First Draft Friday: BUGR Gitrog!
Hello and welcome to First Draft Friday! This article series is the spiritual successor to Fresh Spice Friday, a short column I used to write for our Facebook page. This time, things are a bit different. Instead of showcasing new decks from the community, I will let you, dear reader, vote on which cards you want me to build a deck around. To facilitate this, I set up a poll at the end of this article. Each poll will feature four cards. The most popular option will be chosen for a future article, and the least popular option will be dropped from the poll. If there’s a card you would like to see on the poll, please let me know on Twitter or Discord!
The decks in this series are meant to be exactly what the title says: first drafts. If you find any of these ideas interesting, I highly encourage you to pick them up and tinker with them. The aim here is not to create the most competitive decks on an absolute scale, but rather to explore interesting cards and ideas and provide outlines for decks that can be cEDH viable with further refinements.
Without any further ado, let’s get into this week’s deck: BUGR Gitrog!
First off: special thanks to Leptys. His experience with Gitrog was instrumental in the creation of this deck. Gitrog combos are honestly not something I had the chance to wrap my head around before working on BUGR Gitrog, so getting help from an expert was both a very pleasant and educational experience. Also special thanks to Zyphyx, who initially came up with the idea of using Divergent Transformations for Gitrog + Borborygmos Enraged.
The goal of this deck is to play out both commanders, then cast Divergent Transformations to turn them into Gitrog + Noose Constrictor while having Dakmor Salvage in our hand or graveyard. This lets us begin Dredge loops that are similar to the ones found in the standard Gitrog deck. However, this is where we encounter our first challenge. We can’t run any of the Eldrazi titans, so all of our Dredge reshuffling has to rely on Gaea’s Blessing. Since Gaea’s Blessing doesn’t let us reshuffle if we discard it from our hand, we need a way to get it back into our deck after discarding it. Enter Memory’s Journey – our safety valve for dredge loops. After we discard Blessing, we can keep dredging to put Memory’s Journey in our graveyard. We then flash it back with Gaea’s Blessing as our target. From there, we can enter our combo line:
Requirements: Gaea’s Blessing in deck, with Brainstorm draw: , without Brainstorm draw: (+ at least 4 lands in play if your outlet is Cephalid Coliseum)
Phase 1: Getting Draw Triggers + Activating Emergence Zone
- Do Dakmor Salvage Discard + Dredge to create draw triggers
-> If Deck size is even, Gaea’s Blessing is guaranteed to be dredged
-> If Deck size is uneven, Gaea’s Blessing could be the bottom card
- Reshuffle immediately whenever Gaea’s Blessing is dredged. Do this to create an arbitrarily high amount of draw triggers
- Dredge Dakmor Salvage until you hit the final reshuffle of Gaea’s Blessing. Let that resolve
- Resolve your extra draw triggers until you have 3 cards left in your library
-> If Brainstorm was drawn, skip to Step 9
- Resolve 3 more draw triggers to draw the rest of your library
- Cast Snap to bounce Gitrog and untap lands that can produce
- Discard Emergence Zone + 2 Lands + Memory’s Journey
-> If Grafdigger’s Cage is in play, keep Memory’s Journey in hand
- Flashback Memory’s Journey, targeting Emergence Zone + 2 lands (Cost: )
- Cast Brainstorm to draw the rest of the deck, then put EZ + 1 land back (Cost: )
- Cast Crop Rotation to put Emergence Zone into play (Cost: )
- Activate Emergence Zone (Cost: )
Phase 2: Making Infinite Mana
1. With Emergence Zone active, cast Lotus Petal -> Dark Ritual -> Cabal Ritual
2. Cast and activate Elixir of Immortality
3. Let draw triggers resolve to draw the deck. This nets 1 Black mana.
4. Repeat Steps 1-3 until you have infinite (Note: After the first iteration, Step 3 requires requires 4 draw triggers, since your deck will consist of Petal, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Elixir of Immortality)
5. Cast and crack Lotus Petal for , or
6. Cast and activate Elixir of Immortality with your infinite Black mana
7. Let 2 draw triggers resolve to draw the deck (consisting of Lotus Petal + Elixir of Immortality). This filters into 1 mana of any colour.
8. Repeat Steps 4-7 until you have infinite Mana of any colour
Phase 3: Winning the Game
1. Cast Praetor’s Grasp to take a card from one opponent’s deck
2. Cast and activate Elixir of Immortality
3. Let 2 draw triggers resolve to draw the deck (consisting of Praetor’s Grasp + Elixir of Immortality)
4. Repeat Steps 1-3 until all enemies have no cards left in their decks
If you didn’t Grasp an immediate outlet from one of your opponents (Lab Maniac, Aetherflux Reservoir, etc.), you can loop Crop Rotation into Cephalid Coliseum to finish them off.
Ok, that was quite a lot. This part is where the lack of Eldrazi Titans comes back to bite us a second time. Our dredge loops have to be structured very differently compared to the standard Gitrog deck. One downside here is that this makes them much less flexible and resilient. Another issue you may already have noticed is that Memory’s Journey comes up twice as a backup for corner case scenarios in here. If we want to be 100% safe, we’d need to dedicate another slot to Flashback reshuffling. It does exist in the form of Krosan Reclamation, but slots are already very tight as is, and a double backup line would cost 9 mana total. Overall, I see a lot of room for improvement in this combo section, and I’m curious to see if anyone of you can come up with some lines that are more mana-efficient, compact, and/or resilient than what I’m presenting here.
With most of the negative things about this deck out of the way, let’s take a look at some cool things. I ended up going with Noose Constrictor as my discard outlet of choice since this allows to me find either half of the combo with Green Sun’s Zenith and Summoner’s Pact. Gitrog itself is a very powerful engine that can sometimes stumble into the winning combo without much else on our side of the battlefield. Gamble is extra sweet in this deck since we don’t care if our Dakmor Salvage is in our hand or in the graveyard. Getting to play Blue cards in a Gitrog deck also feels very powerful. If we can find a way to get access to those Blue cards while being close to the resiliency of OG Gitrog, we might have something quite powerful on our hands. Emergence Zone is another amazing new piece for this strategy, and I don’t think this particular build would’ve been possible without it.
To sum things up, I think playing Gitrog in a shell that allows us to have access to more colours could be good. However, Divergent Transformations might not be the best option for doing so. The restrictions it imposes on this combo in particular are quite heavy, and while we can still make it work, I’m not sure if it’s a worthwhile trade-off. I’d love to see you all take a crack at figuring out the best way to build this kind of strategy.
Finally, please don’t forget to vote for the card you’d like to see featured in a future article! I’ve got some sweet ideas for these four, so stay tuned. The next First Draft Friday article will release on the 26th of April.