Good Grief – Fog in Commander

Andrew Floury • September 30, 2021

Fog by Jaime Jones

Welcome to this installment of Good Grief, the series about powerful commander strategies that make us say good grief, and ways to combat them. I’m Andy Floury and you may know me from the Guardian Project podcast or from Commander steams throughout the community. This month I’m writing about Commander decks focused on preventing combat damage by utilizing Fog in Commander along with every variant ever printed.

I’m Feeling Foggy 

In commander, Fog decks get their namesake from Fog, a card released in Magic’s first set, Alpha. Fog strategies involve the prevention of combat damage during a given turn. There are currently 130+ cards that allow a player to prevent combat damage. Some of these cards prevent combat damage from all sources while others prevent combat damage from a single creature on a given turn.

These decks negate combat-focused Commander strategies from making a meaningful impact throughout the game. They’re also inherently political. They lend themselves to creating an environment based on alliances until they get to a point where they can recycle and reuse their spells to prevent anyone from dealing combat damage for the remainder of the game. They often win through alternate win conditions rather than by combat damage themselves.

Let’s look at some of the most commonly played cards when it comes to Fog in Commander.

 

Constant Mists is a repeatable spell that allows the player to prevent combat damage as many times as they can pay for it. You’ll be hard pressed to find many green decks that aren’t ramping lands into play so they’ll likely have some spare to pay for that buyback cost. But once its pairs with a card that allows the player to play lands their your graveyard, like Ramunap Excavator, they will negate the cost of that sacrificed land. Glacial Chasm is a land that must be sacrificed if you don’t pay its cumulative upkeep cost. Pairing this too with a card that allows lands to be played from a graveyard is a potent combo.

Spike Weaver and Spore Frog are creature-based fog cards that can be abused by certain commanders and Stonehorn Dignitary is featured in decks that can flicker their creatures to trigger enter the battlefield abilities multiple times.

Let’s discuss some commanders that take advantage of these cards.

Constant Mists

Some commanders that commonly emerge from the mists are Angus Mackenzie, Meren, of Clan Nel Toth, and Muldrotha, the Gravetide.

Angus Mackenzie having access to white, blue, and green is able to utilize the top options for Fog in Commander and gains access to countermagic to back them up. Many Angus decks focus on controlling combat for the remainder of the game after setting up a board state with cards like Seedborn Muse. Once they can prevent damage consistently, the remaining players turn on each other.

Meren and Muldrotha are able to reanimate Spore Frog and Spike Weaver near constantly. Although these decks can fold to some graveyard hate, this is a consistent strategy that, when left unchecked, can prevent combat for the rest of the game.

Lets Fog Them Up

We’ve got a plenty of options to stop a Fog deck. We’re going to start with the cards that say damage can’t be prevented.

Can’t stop this

Malignus is a well-known creature whose combat damage cannot be prevented. Being a huge beater, this is probably one the best creatures we’re going to run. This will at least force a block from our opponent. Excruciator is a backup although at eight mana, it’s likely only going to appear late game. We’ve also got Bonecrusher Giant which doesn’t allow damage to be prevented for a turn, if you send it on an adventure to stomp out our opponent. A 4/3 body that can deal non combat damage isn’t anything to scoff at either.

At instant speed we’ve got Skullcrack, Unstable Footing, and Wild Slash which all come with a damage effect stapled onto them while Flaring Pain has flashback so it can be cast from your graveyard.

These are important because they can be cast in response to a damage prevention spell. Cards that say something *can’t* be prevented will take precedence. In other words, if your opponents prevents combat damage and you play one of these spells, your combat damage will go through. There is no stack to worry about.

I’m looking at the insult side of Insult//Injury to force our combat damage through. Here we get the added benefit of dealing double damage when we swing with our large creatures. And finally, Leyline of Punishment is free if it’s in our hand at the beginning of the game. Being an enchantment, it’s less likely that it will be removed over a creature or an artifact causing other problems.

Loss of Life

The backup plan here is to cause loss of life as it won’t be negated by Fog cards. I’m going to focus on an aristocrat strategy where you sacrifice creatures to your own benefit.

Running cards like Blood Artist, Zulaport Cutthroat, Bastion of Remembrance, Cruel Celebrant, and Judith, the Scourge Diva help us get around combat damage prevention cards and leave your opponent searching for answers to these creatures.

There are a few commanders that can take advantage of this strategy but since I’m going to try to force combat through, I’d like to have a commander that can take my opponents down a notch.

Clearing the Air

We’re venturing into Fog in Commander with partners Trynn, Champion of Freedom and Silvar, Devourer of the Free but it would be wrong of me to not mention Questing Beast this month. Questing Beast is a fantastic commander to combat Fog in Commander, forcing damage through to our opponents. Suiting it up with equipment to take an opponent out with commander damage is relevant but being mono green doesn’t allow me to take advantage of many spells that grief the Fog strategy. If you’re looking for an alternate solution this is certainly an option to explore.

Mardu colors give us access to red for our spells that say damage can’t be prevented and white and black for the aristocrat subtheme. Silvar is large enough that it triggers Ferocious for Wild Slash and can grow in power throughout the game for commander damage to matter.

Here is where I landed with this build. I hope you enjoyed this article and I’d like to hear from you. How would you combat a Fog strategy?

Trynn / Silvar EDH

Commander (2)
Lands (36)
Creatures (33)
Sorceries (5)
Enchantments (6)
Instants (8)
Planeswalkers (1)
Artifacts (9)

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Andy Floury is ½ of the Guardian Project Podcast. He started playing Magic following the release of Gatecrash and has been playing ever since. Insurance professional by day but commander by nights and weekends. Follow him on Twitter @atfloury for updates on his content!