For those of us who are multiplayer enthusiasts rather than 1v1 players, the Magic Online Commander format is a little strange right now. Luckily, that’s going to be fixed when Hour of Devastation drops, but until then, I’m playing a lot less Commander online than I normally would. But I have judged quite a few Limited events recently, and in that time, I’ve had the opportunity to see just how much fun the Gods look like they’ll be in Commander. Bontu the Glorified caught my eye at an RPTQ, and I decided it was time to brew something up with one of the new overlords.
Bontu wants your creatures to die for her, and luckily for you, she provides you with an easy way to make that happen. Of course, you’re going to frustrate the heck out of the rest of the table when you activate her last ability, but at least you get to scry when you do.
Bontu encourages you to provide her with lots of tokens, recursive creatures, and creatures that you don’t mind sacrificing. (Some creatures might even be ones you want to sacrifice!) She also encourages you to find other ways to benefit from the deaths of your creatures. Luckily, this shouldn’t be too difficult at all.
From one-time token armies to consistent token generation over time, there’s actually an impressive swath of token-generating cards in black. Abhorrent Overlord is one of my personal favorite “army-in-a-can” cards, as it piggybacks on the costs of cards like Grave Pact that are intended as restrictions for decks that aren’t lucky enough to be mono-colored.
Endrek Sahr requires some specific management of the Thrull tokens he brings, but I don’t really see this as a problem. After all, between Bontu and your other sacrifice outlets, it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to control their numbers. The impressive number of tokens Endrek Sahr can generate more than makes up for this limitation, and even if you “only” end up getting 7 tokens out of him, it’s still a worthwhile investment.
Ghoulcaller Gisa also deserves a specific mention, based again on the raw number of tokens she can create. Unlike Endrek Sahr, Gisa has to survive a turn cycle before she’s useful, but when she does, your opponents will learn their lesson quickly, especially if you’re sacrificing something that’s better off in the graveyard anyway.
These cards will give you lots of tokens as long as you put in the work. All 3 work incredibly well with Grave Pact effects in slightly different ways, and they all reward you for sacrificing nontoken creatures. This might seem like a high cost until you find out that you’re bringing 36 creatures besides Bontu, many of which don’t mind a trip to the graveyard. Some of them even find their way back once in a while.
These cards all help you cheat death, either by bringing themselves or other cards back from the dead or by leaving other creatures behind when they exit. Scourge of Nel Toth is an interesting one in that it requires a couple of sacrifices, but it’s a serious recursive threat. Reassembling Skeleton, on the other hand, is the ultimate sacrificial lamb… er, skeleton.
These cards all help you benefit from the (un)timely demise of your own creatures. Whether they generate mana, disrupt your opponents’ boards, drain life, or draw you cards, these cards celebrate the cycle of life and death (well, mostly death) along with Bontu. In engine terms, they are the pistons. Or the catalytic converter. Or the test I failed in 8th grade science about the internal combustion engine. Sorry, Mr. Greenbaum.
One of my favorite things about this suite of cards is the incredible amount of redundancy I have. There are 3 Grave Pact effects, which means you will have one quickly in most games. Similarly, Blood Artist and its 2 Hollywood sound-alikes allow you to be sure that you’ll have something that makes life totals change faster than just Bontu by herself. You’ll need this, because you’ll be seriously aggro’ing the table with all that global damage/life loss.
With all this talk of creatures dying, you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of sacrifice outlets. Bontu is going to be available to you most of the time, but she can’t do everything herself.
These are your 8 repeatable sacrifice outlets, which should be plenty given that your Commander makes it 9. They vary widely in cost and effect, but sometimes all you need is to kill your Kokusho at the right time to close the game down, and that’s why these cards are here. Special attention should be paid to Phyrexian Plaguelord and Viscera Seer, as they’re repeatable and don’t require any cost past the sacrifice. Vampiric Rites, while costlier, is quickly becoming one of my favorite cards for this type of deck and should not be ignored.
Okay, this isn’t technically a sac outlet, but have you seen how many 1-toughness creatures you can pump out?
You have a few one-shot sacrifice effects, and these are suitably powerful. From drawing swaths of cards to destroying swaths of creatures, your 2 sorceries on display here have great effects when you can feed them with tons of tokens. They’re even more explosive with a Blood Artist effect in the mix, of course.
Disciple of Bolas and Sidisi are a bit humbler, but each one serves a purpose. Sometimes, sacrificing a Scourge of Nel Toth to refill your hand or throw away a single token to tutor up a card of your choice will be exactly what you need to close out a game.
I’m hoping to record some videos with this one when I get a chance, and I’m sure I’ll tweak the list when I do, but for now, here’s the current version. As usual, I’ve provided The Bench, a list of ten other cards I considered but didn’t include. You can use them as replacements for cards you don’t have or a jumping-off point for customization!
Commander: Bontu the Glorified
That’s all for this time! Do you have a Bontu list or similar multiplayer Commander deck? What would you add to this list, and what would you remove to make room? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll see you again soon.