Hello everybody and welcome back to another article of Brawl Haul! The June First Ban and Restriction announcement did not affect Brawl aside from the change with Companions, which was nice as Brawl is in a pretty healthy meta right now. With all that being said, time to talk about this week’s deck tech featuring Nethroi, Apex of Death!
SPECIAL! We've got a giveaway to celebrate our first birthday! You'll find all the details at the end of this week's Brawl Haul.
The main goal of this deck is to fuel our graveyard as much as possible, to then mutate Nethroi, flood the board and drain the opponent. The two main ways we drain the opponents out is either through Gray Merchant of Asphodel, or cards such as Cruel Celebrant and Corpse Knight.
What does Nethroi, Apex of Death do for our deck?
Nethroi is probably one of the strongest aristocrat style commanders currently in Brawl. The ability is very strong, often being able to win the game if its mutate trigger resolves, but its color identity is also one of the best. When compared to the other two main aristocrat commanders, Teysa Karlov and Izoni, Thousand-Eyed, the lack of the other color hurt them both a ton. Teysa lacking proper ramp and a lot of tools to fill the graveyard makes reanimation weak for her, while Izoni, Thousand-Eyed lacks any way of actually finishing off the opponent with aristocrat effects. There are also two absurdly strong Abzan cards that fit the deck so well and cannot be included in either, making Nethroi the strongest out of the competition.
Fueling the Graveyard
The most important part of this deck is to fill the graveyard, as the deck is not able to function if we cannot reanimate anything. The cards that do this best are Death’s Oasis, Mindwrack Harpy, Corpse Churn, and Underrealm Lich.
Death’s Oasis was one of the aforementioned powerful abzan cards, turning every one of our creatures into self-mill, as well giving the ability to recur some of the cheaper minions, which often mill ourselves a lot as well. Mindwrack Harpy is one of the only continuous pieces of mill in our deck, and due to it having fairly underwhelming stats, most opponents will not remove it for a couple turns, letting us mill 9-12 cards with it alone. Corpse Churn is instant speed milling, allowing us to feint removal and still progress our gameplan. The ability to return a creature to our hand is a nice benefit in the same way the recursion Death’s Oasis provides, as it will often let us mill even more. Underrealm Lich can be awkward, given that this deck does not draw cards much, but due to its second ability, we can mill into whatever piece we would want. A notable combo with Underrealm Lich is with The Gitrog Monster, which we mill a majority of our deck, assuming at least one of the three cards is a land. This combo has caused me to mill myself out, so it is not always the best option, but if we survive, we can often win the next turn.
Cards to Reanimate
When fueling the graveyard, there are a few cards we are looking for in particular in order to finish off the opponent. The cards we are looking for our 0 attack creatures, such as Polukranos, Unchained, a card that drains, like Ayara, First of Locthwain, and then depending on which drain cards you are recurring, either a sacrifice outlet, such as Woe Strider, or a token generator, like Izoni, Thousand-Eyed. This part of the deck can be awkward since the game plan changes very quickly and so we have to adapt to whatever gets milled.
Nethroi’s ability does not have a cap, resulting in us being able to reanimate as many creatures as long as the total power is 0 or below, meaning we can theoretically reanimate every 0 power creature in the deck without causing any issues. This helps provide devotion for Gray Merchant of Asphodel, enter the battlefield triggers for Ayara and Corpse Knight, as well as things to sacrifice for Cruel Celebrant. The more 0 power creatures we can reanimate, the better. As for the cards that drain, there are 4 main ones, two that rely on creatures entering the battlefield, these being Ayara and Corpse Knight, one that triggers on death, this being Cruel Celebrant, and one reliant on devotion, this being Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Typically we need 2-3 of these cards in order to drain someone for their entire life total, which is not always necessary. The final two notable reanimation card types depend on what drain creatures we are reanimating, Both Woe Strider and Izoni, Thousand-Eyed fit the same role, with Woe Strider being better for on-death triggers and Izoni being better for enter the battlefield triggers.
Sometimes our plan does not go as planned, whether it be Nethroi being countered or not having a creature to mutate on, which causes us to have to rely on some other win conditions. These cards are Eerie Ultimatum, Command the Dreadhorde, and Erebos, Bleak-Hearted.
Eerie Ultimatum and Command the Dreadhorde fill the same role of being a one-time Nethroi, with Eerie Ultimatum possibly bringing back considerably more creatures and with Command the Dreadhorde letting us steal our opponent’s creatures and planeswalkers. Erebos, Bleak-Hearted is a different approach, letting us grind out our opponents by giving us more creatures to throw at the opponent.
Other Notable Cards
Like always, there are a few cards that stood out for being better than I expected and did not fit into one of the main goals of the deck. The cards that deserve the mention are Mausoleum Secrets, Gravebreaker Lamia, and Necropanther.
Mausoleum Secrets and Gravebreaker Lamia both are great as they let us find the pieces we need to combo off, Mausoleum Secrets is stronger a decent amount of the time as it is instant speed and significantly cheaper than the Lamia, but it requires more buildup to make it work. Necropanther is a great card as the mutate ability is strong on its own but it also helps Nethroi if something were to happen to it. For those unaware, if you mutate onto a creature and it gets removed, you instead just have the creature resolve as if you cast it normally. Necropanther lets us then mutate onto Nethroi and get the reanimation effects.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Despite sounding like there is a lot of cards needed in order to win, the deck was fairly consistently able to win whenever I could cast Nethroi. Even when I was not able to drain the opponent out, just the sudden board presence was enough to close out the game.
This deck scoops to graveyard hate very quickly, and unfortunately, there were not many ways I could find to counteract it well. I did not win a single game against decks that ran either graveyard hate in the command zone, like Klothys, or played 2-3 graveyard hate cards. This deck is also fairly difficult to pick up as there are a lot of moving parts in it.
If you are interested in checking out this week’s decklist, here is a link to it!
Leading up to this week, I was running Umori as the companion for this deck but with the recent change to the mechanic, it did not feel like it was worth running anymore since it came at the cost of some powerful failsafe cards. On a different note, tomorrow marks the first day of M21 spoilers, hopefully, the set will bring some new tools to tinker around with, and if the leaks are anything to go by, there are already a couple of cool new cards that I cannot wait to get my hands on.
With all that said, I hope you have enjoyed this week’s brawl haul! Like always, if there are any cards that interest you and want to see my take on it, make sure to let me know in the comments below! Until then, good luck brewing!
Out of Cards Birthday Celebration Giveaway
We're giving out TEN Ikoria pre-release codes for MTG Arena. These codes are good for 6 Ikoria packs and may be redeemed once per account so if you've already redeemed a code on your account, you won't be able to do so again.
Interested? Here's how you enter to win!
- Tell us who your favourite Commander is in the comments below.
- Tell us why that card is your favourite Commander.
This giveaway ends on June 8. We'll contact you by private message if you win and your name will be included in a future giveaway winner announcement article.
Stay up to date on all the birthday fun in our dedicated Birthday 2020 Hub.