How They Brew It - Punching Bag

Michael Celani • February 18, 2022

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed by Tyler Jacobson

You've tried everything: push-ups, dead lifting, treadmills, yoga, push-downs, weight-loss supplements, and even electroshock therapy. You've tried cutting back on fatty foods, fatty acids, and fat beats. You've even tried posting pictures of yourself online so people roast you for encouragement. It feels like nothing works! Well, now there's a better way to exercise that doesn't require your time or a foreign bot farm. Experts have long known that boxing is one of the most intense sports, but punching bags have always been out of reach for the average consumer. With our new workout, you too can train like the pros, because you are the punching bag!

Dead Man Lifting

Hi, I'm Michael Celani, exercise expert, or exercexpert for short. You might have seen me before on hit shows like Do or Diet and Weight, Is This Loss?, and I'm here to tell you about a revolution in fitness. Ordinary workouts can cost hundreds of dollars in union fees. A new video game system with the latest hits sounds like fun, so why not skip the bill on the bench? When you use my patent-pending Punch-Yourself Workout, the only thing fat left on you will be stacks of cash.

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed will be your personal trainer for the evening. Every time you cast a noncreature spell while he's on the battlefield, you hit yourself in the face. But that's okay, because the rest of our training regimen takes advantage of that damage and transforms it into sweet gains!

Personal Protective Equipment

Of course, when you hit yourself, people will ask why. Scientific studies show that prolonged hitting-yourself can result in injury1. Luckily, if you suit up Ruric Thar, the Unbowed with the proper protective gear, you can cast noncreature spells without the risk of an mTBI.

  • If there's anything a Basilisk hates, it's a collar -- especially a Basilisk Collar, which is a cheap way to stuff both lifelink and deathtouch on Ruric Thar.
  • If there's anything a Werewolf loves, it's a bone -- especially a Batterbone, which is more of the same, but with the added benefit of being an early game blocker.
  • Alternate-universe evil playwright William Shadowspear puts on a magnificent performance with Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, or go for its much cheaper cousin Loxodon Warhammer.

1. For more information, view the study at

Spin Doctors

Our lawyers have legally advised us that you should talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen. We recommend the Witch's Clinic, who everyone agrees is not liable for anything.

  • The easiest way to get to the Witch's Clinic is by following the Expedition Map. Sylvan Scrying also shows you a clear route there.
  • If you don't need to go to the hospital, send an enemy's flier there instead with the often-overlooked second mode on Nylea's Intervention.
  • Don't name everyone a foe just yet: try making an alliance when casting Pir's Whim, and the value might end up being worth more than a single land.
  • Reap and Sow can blow up a terrifying territory in a pinch, or just tutor one from your deck onto the field.

Out for the Season

Once Ruric Thar is on the field, his biggest problem is that all the accredited scientists that have conclusively disproven our methods haters out there want him silenced. His second biggest problem is that Ruric Thar likes picking fights himself, because he attacks each combat if able. Luckily, we've come up with a workaround: just shove the big lug in a car.

  • Trading the cycling on Commander's Sphere for a so-so body in Cultivator's Caravan might not seem like the best idea, but you'll be the only one with anything capable of attacking after a board wipe.
  • Reckoner Bankbuster draws cards, pacifies Ruric, and even comes with a free Treasure token for your troubles, all for two mana.
  • If you want a Vehicle that's offensive, might I suggest purchasing a Buick Mizzium Tank animates itself whenever you cast a noncreature spell and it has trample and prowess-at-home slapped onto it. It's the perfect sidecar for hitting the one player at the table who never seems to have any permanents, yet never seems to lose, either.
  • Conqueror's Galleon, a card I slapped into my original Gabriel Angelfire list thereby causing it to spike on his EDHREC page, actually makes sense here. Not only can you effectively crew it with Ruric, it comes back as a land capable of recurring any of your crucial lifelink pieces.
  • Though there aren't many token-generators in the deck, Esika's Chariot is off to the races on its own because it can copy its own Squirrel tokens. Don't forget that it can also clone any incidental Treasure you might have.
  • Skysovereign, Consul Flagship is an expensive bolt, but it's a repeatable one, and was recently reprinted in the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Commander deck.

For Some Definition of "Gain"

You might notice after you've punched yourself in the face that your life total hasn't budged. Don't worry; this is normal and expected behavior. What actually happened is you've both lost and gained six life at the same time, so you're still able to run those sweet lifegain payoffs!

  • Punch yourself in the face a few times and Voracious Wurm will eat it up. It can enter as an 8/8 for only two mana and is lithe enough to wriggle through a Rogue's Passage.
    • Ageless Entity is similar, but you don't have to gain the life before you cast it. Bluff that you don't have any instant-speed spells, and then block for much more than expected!
    • Blood Hound also works off of your opponents hitting you, but be aware that those counters go away at the end of your turn.
  • Not only is Honor Troll a 4/4 for 3, he's also the school bully that actually makes hitting yourself a net positive.
  • Accomplished Alchemist will routinely tap for upwards of ten mana so you can cast multiple big spells in a turn.
    • On a similar note, Ezzaroot Channeler will make your creatures largely free, and he'll even gain you life on his own.
  • Ever wanted your spells to draw six cards? Well of Lost Dreams will make your wishes come true, and you don't even have to pay full price if you don't want to.
  • Trudge Garden helps you out on defense. Remember, you gain life when your opponents cast spells, too, so it's not a bad way to spend your mana if you're low on cards.
  • Fortifying Draught gives a creature at least +8/+8, a stat boost usually reserved for Righteousness.
  • Sun Droplet and Angelheart Vial also indirectly turn your damage into lifegain, and in Vial's case, even some additional card draw.
  • Finally, put Craterhoof Behemoth to shame by swinging out with a Blossoming Bogbeast for huge, repeatable alpha strikes!

Out of Work

For only five easy payments of $99.99.99, you too can get the full package, including thirteen VHS tapes and DVDs, a workout mixtape including all your favorite jams, and a single kneepad. But if you order now, in the next fifteen minutes, I'll also throw in access to the new, exclusive, which I swear is not a Rickroll like that other site was earlier in the article. From there you can check out all my other projects and join the Discord that lets you vote on which Commander I cover next. See you there!

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Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.