion mana, but when it works, it really gets the job done. It works doubly well in this deck because we have two commanders and this spell counts how many times you've cast both of them. Also, halving life totals is right on theme with what this deck is doing. By the time you hit nine mana, you're likely getting four or five copies of this spell, which definitely seems worth the investment.

Dire Fleet Ravager

Speaking of cards that halve life totals, this one doesn't quite do that (it only hits for a third). Plus it affects us as well. Thankfully, it comes with a relevant body that is a great blocker and good attacker. It also helps bring games to a close, which is some times exactly what's needed.

Revenge of the Hunted

Of all of the Miracle cards printed, this one probably sees the least amount of play. Looking at the card, I totally get it. For one mana, its a great deal, so long as you have a creature on board. For six mana, though? There are a lot of things I'd rather do for 6 mana. Other Miracle cards, while significantly more expensive to cast than their Miracle costs, still feel reasonable. In this deck even, even at six mana, this card is a great fit. It forces blocks, gets in quite a bit of damage, and gives trample to boot.

Custodi Lich

Monarch is one of my favorite mechanics of all time. Every game is better with it. It incentivizes action in a way that other mechanics and cards try and fail at. The fact that we will likely be able to get the monarchy back at will with our difficult-to-block creatures makes this a perfect fit. The sacrifice clause is the whipped cream on top of the sundae: entirely unnecessary, but delicious if you're just going give it to me for free.

Gaze of the Gorgon

As mentioned previously, since you are attracting so many blockers with your creatures, you should fully expect a lot of your creatures to die. What's more, many of the creatures attracting those blockers are pretty tiny and are (without deathtouch) unlikely to take many of your opponents creatures with them. Gaze of the Gorgon fixes both these issues, regenerating your creature and destroying everything that blocks it. It does basically everything you could want, and your opponents will almost never see it coming.

Notable Exclusions

As always, these are the cards I would add if I were to ditch the strict budget restraints of this article, if I were looking to up the power level of my deck, or if I happened to have a spare copy laying around.

Quietus Spike

Equipment that gives deathtouch and halving life totals? That's literally what this deck is all about.

You literally just read the previous sentence in this voice.

Archfiend of Despair

This is one of my favorite cards from the Battlebond set. Since Wound Reflection decided to be a $30+ card, this is the next best thing. It allows you to instantly kill your opponents out of nowhere, which is more important than it seems.

Raving Dead

I typically prefer to maintain some semblance of control over my creatures, but sometimes it's nice to be able to blame ethereal forces outside of the game when your creature domes someone for half their life total. This has perfect stats for this role, too. A 2/6 deathtouch is hard for your opponents to block in an effective manner unless they happen to be playing Typhoid Rats, Sedge Scorpion, and company. So, pray to those aforementioned ethereal forces that no one is playing those pesky blockers, and get to attacking!

Phage the Untouchable

Yes, it costs seven mana, but is anyone really concerned by this? It makes a player straight up lose the game, and we happen to be running a lot of cards that make offing people with her more than a pipe dream. Killing a table with Phage is something every EDH player should experience at least once.

Ashling, the Extinguisher

I have always wanted to find a place for this card and never have, partially because I have always found the cost to be too expensive in proportion to how well it would work in the decks I've built. That being said, this deck is basically the perfect fit for this card. You'll have an easy time proc'ing it's ability, and it gets around the traditional problem of edict abilities (such as Diabolic Edict by letting you choose the creature your opponent sacrifices.

End Step

How did you enjoy this foray into partners? Is it about what you hoped for, or was it a bit too on the nose for your taste? I would love to hear your feedback below. Also, if you are looking for more budget EDH content, I post daily content on Twitter. My handle is @brewsmtg. As always, your options for next week are below.



Until next time!

Andrew is a life-long gamer and has been playing Magic since 2013. He works as an ASL interpreter, enjoys running, and sitting on his porch reading, while simultaneously silently judging his neighbors. He lives in Joplin, MO with his wife.

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