Hello everybody and welcome back to another article of Brawl Haul! Once again I am back with another Brawl deck tech, this week featuring another counter-based commander in the form of Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager!
The main goal of our deck is to develop a board and start making it taller with +1/+1 counters. Grakmaw makes these boards awkward to clear, providing a large threat in itself twice. In addition to trying to make things taller manually, there are also plenty of cards that enter with counters on them already to help expedite this process.
What Does Grakmaw Do for Our Deck?
As mentioned earlier, Grakmaw’s main purpose is to make our boards significantly more sticky by punishing the opponents for clearing our minions. Because of how large this hydra can get, the deck often turns into a Voltron deck, hence why we have a few ways of giving it forms of evasion. Grakmaw’s death trigger also puts in a lot of work in the deck as it essentially just doubles its stats assuming it does not get exiled. Both of these also feed absurdly hard into the Ozolith, which is essentially a hidden commander for the deck. The Ozolith lets us essentially triple dip on all of our counters, getting counters the first time a creature dies, when Grakmaw dies, and then when the hydra token dies, resulting in it being one of the best cards in the deck.
Flooding the Board with Counters
One of the main goals of our deck is to get counters on everything to make Grakmaw a very large hydra. The best ways we have of doing this is with Renata, Called to the Hunt, Oran-Rief Ooze, Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig, and Moss-Pit Skeleton.
Renata is easily our best way of putting counters on as much stuff as possible. She works excellently with almost all of our counter synergies as well as fueling Grakmaw a ton of counters. Oran-Rief Ooze is a great follow up, pumping up our current threats on board every combat step. It can sometimes get hard to attack consistently with the Ooze given that it is rather small, but more often than not it is still worth suiciding in just to pump up the rest of our team some more. Next, we have Yorvo, who becomes absurdly tall by just existing on the board. The deck can pump out a couple of creatures per turn and so Yorvo is a huge threat in itself that has to be dealt with quickly. Finally, we have Moss-Pit Skeleton which is a recurring threat that also adds a ton of counter to Grakmaw and The Ozolith over the course of the game.
In addition to just adding counters to everything, we also have several cards to give these counters more purpose, whether it be more card draw, or make the board wider. The main cards we have to do this are Skyclave Shadowcat, Oblivion’s Hunger, Iridescent Hornbeetle, and Swarm Shambler.
Skyclave Shadowcat is easily one of the best cards in our deck as it makes a good majority of our creatures cantrip. The sacrifice ability is not incredibly relevant, but it can be pretty decent if we want to fizzle our opponent’s removal. Oblivion’s Hunger is one of our only ways of protecting Grakmaw if he gets targeted by some form of removal, and the cantrip makes it a great card for the deck. As for the cards that help us go wide, Iridescent Hornbeetle works hilariously well with Grakmaw, as well as just putting a bunch of smaller bodies on the field to chump block the opponent. Swarm Shambler also creates a decent amount of tokens as it generates a 1/1 whenever our creatures get targeted. It is also pretty nice to be able to slowly pump it up over a couple of turns and turn it into some form of threat.
Closing Out the Game
While having fun with counters is a good way to close out the game, we do have a few other ways of closing out the game once we get late enough in the game. These cards are Cliffhaven Kitesail, Hydra’s Growth, Invigorating Surge, Titanoth Rex.
Cliffhaven Kitesail at first glance looks underwhelming, but given how large we can make one of our creatures, having some form of evasion is amazing. Up next we have Hydra’s Growth and Invigorating Surge. Both essentially do the same thing ultimately, with Hydra’s Growth being significantly slower while Invigorating Surge is a lot more of a combat trick to burst the opponent for the last bit of their life. Because of this, Surge is considerably better, but both are great for the deck. Finally, we have Titanoth Rex, who is a 2 mana combat trick to draw a card and give our creature trample. I have never cast the card but being able to give trample easily without wasting a card is very nice.
Other Noteworthy Cards
Like always, there were a few cards that stood out for overperforming while not really fitting into the rest of the themes of the deck. These cards are Woe Strider, Tome of Legends, Vivien, Monsters' Advocate, and Agadeem’s Awakening.
Woe Strider is probably one of the strongest cards in the entire deck since being able to sacrifice our creatures on demand is great. Being able to move counters onto Grakmaw is invaluable, as well as being able to consolidate things into one creature with The Ozolith means we can turn into a Voltron deck very easily. One of the biggest issues with this deck is that it lacks card selection and draw, which both Woe Strider covers, as well as the next card, Tome of Legends. Given that we want to send Grakmaw in constantly, Tome draws a ton of cards over the course of the game, often giving us enough gas to close out the game. Vivien, Monster’s Advocate also serves a similar purpose as Tome of Legends, with the downtick providing a ton of value, as well as her two passive abilities. The uptick is not the worst, but we typically have better things to do with it. Finally, we have Agadeem’s Awakening, which is a bit of a cop-out given that the MDFCs are all strong anyway. However, being able to have a mana sink in the late game that forces the opponent to have some form of clear is great.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The main strengths of this deck come from it being incredibly explosive and for playing into traditional removal very well. Compared to most other decks, we do not mind having our creatures removed since it will just most likely lead to Grakmaw getting larger or putting more counters onto The Ozolith.
That being said, the deck lines up very poorly against bounce and exile effects. Given how much the deck relies on putting all our counters on 1-2 creatures, having them be bounced, and losing all of the progress hurts. While The Ozolith does prevent this, we do not always have it on the field, as well as also being very weak to removal itself.
If you are interested in checking out the decklist, here’s a link to it!
I'm starting to notice a trend when it comes to my decks featuring green cards, that being they all have a huge focus on counters. The archetype in standard has been getting a ton of support recently and it is incredibly fun to pilot in my opinion, resulting in it seeing a lot of play in my decks. This archetype also lends itself easily to Voltron strategies, which are up there for my favorite gameplans because it is fairly straightforward and can make quick work out of the opponents assuming the creature stays on board. I do plan on the next article featuring a commander that plays completely different than this one and the Verazol deck just to keep things fresh.
That pretty much ends the showcase for this week. Grakmaw is a blast to play and spirals out of control like crazy if left to its own devices for a turn or two. Like always, if there are any commanders that you are interested in, make sure to let me know in the comments and I will take a swing at them! Until next time, good luck brewing!