Last updated on October 17, 2023
Relentless Rats (Misc. Promos) | Illustration by Godmachine
Today, we're diving into the wild world of cards that love to break the rules, sticking their tongues out at the restrictions that bind them. You know, those sneaky little rascals that refuse to play by the usual deck-building conventions. The renegades of the cardboard realm, the rebels among the stack, the mischievous mavericks of MTG.
That's right, my friends, we're delving into the enchanting realm of cards akin to the infamous Relentless Rats! Let's explore how these cards turn the laws of deck construction on their heads. Get ready to learn of all the ones in the same family as the previously mentioned black rat.
Intrigued? Let's get into it!
Seven Dwarves | Illustration by Jason Rainville
”Relentless” cards are a reference to the popular Magic card Relentless Rats, a creature with a clause that bypasses the restriction in some Constructed formats where you can’t play more than four cards with the same name in your deck. This means that you can have as many copies in your deck as your heart desires.
I will also include additional cards like the recently printed Nazgûl, which is restricted to nine copies, but still bypasses the regular 4-copy restriction. This is huge in Commander, as it also overwrites the singleton rule.
This card is at the very bottom of the list because it lets you run the least number of copies. Still, it's a reference to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, so it's kind of a cute background lore. Seven Dwarves cards are primarily seen in Magda, Brazen Outlaw, where it overperforms with the commander’s ability, so if you’re building a deck around Magda, these are a must include.
I love the design on this card as it allows you to play up to nine copies of it in any given deck, a reference to the nine loyal servants of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings. Aside from that, I love how resilient deathtouch makes it, and it also has a “Ring tempts you” ability. This makes it better in combat, and it also grows with other cards that cause the Ring to tempt you.
All remaining cards on this list have no limit on how many copies you can run in a given deck. Dragon's Approachis a neat one that can be run alongside cards like Pyromancer Ascension, which is otherwise unplayable in Commander.
I’ve seen Shadowborn Apostle shine in decks like Athreos, God of Passage, who can recur them once they hit the graveyard when you sacrifice them. Your opponents will not only have to deal with your newly added demon, but they will have to pay three life for each Apostle to prevent them from returning to your hand.
Phenax, God of Deception loves to have Persistent Petitioners as part of their core plan. It may seem like a niche strategy initially, but it's quite solid once you have the commander in play and multiple of these creatures already on the table.
I think pretty much every big rat commander runs this card as a part of its core strategy, as it's cheap and it grows regardless of which rats you control. As long as they have the rat type, your Rat Colony can quickly grow out of range. Oh, and did I mention that it's a somewhat solid archetype in Vintage? If you are curious about it, keep reading!
Relentless Rats is more expensive than Rat Colony, but giving your rats extra toughness is very relevant, especially when you try to compete with bigger creatures that your opponent might have. These rats claim the first spot due to tenure and for being the name this type of card is based on.
So, what makes this kind of card playable, especially in Commander decks? Surprisingly a decent number of cards, so let's dig into the ones that stand out the most.
I briefly mentioned that Rat Colony is a decent strategy in Vintage, and it's all thanks to Thrumming Stone. This card lets you cast cards from the top of your library for free if they share the exact name of the card you’re casting. Since Vintage is full of overpowered mana rocks like Sol Ring or Black Lotus, you can end up filling the board and winning the game in one turn if your opponent doesn't have any interaction. Thrumming Stone is a must-have addition to any of these relentless decks.
If you are looking to cast multiple relentless cards with a discount, you can rely on Semblance Anvil to make the rest of your cards cheaper.
Some board wipes like Crippling Fear benefit from you running copies of the same card in your deck, as naturally, all of them will share the same creature type, turning this black sorcery into a one-sided sweeper.
Herald's Horn is perfect in a deck with creatures of the same type, as it will make them cheaper and will likely draw you an extra card here and there. You can pair it with the likes of Sensei's Divining Top to manipulate the top of your library.
Door of Destinies is excellent in strategies where you fill your deck with the same card, since every creature you play will get a boost while it’s on board.
Spellweaver Helix works particularly well with Dragon's Approach, as most of your sorceries will just be copies of Approach. The trick is to exile something like a Mana Geyser as your second card to have access to tons of mana every time you play a Dragon's Approach.
It’s necessary to run some number of tutors in order to find your payoffs in the sea of relentless creatures.
As I’ve mentioned already, Relentless Rats and all of the other similar cards are Commander playable. Seven Dwarves and Nazgûl have restrictions on how many you can play, but you can include up to that many of each.
Nazgûl | Illustration by Igor Krstic
And there you have it, a list of all the cards with a “Relentless” effect. From the ever-popular Relentless Rats to the newly introduced Nazgûl, these cards offer exciting and different play patterns and deck-building opportunities that would be otherwise impossible to accomplish in formats like Commander. These cards are an excellent way to remind us that bending the rules can sometimes lead to thrilling games and unexpected strategies.
As always, take care, and we will catch up on the next article!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: