Tergrid, God of Fright | Illustration by Yongjae Choi
Tergrid, God of Fright is a powerful commander. Some players might even say too powerful. Tergrid is a very fun option to build if you know that your playgroup is into cEDH or just up for a more competitive challenge. But don’t be too surprised if you still find yourself ending up as the archenemy after a few rounds.
One reason players might be intimidated to face off against Tergrid, God of Fright is that it combines several different mechanics that players find frustrating: forced sacrifices, discard, and stealing permanents. It also shuts down a lot of decks that sacrifice creatures or discard cards for their own benefit. Overall Tergrid can just be a very oppressive commander. Let’s get into it!
The Haunt of Hightower | Illustration by Lius Lasahido
The Haunt of Hightower
Shard of the Void Dragon
Gisa, Glorious Resurrector
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire
K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
The Raven Man
Braids, Arisen Nightmare
Rankle, Master of Pranks
Tourach, Dread Cantor
Liliana, Heretical Healer
It That Betrays
Black Sun’s Twilight
Mire in Misery
Awaken the Erstwhile
Torment of Hailfire
Court of Ambition
Dictate of Erebos
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Geier Reach Sanitarium
I tried to split my attention between discard and sacrifice effects for this build. There are enough of these types of cards that you could lean more heavily toward one than the other if you wanted, but I prefer to diversify just in case. I also put in some cards that I think are generally helpful for a mono-black build. I chose to go light on win conditions instead of going fully competitive with this deck. I enjoy the challenge of finding the win in the cards I take from my opponents, something that’s totally doable with this deck.
Something I really enjoy about this deck is that each of the cards create value on their own. While having Tergrid, God of Fright on the field makes them more powerful, it’s still helpful to force your opponents to discard or sacrifice their cards. This will help you stay ahead both on the board and in terms of card advantage.
Aside from cards that fuel Tergrid there’s also a good amount of removal. It’s likely your opponents want to take you out first so you don’t steal their most valuable permanents, so having a way to remove their threats is a must.
I also included cards like The Haunt of Hightower and It That Betrays, which benefit from the same effects as Tergrid. This way you have other ways to add value to your spells even if your opponents keep Tergrid off the field with removal.
Tergrid, God of Fright is an appropriately scary commander. It takes what’s already bad for your opponents, sacrificing and discarding, and makes it that much worse. It also makes opponents think very carefully about what cards they discard because even discarding a land is now a source of ramp for you.
Tergrid does have a second side as well in Tergrid’s Lantern for only one less mana than the god itself, but you probably won’t find yourself casting this side very often. The only time I could see you doing so would be later in the game when you have a lot of mana to pump into it, activating it multiple times.
A lot of creatures in your deck will cause your opponents to discard from their hand, like Burglar Rat and Rotting Rats. This adds a lot of value to these inexpensive creatures if you have Tergrid on the field because you could end up getting an extra creature, a land, or any other kind of permanent for the price of one.
Bloodhusk Ritualist is great for this deck because of its versatility. You can cast it early as a body, or kick it multiple times to fill your board with discarded permanents.
This deck also includes creatures like Rankle, Master of Pranks that make players discard cards more regularly. Hypnotic Specter is extra powerful because your opponents don’t get to choose what they discard.
Cunning Lethemancer is great because it doesn’t have an activation cost, meaning you don’t have to waste extra resources. Court of Ambition works similarly and is harder to remove for some decks. But it also gives players the chance to opt out of discarding, which they’ll do to avoid giving you their best cards.
Your planeswalkers are another great way to get repeatable discard effects. Liliana, Defiant Necromancer and Liliana of the Veil both have powerful ultimate abilities that happen to synergize with your overall strategy.
You also have a variety of spells that cause players to discard, the most powerful being Fraying Omnipotence and Pox.
Discarding is one way to trigger Tergrid’s ability. The other way is through forced sacrifice.
Chain Devil and Demon’s Disciple are especially potent if one of your opponents has just one very powerful creature for you to steal.
Braids, Arisen Nightmare allows you to sacrifice a permanent in hopes that your opponents will do the same. While it could be a bit of a risk, you’ll still draw a card and hopefully have some of your opponents’ permanents to sacrifice anyway.
Sheoldred, Whispering One forces your opponents to sacrifice a creature during each of their upkeeps, helping you fill your board if you have Tergrid out as well.
Shard of the Void Dragon and It That Betrays both force players to sacrifice permanents when they attack. They’ll be hard to kill with combat damage since they’re both big creatures, especially since their abilities trigger before blocks, leaving your opponents with few creatures to defend themselves with.
Dictate of Erebos helps keep board states relatively even since your opponents will lose a creature anytime you do. This trade goes heavily in your favor if you have Tergrid on the field.
You also have spells like Sheoldred’s Edict and Soul Shatter to make your opponents sacrifice creatures.
While you’ll ideally have Tergrid on the field, there are a few other payoffs for discarding and sacrificing just in case. For example, The Haunt of Hightower buffs itself every time a player discards a card. It’s not as powerful as Tergrid but is still a good way to cash in on your discard.
It That Betrays comes pretty close to doing what Tergrid does by giving you any sacrificed nontoken permanents. It also forces players to sacrifice permanents when it attacks, basically fueling itself.
The Mana Base
I kept the mana base relatively simple so that you could get the most out of Cabal Stronghold. As a result this deck runs mostly basic Swamps.
There’s also Cabal Coffers for a second chance at a lot of mana and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to make sure any lands you steal from your opponents can produce black mana for you.
You’re running a few utility lands like Tyrite Sanctum to make Tergrid harder to remove, as well as Geier Reach Sanitarium. The Sanitarium pulls double duty in this deck, acting both as card draw and a discard effect.
Castle Locthwain is good for drawing some extra cards when you need to.
As far as mana rocks go, Sol Ring is the only colorless one included because a lot of the cards in this deck require black pips to cast. That’s why I opted for Nyx Lotus as my other option. It’s easy to get your devotion to black pretty high since almost all your creatures and permanents have black pips in their cost.
Jeweled Lotus makes it easier to cast Tergrid early on.
It’s hard to say that this deck has a single strategy, mainly because your gameplan is based on the permanents you steal from your opponents. That said, there are some basic ways you should play while you looking for your win condition.
Discard is your friend earlier in the game. You likely won’t steal many permanents from your opponents because they have the option to discard instants and sorceries instead. But forcing your opponents to go down on cards early in the game gives you card advantage and possibly takes away their early plays.
You’ll want to get Tergrid, God of Fright out early, but you might not want to tap out for it. It might be worth waiting until you can cast Tergrid and a second card that will trigger its ability to get some value before it’s destroyed since it’s a big target for removal. Another good way to do this is to wait until you have Liliana of the Veil so you can drop Tergrid and then activate Liliana’s ability.
When it comes to targeting players with cards like Soul Shatter, it’s important to play them wisely. It isn’t just about removing threats but also what cards will be good on your side of the board. It may be worth holding onto these cards until there’s a very big threat or a card that generates a lot of value out on the field, like Etali, Primal Storm.
Combos and Interactions
This deck is already pretty powerful, and I figured it might be a little too frustrating for opponents if it ran any sort of infinite combos, so I left them out. That said, this deck still has some good interactions.
Nyx Lotus, Cabal Coffers, and Cabal Stronghold can all interact well with your X spells like Black Sun’s Twilight and Torment of Hailfire. They can also help you multikick Bloodhusk Ritualist a ton of times until your opponents have discarded their whole hands.
While Hellish Rebuke is meant to be like a one-sided board wipe that punishes enemies with damage, it can also fill your field with your opponent’s creatures when combined with Tergrid. It’s a great trick you can use to reverse the momentum of a game.
I tried my best to keep this deck in a budget range since one of the benefits of a powerful commander like Tergrid, God of Fright is that it makes cheap cards much more effective. But there are still a few expensive cards in this deck that you may want to replace.
Jeweled Lotus makes up almost a quarter of the deck’s price. You can swap it out for Gilded Lotus, which won’t be an early game play but can still pay for increased commander tax later on. It can also cast other spell besides your commander.
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse is another expensive card that doesn’t really need to be here. It’s a great mono-black card in general, but it doesn’t synergize super well with Tergrid. If you’re looking for another great mono-black staple you can include Bolas’s Citadel instead, or you can include a more synergistic card like Tergrid’s Shadow.
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is nice to have, but also not super necessary when most of your lands produce black mana. In some ways it may even end up helping your opponents more if they need mana fixing. You can easily just slot in another Swamp or a popular utility land like Reliquary Tower.
The final expensive card is Deadly Rollick, which you can downgrade to Vraska’s Contempt for a pretty steep discount. It still allows you to exile a creature, but you’ll have to pay for it now.
Where this build includes a fairly equal amount of both discard and sacrifice effects, you could build a deck that focuses more heavily on one over the other. For a discard build you can add cards like Dreamstealer or Sadistic Hypnotist. You can also add more discard payoffs like Bone Miser.
For a sacrifice build you’ll want to do the same thing but instead with Diabolic Edict, Szat’s Will, or Gix’s Command. A great choice would be Death Cloud, which can end up gaining you a lot of permanents, but you’ll also have to sacrifice some of your own.
Bloodhusk Ritualist | Illustration by Daarken
Tergrid, God of Fright is certain to scare your opponents the second you put it down on the board. With your ability to take so many permanents, it’s easy for you to quickly take over a game. Even before you have Tergrid out you’ll also be slowing your opponents’ progress, making it difficult for them to deal with your deck. While this build isn’t as competitive as it could be, it’s a bit of a compromise so that your playgroup will actually want to play with you.
What additions or changes would you make for your own Tergrid deck? Do you prefer focusing on discard, or forced sacrifice? Would you be okay playing against a deck like this? Let me know in the comments or on Draftsim’s Twitter.
Thank you for reading, and I look forward to seeing you next time!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: