Starting a Commander Deck – Gahiji, Honored One

Gahiji, Honored One((Brushes dust off everywhere))

Hello. Is this thing still on?

Welcome, young and old, to the new 99CMDRProblems. Just so happens to be the old 99EDHProblems.com. They both direct here now.

Anyway, I’m getting the itch to write about Commander again. With the new Commander 2013 decks coming out, I know that everyone is excited for them. To be honest, I’m more excited for this product than I was for Theros. Commander runs deep through my blood and it’s the only format I have at least one deck built for. But that’s the problem, as a Johnny, I want to build all the decks.

Building decks gives me greater pleasure than playing.

Finally, after deciding it wasn’t going to be manageable to build every deck possible, I mapped out what decks I actually would play. Rather than just a novelty deck that I could go “hey, that was fun” deck and take it apart, I came up with 18 decks. Obviously, there are more than 18 Commanders. So what to do with those spare ideas?  I was thinking, “Hey, I could create a Tumblr about this. Get some reblogs, and it could all be groovy.” Then I was like, “Wait, I have a Commander blog I can write on. Why don’t I do that instead?” And that’s how this ended up here instead of Tumblr. (It’s not that I don’t hate Tumblr, but this is most likely the best place for this style of column)

Once in a while (knowing my schedule and everything else going on), I’ll write a deck idea out here. Not the whole deck, mind you, but just enough to have something to start with. I still don’t like the idea of the full 99 down on paper and have people take that as the only way to do it, however a place to get people started with a certain Commander seems good to me. These aren’t going to be a complete primer of how to play the deck or anything, just how I would build the deck. There’s some train of thought thinking here and it’s really just the first draft of a deck; just enjoy the ride.

Enough about the backstory. You want the deck. Let’s get to it…

Gahiji, Honored One – 2RGW
Legendary Creature – Beast
Whenever a creature attacks one of your opponents or a planeswalker an opponent controls, that creature gets +2/+0 until end of turn.
4/4

What we’ve got here is a very political Commander. You want your opponents attacking each other and not yourself. This seems better than Edric for two reasons: 1) Edric is Blue and there’s that inherent hate of Blue at multiplayer tables and B) You can lie in the weeds longer with this guy than Edric because Gahaji seems less dangerous than just drawing cards. Of course you could just make him a Voltron Commander (build him as big as you can and swing), but I don’t want to do that here.

I was trying to make a Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs deck work, but it ended up being a land destruction deck and I hated that idea. However, I can shoehorn some of that style of deck into Gahiji here. The goal there was to force your opponents to attack into you but deny them the mana to prevent the 3/3’s from being made. It doesn’t work all of the time, a good portion of the time their creatures are bigger than a 3/3. What I’m going to take from Kazuul is forcing your opponents to attack, but increase the “incentive” for them to attack elsewhere.

You need a good defense or at least some nice combat surprises to show people you’re not the threat. Cards like Hold the Line are key here because suddenly you’re someone who shouldn’t be messed with. Of course, you shouldn’t go overboard with destroying attacking or blocking creatures when they’re not involved in combat with you. Players won’t trust that you’re trying to help them beat up other players if you’re constantly killing their creatures. A combo like Goblin Diplomats and Lightmine Field is pretty funny, but you won’t win many friends. With cards like Ghostly Prison and Reverence, you can help steer their attention away.

Obviously you don’t want the whole board running wild while you have no hope of controlling anything. Your reset buttons need to be ready to go off in case player’s cards get too much to handle. Cards like Rout and Fracturing Gust are key because if anyone does anything you don’t like you can always deal with it appropriately and swiftly.

Gahiji’s triggered bonus really elevates when multiple creatures attack instead of a single large one. Yes, having trample works as well, but seeing an army of beefed up creatures that you helped create attack an opponent is very satisfying. There are enough cards that allow you help out your opponents by giving them creatures. The cult card Varchild’s War-Riders means you can keep giving everyone 1/1’s that turn into 3/1’s when they attack.

With this deck, you’re trying to get everyone else to attack each other and you’re just providing the tools to do just that. The goal isn’t to just do nothing or to mess around with actions that have no real value, but to actively play the politics and get things moving. The game actions that your deck provides makes playing devil’s advocate so much easier. Make your opponents dance as they don’t think you’re pulling the strings.

Commander:

  • Gahiji, Honored One

Artifacts:

  • Angel’s Trumpet
  • Bullwhip
  • Crawlspace
  • Norn’s Annex

Creatures:

  • Avatar of Slaughter
  • Blazing Archon
  • Fumiko the Lowblood
  • Goblin Diplomats
  • Heckling Fiends
  • Hunted Troll
  • Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
  • Rage Nimbus
  • Varchild’s War-Riders
  • Windborn Muse

Enchantments:

  • Crescendo of War
  • Curse of Chaos
  • Curse of Stalked Prey
  • Curse of Predation
  • Curse of the Forsaken
  • Curse of the Nightly Hunt
  • Ghostly Prison
  • Island Sanctuary
  • Orim’s Prayer
  • Predatory Advantage
  • Raking Canopy
  • Reverence
  • Sphere of Safety

Instants:

  • Aggravate
  • Fracturing Gust
  • Incite War
  • Naya Charm
  • Starstorm
  • Vengeful Dreams

Sorceries: 

  • Rout
  • Tempt with Vengeance

Lands:

  • Contest War Zone
  • Forbidden Orchard

Using this template, 37 out of 99 cards in the deck are now complete. It’s your job to fill the rest of the 62.

Do you like this column idea? Obviously we won’t have the long intro every time, but we’ll see how it goes. Find any cards I missed that you would put in here? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@MTGColorPie)

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3 responses to “Starting a Commander Deck – Gahiji, Honored One

  • Tarasco

    I like this idea a lot. Giving sort of an outline of an idea and letting people run with it sounds like a lot of fun. I say keep it up. I don’t know how you resist building out the whole deck though.

  • Alex

    I’m gonna be honest, I think Gahiji really shines in a Token decks. if you get cards like Ant Queens, Krenko and Doubling Season, it can really get out of control.

  • Tim

    I run a Gahiji deck that focuses on First/Double strike. Double Strike really shines with him and with things like Concerted Effort, Pristine Angel and True Conviction… Things get out of hand almost always.

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