Eldritch Moon spoilers are in full swing, and while ‘Eldritch’ is one of my favourite words, that’s pretty much the high point of the set for me so far.  In the GDC Slack chat, we’ve discussing cards as they get spoiled and talking about how they will fit in EDH and other formats; perhaps not surprisingly, the legendary creatures are getting a lot of focus, and the recent showing of Gisa and Geralf – the new blue/black zombie tribal general – provoked a bit of a conversation.

Gisa-and-Geralf-Eldritch-Moon-Spoiler-216x302

This general is basically handing you a deck.  There are very few surprises that are going to come out of this build, and within a few weeks every list will be about 95% identical to every other list.  This is a boring general, and one that we will see a ton of as a result.

However…

In our conversation about it, we threw out some hyperbole about how we would build it, and I came out with the idea that I would build Gisa and Geralf with no production of black mana, while still planning to use it as the general.  It was laughed at, and somebody said I should do it, and I started in on a list.  

I’m currently nine cards short of a full deck, and I do technically have a black mana source – but it requires black mana to use it, so I’ll allow it.  (Dark Ritual is the only card in the current list that will produce black mana.)

Find the full list here.

Looking at this challenge, I also chose to omit Omniscience, as that seemed way too obvious a loophole – Show and Tell made the cut, though.  I started with the lands, as that afforded me the only real way to get Gisa and Geralf into play:

[Deck title=Land]
Command Beacon
Arcane Lighthouse
Temple of the False God
Maze of Ith
36 Island[/deck]

Without Command Beacon, this deck would not work.  Thankfully, it really only needs to happen once – as soon as Gisa and Geralf are in my hand from the first activation, they are in an accessible zone for the rest of the game.  In case they get exiled, however, Crucible of Worlds and Diminishing Returns are in the list largely to get Command Beacon back into play if I have to.  

This is not an ideal solution, but it is the best I can find with the restrictions I have.

Now, onto the fun stuff – making black work without black mana.  Thankfully, blue is possibly the best colour at cheating in Magic.  There are tons of ways to get free spells in this list – most of them blue:

[Deck title=Freeeeeedooooooom!]
AEther Vial
Belbe’s Portal
Quicksilver Amulet
Kathari Remnant
Counterlash
Show and Tell
Deny Reality
Temporal Aperture
Diluvian Primordial
Djinn of Wishes
Guile
Master of Predicaments
Dream Halls
Rooftop Storm[/deck]

Some of these are artifacts, and some of them make you jump through some hoops.  Really, the best of the bunch here are Dream Halls and Rooftop Storm, the second of which is bleedingly obvious.  Dream Halls does better work here in my opinion, because it pitches things to my graveyard to cast off of my general while also casting things from my hand for free.  The ideal play with this is to pitch Geralf’s Masterpiece to cast Rooftop Storm, and then just cast the Masterpiece for free.  Pitching Gravecrawler to cast Living Death in the late game to just run the table over works too.  

I mentioned my addition of Dark Ritual]/card] as the only black mana source, and I justified it with the cost of a black mana to actually cast it.  To aid things a little, [card]Isochron Scepter is here, and though there are not many targets for this, they are good enough that I should always have a good option to imprint on it.

[Deck title=Scepter Spells]
Dark Ritual
Counterspell
Go for the Throat[/Deck]

Three targets is not many at all, but holding Isochron in my hand is not really a problem – especially once I drop Dream Halls, people will assume that I’m holding countermagic that I can cast, provided I have two cards in hand.  

For tutors, I am running Rune-Scarred Demon, Ring of Three Wishes, Liliana Vess, and Trinket Mage.  The Mage only has a few targets, but again, they are all things I would be happy to get:

[Deck title=Trinkets]
Skullclamp
AEther Vial
Mana Vault
Sol Ring[/Deck]

Honestly, more often than not I am getting the Vial, because it does so much work in this deck.  The ideal count is four on the vial, but there are good options all along the way.  

Both Living Death and Living End are here, and form the best way to vomit a pile of zombies into play.  Ashes of the Fallen and Conspiracy make sure that every creature in my graveyard is a zombie, and can be cast (ideally for free) off Gisa and Geralf’s ability.  Cards like Zombie Infestation provide a steady stream of zombies into my graveyard, and Grimoire of the Dead fills both that role and acts as a third Living End.  I considered Rise of the Dark Realms, because honestly this is a deck where it works and makes sense outside of being ‘goodstuff’, but I honestly don’t need it.  There is enough here, and the deck’s plan is solid enough, that I’m fine without it.

.     .     .     .     .

I wrote this list as a test, to see if it could be done.  I started this with no real intention of actually building or playing it, but I’m honestly looking forward to getting a copy of the cards I’m missing, because I really, really want to play this, if only for the looks on the faces of everyone when they realize what’s happening.

-James