Commanding Opinon: Stitcher Geralf

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As per WUBRG order, I’ll be talking about Stitcher Geralf before talking about Ghoulcaller GisaBe forewarned, however: this is not a strictly competitive deck. If you want a competitive mono-blue deck, play Azami, Lady of Scrolls or Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. 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.

Stitcher Geralf

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 Ambassador Laquatus (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.

Skaab RuinatorStitched Drake

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 Skaab Ruinator being recastable out of the graveyard as a 5/6 flyer for 1UU.

armored skaab geralf's mindcrusher

As for self-mill, Armored Skaab and Geralf’s Crusher 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.

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.

Stitcher Geralf

Stitcher Geralf 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.

kozilek butcher of truth ulamog the infinite gyre

For this deck, the big stuff I’ve opted to play are the eldrazi titans that are legal in this format: Kozilek, Butcher of Truth and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre. 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.

stormtide leviathan

Stormtide Leviathan is mostly to be exiled off of Geralf’s ability, but combos very well with Wonder due to giving your creatures flying, turning the game into a one-sided fight.

palinchroncaged sun

The main combo for this deck is Palinchron with any of the mana doublers in the deck (Caged Sun, Extraplanar Lens, and Gauntlet of Power) to generate infinite mana by getting an overall gain of mana from each time you play, bounce, and replay Palinchron.

deadeye navigator

Peregrine Drake or Palinchron with Deadeye Navigator 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 Geralf’s Mindcrusher, as you can then do it to any player and not just yourself.

laboratory maniac

Then we win the game by attempting to draw a card with an empty library with Laboratory Maniac 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 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir 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.blue sun's zenith stroke of genius

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. Blue Sun’s Zenith and Stroke of Genius are both in here for that exact purpose, or just to draw yourself some cards at instant speed.

intruder alarm

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.

fatestitcher

Fatestitcher 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 Caged Sun or Gauntlet of Power) 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.

10counterspell2

Counterspell 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.

swan song

Swan Song is a less likely one, but I figured that transfiguring a spell felt more like Geralf than a regular counterspell.

spell crumplememory lapse

Our other counters are Spell Crumple, Hinder, Memory Lapse, and Forbid. 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

Forbid is mostly there as a reusable version of Cancel. 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,

snow-covered island mouth of ronom

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 Mouth of Ronom and Scrying Sheets, 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

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David Rowell

Assistant Manager and Magic Player at Brainstorm Brewery
David Rowell is just your average Commander player - has way too many decks built and all of his value is sitting in them. His favorites include Narset, Sedris, and Mayael. When he isn't playing or writing about magic, he's working as an assistant manager for Dollar Tree - got to have something to pay for that Magic habit.
David Rowell

24 comments

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    • Dave Read on December 19, 2015 at 5:47 pm
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    I have to say that Stitcher Geralf is the 10th zombie deck I’ve built and it’s both unique, grindy and while I hate it for destroying resources and exiling them, I love the way you can make zombies with this guy.

    Lastly, from what I’ve found out, the main two problems are that going tribal zombie with this guy means that you have no legit zombie lords (outside artifact creatures Adaptive Automaton) that buff up your other zombie creatures and that you have no access to traditional reanimation spells.

    However the best way to go about with this in my opinion is to mill others and make use of that by either making creatures or exiling the milled cards. And as for your own graveyard, with at least 5 zombies that require you to exile creatures from your own graveyard in order to cast them versus the 6 zombies (I think it’s 6) that don’t so in order to make them viable and playable you need lots of disposable creatures that you can exile even if they are never used to recast them.

    Lastly the one card that you all need for this deck which has alot of value and can never truly be removed from the game is misthollow griffin because you just cast it from exile and when it dies, you just exile again with one of your own creatures.

    I’ll try to post up my own version of Stitcher Geralf soon on tappedout.com

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    • David Read on August 14, 2016 at 2:48 am
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    Alright, another quick update. With Shadows over Innistrod block now out Wizards have given us a new way to make Geralf better. Currently with new madness related cards and creatures like stitchwing drake and geralf’s masterpiece you can add madness and discarding mechanics to strengthen the deck. Only problem is that now, about one 1/3 of my deck are zombies and sadly realized that once I took rooftop storm out because I only have 9 zombie creatures in my deck. Lastly there is a way to go monoblue reanimate route which I will explore. It requires Dreams of the dead and a color change word (hack) so you reanimate blue creatures for 1U rather than white or black creatures.

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