Nethroi: A Re-Inspection Of The Deck Tech For Magic: The Gathering

Hello, loyal readers and fans of Wizards of the Coast's iconic trading card game Magic: The Gathering! Nearly two months ago, we here at Bleeding Cool wrote up a Commander deck tech for Nethroi, Apex of Death. Well, now that Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths and Commander 2020 have officially been released worldwide, we decided to take another look at this decklist, as well as document its natural progression to a more finely-tuned deck.

The Showcase variant art for Nethroi, Apex of Death from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, by Tomasz Jedruszek.
The Showcase variant art for Nethroi, Apex of Death from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, by Tomasz Jedruszek.

You can find a link to the old Magic: The Gathering deck tech here, while the updated decklist can be found here. The older list had a few bumps in the road which deemed it less reliable than the new one, so looking into the changes will help any discerning player determine how best to play this commander. With that, let's inspect the cuts and new inclusions!

The Cuts From Nethroi

  • Zagoth Mamba and Mysterious Egg – in Brawl, these cards work fine and have the proper level of impact. However, in Commander, they don't do nearly enough, especially considering how focused in scope the Mutate mechanic is.
  • Crypt Rats – This card does not combo out with K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth, so it felt right to cut it. Pestilence Demon should suffice.
  • Primordial Sage – This has been cut in favor of Beast Whisperer, who is, while still a non-Human, significantly less mana-intensive to cast.
  • Avacyn's Pilgrim and Bastion Protector – The less Humans we have in the Nethroi deck, the better. Running Avacyn, Angel of Hope means Bastion Protector is fairly redundant in a bad way, and Humans being redundant means Humans get cut.
  • Utopia Tree – We were not fond of Utopia Tree in that it couldn't do much of anything besides make mana, so it was cut in favor of better cards overall.
  • Wasteland – Wasteland is a bit too costly to get in paper at this time, but as it isn't necessarily a bad card, this is a tentative or at worst temporary exclusion.
  • Forest x2 – There were, admittedly, a few too many lands in the prototype for what we now have in the deck. Forests were our most abundant basic land and so a couple got the ax.
  • Temple of the False God – Ancient Tomb is better in generally every way except when in a bind. Temple, even in a land-heavy deck such as this, felt like a bad draw at every turn.
  • Solemn Simulacrum and Pilgrim's Eye – These mana ramping cards felt superfluous in a deck that already generated so much mana with cards on their own. Solemn Simulacrum might be good for card draw, but it's small potatoes when considering all the things that slot could be doing.
  • Darksteel Myr – This just felt like an extra slot wasted on the possibility of giving something indestructibility. It wasn't entirely necessary, so out it went.
  • Hall of the Bandit Lord – While we like having creatures (and while everyone loves having creatures with haste), the official rules for Mutate had finally been released and as such, we didn't need haste quite as badly.
  • Archetype of Endurance – This cut hurt a little bit. However, this was cut at the point where things were necessary to put in, and not necessarily to take out. All Commander players get that feeling sometimes, right?
Spacegodzilla, Death Corona, the Godzilla Series variant for Void Beckoner.
Spacegodzilla, Death Corona, the Godzilla Series variant for Void Beckoner.
  • Void Beckoner – Spacegodzilla, Death Corona felt like a fun inclusion especially with the desire for more ability counters, but in the end it felt too clunky, so the meme was cut.
  • Skullwinder and Golgari Findbroker – These recursive cards felt like too much in a deck where creatures are apt to come back whenever our Commander mutates (which is to say, often). The one that was kept besides Boneyard Lurker ended up being Eternal Witness over Findbroker due to its ease in casting, despite being a Human.
  • Opal Palace – Finally, the last cut for this deck (for now, anyway) is Opal Palace, which was cut for Path of Ancestry. It turns out that when you mutate your Commander, it doesn't enter the battlefield, meaning this is a glorified Shimmering Grotto. Ouch.

The New Inclusions For Nethroi

  • Woe Strider – This deck needed a few more sacrifice outlets, and therefore Woe Strider was included. It creates a body and its Scry ability is nothing to sniff at.
  • Noxious Gearhulk – While this deck had no real need for additional removal, Noxious Gearhulk felt like too good of an opportunity to pass up.
  • Evolution Sage – With the potential for this deck to capitalize on ability counters, having extras to pass around with Nesting Grounds felt like a great time.
  • Beast Whisperer – We spoke about why this replaced Primordial Sage above, but we need to stress how important card draw is in a deck without much of it available. It is vital in this game and format to make use of card advantage, and the more restricted you are, the more creative you need to be to gain it.
  • Acidic Slime – If non-creature removal is necessary for this deck, Acidic Slime should feasibly fit the bill.
  • Avenger of Zendikar – What can be said about Avenger of Zendikar that isn't all upside? It makes mutable bodies and it boosts them while they wait. Nice!
  • Mikaeus, the Unhallowed – Because of the possibility of getting multiple creatures to achieve Undying within a Mutate deck such as Nethroi, Mikaeus is a good call. It also combos with Luminous Broodmoth and a sacrifice outlet!
  • The Gods (Athreos, God of Passage, Rhonas the Indomitable, Bontu the Glorified, and Nylea, Keen-Eyed) – We wrote in the Brokkos, Apex of Forever deck tech about the trick players can exploit with devotionless Gods. The Theroan Gods were included to that end, while the Amonkheti Gods were added because they're simply very strong.
  • Indatha Triome – Hey, we can fetch this! The card is so good to fetch but so new that we had to get the Showcase art for this card so that we didn't forget to do it.
The Showcase variant for Ikoria: Lair of Behemoth's card Indatha Triome for Magic: The Gathering.
The Showcase variant for Ikoria: Lair of Behemoth's card Indatha Triome for Magic: The Gathering.
  • Gravebreaker Lamia – Entomb effects are powerful, and Gravebreaker Lamia is better than Corpse Connoisseur by a large margin. It was mainly a debate between the two when deciding what to include.
  • Leyline Prowler and Faeburrow Elder – While Solemn Simulacrum and Pilgrim's Eye are not feasible for this Magic: The Gathering deck for their own reasons, cards that make mana by themselves seem like a good inclusion. To that end, these cards were a great fit. Faeburrow Elder is even a freely-resurrected card by way of Nethroi!
  • Phantom Nishoba – This card was also nothing but value for Nethroi, being freely revived as well. On top of that, it's a huge creature! That's awesome.
  • Sawtusk Demolisher – A good, fun inclusion from Commander 2020, this card makes a good impression of a Beast Within. It felt right to include.
  • Temur Sabertooth – This card has shown its mettle many times in many decks, and this deck is no exception! The ability to evade destruction and protect other creatures is huge in a deck that values its creatures this much.
  • Path of Ancestry – As mentioned before, this card replaced Opal Palace. While it enters play tapped, the ability to scry in this deck after that cannot be overlooked.
  • Questing Beast – Ability soup is a big deal! Questing Beast makes use of the best abilities to mutate upon and acts as a helluva big beater.

Final Notes Regarding This Deck Tech

This tech assumes you know about the many cards listed therein. However, if you need to look at the cards on an individual basis, Scryfall is the place to go.

This deck has done very well, only losing a couple of times to a Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt deck with an Infect theme. Yikes! However, it's been able to adapt to fight even that deck off! Let us know what you think of these changes by commenting below. We value any input!

Nethroi, Apex of Death, a card from the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths set for Magic: The Gathering.
Nethroi, Apex of Death, a card from the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths set for Magic: The Gathering.

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About Joshua Nelson

Josh Nelson is a Magic: The Gathering deckbuilding savant, a self-proclaimed scholar of all things Sweeney Todd, and, of course, a writer for Bleeding Cool. In their downtime, Josh can be found painting models, playing Magic, or possibly preaching about the horrors and merits of anthropophagy. You can find them on Twitter at @Burning_Inquiry for all your burning inquiries.
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