CUT #13 Finals - Critical CUT!

Travis Stanley • July 1, 2022

Ancient Brass Dragon | Illustrated by Johan Grenier

You and your party trudge through the swamps, trying to find the cave that the old witch told you about. The dense fog air seems to choke you as you get further and further through the boggy terrain. As you use your perception and scan around, you don't seem to see anything... wait, the rogue in your party spots some glowing lights up ahead, though they can't quite tell what they are. Cautiously, you move towards the lights; as you get closer they come more and more into view, until it's too late. You and your party are surrounded by dozens of these floating lights! Roll initiative!

Welcome to CUT #13 Finals, Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate edition! Wow, that was a mouthful! As always, you voted last round and picked the two deck builders that we will see in this article, so without further ado..



Congratulations, Alec and Andrew! You made it to this week's finals! A big thank you Kenneth to and to your contribution to the all-Golgari party that was the previous round. I won't soon forget your Jaheira, Friend of the Forest Aristo-Elves deck! I hope to have you in my party again so that we may try this adventure one more time.

Now that we have the winners from last time, let's take a look at what they had to work with for this round of decks:

  • Must use a commander from the CLB Commander Decks

  • Max 12 Rares/Mythics

  • 10 cards must Venture into the Dungeon/Take the Initiative

Who's at the top of the initiative order? It's Alec! Let's see what he brought!


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Hello, and welcome to my deck write-up for Zellix, Sanity Flayer + Haunted One! I was honored to make it to the next round of CUT and I hope you enjoy this Background deck as much as my last one. Let's get into it!

I was so excited to see a lot of support for Horrors in the Baldur's Gate preconstructed Commander decks. I am a big fan of horror movies and games, so they have always been a favorite creature type of mine! Even though it isn't October, seeing Zellix, Sanity Flayer and Haunted One gave me the best Halloween vibes. I couldn't resist putting a deck together around them.

How do we go about taking advantage of this horrifying commander? Let's dive into Zellix's abilities! The first one is: "Whenever a player mills one or more creature cards, you create a 1/1 black horror creature token". At a glance, this effect looks like "mill your opponents to create an army of creatures", but that's only scratching the surface of how cool this ability is. It triggers whenever ANY player mills creature cards, so we can mill ourselves to have a lot more control over the chances of hitting creature cards. It also triggers when an opponent mills themselves, so if you go up against a Muldrotha, the Gravetide deck, they might just help you out even more!

Zellix's second ability is: "{1}, T: Target player mills three cards", which we can use on ourselves to help fuel the first ability. Then, of course, Zellix can choose a Background! But there are so many cool ones, how do we decide? I think the best way to choose is to look at the holes in Zellix's gameplan, then pick a Background that helps fill them. Zellix's end goal is to create a big army of 1/1 Horrors, then go wide to win with combat damage. Unfortunately, without extra help, Zellix can only create one per turn. That's not enough! This is where Haunted One comes in.

Haunted One says: "Commander creatures you own have "Whenever this creature becomes tapped, it and other creatures you control that share a creature type with it each get +2/+0 and gain undying until end of turn". You can tell that this came in the same precon as Zellix because it's a perfect combination! Zellix taps itself, which triggers this effect, tripling the power of your Horror army! Not only that, but it adds protection with Undying! This is a powerful and exciting combination.

Now, we just need to bring it all together. There are 20 cards in this deck that self-mill so that we can both create Horrors with Zellix and get big creatures into our graveyard to reanimate later. My favorite self-mill card in this deck is Sewer Nemesis because it's a Horror and will get BIG with our deck's strategy. Some frightening Horrors that we can reanimate are Hullbreaker Horror, Toxrill, the Corrosive, and Uchuulon. These will be very impactful when we reanimate them into play. Speaking of, there are 8 cards in this deck that bring creatures back from the graveyard to the battlefield including my personal favorite: Living Death!

We have our strategy laid out, but we need to support it with card draw, removal, and mana ramp. Some spicy card draw in this deck that also supports the self-mill strategy are Atrocious Experiment, Funeral Rites, and Pilfered Plans. We also have Wharf Infiltrator and Forgotten Creation, which are Horrors that draw cards. For removal, Ravenous Chupacabra and Thing in the Ice are perfect for this deck because they're Horrors that can deal with our opponents' boards. Mana ramp includes Deranged Assistant and Millikin, which both give us mana and mill. For the mana base, I like Duskmantle, House of Shadow as a source of mill and Port of Karfell, Mortuary Mire, and Witch's Cottage as ways to get creatures back out of the graveyard. Also, of course, we're including Faerie Conclave because no blue deck is complete without it!

This deck is a blast to play. I am a big fan of graveyard strategies, and this is a very unique one! Hopefully you enjoyed reading up on Zellix, Haunted One and thank you for being here. See you next time!

Thanks for the fantastic and horror-fying entry Alec! You can follow Alec and the Faerie Conclave Podcast here!

Closing the round we have Andrew!


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It's great to be back! I'm glad that enough of y'all enjoyed a janky Elf brew for me to be here again! Hope you're ready for more! You can find me on Moxfield as ALiteralOnion, Tappedout as WebbofLies, and Instagram as custom_mtg_concepts.

Burakos, Party Leader is throwing the biggest party of the century, and you're invited! Prepare for candy, cakes, and dancing you'll never forget. I also hear that Burakos is the one true Haunted One that will bring an eon of darkness and suffering the world has never seen before. Sounds like a lit time!

When I saw the prompt for this challenge, I immediately thought of the Haunted One Background. I'd been wanting to brew with it for a while, but didn't have the inspiration. When looking at the available partners for it, none of them had the relevant creature types to make it worthwhile. None except for Burakos, who had all the creature types! I was apprehensive about doing mono-black, as the offerings for Venture and Initiative would be slimmer, but I also felt the restriction was worth it. After all, dungeon-delving with your party is the bread and butter D&D was built upon!

With my selection made, I immediately went to find all the dungeon cards I could to satisfy the second requirement without using too many rare slots. All things considered, I'm pretty happy with the selection: From the Catacombs and Acererak the Archlich are some of the best, as they allow us to venture repeatedly while gaining some pretty sweet advantages. Yuan-Ti Fang-Blade and Ravenloft Adventurer are also great since they do double duty as Party members and Dungeon-delvers. Trailblazer's Torch works well, too, as it helps Burakos attack small boards without worry.

The next step was to figure out how to best leverage Burakos and Haunted One's synergy. After thinking it through, I decided I needed three things to make it work: party members, tap/untap tools, and +1/+1 counter removal.

Party members were first, and along with the three (relevant) Changelings in black, I figured 5-7 creatures for each of Cleric, Rogue, Warrior, and Wizard would be satisfactory. Viscera Seer and Mold Folk are sac outlets, Soldevi Adnate and Blackbloom Rogue provide mana, and Demon's Disciple, Fleshbag Marauder, and Blind Zealot are removal (of sorts). We also have Corpse Augur, Graveshifter, Tormod, the Desecrator, and Whisper, Blood Liturgist to leverage our graveyard and ensure our board doesn't stay dead for long.

The next hoop we need to figure out how to tap Burakos to trigger Haunted One. Combat is the main method, but we'll also need some tools. Springleaf Drum, Paradise Mantle, Holdout Settlement, and Survivors' Encampment are famous Kalamax, the Stormsire tech that work great here. Funeral Longboat and Mobile Garrison allow us to tap Burakos at instant speed, with Garrison also untapping them on attack and allowing for double triggers. Lastly, Patriar's Seal is mana when we need it or untaps when we don't.

The final piece of the puzzle is +1/+1 counter removal. Thrull Parasite, Aetherborn Marauder, and Thief of Blood directly remove counters and allow us to reuse Haunted One's Undying boon. Banewhip Punisher and Black Sun's Zenith utilize -1/-1 counters to do the same, and they're also removal pieces should we need them. Cauldron of Souls is just fantastic! We can alternate using it and Burakos/Haunted One to keep our board (that's bigger than an X/1) virtually unkillable!

To round out the list, we have interaction, ramp, and card advantage packages to smooth out the deck. Most of the card advantage is tied up in recursion and looping our creatures, but there is Dockside Chef, Sign in Blood, and Read the Bones for draw. Coveted Prize, Illicit Shipment, and Beseech the Queen tutor up our engine pieces or responses. Maskwood Nexus immediately turns on our party while also converting our non-party creatures so they can benefit from Haunted One's buff! Living Death is a one-sided board wipe and gets us back our graveyard all in one! Gary is an all-star in any black deck, and with our recursion it's an auto-include.

A fun inclusion I found is Dark Supplicant, a Cleric which can tutor to field Scion of Darkness. This choice is made possible thanks to Double Masters 2, which downshifted the Scion to uncommon! Finally, once we have a big enough board, Shadow Alley Denizen, Mogis's Marauder, and Smogsteed Rider will give most of our board evasion to close out the game.

The 10 rare limit was certainly a tough criteria, with lots of great Party and Venture cards having to be left out. However, this deck is a fun, swingy take on mono-black and recursion, and I am very pleased with the final result!

Thanks Andrew! I hope your Haunting Party raises the roof along with your votes!

You struggle as these floating lights seem to take less damage from your blows and start to over take your party! Going in and out of sight and attacking when they see an opening, your party seems to be drained with every hit. Suddenly the wizard falls unconscious, quickly followed by the cleric! As you and the rogue stand back to back over your fallen teammates, you brace yourselves as another bright light shines in the distance. "Get down you fools" the voice cries through the fog, having no other choice, you and the rogue hit the deck. Charging through the fog on a magnificent stallion sits the old man that you helped in the tavern. "Here's my payment for the drink lad!" he says as he casts a brilliant spell and makes all of those floating lights dissipate into nothing. You say thanks, he nods and leaves as you tend to your allies.

That was the finals for the CUT #13! Which deck did you like the best? It was interesting that both of our competitors chose the same Background. Make sure to vote in the poll below and we will see the winner next time! Speaking of next time, it's double trouble as the next edition of CUT will be themed around Double Masters 2! Thanks for reading and remember if you don't love it, CUT it! If you or a friend would like to participate in a future CUT article, feel free to email or @ me on twitter @chipman007!

Poll Closes: July 8th, 2022