Fat Stacks—Gisa and Geralf Finally Get Along

Feature Article from Cassidy Silver
Cassidy Silver
7/5/2016 11:00:00 AM
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Hello! This week, I want to take a look at another two-color legend from the spoils of Eldritch Moon. Instead of the fearsome Werewolf lord, let's check out the infamous brother and sister creepshow known as Gisa and Geralf. They were first introduced in the original Innistrad block, and then we got them as individual cards in the Commander 2014 release, but how do they fare as a tag-team?

 Gisa and Geralf
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Magic MTG Card Gisa and Geralf Magic MTG Card
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There are a few layers with this card, the most glaring of which is their trademark Sarcomancy. To start with, they are collectively a 4/4 Human Wizard for 2UB. When they come into play, we mill the top four cards of our library. While they are in play, we may cast a Zombie creature from our graveyard once during our turn.

As I mentioned, their main strength is that Zombie technology. Unfortunately though, Gisa and Geralf are not Zombies themselves, so a more traditional Zombie tribal deck may not apply. Even if they were Zombies, I think Grimgrin, Corpse-Born might be better as a commander for the Zombie horde. Lorewise, Grimgrin was created by Geralf so technically he is still in control when Grimgrin is leading the deck.

If not Zombie tribal, what shall we do with these crazy siblings? Thinking in more broad strokes, they actually remind me of a legend I am very familiar with: Karador, Ghost Chieftain. Their Zombie reanimation ability is basically a nerfed version of Karador's, and there are even a few Zombies that a Karador deck would play.

 Karador, Ghost Chieftain
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Basically, we can use any Zombie that has a decent enters the battlefield ability for long-term profit. Fleshbag Marauder and Sidisi, Undead Vizier were my first thoughts here, but Skinrender and Corpse Connoisseur are both fantastic as well. We also have Cackling Fiend, Phyrexian Delver, and Gray Merchant of Asphodel to add in, all of which provide very strong effects.

Because we have a few different colors between Gisa / Geralf and Karador, a lot of our removal options need to be coming from Zombies. Farbog Boneflinger, Silumgar Butcher, and Gloomdrifter are all pretty decent for killing foes. Sedraxis Alchemist is quite good with Gisa and Geralf's blueness, and the Stitched Mangler will also act as pseudo removal. Lastly, Agent of Erebos has a form of removal with its Bojuka Bog effect.

Since we have a bunch of Zombies, I do want to include a few of the tribal synergies, even if we don't go deep into it. I want creatures that will Reanimate themselves, so Gravecrawler and Relentless Dead are perfect for this deck. We also have the Prized Amalgam, which doesn't necessarily need Zombies to work, but it will trigger frequently in this deck either way. It is all tied together by Rooftop Storm, which is worded well enough to allow us to cast Zombies from the graveyard with Gisa and Geralf for free.

 Rooftop Storm
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We are coming to the end of the Zombie section, and we really need to start figuring out what kind of end game we want. We have a great shell for control with all the recursive enters the battlefield effects in here, and we could easily fall back on the Grimgrin plus Gravecrawler in a combo capacity. There is actually another tribe to consider, especially since our generals are Wizards. The two cards that tie the tribes together will exemplify the other strategies in the deck: Havengul Lich and Lich Lord of Unx.

So, my idea with the Wizard portion of this deck comes down to the card Conspiracy. I would name Zombies, so that I could Reanimate Snapcaster Mage, or perhaps Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. Obviously this isn't something to rely on at all, but it does serve as a jumping off point. Riptide Laboratory is great with Wizards, especially if they are blocking big creatures without trample. Diviner's Wand goes well in any deck that has a Wizard for a commander, as it will equip for free, draw cards, and give a flying buff for each card drawn.

 Diviner's Wand
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Two of the Wizards we haven't really discussed much are the actual cards of Ghoulcaller Gisa and Stitcher Geralf. They both have mechanics that create Zombie Tokens, whether they are a bunch of 2/2 ghouls from Gisa, or a single X/X Abomination from Geralf. In making a Gisa and Geralf deck, I want to be faithful to the two single color legends as well. I mentioned that the Lich Lord of Unx would represent a large strategy of the deck, because it makes tokens! Cemetery Reaper and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet will also make some Zombie Tokens for us, and both help to control opponents' graveyards as well.

In the spirit of Wizards who like to make Zombie Tokens, I figure that spells which make a bunch of tokens at once is totally on theme. Army of the Damned is a good example of this, and we also have the Delve spell, Empty the Pits. (Delve in general is a great mechanic for this deck, so in went Murderous Cut, Dig Through Time, and Treasure Cruise.) Dread Summons is a relatively new card in the mass Zombie making category, but it feels like it could be amazing.

Another recent card that has made a huge splash in the mass Zombie pond is the Shadows over Innistrad card Rise from the Tides. This cards sees a lot of play in my Commander meta, and I am guessing we are not the only ones who like to get a lot of Zombies. To make this card good, we need to play a lot of instants and sorceries, but again, I feel like this is in the wheelhouse of a couple of Wizards.

 Curious Homunculus
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There are a few new cards from the Eldritch Moon previews that are also pushing me towards usingnon-permanent spells, and we will address each one separately. First, we have the Curious Homunculus, which transforms into the Voracious Reader. This is a great example of the how the transform mechanic is taking shape under the Eldritch Moon, because the Voracious Rader is indeed an Eldrazi Homunculus. The Curious side of the card adds colorless mana to cast spells, and transforms when we have three or more spells in the yard. This seems easy to pull off, and the extra mana is nice. In the Voracious Reader form, it goes from the 1/1 to a hulking 3/4, with Prowess to boot. It also makes all the instants and sorceries a colorless less to cast, which is pretty sweet in a deck packing lots of spells.

The other Eldritch Moon card that is pushing me towards spells is the Docent of Perfection. It is an Insect Horror, in the vein of Delver of Secrets and Aberrant Researcher. It is a 5/4 flyer for 3UU, which is actually pretty decent. The big part is that when we cast those instants or sorceries, we get a 1/1 blue Wizard token. Wow! We won't get super deep into the Wizard tribe with this deck, but there are definitely a ton of ways to break an army of easily made Wizard tokens. (Patron Wizard and Azami, Lady of Scrolls come to mind immediately, and the fact that we will get a token during a Counterspell war makes the Patron Wizard obscenely good with the Docent.) After the token comes into play, it checks for three Wizards, which will transform it into the Final Iteration, an Eldrazi Insect—truly the stuff of nightmares. The Final Iteration will continue to give us those sweet Wizard tokens, and also gives all Wizards +2/+1 and flying.

 Docent of Perfection
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Docent of Perfection is good.

I ended up putting in twenty-five non-permanent spells, with the majority of the slots going to countermagic (Rewind, Arcane Denial and more), draw and tutor spells (Forbidden Alchemy, Demonic Tutor, Brainstorm, Dark Petition), and board wipes (Damnation, Cyclonic Rift). Of course, some spells are so good that they cover multiple tasks, like Cryptic Command, Confirm Suspicions, Mystic Confluence or Wretched Confluence. Yawgmoth's Will is more or less the uber-spell when it comes to black, and I especially like it in this deck because we will mill ourselves often.

Eldritch Moon is full of amazing blue cards so I want to check out two of them that are sure to make waves in many formats of the game. The first is Unsubstantiate, which will bounce a spell or creature back to the owner's hand. It is sort of like a Remand without the card draw, but with a bit more versatility. Remand is still probably a superior card because of the drawing, but I still think Unsubstantiate is a great card.

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The other spell from Eldritch Moon that I am really excited about is Summary Dismissal. For 2UU, we have a mega-counterspell that acts much like a Time Stop or Mindbreak Trap. It exiles all other spells on the stack, and counters all abilities as well. The big downfall of Time Stop has always been the prohibitive 4UU casting cost, so the fact that Summary Dismissal has the far more reasonable cost leads me to believe it will be very popular.

We have filled up a good amount of the deck here, but we're missing a few things that are pretty obvious. Buried Alive and Entomb should both be included, which will help us get the Zombie value train rolling. Speaking of which, we will need some sac outlets to make sure we can keep it chugging so Ashnod's Altar and Phyrexian Altar are both super good. We also have Phyrexian Tower for some more mana, as well as the High Market and Miren, the Moaning Well as additional sac outlets.

Gisa and Geralf Commander by Cassidy Silver
Main Deck
1 Agent of Erebos
1 Cackling Fiend
1 Cemetery Reaper
1 Corpse Connoisseur
1 Curious Homunculus
1 Diregraf Colossus
1 Docent of Perfection
1 Farbog Boneflinger
1 Fleshbag Marauder
1 Ghoulcaller Gisa
1 Gloomdrifter
1 Grave Titan
1 Gravecrawler
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
1 Grimgrin, Corpse-Born
1 Havengul Lich
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Lich Lord of Unx
1 Phyrexian Delver
1 Prized Amalgam
1 Relentless Dead
1 Sedraxis Alchemist
1 Sidisi, Undead Vizier
1 Silumgar Butcher
1 Skinrender
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Stitched Mangler
1 Stitcher Geralf
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Creatures [29]
1 Agent of Erebos
1 Arcane Denial
1 Army of the Damned
1 Ashnod's Altar
1 Brainstorm
1 Buried Alive
1 Confirm Suspicions
1 Conspiracy
1 Counterspell
1 Cryptic Command
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Damnation
1 Dark Petition
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Dig Through Time
1 Diviner's Wand
1 Dread Summons
1 Empty the Pits
1 Entomb
1 Forbidden Alchemy
1 Force of Will
1 Leyline of Anticipation
1 Murderous Cut
1 Mystic Confluence
1 Opposition
1 Phyrexian Altar
1 Rise from the Tides
1 Rooftop Storm
1 Summary Dismissal
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Unsubstantiate
1 Wretched Confluence
1 Yawgmoth's Will
Spells [33]
1 Blighted Fen
1 Cabal Coffers
1 Choked Estuary
1 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Darkslick Shores
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Duskmantle, House of Shadow
1 High Market
7 Island (286)
1 Lake of the Dead
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Nephalia Drownyard
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Riptide Laboratory
1 River of Tears
1 Sunken Hollow
1 Sunken Ruins
7 Swamp (289)
1 Temple of Deceit
1 Thespian's Stage
1 Underground River
1 Underground Sea
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Watery Grave
1 Westvale Abbey
Lands [38]
Deck Total [100]

1 Gisa and Geralf
Sideboard [1]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

That is my take on Gisa and Geralf: A control/reanimator deck with a deep non-permanent backing. It will win through finesse, recursive sacrificing, and of course, Zombies. I feel like it is different enough from the normal Zombie tribal deck, and it has a flavor that is drawn from the source creatures. Because it has a healthy suite of counter magic and removal this might be one of my more functional decks that is based around the commander.

Join me next week as we dissect the monstrosity that is Brozilla (Brisela, Voice of Nightmares). What have they done to poor Gisela?

Thanks for reading,
Cassidy Silver

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