Pokedecks: Grothama, the Cradily

Unsummoned Skull • August 18, 2023

Watch Me Whip!

One of the topics du jour is signature decks for content creators. Over the next few articles, I'm going to discuss the various PokeDecks that came from my former signature deck, Simic Burn.

Like the Klothys Enchantress deck from a couple weeks ago, Simic Burn showed my affinity for colorshifting strategies, something I share with the illustrious Philomene Gatien, of Do Your Worst fame. Check out her version of Simic Burn!

As for mine, well... it's my most popular deck on Moxfield, but, sadly, it no longer exists in physical form. One the decks born from its ashes, however, is my Grothama Power Whip!

Grothama, All-Devouring

Simic Burn, helmed by my all-time favorite goofball commander, Vorel of the Hull Clade, was one of the first decks I built when I developed an online presence. I wanted to make a deck where Unsummon, my favorite card, could be used as a win condition. I did that by using hand-size-matters cards, like Storm Seeker, in concert with mass bounce, like Evacuation, for big blasts of damage. The biggest weakness of the deck was that Vorel did very little and seemed like a waste.

Dropping the blue allowed me to put a way to maximize Storm Seeker in the command zone, making the deck able to use a different element of the first Pro Tour deck to pique my interest: Owling Mine! Owling Mine used Howling Mine with Sudden Impact and bounce spells to deal similar damage to what Storm Seeker did for the Simic Burn deck.

With a plan in mind, I started looking over grass-type Pokemon that fit the vibe. I was looking for a whiplike Pokemon that could represent the way the deck lashed out and reversed the opponent's strength, but nothing really called to me. Then, I thought about one of the last battles of the Pokemon anime with Ash Ketchum, where he battled a Cradily with Power Whip. I decided that the red whiplike appendages and green body would be a gorgeous alter that honored the burn effects and mono-green deck. But how could I make this into a deck that felt mine and embraced both the card and the alter?

Grothama's Abilities

The first challenge was to figure out what Grothama brings to the table. Switching commanders was a big reason for cutting green, so there was a lot of pressure on the new commander to justify unseating my favorite commander and cutting a color. Also, the original deck showcased bouncing, which was what made it a signature deck, so how could I maintain some of that feeling?

Erratic Portal is one of my favorite Unsummon effects, as it's able to go into any deck, be both a useful card and a political one, and act as a "gotcha" removal effect. In this deck, it also allows me to remove Grothama whenever I want to. Grothama's ability to draw cards for my opponents triggers when it leaves the battlefield, not just when it specifically dies, so bouncing it can enable players to draw without adding to the commander tax!

Beast Within is a fairly popular removal spell in green, but it's particularly useful here, as I want opponents to keep bodies around to throw at Grothama. This just makes sure that it's the RIGHT body and that Grothama isn't in any real danger.

Transmogrifying Wand is similar to Beast Within, as it removes a body and replaces it with another one. Like Erratic Portal, however, it's a continuous source of removal. Unfortunately, its timing is limited to sorcery speed, so it's not quite as useful, but universal removal in green is always solid, and leaving things for Grothama to devour is something every good trainer should do.

Cradily's Moves

The next challenge is to figure out how to cross the IP from Pokemon to Magic. Cradily is a grass type, which seems to fit, and it looks like an ancient version of a Venus Fly Trap, which helps to explain the luring aspect of Grothama, but how does the lashing out with tendrils translate into Magic? Easy! There's a move called Power Whip, which damages opponents with vines or tentacles!

Storm Seeker is possibly the most important/fun/innovative card in the deck. Green doesn't get a lot of ways to directly damage opponents, and this one scales! It really feels like the opponent is getting lured in close to Grothama by the promise of cards, only to get trapped and recognize the bait with the fight, and ultimately have that energy used against them with the burn. Synergy is a beautiful thing.

Primal Order is another way the deck can lure opponents into taking big chunks of damage. As opponents draw cards, they naturally want to play cards out and explode onto the field. One way they do this is by consistently making land drops. Why is making land drops a trap? Because people are getting greedier and greedier with their manabases, resulting in more nonbasics than they should be running, and Primal Order hits them for damage, punishing them for their greed!

Iron Maiden, Black Vise, and Viseling are all similar effects I build into decks like this to increase the smackdown. If I want this deck to be less hug and more slug, however, these effects do stack, and can result in massive damage. Some playgroups prefer faster games and dislike the idea of giving resources to opponents.

So, how do I make the deck more aggressive?

The Perfect Fusion

Arguably, the most difficult job is to fuse together the commander and the Pokemon. Grothama lures opponents in with the promise of massive draw, while Cradily represents the whiplike trap. But someone's not drawing cards in this scenario, which needs to be remedied: ME! If I'm playing a 10-power commander, I deserve something, too, right?

Rishkar's Expertise is a nasty, nasty green stompy card. With a powerful commander, it draws a ton of cards and plays a pretty big spell for free. Green ramps hard, and this can come out the turn after our commander for a huge swing!

Speaking of drawing tons of cards because our commander is huge, Momentous Fall is a way to do so at instant speed! It also gives us a life buffer, and enables us to remove Grothama and trigger its ability.

While we're drawing huge amounts of cards, why not damage our opponents? Psychosis Crawler has each opponent lose life when we draw, which turns the massive draw of Rishkar's Expertise and Momentous Fall into Storm Seekers!

Grothama, Use Power Whip!

Here is the most recent iteration of the deck, which is still one of my favorites. Is it an improvement over the original Simic Burn? How would you update either deck? And how do they compare to Philomene's takes?

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Teacher, judge, DM, & Twitch Affiliate. Lover of all things Unsummon. Streams EDH, Oathbreaker, D & D, & Pokemon. Even made it to a Pro Tour!