Operation of Orders

Posted in Reconstructed on September 11, 2012

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

Today's preview card is half of a once-banned card and half of a popular multicolored card stapled together. In tandem, the two effects can do everything from set up a board state to combo out to ensuring you have the tools to grind out your opponent. And at such a cheap price, it can be cast early enough in the game to make a huge impact.

What could possibly go wrong?

Jarad, Lich Lord of the Golgari likes to make sure he and his undead pals show up often enough. When he tells members of the Golgari to do something, they listen—whether it involves their life or their death.

Now it's time for you to tap into Jarad's ability to command his legion. It's time for your creatures to learn to heed the summons of Jarad!

Jarad's Orders

Yes, you're reading that right. It's doesn't say "or." Your opponent doesn't get to choose which goes where. There isn't any restriction on which creatures you can find. You just search up one awesome creature for your hand and one creature with a sneaky graveyard ability and then can use them both to wreak havoc on your opponent.

Some of your minds might have immediately jumped to your The Mimeoplasm Commander decks. Yes, it's quite good there. Others might be dreaming of searching up Karmic Guide and Griselbrand in Legacy. That might be worth a try as well. But what can this do in Standard?

Well, searching up Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and putting him right into your graveyard isn't a bad start... and that's just the beginning.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's look at the deck we're tweaking today. We're going to be working with Luke Paulsen's Golgari deck!

Luke Paulsen's Plants and Zombies

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The Battle Plan

The Golgari love the graveyard, and so they're right at home mingling with some of the cards from Innistrad. This deck takes nice advantage of the cross synergy between Golgari's graveyard tactics and Innistrad block's graveyard focus, using cards like Splinterfright and Boneyard Wurm in conjunction with Grisly Salvage and Jarad.

Grisly SalvageJarad, Golgari Lich Lord

This deck will pretty consistently be able to set up with a turn-two Mulch or Grisly Salvage, leading right into an aggressively sized Splinterfright on turn three. If you land a Jarad on turn four, your opponent is going to quickly be in a rough spot—especially if you already milled some cards that work well out of the graveyard!

To put your opponent on even more of a clock, Jarad's life-loss ability works especially well with the Innistrad graveyard-focused creatures. Boneyard Wurm, Ghoultree, and Splinterfright will all be consistently large enough to take out your opponent in a single sacrifice!

What does Jarad's Orders bring to the deck? Well, for one, it ensures consistency. In the long game it will help give you some extra gas and in the early game it means you can reliably set up whatever kind of start you're looking for. It also allows the deck to put some cards into its toolbox to search up at just the right occasions.

Deck Breakdown

Let's look over the deck and see how everything fits together so we can figure out where to fit in Jarad's Orders and other goodies.


Splinterfright is part of the primary engine for the deck and something you want to draw as many of as possible. They're all going to be gigantic in this deck, and they dig you closer to Gravecrawler, Jarad, and Dreg Mangler, which you can get uses of in your graveyard. Plus, it's plenty large on its own. You definitely want to keep all four of these in the deck.

Dreg Mangler

This Return to Ravnica addition lets you take advantage of the new scavenge mechanic—while also just being awesome on the table as well. Your opponent always has to respect that you can add 3 points of haste power to the board on any given turn, and the scavenge ability is cheap enough that milling these allows your creatures to reliably outsize your opponent's in the long game. This is another card I'd like to keep all four of.


Gravecrawler has a strange tension in this deck. On one hand, it's actually not that exciting to draw. This deck tends to hit big, and a random 2/1 that can't block isn't that exciting. It's not even clear that pulling it out of your graveyard is always correct since it shrinks a lot of your other creatures, although it is probably better than something like Slitherhead.

On the other hand, milling them just gives you a lot of long game resources, and you can always Jarad's Orders for it in a pinch. I'm going to want two or three, but not four. Drawing too many early is dangerous to getting the rest of your engine online.


Ghoultree is pretty good in this deck. Not only will you get a 10/10 for only a handful of mana most of the time, but in conjunction with Jarad you can deal 10 to your opponents when they aren't expecting it! You don't really want four because they don't help out your engine and are expensive to cast. Late in the game, Boneyard Wurm and Splinterfright are likely to be better, so really you're just going for redundancy here. I'm happy to play two, maybe three at most.

Boneyard Wurm

In this kind of deck, Boneyard Wurm is often a Tarmogoyf-level card—and quite often better. It grows to enormous proportions quickly, hitting (or defending) for 4 or 5 within the first handful of turns. While it doesn't set up your engine, for two mana it's so naturally large that I'm happy to play the full four copies.

Lotleth Troll

The Troll is an exciting new card to come out of Return to Ravnica—and it's certainly powerful. It can lead to some especially brutal starts alongside Gravecrawlers. However, I'm not sure this is really the deck for it. While you can hyper-combo finish your opponent using the Troll if you have enough lands and Jarad, you mostly don't want to discard your creatures aside from Gravecrawler. While Lotleth Troll is going to go on to do powerful things elsewhere, I'm not a huge fan of putting it in this deck.

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

There's a tricky balance to strike with Jarad. On one hand, he's incredibly powerful in this kind of deck. Growing to tremendous size and flinging your other creatures past any sort of blockers is extremely valuable. On the other, he's legendary and you can always just return him from your graveyard, making multiples somewhat of a dead draw. You will want to Jarad's Orders him to your graveyard often enough that you don't really need to draw him naturally.

He's plenty potent, but I only want two because of the ability to tutor for him.

While it does result in playing eight noncreature spells that don't do a ton, these cards help fuel your engine and set up your game plan. A turn-two Salvage sets up perfectly for a turn-three Splinterfright, and both cards help ensure you hit your land drops. While I'm going to need to cut some noncreatures to make room for Jarad's Orders, these won't be it.

Liliana of the Veil

Liliana is a reasonable fit for this deck: she's disruptive, kills creatures, and gives you a route to victory if you have to sit behind huge creatures instead of attacking. However, it's very important to have a high creature density in a deck like this. If we're going to add Jarad's Orders, the other noncreatures need to go.

It's worth noting that, if I was looking for removal in this spot, I would be playing Abrupt Decay. That card is extremely efficient—go check out Mike's article on it for more information.


While trampling up a Wurm, Ghoultree, or Jarad is certainly nice, I don't think Rancor is irreplaceable in this deck. There are some good creature options to help our guys get through, which will help up our creature count in the process.

The Cycle of Cuts

From cut cards spring forth new additions. Such is the way of the Golgari. In addition to tweaking the card counts as mentioned above, there are a few cards I'd like to add in as well.

Jarad's Orders

It's awesome. It's synergistic. It's my preview card. I want to play three—you don't want to get a hand full of them, but you often want to draw one early on and most of the time they only get better in the late game.

Arbor Elf

Arbor Elf serves a couple important roles. First, it speeds up the deck. A turn-two Splinterfright or Dreg Mangler can put pressure on your opponent quickly, forcing him or her to react while you set up your large creatures for the kill. Second, it means you can play more creatures in your deck. Having a high creature density is crucial for maximizing your growing creatures, and Arbor Elf helps that out because it means you don't need quite as many lands.

Disciple of Bolas

Running out of gas? Disciple of Bolas can solve that problem! Cashing in a 5/5 Boneyard Wurm for 5 life and five cards should be more than enough to put you in the driver's seat. You will Jarad's Orders for this some amount of the time, and it's also a solid natural draw. I'm not heartbroken if I mill it away, so I'm fine playing just one.

Korozda Guildmage

This guildmage does a couple things reasonably well. First of all, it lets your creatures power past small token armies. Often, you might find some Midnight Haunting or Gather the Townsfolk tokens holding you back—and this guildmage snaps that open. Second, it buys you time against midrange creature decks like Red-Green or similar. Cashing in one of your creatures for a horde of tokens should give you a couple of turns.

While you really only want one so you can Orders for it when necessary, because of all of the self-mill and filtering, two seems to be the more appropriate number. It's certainly not bad on its own, either, giving you another early-game play.

Tree of Redemption

If you're going to play Korozda Guildmage, it makes sense to play one Tree to combo with it! You don't really want to draw this at all most of the time, which is why I'm playing one and not two. However, having one means you can tutor this up with Jarad's Orders. In conjunction with Korozda Guildmage, this makes a whopping thirteen tokens! No matter how much graveyard hate your opponent has, you can always lean on this combo to try and steal a game.

Kessig Cagebreakers

This card is fairly slow, generally, but it's definitely worth having one to search for. If the game goes long and you haven't milled it away, you can Orders for it. At that point, it's usually lethal. In a long game, the chances of your opponent surviving an attack from this are about as likely as his or her chances of perfectly baking a soufflé while on a spaceship. I don't want to draw it early so I'm not interested in playing more than one, even though I could end up milling it away. This deck is tight on space, but I would consider sideboarding more for attrition-heavy matchups.

That brings the decklist I would recommend to:

Gavin Verhey's Milling Orders

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This kind of deck is a lot of fun to play with—you get to attack with gigantic creatures and fling them at your opponent's face, all while having some options with Jarad's Orders. You can quite often kill your opponent seemingly out of nowhere!

It should be noted that, while I usually dislike two copies of a card, in this deck it makes a lot more sense. For one, Grisly Salvage means you get so many looks at cards in your deck that finding a two-of consistently is more reasonable. Second, this deck mills itself enough that I want to ensure a second copy of a card is there to tutor for if the first one gets dumped into my graveyard by a Mulch or Splinterfright.

A deck like this is a powerful archetype to start with—and there are still plenty more cards to be previewed. You'll want to stay tuned and see what other Golgari goodies are shown off that power up this sort of deck.

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, as featured in Duel Decks: Izzet vs. Golgari | Art by Svetlin Velinov

Honorable Mentions

There were plenty of decks that didn't fit with Jarad's Orders or barely missed the cut otherwise. Take a look at them for some inspiration going into new Standard!

Jeremy Bordt's Jund Run

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Patrick Downey's Golgari Zombies

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Alan's Jarad Reanimator

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Diego Echalar's Growing Golgari

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Mice's Corpsejack Golgari

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Anonymous's Redemption Artist

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Entering a Golden Age

In two weeks' time, you'll know all of the cards in Return to Ravnica. It will (quite literally) be a new golden age. And that means it's going to be time to try out all kinds of exciting new strategies!

Format: Future Standard (Innistrad, Dark Ascension, Avacyn Restored, Return to Ravnica, and Magic 2013)
Restrictions: None!
Deadline: Tuesday, September 18, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time
Send all decklists via email by clicking the "Respond via Email" link at the bottom of this article

You won't know all of the cards by the time you have to submit decks for this, but you'll have seen enough cards to be able to make a pretty good stab at new archetypes. I'll then tweak those archetypes with any cards that weren't revealed at that point and take a look at what might be nestled back in the Innistrad block that's a good choice.

Until then, feel free to tell me any questions or comments you have on this article! Contact me on Twitter or post on the forums if you want to provide me any feedback.

Next week, I'll be back with my third—and final—Return to Ravnica preview card. See you all then!



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