Kothophed, Soul Hoarder

Kothophed, Soul Hoarder, one of the four demon lords that Liliana Vess sold her soul to and the first to fall in her quest to regain it. The card versions of these demon lords offer some kind of card advantage to the player. Other than being a 6/6 flying creature for 4 generic and 2 black mana, Kothophed, Soul Hoarder allows you to draw a card at the cost of 1 life whenever a permanent owned by another player is put into their graveyard from the battlefield. This is going to be a deck based around killing things which black is very good at, but since all of that card draw is going to cost you life, you will also need things that help you make up for that loss. That’s really all there is to Kothophed. He doesn’t have or need multiple abilities that can play off each other in the right circumstances or an ability that you can dump a truck load of mana into for a huge payoff, all he wants is for your opponent’s things to go into the graveyard and he will continue to give you what you want, not entirely free of course, but it’s still a bargain that can hardly be refused.

Let’s get all of the black kill spells out of the way and start with the most basic one of all, Murder. For 3 mana, you can destroy any creature in play. If you move into the 2 mana slot, options become more limited with cards that say things like “destroy target nonblack creature,” “destroy target tapped creature”,” …target creature with power 2 or less.” I tend to stay away from most of these and save them for 60-card formats, sorry Doom Blade, not here. In the 3 mana and up category of removal there are still some cards with limits on what they can kill, but for the most part those are more uncommon and if you look deep enough you will find cards that are like Murder. Drag to the Underworld, Flesh to Dust, and Hero’s Downfall are examples of what you want to look for in your removal spells which are going to make up a good portion of the deck. Some of the spells you select may be more than 3 mana, but since this is commander, mana cost isn’t that much of a factor, especially for a monocolored deck. Spells that force the opponent to sacrifice their creatures, like Diabolic Edict, are also great. The only downside to using these cards is that the opponent decides what dies.

Creatures that serve as removal are exceptionally valuable in this deck. Ravenous Chupacabra, Murderous Rider and Avatar of Woe are excellent cards that double as removal and creatures. Most other creatures have limits on their targets and this deck is usually light on creatures so don’t spend a whole lot of time looking for creatures like these. Instead look for things that you can use to better affect like Deathgreeter which basically negates the life loss from Kothophed’s ability, and Butcher of Malakir which makes sure that your opponents pay dearly for your own creatures deaths.

Board wipes, they can net you a ton of cards, but be weary of how many permanents will hit the graveyard. The more things you destroy, the more cards you will draw, and the more life you will lose. Sometimes it is unavoidable and if you must run a few, I would recommend In Garruk’s Wake. Expensive, but it leaves your things alone. Plague Wind basically does the same thing. For a more precise countermeasure, Hex allows you to destroy six creatures for 6 mana. Let’s not forget about indestructible creatures like Avacyn. A few cards like Tendrils of Corruption and Tragic Slip should deal with these creatures.

Up until now I have been careless about mana. At times it will be short, but there are some cards that can help remedy this, aside from the typical commander staples like Sol Ring and all of the other mana rocks out there. Black Market gets a counter whenever a creature dies and eventually it can produce a ton of mana. Crypt Ghast doubles the amount of mana your basic swamps produce. Cabal Coffers and Cabal Stronghold let you pay a little mana and add a black mana for each swamp you control which can be all of your lands with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth on the battlefield.

With all that black mana you can summon more demons from the dark pits of hell to aid Kothophed. Razaketh and Belzenlok, two of the other four demon lords, can join the fight and offer more card advantage. Be warned that Belzenlok could end badly for you, so be sure to have enough cards that cost 3 or less to stop his trigger from going off too many times. Unfortunately, you cannot use the fourth demon lord, Griselbrand, as he is banned in commander. Harvester of Souls doubles the card draw for killing creatures. Pestilence Demon can keep the board clear of little threats like tokens and whatnot. Ob Nixilis, Unshackled is sure to punish any opponent that tries to tutor for cards, plus he gets bigger every time a creature dies. This is only a small fraction of the demons that can find use in this deck. Since most of them come with some kind of removal ability, feel free to add a lot more if you want them.

Here are a few other cards that you can use to end the game. Since you have been killing creatures all this time, why not bring them all back with Rise of the Dark Realms? All of these demons can be combined with Liliana’s Contract, which will end the game as long as you have 4 of them with different names. If you can generate enough mana with Black Market, Crypt Ghast, Cabal Coffers, and Cabal Stronghold, you can pour it all into spells with X in their mana cost like Exsanguinate or Torment of Hailfire.

Just a few other cards for utility purposes. You will be drawing a lot of cards, so you will want cards like Reliquary Tower and Venser’s Journal to get rid of the 7-card hand limit. Alhammarret’s Archive doubles any extra cards you draw and life you gain. Elixir of Immortality should come up fairly often as you will keep drawing cards and it also helps to prevent you from drawing your whole deck since you shuffle your graveyard into your library when you use it. Profane Momento is another card that helps negate the life loss from Kothophed’s ability.

Kothophed, Soul Hoarder is a commander that supports the deck, meaning this is a deck that doesn’t really need to cast its commander in order to win. Kothophed just accelerates the deck and there are creatures within that are far more threatening than he is. If you can generate enough mana with Kothophed, Soul Hoarder on the field and something like Deathgreeter, you can cast a kill spell and draw, cast another kill spell and draw, cast another kill spell and draw, potentially finding yourself in a loop with enough kill spells in your deck. Let me know what commander you want to see next in the comments.

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