Fallout 76’s Mothman is a chaotic MTG Commander

Mothman isn't a particularly powerful Commander, but his flock brings mighty gifts.
fallout 76 mothman mutant menace commander deck

Magic: The Gathering – Universes Beyond: Fallout promised a unique adaptation of the post-apocalypse on reveal – one boasting beasties and terror in a new, radiation-infused tabletop setting. What pre-launch announcements kept hidden is that MTG x Fallout is high chaos, with new mechanics that make rounds of Commander a genuine, wild blast.

At a recent preview event, GamesHub was invited to take the reins of a Fallout Commander, and set forth across the Wasteland to kick off wanton destruction. The Mutant Menace Commander Deck, headlined by Mothman, was the choice pick – and it quickly revealed itself to be a wild and well-designed deck.

mothman mtg card commander deck
Image: Wizards of the Coast / ZeniMax Media

The Wise Mothman is an intriguing pick for Commander position. With a low mana cost and low attack/defence, he’s not a particularly powerful creature. Rather, his strength lies in his abilities and card synergies. He’s got Flying for one thing, so he’s hard to block.

Second-most importantly, he radiates all players when he’s placed onto the battlefield.

MTG x Fallout introduces a fresh radiation mechanic which impacts all players. Some creatures will irradiate players on their debut or their death, and when players are irradiated, they must mill an amount of cards. If they’re non-land cards, players take one damage, and lose one rad counter.

In a word: it’s a massive pain, particularly if you wind up milling essential lands cards every turn, preventing them from ever hitting your hand.

Certain creatures and Commanders, including Mothman, can take advantage of radiation. For example, when other players are radiated and must mill cards, any non-land cards milled give a +1/+1 counter to creatures controlled by Mothman’s master.

Read: How Fallout 76 became a haven for Mothman, Jersey Devil, and other creepy cryptids

So the loop for Mutant Menace Commander Deck is essentially: play creatures that induce radiation in other players, then play Mothman and strengthen these creatures every time another player must mill their cards. The effects are stackable, so you can strengthen your creatures greatly every turn, as long as non-land cards are being milled. Given milling also causes damage to players, you’re also getting free shots in, the more players are irradiated.

the master transcendent mtg fallout
Image: Wizards of the Coast / ZeniMax Media

Other creatures in the deck aid this goal greatly – like The Master, Transcendent. When cast to the battlefield, he immediately hits players with two rad counters. Deploying him after The Wise Mothman maximises the potential damage you inflict, and +1/+1 counters you can place.

As a secondary effect, The Master, Transcendent can also grab any milled creature cards from a graveyard (from any player) and then control them, in the guise of a green Mutant with 3/3. So exploiting deck synergies will essentially mean: potential to cause damage to players, potential to get an additional creature at no mana cost, and potential to add +1/+1 counters to existing creatures.

Once you understand the core of the deck and how best to exploit radiation mechanics for your benefit, the world is your oyster – even if you annoy your fellow players to frustration.

Many of the other cards in the Mutant Menace deck are designed around irradiating players, with many of its creatures causing radiation damage when cast, or boosting stats with +1/+1 counters. There’s not a lot of real blockbuster, high damage beasts in the deck (Agent Frank Horrigan – 8/6, Lumbering Megasloth – 8/8 and Strong, the Brutish Thespian – 7/7 are the only heavy-hitters, and the Megasloth is undermined by its 12 mana cost) because you’ll be able to boost your creatures with clever radiation mechanics. This is is a deck that relies more on strategy, in that regard.

bloatfly swarm mtg fallout
Image: Wizards of the Coast / ZeniMax Media

In my time with the deck, the card that proved most powerful for strategy wound up being Bloatfly Swarm. While its 0/0 initially seemed underwhelming – to be fair, it’s a boring-looking card – it’s actually one of the most powerful cards in the deck.

Casting Bloatfly Swarm will summon five +1/+1 Bloatflies to the battlefield, with each being considered its own entity, with its own ability to block.

“If damage would be dealt to Bloatfly Swarm while it has a +1/+1 counter on it, prevent that damage, remove that many +1/+1 counters from it, then give each player a rad counter for each +1/+1 counter removed that way,” the card reads.

Should a player defeat all the Bloatflies, devoting all attacks to the swarm, the Bloatflies will inflict one rad counter for every death, to every player. Essentially – the bloatfly will explode and irradiate everyone, allowing the Mothman player to gain +1/+1 counters for creatures, and ensure high damage all around.

In the game of Commander I played, this is exactly how the game ended – and how I won. One of our players directed all attacks at the Bloatfly Swarm, killing all five Bloatflies, but inflicting five radiation on every other player. During the mill process, each player lost between 2-5 health, leaving me the lone standing player.

Chaos is a fair label for our game, thanks to the MTG x Fallout radiation mechanics. For some players, particularly those using the Mutant Menace Commander Deck, radiation will be most welcome. For everyone else, it’s set to cause a whole world of pain. While I’m quite sure the radiation mechanics will be annoying to veteran MTG players, exploiting them well leads to chaotic, satisfying victory – and I greatly enjoyed my time working to maximise my impact on the battlefield.

Magic: The Gathering – Universes Beyond: Fallout is now available in stores and online.

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Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.