Throne of the Grim Captain Deck Build

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Dive into our unique brewing guide for the Throne of the Grim Captain deck. Discover creative strategies and card combos to surprise your opponents in MTG.

Why is this Deck?

Every set includes at least one card that requires the caster to jump through so many hoops that I can imagine the designers saying, “Go ahead, MTG community, we dare you to build this.” Well, today’s we-dare-you build-around is Throne of the Grim Captain – a card that requires a full graveyard with four different creature types that have nothing in common in the hopes of free-casting some of them later.

Magic the Gathering Card - Throne of The Grim Captain - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Throne of The Grim Captain - MTG Circle

Our deck needs a critical mass of Merfolk, Pirates, Dinosaurs, and Vampires, ways to fill our graveyard, and enough survivability to last until we do the thing. We want at least some of the creatures to be good enough that churning them out of the Grim Captain was worth all the hoops we had to jump through but also efficient enough to play in the early game to apply some pressure. Stick with me as I break down the creatures selected and what support package we put around it in the hopes of turning this goofy idea into a functional deck.

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The Star of the Show

Magic the Gathering Card - Ghalta and Mavren - MTG Circle

The most important card to help Throne of the Grim Captain flip is Ghalta and Mavren. This 12/12 doesn’t see much play due to the current power level of Standard, but it’s an absolute beauty in this deck because it’s both a vampire and a dinosaur. Additionally, a 12/12 trampler coming into play tapped and attacking alongside the 7/7 menace lifelink captain is a pretty sweet payoff for all the setup we have to go through here.

The Dinosaurs

Magic the Gathering Card - Trumpeting Carnosaur - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Etali, Primal Conqueror - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Etali, Primal Conqueror - MTG Circle

In addition to Ghalta and Mavren, we have Trumpeting Carnosaur and Etali, Primal Conqueror in the deck. Dinosaurs are our primary payoff creature type, so don’t be afraid to pitch these to Bitter Reunion and Brass’s Tunnel-Ginder. Additionally, the Trumpeting Carnosaur can get itself in the graveyard with its channel ability that doubles as removal for us.

The Merfolk

Magic the Gathering Card - Vodalian Hexcatcher - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Tishana's Tidebinder - MTG Circle

Believe it or not, the merfolk represent the most important creatures in the deck because they provide instant-speed interaction to disrupt our opponents’ early game while putting bodies on board that need to be answered. Tishana’s Tidebinder is a powerhouse that sees play in all sorts of formats because it drastically limits the value of Raffine, Scheming Seer, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, Atraxa, Grand Unifier, Leyline Binding, and many more.

Vodalian Hexcatcher is also surprisingly powerful if you get it in the early game. Given that we want these creatures in the graveyard, the ability to sacrifice the hexcatcher to counter spells if our opponent has tapped out can catch people off guard and disrupt an otherwise valuable curve-out. Hitting Up the Beanstalk on the play or Wedding Announcement can stall our opponent’s assault dramatically.

The Pirates

Magic the Gathering Card - Malcolm, Alluring Scoundrel - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Kitesail Larcenist - MTG Circle

Malcolm, Alluring Scoundrel compliments our merfolk package nicely because the flash lets us play a threat on our opponent’s turn if they play around our interaction. Additionally, Malcom is one of our loot enablers to fill the graveyard if they’re able to connect in combat. Kitesail Larcenist is interaction because it can remove our opponent’s threats temporarily, but it is one of our weakest links in the chain. I’ve considered replacing this with Spyglass Siren to lower the curve because the larcenist’s effect rarely lasts longer than a turn or two. Also, you’ll rarely want to treasure your own permanents unless you’ve drawn an Etali, Primal Conqueror because ramp is not often needed in this build.

The Vampires

Magic the Gathering Card - Voldaren Epicure - MTG Circle

Ghalta and Mavren is our big vampire, but we also run Voldaren Epicure because it gives us a play on turn one while also giving us the blood token that can help us churn away our big throne threats for later. Because we want it in our graveyard anyway, we can chump block larger threats without a second thought.

How We Fill the Yard

Magic the Gathering Card - Bitter Reunion - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Brass's Tunnel-Grinder - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Brass's Tunnel-Grinder - MTG Circle

Whenever you run graveyard strategies, there are two major ways to fill the graveyard: mill or discard/looting. Looting (drawing and discarding) is a valuable way to get a few key pieces into the graveyard while also crafting your hand in the process. Mill, on the other hand, puts lots of cards in the yard all at once, but you have little to no selection over what goes. Given how important the throne itself is for our gameplan, this deck doesn’t mill at all until the throne is on the battlefield. Bitter Reunion provides additional value too because it can give our captain haste and get the attack trigger immediately.

Brass’s Tunnel-Grinder can also provide additional value because most of our spells are permanents. Descend will trigger almost every turn, and after it flips, Tecutlan, the Searing Rift will be easy to trigger, including our opponents because of our flash creatures.

Sideboard Considerations

The sideboard I’ve landed on focuses on the Esper midrange decks and aggro decks like mono red. You’ll notice we don’t have a lot of key answers for the domain deck because the current merfolk package is not bad at answering it. The biggest challenge the current build faces is against other creature decks where the bodies they play are just simply stronger than ours. Brotherhood’s End and Witchstalker Frenzy are fantastic against aggressive strategies like Dimir tempo or soldiers because they deal with small creatures efficiently. Burn Down the House is also a key sweeper against Esper or Golgari decks that run Sheoldred the Apocalypse but also go super wide.

It might also seem odd to have additional copies of our key creatures in the sideboard. We bring in Vodalian Hexcatcher against controlling decks or ramp decks where noncreature spells will be more common and playing at flash speed is more powerful. The additional Trumpeting Carnosaurs are for matchups where three damage can remove key targets like Deep Cavern Bat or Glissa Sunslayer.

The Bottom Line

This deck is absolutely janky, so be aware that it might not carry you on a rocket surfboard to mythic, but it’s the kind of jank I love. With many janky brews, plan B wins more often than its primary goal. That is not the case with this beast; when it wins, it’s usually because Throne of the Grim Captain flipped over and we cheated out an Etali, Primal Conqueror or Ghalta and Mavren. Even when I’m on a losing streak, I find it very fun to play this deck and would recommend you give it a try if you have access to the cards.

Graham, also known as HamHocks42 on the internet, is a Twitch streamer who adores Magic: the Gathering in all its forms and tries to find the fun, even in the most competitive and sweaty environments.
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