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Budget Commander: Gahiji, Honored One


 

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Playing Politics

Over a year ago I created an enchantress pillowfort deck that would force opponents to attack each other and kill themselves for your amusement. It's a ton of fun and the only cardboard deck I ended up dropping a ton of money on with upgrades and foils. I thought it would be fun to revisit the concept of forcing your opponents to kill themselves and take it a step further with Gahiji, Honored One. This time we're not just forcing our opponents to attack each other with one beefy commander, we're forcing them to attack each other with giant beefy armies!

We accomplish this with a few easy steps:

  1. Pillowfort so opponents won't attack us.
  2. Give everyone a big army of tokens.
  3. Force everyone to attack.
  4. Watch as everyone kills each other with the token armies!

Simple and effective.

 

It Ain't Group Hug

At least not in the traditional sense. This primer doesn't focus on ways to give your opponents access to more resources from their own deck. There's no handing out card draw, ramp, or letting folks cheat out big spells that quickly sends the game spiraling out of control. Gahiji, Honored One only grants everyone tokens with the explicit purpose of having them turn sideways and lower the life totals of his opponents. Games are much more manageable and "normal" this way.

The one thing to look out for are decks that have heavy creature sacrifice themes. They will feed your tokens into their value engines, which should be avoided. You will need to target them first and dismantle their sacrifice outlets as a top priority.

 

Janky Cards Never Looked So Fine

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Alliance of Arms? Sylvan Offering? Hunted Troll??? Who would play these junk cards? Gahiji, Honored One does, and boy does he make them look great.

That's probably my favorite thing about this deck; it uses cards you'd never see played anywhere else and turns them into powerhouses.

Alright, that's it for the intro! Let's get to it!

 

Don't Attack Me

You'll need more than Gahiji, Honored One to construct a sturdy pillow fort. There are multiple ways to stop opponents from attacking you:

  • Mana tax cards (Ghostly Prison) that force the opponent to choose between casting spells and attacking you
  • Damage reduction cards (Spike Weaver) that threaten to Fog oncoming damage, rendering attacks useless
  • Rattlesnake cards (Archon of Justice) that threaten to blow up the attacking opponent's resources

The sticking point is that these pillowfort cards are all visible on the board, so opponents know what could happen if they attack you and convinces them to go attack someone else. A Qasali Pridemage just has to be in play to stop would-be attackers because the threat of blowing up something valuable is all it takes.

Options include: Seal of Cleansing, Seal of Primordial, Aura of Silence, Qasali Pridemage, Archon of Justice, Ghostly Prison, Windborn Muse, Sphere of Safety, Norn's Annex, Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs, Blazing Archon, Archon of Justice, Spike Weaver, Knight-Captain of Eos, Soul Snare

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Everyone Gets an Army!

Generally speaking, you don't want to give your opponents free creatures, but this deck is a special exception.

The idea is to give people an army so they can begin murdering each other with them. From testing, I found the cards that immediately made a lot of tokens, like Alliance of Arms, were far better than slow token engines, such as Akroan Horse.

Special mention goes to Terastodon for being exceptional removal while also supplying opponents with tokens; win-win!

Options include: Hunted Dragon, Hunted Troll, Alliance of Arms, Sylvan Offering, Tempt With Vengeance, Benevolent Offering, Death By Dragons, Beast Within, Terastodon

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Fight For Me

Alright, so you've built a pillowfort, and you've given your opponents tokens. They're probably doing nothing with them, keeping their army untapped as a defensive line. Bore~ing!

Here comes the fun part: we make them attack! And since we've got a pillowfort, they're attacking our opponents! Watch and enjoy the carnage that ensues. Forcing our opponents to attack each turn also means they'll be tapped down if we want to swing for lethal.

Options include: Grand Melee, Fumiko the Lowblood, Warmonger Hellkite, Avatar of Slaughter

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Your Personal Army

Sometimes you need to get your hands dirty and be the attacker. Gahiji, Honored One is very good at this of course. So it makes sense to run some of the best token generators that Naya has to offer.

Options include: Increasing Devotion, Storm Herd, Predatory Advantage, Hornet Queen, Twilight Drover, Ant Queen, Decree of Justice, Rhys the Redeemed, Rith, the Awakener, Wort, the Raidmother, Requiem Angel, Sprinjack Shepherd

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Supporting The Troops

Your token army would love some haste. Red's got you covered with awesome cards like Ogre Battledriver. I personally like ~4 haste-enablers in the deck. More than one in play is pointless, but you really want one each game. Having a Ogre Battledriver in play and following up with a mass token maker like Storm Herd is a quick victory.

Opponents have a nasty habit of wiping the board once you do make an army. The best counter for this is indestructibility. I got a lot of mileage out of cards like Boros Charm, which turned board wipes into blowouts in my favor.

Other forms of protection, especially for Gahiji, Honored One, can be in the form of hexproof such as Asceticism, or good ol' Gift of Immortality. I enjoyed having ~4-6 ways to save my field.

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Double Double

There's three token doublers that I know of: Parallel Lives, Doubling Season, and Primal Vigor. Of the three, Parallel Lives and Primal Vigor are the best, but Doubling Season is solid as well. I'd recommend running the first two depending on the budget.

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Bring on the Beef

Finally, beefing up your army can be accomplished multiple ways. Beastmaster Ascension is a no-brainer, but there's seriously a ton of options. My recommendation is not to go overboard with them. You only need a few in your deck as ways to close out the game, 3-4ish. After all, having ways to buff your troops isn't worth much if you don't have troops on the battlefield to begin with.

Options include: Beastmaster Ascension, Cathars' Crusade, Kamahl, Fist of KrosaBrawnGlory of Warfare, Titanic UltimatumTrue Conviction, Legion Loyalist, Archetype of Aggression, Homura, Human Ascendant

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Winning

Some cards that would make Charlie Sheen proud: Insurrection, Triumph of the Hordes, Vicious Shadows. Cast them with a reasonable board state and the game is yours.

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Special Lands

In terms of budget mana fixing, Command Tower and Jungle Shrine are the best as they tap for all three colors. For the rest, I highly recommend using Manabase Crafter to find out a good mana base for your budget range. As usual, I recommend 37-39 lands, and never dipping below 36.

One special piece of 3+ color green tech I like to do is run the available snow dual lands; in this case, Highland Weald and Arctic Flats. They mana fix by themselves but they can also be fetched up with Into the North! You're fetching dual lands with basically a Rampant Growth and it's awesome.

For utility: Contested Cliffs lets you pick off problem creatures with Gahiji, Honored One, Gavony Township buffs your army, Kessig Wolf Run lets you punch in for big damage]], Mosswort BridgeWindbrisk Heights, and Spinerock Knoll are card advantage that are easy to pull off; Krosan Verge and Myriad Landscape are tasty ramp options.

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Ramp

A lot of your generic green ramp cards are still great here. As usual, I recommend 10+ ramp cards, and I like being at 15.

Special mention goes to:

Options include: Arbor Elf, Llanowar Elves, Elvish Mystic, Avacyn's Pilgrim, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Farhaven Elf, Wood Elves, Yavimaya Dryad, Oracle of Mul Daya, Solemn Simulacrum, Awakening Zone, Mirari's Wake, Cultivate, Explosive Vegetation, Kodama's Reach, Farseek, Into the North, Rampant Growth, Boros Signet, Chromatic Lantern, Gruul Signet, Selesnya Signet

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Card Advantage

My top picks would be: Skullclamp, Greater Good, and Mentor of the Meek, in that order.

New kid on the block, Shamanic Revelation, is probably a sweet option here. Unfortunately, it wasn't available online for testing when I was writing this article.

Options include: Skullclamp, Mentor of the Meek, Harmonize, Soul of the Harvest, Sun Titan, Marshal's Anthem, Mask of Memory, Mind's Eye, Life's Legacy, Praetor's Council, Sylvan Library

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Blowing Stuff Up!

The biggest bomb removal you can find is Aura Shards, no question about it. Make 5 tokens, blow 5 things up? Yes please!

Here are some of many excellent options:

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Budget Lists

Artifact Mutation, Sun Titan, Tempt With Vengeance, and many others become much more affordable in the cardboard list as opposed to digital.

 

Greater Good, Chromatic Lantern, and many others fit under the >$1 budget.

 

Upgrading And Fiddly Bits

The first big purchase I'd save for is Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. She embodies everything this deck wants to do — convince your opponents to kill each other. Her big sister, Avacyn, Angel of Hope is also a nice pickup.

Other sweet inclusions:

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That's All, Folks!

Sorry for the delay with this article! I was busy last week but things have settled down now.

Some time in the future I'll be getting around to doing a primer for Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and an Esper Control deck of sorts. I'm not happy with where they are yet, but they're coming along. 

Follow me on Twitter @BudgetCommander for notifications on when the next article is up, updates on future decks, and input for what to work on next. Thanks for reading!


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