Conditions Allow - Jerren, Corrupted Bishop EDH

Ben Doolittle • October 12, 2021

Ormendahl, the Corrupter by Yongjae Choi

Demons Rising

Welcome back to Conditions Allow, where I take a card with a drawback and turn it into a strength. Its October, and we're back on Innistrad, so prepare for tricks, and maybe a few treats, as I dive into the first dual faced card of the series, Jerren, Corrupted Bishop.

Jerren, Corrupted Bishop is a fresh new commander from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt with the potential to turn into something much darker. During your end step, if you have exactly 13 life you can pay six mana to flip Jerren into Ormedahl, the Corrupter. This version of Ormendahl is a 6/6 Legendary Demon with flying, trample, and lifelink. And he also lets you sacrifice a creature to draw a card. Ormendahl is undoubtedly powerful. Sacrificing creatures to draw cards is reminiscent of two other powerful demons, Razaketh, the Foulblooded and Griselbrand. But I want to think about Ormendahl, the Corrupter more in terms of an instant infamous for its prevalence in the competitive end of the EDH pool, Ad Nauseam.

Ad Nauseam lets you draw a huge number of cards in exchange for dramatically lowering your life. Jerren, Corrupted Bishop reverses that relationship of life to cards. He requires you to lose a bunch of life, and then you may be able to draw cards. Of course, the number of cards you get to draw also depends on the number of creatures  you have in play. But if you can flip Ormendahl with a few creatures in play, you'll go into your next turn with a lot of cards in hand. This can let you grind for a long game, or dig for a big spell to end the game right away.

Payment Up Front

The first step of this plan is getting down to 13 life. Luckily, black gives you plenty of tools to control your life total. Wall of Blood and Mischievous Poltergeist both let you pay life down to 13 at any time. They're also strong blockers, so you're only ever losing life when you want. Blood Celebrant also lets you pay one life at a time, but requires an up front mana investment. You can keep using the mana Blood Celebrant creates to activate its ability though, so it still ends up costing less mana than any other similar spell in the deck. This makes it much easier to cast, set your life to 13, and still be able to pay to transform Jerren, Corrupted Bishop in one turn.

And then there are the cards that let you pay life in multiples. Doom Whisperer is trickier to use than Wall of Blood, because if you start at an even life total, you won't be able to drop yourself to 13 life on your own. It's effect is much more useful than Wall of Blood though, ensuring you can find the card you need when you need it. Similarly, Soul Channeling keeps Jerren, Corrupted Bishop safe from most removal, ensuring you get to summon Ormendahl. The last card in this category is Unspeakable Symbol. Paying three life for a single +1/+1 counter is a steep price, but it does get you from 40 to 13 life with nine activations. And because cards don't leave the battlefield as they transform, those +1/+1 counters will transfer from Jerren, Corrupted Bishop to Ormendahl, the Corrupter, making commander damage a viable win condition.

Of course, you can lower your life total gradually as well. Demonic Embrace also fits into a Voltron strategy, and can be cast repeatedly from the graveyard. Bolas's Citadel is a powerful card advantage engine, along with Night's Whisper and Read the Bones. Plenty of your removal can help lower your life total as well. Snuff Out is free, except for four life as long as you control a Swamp, and Toxic Deluge is one of the best board wipes in the game. Just be wary of wiping out your own creatures.

A Cult Requires Cultists

Sometimes, though, your own creatures dying isn't that big a deal. Whenever another non-token Human dies, Jerren, Corrupted Bishop replaces it with a 1/1 Human Cleric token. Doomed Dissenter, Orzhov Enforcer, and Flesh Carver all leave behind tokens of their own. Not only do these tokens help insulate you from mass removal, they double the number of cards you can draw with Ormendahl. Other high value sacrifice targets include Novice Occultist and Bloodsoaked Champion. Finally, you won't want to sacrifice Species Specialist but it also doubles the number of cards you draw by sacrificing humans.

Next up are the creatures that passively make tokens. Ophiomancer will finally be getting a reprint later this year, and this is the perfect place to put it. Deathtouch-y snakes are fantastic blockers, and a consistent source of sacrifice fodder. Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder can make a few more tokens, but is less likely to stick around into the late game. Most of our creatures have a fairly low mana value though, so Endrek Sahr will usually sit around for a few turns. You can also sacrifice the Thrull tokens with Viscera Seer to ensure you never have more than seven at your end step. Lastly, Xathrid Necromancer also rewards you for sacrificing Humans, and fits perfectly alongside Jerren, Corrupted Bishop.

With all this sacrificing, it makes sense to include a card or two to bring creatures back from the dead. Two new cards really shine in this category, and they work together really well. Prowling Geistcatcher will exile any creature you sacrifice under itself, and when it dies they'll be returned to the battlefield. If one of those happens to be Young Necromancer, you'll be able to exile two cards from your graveyard to bring the Geistcatcher right back to play. While Prowling Geistcatcher does prevent Pitiless Plunderer and Species Specialist from triggering, you will still draw cards through Ormendahl, the Corrupter's ability. If your graveyard is large enough, this loop will dramatically increase the number of cards you draw.

The End Times

Now that you've gotten down to 13 life and flipped over Ormendahl, the Corrupter with a battlefield full of creatures to sacrifice, how do you win the game? You could choose a classic, like Exsanguinate or Torment of Hailfire, but they don't really mesh with the sacrifice theme the rest of the deck has. To stay more on theme, I'm going to combine Zulaport Cutthroat with Repay in Kind

Repay in Kind is a natural fit for a deck that wants to lower its own life total as dramatically as Jerren, Corrupted Bishop does. It also makes it significantly easier to win with Zulaport Cutthroat and Bastion of Remembrance. With all the tokens this deck creates, sacrificing 13 creatures happens almost by accident. And if you've already sacrificed most of your creatures to draw Repay in Kind, it isn't difficult to get them back.

Jerren, Corrupted Bishop doesn't have to be a tribal deck. Ormendahl, the Corrupter doesn't care about what he sacrifices, and many non-Humans are more easily recurred from the graveyard. Gravecrawler, Bloodghast, and Nether Traitor are all left out of this deck to fit as many humans as possible. This lets you take advantage of Patriarch's Bidding and Haunting Voyage to keep the card draw, and damage, flowing.

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One challenge that I didn't foresee with Jerren, Corrupted Bishop is that you really want both sides of the card in play at the same time. His front face helps make extra tokens that his back side wants to sacrifice for value. Xathrid Necromancer and Species Specialist help offset the fact you can't have Jerren and Ormendahl in play, though. It also means I've built this deck to be more explosive than grindy. Once you have Ormendahl in play with a bunch of creatures to sacrifice, your opponents will know who the threat at the table is. With that said, Zulaport Cutthroat helps you gain life right away, and Repay in Kind puts the whole table on relatively equal footing, even if Ormendahl does get removed.

Did you take the same approach to Jerren, Corrupted Bishop? What cards stood out to you for this commander, and have you had any success with him? Let me know if I missed anything in the comments.


Ben was introduced to Magic during Seventh Edition and has played on and off ever since. A Simic mage at heart, he loves being given a problem to solve. When not shuffling cards, Ben can be found lost in a book or skiing in the mountains of Vermont.