As per WUBRG order, I’ll be talking about [card]Stitcher Geralf[/card] before talking about [card]Ghoulcaller Gisa[/card]. Be forewarned, however: this is not a strictly competitive deck. If you want a competitive mono-blue deck, play [card]Azami, Lady of Scrolls[/card] or [card]Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir[/card]. This deck will be focusing more on the flavor aspect of stitching zombies together with Geralf himself
I’ll go over him once again, just for recollection’s sake.
For this deck, our Commander is a five-drop. He costs 3UU for a 3/4 legendary human wizard. These aren’t fantastic stats, but they’re not bad either. His ability reads as follows:
2U, tap: Each play puts the top three cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. Exile up to two creature cards put into graveyards this way. Put an X/X blue zombie creature token onto the battlefield, where X is the total power of the cards exiled this way.
As I said before, having the effect of hitting all players gives him a lot more versatility than [card]Ambassador Laquatus[/card] (though one thing I forgot to mention is that Laquatus has more range than Geralf does due to the fact that he doesn’t have to tap for his ability, letting you mill out everyone with an infinite mana combo).
As far as Geralf’s ability is concerned, he fits flavorfully with the rest of his skaabs from Innistrad by putting your deck in the graveyard to feed your other skaabs. He’s essentially the same as his mono-blue creations, which all either mill you to make it easier to cast some of your other skaabs or require creatures to be exiled from your graveyard as additional casting costs. One small problem, however, is the fact that putting your creatures in the graveyard with your other skaabs makes Geralf weaker due to being unable to mill those creatures himself.
Based on flavor and draft reasons, the blue Zombies in Innistrad block have to interact with your graveyard, which does conflict with our new Geralf. These creatures are well-costed, especially given that mono-blue doesn’t care about that double blue cost all that much. I think the flying is really important, especially with [card]Skaab Ruinator[/card] being recastable out of the graveyard as a 5/6 flyer for 1UU.
As for self-mill, [card]Armored Skaab[/card] and [card]Geralf’s Crusher[/card] give some pretty good rates as well as being creatures.
The main problem with creating a Geralf deck is that it’s very difficult to build it as zombie tribal—there’s very few in just blue.
[deck title=Stitcher Geralf]
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Dig Through Time
Elixir of Immortality
Gauntlet of Power
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Sensei’s Divining Top
Spin into Myth
Stroke of Genius
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
Cavern of Souls
Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Seat of the Synod
30 Snow-Covered Island
The majority of this list is flavorful, but it focuses on a few combos, too. As a Johnny, I have no choice but to play mono-blue with a few combos I can’t help but love. The main problem I had in building this deck was trying to find a niche for Geralfthat I liked—he doesn’t do a whole lot as a commander, and he is a terrible zombie commander, due to the fact that there are very few mono-blue zombies. Most of the good blue Zombies are black and blue. We’ll get to a list for that soon, though.
[card]Stitcher Geralf[/card] is the center of the deck. His abilities are what the deck is mostly built around, from both a flavor and mechanical point of view. His army of skaabs are built from the corpses he can rummage up and stitch together. The ones he makes on his own card, however, are from any graveyard.
For this deck, the big stuff I’ve opted to play are the eldrazi titans that are legal in this format: [card]Kozilek, Butcher of Truth[/card] and [card]Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre[/card]. Their abilities to shuffle your graveyard back into your library are great. As Geralf turns your library into a resource, having a few reset switches is nice to have.
[card]Stormtide Leviathan[/card] is mostly to be exiled off of Geralf’s ability, but combos very well with [card]Wonder[/card] due to giving your creatures flying, turning the game into a one-sided fight.
The main combo for this deck is [card]Palinchron[/card] with any of the mana doublers in the deck ([card]Caged Sun[/card], [card]Extraplanar Lens[/card], and [card]Gauntlet of Power[/card]) to generate infinite mana by getting an overall gain of mana from each time you play, bounce, and replay [card]Palinchron[/card].
[card]Peregrine Drake[/card] or [card]Palinchron[/card] with [card]Deadeye Navigator[/card] also achieves the same end-goal of infinite mana, but is easier to interrupt due to soulbond having to completely bond before blinking either creature, making the combo open to disruption by either creature getting killed or exiled.
This combo enables us to use Deadeye Navigator with any of our zombies that make us mill cards from the top of our library to completely empty our decks. Bonus points if you do it with [card]Geralf’s Mindcrusher[/card], as you can then do it to any player and not just yourself.
Then we win the game by attempting to draw a card with an empty library with [card]Laboratory Maniac[/card] in play. Laboratory Maniac replaces the state-based action of losing with winning, which is always fun, and it’s difficult to prevent without killing Laboratory Maniac.You can help prevent that by playing [card]Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir[/card] to prevent your opponent from interfering during your turn, or to play Laboratory Maniac at instant speed to help sneak him in just in time.
Aside from the combo, having infinite mana lets you play every card in your deck regardless, and you’ll find a way to win that way. [card]Blue Sun’s Zenith[/card] and [card]Stroke of Genius[/card] are both in here for that exact purpose, or just to draw yourself some cards at instant speed.
With infinite mana and Intruder Alarm in play, we can continuously make zombies with Geralf’s ability, as long as we hit at least one creature per mill from Geralf. As a creature enters off of Geralf’s ability, the Intruder Alarm will trigger and untap all creatures in play.
[card]Fatestitcher[/card] with this combo also lets you tap every permanent your opponent’s control, which is always a good option. The rest of the time, Fatestitcher gives you the ability to untap Stitcher Geralf, or to tap down an opposing blocker for any reason.
Another thing to note is that if you make no creatures, you still get a 0/0 blue zombie token. With an anthem effect (like [card]Caged Sun[/card] or [card]Gauntlet of Power[/card]) you can make tokens even if you completely miss on his ability.
On top of the combos, we always have counter magic when we’re playing blue. I tried to go a little light on the ones that didn’t make sense for Geralf to be using, so I stuck to ones that made sense for the deck.
[card]Counterspell[/card] is the only regular counterspell we’re playing. It’s the standard counterpsell for blue, and I can’t see not including it in a mono-blue deck.
[card]Swan Song[/card] is a less likely one, but I figured that transfiguring a spell felt more like Geralf than a regular counterspell.
Our other counters are [card]Spell Crumple[/card], [card]Hinder[/card], [card]Memory Lapse[/card], and [card]Forbid[/card]. The first 3 are all tuck spells, and Hinder and Memory Lapse let you put them to the top of the library, allowing you to mill that card with Geralf’s ability.
Forbid is mostly there as a reusable version of [card]Cancel[/card]. As it’s not difficult to end up with a lot of cards in hand, you can always discard your extras to keep returning this one to your hand,
As always, it’s up to you if you want to play snow-covered or regular Islands. If you go the snow-covered route, I always recommend [card]Mouth of Ronom[/card] and [card]Scrying Sheets[/card], as they just give you a few more options as a reward for playing snow-covered lands. Granted, there isn’t a ton of snow on the plane of Innistrad…
Until next time.
– David Rowell