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[[Primer]] Gonti - Night Market Shenanigans

Commander / EDH* Devotion Mono-Black Necropotence Primer Reanimator


Currently the #1 Gonti deck on TappedOut!


Gonti is an Aetherborn crime lord from the plane of Kaladesh, and what better way to showcase his criminal antics than by stealing other people’s cards?!

The premise of this deck is simple: cast Gonti and steal things. We utilize an array of reanimation spells in order to continually trigger Gonti and gain value by being able to play powerful spells outside of our Mono Black color identity. That is the main goal of the deck. A sub-theme of the deck is being able to use other “enter the battlefield”, or ETB, effects to continuously gain value and help control the board.

We can win by out-valuing the other players, or simply by biding our time and going for a Nim Deathmantle / Ashnod's Altar combo kill.

The Primer

Gonti, Lord of Luxury is a pretty unique card in that it does something mono black doesn’t do very often, if at all: it allows you to play other people’s cards. Let’s take a closer look at the card itself:

Gonti costs for a 2/3 with Deathtouch. He is fairly costed, and you can get him out as early as turn two, or turn one if you have a great opening hand. While his stats are fairly low and can die to quite a variety of damage spells, he can trade with almost any creature, excluding Indestructible or anything that prevents damage, thanks to Deathtouch.

His ability is the sole reason why this deck was built. When he enters the battlefield, we get to look at the top four cards of a target opponent’s library, exile one of them face down so only we know what it does, and put the rest on the bottom of the library in any order. At any time during the game, we can look at it, and as long as we have priority and the timing is right, we can cast it and spend mana as though it were of any type. Yes, type, and not color. We get to use colorless mana to cast a Counterspell if we so choose to. And what makes the ability even better is that we can cast it for as long as it remains exiled, even if Gonti is no longer on the battlefield. Talk about value!

Do remember this: you cast the card you exiled. You cannot play lands if you choose them. However, if there is a land that can be problematic, such as Gaea's Cradle or even Dark Depths , don’t hesitate to exile them.

You might like Gonti if:

  • You like mono black.
  • You like having a unique and flavorful general.
  • You want to play mono black, but also cast spells of other colors.
  • You like reanimating creatures.

You might dislike Gonti if:

  • You dislilke mono color decks.
  • You would rather play anything besides black.
  • You enjoy your deck so much you don’t want to play anyone else’s.
  • You don’t like having fun and having some wacky games.

Crypt Ghast : Staple card in any mono black deck. Doubles the amount of mana your Swamps produce. Has the added effect of draining each opponent and you gaining that much life at the cost of each time you cast a spell. With Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth out, tapping your nonbasic lands for will net .

Dimir House Guard : Mainly used as a tutor. There are 14 cards with a CMC of 4, meaning there is no end to what this guy can grab such as removal, card draw, or utility. Can also use him as a body with a built-in sac outlet.

Erebos, God of the Dead : A source of indestructible card draw. Prevents opponent’s from using any lifegain shenanigans. When we have enough devotion, we get ourselves a 5/7 indestructible beater.

Faceless Butcher / Ravenous Chupacabra : Removal on a stick for any creature an opponent controls. Another ETB effect to abuse with Panharmonicon / Conjurer's Closet . Butcher can also be used in conjunction with a sac outlet to permanently exile a creature due to the separated clause in its effect.

Solemn Simulacrum : Sad Robot! On ETB, he allows us to search up a land. On death, he lets us draw a card . Both effects we love in this deck.

Su-Chi : Combo piece for our infinite mana engine. Can generate infinite or depending on which Altar is used. Gets around things like Torpor Orb , as it is an on-death trigger.

Vulturous Aven : Card draw on a 2/3 flying body. ETB effect so it can be used multiple times through bouncing or recursion.

Chainer, Dementia Master : Recursion on a stick with a Lord effect to boot! Can get back a creature from any graveyard at the cost of and three life. Be wary, though, because if he leaves the battlefield, all of the creatures he brought back will get permanently exiled. It’s always good to have some sort of sac outlet on the field in case you want to bring them back later on.

Gray Merchant of Asphodel : Big Daddy Gary! This guy gets to be bonkers if our devotion is high and we have Panharmonicon on the field. Even better when Conjurer's Closet is also out. Gains us life and drains our opponents. One of our win conditions in the deck.

Sidisi, Undead Vizier : Tutor on a stick. Doubles as a sac outlet for a creature so we can reanimate it to get more use out of an ETB effect. 4/6 with Deathtouch is nothing to scoff at either.

Demon of Dark Schemes : Some more creature removal. He also effects our creatures, but the more creatures that die, the more energy we get to recur them later. His energy-producing ability isn’t just when he enters, but anytime a creature dies. And for a cost of and , we can bring back any creature.

Duplicant : Colorless removal that exiles so it gets around indestructible creatures. Do note that he only copies P/T and Creature Type and not any abilities. If you go to exile a commander, and they choose to put it into the Command Zone instead, Duplicant will not copy the values as it is a replacement effect, so will enter as a 2/4 Shapeshifter. No worries though, as we can just sac him and reuse him later.

Grave Titan : 10 power across 3 three bodies for is pretty good, especially when one of those bodies is a 6/6 with deathtouch. Can be used to generate infinite zombies and mana, and is a part of a win condition for the deck.

Kokusho, the Evening Star : One of the Legendary Kamigawa dragons, and the best one if you ask me. Keep sacrificing him and bringing him back will eventually kill our opponents, so he is another win condition in the deck.

Marionette Master : Combo piece for our infinite mana engine. She can win games on her own with either Altar, since she can create with Ashnod's Altar , or with Phyrexian Altar , which is just enough to pay for Nim Deathmantle .

Noxious Gearhulk : Another piece of our removal package. Repeatable use as it is an ETB effect creature so it can be blinked or recurred. Can also hit our creatures if we want to bring them back from the graveyard.

Wurmcoil Engine : We tend to use our life as a resource, so we sometimes end up getting fairly low. The Lifelink helps buffer our life total, and the Deathtouch deters attackers. Can be used in conjunction with Nim Deathmantle / Ashnod's Altar for our infinite engine, but also pump out a bunch of Deathtouch Wurms for defense, or Lifelink Wurms to gain an absurd amount of life.

Meteor Golem : Black has a hard time dealing with noncreatures. Oblivion Stone and Nevinyrral's Disk were used as ways of getting rid of these things. However, they hurt us as much as the opponent, if not more. Enter Meteor Golem . Our saving grace. He can destroy any nonland permanent. It's an ETB effect so it's abusable with Panharmonicon / Conjurer's Closet / Lifeline . He's a creature so he can be reanimated for multiple uses. By far the best card M19 has brought to this deck.

Rune-Scarred Demon : Another tutor on a stick. for a 6/6 flyer is still kinda hefty, but since it has an ETB effect of tutoring any card, he makes the cut in the deck as we can flicker with

Conjurer's Closet and bring him back from the graveyard.

Mana Crypt / Sol Ring / Fellwar Stone / Jet Medallion / Mind Stone : The mana rocks. Helps accelerate us into playing more spells each turn, or bigger spells. Invaluable to have in EDH.

Expedition Map : Land tutor. It mostly tutors up Cabal Coffers , but will also grab Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth , Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx , Ancient Tomb , or even the new Cabal Stronghold . Can also grab one of the other utility lands depending on what we need at the time.

Nim Deathmantle : Artifact that lets us return a creature when it dies for only . Also gives the creature +2/+2 and intimidate for a little evasion. Main combo piece alongside Ashnod's Altar .

Ashnod's Altar : Sac outlet that gives us for every creature sacrificed. Use it to power out a bigger spell, gives us another target to reanimate, and is a combo piece alongside Nim Deathmantle .

Phyrexian Altar : Another sac outlet that gives us mana. This Altar allows us to generate mana of any color, so if we steal something with an activated ability that requires mana, we can pay its cost. It does not go infinite like Ashnod's Altar , but can do so if you also have a Panharmonicon out to double up on the tokens produced by Grave Titan / Marionette Master .

Helm of the Host : I decided to give Helm another shot. While it is a heavy mana investment, being able to not only get a hasty permanent body on the field, we can get more ETB triggers from them. It will definitely get removed the first chance anyone gets, but if it doesn't, the value we will get from it is insane.

Panharmonicon : This is what the deck is built around.. This card is SO GOOD! Doubles all of our ETB triggers so we can get double exile, double life drain, double sacrifices, double trouble! This card usually paints a big target on itself when you play it, but if it sticks around, you will not be disappointed. Can get multiple uses out of it with Beacon of Unrest .

Lifeline : This artifact can be a double-edged sword. It makes all of our removal null (minus board wipes) as it also works on our opponent's creatures as well. However, the advantage we have with all of our ETB effects should outweigh the negativity it has. With a sac outlet, we can sac and bring back every turn, and gain insane value in the process.

Conjurer's Closet : Another of Gonti’s favorite toys to play with. Allows us to get more use out of our ETB creatures that are already on the battlefield. If we somehow use it on an opponent’s creature, we will still be able to get it back since it returns under our control, and if we use it on their commander, they can send it back to the command zone but since it doesn’t reference returning the card from exile, we will just pull it out of the command zone and put it back under our control.

Reanimate : The best reanimate spell. Returns any creature at the price of its CMC being deducted from your life.

Demonic Tutor : Black staple card. Hands down the best tutor available. to bring any card from your library to your hand is insane. Search up an answer if you need it, or a fun card if you want it.

Diabolic Intent :Sac outlet and tutor. Having another low-cost tutor will help us grab a card we need, and it gives us another creature to reanimate for value.

Night's Whisper / Sign in Blood / Morbid Curiosity / Read the Bones : Card draw. Black is pretty good at drawing cards in exchange for life, and these cards are great examples. Sign in Blood can also be used to kill an opponent if they are at 2 or less life.

Entreat the Dead : The newest addition from Commander 2018. Has the ability to reanimate multiple creatures when cast as a sorcery, and at worst it'll bring back one creature at the same cost as Beacon of Unrest . Can also be cast for its miracle cost to return multiple creatures for a cheaper cost.

Toxic Deluge / Damnation / Mutilate : Board wipes. Not much to be said about these except these are probably the best ones you can use.

Beacon of Unrest : Reanimates any creature or artifact from any graveyard, then will get shuffled back into your library for future use, if it resolves. Really useful if someone gets rid of Panharmonicon / Conjurer's Closet or any other good card.

Living Death : This card doubles as removal and recursion. Gets around indestructible creatures since they are sacrificed and not destroyed.

Supernatural Stamina / Undying Evil : Our surprise reanimate spells. Only works if our creature is going to die; they cannot return something that is already dead.

Vampiric Tutor : Instant speed tutor. Grabs a card and sticks it on top of our library for two life. If I start the game with it, I will usually grab Mana Crypt in order to get a turn two Gonti or something else early on. Otherwise, it will grab whatever we need at the time.

Go for the Throat / Hero's Downfall / Snuff Out : Cheap spot removal. Sometimes we need to get rid of a single creature, and these do great. Downfall can also take care of planeswalkers, and Snuff Out is essentially “free” as we don’t have to pay for it with mana.

Goryo's Vengeance : Instant speed reanimation spell. Limited on which creatures it can bring back, as we only run a total of 5 Legendaries. The creature will be exiled at end step, so unless you use it on Gonti, or have a sac outlet, be wary of what you bring back if you don't want to lose it.

Wake the Dead : Another instant speed reanimation spell. Can only be used during an opponent's combat step, but has the ability to reanimate more than one creature for some surprise shenanigans.

Corpse Dance : Instant speed reanimate spell. This one is a bit limited as it can only grab the top most creature in your graveyard, and it exiles at end step. A sac outlet is useful in conjunction with it if you want to bring the creature back at a later time.

Rescue from the Underworld : This reanimation spell requires a creature on the battlefield to be sacrificed in order to cast it. Allows us to get two ETB effects when both creatures come back.

Animate Dead / Dance of the Dead / Necromancy : Reanimation enchantments. Can be used to grab any creature from any graveyard. Necromancy can also be played at instant speed for surprise shenanigans, but the creature will be sacrifice at end step.

Necropotence / Phyrexian Arena : More card draw that sticks around after it’s cast. These two are probably the best card draw spells that black has to offer.

Liliana of the Dark Realms : Mainly used to grab a Swamp . Can also act as spot removal when in a pinch, and if we can get to her ultimate, we will have plenty of mana for our shenanigans.

Ancient Tomb : Great EDH land. Allows us to play our spells a turn earlier than normal at the cost of two life.

Arcane Lighthouse : Sometimes we need to get rid of a creature that has shroud/hexproof while leaving our creatures intact, so this utility land gives us that ability to do so with targeted removal.

Cabal Coffers : My favorite land of all time. Can net so much mana, especially with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in play. Without Urborg, however, you need to have 4 Swamps before you can start to net mana.

Cabal Stronghold : Cabal Coffers , Jr. The nice thing about this land is that it produces mana itself. However, in order to net mana, you need to have 5 Swamps out, and they have to be basic, since that’s what it counts. It will not work with Urborg, since it doesn’t make them basic Swamps.

Deserted Temple : Allows us to make a bunch more mana with Cabal Coffers / Cabal Stronghold / Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx . Can also get second uses out of other utility lands.

High Market : The life gain is fairly insignificant compared to what we will lose over the course of the game, but it is a sac outlet irregardless.

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx : Another big-mana producing land. Needs our devotion to be at least in order to net any mana.

Phyrexian Tower : Sac outlet land that produces to cast spells or activate abilities.

Swamp : The lifeblood of the deck. No Swamps means no playing our black cards. Not much to say about these, except make sure they match!

Thespian's Stage : Used to copy our non-legendary lands, or can copy an opponents if we need it to.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth : Makes all lands into Swamps. Allows our mana-doubling creatures to create a lot of mana, works wonders with Cabal Coffers , and makes Sheoldred, Whispering One unblockable!

The strategy to playing this deck is simple: play lands, cast spells, steal opponent’s cards. We want to use and abuse our ETB effects as much as possible, and win through sheer value or a simple combo. In order to do that, we need to make sure we start the game out right.
We want to have a minimum of two Swamps in our opening hand, just in case we can get a turn two or three Gonti. Any card draw or tutor in the hand is a keep, as long as we can cast them on curve. If our hand has a high CMC, we will need to send it back. Any kind of mana rock ( Sol Ring / Mana Crypt / Jet Medallion ) will usually mean a keep, as we can cast higher CMC cards a lot sooner than just hitting land drops.

Damnation , Ancient Tomb , Swamp , Hero's Downfall , Sol Ring , Duplicant , Volrath's Stronghold : This hand is borderline. We have three lands, but only one of them being a Swamp. We also have Sol Ring, which will power out our higher CMC spells. Plenty of removal to keep the board clear, it just all depends on who we are playing against, and if we feel we can draw into a Swamp within the first couple of turns.

Necromancy , Swamp , Swamp , Fellwar Stone , Ancient Tomb , Animate Dead , Swamp : This hand is a keep. We are on curve for hitting a turn three Gonti, possibly turn two if an opponent plays out a Swamp of their own. We also have a couple pieces of recursion in case Gonti gets removed and we can get him out cheaper by bringing him back from the graveyard instead of having to recast him.

The first part of the early game (when commanders are revealed) is spent assessing our opponent(s). If there is more than one opponent, determine who may have the best options for us to steal from. Blue can give us access to counters, green for ramp, red for burn or artifact destruction, white for creature removal, and black for more recursion or creature removal. Of course, it all depends on what Commander they are playing, as they may not have those things and are going with an entirely different strategy. We want to try and get Gonti out as quickly as possible to begin creating our toolbox of tricks to help us achieve victory. Getting out mana rocks or even Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth / Cabal Coffers will enable quick and possibly multiple castings of Gonti in order to begin picking away at libraries.
We really want to be abusing Gonti's and other creatures ETB abilities by this point, so if we haven't drawn into Panharmonicon or Conjurer's Closet , we will hopefully be able to tutor for it. Being able to double up on ETBs will enable us to gain more value out of our creatures when they enter, or at the end of turn in Closet's case. Once you have a fairly established board presence, you want to establish a game plan of how you want to win. You will either want to out-value your opponents through card advantage and board control and win through damage, drain their life, or go for a combo kill. Once you have this established, utilize your tutors and card draw to dig for your pieces to win.
By the time you enter the late game, you should have your avenue of victory in hand or a way to get it from the graveyard/deck, or have it on the field. If one of our combo pieces ( Ashnod's Altar / Nim Deathmantle ) gets destroyed, we can bring them back with Beacon of Unrest . However, if they were to be exiled, we have no way of getting them back, and must utilize another way to win. We want to make sure the path is clear before going in for the kill, whether that is everyone else being tapped out, or possibly having some counters in our toolbox. If the latter is the case, be sure you have enough mana available to support the counters and your win condition. We can utilize Ashnod's Altar / Nim Deathmantle in various ways to secure a combo kill using 1 of 4 creatures as our mana engine and going for infinite drain with Gray Merchant of Asphodel or Kokusho, the Evening Star , or steal everyone’s entire library with Gonti. Otherwise, we make a horde of tokens and swing in for lethal. If a mass token swarm is the way you want to finish the game, do so at the end of your opponent's turn before yours; doing so will allow them to attack on your turn without having to wait.
1) Graveyard Hate: This is a reanimator-style deck, so we heavily rely on the graveyard as a second library of sorts. Therefore, any card that prevents interaction with the graveyard will hinder us severely. The following cards are a few examples of very problematic cards:

These are only a few of the many graveyard hate cards in the game. Any of them are bad for us so if we can get rid of them, we should definitely prioritize that.

2) ETB Hate Cards: The second theme of the deck is Enters the Battlefield (ETB) effects. Most of our creatures have an ETB effect that helps us in some way, so if those get shut off, we have a hard time of winning. Even parts of our combo rely on our creatures entering the battlefield. So, some of the cards we need to look out for are:

3) Hexproof/Shroud: Another problem we will run into is anything that has or can grant Hexproof/Shroud. A lot of our ETB creatures interact by targeting. If we can’t target our opponent’s stuff, then we may end up targeting ours if they are legal targets, and we don’t want that happening. That is why we have added in Arcane Lighthouse to interact with these creatures.Be mindful of these effects and play wisely.

One of the most powerful cards in this deck is Nim Deathmantle . Why is it so powerful? Well, when combined with Ashnod's Altar / Phyrexian Altar and 1 of 4 creatures found in this deck (there are even more not in here), we are able to generate infinite mana and/or tokens. We can then use 1 of 4 creatures to end the game via non-combat, or make enough tokens to swing for lethal. Let’s look at the various ways we can accomplish that.

The Ashnod Engine: This engine utilizes Ashnod's Altar with Nim Deathmantle and one of these creatures:

  • Su-Chi : Sacrifice Su-Chi to generate , which will trigger Nim Deathmantle and Su-Chi 's on-death trigger, which will then generate an additional . Use that mana to bring back Su-Chi . Repeat for infinite .
  • Grave Titan : With Grave Titan and two Zombie tokens on the battlefield, sacrifice all three to generate . Use to bring back Grave Titan and create two more Zombie tokens. Repeat for infinite . You can also sacrifice Grave Titan and one Zombie token to generate , bring back Grave Titan and create two zombie tokens. Repeat for infinite Zombie tokens.
  • Marionette Master : With Marionette Master and three Servo tokens, sacrifice all three tokens to generate and have an opponent lose three life. Sacrifice Marionette Master to generate an additional , and use to bring her back and create three more Servo tokens, and netting . Repeat to infinitely drain all opponents.
  • Wurmcoil Engine : With Wurmcoil Engine on the battlefield, sacrifice it to generate and put the Nim Deathmantle 's trigger on the stack first, followed by the Engine's. Create the two tokens, then sacrifice both for and use the mana to bring back Engine, netting in the process. Repeat for infinite . You can also sacrifice only one token to bring back Engine, and repeat again for infinite Lifelink/Deathtouch Wurm tokens.

The Phyrexian Engine: This engine utilizes Phyrexian Altar in place of Ashnod's Altar , but is only compatible with these two creatures:

*You can also use Grave Titan in this engine if Panharmonicon is out on the battlefield.

The Win Conditions: Now that we have generated infinite mana, we can use one of the following cards to close out the game:

  • Gonti, Lord of Luxury : With Gonti on the battlefield, sacrifice it and send to the graveyard, triggering Nim Deathmantle . Bring Gonti back with the infinite mana and exile one card from an opponent's library. Repeat to exile all cards in all libraries. Pass the turn and when they try to draw, they lose the game.
  • Gray Merchant of Asphodel : With Gray Merchant on the battlefield, sacrifice it and send to the graveyard, triggering Nim Deathmantle . Bring him back with the infinite mana and drain your opponent's life equal to your devotion to black and gain that much life. Repeat to drain all opponents.
  • Kokusho, the Evening Star : With Kokusho on the battlefield, sacrifice it and send to the graveyard, triggering Nim Deathmantle and Kokusho, draining each opponent for five life and you gaining that much. Bring back Kokusho with the infinite mana, and repeat to infinitely drain all opponents.
  • Marionette Master : With Master and the three Servo tokens on the battlefield, sacrifice the three Servos, draining an opponent for three life, then sacrifice Master and bring back with the infinite mana. Repeat to infinitely drain all opponents.

The Torpor Orb-Proof Engine: One thing to keep in mind is that if there is a Torpor Orb -like effect on the battlefield, it will shut off our ETB creatures, nullifying part of our engine. However, we do have two ways of still generating infinite mana through these effects, and also a win condition that is not an ETB effect:

Updates Add

Hey everyone!

I haven’t posted an update in a while. War of the Spark brought quite a few goodies to us, but only a select few made the cut. I’m still doing some testing, and once I’ve decided on things, I will make a other new update as well as actually update the primer itself.

On a side note, I’ve decided to make a Discord Server dedicated to Gonti himself. I made one awhile back for Daretti and it seems to be doing pretty well. I’d like to have the same activity if possible, as I love playing and talking about Gonti.

The server is located here:

Gonti’s Treasure Vault

Join up and make sure you spread the word to any other Gonti players you know!

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