Underdog’s Corner – Storrev, Devkarin Lich

(Storrev, Devkarin Lich | Art by Igor Kieryluk)

Just Another War Pun

Hello, everyone and welcome to another installment of the Underdog’s Corner! In my previous article, I covered Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin, one of the new legends from War of the Spark. As more data continues to accumulate on EDHREC, we can see trends among the new commanders. Krenko’s deck total, for instance, has tripled since I began researching him for my article. Our underdog this week, however, has only seen her deck total increase by two (not a factor of two, just two) since I began researching her. Storrev, Devkarin Lich is a unique general I’ve had a mild affinity for ever since she was spoiled, and I figured that it was high time to shine a light on her!

Storrev, Devkarin Lich

Storrev holds a very unique position in the pantheon of potential commanders, as she is one of the few commanders to specifically work with planeswalkers. We’ve seen a mix of less popular commanders that fill this role, like Djeru with Eyes Open and Will Kenrith, as well as extremely popular commanders like Muldrotha, the Gravetide and Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice. How does Storrev fit in?

Whenever Storrev, Devkarin Lich deals combat damage to a player or planeswalker, return to your hand target creature or planeswalker card in your graveyard that wasn’t put there this combat.

Storrev’s ability is focused on combat, and just like Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion, she triggers when she deals damage to players or planeswalkers. If we can connect, we get to effectively cast half of Aid the Fallen. This shouldn’t be hard, since a 5/4 body with trample can put major pressure on players when it comes on a four-drop.

Before we continue, let’s address a major concern that people have with Storrev. No, she is not Meren of Clan Nel Toth. No, she is not on the same level as Muldrotha, the Gravetide or Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice. Yes, she doesn’t stack up to those powerful commanders, and yes, that’s okay! Not every commander needs to be (nor should be) on that power level. Does that make Storrev bad? No, it doesn’t.

If we’re being honest, her power level being lower than those three should be a boon. I hear and read enough about people’s annoyance with the ubiquity of Atraxa and Muldrotha that piloting a deck that won’t garner immediate hate seems like a positive thing!


Count-Up From Extinction

Playing planeswalkers can be a difficult task, as they become endangered species very quickly without some form of protection. Playing them into an empty board of our own just gives them no chance to fight back. Since we’re in black and green, we’re not going to have protection spells or enchantments like Sphere of Safety to protect our walkers, so we’re going to need color-compliant answers.

With the return of Proliferate, we have at least a few new cards that can help bolster our walkers. Adding an extra loyalty counter here and there drastically changes the math of how our opponents need to assess the threat of our walkers. Karn’s Bastion is the easiest include, as it doesn’t need any direct synergy with the rest of our deck; repeatable Proliferate on a resilient permanent type that doesn’t take up a “spell” slot is incredible.

As someone who got to cast Planewide Celebration multiple times at pre-release, I can at least attest to its power in Limited. Proliferating four times for seven mana sounds steep, but the board state you’re left with when it resolves is drastically different. Four additional loyalty counters can protect our walkers from attacks, push them into range of an ultimate, or give them new life to be able to use a powerful ability again. That’s just one of the several options Celebration can bring! We can double down on our recursion ability by returning key planeswalkers, creatures, or other permanents to our hands. If in need, we can also make blockers or gain life to buy us time. The versatility can’t be understated.

For the last of new cards, we have Evolution Sage. Proliferate on a Landfall trigger? Say no more. There are plenty of ways in Golgari colors to generate multiple land drops in a single turn. Most Nissa variants have access to land synergy, as well. We’re not going to necessarily want to build around this specific card, but we’ll want to keep it in mind as with the right pieces it can be an unstoppable engine.

What about the older Proliferate cards?

While the overall power level of some of the older Proliferate cards feels lower, we still have useful cards available. Contagion Engine gets better every day. Not only can we add two loyalty counters each turn, but we get to slowly whittle down an opposing board state as well. If we want to go deeper, we also have access to Contagion Clasp. I initially thought Plaguemaw Beast wasn’t impactful enough for its cost, but combined with Storrev, I think I can appreciate its value, since Storrev can help keep the engine running by recurring whatever we sacrifice. Plenty of planeswalkers in Golgari make tokens, so we should have expendable bodies.


All My (Super)Friends Are Dead

With War of the Spark, Golgari currently has access to 46 different planeswalkers, including the two flip-walkers. If we wanted to go deep on planeswalkers, we could easily run thirty or more, but we’ll want to pick and choose who we enlist in our service. Planeswalkers often have wildly different effects, so we should unify them as much as possible. Luckily, we’re helped by the fact that individual walkers often have a defined design space.


Nissa

Mechanically, Nissa is one of my favorite planeswalkers. Her plus abilities often involve land shenanigans, and her minus abilities are powerful and versatile.

These three in particular embody what Nissa is all about. Even with just her static ability, Nissa, Who Shakes the World is a powerful inclusion. A one-sided Vernal Bloom for five mana is already great, and she slowly ticks up to an explosion of land ramp that also makes our lands indestructible. If we can protect her long enough to grab that emblem, we have a one-card win condition ready to go. Nissa, Worldwaker‘s first two abilities are a bit more situational. Untapping four Forests in a two-color deck may not always be possible in the early game, but she still ramps us while becoming harder to remove.

Nissa, Vital Force is the most generically powerful Nissa we have. The turn she comes down, she can immediately put herself into range of her ultimate. Her emblem’s “Landfall, draw a card” is an incredibly powerful ability. She even creates a 5/5 to help protect her long enough to put herself in that position! Her minus ability is also the most versatile of her lot: getting back any permanent from our graveyard is incredible.

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar is one of my favorite planeswalkers, period. I love tokens, counters, and land-based abilities, so she’s the total package. She’s not as impactful as her other forms, but she offers a nice amount of utility that we can put to good use. Permanently buffing our team is also useful, as it makes Storrev more likely to connect to trigger her ability. Nissa, Vastwood Seer is the odd Nissa out to me. A free Coiling Oracle every turn is good value, but she’s still occasionally lackluster compared to the others.


Garruk

Despite his long absence during the events of War of the Spark, let’s not forget that Garruk has some of the best planeswalker cards in the game.

Garruk, Primal Hunter was one of the first planeswalkers that came to mind when I started brewing around Storrev. We can curve Storrev into Garruk, and then that becomes pure, distilled value. We can cast Garruk, minus him to draw at least five cards thanks to Storrev’s powerful stats, and then Storrev can swing to return him to our hand. While there’s risk to that play, it’ll happen often enough to be worth the inclusion on its own. If we don’t want to go that route, Garruk can still pump out a continuous stream of 3/3 Beast tokens. Never underestimate the power of having bodies to spare.

I’ve always wanted to play Garruk Wildspeaker, but I’ve always managed to cut him at the last second. On first read, he’s got a lot of great things going for him. He ramps us, he creates Beasts, and his “ultimate” is fairly easy to get to, but I think that we’re going to want to ramp out planeswalkers more often that not.

Lastly, with this new flood of planeswalkers intot he game, what better answer is there than Garruk, Apex Predator? He destroys planeswalkers, he destroys creatures, and he makes great blockers with deathtouch. If we can protect him until his ultimate, he can also quickly destroy a player, as well.


The Power of (Super)friendship.

Now that we’ve talked about a few planeswalkers, what themes are starting to develop? Garruk has an affinity for creating fairly large creatures, so we can look to include effects like Elemental Bond to help power us through our deck. Cards like Greater Good or Life’s Legacy can also give us a shot in the arm. Even Traverse the Outlands becomes an enticing piece when we can ramp three to five lands in one shot. With that in mind, let’s get back to some other walkers.


Vraska

Vraska has a number of different iterations, but one commonality is her built-in removal. Vraska, Relic Seeker, Vraska, Golgari Queen, and Vraska the Unseen each blow up troublesome permanents. Vraska, Golgari Queen is one of my favorites in this particular deck; I’ve questioned before whether her plus ability is useful, but when we have permanents to sacrifice – such as a low-loyalty planeswalker that Storrev can get back for us – I appreciate her a lot more.

Vraska, Swarm’s Eminence gives us another avenue to explore: both Garruk, Apex Predator and Garruk, Relentless create tokens with deathtouch, which can benefit from her static ability. We should look for ways to grant deathtouch to our other creatures, since trample and deathtouch is a potent combination, and would make it that much easier to deal damage with our commander. Bow of Nylea and Basilisk Collar are a perfect fit, and we can go a bit deeper with cards like Nightshade Peddler, Deadly Wanderings, or Gorgon’s Head.


Liliana

While we’ve mostly talked about Storrev’s capabilities to recur planeswalkers, let’s not forget that she can recur creatures as well. While returning creatures to hand will always be looked down upon in comparison to strict reanimation, it’s still a powerful ability, and how can we talk about planeswalkers and reanimation without talking about the queen herself: Liliana Vess.

Liliana is one of the most beloved characters in Magic, so we would be remiss to exclude her. Many of her iterations are geared more towards one-on-one formats, so we actually lose out on a few cards, but we still have plenty of options. Liliana Vess is a five-mana, sorcery-speed Vampiric Tutor. While that in and of itself isn’t great, being able to do it repeatedly to find key pieces is huge. Who cares if our opponents remove her? Storrev can bring her back. Liliana, Death’s Majesty is possibly my favorite version, since she adds loyalty to create a blocker, but have you read her minus ability? Reanimating any creature in our graveyard? Sign me up.

While this build isn’t as overtly focused on reanimating creatures, Liliana, Dreadhorde General is still a force to be reckoned with. Creating Zombie tokens for protection and drawing cards when they die is already great, but her Barter in Blood effect is what I really love. With all our tokens, we can easily keep Storrev around. I’ve been very cognizant of sacrifice effects in my local meta recently, and it’s actually surprising how few creatures players often have at their disposal. Killing off two per player will often open up a lane to swing with our commander.


The Motley Crue

Those were some of the bigger names, but here are some other planeswalkers we shouldn’t forget.

Colorless and universally powerful walkers, get in here! While the new Ugin, the Ineffable‘s static ability is less useful in a deck full of colors, I still love his plus and minus effects. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is as powerful as always, and with a commander that can recur him over and over? Sold. Karn Scion of Urza allows us to draw the worst of our top two cards and potentially get the other back later.

Card advantage and removal are always good, right? Vivien Reid and Ob Nixilis, Reignited aren’t necessarily exciting, but their abilities are always useful, and their cards are always welcome, especially when they’re easily recurrable.


Underdog Days Are Over

Now that we’ve talked about our planeswalkers, let’s fill out some support for them. While we can search for common planeswalker support through search engines like Scryfall, we can make it a bit easier for ourselves by using the Planeswalkers Theme page.

Oath of Nissa is a staple in Superfriends decks, appearing in 69% of possible decks. For a single mana, we get a green Ponder and color-fixing rolled into one. While the color-fixing isn’t as necessary in a two-color deck, the card selection alone still makes it a good one-drop. If we’re looking to play multiple planeswalkers (hint: we are), then the other Oath available to us, Oath of Liliana, is a good inclusion as well.

Oh, and of course, we have The Chain Veil, which sits at 72% popularity in Superfriends decks. One of the first cards to truly be designed around planeswalkers, the Veil has only grown in value as Superfriends decks have become more prevalent.

For more support, we have a couple kill spells that add loyalty counters to our walkers. Settle the Score is a bit overcosted, but that’s the price we pay for potentially putting a planeswalker into ultimate range. Or so we thought, until The Elderspell was released. While planeswalkers are a much rarer sight than creatures, a two-mana spell that can sap loyalty counters is incredible. At worst, we can nuke our own board of low-loyalty walkers to power out a specific walker’s ultimate, then start getting those walkers we sacrificed with Storrev again!

While Storrev is good recursion, we might want a few extra cards to help us out. Kaya’s Ghostform is a preemptive measure, but it allows us to recur a creature or planeswalker once it dies or is exiled. That’s a lot of protection for a single mana. If we want to go bigger, we now have Command the Dreadhorde. For six mana (and the life we can afford to lose), we effectively can cast any number of Reanimate spells that can also target planeswalkers! That’s a massive advantage. Dealing with one planeswalker is manageable for our opponents, but dealing with an army is much more painstaking.


Digging Deeper

For our final bit, let’s mention a few cards that are currently nowhere to be found on Storrev’s page.

Like Oath of Nissa, Vessel of Nascency is a cheap way to generate card advantage. However, unlike the Oath, we can dig an extra card and have a broader selection of card types to choose from. Not only that, but any cards we don’t pick go to our graveyard to be recurred later. While there may only be 11 Storrev decks at the moment, I think future iterations should heavily consider this.

Cloudstone Curio may seem like an odd pick, but hear me out: usually it’s used to bounce creatures to gain additional value from them, but in our deck, we can bounce walkers that are near death to reset them. It’s mana-intensive, but using a walker’s minus ability, casting another walker, bouncing the first one back to hand, and playing it again for additional loyalty abilities seems worthwhile.

Hunter’s Insight is an interesting choice, as it triggers from dealing damage to players or planeswalkers. With a commander that will swing this often, we can easily gear this spell to draw us plenty of cards, especially if we get to pump Storrev beforehand. A synergistic piece like this looks fun enough to at least give a try!

Below is my current Storrev prototype, and I’m excited to continue testing her. While there are limits to her ability and hirdles to overcome, I hope that you enjoy the challenge and experience of brewing with her. She’s definitely a unique commander that brings an interesting spin to the Golgari.

”All My (Super)friends are Dead”

Commander (1)
Creature (12)
Artifact (6)
Instant (5)
Enchantment (7)
Sorcery (12)
Planeswalker (20)
Land (37)

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Thanks for joining me in the Underdog’s Corner!

Mason is an EDH player from Georgia, who is a self-proclaimed Johnny and Vorthos. His MTG career started with a casual lifegain deck with only a single win-condition. When not consuming MTG, he spends his time being a full-time student, an avid sports fan, and a dabbling musician. Mason can be found on twitter @K_Mason64