Description

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GHAVE, GURU OF COMBOS

Ghave has often been referred to as the "Combo Master" or "Combo King," not because he is the strongest, fastest, or best, (though he is certainly in the running), but because he is by far the easiest. A card designed specifically to be a commander back before they realized just how far the format would go, it is now almost impossible to not find new and powerful interactions just waiting to fuel his engine.

There are many ways to go about building a Ghave deck. Some focus on his ability to gift +1/+1 counters, exploiting abilities like persist and undying, while others prioritize his generation of tokens. Some focus on him as a sac outlet and play a graveyard deck, perfectly supported by access to white, black, and green. Most decks include a little bit of it all, but ultimately each deck will wind up with an attribute it favors.

As for this deck, I went with a focus on tokens, seconded by death triggers. While it can, this deck is not meant to amass counters and create wildly powerful creatures. It does not make much use of +1/+1 based buffs, such as Abzan Battle Priest , Abzan Falconer, Mer-Ek Nightblade , etc. Ultimately, its goal is a complete, infinite victory. If it even has to swing, it shouldn't be more than once.

ABZAN

Abzan is a powerful combination of colors, and its themes of life, death, and growth are exemplified in this commander. Green offers, among other things, the ever-important ramp. Black gives access to tutors, as well as death exploits, and back and white provide some of the best removal in the game. Green and white account for anything you could ever need regarding tokens. And all three colors enjoy graveyard play. In all honesty, I have never had a harder time narrowing down from all the pure value this color matching allows. There are many simply good cards that are not in this deck, and some may phase in and out the more it plays. But ultimately, with all the options available, the cards that make the cut are the ones that work with the commander. And on that topic, let us look at:

THE SIX KEYS

These are the six cards that essentially form 1-card combo with Ghave. While not yet infinite, any one of these six pieces allows you to directly convert mana into creature tokens at a =1 ratio. They are:

Each of these pieces creates a +1/+1 counter when a creature enters the battlefield, and Ghave's ability lets him remove a +1/+1 counter from any creature to create another creature token, which will again trigger one of the above keys. Simply repeat as many times as you have mana.

While this ability alone is exceedingly powerful, it increases exponentially with many of the other cards in the deck. Token doublers, such as Parallel Lives and White Parallel Lives, counter enhancers like Hardened Scales and Corpsejack Menace, and Doubling Season and Primal Vigor, which do both, can bring your board state out of control very quickly.

But while these are all good, what you ultimately wish to aim for are the infinites.

THE INFINITES

The two most important cards in the deck:

Either of these two pieces with one of the six keys instantly generates infinite creature tokens. And with Ashnod's Altar you also generate infinite mana as well.

  • Phyrexian Altar technically does go infinite with any one key as well, though it will only produce infinite death triggers, not growing your ranks. This is still game with either Zulaport Cutthroat or Blood Artist on the field, and can be combined with any of the token doublers for infinite mana/tokens again.

MAIN COMBOS

KEY CARDS

These are the cards that tie the deck together, that make it a threat before you go for the combo, and keep it viable if the combo gets interrupted.

Suggestions

Updates

Comments

Myr_Mythic says... #1

I'd suggest dropping Avenger of Zendikar for Mycoloth, because it keeps making tokens, and you have a lot of good support in there already to amp the production to ludicrous levels.

April 22, 2017 7:39 p.m.

JaysomeDecks says... #2

Myr_Mythic, Mycoloth used to be one of my favorite creatures, or rather, one of my favorite cards. After including him in many decks, I have realized a few things about him. First, he isn't reliable. Not only do you have to wait a full round before reaping any benefit, you also have to sacrifice part of your boardstate when you cast him, which is a total loss if he should be removed before your next upkeep. And I have found that he is a very high priority target.

Second, he can't rebuild your boardstate. He is only useful if you're already in a strong position, essentially making him a "winmore" card.

Avenger of Zendikar is better on both fronts. His ability is immediate, allowing him to potentially allow us to combo off as soon as he resolves, and he can fully populate your board from nothing, getting you back in the game strong if you were just wiped.

I still like Mycoloth, but he is very fragile. He may eventually find a place in the deck, but AoZ is far superior.

April 23, 2017 12:29 a.m.

PookandPie says... #3

So you run Cathars Crusade, why not squeeze Devoted Druid into your ramp package? It's a decent little mana dork, first off, but you can get infinite untapped tokens via Crusade and Ghave using it. You could try it over Font of Fertility or Explosive Vegetation (I get that Vegetation grabs two lands for 4 mana, but it doesn't enable third turn Ghave by itself unlike Devoted Druid. So long as your lands produce WB and you have a third land, Druid can help you reach Ghave's 2WBG mana cost on the third turn, similar to having a Sol Ring). I don't like Font very much, but Vegetation may be a choice to knock out too. Or, perhaps there's another card in your ramp package that you don't like as much as those. In any event, I recommend Druid because it's a solid dork, enables third turn Ghave, and can produce infinite tokens as an additional random benefit.

I'm a huge proponent for Karmic Guide and Reveillark in these colors as, with sac outlets, they're some of the best recursion you can get. It's always great to see the look of despair on your opponent's faces as they realize that, no matter how much they sweep, you're going to keep returning all of your stuff with power 2 or less (which is a surprisingly high amount of your deck), and most of your, "Kill on sight" creatures are in that category (Champ of Lambchops, for example, Juniper Order Ranger, Mazirek, Triskelion, etc.). In fact, something like Reveillark and Karmic Guide plus a sac outlet gives you another out to abuse Triskelion if Mikaeus gets exiled. It may be a decent idea to try one of these out over Obzedat's Aid and something else (I personally would drop Butcher of Malakir because he's so expensive for an ability you already have thrice over in your deck).

Illusionist's Bracers is basically a Doubling Season that only costs 2 mana to initially play and typically goes unnoticed during a game (versus how the table may turn against you for playing Doubling Season itself). It doubles any tokens Ghave makes, and any creature sacrificed gives 2 counters. I actually like using it more than Parallel Lives/Anointed Procession because it comes down a little earlier and goes infinite with the same cards Doubling Season does. It essentially costs the same to play + equip in the same turn as Doubling Season, but it's at least colorless.

That's what I've got. My Ghave deck runs a lot of non-token combo pieces as I really liked Undying and Persist creatures, so I focused more on those, but I still think the above cards could definitely help you despite the differences in our decks. I've also noticed you're not running the black tutors like Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor, but I feel that's got to be on purpose since you mentioned black's tutors in your description. I'm going to guess they were pulled to be put in another deck, so I won't bother recommending them again when you probably know of them pretty well lol.

April 30, 2017 7:29 p.m.

JaysomeDecks says... #4

PookandPie, that is extraordinarily helpful. Thank you for providing cut suggestions as well.

I love the idea of Devoted Druid, and Explosive Vegetation may very well be what comes out for him. (I too have never been a very big fan of Font of Fertility, but I usually include a lot of ramp, and for this deck I decided against using many mana-rocks, in favor of more permanent acceleration. It turns out low-cmc options for this are actually limited, hence my inclusion of Into the North as well. This is very different than I'm used to, and may all be adjusted after further experimentation)

Karmic Guide and Reveillark, I have mixed feelings on. Having both together is fantastic, individually they are useful, and because of their ability to recur the other you don't have to wait for both pieces to use one of them. My hesitation is that their combo potential requires both of them, a sac outlet other than my commander, (of which I run few), and a 4th piece, though there are many that would fit that slot. As far as your substitution suggestions, I could see removing the Butcher. I am partial to Obzedat's Aid, however, as it can recur any combo piece, be it artifact, enchantment, or creature. That said, I may slot those two out and try Reveillark and Karmic Guide for a few games, and see their effectiveness.

I don't know why I didn't include Illusionist's Bracers. I must find a spot.

Again, thank you. I'll test these cards before making any changes here, but it is all much appreciated.

May 1, 2017 3:44 p.m.

PookandPie says... #5

I can understand your hesitation on Karmic Guide/Lark. In part, it's probably my fault because I presented them as combo options rather than what I typically use them for: Recursion tools with an option to infinite combo. Generally speaking, your creatures are the easiest to hit options in the deck to prevent you from comboing, and you have methods of tutoring Eternal Witness if you really need to recur an Earthcraft or Ashnod's Altar.

Though, I'll admit, my advice is coming from experience using a difference of approach. Lots of players play Ghave last which leaves opportunities for your enchantments/artifacts to be destroyed (which is understandable: He costs more than the other combo pieces so it only makes sense to play in cost-escalation order sometimes). I typically cast Ghave early and rely on various effects to keep him in play, hence why I run all three of Karmic Guide, Reveillark, and Saffi Eriksdotter. Ghave is the one that you can keep trying to bring out over and over again if there's hate, so I usually plop him first, and then lay out, say, Geralf's Messenger, and only after that does the Altar come down because usually I wouldn't even be able to untap with the Altar out because the entire table will go straight for known combo pieces- as one player at my shop says, "No one has ever used Ashnod's Altar fairly." And I don't think he's wrong on that lol.

If that gives any perspective, that's why I'm bigger on creature recursion, because bypassing Ghave's 5-7-9-etc mana cost and going off anyway is kind of a big deal for me, but if you can get away with casting Ghave last in your meta, then by all means don't worry about it.

That said, I have three last suggestions for you:

Grand Abolisher. He's probably my favorite non-combo creature. He lets you win without anybody being able to do anything on your turn and is probably my most important non-combo piece creature in my deck.

Dryad Arbor. Lets you Green Sun's Zenith for G on your first turn to ramp, since you said you like early ramp. That'll put you up to 12-13 cards that can ramp which is the same as my deck, so you should be able to t3 Ghave sometimes, and t4 him a good number of opportunities. Opal Palace probably doesn't do much here, though you would essentially be swapping in a tapped land over it. (also if you ever get a Gaea's Cradle (some groups don't mind the gold bordered proxies), Arbor works stupidly well with it too).

Birthing Pod. Pod is a card I use to go straight for combo pieces when I need them, or if I'm fishing for a plan due to earlier removal or counters, you could utilize this line: Sac a 3 drop -> Solemn Simulacrum, ramp 1. Sac Solemn -> Draw 1, Karmic Guide, bring back Solemn, ramp 1. Sac Guide for echo, sac Solemn to Pod -> Draw 1, get Reveillark, sac Reveillark to anything else and get back each of Guide, Solemn, and Reveillark, and ramp 1 again. Enjoy not having any of your creature cards die to destruction spells for the rest of the game, lol. Pod essentially pays for itself (the prior line had you ramping 3 times, essentially paying half of its activation cost, plus draw, etc.) and can build you right up to Avenger, and then Craterhoof the turn following, too (or, using the recursion line above, you could just grab Mike and Trike. It's up to your imagination and what your hand+board state looks at the time). Basically: Ramp, recursion, removal, and combo are only a tap away, lol.

Not really sure where to fit them in, but I think all 3 of the above could serve you very, very well.

May 1, 2017 4:18 p.m.

HOPMONSTER says... #6

Awesome deck +1. If you find yourself needing more draw or ramp, here are two great cards that synergize with Ghave. Black Market and Deathreap Ritual.

Behold the Beyond would also you to grab your combo pieces.

Reprocess is a fun way to restock your hand as well.

May 5, 2017 1:31 p.m.

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Date added 3 months
Last updated 2 months
Exclude colors UR
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.67
Tokens 0/1 Plant, 1/1 Human Cleric
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Top rank #41 on 2017-05-12
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