Rot Around the Clock - A Commander Deck Tech

Andy Zupke • September 14, 2021

On a cold, dark road, two men amble along atop weary horses to a destination neither wants to go.

“The dead can’t sing. Did you know that? Not many people know that. Couldn’t hum a tune to save their li...whatever. I mention this to you because of the stitcher. The guy who runs the factory. He likes to sing. Sings all damn day long. And not well, mind you. All these off-key songs about lusty maidens and whatnot. But his creations, his “poppets” he calls them, they don’t mind. Mostly because they don’t have a mind. I’ve seen one or two listening to him though. Mouths open, grunting through the few teeth they have left, trying to get their voices to work. It’d be funny if the whole thing wasn’t so damn disturbing. Anyway, be prepared to see some things you’ve never seen. Ah, I just pray the stitcher has them all ready when we get there. The Rotcleaver wants an army, and that is what he’s hired us to retrieve from the factory. He won’t be happy if we come back short. He know...make us one of ‘em if we fail, understand? And I personally do not want to be dead. I happen to have a lovely singing voice.”

What’s up, all my spoopy friends? The Midnight Hunt is upon us! We’ve got a new set coming soon, and I’ve brewed up a special concoction filled with legions of undead hordes ready to do your bidding. For today’s article, we’ve got a combo deck with the new legend, Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver.

The Rotcleaver is more than just a pretty face. He’s also an incredible combo engine just looking for the right pieces to go off and make short work of your opponents. But let’s talk about Wilhelt a little bit first. He’s a 3/3 zombie warrior, and whenever one of your zombies dies, if it didn’t have Decayed (a new mechanic from Midnight Hunt that makes it unable to block and dies at the end of combat if it attacks), then create a 2/2 zombie token with Decayed. Oh, and at the beginning of your end step you can sacrifice a zombie to draw a card. Nice!

Night of the Living Dead

While the previews for Midnight Hunt were going, I noticed an interesting card in the main set. The card is called Poppet Stitcher. The front side is a human wizard creature that makes a Decayed zombie whenever you cast an instant or sorcery. Then on your upkeep if you control three or more creature tokens you flip it to Poppet Factory, an artifact. And this is the side that we’re most interested in. The Factory side says that your creature tokens lose all abilities and have base power/toughness 3/3. Well guess what? Decayed is an ability. So that means, with Poppet Factory and Wilhelt out, whenever a zombie you control dies, you’ll just get another one back. No questions asked.

How can we take advantage of this? First, we’ll need a zombie for sacrificing. That’s easy enough. The deck is full of zombie token makers. So we’ll just need a sacrifice outlet. Phyrexian Altar will work. Then we’ll just need a way to hurt our opponents with this infinite loop. For that we’ve got Zulaport Cutthroat, Blood Artist, and Syr Konrad, the Grim. Or just mill them out with Altar of Dementia. Or simplify the process and just use a Blasting Station. This artifact does the damage and does the sacrificing, all in one card. So you sacrifice a zombie to the Station, Wilhelt makes a new zombie, the Station will untap, then repeat until they dead.

If you want to get even simpler, skipping the whole process of flipping the Poppet Stitcher, you can just use a Gravecrawler and Phyrexian Altar with one of the damage dealing creatures. Gravecrawler only costs one black mana and can be cast from your graveyard. So you sac it to the Altar for a black mana, then just use that mana to recast it. Again. And again. And again. And you don't even need your commander for this one, any old zombie will do. But if he's out, you'll get a zombie token each time you sacrifice the Gravecrawler. Infinite army?

Dawn of the Dead

Let's talk more about zombie tokens. Some of the most notable ways to make them in the deck are: Syphon Flesh, which takes out some other creatures while making you some tokens; Grave Titan, dropping zombies like they’re hot when it enters and when it attacks: Curse of Disturbance, a nice one for enticing your opponents to attack elsewhere; Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet will give you a zombo when your opponents’ creatures die; and Rise of the Dread Marn to rebuild after a board wipe. And we’re not just making zombies. I’ve also got Bitterblossom, Theoretical Duplication, Rite of Replication, and Maskwood Nexus in here too.

With any combo deck, you have to have lots of draw spells and tutors. Because we’re in black and blue, we can take advantage of a great mechanic from the original Ravnica set, Transmute. Since most of our combo pieces cost 3 mana, we can use Perplex, Dimir Machinations, and Drift of Phantasms to tutor them up. We’ve also got some artifact fetchers with Trophy Mage and Tribute Mage. Ad Nauseam, Necropotence, and Bolas’s Citadel can use your life as a resource. We’ve got some good old fashioned tutors with Demonic Tutor, Diabolic Tutor, Grim Tutor, and Final Parting. And Cryptbreaker lets you tap three zombies to draw a card.

Day of the Dead

Below is the full decklist. And here is the link on Archidekt so you can take the deck for a spin.

1 Ad Nauseam
1 Altar of Dementia
1 Arcane Denial
1 Arcane Signet
1 Bitterblossom
1 Blasting Station
1 Blood Artist
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Bolas's Citadel
1 Bubbling Muck
1 Cackling Counterpart
1 Castle Vantress
1 Clearwater Pathway // Murkwater Pathway
1 Command Tower
1 Counterspell
1 Crypt Ghast
1 Cryptbreaker
1 Curse of Disturbance
1 Damnation
1 Dark Salvation
1 Darkness
1 Darkwater Catacombs
1 Deadly Rollick
1 Death-Priest of Myrkul
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Dimir Machinations
1 Dimir Signet
1 Dreadhorde Invasion
1 Drift of Phantasms
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Endless Ranks of the Dead
1 Feed the Swarm
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Field of the Dead
1 Final Parting
1 Geier Reach Sanitarium
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Ghoulcaller Gisa
1 Grave Titan
1 Gravecrawler
1 Grim Tutor
1 High Market
6 Island
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Lich Lord of Unx
1 Liliana's Mastery
1 Maskwood Nexus
1 Mind Stone
1 Moan of the Unhallowed
1 Morphic Pool
1 Mystic Sanctuary
1 Necropotence
1 Nightmare Shepherd
1 Pact of Negation
1 Perplex
1 Perplexing Test
1 Phyrexian Altar
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Poppet Stitcher // Poppet Factory
1 Rise of the Dread Marn
1 Rite of Replication
1 Sol Ring
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Sudden Spoiling
1 Sunken Hollow
1 Sunken Ruins
14 Swamp
1 Swan Song
1 Syphon Flesh
1 Syr Konrad, the Grim
1 Tainted Isle
1 Talisman of Dominance
1 Theoretical Duplication
1 Thought Vessel
1 Tribute Mage
1 Trophy Mage
1 Underground River
1 Watery Grave
1 Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver
1 Zombie Infestation
1 Zulaport Cutthroat

Final Parting

So what do you think of this sweet new combo engine from Midnight Hunt? In its current state, the deck is slow enough for a casual game. But I think you can easily throw in some fast mana and a few more tutors if you wanna up the speed on this puppy and bring it to a higher power table. Hit me up on Twitter with your thoughts, at @AndyZupke. You can also catch me streaming budget Commander with Scrap Trawlers on Sundays at 7:30PM Central at

Plenty more cards to talk about from Midnight Hunt, so that’s exactly what we’ll do in my next article in two weeks. Until then, take care. And play lots of games!