Tuesday Night Takeover

Totentanz, Swarm Piper Rat Colony Pauper EDH

“I will bury the world that buried me.”

Art:Totentanz, Swarm Piper by Matt Stewart

Totentanz is the perfect commander for a rat colony deck since when our rats die. More come out! Because of this and all of the rat colonies, we can be hyper-aggressive and pressure our opponents quite early in the game. From the onset of the game, we can be a huge threat and do a ton of chunk damage to our opponents. On top of our aggressive rats, we have a ton of creature removal and card draw, which allows us to keep the rat snowball going. If you are a fan of aggressive decks and like rats, I think you will enjoy this one. Without further adieu, let’s get it!

The Deck:

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Totentanz, Swarm Piper Rat Colony!

Commander (1)
Totentanz, Swarm Piper

Creatures (34)
Crashing Drawbridge
25 Rat Colony
Ratcatcher Trainee
Swarm of Rats
Pestilence Rats
Tuktuk Rubblefort
Voracious Vermin
Witty Roastmaster
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Okiba-Gang Shinobi

Instants (16)
Big Score
Cast Down
Corrupted Conviction
Death Denied
Doom Blade
Foul-Tongue Shriek
Gnawing Crescendo
Go for the Throat
Snuff Out
Trumpet Blast
Unexpected Windfall

Sorceries (8)
Crash Through
Echoing Return
Feed the Swarm
Gruesome Fate
Night’s Whisper
Read the Bones
Ruthless Invasion
Sign in Blood

Artifacts (3)
Arcane Signet
Charcoal Diamond
Bonder’s Ornament

Enchantments (3)
Crown of Fury
Impact Tremors
Lands (35)
Bojuka Bog
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Forgotten Cave
Polluted Mire
17 Swamp
Terramorphic Expanse
The Autonomous Furnace
The Dross Pits
Tramway Station

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Why Totentanz, Swarm Piper?

Totentanz is an amazing commander for a deck that focuses on rats because they are both strong and flavorful. We get a 1/1 rat that can’t block, but more attackers are something we always like, and we can also give a rat deathtouch for only three mana which is the perfect rate for a very strong commander who gives us a little payoff when we get targeted with removal. Another big benefit is that the created rat comes if a nontoken dies or if Totentanz dies, while it is a small benefit it can be the difference in combat especially when attacking.

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!


Arguably the most important creatures are not the rat colonies but Crashing Drawbridge and Tuktuk Rubblefort, which give our creatures haste which can put an immense amount of pressure on our opponents. We, of course, have the Rat Colonys, and there are a ton of them. They are also the primary damage dealer for our deck. In addition, we have two creatures that care about the number of rats which can be very strong attackers but, just like the rest of our rats not great blockers in Pestilence Rats and Swarm of Rats which is a very strong secondary damage dealer Is Gray Merchant of Asphodel which is another way to do mass damage to our opponents and allows us to gain a lot of life.


We have a lot of removal at instant speed, with some of my favorites being Murder, Terminate, and Go for the Throat, which are all cheap pieces of removal that allow us to take out opponents threats for not a ton of mana investment. We also have a lot of card draw like Big Score, Unexpected Windfall, and Corrupted Conviction. Foul-Tongue Shriek is another amazing card that can be a huge damage and life swing for us, especially if we are snowballing hard. Two of my favorite instants are Trumpet Blast and Gnawing Crescendo, which are strong temporary buffs for all of our creatures.


To start off, like most decks I build that contains black, we have the card draw trifecta in Sign in Blood, Read the Bones, and Night's Whisper which are all very strong card draw for the deck. We also have two cards that make combat a nightmare for our opponents in Crash Through, which has the added benefit of being a cantrip, and Ruthless Invasion, which at the right table can make our creatures unblockable for only three mana. We also have two sorceries that interact very well with our rat colonies, Echoing Return is a one mana card that allows us to get every rat colony in our graveyard back, which is the perfect way to recover after a board wipe. Once we have the snowball going Gruesome Fate is a great card that can allow us to get some extra damage or depending on the stage of the game end an opponents whole career.


We are pretty light on artifacts, and we only have mana rocks. Going through what was available and testing a few different cards, I didn’t find a ton of value artifacts outside of mana rocks. We have Bonder's Ornament, which is one of the best rocks in the format, and while a little expensive, the card draw makes up for it. We also have Charcoal Diamond and Arcane Signet, which are nothing more than supplemental mana for the deck at a low cost.


Whether we are making tokens or putting down more rats Impact Tremors is an awesome way to put additional pressure on opponents. We also have Pauper/PEDH all-star Oubliette, one of the best removal spells in the format. Crown of Fury is a very cool card that is infrequently played in PEDH, and in decks that share a common creature type can be a bomb. While it normally only enchants one creature, we can sacrifice it and get a small anthem effect on all of our rats, which can be a strong way to increase our damage. Giving them first strike is huge as well since we get an additional leg up in combat.

Land Base:

We have a pretty typical Rakdos landbase, but we are heavier on black mana because the majority of our deck (74%) is black mana. We still have a fair amount of red in the deck and in our landbase but we are majority black. We have classic PEDH cards like The Autonomous Furnace and The Dross Pits, which are great pieces of supplemental card draw, and since we operate on pretty low mana with the majority of our cards costing two can be perfect lands to get some cards from. The same is true for Tramway Station, but since it is a duel land, we do value it a little bit higher. Terramorphic Expanse and Evolving Wilds are the fetches for the deck and are strong pieces of mana fixing and a great way to get a shuffle in. I have tested this deck pretty frequently and have had no issues with the landbase.

Strengths of the Deck:

  • We can snowball pretty hard and, after only a few turns, have some pretty unstoppable attackers with our rat colonies
  • Totentanz can leave us with tokens even after removal, which can be strong to have some additional attackers. While they can’t block, more offense is always good
  • We are quite aggressive and can easily get kills on opponents relatively quickly. While we certainly aren’t CPDH, we can be on par with many of the aggressive decks in the format. We are extremely strong against decks that take a while to get their gameplan going.

Weaknesses of the Deck:

  • We snowball hard and tend to go all in. While our Rat Colonys are great attackers, they are not the greatest blockers, Totentanz ability does make us a little bit better since we can win out against pretty much anything in combat, but if we run into a board wipe it can be hard to recover fully.
  • We have a lot of creature removal but are a little weak outside of Feed the Swarm and Abrade on artifact and enchantment removal, decks that are heavy on either typically can do things freely against us
  • We have a few recursion spells that can be sweeping and grab a lot like Death Denied but are still pretty weak to graveyard hate even if we are grabbing only Rat Colonys

Deck Stats:

Sample Hands:

Main Win Conditions:

There are no infinite combos or loops within the deck. We win the game through straight-up combat, and for the most part, we use rat colonies as the primary damage dealer for our deck. Our rat colonies can snowball hard and can become even more threatening with Totentanz’s ability to give a rat deathtouch which can make us quite hard to block. We are able to do a decent chunk of damage in the early game and can threaten the opponent’s life totals pretty regularly.


Totentanz is a very cool commander and is a lot of fun to play. While we are certainly going for the same gameplan nearly every game, this is a fun and flavorful deck that I have had a ton of fun playing; rats and more rats are the main theme of this deck, and in all honesty, we are not just flavorful we are quite strong as well. If you like rat’s this is probably the deck for you. Thanks for reading to the end and for all of your support!