Graveyard Love and Hate with THB
Continuing to examine the impact of Theros Beyond Death on the landscape of Commander, I wanted to look for some more unappreciated or underappreciated cards (played in under 1% of decks on EDHrec) to fight back against escape mechanics, which have further bolstered some already-dominant commanders like Muldrotha, Kess, and Meren. Judgment, with its strong graveyard and anti-graveyard synergies seemed like a great set to revisit.
If you haven’t already checked out my examination of Ice Age and Bant enchantment synergies with THB, make sure to take a look at that, as well.
#2 — Toxic Stench
Obviously the most situational on the list, but if you’re piloting a deck that wants lots of cards in the graveyard, it’s essentially a second copy of Doomblade. Or if your deck just incidentally throws a lot of cards is the graveyard, like the new commander Atris alongside a few dozen Persistent Petitioners.
#1 — Quiet Speculation
There’s certainly a situation where this has applications to be used against an opponent, but the majority of the time, you’re playing this to tutor for three spells you want to cast from the yard. Or in a pinch, it adds up to four cards to your graveyard to fuel an escape for your Uro or set up for your Underworld Breach.
#5 — Shaman’s Trance
This one is the most dependent on your playgroup’s meta. If you know you’re going up against a deck with strong graveyard synergies like Muldrotha, drop this on that player’s upkeep to shut down any permanents coming in from their graveyard that turn.
Someone’s going to cast an Underworld Breach and let loose on the table? Respond with Shaman’s Trance to stop them from going off. Especially if you’re not playing blue or running counterspells.
And maybe you just get lucky and play this on your turn to escape or flash back some of their great spells for yourself.
#4 — Grip of Amnesia
Force a difficult or hilarious choice on the graveyard player. Imagine playing this in response to an Underworld Breach or Yawgmoth’s Will. The Scarab God player casts a Living Death to move in to the endgame? Double ouch.
It even has synergy potential with the new Ashiok, Nightmare Muse. Now your opponent has to choose between letting their spell get countered or handing over their graveyard for you to cast at your leisure.
And even if you don’t find the perfect moment to pull the trigger on this, it’s a card in your hand that replaces itself if you really need.
#3 — Grave Consequences
Another card to force decisions on your opponents. Obviously you’ll have your Tormod’s Crypt or Bojuka Bog to straight-up exile their whole graveyard, but this lets you come in at instant speed trade off a complete nuke of their graveyard for some damage.
If you’ve got Syr Konrad out, the decisions get even more interesting. Damage now? More damage later?
As above, this offers synergy with Ashiok, Nightmare Muse and replaces itself from your hand. Unlike Grip of Amnesia, you’re not potentially adding a card to their graveyard in the process.
#2 — Lost in Thought
Obviously this card gets a lot worse if the graveyard player has sac outlets, but it lets you force a decision between using their best creature or having full use of their graveyard. On the up side, this card becomes a blue Pacifism against the player who can’t feed their graveyard or whose graveyard just got exiled.
See above regarding Ashiok and Konrad.
#1 — Web of Inertia
This one’s for the prison players, which might be why I like it the most. Add another dimension to your pillow-fort on top of Propaganda, Marchesa’s Decree, or Norn’s Annex. Imagine having to pay 2 mana and 2 life per attacking creature as well as exiling a card. The taxes add up fast. And just like with Lost in Thought, the players who can’t keep their graveyard fed are going to have to point their attackers somewhere else.