Gisa and Geralf

Posted in Card Preview on June 29, 2016

By Chas Andres

Chas Andres is a freelance writer and MFA student living in Wilmington, North Carolina. When he's not at his keyboard dreaming up stories, you can find him playing with his cats, listening to records, or building yet another Magic deck.

Compromise is difficult. I think that's why I'm such a sucker for stories where two old enemies are forced to work together. Whether it's Professor X teaming up with Magneto or Frodo following Gollum into Mordor, I love watching nemeses put their squabbles on hold in order to serve a greater good.

Ghoulcaller Gisa and Stitcher Geralf aren't enemies in the sense that they want each other dead. Theirs is more of an "I'm mad because my brother read my diary and then his Zombies trashed my bedroom" sort of hatred. Geralf will spend years warring with Gisa, but then he'll send his Skaabs to free her from prison. Gisa will write letters to Geralf telling him about her life, but they'll be riddled with insults and nicknames. One can only imagine how many family dinners in the Cecani household ended with one of the two siblings slamming down their plate and marching off to sulk in their bedroom.

Is it even possible for the two siblings to come together at this point? After years of tearing the Moorland apart with their necromantic warfare, can the Stitcher and the Ghoulcaller ever find common ground?

Well, see for yourself:

I imagine the sound I just heard is every Commander player in the world dashing off to their collection in search of all the Gisa and Geralf–related cards they own. I've wanted to build a Gisa and Geralf deck ever since they were given their own cards in Commander (2014 Edition), but I couldn't quite make it work. Trying to fit them into the same deck just felt wrong to me. If they didn't want to fight side by side, who was I to force them to compromise?

That problem is gone now. I'm not sure how long Gisa and Geralf's alliance will last—based on the art and the flavor text, theirs is an accord based more on immediate necessity than anything else—but for now, at least, we can see what these two sibling rivals can do with their powers combined.

Before we can talk about how Gisa and Geralf work together, let's spend a few moments talking about their disparate approaches to the art of necromancy. Because I knew that each of them would want to be discussed first (or, more accurately, each of them would not want the other to be discussed first), I decided to flip a coin. Gisa won, so let's begin with her.

As evidenced by her relatively pure approach to reanimating the undead, Gisa is a black-aligned necromancer. She believes in raising the dead directly from their graves, which is why most of her undead creations are ghouls—the shambling, mindless, 2/2 sort of Zombies. Gisa's Bidding is a great example of her ability to raise a bunch of these Zombies very quickly. When Nahiri needed help to build the Drownyard Temple, it was Gisa and her ghouls who got the call.

Geralf is a blue-aligned necromancer—a skaberen who prefers to stitch his creations together from pieces of dead monsters. While Gisa is capable of raising large undead armies relatively quickly, it takes Geralf a while to craft his Skaabs. The results can be stunning, though—after consulting with the famous necro-alchemist Ludevic, Geralf was able to build a masterpiece. I mean, just look at that thing!

Gisa and Geralf's individual cards show off these differences well. Ghoulcaller Gisa needs a fresh body, and then she's able to summon a bunch of 2/2 Zombies. Stitcher Geralf wants you to give him a bunch of dead pieces that he can sew into a massive abomination. They both like crafting armies of the undead, but their approaches couldn't be more different.

So what happens when these two work together? Only good things for the mage who has Gisa and Geralf in play on their side of the table. For starters, it's cheaper to cast Gisa and Geralf than it is to summon either sibling separately—evidence that working together can indeed pay dividends.

Gisa and Geralf's abilities show how beneficial it can be to find common ground. Getting to put four cards from your library into your graveyard is helpful no matter which brand of necromancy you prefer to practice. As long as you run enough creatures in your deck, there will be plenty of bodies for Gisa to reanimate and parts for Geralf to stitch together.

It's the second ability on this card that really shines, though. While it skews closer to Gisa's preferred method of reanimation, the fact that it works on Geralf's creations really shows how powerful these two are when they work together. Getting to cast a 2/2 ghoul out of your graveyard is useful, but imagine getting to re-cast Geralf's Mindcrusher or Geralf's Masterpiece every turn. How is your opponent supposed to beat an endless onslaught of powerful undead abominations?

So many of the Gisa- and Geralf-related cards out there are flavor wins when combined alongside Gisa and Geralf. Consider Prized Amalgam, one of Geralf's favorite experiments during his time at Ludevic's laboratory. If you use Gisa and Geralf to cast another Zombie from your graveyard, Geralf's Prized Amalgam will slowly shamble onto the battlefield as well. Don't have it in your graveyard yet? Try searching it up with Entomb, recently reprinted in Eternal Masters with flavor text from Gisa herself.

The fun doesn't stop there, either. Grimgrin, Corpse-Born, one of Geralf's coolest creations, is a lot more powerful when you can sacrifice some of Gisa's ghouls to keep building it up. You can also use some of Geralf's instants and sorceries—Thought Scour and Forbidden Alchemy come to mind—in order to help Gisa summon a massive army of ghouls with Rise from the Tides.

Will Gisa and Geralf continue working together as Innistrad continues its decent into madness? I don't know. My sister and I fought all the time when we were kids, and our alliances tended to be both brief and tentative. It doesn't take much to set these two off, either—one exasperated eye-roll might be all it will take to restart their feud.

But for now, at least, there is something more important happening on Innistrad than a sibling rivalry between two twisted necromancers. And until that situation is resolved one way or the other, we all get to reap the benefits of Gisa and Geralf's flavorful alliance.

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