Hi all – Crazy’s back in the building.
You may be questioning why this article took so long to come out after the last one. The answer is Persona 5, which you should do yourself a favour and buy if you own a PS4. Now that that’s out of the way I’d like to introduce you to our newest guest all the way from the plane of Amonkhet, where being a Crazy Cat Lady is too cliche – so instead she became the Crazy Snake Lady. Clocking in at $48.45 (at time of writing – I hear some of the cards may be spiking soon), Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons.
There are two major plans to win. The first is to play like a pretty traditional EDH Midrange deck, gumming up the board with as many creatures as possible, then dropping an Overrun effect of some sort and punching out the table. The main twist on that is that a lot of our gain comes directly from our opponent’s loss with Hapatra around, generating us creatures from our opponent’s misery. The other plan – and the one we’re more likely to use if that table is a little light on creatures – is a tasty, tasty infinite combo:
Blowfly Infestation – There’s a pretty simple loop you can make with Hapatra to create infinite ETB effects and infinite death triggers. This opens up a lot of potential infinite combos but we’ve only got one of the potential win-conditions in the deck for now because of the budget – But check the recommendations at the end for if you’ve got the budget and we’ll talk about those.
Sub-Section – The loop
Putting a -1/-1 counter on something will trigger Hapatra, making a snake. If the thing you put that counter on is something which then dies (Like, say, a 1/1 Snake) you’ll trigger Blowfly Infestation, meaning you get to put down another -1/-1 counter, and if you put that on the snake you just made… Well.
Falkenrath Noble, Zulaport Cutthroat – Either of these cards will allow us to win off of the above loop via infinite lifedrain on all opponents from all the dying snakes. Aside from that neither are terrible for general value playing either.
So that’s the first plan – The second is simply to beat face. To that end we have a variety of ways to produce -1/-1 counters to go with our commander and other cards – Let’s start with the creatures that make the counters:
The (Poisoned) Beef
Carnifex Demon – Starting us off strong is one of the best distributors in the deck, a strong flyer for a reasonable price that lets you pay B to vomit counters all over the board – And with the wording of Hapatra you’ll get a snake for each creature that just got stuck with a counter.
Core Prowler – Effectively trades for at least 2 snakes, one when it blocks and puts counters on something, and then one for each counter you manage to proliferate when it dies.
Corrosive Mentor – Wither sure is a mechanic that Hapatra can get behind, since it turns every single combat with a Wither creature into more Snakes. So it stands to reason that giving the other half of your creatures Wither is pretty dirty.
Decimator Beetle – Another creature that’s pretty great since it comes in and immediately puts down a counter, with the ability to move it somewhere more relevant later – and keep doing so.
Defiant Greatmaw – The Hangry Hangry Hippo has stats far beyond his mana cost, puts down some counters when he comes in and then can pull some off your other creatures if someone’s getting a bit low.
Dusk Urchins – Not only makes counters, but draws you cards for them! Very good value play.
Exemplar of Strength – Holds -1/-1 counters very well for a two drop. Or not, which I guess is kind of the point since he turns them into life.
Flesh-Eater Imp – Given that this has infect and can sacrifice all those snakes you’ve been making to get bigger, this can make for a pretty legitimate win-condition as well as being able to pop -1/-1 counters on anything it scraps with.
Fume Spitter – With Hapatra down your best case scenario is that you replace this with a snake while killing a dork. Your worst case here is still killing a dork realistically which is pretty fine.
Grim Poppet – Holds counters about as well as Exemplar of Strength above – In that it doesn’t hold them at all and instead prefers to throw them at other people, which then makes it rain snakes and bodies.
Ichorclaw Myr – Blocks well, attacks better. Generally pretty great at making -1/-1 counters and punching pretty well for it’s cost.
Midnight Banshee – Pro: This makes Snakes like nobody’s business. Con: It also kills your snakes like nobody’s business. Pro: It also replaces the snakes it kills.
Necroskitter – Possibly the most filthy card in the deck – Anything that dies with a -1/-1 counter on it comes back under your control. That’s anything that dies in combat with Wither or Infect creatures, anything you decide to pick off with -1/-1 counter-based removal, anything that happens to be on the board with Carnifex Demon or the Banshee. It is super, super good.
Noxious Hatchling – Holds counters so well he comes in holding 4 as standard!
Phyrexian Hydra – This’ll pretty much kill someone if you hit them with it, but if they block it it gets -1/-1 counters so you get snakes. I do love a good old win-win scenario.
Plague Myr – Another infectious Myr that blocks pretty well, but can also make some mana. It’s pretty fine.
Plaguemaw Beast – What this should actually read is “Sacrifice a Snake: Make a bunch more Snakes.”
Rendclaw Trow – Gets in a fight, leaves some counters. Dies? Comes back with some counters, so he can then get in another fight.
Shambling Swarm – When it dies it explodes into counters. And also snakes.
Soulstinger – First, “Scorpion Demon” is the most metal creature type since “Wolf Construct”. Second, it makes counters on entry and death, which is pretty dope.
Wicker Warcrawler – Punches a lot harder than it should for it’s mana cost and poops out a snake every time.
Witherscale Wurm – Scroll back up to Phyrexian Hydra a sec, this one’s basically the same except it has the potential to get back to being big just by punching face.
Woodlurker Mimic – Conditional Wither is still pretty good Wither – Especially seeing as one of the turns you have wither is the turn you cast the commander you really want out with your Wither creatures.
So that’s a lot of evil, evil beef. But there’s also a lot of evil, evil spells that allow Hapatra to sow her poison:
The other kind of counter-Spells
Grasping Dunes – Sacrificing a land might be a bit steep but if you’ve gone late then you probably don’t particularly care about that – Whereas you might care about the Snake.
Cauldron of Souls – Keeps your board of beef alive while also making snakes equal to the amount of creatures that just persisted.
Contagion Clasp – Sticks something when it comes down and then continues to produce misery and snakes for all.
Grafted Exoskeleton – Produces an incredible amount of misery, no matter which deck it’s in just for the potential to kill someone pretty much by existing. Does make a bunch of -1/-1 counters when they block too.
Fevered Convulsions – An excellent source of counters in the lategame when you can afford to pump a couple counters a turn out of this.
Glistening Oil – Makes counters every turn, and that’s when you aren’t trying to drown your opponents in poison counters.
Black Sun’s Zenith – Kills everything and leaves you with a snake for each thing killed as long as your commander was on the table. Then shuffles itself back into your deck for further rounds of drowning the board in counters.
Incremental Blight – You may need 3 targets, but it’ll kill 3 creatures in the best case scenario, and probably at least one in the worst case.
Spread The Sickness – Kills one thing and then helps the rest get down with the sickness – Perhaps a little expensive on the mana side though.
Tower Above – A combat trick that gives wither and effectively doubles as removal for only 3 mana. Conveniently provides enough power to turn Phyrexian Hydra into a one-shot on someone too.
Grim Affliction – “Spread the Sickness”-lite. Only kills something a little bit but then still proliferates.
Now you may be wondering what the plan is if our commander keeps getting killed. Good job we have other cards that care about the counters we’re distributing.
Nest of Scarabs, Flourishing Defenses – Go re-read the article so far, replacing “Snake” and “Snakes” with “Insects” or “Elf Warriors” appropriately. That is how good these enchantments are in this deck.
And that’s it for -1/-1 counters and -1/-1 counter accessories. But every deck has other things in it. In this case, we have a few things to help us cash in on all of these tokens we’re creating.
Alpha Strike Force
Decimator of the Provinces – Contributes pretty hard to his own strike force thanks to having haste, which means any board where the Eldrazihoof Behemoth touches down is gonna kill someone.
Thunderfoot Baloth – Same boost to the team as above but allows you to keep attacking turn after turn with said boost instead of having to alpha everyone in one turn.
Overrun – The original, of course. Slightly bigger boost than the other two and conveniently doesn’t die to removal.
There’s also some minor tribal component considering the amount of snakes we’re making:
Sosuke, Son of Seshiro – Powers up all of our snakes, which is pretty great, but notably turns the Elf Warrior tokens produced by Flourishing Defences into honorary snakes an well by giving them deathtouch, which is pretty nice.
Second Harvest – Double down hard on the snakes – Literally. As an instant at that.
And that’s the real meat and potatoes of the deck, but every good meal, er, deck needs something on the side – One of those things is:
Catacomb Sifter – So not card “Advantage” strictly speaking but it’ll increase your card filtering dramatically after, say, Midnight Banshee or Black Sun’s Zenith kills and replaces a bunch of your snakes.
Harvester of Souls – It’s not uncommon that we’re killing a lot of our own creatures, never mind our opponents. This helps us turn that into more card draw.
Lifecrafter’s Bestiary – Turns every creature you play into a potential opportunity to draw a card, while also offering consistent card selection as well. An excellent budget card (Still can’t believe I missed this a few articles ago).
Diabolic Tutor – Again, strictly not card advantage but when you’re using it to grab Blowfly Infestation or Overrun to win the game does that really matter?
Shamanic Revelation – Another one I should have been putting in decks before now, but in this deck in particular it seems absolutely filthy, since we’re aiming to produce several tokens per counter.
You’d think with all those -1/-1 counters and deathtouch snakes we probably wouldn’t need more removal right? Wrong.
Things that kill things
Brood Butcher – Turns your creatures into even more removal. And we have a lot of creatures.
Beast Within – 3 mana to destroy target problem, leaves them with a 3/3 beast but that’s just something we can turn into 3 snakes right?
Krosan Grip– A naturalize that can’t be responded to is a naturalize that’s pretty great in my eyes.
Murder – 3 words to kill them all. Well, apart from the ones that are hexproof/indestructible/regenerate/etc.
Putrefy – Kills either a creature or a rock, neither of which are terrible targets.
You may have noticed that a lot of these things need mana. Good thing we’re in Green huh?
Sakura-Tribe Elder – Similar to above, but actually finds you a land.
Everflowing Chalice – The build-your-own rock, that also happens to benefit greatly from all of the Proliferate in the deck.
Golgari Signet – A pretty usual rock, most 2-3 colour decks play a set of signets and with good reason.
Now, if we were working with a bit more budget, we’d be cooking with fire – Gonna split this into 2 sections though depending on how you want to play this deck:
Better Tutor – Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, Grim Tutor, Worldly Tutor
More Combo Pieces – Doubling Season, Primal Vigor, Essence Warden, Blood Artist
To explain the above – every combo deck wants the increased tutor but the combo pieces above are designed to go infinite with the Blowfly Infestation loop described near the start – With a token doubler you’ll make Infinite snake tokens from the loop (Although even in this deck you can use Flourishing Defences or Nest of Scarabs to produce the same effect), whereas Essence Warden will tack infinite life onto the combo and Blood artist provides some additional redundancy to the original combo.
The cornerstones of midrange beatdown are having a better alpha strike and having better consistent damage streams, and the above cards will help you with both.
And there we have the first No-Cash commander of Amonkhet. I have to say I fell in love with this commander as soon as I saw it, as some of you may know if you read my Legendary Encounters series. I may build this as a budgetless build myself, but if you decide to build this deck or have any suggestions for it feel free to give us a shout on our Facebook Page – Don’t forget we’re always taking requests for the no-cash series as well!