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UPDATE [6/07/2018]: Touched on the interesting new Battlebond set - See "Updates" section below.

A Brief Overview of Political Gahiji

Gahiji is a truly unique commander that lends itself to several different strategies - tokens, aggro, pillow fort, politics and group slug, etc. This commander's seemingly innocuous ability, in addition to buffing your own creatures, can subtly alter the game for your opponents. This particular build of Gahiji has a casual slant that strives to make it beneficial for your opponents to attack each other, preferably over you. The result is an odd mix of politics and aggro that is extremely fun to pilot, provided you have the right mindset.

I think that overall, this is one of my favorite decks to play. It works best in games of 4+ players, and is always my "safe bet" to play with new playgroups. But, honestly, one of its biggest selling points is the sheer chaos it can cause - strange (and usually bad) cards like Hunted Troll, Benevolent Offering, and Bitter Feud inexplicably become amazing in a deck that wants everyone in constant conflict. Gahiji is working when everyone wants to make full use of their combat step!


This Gahiji build is for you if:
  • You like winning games by convincing and/or forcing players to do silly things.
  • You like your politics with a side of token beatdown, or vice versa.
  • You're OK occasionally playing the "kingmaker."
  • You often play in games larger than 3 players.
This Gahiji build is NOT for you if:
  • You want to win fast, or win via combo.
  • You HATE the idea of giving resources to your opponents.
  • You want to draw a ton of cards (without Skullclamp in play, at any rate).
  • Your playgroup tends to hate on pillow fort or group slug decks.


Above all else, Gahiji likes to make it favorable for your opponents to attack each other. There are several ways to achieve this: by buffing everyone's creatures (Gahiji does this on its own), by giving your opponents additional incentive to attack (or by forcing them to attack in general), and by making it more difficult to attack you (via various "pillow fort" effects). This isn't just about brute force - this is about subtle misdirection and political deals to keep battles rolling in your favor. To get a little pretentious on you, take this Sun Tzu quote to heart:

All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive...
Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

While this deck has some decent firepower, it does play a few cards that seem, in a vacuum, kind of... questionable. The purpose of this section is to explain exactly why we're choosing to play certain cards, what effects they can have on the overall game, and how these effects reinforce the theme of the deck.


Conflict Escalation

This is where the fun starts - making it profitable for your enemies to attack (someone that isn't you)! These cards are pretty unimpressive by themselves, but have compounding effects when played alongside each other, or with Gahiji in play.

  • Curse of Bloodletting, Curse of Opulence, and Curse of Predation - Basically a little jab to a single player at the table. Curses can help players unite to take out an archenemy, or just dole out some minor punishment against a player that slighted you. Bloodletting also provides a solid finisher.
  • Duelist's Heritage, Bitter Feud, and Rite of the Raging Storm - Take advantage of opponents that have a grudge against one another. Rite can be detrimental if your meta has a lot of beneficial sac outlets or Skullclamp, but is generally entertaining enough to warrant a slot. Heritage is an interesting option - remember, it affects ANY attacking creature, not just your own. Finally, Feud can be used as a (risky) finisher to take out your final opponent. Just… try to win that turn!
  • Crown of Doom - In a word, hilarious. The bearer of this crown essentially suffers an additional "Gahiji effect" until that player's turn. Best part - it can never come back to you! This card is a source of nearly endless entertainment.
Often times, Gahiji's ability isn't enough to keep everyone turning creatures sideways, and in those cases, we provoke them into action. Making players use their attack step to its fullest (whether they like it or not) is well within the deck's theme, but it also has the added benefit of tapping potential blockers, clearing the way for your assault.

  • Fumiko the Lowblood - If Gahiji is this deck's "general" (literally and metaphorically), Fumiko is the lieutenant. This red samurai is a great rattlesnake when you do get attacked, but the coolest part of her ability is that it isn't symmetrical! You can always hold back blockers, but your opponents don't have that option.
  • Basandra, Battle Seraph - Provocation with pinpoint accuracy. A great way to take out little dorks or utility creatures, running them straight into the waiting arms of some blockers. Or, a good way to mess with the timing on commanders with tap abilities.
  • Warmonger Hellkite, Goblin Spymaster and War's Toll - More calls to action. Toll has the added bonus of making it more difficult for your opponents to play spells during other players' turns. Hellkite also has great political applications, giving ANY player's creature a boost while attacking; keep in mind, however, that Hellkite "must attack" effect is symmetrical, affecting you as well.
  • Master Warcraft and Disrupt Decorum - Gahiji's favorite tactic. The combat tricks to end all combat tricks, make no mistake that these cards will win games, or at least take out a player that's gotten a little too out of control.

Arms Dealing

While giving beneficial resources to your opponent is almost always a bad tactic in Magic, this deck nevertheless utilizes a few cards that give your opponents a fair amount of creature tokens. The idea, of course, is to keep everyone attacking with as much as possible as often as possible. But, since we're not completely altruistic, these cards usually have beneficial effects for the Gahiji as well!

  • Mass Token Producers - Alliance of Arms, Sylvan Offering, Tempt with Vengeance, Forbidden Orchard, and Rite of the Raging Storm give everyone some real firepower. Alliance and Rite truly shine when you have an effect like Fumiko or War's Toll on the field. Sylvan is great for politics, and even if no one is tempted by Vengeance, it'll still give you a sizable board presence.
  • Hunted Troll - Give a player that might have fallen a little behind some evasive creatures. With Gahiji in play, your troll swings for a respectable 10 power (and regenerating for a low price), while your benefactor is swinging for 12 in the air.
  • Benevolent Offering - A serious political boon for you, Offering gives you more tokens and probably a sizable chunk of life. Also, gives an "ally" more tokens, and a menial amount of life to whichever opponent has the least creatures. Finally, tutorable with Sunforger for surprise life/blockers.

Deterrence

So, Gahiji has given its opponents a few resources and might be forcing them to use said resources. The final piece of the puzzle is making it difficult to attack YOU. This is our pillow fort package - why attack us when there's an easier target elsewhere?

  • Rattlesnakes - Creatures that will make opponents think twice before swinging at us; Archon of Justice, Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker, and Serene Master are all perfect examples of this. Meanwhile, if someone does attack you, Hornet Nest can give you extra defensive resources and Stalking Leonin will keep 'em guessing.
  • Tax - Ghostly Prison and Windborn Muse. Classic. Surprisingly effective in multiplayer. Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs, while not a hard tax, can also provide you with token resources.
  • Mystic Barrier - A common target for my enchantment tutors simply for the sheer silliness it provides, Barrier lets you sculpt the battlefield to your liking. Have a threatening opponent that's pulled away from the pack with huge aggro? Well, now they'll have to chew through basically every other player before reaching you.

Threats

While this deck strives for good ole' fashioned fun, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be trying to win. More often than not, you're going to be gunning for second place if you haven't won outright - you want to end the game facing down your final opponent in a 1-on-1 situation. The goal, then, is to drop something splashy and swarm them with tokens. But obviously, if the situation calls for it, don't be afraid to drop a threat early on to put on a little pressure.

Removal

Of course, your opponents are going to be dropping threats of their own, with or without your meddling. Removal is important for any deck. This particular build isn't very heavy on removal, but more can always be swapped in to your liking, usually in place of weaker cards like the Curses.

  • Artifact Mutation and Aura Mutation - Never overlook the value of artifact and enchantment removal. These particular spells can also be fairly explosive - they're instant, and provide you with token resources to take advantage of Gahiji's ability.
  • More Noncreature Removal - I need not mention the sheer power of Aura Shards. We're running tokens, so Shards is an automatic inclusion. Also, Reclamation Sage is an excellent support card, but can be swapped out for Conclave Naturalists or Acidic Slime if you choose. Finally, Pir's Whim edicts an artifact or enchantment from your foes, while ramping a utility land for you!
  • Creature Removal - Swords to Plowshares is consistently one of the best removal spells in any format, and inadvertently reinforces our deck's theme of occasionally giving our opponents a key resource (life, in this case) for political gain. Song of the Dryads removes basically anything, and similar to Swords, exchanges your opponent's threat for a simple resource. Similarly, try out Mercy Killing or Beast Within!

I personally don't run a board wipe package in this deck, instead preferring to take an "all in" approach: I either win or lose by the creatures currently on the board. Still, if you prefer to have at least a few board wipes in your all of your decks, check out the "Gahiji Variants" section for different options.

Gahiji has many of the usual suspects for keeping resources flowing and draws consistent. In addition, since this build is focusing on a veritable toolbox of wacky combat effects, we want to make sure that we always have the right tool for the job. Fret not, because even though having too many tutors has a certain stigma in Commander, no one is really going to mind when you tutor up a curse in order to knock out the guy that's just made an enemy of the entire table. Well, except for the guy that you cursed. He might mind. A little.


Utility and Tutors

As alluded to in the above paragraph, even a casual build like this one can use a little bit of utility and tutoring. However, since you won't be digging up any kind of combo pieces, you'll mostly be looking for a well timed combat trick.

  • Tutors - Academy Rector and Enlightened Tutor. Rector is a great blocker and grabs an enchantment when he dies, enough said. Enlightened can also grab an interesting enchantment for you, but in a pinch can be used to dig up a utility artifact or mana rock. However, above all else, Sunforger is the ultimate swiss army knife for your deck. Once your ramp hits critical mass, you can get the perfect charm, removal, or other utility spell at instant speed.
  • Good Stuff - No real explanations needed here: Mirari's Wake enables you to do some crazy stuff if left in play. On the other hand, Benefactor's Draught is a trickier card that can (albeit with some coaxing) refill your hand, and let you reuse Knight of the Reliquary and Selvala. Finally, Teferi's Protection is a good way to dodge a wrath and set up for a win.
  • The Charms - Selesnya Charm and Boros Charm are included for their versatility, as they're both tutorable with Sunforger for surprise removal, indestructibility, and more! Gruul just barely doesn't make the cut, despite having some niche uses, but Rith's Charm and Naya Charm are also playable options with many different applications.
  • Scrying - Sensei's Divining Top is amazing filter for your draw, and we have just enough fetch and shuffle effects to fully utilize it. Can be substituted with Sylvan Library if you prefer, or Crystal Ball or Lifecrafter's Bestiary if you're on a budget.

Ramp and Filtering

Every Commander deck needs ramp! Let's be real: no matter what level of competitiveness, no one likes keeping a three land hand only to get stuck on those three lands for X turns. To that end, we run a fairly decent package of acceleration to keep our curve smooth. I personally like to run a lot of ramp in a three color deck, but for slower playgroups, feel free to replace any of the below options with more fun creatures or political effects.

  • Mana Rocks - This build runs Sol Ring and the always helpful Chromatic Lantern. Commander's Sphere is also a great option. If your playgroup tends to run a lot of artifact removal, consider not running the Guild Signets, but otherwise those are fine options.
  • Ramp Creatures - The ubiquitous Solemn Simulacrum could go here, along with his green pals Farhaven Elf, Yavimaya Elder, Wood Elves, and/or Oracle of Mul Daya. These critters can also swing for a relatively OK amount of damage with Gahiji in play, which is the main reason for running them over more sorcery-based ramp.
  • Utility Creatures - Knight of the Reliquary is mana filtering... and a decent late-game beater thanks to all of the land sacrifice effects this deck runs. Plus, great for tutoring Kessig Wolf Run or Mistveil Plains. Meanwhile, the lovely Selvala, Explorer Returned is a fantastic "group hug" card that provides you with varying degrees of ramp and life gain. Finally, Oreskos Explorer will occasionally provide you some explosive land draw - imagine grabbing two shock lands and a Mistveil Plains from your deck!
  • Sword of the Animist - You want to attack. You want lands. This card is insane.

Mana Base

A mana base for a 3+ color Commander deck can be tricky and potentially expensive. I'm running a decently optimized build for lands here, but there is room to lower the efficiency (and monetary cost) of this land base by replacing more expensive options with budget lands. On the other hand, while this deck probably doesn't need to run the Alpha/Beta/Revised duals (Savannah, Plateau, Taiga) in place of other lands... if you're made of money - sure! Why not?

  • Fetches - The most expensive part of the deck, most likely. In addition the usual classic fetches, I'm also running the considerably more affordable Naya Panorama and Blighted Woodland. If the regular fetch lands are too expensive for you, consider Guild Gates or Pain Lands instead, but keep in mind that you will lose a very slight amount of synergy with Knight of the Reliquary and Sensei's Divining Top. To compensate for budget builds, consider Terramorphic Expanse, Evolving Wilds, and Ash Barrens.
  • Dual Lands - Mana fixing needs little explanation. Personally, I like the Temples in Commander. You take a minor tempo hit for a potentially valuable scry, which is often a worthwhile tradeoff. For even more fixing, you could always cut a land for Reflecting Pool.
  • Basics - This deck runs around 13 basic lands, more than enough for consistent tutoring from cards like Blighted Woodland, Farhaven Elf, and other ramp.
  • Utility Lands - Mistveil Plains, Forbidden Orchard, Kessig Wolf Run, and Slayers' Stronghold - Mistveil provides recursion for Sunforger or other tutors, while Kessig and Stronghold will either pump your creatures or the creatures of other players, if you want to get political. Finally, Orchard gives your opponents more tokens, perfect for exploiting Gahiji's ability.


The above build is just one way to run Gahij. Some players will favor a more competitive approach, while others will want to double down on casual political effects. This section will show you a few options and card packages for optimization and thematic focus.


Token Beatdown

A generally more "competitive" (although, I'm using that word extremely lightly here) build, play this variant if you want to throw caution to the wind, shunning Gahiji's political gimmicks for a more straightforward (and deadly) aggro deck. Here, the name of the game is going wide and swinging for the fences.

  • Explosive Green Support - Avenger of Zendikar sees play in a lot of green decks for a reason; combine him with even more tokens AND Gahiji's effect and you have a potent board presence. Since we're focusing more on tokens, Parallel Lives and Doubling Season are automatic inclusions. Finally, Beastmaster Ascension and Craterhoof Behemoth are devastating finishers, especially considering how easy it is to activate Ascension in this build.
  • Board Wipes - This variant likes wiping the board, and excels at doing so asymmetrically. Retribution of the Meek, Solar Tide, and Austere Command will annihilate enemy forces while leaving your army mostly untouched. Just note that Gahiji itself does die to all of these, so you'll want to play your Commander post-board wipe. Martial Coup is also a great option here.
  • Planeswalkers - While 'walkers are often generally less effective in multiplayer, we can still utilize them with the ample blockers that this build provides. All three Elspeths (that is, Elspeth Tirel, Elspeth, Knight-Errant, and Elspeth, Sun's Champion) work great in this deck. Sunny Elspeth also doubles as another asymmetrical board wipe - perfect! Xenagos, the Reveler, surprisingly enough, is also a solid choice. Lastly, Garruk, Primal Hunter is also an OK option, even if he's only coming into play and immediately using all of his loyalty to draw cards.
  • Value - Purphoros, God of the Forge and Mentor of the Meek. If you're in these colors, why not get immediate value from your tokens? Meanwhile, Rise of the Hobgoblins provides utility with immediate value in the mid/late game, and Secure the Wastes is a great play during someone else's end step.

Full Political

Conversely, you can theme Gahiji to be completely political, fully embracing Gahiji's tendency to turn the game into a literal arms race. There are lots of fun things here for slower or less competitive environments.

  • More Tokens for Everyone! - Varchild's War-Riders, Seed the Land, and Akroan Horse really drive home the chaotic "group slug" aspect of the deck. Also, while these cards can and will backfire on you, they will also probably create some fun stories, which is really what this deck is all about. You can also run the other Hunted creatures as part of this package: Hunted Dragon and Hunted Lammasu.
  • Symmetrical Effects - Primal Vigor, Crescendo of War, and Tempt with Discovery kick the game into high gear for all players. As mentioned in the previous point, the risk of playing these types of cards is extremely high, but they will invariably lead to interesting board states, ripe for chaotic battles. One note about Tempt with Discovery though - if you do decide to run it, I highly recommend also running lands like Strip Mine and Ghost Quarter in your deck; if anyone accepts your tempting offer (hint: good players will usually say "no"), it probably means they're grabbing a game-winning land like Cabal Coffers or Gaea's Cradle, and you need to be able to immediately deal with that.
  • Get Out And Vote! - "Voting" cards are fun! Archangel of Strife is a great symmetrical anthem effect, as most of the time, both you and your opponents will choose "War." Council's Judgment allows the group to collectively decide on one (or sometimes more than one) problem permanent to remove; doesn't get much more political than that!
  • Keep Them Honest - Red is great at this. Stranglehold and Price of Glory make sure everyone is playing "fair." Also, in white, Oracle en-Vec gives you another forced combat for one player per round.
  • Suit Them Up - Put a fatty in Assault Suit and share the love, or make an opponent an offer they can't refuse with Vow of Wildness.

Evasion Package

The following are a few options that can give your troops a way to attack safely. No matter which of the cards below you choose, it will most likely fit in any Gahiji build. Your creatures want to connect whether you're playing straight aggro or playing politically; at the end of the day, the objective of the game is still to reduce your opponent's life total to zero. However, even though these cards can create openings for you in combat, they tend to make bad top-decks, so I wouldn't run more than a few.

  • Evasive Support - Iroas, God of Victory totally screws with combat, and makes blocking quite difficult for your opponent. Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist and Archetype of Aggression scale very well with Gahiji's effect on your creatures, and also makes chump blocking easier for you. Odric, Master Tactician is simply insane if you have enough creatures to back him up - he's basically a Master Warcraft for you every turn. Finally, Champion of Lambholt only needs one solid mass token production effect to make your entire board basically unblockable.
  • Bedlam - A symmetrical effect that makes sure everyone is going to feel the pain. Interesting option for Gahiji builds that like chaotic effects.


Q: Who are you?
A:
My name is Luke. I started playing Commander early 2008, back when it was just called "EDH." My first Commander was Zur the Enchanter; after about five games I realized I had made a huge mistake and dismantled it. Immediately after, I built a Rosheen Meanderer deck that just belted out hydras and fireball effects - still have the deck to this day, and haven't looked back! Gahiji, Honored One was originally the result of me trying to make a cross between a Chaos and a Pillow Fort deck, and it is currently my favorite deck to play.

Q: What's up with the stupid furry character?
A:
Like, fuck, man… I dunno. My whole deal with my commander decks is this: if my commander doesn't have a foil printing, I make a goofy little cartoon alter of it to "bling" the card out. Usually I try to make it somewhat related to the original card, whether it be through subject matter or color scheme. I mean, Gahiji's creature type is "beast," but yeah... in retrospect, maybe not the best choice. I guess it works though, all things considered. She's giving you a sword - get it? Cuz, like… Gahiji's ability. Whatever.

Q: What's the win ratio like with your particular build?
A:
Actually… pretty good? Better than a lot of my decks, actually - even those I consider to be more "optimized." It does have diminishing returns though, like any deck that focuses on pillow fort effects or straight politics (Zedruu and Gwafa Hazid spring to mind). Eventually your playgroup tends to "get wise" of your deck's strategy, and you lose a little bit of effectiveness.

Q: What is the biggest weakness of this build?
A:
Definitely card advantage, I would say. You can manage a sizable amount of draw if you're running Skullclamp or Mentor of the Meek, and decent recursion with Den Protector and Sun Titan, but the deck simply lacks the drawing power of Blue and the staying power of Black. As such, it is easy to overextend, and it's hard to recover when you do. In addition, if the rest of the table isn't playing into your strategy, it more or less folds to combo - always curse the combo player!

And so, our sortie comes to a close. If you made it to the end of this overlong spiel, I certainly commend you. And, hopefully if you were thinking about building a political Gahiji, I've given you a starting point, or at least a bit of inspiration. This deck is definitely not an exemplar of competitive deck building, but in a way, that's not really what it's trying to achieve. To me, this deck really hits on that ever so elusive "spirit of EDH" that people love talking about - a pile of silly, sometimes underutilized cards that have surprising synergy when played with a specific theme. To me, those are the best kinds of Commander decks.

Leave the big creature builds to Mayael, and the combo shenanigans to Marath; this particular Naya commander wants you to be the enabler, accelerating everyone's game into an exciting conclusion... for better or worse. Lead from the front lines, and lead by example. Force your opponents to act, and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Make deals, make enemies, and - win or lose - make the game a memorable one!


"We upset the global military balance of power... There's no turning back now; we're a wrench in the old system of deterrence. As long as the times refuse to change, we're going to make a hell of a racket." - Big Boss

Special Thanks

Basically everything about this primer's editing is thanks to FancyTuesday and his TappedOut formatting guides, like this one.

And thanks to you, for reading!

Suggestions

Updates Add

New Recruits

OK, now this is an interesting set - not just for this deck, but just in general! What political applications do we have here?

  • Friend or Foe! (Pir's Whim, Khorvath's Fury, and Regna's Sanction): These are fun, political, and honestly... moderately powerful. Pir's Whim should be slotted into this deck if possible, doubling for a nonbasic land tutor when we don't draw our Knight of the Reliquary. Khorvath's Fury is more situational - might be OK, but I'd run Reforge the Soul over this. Regna's Sanction is actually the least interesting of these to me, but still seems like a really solid wincon; however, I like Disrupt Decorum in this slot much better.

  • Bountiful Promenade and Spire Garden: Just run these. Nothing else to say other than... here's hoping for the enemy-colored cycle in a future set!

  • Bramble Sovereign: Kinda a generic "goodstuff" card, worth running if you have room. It has limited political applications in that it can duplicate cards for your opponent, although not for tokens - just their own creatures.

  • Stolen Strategy: Feels more on-theme in Grenzo, Havoc Raiser or Etali, Primal Storm... but honestly not a bad choice. Slots in place of something like Mystic Barrier or another big, splashy enchantment.


Other Cards to Consider

As always, these probably won't make the cut, but they might have some potential...

  • Play of the Game: Political board wipe! Run it if you want something like that.

  • Generous Patron: This card is political, but without additional ways to add counters to your opponent's creatures, it feels pretty lackluster.

  • Grothama, All-Devouring: This is a fun card, but it actually has ANTI-synergy with Gahiji, often being too easy for your opponents to kill post-Gahiji buff, and denying you of cards. In the end, without tricks, you have to play this and then immediately kill it yourself - not a bad plan, but a little too narrow for my taste.

  • Archon of Valor's Reach: Idea for a deck: Gahiji hatebears. Too cute? Yeah, probably.

  • Notable Reprints: Land Tax, Doubling Season, War's Toll, Beast Within, Swords to Plowshares.

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Date added 4 years
Last updated 1 month
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.30
Tokens 0/1 Insect, 1/1 Elf, 1/1 Spirit, 1/1 Elemental, 1/1 Goblin, 2/2 Knight, 3/3 Beast, 3/3 Ogre, 1/1 Elf Warrior, Clue, 1/1 Faerie, 1/1 Saproling, 1/1 Soldier, 6/6 Dragon, 2/2 Morph, */* Treefolk, Gold, 1/1 City's Blessing
Folders Completed Decks, Decks to make, Decks, EDH Deck Ideas, its cool, Awesome Decks, Gahiji, Honored One, EDH, gahiji edh, Build This, See all 70
Top rank #14 on 2015-12-19
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1 month ago)

+1 Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor maybe