I ran Daretti, Scrap Savant last week in a four-man game including two people I had never played with before and an old friend of mine who I know well. Daretti did not perform well, mainly because I built him with my older playgroup in mind: grindy, swingy, big plays. Instead I got guys who just wanted to have fun and cast spells that made us laugh as kids.

Things like Jokulhaups. For no reason.

Why? Just why.


I want to stick with this new playgroup (it’s a newer shop in town, and a group of people there want to play Commander but rarely get the chance), sp when I got home I took Daretti apart. That left me with just one deck, Thelon of Havenwood, and I like to have a choice when I sit down. I needed to build another deck.

I have not been buying many cards lately for a few reasons. MM2 is too expensive for the likely rewards, and the last two sets of Khans were underwhelming for me. So my selection of potential commanders hasn’t really changed in a few months, and I was flipping through my legendary box and not getting any inspiration. I had either already built it, or tried to and couldn’t get it to work, or it was blue/white and therefore incredibly boring. I was stuck, and to be honest I was a little despondent. [Editor’s Note: Seems like a lot of people on team GDC are going through a mini deck-building crisis.]

The Saddest.

I started a few lists, but got annoyed with how they were turning out and scrapped them. I pored over the Gatherer to find a new general, but nothing struck my fancy. On the verge of giving up, I decided to look at it a different way. I thought, “What was the most fun I have ever had with a deck, win or lose?”

And the answer was obvious.

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

In my opinion, this guy enables the most fun you can have with three other people while all of you have your pants on.

Grenzo can be built in a few different ways, and all of them are awesome. I’ve built him a few times using various paths, but for this I went back to my first take on him. It’s not really tribal, but kind of is—if “0-power, enters-with-counters” is a tribe.

Grenzo was released in Conspiracy, and he is almost the sole reason I bought a box of that set. I liked him so much I bought him as a single at the same time, just in case. The set also featured my favourite card for this deck – Ignition Team – as well as an enabler for Grenzo in Reito Lantern, and one of the best multiplayer finishers ever in Scourge of the Throne.

The best part about Grenzo is that his ability seems like it should be one that is easy to build around, but you really have to look for things to make it work. You need to scry and clash, and will add some cards that would never, ever see the inside of an EDH deck otherwise. Cards like Soldevi Digger, Tel-Jilad Stylus, Highway Robber, Hoarder’s Greed, and my personal favourite Lim-Dul’s Paladin. This is a deck that you have to work at, rather than just cast things and let the board evolve as it may.

It’s an aggressive deck on the surface, but it is really all about control. It’s recurring Nekrataal over and over again to deal with problems. It’s a Gray Merchant of Asphodel every single turn to stay alive. It’s dropping Ob Nixilis, Unshackled in response to someone’s casting of Collective Voyage or Demonic Tutor, or Blood Artist in response to a sweeper. It’s a Mindmoil that you get to use to full potential, and a Teferi’s Puzzle Box that you get to smile about.

I also like that it is really easy to go infinite with Grenzo with permanents cast from your hand. Priest of Urabrask, Priest of Gix, and Ashnod’s Altar give you infinite coloured mana with Grenzo on board. Follow that with Comet Storm to win the game the same turn you cast the Priest and his Altar.

Because there are so many ways to get cards from your graveyard to the bottom of your library in this deck, your sac outlets are basically just value engines. When you can sacrifice something to Viscera Seer, scry the card to the bottom, use Reito Lantern to put the sac’d creature on the bottom as well, and then spend four to put both cards on the battlefield, you start to see the value in Grenzo. Imagine if those two targets are Solemn Simulacrum and Flayer of the Hatebound.

Just pure value.

But most of these value plays are not oppressively powerful. Grenzo doesn’t win every game; he doesn’t even win half the games he’s in. But he brings the fun every time. He makes people laugh, and he always gives you a chance to stick around in games. You can win in big ways, absolutely, but more often than not you’re just a rock in the path. A big, heavy rock that takes way too much effort to move, but one that will get shifted aside eventually.

I smile every time I look at the deck, and that’s kind of the point.