Before I begin, I should introduce myself. I’m David Rowell, formerly SolemnParty over at WinTargetGame, where I began the Commanding Opinion series a few years ago and never quite got to where I wanted to with it. A couple of months ago, the site finally closed down for good. While some of my old articles are at Life… Successfully, Brainstorm Brewery is the new home of my articles. If you want a sneak peak of some of the articles I’ll be uploading here, or if you just want to take a look at my brother’s writing, check the gaming section out.
I’ve been playing Magic only since New Phyrexia—the first event that I ever played in was a New Phyrexia Sealed event that I ended placing eighth out of forty-something people with a decent pool (all I remember for sure is a foil Carnifex Demon and a Molten-Tail Masticore). I wasn’t entirely new to competitive card games. I had played Yu-Gi-Oh! for a few years (gave up a little after Synchro Monsters were introduced) and then played the Pokemon TCG competitively for quite a while (which I ended up dropping for Magic due to the erratic rotation cycle of Pokemon).
After that, I played Standard for quite a while, playing junky decks and then finally leaving Standard after the rotation of Birthing Pod, and that’s when I truly got into Commander. My brother bought all five of the original Commander pre-cons, and I immediately fell in love with the format. The first deck I ever built from scratch was a Nicol Bolas Commander deck (which quickly turned into Sedris, the Traitor King after playing in a Commander league with that deck and never playing Nicol Bolas). Sometimes I’ve gotten up to 10 decks at one time.
Although I started in New Phyrexia, the first full block I really played was Innistrad. I had just started writing for WinTargetGame when the set was announced, and I was throwing spoilers out like crazy. However, I kept seeing a couple names that never got used to their full potential: Geralf and Gisa. All we knew about them from the set was that they were necromancers, and that Geralf was some kind of Dr. Frankenstein.
Tell Us About Geralf and Gisa, David
Little is known of their actual origins, besides that Geralf and Gisa are brother and sister who are cousins to Mikaeus, the Lunarch. They were essentially two sides of a coin: Geralf embodied the blue aspect of Innistrad’s zombies by being a mad scientist, stitching corpses together to his own ends, while Gisa was a necromancer, just animating bodies to torment the living.
The flavor of Innistrad’s blue-black zombie tribe was to encompass all different kinds of zombies. The blue aspect was that of Frankenstein: beings stitched together from corpses and given life through lightning or magic. These zombies tended to be stronger and more intelligent, as the stitcher can use only the best materials if they so wish. The black aspect was that of the more modern zombies: the slow, shambling zombies of Dawn of the Dead that just exist to kill the living.
Before the siege of Thraben, Geralf and Gisa simply played games, called the Moorland Necrowars. They waged their necromantic armies against each other to see who the better ruler of the undead was. Seeing as there were no deaths (well, aside from those necessary to make the zombies and skaabs), these really were practically games. Of course, any living humans in the way would be turned into more corpses for future contests. But eventually, the siblings moved beyond simple fun and games.
Together, they agreed to take down one of the few sanctuaries for living human kind: Thraben. They created Grimgrin, a giant zombie the height of two men that easily took down the gates of Thraben by himself. Their goal was to conquer the city and to kill Mikaeus, the Lunarch, so that Geralf could become the ruler of Thraben itself.
This plan failed. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, managed to rally her forces and fight back the undead overcoming the city. Sadly, Mikaeus, the Lunarch was still killed by Geralf, but the city was in no state for him to take it for himself. At this point, he met Liliana Vess, who showed great interest in the corpse of the Lunarch. Being a necromancer, we can already assume where that led.
But enough of that. Let’s talk about the cards.
How Good are They?
Stitcher Geralf is a 3/4 legendary human wizard for 3UU. Solid typing, stats, and costing. 3UU is a little on the high side for a commander, but his deck doesn’t need to revolve around him. His ability is unique, but similar to Gisa’s: for 2U and tap, each player sends the top three cards of their decks to the graveyard, and then you can exile up to two creature cards milled this way to stitch together a zombie with power and toughness equal to the total power of the creatures exiled this way.
One thing to note about this ability is that you can exile eldrazi with it before they are able to shuffle back into the library. Overall, Geralf is a pretty solid mill commander compared to something like Amabassador Laquatus, who isn’t bad, but isn’t anything special, either.
From a flavor standpoint, I really like the fact that Geralf literally stitches the zombie tokens together from the creatures that are milled with his ability. It captures his Frankenstein vibe really well. The only problem I have is that he is mono-blue—there are so few mono-blue zombies that a zombie tribal deck with him as a Commander isn’t very good, and blue also tends to have the smallest (and least) creatures when it comes to any mono-colored deck. He works well alongside his sister, though.
Ghoulcaller Gisa was revealed before her brother, and I like her a little bit more.
For 3BB, you get a 3/4 Legendary Human Wizard—the same stats as her brother, she’s just black instead of blue. Her ability is also pretty decent, like her brother’s. For B, tap, sacrifice a creature, you get a number of 2/2 zombie creatures equal to the power of the creature you sacrificed.
Again, I love the flavor of this card. Gisa just wants as many zombies as possible to overwhelm humanity, rather than stitching fewer, stronger zombies together.
She actually works very well with her brother: he makes a huge zombie with his ability, and then Gisa breaks his huge zombie down into a ton of 2/2 zombies. I’m not exactly sure how two things stitched together give rise to a whole ton of things not stitched together, but I”m not going to complain about flavor when the synergy is so powerful.
In the few installments, we’ll be talking about the individual commanders, and after that, what they can do together.
Until next time,