The idea of using your opponent's creatures as food for your saprophytes may seem a little morbid - and maybe it is -, but it's guaranteed that a deck commanded by Nemata, Primeval Warden will provide you with a field full of tokens and angry opponents.
In this article, we're going to talk about this Golgari creature as the commander of your deck designed for casual Commander games. From now on, it's important to warn you that depending on how you build this deck, you could lose some friends after just a few games.
Who is Nemata
Nemata is described as a treefolk from Dominaria who has been guardian ofRith, Liberated Primeval for millennia. When the dragon fled during the Second Phyrexian Invasion, Nemata was enraged and awoke her companions to imprison it again.
You might have already seen a player using the first card version of this creature: Nemata, Grove Guardian.
A nice feature present in both versions of Nemata is that it doesn't need to tap for its effects.
Also, in its Dominaria United version, Nemata, Primeval Warden, we have a very useful static effect on any casual table: while this creature is on the battlefield, if a creature an opponent controls dies, it is exiled, and you create a Saproling token. This will be our Commander.
Imagine your teammate has just cast Abzan Ascendancy and is really into creatimng a bunch of 1/1 Spirit tokens with flying. With Nemata in play, your opponent won't be able to populate their board with these tokens, as Nemata will exile these creatures and "counter" Ascendancy's second effect.
You get a nice 1/1 Saproling token for each creature exiled this way, and you can use it to:
- Increase the power of your commander;
- Draw more cards each turn;
- Abusing some pretty fun interactions.
Getting to Know the Deck
The goal is to use your field to stop your opponents from overgrowing theirs, and win by using your tokens to attack or by draining enough life from opponents.
As you may have noticed, the deck has more black cards than green cards and this is important for our strategy.
Thinking that Nemata creates the tokens and can sacrifice them with the commander's own effect, cards with death triggers - like Butcher of Malakir, give more value to your harmless tokens.
At a casual Commander table, it is common to have three opponents. Imagine sacrificing a 1/1 token and creating three more, as your opponents will have to sacrifice their creatures that will be exiled by Nemata's effect, and you can do it again.
This decklist is focused on Aristocrats with Reanimations and flirts (very lightly) with the Control archetype, as it has interactions that can lock the field for a few turns until your opponents find answers in the deck, or at least make them uncomfortable.
Some of these interactions are capable of winning the game for you. We can highlight:
Deathspore Thallid is a card that nobody values, but here is an interesting piece.
By sacrificing a saproling to activate this fungus's effect with Dictate of Erebos on the battlefield, your opponents will have to sacrifice creatures and Nemata will create more saproling tokens that can be sacrificed again.
As a bonus, Deathspore Thallid will be gifting the target creature with -1/-1 counters that are always welcome to resolve indestructible and menacing creatures your opponents control.
The interaction also happens if we replace the Dictate of Erebos with Butcher of Malakir or Grave Pact.
In addition, you can increase Nemata's power by sacrificing saprolings to kill your opponents with commander damage or by attacking with numerous tokens.
Priest of Forgotten Gods is interesting for tables with more than two opponents. Since its effect allows you to select any number of target players, you can force your opponents to sacrifice a creature, cause 2 direct damage to their life points and still generate two black mana and draw a card.
All this just by tapping Priest and sacrificing two tokens that Nemata will soon replace.
Draining opponents' life is cool, but sacrificing saprolings with Nemata on the field to increase the commander's power.
Agent of the Iron Throne and Moldervine Reclamation entered this part, because, even without doing the same as the others, it alters life in some way that benefits you.
Depending on how the game progresses, the pings of these cards are enough to eliminate opponents from the game.
Nemata can help you with the draw, but to ensure you always have cards in your hand, the list has the following suggestions:
We know that Braids, Arisen Nightmare is MUCH more than a draw. In fact, if we analyze the card well, we will realize that its draw is a very welcome bonus.
The good thing about a Golgari deck full of cards that punish your opponents every time you lose creatures is that you lose all fear of sacrificing or destroying your tokens
Oops, are you going to equip the Skullclamp on a 1/1 token? Alright, draw your two cards… Whoops! Wait, what about that Butcher of Malakir? Or the Blood Artist?
Even “losing” a creature that could attack or block, there are high chances that this will trigger a secondary effect.
And speaking of death triggers
Doubling the triggers
As you may have noticed, abilities triggered by the death of non-token creatures are key to deck strategy. To support this, we rely on the help of:
This dominus can go indestructible and be a ready 8/3 to help you wreak havoc on opponents' life points while sacrificing your saprophytes to lower his field.
The Saproling Factory
With the help of the right cards, Nemata, Primeval Warden can populate the board quickly, but we can't just rely on this creature's effect.
Lucky for us, Magic: the Gathering is full of stray cards that create the coveted saproling tokens.
The tokens created by these cards will help you as an engine for the deck to run according to the proposed strategy, so it's important to keep some slots for them.
This Golgari deck has one of the colors most loved by Magic players: green.
As we have green and many tokens, we can take the opportunity to use some that greatly accelerate the mana available on the battlefield. For example:
The Phyrexian Altar and its colored mana are very welcome additions to the deck, because by generating a green mana with the Altar and sacrificing another saproling, you can pay for Nemata's ability.
Having a Dictate of Erebos or another card with a similar effect on the battlefield, your opponents will have to sacrifice creatures, and you will make more tokens to repeat this effect as many times as you want.
Removals and Sacrifices
In addition to the sacrifice cards mentioned above, the list brings important removals for the strategy to work as we want.
We separated two Planeswalkers that are interesting to us.
Lolth, Spider Queen's passive ability allows the planeswalker to gain loyalty counters every time a creature under your control dies. In addition, it helps you with the draw, creates spider tokens and has an emblem that can help you deal damage.
Imagine that you attacked with three 1/1 saproling tokens and the opponent can only block two of them. Since that opponent will have taken 1 life damage, the emblem will deal an additional 7 points of damage for a total of 8.
This Liliana is on the list of favorite cards for many Commander players, and we understand why.
Liliana, Dreadhorde General's passive ability gives you an extra draw every time a creature you control dies. To raise loyalty, you can create 2/2 Zombie tokens and with -4 it is possible to force each player to sacrifice two creatures.
As icing on the cake of this Planeswalker we have its -9 which is considered a wincon by some players, since it is difficult to recover after having to sacrifice your entire battlefield, as you only keep one of each type of permanent.
Reanimate and Recursion
With so many overwhelming effects on so many different types of cards, it's expected that your opponents will remove them as quickly as possible. Therefore, cards with effects to reanimate and/or return the permanent from the graveyard to your hand are guaranteed space on this list.
Here is worth a special mention for Journey to Eternity which works as an enchantment that returns the enchanted creature to the battlefield and comes back transformed as the land Atzal, Cave of Eternity, which generates mana and helps you to return creatures from the graveyard to the battlefield.
The list contains some cards that are strong in their own right and don't depend so much on your field for their effects to take place. For example:
In addition to producing mana of any color, this land can create a 1/1 Spirit token under target opponent's control whenever you tap it for mana.
This is a cheap price to pay and a guarantee for games against decks that usually use few creatures like the famous Spellingers.
Syr Konrad, the Grim burns opponents' life when creature cards are put in or out of the Graveyard, and can force each player to mill a card by paying .
Bojuka Bog is one of the cards that is better to have than not to have. Since deck strategy can overcrowd your opponents' graveyards, it's not a bad thing to have a tool to exile the most threatening graveyard to you.
We separate here some cards that aren't part of the main decklist of this article, but they can be interesting additions depending on the style of play you like or the power level of the tables in your city.
Only those who have been opponents of this creature know how complicated it is to see your Sol Ring and other mana rocks – practically mandatory cards in most Commander decks – completely unusable thanks to the creature's effect.
Parallel Lives doubles any number of tokens that would be created under its control, and can help you by doubling the number of Saprolings to have more tokens available for sacrifice and other costs of cards in the deck.
Beastmaster Ascension is recommended for players who like to take a more proactive role in the game, using your saprolings primarily for offense.
This Sheoldred deserved to be on the main list, but since its mana cost is very high, it entered the honorable mentions.
The famous black praetor is a creature with very interesting effects, being able to reanimate your creatures and forcing your opponents to sacrifice on their turns.
Fungi Tribal Nemata - Another Deck Option
There are many fungi in this commander's colors and most of them work by creating tokens and using spore counters. So, a cool option to take advantage of Nemata is a fungi tribe deck. Here is an example list:
A few proliferate cards are on the list to help with the permanents' spore counters, and the tech is to attack with as many saprolings as you can to overwhelm your opponents.
Vraska, Betrayal's Sting is practically a wincon of the deck and the three effects of this planeswalker are extremely beneficial for strategy.
Conclusion: Saprolings rule!
At first glance, these fungi may seem harmless, but make no mistake: Nemata, Primeval Warden will use them as fuel to cause a real headache for your opponents.
So, will you surrender to the Saprolings?
See you in the next article!
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