Tuesday Night Takeover

Honest Rutstein Graveyard Pauper EDH

“Still own this Coffin Town.”

Art:Honest Rutstein by Javier Charro

Honest Rutstein is one of the coolest cards in the set. I can’t think of a better flavor win for a set about the Wild West and, in this case, a Golgari Commander; from aesthetics to function, this card is just awesome. My playgroup and I have been testing this one since spoiler season and have been having so much fun playing with it. Golgari is a blast to play, and the graveyard-based strategy has an absolute ton of support within Pauper EDH. This deck is a little more expensive than the average Pauper EDH deck, but in my opinion, it is absolutely worth it. I am so excited to showcase this one today; without further adieu, let’s get it!

The Deck:

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Honest Rutstein Graveyard!

Commander (1)
Honest Rutstein

Creatures (38)
Carrion Feeder
Caustic Caterpillar
Clay Revenant
Elves of Deep Shadow
Elvish Mystic
Llanowar Elves
Sanitarium Skeleton
Abyssal Gatekeeper
Bayou Groff
Blood Seeker
Brindle Shoat
Feral Prowler
Primal Druid
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Viridian Emissary
Voracious Varmint
Wight of Precinct Six
Cadaver Imp
Dutiful Attendant
Fleshbag Marauder
Llanowar Visionary
Bone Picker
Chain Devil
Rhizome Lurcher
Slum Reaper
Thorn of the Black Rose
Avenging Hunter
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Morkrut Behemoth
Rot-Tide Gargantua
Underdark Explorer
Generous Ent
Troll of Khazad-dum
Gurmag Angler
Lotleth Giant
Writhing Necromass

Instants (8)
Cast Down
Death Denied
Doom Blade
Ghastly Demise
Go for the Throat
Snuff Out
Tragic Slip

Sorceries (8)
Arms of Hadar
Dread Return
Extract a Confession
Gruesome Fate
Innocent Blood
Pick Your Poison
Read the Bones

Artifacts (5)
Arcane Signet
Charcoal Diamond
Moss Diamond
Tithing Blade
Bonder’s Ornament

Enchantments (5)
Kaya’s Ghostform
Tortured Existence
Utopia Sprawl
Ill-Gotten Inheritance
Lands (35)
Barren Moor
Bojuka Bog
Evolving Wilds
10 Forest
Haunted Mire
Desert of the Indomitable
Desert of the Glorified
15 Swamp
Terramorphic Expanse
The Dross Pits
The Hunter Maze
Tranquil Thicket

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Why Honest Rutstein?

Honest Rutstein is just a strong card that can come down early and have a pretty profound impact quite quickly. For three mana, we get graveyard recursion for a creature and, most importantly, a one-colorless discount for every creature in our deck, well, almost every creature. This discount’s importance cannot be understated, and this allows us to play out our board, especially with cards that naturally cheapen their cost, like Bone Picker. Honest Rutstein is great, and luckily, because of their cheap cost, we can easily re-cast them as they tend to be a bit of a removal magnet for our opponents. From all of my testing experience, I find it correct to cast Honest Rutstein as soon as we possibly can.

Deck Overview:

This section contains information about cards in the deck and how they function within the deck! I also highlighted some of my favorite cards in the deck!


To start off, we have some strong mana dorks, and my personal favorite is Elves of Deep Shadow. With the majority of our deck containing black cards, around 65% having a mana-dork that produces black is quite strong. Because the cards in our deck are majority black and we have a lot of double-black devotion cards, we can get a ton of advantage out of Gray Merchant of Asphodel, which is a great way to swing the life total’s, and we can easily kill opponents with this. Since we have quite a few creatures that can come down early, we can take full advantage of Bayou Groff, which is a huge creature and we can easily sacrifice the creature to cast this, putting this amount of pressure on our opponents in the early game can be a great way to damage our opponents or more importantly we can block pretty much anything an aggressive or creature-based strategy would throw at us. Whether in the mid-late game, I think Rhizome Lurcher is one of the best and can get absolutely huge even after just a few turns in the game. This card is strong, and while it doesn’t have any abilities, it is an amazing attacker/blocker. We do have a couple of other creatures that benefit heavily from a big graveyard, like Lotleth Giant, which can be a very big damage dealer for the deck and is also quite strong in combat. Writhing Necromass is a card that we can cast quite early and have a great attacker; while we have a lot of benefits in the graveyard, we, of course, have some ways to help our creatures get there like Carrion Feeder which is one of my favorite sacrifice outlets and after just a few turns can get quite big.


While we do have a lot of creatures we want in the graveyard, if we lose some key ones, we can use Death Denied to recur anything we need back, I typically use this to recur key creatures like Gray Merchant of Asphodel or anything that is decently impactful on the game. Since we are in mono-black we, of course, have a variety of removal like Doom Blade, Go for the Throat, and Cast Down all of these are quite cheap and allow us to take out a variety of creatures and while some of these have drawbacks they are quite easy to play around, having access to this much removal allows us to slow down our opponents and disrupt their overall gameplan.


Arms of Hadar is one of my new favorite cards within the format, and if they are on any kind of small creature or white-weenie style strategy, we can absolutely devastate their board with this. There is not a better follow-up than Gruesome Fate. When we have our board filled up from our commander, we can easily hit our opponents like a truck with this card, and in testing with a filled-up board, I was able to kill the entire table with this card, while it does feel a little win-more as we need to have a board established it is quite good and works well with our commander. Pick Your Poison is so good, and since it makes our opponent’s sacrifices, we are able to get around some permanents that are indestructible, which is an absolute ton of value for only one mana. Just like with the recursion in our instant package, we tend to use Unearth and Dread Return to return our high-value targets, we don’t have a ton of recursion through spells, so I always try to use these wisely, in certain situations it can be right to let your commander go to the graveyard to recur them with something like Unearth, I have done this quite a few times in testing and found it to be effective.


Tithing Blade // Consuming Sepulcher is certainly a pet card of mine for Pauper EDH and in this deck, is by far the most interesting artifact we have, giving our opponents a one-sided edict effect and when we craft it passive drain and gain is just great for not that much mana investment, the rest of our artifact’s are not very interesting. We do have the Pauper EDH legend Bonder's Ornament, which is an expensive mana rock but does give us supplemental card draw, which is always nice; we are heavy on rocks because we have a decent amount of more expensive things in the deck.


Ill-Gotten Inheritance is just great. Drain and gain is something I always like within Pauper EDH, and if this gets targeted with removal and we have the mana, we can throw some nice damage at that opponent. Since our commander is such a removal magnet because let’s face it they are extremely strong, we can use Kaya's Ghostform as a way to protect them from removal, while this is pretty much a one-time use it is absolutely worth it for only one-mana. I also like Utopia Sprawl as a great piece of the early-game ramp and making a land into a “dual.” I love Tortured Existence. This card is so good and can allow us to get the right things in the graveyard and keep the good stuff in our hands.

Land Base:

Desert of the Glorified and Desert of the Indomitable are not just tap-lands with some supplemental card draw in this deck; the main reason we are running these is for Cactarantula, combine this with our commander discount and the desert discount and we get a pretty strong creature for only four mana which is quite the great rate. Even though, when used against us, it can ruin the gameplan, we do have a Bojuka Bog of our own; this can be good against a variety of decks and is also insane against other graveyard strategies. I like this landbase and have had no issues with it testing; I have played over twenty-five games with this deck and have not had issues with flooding or mana-screw.

Strengths of the Deck:

  • We have quite a bit of removal within our creature package, and our spells are quite effective at removing threats our opponents present.
  • Many of our creatures have secondary benefits, whether in the graveyard or on the field.
  • The discount provided by our commander allows us to fill up our board easily.

Weaknesses of the Deck:

  • Our commander is a huge removal magnet and we don’t have many ways to protect them.
  • Very weak to graveyard hate, a well-timed Bojuka Bog from our opponents is devastating for us.
  • While we can fill up our board, some of our creatures have great abilities but are a little small, so knowing when to block in advantageous situations is key.

Deck Stats:

Sample Hands:

Main Win Conditions:

There are no infinite combos or loops in the deck; we are a combat deck that focuses on using our commander’s ability to recur creatures that we love to sacrifice, like Sakura-Tribe Elder or Viridian Emissary as well as using our commander’s ability to reduce the cost of nearly every creature in our deck allowing us to fill up our board with ease. We are quite strong in combat, especially when we get late-game cards like Writhing Necromass and Rot-Tide Gargantua out. We can end the game through combat pretty easily, thanks to our commander and the discount they provide.


Honest Rutstein is just a home run of a commander and one of my personal favorite cards from the set; not only is it strong, but it is a true flavor-win for a Golgari commander; this is another one we have been testing with since spoiler season and have been having so much fun, I hope you enjoyed this one, if you have an Honest Rutstein list I would love to see it! Thanks for reading to the end and for all of your support!