The Scarab God (Amonkhet Invocations) | Illustration by Grzegorz Rutkowski
The Scarab God is a card that dominated most of its Standard format, and it’s a powerful Dimir () commander. Makes sense given that Scarab is legendary and has a few abilities that suit Commander. Reanimation from any graveyard is one great feature, but so is dodging commander tax (if you want to).
There’s been no shortage on Dimir commanders that are friendly to zombies (Gisa and Geralf, Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver, Grimgrin, Corpse-Born), so this build for The Scarab God may be similar to other zombie tribal. I’ve also included pieces that make the most of the Big Bug God’s abilities.
Let’s get into it!
Fact or Fiction | Illustration by Matt Cavotta
Gisa and Geralf
Lord of the Accursed
Lord of the Undead
Lich Lord of Unx
Geralf, Visionary Stitcher
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Takenuma, Abandoned Mire
Otawara, Soaring City
Field of the Dead
Crypt of Agadeem
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Creeping Tar Pit
A very nice thing about this commander is that if it dies, you get to put it back in your hand from the graveyard on the next turn and avoid paying the commander tax. If it’s exiled, it goes back to the command zone and there’s no way around it. Even if the board is swept you can cast your commander from your hand for . You’ll want to take care so that your commander isn’t reanimated or stolen from a graveyard, though.
You’ll scry your deck and deal damage to your opponents based on the number of zombies you have, so The Scarab God is better the more zombies you have around. That means you want zombies because you want them to be good.
One of the problems with tribal decks is having their lords removed, so eternalizing your zombie lords helps there too. You can recur your fallen zombie lords and make more zombies.
Most of this deck can be described as zombie-matters cards.
Undead Augur draws you cards when a zombie dies, and trust me, they will. It’s wrath insurance too.
Diregraf Captain is a zombie lord that drains your opponents.
Gisa and Geralf lets you cast some zombies from your graveyard.
Plague Belcher is a massive 5/4 that can “kill another creature you control” and has a high chance of killing a 2/2 token. All zombies deal one damage to your opponent upon death.
Fleshbag Marauder is a good zombie that makes everyone sac a creature, and it can be recurred with your commander.
Sheoldred, Whispering One isn’t a zombie, but it fits the reanimation theme and is a good threat to have around.
You want a few planeswalkers that care about the graveyard and zombies for extra punch.
Ashiok, Dream Render is graveyard hate for your opponents and self-mill.
Liliana, Death’s Majesty combines self-mill, zombie creation, and reanimation.
Liliana, Untouched by Death is the most zombie tribal you’ll get on a planeswalker card.
Phyrexian Arena gives you two cards per turn for only one life a pop. This deck has some ways to mitigate the life loss, and it’s better to have something to cast than to keep the life count high.
Dread Summons is a way to mill opponents, create zombies, and have more reanimation targets.
Fact or Fiction give you card advantage and fill your graveyard, so you win on both fronts.
Endless Ranks of the Dead supplies you with oodles of zombies.
Warlock Class is a card that adds to the damage your opponents suffer from your commander.
Dimir is the king of interaction since blue gives counter and protective spells while black gives removal.
Cyclonic Rift is an auto-include in blue EDH decks.
Curtains’ Call is a good removal spell that can be as cheap as three mana.
Murderous Rider is both a removal spell and a zombie.
Drown in the Loch works really well in a deck that has a mill component, milling your opponent in this case. It also works well for drawn-out games.
Memory Plunder allows you to steal a key instant or sorcery from your opponents. In EDH you’ll usually steal a 6-or-more-mana spell for only four mana.
The Mana Base
As a strict Dimir commander, The Scarab God’s mana base isn’t hard to build. It’s not an aggressive deck, so you’ll play some tapped duals that produce .
Altar of Dementia is a sacrifice outlet and allows you to mill your opponents.
These are some of the best Dimir dual lands to play, excluding Underground Sea due to scarcity:
- Watery Grave
- Shipwreck Marsh
- Darkwater Catacombs
- Drowned Catacomb
- Fetid Pools
- Dismal Backwater
- Dimir Aqueduct
This deck plays like a midrange/control Dimir deck in the sense that you play value creatures and mana rocks early in the game to stay alive and start your zombie engine. You have some counterspells and removal to control the board if you’re behind. You can also push your advantage if you have a good board.
You have lots of lords in this deck and cards that give your zombies evasion, like menace or flying, or +1/+1. A big army of evasive zombies can do the trick. Dimir has problems dealing with enchantments, like if an opponent enchants your commander with something like Imprisoned in the Moon.
Your win conditions are to play the long game and cast big spells like Army of the Damned and Torment of Hailfire. Pair that with eternalizing the best threats from your opponents and using your counterspells to keep the board advantageous.
This is a very fair midrange deck. Although combos can be added, this has none of them. Most of your matches will be decided by resource advantage and recursion/reanimation.
Although it isn’t a Rule 0 violation, you can certainly kill someone with Gray Merchant of Asphodel and reanimate it with your commander. You’ll usually have three or four devotion on board, so draining each opponent for 5 to 10 and gaining 20 to 40 life is possible.
Living Death is a mass reanimation spell that your commander can mess with, eternalizing the best creatures from your opponents’ graveyards.
This deck is on the fair side of the spectrum, so no Rule 0 violations. It’s your typical midrange/value deck.
These are some of the most expensive cards because most are staples in EDH and need a reprint. Here are some budget suggestions for the most expensive cards, keeping in mind that the power level of the deck will decrease:
- Replace Lord of the Undead with Headless Rider
- Replace Liliana, Dreadhorde General with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
- Replace Cyclonic Rift with Aetherize
- Replace Torment of Hailfire with Black Sun’s Zenith
- Replace Agadeem’s Awakening with Hagra Mauling
Cheapening the mana base:
- Replace Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx with a basic Island
- Replace Cabal Coffers with Magus of the Coffers
- Replace Watery Grave with Dimir Aqueduct
- Replace Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth with a basic Swamp
- Replace Field of the Dead with Witch’s Cottage
You can go the mill route with cards like Mindshriek and Mind Grind, using The Scarab God’s ability to get the best targets from each graveyard. You can also go full zombie tribal, filling your deck with every zombie matters card in MTG’s history, or you can go more of a go-wide zombies strategy with more exploit, buff, and sacrifice elements.
Dimir zombies is home to lots of combos, so a deck can also go a more competitive and combo-y route. One infinite combo is combining Altar of Dementia, Gravecrawler, and Rooftop Storm to generate infinite mill. Another infinite combo revolves around sacrificing Gravecrawler to Phyrexian Altar and pinging an opponent with Diregraf Captain to net you the mana needed to cast Gravecrawler from your graveyard again.
Command Tower | Illustration by Evan Shipard
God, that was a lot of zombies! The Scarab God is a fun commander that you should definitely give a try. It’s a nice feeling to slowly win with hordes of zombies and using the ability to reanimate your opponents’ best creatures, exactly like a Standard, Pioneer, or Modern deck containing the god.
Stay safe, and until next time!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: