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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Set Review Commander 2014 – Gisa and Geralf’s Zombie Apocalypse

October 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Commander/General Ideas, Review

Zombie Apocalypse

If you can’t fight then you have to join them.

For today Commander Review article for Commander 2014, I will be talking about two instead of one Commander. I have decided to do a combined review for both of them because they are rather similar with their abilities mechanically; in fact they are also blood-related. They are none other than the rival necromancer siblings from Innistrad block; Ghoulcaller Gisa and Stitcher Geralf. So without further ado, let us look at these two Zombie Masters of the Gothic plane.


Zombies vs Zombie

Zombies vs Zombie

Quantity vs Quality

Gisa and Geralf are both necromancers from Innistrad; and they and the rest like them are the ones who are responsible for keeping the Zombie population high in Innistrad. Although they are both necromancer, they are still polar differences in the way they bring the dead into undead. Basically there are two types of Zombies on Innstrad. The regular Zombies referred to as Ghoul, are just normal animated corpses from the graves. These Zombies are mostly Black aligned, and though not particularly powerful since they are just reanimated as they are, usually overwhelm opponents by their sheer numbers. Necromancers who summon this kind of Zombies are called Ghoulcallers; what Gisa is. Then there are the Skaabs which are mostly Blue aligned, sometimes Black or a mixture of both. These Zombies are usually corpse stitch together of various body parts to form one powerful body, something similar to a Frankenstein’s Monster. These Zombies are usually more powerful than regular Zombies due to the “mollifications” they received through their creation process. A lot of them do not resemble what they formerly are, with some even looking totally nothing like their former selves. Necromancers who make Skaabs are called Stitcher; what Geralf is. Below are the stats of the siblings.

Ghoulcaller Gisa

Card Name: Ghoulcaller Gisa


Types: Legendary Creature – Human Wizard

Card Text: B, T, Sacrifice another creature: Put X 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens onto the battlefield, where X is the sacrificed creature’s power.

P/T: 3/4

Stitcher Geralf

Card Name: Stitcher Geralf


Types: Legendary Creature – Human Wizard

Card Text: 2U, T: Each player puts the top three cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. Exile up to two creature cards put into the graveyard this way. Put an X/X blue Zombie creature token onto the battlefield, where X is the total power of the cards exiled this way.

P/T: 3/4

Gisa and Geralf were mentioned rather extensively in the flavor texts of cards in Innistrad block but were never printed as cards back then. They were in fact part of the major plot of the Innistrad storyline too. They besieged Thraben, the city where the main church of Avacyn is in. Together they invaded the city together but Geralf sneaked in earlier before the final attack and killed Mikaeus, their cousin, which Liliana bring back later as a Zombie. Gisa was placed in charge of the siege, using both her Ghouls and Geralf’s Skaabs, managed to break through the outer wall of the city but was pushed back by fire and had to abandon the siege due to that, although they would had been successful had Geralf not been absent at the frontline causing Gisa to leave the battlefield for Geralf’s absence.

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

Unwilling Combantant

They were of noble family, as mentioned earlier being distant relatives to Mikaeus, the Lunarch, before they were banished from Thraben in a hushed scandal. Since then, they had moved to the Moorland where they waged war against each other with their armies of undead. Geralf is known to have more grand ambitions while his sister is far less formal and mostly driven by her emotional whims. Sanity is not something the siblings have a lot of. Geralf had more or less conquered the town he resided in, probably even slaughtering the remaining townsfolks for “materials” to add to his undead army. Gisa had been known to just attack towns to show she is better than her brother. Geralf had even gone on to set rules (see below), all of which Gisa doesn’t really bother to follow, to their NecroWarfare like as if it is some kind of a game between them. As bitter as it is of their mad rivalry to best each other, they are both considered the best of their traits, maybe even the top among their peers on Innistrad.

The Five Laws of NecroWarfare – By Geralf

  • No spontaneous awakenings.
  • No luring, killing, and raising of bystanders or livestock.
  • Combatants face off at a predetermined place and time.
  • Combatants must have at least three limbs to play.
  • Headquarters are off limits.

Besides the obvious color difference, Gisa and Geralf is identical to each other, both having the same 5cc and being 3/4 Human Wizard. Another main difference is in their way of rising the undead. Gisa is the conventional Ghoulcaller where she summons Zombies in mass. This is depicted in her ability where she requires a sacrifice of another Creature to produce a number of Zombies equal to the power of the sacrificed Creature. These Zombies are the normal 2/2 Zombie tokens we have been seeing over MtG history. Geralf on the other hand is more focus on summoning a single sometimes powerful undead, where he mills everyone for the materials he needs to make that undead.

Grave Titan

Never expect just one Zombie.


Zombie Warfare

Ghoulcaller Gisa

“I always like a big crowd.”

You may not want to go that direction but Gisa and Geralf, given their occupation, are both very good aids to the Zombie Tribal theme. Gisa is a very economical Commander for her ability to summon a horde of Zombies. Her color identity of Black also fully supports most of the Zombie related cards since the Zombie tribe major expansion during the Onslaught block. Most Zombie related cards are mainly Black. In fact, most of the printed Zombie Lords, except a few, are mono Black (see below) too.

Adaptive Automaton


Becomes a Creature of the chosen type when it enters the battlefield. Give your other Creatures of chosen type +1/+1. Versatile Optional Lord for all Tribal themes.

Brass Herald


Reveal top four cards when it enters battlefield and put all Creature cards of chosen type into hand and the rest on at bottom of library in any order.

Give Creatures of chosen type when it enters the battlefield +1/+1. Another versatile optional Lord for all Tribal themes.

Cemetery Reaper


Give your other Zombies +1/+1.

2B, T: Exile target Creature card from a graveyard and create a 2/2 Black Zombie token. Foiled opposing reaniminator decks.

Death Baron


Give your Skeletons and other Zombies +1/+1 and Deathtouch.

Diregraf Captain


Deathtouch. Give your other Zombies +1/+1.

Whenever another Zombie you control dies, each opponent loses 1 life.

Lord of the Undead


Give your other Zombies +1/+1.

1B, T: Return target Zombie card from your graveyard to your hand.

Undead Warchief


Zombie spells you cast cost 2 less. Give your Zombies +2/+1.

Zombie Master


Give your other Zombies Swampwalk and B: Regenerate this permanent.


This is in a way rather important for Gisa as the number of Zombies you get out of her is dependent on the power of the sacrificed Creature; in short meaning the higher the power the more Zombies you get out of her ability. Also if you go Tribal with her as Commander, the Creatures you sacrifice to her and the Zombies you created will all be pumped up by the Zombie Lords. There are a lot of Creatures with high power but the one worth mentioning is Soulless One. This Zombie Avatar power and toughness is dependent on the number of Zombies on the battlefield and Zombie cards in all graveyards. Unless someone exiled the graveyard, Soulless One’s power and toughness will just keep growing as more Zombies are being played. Unlike the other Tribal Avatars of the same cycle, offing the other nontoken Zombies will not make it smaller since it counts Zombies in both the battlefield and graveyards. It is my favorite Creature to sacrifice to Gisa, instantly creating a big army of Zombies. Since the Zombies created enter the battlefield untapped, they can be used with Gravespawn Sovereign to reanimate Soulless One which can then be use again for more sacrificing to Gisa.


Lord of the Undead Empire

Geralf on the other hand by himself as a Commander is not so supported for Zombie Tribal theme as there are not so many mono Blue Zombie cards. The only few mono Blue Zombies are mainly Stitcher created Skaabs which either have a high power/toughness to cc but require exile of Creature cards from your graveyard or self mill. Geralf is actually more of a Mill style Commander with the bonus of creating a big Zombie while milling your opponents. He is much more efficient than other mono Blue Mill General, as compared to Ambassador Laquatus who requires huge amount mana in order to mill more cards on just one player, because he mills all players at the same time. Although he hits you too, you can actually set it up with big power Creatures so you could create a huge Zombie while you mill everyone. Library manipulation is Blue specialty. You could also use either of or both Kozilek, Butcher of Truth & Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre to counter the mill. Likewise, Geralf’s ability is a also hose to opposing the two Eldrazi Titans as he can exile them for “materials” for his Skaab. Although it should be noted that opponents still get to reshuffle their graveyard back to the library, just less the Eldrazi Titan.

Gisa and Geralf are also a formidable team when they worked together, as can be seen in how they worked together so well besieging Thraben which they might have succeeded in if not for Geralf going off solo with his own agenda leaving the desire-driven Gisa to lead the Zombie army. For a rivaling pair, they actually quite complement and support each other’s ability. Focusing on the Zombie Tribal theme, Geralf’s constant milling can really fill the graveyard up fast. This can be used to great effect when combined with reanimation which can be found in Gisa’s color identity to reanimate any milled Creatures. If the Zombie created by Geralf’s ability is about to be kill off, you can use Gisa to get more Zombies out of it; since tokens ceased to exist when they leave the battlefield, you might as well makes the most out of it being killed. As a more fun fact, even Grimgrin, Corpse-Born, the Zombie Commander you can use for their combined color identity, is also related to them. It was created by Geralf and named so by him in mockery of Gisa.

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born

“I am Grimgrin….”


Recommended Commanders:

  • Grimgrin, Corpse-Born:- This Commander is recommended if you do not want to have too much colors in your deck. Color identity allows both Gisa and Geralf to be played; tribally fits well into the deck being a Zombie itself; can be pumped by the numerous lords in the theme; both Gisa and Geralf also provides the Creatures Grimgrin needs to “eat” to untap. Also present in Grimgrin’s color identity is the Enchantment Rooftop Storm; a very Zombie Tribal card which makes all your Zombie Creature spells cost 0 to cast. It is however to be noted that if you decided to use the Enchantment, your Zombie Commander will cost 0 to cast from the Command Zone but you still need to pay for the additional Commander Tax if there is any.

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born


  • Nekusar, the Mindrazer:- Expanding into the Grixis shard where necromancy is an everyday affair. Nekusar is good with the card advantage he provides and being a kill con by himself. The added Red opens up sacrificial outlets for the Zombie tokens with the likes of Deadapult; Goblin Bombardment; Tymaret, the Murder King. Color identity also has Lord of Tresserhorn; a 10 power Zombie (Errata by Grand Creature Type Update) which Gisa can use to make 10 Zombies (from 10 power to 20 power); or be combined with another Creature when milled away by Geralf.

Nekusar, the Mindrazer


  • Thraximundar:- Grixis shard most disruptive Commander besides Nicol Bolas., who being a Zombie itself also fits in well with the Zombie Tribal theme.




Call to the Grave

Death comes sooner or later, one way or another.

To be honest though, I think Gisa and Geralf works better as a team as support Creatures rather than as individual Commanders; they will work better together given their synergy as mentioned earlier in this article in both their color identities combined and how they ability works with each other. For those who are more adventurous with Commanders, they could still choose to use them as Commanders though. If chosen as Commander, Gisa can work in a Zombie Tribal deck as the Zombie army provider and Geralf in a mill deck. But this could be quite hard for Geralf who cannot win in one swoop. His milling would be better if there are ways to reanimating those Creatures he milled away but that is lacking in his color identity. Unlike her brother, Gisa on the other hand could still work well on her own with her Zombie horde creating ability.

So what do you think of siblings necromancers? Do you prefer a Mass of Ghouls or Frankenstein’s Monster? Share with us what you think in the comments below. For the siblings’ article today, that shall end it for today. Hope you had enjoyed today article and see you in upcoming Commanders from Commander 2014.


This is yours truly, Edward “Reaper King” Leong, signing off.


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