Chris’s Commander Corner: Reviewing Piru

Back in August, I didn’t want to use any online search or EDHREC to build my next deck, so I turned to the Twitter MTG community for ideas instead. Here’s the original tweet:

What ensued was amazing. For me, a small timer in the community to get so many interactions was awesome. There were 149 replies in total, and something like 160 different cards mentioned throughout the thread!

I built the entire first draft of the deck using cards people mentioned, and I tracked every card mentioned in the Maybeboard on Archidekt, so I had a pool to choose from whenever I want to make updates. You can see the deck list here in its current state.

Since getting all the cards I needed in paper and playing Piru, I’ve only made a couple tweaks to make things more cohesive. I find it to be extremely cool that I was able to put such an excellent deck together from the community input alone, and this will forever hold a special place in my heart as a result.

Reviewing the Gameplay

I’ve been able to fire off five games with Piru since completing the first paper version of the deck in November. While yet to close a game out with a win, some of the plays it has pulled off were explosive and flashy. I think it’s safe to say in four of the five games I was “the bad guy” for a good portion, largely because my life totals got so out of control. Here’s a funny text snippet from a good friend of mine who was watching me play on MagicGuy’s stream:

This was right after gaining 126 life 😅

Some additional notes about Piru that I learned so far during piloting it:

First is that it’s extremely weak to things like Darksteel Mutation or Oko, Thief of Crowns. Losing its death trigger hurts, and it often forces you to sac Piru in response which, with her mana value of eight + commander tax added on, it sets you back a LOT.

Second, Piru doesn’t like decks that run a lot of legendary creatures. While this hasn’t come up in a significant way yet, it will make beating certain tribes like dragons very difficult. Opponents who get crafty with their game plan early shut Piru down effectively. The key is to realize you shouldn’t force any non-legend down unless it meaningfully advances you that turn, or is critical to survival in some way. In the five games so far, at least two opponents noticed this trend early on and adapted by middle rounds, nerfing my effectiveness and limiting my ability to close the game out later on.

Finally, Piru’s wincons are almost all enchantments or artifacts. It is imperative that you have plans for these spells available, whether via countermagic or removal. I would’ve closed the aforementioned stream game out but my wincon was hit with Negate. This is your reminder to run more spot removal for non-creature threats, too!

Strategy Overview

The deck fuels its strategy by using cards like Varchild’s War-Riders to give opponents creatures (“kindling”), then setting off Piru to hit each non-legendary for seven damage and seven lifegain. I’ve had board states where I gained upwards of 100+ life (hitting 15+ non-legendary creatures) in a single instance of Piru dying! There are several payoffs and wincons to match these explosive turns, notably Repercussion, Toralf, or Plague of Vermin as a way to use all that life.

I also find one of the most powerful cards in the deck to be Greed. I can’t emphasize enough how strong of a draw engine it creates even with just a little extra life and a few swamps open. I have run Greed in other decks when I know I’ll have at least 15 black mana sources (including rocks), and where I know I can generate mild lifegain. The card’s cost ($0.25) to game value is off the charts in the right setting, and I certainly would recommend trying this draw engine if you’re looking to play on a budget.

I paired it with K’rrik in Piru for extra firepower. This essentially changes Greed to read “Pay 4 life: draw a card” which is silly when lifegain is the primary strategy & wincon.

Not My Style

Piru has been fun at times, and it is certainly powerful if left unchecked, but it has also felt a bit disheartening using a board wipe from the command zone. I historically enjoy aggro, burn, and occasional combo, i.e., all things that end games quickly. Using a strategy where I’m gaining life, stalling gameplay, and taking in-game “leads” via war of attrition feels a little off-putting at times. I am self-conscious in MTG, and the type of person who wants others to have fun above myself, unintentionally selfless if you will (which reminds me I need to build a group hug deck eventually). I prefer winning in Commander by doing cool stuff than wiping the board and delaying gameplay.

I am torn, though, because the deck has a special spot in my heart from being a community brew. It also just doesn’t feel like “me” after playing it a bit. I can’t help but wonder if I could find ways to have more “on-spot” wincons, but using something like Test of Endurance just absolutely isn’t my thing.

What should I do?



Chris Martin is the co-founder of Conviction Gaming and co-host of the Brewin’ With Conviction podcast. He has been playing MTG since 1998 and is an avid EDH player with a knack for MTG finance.

You can find more of Chris’s daily content by following on Twitter @ChiStyleGaming and his exclusive content by becoming a Conviction Gaming Patron.

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