Waiting for Godo

A competitive EDH Primer

What are we doing here, that is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in the immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godo...

-Samuel Beckett

UPDATE - We are now the highest rated and most viewed list for Godo, Bandit Warlord on tapped out! Over 8000 views! Thanks for all the love and upvotes. The red discord is very proud of the work we've put together here.

UPDATE 2 - Thanks to Average Dragon for including Godo Helm among the primary decks of the cEDH Decklist Database! Check it out! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vQqiznwO4FqlwXXFdWZfWj_Qflxqy8TfPF8RFwl6mtJVYaUuAvqmHNSK1Az2EluIDO8SYnhKiQkZVt_/pubhtml

The addition of Helm of the Host in Dominaria has catapulted Godo, Bandit Warlord into a truly competitive position for the first time. While a casual Godo list can be quite strong, Helm of the Host allows for a zero card combo that can effectively win straight out of the command zone. Godo acting as both tutor for, and participant in, the helm combo means we really only need to race for the Mana to cast and equip him. Haste isn’t required for the infinite combat steps that lead to victory. I should be clear; this is NOT a Voltron deck. It's a competitive fast combo build with stax support.

While the Mana needed for the combo is not insignificant, it is certainly attainable very quickly, and we have included quite a few ways to reduce the investment. This is typically reached on turns 2-4, with several paths to T1 wins. Falling somewhere between a fast combo deck and a stax archetype, we can choose some of the most effective stax pieces in the game or just pedal to the metal into an early win. Yes, mono red has limitations, but we will discuss how to best mitigate them and use what we do have to it’s best potential.

I would like to extend a special thanks to the Red Love discord for all their help in brainstorming how to break these two fabulous cards for cEDH even before the set release. A specific shout-out goes to insertcleverphrasehere for his extensive play testing (now co-author of this primer). The deck would not be where it is today without his dedication and insight.

You might enjoy this deck if you –

Want to go fast, and live on the edge.

Don’t mind risky plays, and letting the chips fall where they may.

Like early locks without grinding the game to a complete standstill.

Really enjoy Mana rocks

Like mostly linear, straightforward lines to victory.

Want to play mono red in cEDH. You’re so edgy.

You will not enjoy this deck if you -

Want to control the board

Like drawing most of your deck to piece together a win.

Want to interact heavily on the stack, especially with non-blue sources.

Enjoy long combos that require a PhD in MTG to get right.

Value resilience and backup plans for days.

Prefer to tutor up toolbox responses to the game state.

The main combo for the deck is actually fairly simple, and plays out right from the command zone. First we need to cast our commander, Godo, Bandit Warlord . Godo has an enter-the-battlefield effect that reads "When Godo, Bandit Warlord enters the battlefield, you may search your library for an Equipment card and put it onto the battlefield. If you do, shuffle your library." We will search for Helm of the Host and put it into play.

The next step is to equip Helm of the Host to Godo in our first main phase. We can now enter combat, which will trigger the start of the combo, even though Godo himself may still be summoning sick. Helm of the Host reads "At the beginning of combat on your turn, create a token that's a copy of equipped creature, except the token isn't legendary if equipped creature is legendary. That token gains haste." By entering combat, we make a new, hasty, and most importantly, NON-legendary token copy of Godo.

We can now declare the new token as an attacker, which creates a trigger of its own. Godo's second ability reads "Whenever Godo attacks for the first time each turn, untap it and all Samurai you control. After this phase, there is an additional combat phase." We now untap the token, and proceed through the combat step. After this combat step ends, the token Godo's second ability will create a new combat step (even if the token Godo didn't survive that combat).

With the start of our second combat, we now get a new trigger from Helm of the Host, creating a new, non-legendary token Godo with haste. We can declare him as an attacker, and because this is the first time this new Godo token has attacked, his second ability will trigger. He untaps, and after this combat we will have yet another new combat step. With that third combat, we make a new Godo token which can attack for the first time. This loop can be repeated as many times as you would like simply by declaring an attack with each new successive Godo token, or when all our opponents lay slain at the feet of our vast Godo empire.

If a blocker takes damage from a token Godo and survives, that damage is still marked on the blocker and won't be removed until the end of the turn. Because we have an arbitrarily large number of combat steps, no amount of non-indestructible blockers can stem the rising Godo tide. Eventually the repeated Godo-token damage will add up to the toughness of each blocker and it is killed. The loop can be demonstrated as repeatable at will, and fatal for all opponents without some form of interaction. In short - GG.

If your opponent has an indestructible or first-strike blocker, there are a couple ways around this. You can swing at the other two players with Godo tokens first, leaving all your tokens untapped for their second attack (each token can attack exactly twice on the combo turn), then swing at the final player with all the untapped tokens. In most cases this should be plenty for lethal. Otherwise, you can use Argentum Armour mid-combo to kill a first striker, or else pass the turn for a second large swing the next turn.

Prior to the release of Dominaria, the best versions of Godo, Bandit Warlord were value Voltron decks. The game plan typically involved tutoring for Blade of Selves , using that to tutor up multiple strong equipment cards, and beating face for commander damage or using convoluted but fragile combos. The new Godo-Helm deck is decidedly NOT a Voltron build. The addition of Helm of the Host lends itself to a fast-combo style deck more appropriate for a competitive environment. We also use some powerful stax cards, and sometimes the deck can play as a reasonably efficient stax archetype depending on what you draw. We include the most impactful stax elements that support our main combo strategy.
Yes, in my real-game experience, Godo has performed well in competitive pods. A member of the Red Love Discord each managed to get to the final table of the last two Cockatrice cEDH tournaments with the deck.

The zero-card combo from the command zone provides the necessary speed for a competitive metagame, typically threatening a win on turns 2-4. Interaction can be found in artifact and creature removal as well as very powerful stax pieces. Protection for the combo is available using anti-blue counterspells, fork effects, utility lands, indestructability effects, and other protection measures. Artifact recursion effects are available in mono-red for the Helm if it is destroyed, and recursion for Godo is built into the command zone. The combo has many elements of natural counterspell and stax resistance.

The Godo-Helm combo is certainly fast enough for cEDH pods, typically comboing between turns 2-4 on average. There are multiple lines to a turn 1 win, some requiring as few as one non-land card and two ramp sources. Because the combo only typically requires one red Mana, we can use the best fast-mana colorless artifacts to full effect. Red also has access to additional fast mana rituals. Combo cost reducers, many through Hammer of Nazahn , as well as extra turn effects ( Final Fortune ) can also speed the combo turn up dramatically. This speed is on par with many of the fast combo decks in the current cEDH meta.
As a fast combo deck, there is a certain amount of inherent fragility. Often, however, the deck is no less risky than many of the format’s other top tier decks, which all come with their own specific weaknesses. The deck has significantly more resilience than you might expect for mono-red, and I will go into more details in the questions below. The deck often is able to attempt to win multiple times per game, sometimes multiple times per turn.
We actually have quite a few options to protect the combo from countermagic. The vast majority of counterspells we will see are blue, so we can run all the anti-blue counters. Cavern of Souls gives total counter protection for the combo, as we only really need to cast one creature spell (Godo) to be able to win, and can be tutored with Expedition Map . Many of the format staple counterspells like Swan Song , Negate , and Spell Pierce can’t hit our combo at all. Many counterspells can be countered with Fork effects (which also sometimes function as tutors). Because Helm of the Host is tutored straight to the battlefield, it can’t be countered outside of Stifle effects. This is as much density of combo protection as you see in many of the top decks running blue. If our only combo piece that needs to be cast does get countered, recursion for the only combo piece we need to cast is built right into the command zone, allowing us to re-attempt the combo with an additional 2 mana at a later time.
This deck is naturally resistant to most format staple stax elements. Card:Blood Moon effects are usually helpful to our strategy (and we run both). Tax cards and Rule of Law effects can slow us down, as we would often like to cast multiple ramp spells in a turn, but they don’t shut the deck down entirely as they do to storm archetype decks. We run enough rocks to keep up with winter orb effects. Card:Null Rod effects can prove problematic due to the high density of mana rocks in our deck, though they don’t actually fully stop our combo entirely as we can use Hammer of Nazahn to avoid having to activate an equip ability. Supplemental equipment lets us continue to combo out through Propaganda effects. We don’t use the yard much, so graveyard hate is largely irrelevant except where artifact recursion is involved. The biggest stax pieces that stop the deck are Torpor Orb , Aven Mindcensor , or Stranglehold .

We can run several of red's available artifact hate or creature removal spells for dealing with many of these problem. The plethora of Shatter , Lightning Bolt , and Pyroclasm type effects gives us a ton of options for dealing with a stax heavy metagame.

Dealing with enchantments like Stranglehold or Stony Silence leaves us down to less than optimal choices like Chaos Warp and Argentum Armor for removal. While this does reveal one weakness in the deck, Stranglehold can effectively spoil many successful cEDH strategies, and stopping Godo is in no way unique there. The deck is surprisingly resilient against most stax strategies though, and fast enough to race them with some regularity. Stax is not a substantial weakness of this deck relative to other top tier decks.

Creature and artifact removal can be a problem for the deck, and this is something to play around carefully. If we do get hit by a creature counter or kill/exile spell, the deck has more than enough ramp to keep pushing out Godo with the commander tax quickly. There is no need to seek out creature recursion, as this is built into the command zone. If creature destruction is a huge problem for your particular meta, running Goblin Chirurgeon or Veilstone Amulet are perhaps worth a consideration for pre-emptive protection.

Artifact destruction is more of a problem, as we do need to find recursion if the helm is destroyed. We have some pre-emptive protection for the helm available in the form of Welding Jar or Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer and cards that help limit interaction such as Chalice of the Void (usually set on 1) and Defense Grid . Should the helm get destroyed, red does have quite a bit of artifact recursion available. Fortunately, we don’t tend to see a lot of artifact exile in competitive pods. Cards like Return to Dust tend to have too high a CMC to be truly worthwhile, so we can almost always try to get the helm out of the yard. While red doesn’t have the same powerful recursion as black or green, there are still several good options for salvaging a helm that is claimed by nature ( Buried Ruin , Codex Shredder , Sequestered Stash , Daretti, Scrap Savant , Trash for Treasure ).

Despite being mono-red, this deck interacts in much the same way as other relevant cEDH decks, using carefully selected removal, protection, and stax interactions. Some of our interaction with other decks comes pre-emptively from our powerful stax pieces, especially if these are played early. They often serve dual a purpose, both hampering opponents wins while protecting our own combo. Protection has been discussed in the FAQ's on removal and counterspells above. To stop others from comboing off, we can make use of red's many inexpensive instant-speed artifact or creature removal spells as well as efficient board sweepers. We can often simply out race many other competitive midrange or control decks. Against fast archetypes that we have difficulty stopping once they go off ( Ad Nauseam for example) we can use those same relevant stax and removal pieces to try and keep them off fast mana long enough to combo ourselves. Our deck has enough natural resistance to stax builds that we can often play through soft locks for a slower but eventual win, removing hard locks where necessary.
This is discussed in more detail in the “game plan” tab of this primer. Generally speaking, the backup plans for a disrupted combo are to recast Godo, recur Helm of the Host, or to use tutorable equipment control pieces like Argentum Armor or Umezawa's Jitte to power out a win. Plan A, however, significantly outclasses our backup strategy, and should be protected wherever possible.
Yes and no. The majority of competitive Godo decklists right now, most developed in the Red Love Godo discord, include a common core of similar cards. Many cards in the deck, however, are very much meta dependent, as described in the “single card and category” discussions. We don’t have many slots for stax pieces, for example, so the best ones for you will depend highly on the decks you typically face. The same can be said for protection and interaction. I have tried to create this list as a general guide for this deck in a blind cEDH meta, but it is not the end-all list for competitive Godo, Bandit Warlord . I hope by reading through the process of the deck in this primer, you will be able to tweak the deck to your play style and your play group. If you have any suggestions for cards I may have missed, or questions about why a particular card was included, I encourage you to leave a comment below or send me a message!
The game plan here is pretty simple -- ramp into Godo, Bandit Warlord from the command zone and combo off for the win as efficiently as possible. Godo will fetch Helm of the Host straight to the battlefield, which you then have to equip. When you enter combat, the Helm makes a hasty token Godo, which can attack netting you another combat step. Which makes a hasty Godo. Which gives you another combat. I think you see where I’m going with this.

There are a number of ways to ‘cheat’ the equip cost; cards like Magnetic Theft and Brass Squire . You can also use cards like Panharmonicon , Twinflame , and Strionic Resonator to double Godo’s ETB trigger, fetching Hammer of Nazahn with the first trigger for a free auto-equip on the helm. You can also use extra turn effects like Final Fortune to pay the equip cost on the extra turn. There are essentially two paths to victory here. The first is the fast combo route, which is my preference. The secondary plan is through a stax slowdown. Don’t get me wrong, you will still need plenty of fast Mana for the stax route. But we have access to some of the best stax pieces in commander, and using these will help to lessen the interaction gap we have with most other decks in the current meta. Things like Stranglehold , Blood Moon , Trinisphere and Possibility Storm can keep opponents from winning while at the same time helping to protect our own combo. Some Godo lists go heavier into stax than others, and you will have to find the right balance of stax and speed for your specific meta.

I want to include a quick note about when to cast Godo. Often times the technically fastest route to victory may be to cast Godo, tutor for the helm, and pass turn. I would strongly encourage you to do that as infrequently as possible. Waiting as everyone untaps with your win in plain sight, in a deck known for so little interaction, is just asking for someone to deal with Godo, Helm, or both before you get a chance to go off. And it’s surprisingly easy to get to the full 11 Mana (or less, which I will discuss) needed to go off in one turn. Your opponents either have an answer available or they don’t, but let’s not give them the opportunity to find one.

To evaluate when to play Godo early, look at the difference between what turn you can play and pass and when you predict being able to play and equip together. Even if you have the combo on one turn, consider who is keeping up mana and try to evaluate whether it would be better to wait for a better opportunity. Picking the right time to combo off is often a key to success with this deck. For example, casting Godo turn 1 and passing is not bad at all, though that's still riskier than casting and equipping together on turn two if possible. If you can tell that delaying Godo to equip simultaneously would mean casting on turn 4 or more instead, then the turn 1-2 godo-pass may be a good call. Of course much of the depends on the meta and the specific pod, as well. This will include the decks in the pod (likelihood of counter vs removal interaction), the available resources they are showing at the time, your protection or recursion options in hand, your stax pieces in play, etc.

We are definitely looking for a strong opener, and it’s okay to mulligan aggressively to see what you want. There are routes to a T1 victory with as few as three cards and a mountain, so mulling to 6 or 5 if your hand is just bad should be encouraged. The ideal hand would give you the ramp needed for a T1-3 victory without a card draw, and will often have some interaction, recursion, or stax as well. You can prioritize your interaction and stax for the table -- Blood Moon isn’t good vs baral, teferi, and Jace, but Pyroblast might be just what the doctor ordered. Beggars can’t be choosers though, especially when our interaction is so limited in mono red.

Godo does avoid one problem of many other decks, in that we don’t have to worry about “the ramp to nothing”. Since the only combo piece we need to cast is in the command zone, a hand that’s nothing but ramp is A-okay!

This deck is all-in by nature, but if something happens to Godo or the helm during the combo turn, we will need to recast him and/or recur the helm if we are to win. While “all-the-ramp” hands can be good, be careful about hands that have too much ramp from expendable sources like Lotus Petal , Lion's Eye Diamond , Sandstone Needle , or rituals. Also, if we are going to ramp into Godo and have to pass turn before equipping the helm (which I don't recommend, but is sometimes unavoidable), make sure you have enough Mana from repeatable sources for the equip cost on the next turn.

Be aware that having both Helm of the Host and Hammer of Nazahn together in the opener should be shipped back. It’s fine to start with Helm in your hand if the rest is good enough (though a bit risky if you get a T1 Wheel of Fortune or Thoughtseize , so try to keep it in the deck if possible). Instead of tutoring for Helm, you pull the hammer with Godo. Casting the helm then autoequips it, and for one less Mana than equipping the traditional way (though helm here is quite vulnerable to countermagic). Hammer by itself in the opener can be great - If you play the hammer the turn before Godo, all you need is the 5+R for the commander and the tutored helm will auto equip. Be mindful if you have hammer with other pieces that require it in the deck. A hand with cards like Panharmonicon , Twinflame , and Strionic Resonator together with Hammer of Nazahn is mostly redundant. A hand with Hammer, ramp, and interaction, on the other hand, can be amazing.

I don’t like to see both Helm and Hammer in an opener together, though, as you can't tutor for either one when Godo ETB's. You will have to hard cast both, or cast helm and actually play it's equip cost. Both in the same hand actually raises the total combo cost considerably.

Mulliganing is a bit of an art with any deck, but especially with this deck. User: Insertcleverphrasehere has probably the most experience running the deck on formats such as Cockatrice, and has prepared the following mulligan guide to help understand the decision process. There are 30 sample hands with rationale for how to mulligan with them. The first 25 came up at random, and then there are 5 more to demonstrate some other typical early win strategies. Thank you, Clever!!

Hand 1: City of Traitors , Chrome Mox , Chaos Warp , Red Elemental Blast , Possibility Storm , Vandalblast

Hand 1 Show

Hand 2: Scavenger Grounds , Gemstone Caverns , Mountain , Mountain , Cavern of Souls , Sol Ring , Panharmonicon

Hand 2 Show

Hand 3: City of Traitors , Buried Ruin , Seething Song , Everflowing Chalice , Ricochet Trap , Honor-Worn Shaku , Treasonous Ogre

Hand 3 Show

Hand 4: Crystal Vein , Mox Diamond , Coalition Relic , Seething Song , Goblin Welder , Dire Fleet Daredevil , Helm of the Host

Hand 4 Show

Hand 5: Mountain , Mountain , Mox Diamond , Buried Ruin , Thought Vessel , Gamble , Fiery Cannonade

Hand 5 Show

Hand 6: Mountain , Mountain , Dwarven Ruins , Buried Ruin , Coalition Relic , Krark-Clan Ironworks , Argentum Armor

Hand 6 Show

Hand 7: Mountain , Crystal Vein , Mana Vault , Pyretic Ritual , Hammer of Nazahn , Mogg Salvage , Magnetic Theft

Hand 7 Show

Hand 8: Mountain , Mountain , Ancient Tomb , Fractured Powerstone , Honor-Worn Shaku , Treasonous Ogre , Helm of the Host

Hand 8 Show

Hand 9: Mountain , Mountain , Gemstone Caverns , Chrome Mox , Dire Fleet Daredevil , Ricochet Trap , Fork

Hand 9 Show

Hand 10: Mountain , Dwarven Ruins , Honor-Worn Shaku , Desperate Ritual , Goblin Welder , Panharmonicon , Twinflame

Hand 10 Show

Hand 11: Mountain , Lotus Petal , Gamble , Abrade , Goblin Welder , Mogg Salvage , Final Fortune

Hand 11 Show

Hand 12: Mountain , Crystal Vein , Chrome Mox , Lotus Petal , Seething Song , Soulbright Flamekin , Thran Dynamo

Hand 12 Show

Hand 13: Mountain , Mountain , Mox Diamond , Fractured Powerstone , Red Elemental Blast , Treasonous Ogre , Grafdigger's Cage

Hand 13 Show

Hand 14: Mountain , Mountain , Mountain , Crystal Vein , Lotus Petal , Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer , Magus of the Moon

Hand 14 Show

Hand 15: Chrome Mox , Lotus Petal , Voltaic Key , Rite of Flame , Thran Dynamo , Dire Fleet Daredevil , Last Chance

Hand 15 Show

Hand 16: Mountain , Sandstone Needle , Mana Crypt , Coalition Relic , Desperate Ritual , Abrade , Hammer of Nazahn

Hand 16 Show

Hand 17: Cavern of Souls , Thran Dynamo , Brass Squire , Heat Shimmer , Dire Fleet Daredevil , Last Chance , Fiery Cannonade

Hand 17 Show

Hand 18: Mountain , Ancient Tomb , Chrome Mox , Mox Diamond , Voltaic Key , Seething Song , Grafdigger's Cage

Hand 18 Show

Hand 19: Mountain , Mountain , Great Furnace , Chrome Mox , Chalice of the Void , Twinflame , Krark-Clan Ironworks

Hand 19 Show

Hand 20: Mountain , Mountain , Jeweled Amulet , Prismatic Lens , Expedition Map , Grim Monolith , Goblin Welder

Hand 20 Show

Hand 21: Mountain , City of Traitors , Chrome Mox , Rite of Flame , Mogg Salvage , Magnetic Theft , Hammer of Nazahn

Hand 21 Show

Hand 22: Mountain , Sandstone Needle , Inventors' Fair , Simian Spirit Guide , Faithless Looting , Fork , Abrade

Hand 22 Show

Hand 23: Mountain , Sandstone Needle , Darksteel Citadel , Desperate Ritual , Codex Shredder , Abrade , Treasonous Ogre

Hand 23 Show

Hand 24: Cavern of Souls , Buried Ruin , Twinflame , Treasonous Ogre , Possibility Storm , Fiery Cannonade , Brass Squire

Hand 24 Show

Hand 25: Mountain , Mountain , Seething Song , Worn Powerstone , Honor-Worn Shaku , Vandalblast , Possibility Storm

Hand 25 Show

5 more hands to highlight interesting plays.

Hand 26: Mountain , Mana Crypt , Rite of Flame , Lion's Eye Diamond , Imperial Recruiter , Goblin Welder , Panharmonicon

Hand 26 Show

Hand 27: Mountain , Great Furnace , Mox Diamond , Sol Ring , Jeweled Amulet , Seething Song , Krark-Clan Ironworks

Hand 27 Show

Hand 28: Mountain , Sandstone Needle , Chrome Mox , Mana Vault , Voltaic Key , Final Fortune , Red Elemental Blast

Hand 28 Show

Hand 29: Ancient Tomb , Mana Vault , Voltaic Key , Chrome Mox , Lion's Eye Diamond , Final Fortune , Wheel of Fortune

Hand 29 Show

Hand 30: Sol Ring , Simian Spirit Guide , Rite of Flame , Pyretic Ritual , Desperate Ritual , Mox Opal , Lion's Eye Diamond

Hand 30 Show

Okay, so we know the deck is fast, but it’s not the most resilient deck and things don’t always go smoothly in cEDH. What happens if plan A goes sideways? If Godo gets countered or killed, we simply recast him and try again. The deck ramps pretty hard, so getting the command tax should be possible unless most of your initial mana came from rituals. If helm ends up in the yard, we do have some recursion sources. We can Gamble for any of them (maybe), Imperial Recruiter for Goblin Welder , Expedition Map for Buried Ruin or use Inventors' Fair for Expedition map or Codex Shredder .

Things get harrier if Helm is exiled. Fortunately we don’t see a lot of that in the top-tier decks, as cards like Return to Dust are too expensive for most cEDH. Praetor's Grasp will likely be the biggest offender, or graveyard removal following a Nature's Claim . Our best defense here is just to win first, but if we don’t quite get there plan C is. . .

Cry? Seriously though, there really aren’t too many great options, but let’s discuss what we do have.

Some Godo-tutorable equipment cards can function as a backup win, such as Grafted Exoskeleton , sword of X and Y, Argentum Armor , or Umezawa's Jitte . With two attacks each round, Jitte can rack up counters pretty quick. They can be used to strike down Mana dorks, blockers, and most importantly creature based wincons.

We are most impressed with Argentum Armor for it's ability to pressure life totals quickly and nuke problem permanents or blockers. It even adds a bit if resilience in the main combo, tutorable for free to the battlefield with Godo and equipped free after Hammer of Nazahn during the middle of the combo. From there it gets two chances to destroy combo stoppers like Glacial Chasm and Propaganda type effects or other oddball stuff that might show up in metas that are slightly less tuned than the top tier of cEDH. With Hammer of Nazahn also equipped, it is a 2 hit commander damage KO, and can also nuke blockers out of the way (our commander attacks twice per turn; isn’t that convenient?).

Also, please note – this is a combo deck, NOT a Voltron deck. We are way too tight on card slots to bother with anything more than one other backup tutorable equipment. They just aren’t good enough for any more than that. Unless Helm is gone for good, any of these equipment backups are basically dead draws on their own.

Dualcaster Mage (or Imperial Recruiter ) plus Twinflame or Heat Shimmer is another possible backup wincon if helm is perma-toast, as these are all cards we might want to run anyway. We would be really relying on the top deck (or the Gamble ) to get us there, though. While it's clearly not the best win on its own, all the parts of the combo can be useful in the deck on their own, so it is worth mentioning here as well, even though the deck no longer runs Dualcaster Mage after playtesting has shown dualcaster to not be good enough on its own and not reliable enough as a backup to keep a slot.

Paradox Engine , a card with a similar power level to Krark-Clan Ironworks in our deck, made it into the list after it playtested very well. I mention it here because together with Sensei's Divining Top and Voltaic Key (also in this list), you can draw your deck with it. While a three-card combo, we can tutor for parts of it with Gamble or Inventor’s Fair (or via Expedition map).

After drawing the deck, there are a number of win options available even with Helm exiled. These use a Rube Goldberg machine comprised of the Paradox Engine , Goblin Welder , Codex Shredder , Voltaic Key , Twinflame , and Metalworker / Brass Squire to infinitely mill your opponents, cast any card in your deck any number of times (infinite damage with Lightning Bolt ), make infinite hasty tokens of any creature in play, and cast all the instants and sorceries from your opponent’s decks. You should be able to win from there.

More specific explanation of the Paradox Engine loop. Show

You can also add another card such as Searing Touch to enable a two-card combo win with the Paradox Engine. Searing Touch is a generally useful card anyway as protection for the main combo (killing offenders such as Aven Mindcensor and Hushwing Gryff ), and can also create infinite damage with the Engine, providing you have mana rocks that tap for at least 4R. Getting the red mana can be difficult however, as we only run 4-5 mana rocks that can fill this role, so even if Engine ends up in the main list for you, it still might not be worth running Searing Touch as a backup wincon.

Treasonous Ogre This is the single best Mana source in the deck, bar none. Almost every path to a T1 win (and there are quite a few) goes through the ogre, and some with as few as two other non-land cards. Pay 33 life, make 11 Mana, cast Godo/Helm, and win the game. Need more Mana for a counterspell or fork? There’s even enough left over from your starting total. It’s a slightly-fixed red Channel , and it is insanely powerful in this deck.

Ancient Tomb / City of Traitors / Crystal Vein / Dwarven Ruins / Gemstone Caverns / Sandstone Needle Our land based ramp package is pretty intense. Some are more like rocks, others more ritual in functionality. Keep that in mind as you play and mulligan, and read the section on ritual spells for more consideration there.

Honor-Worn Shaku This is a really interesting rock, brought to my attention by the Red Love discord. Before the combo turn, it’s a 3 Mana rock that taps for one. Kinda meh. But when used on the combo turn, we get a bit more. Once Godo ETB's and fetches the Helm, we have two more legendaries to untap the Shaku and help pay for the equip cost. Neither one needs to be untapped for the combo to go off. Other notable legendary permanents are Hammer of Nazahn , Paradox Engine , Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer , and Umezawa's Jitte . So your three Mana rock is now tapping for 3+ on the combo turn to help pay for equipping the helm. That’s worth it.

Lion's Eye Diamond What’s notable here is that we have a zero card combo in the command zone, so dumping our hand isn’t as bad as it might seem. In terms of how the deck plays, it may as well be a Black Lotus in some cases. Also, if you are playing Imperial Recruiter for Treasonous Ogre (more on this later), you can crack the LED with the recruiter trigger on the stack to help pay for the ogre.

Basalt Monolith / Grim Monolith / Mana Vault I try to only tap these for the combo turn, although Basalt and Grim can be safely tapped for enough rocks to untap them immediately. Having to wait another turn to untap them, and then another to use them again is just too slow. Also remember if you are going to Godo and pass (which isn’t recommended, but you have to sometimes) or Godo and Final Fortune , you have to save enough Mana to equip. Make sure you keep that in mind when you use these to pay for your combo. They synergise very well if you draw Voltaic Key .

Krark-Clan Ironworks This is one path to a T1 win, although it’s more or less a God hand. If you are playing it on the combo turn it can still net Mana with as few as two other artifacts. Played before the combo turn and you can often have excess Mana for interaction. Cast early enough when opponents are tapped out, and you can make a huge swing play to win out of nowhere (barring FoW). It is a very all-in move though, so you’ve got to be prepared to live on the edge. I am also running Darksteel Citadel and Great Furnace , which can be more fuel for the ironworks.

Paradox Engine is similar to Krark-Clan Ironworks in power level. It is a bit slower early in the game, but much less of an all-in move. Often even if stopped you will easily have enough mana to try again the next turn, or maybe even a second time on the same turn. Synergises well with Sensei's Divining Top , so if you decide that the Engine is right for your build, Top is probably worth including too.

Mox Opal We do have enough density of rocks to run the opal. As with KCI above, the two artifact lands can help turn it on, too.

Voltaic Key On it's own, voltaic key doesn't do much for us. Combined with many of our fast mana rocks, however, and we have a powerful combo accelerant. With a 2 mana rock it is a 1 for 1, with a three mana rock it is a Sol Ring. With cards like Mana vault or the monoliths, Key provides some truly impressive levels of ramp. The card rewards aggressive mulligans, and while it won't work with every opening hand, the openers it doesn't work with likely don't contain enough fast mana to be particularly viable in the first place.

Prismatic Lens This can both ramp and color fix your Mana for interaction like counterspells and forks.

Jeweled Amulet Affectionately known as the “wind up mox”, this little rock is great for saving up that spare mana that you have and using it on the turn that you need a whole lot. Metalworker This card can result is some pretty explosive hands, with the tradeoff of a bit higher variance. Be careful not to fall into some of the possible trap hands where a greedy metalworker can actually slow you down, but played properly it can give you extreme amounts of Mana as early as turn 2-3 in order to combo, and often with sufficient excess to hold up protection.

The rest of the rocks I’m sure you know what makes a good Mana rock.

Desperate Ritual / Pyretic Ritual / Rite of Flame / Seething Song / Simian Spirit Guide / Lotus Petal These are pretty straightforward and don’t warrant much individual discussion. The staxier builds eschew some of these in favor of more stax pieces. I'm a big proponent of rituals, as they can be really explosive. When it looks like you’re well away from your combo early on, your opponents are more likely to tap out allowing you to Seething Song your way to a win. They can also Mana fix red for some of the cost reduction lines or forks. A word of caution with rituals and one-time rocks like Lotus Petal and LED if you’re combining them with Final Fortune effects. Make sure you have enough permanent Mana for the equip cost on the extra turn! Seems silly to have to point out, but ritual too hard into Final Fortune and you’re left with an unequipped helm, no Mana, and an awkward end of turn. As the meta has shifted away from fast combo ‘races’ and more toward midrange conrol/combo hybrid decks that grind advantage with creature, rituals have become somewhat less powerful, as comboing off as fast as possible often isn’t the best plan anymore and they do generate negative card advantage. It was decided to cut a couple of them in favour of Trinisphere and some boardwipes. All except Seething somg are dead cards with Trinisphere, but Rite of Flame remains as it is often a good Turn 1 play to chain into rocks in a way that the other two mana rituals are not.
We have talked about ramp and rituals to get to the 11 Mana combo, but we have ways to reduce that overall cost, too. Let’s look at some of them specifically. Several of these lines require Hammer of Nazahn to be in the deck, not hand or graveyard, so be mindful of that when evaluating mulligans. Hammer in hand is great to play before Godo, drastically reducing the combo cost, but renders some of these other cost reducers dead.

Brass Squire Summoning sick, but if he survives around the table you can now cast Godo/helm for 5+R and equip it.

Magnetic Theft One red to equip? Sure. Let’s bring the cost down to 5+RR.

Final Fortune / Last Chance / Warrior's Oath Cast godo and tutor for the helm for 5+R. Then RR for an extra turn. Yeah, the you lose clause may cost you a game from a removal spell. But dropping the combo cost from 11 to 8 is huge for an early surprise win. Once godo resolves, you don’t need to cast anything else for a win. If they had a Counterspell , it’s too late to use it on the combo. If they counter Final Fortune , you can pass and still have a good chance to win the following turn. Removal of godo or helm on the extra turn is a problem, so watch for open mana. Its often so early in the game most opponents are tapped.

Of the three turn cards, only Final Fortune is an instant. Be aware that you can utilize that instant speed for some out-of-turn sneak plays, for example as an extra-turn win after the last blue taps out. However, the Instant is slightly more vulnerable to counters such as Dispel

Hammer of Nazahn If you have hammer in your hand, it’s cheaper by one to cast first before tutoring the helm on he same turn, or by five Mana if cast the turn before Godo. If you have helm in hand, tutor hammer first and cast the helm for one cheaper than equipping. Hammer of Nazahn also plays a vital role in some of our other cost reduction.

Heat Shimmer / Twinflame Cast Godo, and tutor for hammer of Nazahn, which will auto-equip. Then, use Twinflame or Heat Shimmer to copy him. Yes, the copy goes away to the legendary rule, but you get another equipment tutor trigger first. Pull helm of the host, and the hammer will autoequip it. This brings the total mana cost for the whole combo from 10+R to 6+RR (twinflame) or 7+RR (heat shimmer).

Panharmonicon If played on the combo turn it still reduces total cost by one. Played the turn before gives a bigger -5 cost reduction, and away we go. Both lines run through Hammer of Nazahn, which make combo reattempts or argentum backup plans easier. On the Others:

Strionic Resonator is probably the next best cost reducer that we don’t run, though only reduces the combo cost to 8, and telegraphs your next-turn win, which is usually not good for us. It does reduce the combo cost by 1 even when played on the same turn, which is nice, and also combos with Paradox Engine for infinite mana (with three total mana from mana rocks).

Flameshadow Conjuring is similar to Panharmonicon, though it only reduces the combo cost to 5+RR. It is nice that it is an enchantment though. We would likely want to run Strionic first anyway, and with that we already have too many lines that are redundant to each other (Hammer of Nazahn lines), so likely that this one won’t make the cut. If Null Rod effects are common for you, this is another way out of it if you can get 7 mana from non-artifact sources, so might be worth running for that in some metas. Emergence Zone is sort of a cost reducer, allowing you to drop Godo for 8 at the end step before your turn and then equip him after you untap. Winding Canyons can also be used that way, but 9 mana is quite a bit more, and also Emergence Zone can be used to cheat other cards like Panharmonicon into play, or to drop stax pieces or normally sorcery speed interaction in response to other players.

The utility section covers things like forks, combo protection, and recursion. I will also include some of the utility lands here that have a similar function.

Argentum Armor This is an interesting choice to help force through the combo against hate cards, and a potential backup plan as well. At 6 to cast and 6 to equip, it's mostly a dead card as a draw. On the combo turn, however, the first token can go for hammer of nazahn and the second token tutors for argentum armor which equips free. This will allow the combo to force through combo-stoppers like Glacial Chasm and Propaganda type effects. When equipped with hammer of nazahn on the original-Godo it's a one-turn clock per player, which can be relevant if Helm of the Host has been exiled. In that case Argentum triggers can be useful to clear away chump blockers.

Cavern of Souls counterspells are one of our biggest threats, so cavern is kind of a no brainier. After all, we only need one creature to resolve to get everything we need to win the game.

Buried Ruin / Sequestered Stash / Goblin Welder / Codex Shredder This is our artifact recursion package. If helm gets nature's claimed, it’s helpful to be able to pull it back up. It’s worth noting again that while we don’t have a lot of tutors in the deck, you can pull up Goblin Welder with Imperial Recruiter , or Buried Ruin with Expedition Map , which gives us a few more chances to pull recursion if needed. Goblin Welder also has some good surprise plays off Lion's Eye Diamond . Remember, we don’t have to have a hand to cast our wincon, and cracking LED twice in a turn sounds pretty good. Codex shredder can get back any card, and has the added upside of working as a Pseudo stax piece against opponents’ top deck tutors. Shredder also enables the Rube Goldberg Combo after drawing your deck with Paradox+Top+Key.

Daretti, Scrap Savant / Trash for Treasure Artifact destruction is one of our biggest threats, so protecting or recurring helm is incredibly important. Although T4T is a dead card in the opening hand, it allows you to rush the combo by playing godo and passing fairly safely and still have a chance for the combo the following turn if Helm is destroyed. Daretti does similar things, but can also be used to filter into more gas, or cheat expensive things into play, so managed to snag a slot, while T4T currently doesn’t have a slot in the Primer.

Sensei's Divining Top Obviously top loses some lustre without many shuffle effects, but we can include the off color fetches (Currently being tested, as these can do significant damage to our Treasonous Ogre lines). Even without a lot of deck manipulation, top can still be a good way to dig into your deck, especially with mono-red's otherwise limited draw and search. It also gives you a fresh three to look at after Godo’s search trigger resolves if you have a bit of spare mana available to spin it and look for interaction. We also run Paradox Engine which has some nice synergies, including an infinite draw option with Voltaic Key .

Fork / Reverberate / Dualcaster Mage Forking a tutor is never a bad thing. If you end up with extra Mana on combo turn (drew into one of those cost reducers, for example), your Fork is now a counter- Counterspell . Playtesting led us to conclude that 3 mana for dualcaster is generally more than you want to leave open on the off chance someone tutors, and often more than you have available as extra mana when comboing off. Ultimately Fork and Reverberate also fell of the list for more reliably useful cards, as this deck really doesn’t like leaving mana open in the early stages of the game when a lot of tutors tend to get played.

Dire Fleet Daredevil This card replaced Dualcaster Mage in the primer, and can end up doing so much work in areas typically very challenging for red - but can be a bit unpredictable, in classic red form. You can copy tutors, removal, recursion, or whatever else you may need, IF it's already in a graveyard. Despite not having as much choice in what you want this utility spot to be, it seems to be still worth it in most cases. Though he's doesn't have flash, you can still exile a cheap counterspell for combo backup until end of turn (e.g. Swan Song . Even if you have no intention of casting the spell, it is still cheap targeted graveyard hate.

Welding Jar This is straight-up combo protection. A naturalize can wreck us on the combo turn, but when you can get rid of a different artifact instead, we can make all the Godos and smash face.

Defense Grid Playing out grid on the combo turn adds to the total cost, but will often act as a preemptive counter to many of our combo stoppers like nature's claim, swords, or counter magic. Be careful playing it out before the combo turn, especially showing a win on board. In that case you may simply give the game to another fast combo deck before you get back around the table, and telegraphing a win means your opponents are likely to leave the extra Mana open for the stop. Played correctly however, this can certainly serve as much needed combo protection.

Rishadan Port Port managed to snag a slot for a while due to its ability to tap down the right land the turn before the combo; which can be the difference between a failed combo attempt and a success. Occasionally it can also be used to take a player off a color in their upkeep for their commander or combo piece. Ultimately it lost its slot due to a couple of great non-basic lands that dropped in War of the Spark.

Wheel of Fortune This one just kind of speaks for itself. It’s an amazing card in red, and you should run it.

Memory Jar Jar has been being tested recently with some positive results. It has the advantage of being able to wheel without also re-filling your opponent’s hands for their turns (they can still net some instants temporarily). As well as being able to wheel with all your mana untapped. It also synergises amazingly with Goblin Welder and Daretti, Scrap Savant . On the downsides, it can be very awkward to draw into Helm of the Host with it, as this will lead you to a situation where you will be forced to cast the Helm into whatever counterspells you just drew for all your opponents, or else discard it at end step.

Blast Zone This card is a great new addition and kinda speaks for itself. It provides a great answer to Null Rod effects and can be used to nuke problem permanents that we otherwise might have serious issues dealing with. All for the low cost of tapping for colourless, which we don’t overly care about. An auto-include for certain.

Expedition Map We don’t get a lot of tutors in the deck, but this one is actually fairly versatile. It can ramp with Ancient Tomb or City of Traitors . It can fetch recursion for helm in the way of Buried Ruin . Often it will be used as combo protection to pick up Cavern of Souls .

Inventors' Fair Another land-slot tutor, inventors' fair can help get us back in the game after a failed attempt, or get around some problem stax. It can be used to search for recursion by tutoring for Codex Shredder or Expedition Map into Buried Ruin . It can help pull specific stax pieces like Cursed Totem . The Fair can also help get through stax, for example tutoring helm through Torpor Orb , after a Godo search trigger has been Stifle ed, or helm hit by a shuffle effect. Tutoring Hammer of Nazahn to get through Stony Silence . Although it can be a bit slow, the land slot is definitely worth filling here with Fair for a bit more flexibility and resilience for the deck.

Gamble I have such a love hate relationship with this card. It’s a tutor for anything in the deck… maybe. In all fairness, it’s most likely Treasonous Ogre , although it can also pull interaction, combo protection, or helm recursion. It’s so classic red, and despite the risk, it’s definately worth playing.

Dire Fleet Daredevil / Fork / Reverberate I have already discussed these cards in the utility section of the primer because of how general their use can be. However, I feel it is worth a reminder that these cards can be powerful tutors for the deck, hitching a ride on the inevitable tutors that will show up any cEDH table as they are cast (forks) or those previously cast in the game (dire fleet).

Imperial Recruiter This is a very versatile tutor for the deck, able to get literally any creature in the deck, although most likely it’s another copy of Treasonous Ogre . Fetching ogre, you can win off just 7 mana total. Don't forget that you can crack an LED with the search trigger on the stack to help pay for whatever you tutor. If you need helm recursion you can also get Goblin Welder .

Abrade This is an excellent card for the deck, giving us flexibility to hit problem artifacts or creatures.

Thunderclap This card provides a zero mana protection option from Aven Mindcensor during our combo, or can kill an opponent's creature based combo piece at instant speed. Sacrificing a mountain is a steep cost, but not nearly as bad if we win the game as a result (or don't lose the game). And of course, when mana is available we can still play it for the full mana cost. The ability to protect the combo without making it more expensive more than justifies a slot for thunderclap. Three damage is relevant for taking out opponents large toughness creatures like Yisan, or for killing our own Godo to recast for another search trigger if a first attempt fails.

Lightning Bolt This card provides instant speed removal of opponents combo or utility creatures, as well as protecting our own combo from the likes of Aven Mindcensor or Hushwing Gryff. Since it's any target, it can also be used to remove or reduce a Teferi planeswalker, or even occasionally kill the greedy ad naus player.

Mogg Salvage / Shattering Spree For additional artifact removal of stax or opponents combo pieces, we have these two gems. Shattering Spree can be used to double or triple up on an offending Null Rod, or something you really need to kill, so can effectively be made uncounterable. If you would like additional artifact destruction, look to add By Force or Vandalblast for mass destruction, or Smelt for instant-speed.

Pyroblast / Red Elemental Blast These two are part of our surprisingly large anti-counter magic arsenal. Remember though, they don't have to be used solely to defend our own combo. Many game winning spells and permanents are blue, and can be taken out with pyroblast or REB.

Ricochet Trap I'm particularly fond of Ricochet Trap. As with pyroblast and REB, this card can serve dual purpose as both protection and disruption. We can redirect counterspells back on itself to cause them to miss Godo, or redirect targeted removal of the hammer and helm. Offensively though, we can also redirect spells like targeted reanimation to break an otherwise game winning play. It can even steal targeted draw spells. Even though the base cost is expensive, it can still be hard cast even without the previous blue spell, and the versatility it brings is an added bonus to its counterspell protection.

Fork / Reverberate / Dire Fleet Daredevil I have discussed these cards under the utility section as well, but their ability to copy counterspells, removal, and disruption should be pointed out as additional sources of interaction in addition to their other utility. Fork and reverberate can act as counterspell defense by copying and targeting the original counterspell. If you have the Mana available on your combo turn, dire fleet daredevil can exile a low cost counterspell in an opponent’s graveyard to cast as protection when playing out Godo. While Fork and Reverb can be great cards, this deck really doesn’t like leaving mana up in the early game when a lot of tutors tend to get played and people have started to get wise to the idea that countering Godo is not generally the best answer, so they ultimately were cut for more reliable and useful cards.

Chaos Warp deals with a lot of different problems for which we have few other solutions, including problem enchantments ( Stony Silence , Stranglehold ). It can also be used to put helm back in your deck if someone targets it with removal like Nature's Claim It also has a relatively high CMC which can be problematic, but its versatility is unparalleled.

Sweltering Suns / Whipflare / Volcanic Fallout / Pyroclasm / Anger of the Gods / Kozilek's Return / Fiery Cannonade / Electrickery Additional creature removal if needed, and great at wiping out Mana dorks. These slots were hotly debated in the red discord, with compelling cases for instant speed and additional costs. Ultimately Whipflare was chosen for the 2 mana wipe as it misses Metalworker and there are really no artifact creatures that we care about that Pyroclasm would otherwise hit. Sweltering Suns is a nice card because it does 3 dmg, and if you don’t have the RR for the cost you can cycle it away. In heavier control metas, Volcanic Fallout would be a good choice. Blasphemous Act is a card that you should consider if your meta has a lot of creatures, and or if you often play against high power control decks where 2-3 dmg just doesn’t do enough dmg to sweep the board.

Blood Moon / Magus of the Moon Of course these are dead cards among mono colored decks, but we can almost always slow and often stop at least one opponent at the table. Their resources denial is just too good when played early to not include them. Yeah, our nonbasics are mountains too, but I think we can live with that.

Stranglehold With the prevalence of tutors in cEDH, this one is another no brainier. It hurts just about any deck you’ll run across.

Chalice of the Void This is another multi-purpose stax card that can both slow or stop an opponent from winning, and also help protect our own combo. Chalice for 2 will stop a lot of the formats counterspells. More often, an early chalice for 1 will help protect Godo from things like swords and path, and protect helm from cards like Nature's Claim . Many of the instant speed disruption cards to stop or delay out combo fall into that 1 cmc category, so while it does stop a few of our own cards, it is still worthwhile. Chalice on 1 will also stop many of the powerful tutors available to other colors, such as vampiric, worldly, and enlightened tutor. This as well is dual purpose, denying the tutor for either an oppnents winning combo piece or their disruption of our combo. Our combo itself (and most of our cost reducers, except magnetic theft) are unaffected by a 1 counter chalice. The disruption to opponent's interaction, removal, and even mana sources is definitely worth the tradeoff.

Grafdigger's Cage There are so many strategies trying to abuse the graveyard that this card will protect us from, including the infamous flash hulk. Some of those working on play test decks for the primer consider this one of the meta interchangeable flex spots in the deck. It's included in the primer as perhaps one of the more universal flex spot cards for it's ability to hurt so many different strategies for a low CMC investment. It doesn't stop any of our recursion for helm, and even our own Dire Fleet Daredevil gets around the cage (while his blue nemesis Snapcaster Mage does not.

Cursed Totem While totem does create some non-bo's in the deck, most notably stopping our own treasonous ogre, it is still worth an inclusion. It is simply too efficient at stopping many of the metas currently strongest combos and value engines. Besides ogre and some of our utility creatures, however, our own combo is largely unaffected as it consists of triggered creature abilities only.

Possibility Storm This is my favourite ace in the hole! An early possibility storm makes it nearly impossible for anyone to enact any sort of game plan. It’s incredibly difficult to remove reliably. Most of all, though, we can play right through it. Of you still need ramp, just play a cheap rock and chances are you’ll still get one. The only card we actually have to play is Godo, and coming from the command zone we don’t have to worry about the storm effect. It even provides counterspell protection, as opponents have to roll the dice on the top deck to do so. A turn 2 possibility storm just wrecks everyone’s game plan but your own. While playing Godo for Helm without the mana to equip is usually too risky, it is usually safe to do so with PStorm out.

Codex Shredder The Shredder is also discussed above as a way to deal with helm in the grave, but it also stops all the topdeck tutors. There is nothing quite as satisfying as playing it T1 after your opponent played a T1 Imperial Seal .

Trinisphere A great stax piece that generally hurts other people a lot more than it does us, stopping some decks from working at all (Ad Naus, Storm, and Sceptre decks), and also reducing our opponent’s ability to interact with our combo. Running this card necessitates cutting some of the ritual cards that it makes dead when on the field, but it is worth it. Insanely strong synergy with Possibility Storm.

This section describes some of the honorable-mention cards you may see in other Godo builds, but I haven't necessarily included in my own. These tend to include situational cards, as well as those tuned to a particular meta. This section will, by it's very nature, always be a bit more of a work in progress. There may be some flow into and out of this section from my own list, and they should be taken into consideration for your own. Have you tried some of these in your Godo build already? Let me know how they worked out in the comments below!

Reverberate basically a fork clone, this can be such a versatile card. We simply don't have the card slots to run both in the primary list.

Soulbright Flamekin This is one of the best ramp sources that we aren't actually running anymore. It may find its way back in the deck at some point. While it still works with Null Rod out, you probably won’t have enough to activate it three times, so it often as not gets turned off too.

Geosurge The high red cost makes this card a bit of a gamble, but it can be incredibly explosive if cast off a ritual or soulbright flamekin activation.

Sculpting Steel On its own, we get nothing from sculpting steel. However, and competitive pod is likely to have some good fast mana sources in the early turns, either from our opponents decks or our own. Paired with anything the taps for two or more mana, this is an excellent accelerant. It also provides some flexibility to copy any other useful artifacts on the board, and can be reset with Goblin Welder shenanigans. However, it creates some risky mulligan decisions, and can occasionally end up dead or just dead slow.

Umezawa's Jitte / Grafted Exoskeleton In my opinion, the deck really only has card slots for one equipment-based backup plan. I have chosen Argentum Armor for reasons outlined above, but other popular choices include Jitte. With two combats per turn, Jitte counters stack up quickly, and can help control the board. In my opinion this is the best second choice to the armor. Exoskeleton can kill a player in one turn over two attacks, but has trouble dealing with multiple blockers or other problem board states.

Gilded Lotus / Lotus Bloom These are both great Mana ramp, and I found both to be a bit slow overall. Even with bloom in your opener, it doesn't come in until turn 4. We typically want to push for an earlier close if possible. Gilded lotus is a better choice in my opinion, but the 5 cmc was still enough to keep it out of my deck.

Vessel of Volatility It ramps for two and fixes, but has often seemed a bit slow and clunky in practice.

Harsh Mentor / Pyrostatic Pillar These cards are both strong hate pieces, but should be considered for inclusion based on your specific metagame.

Flameshadow Conjuring / Strionic Resonator This is a slightly worse version of panharmonicon.

Skirk Prospector / Generator Servant Mana storage creatures that didn’t quite make the cut.

Relic of Progenitus / Tormod's Crypt / Silent Gravestone Options for metas heavy in graveyard shenanigans.

Barbarian Ring This card would be amazing creature removal on a land slot, if it weren’t for that pesky threshold requirement. It still might warrant a slot in some lists.

Command Beacon I like the ability to keep the command tax in check if Godo is being countered often, but I have too many non-red land sources already.

Coldsteel Heart / Fire Diamond Although they enter tapped, these two cost, one mana rocks also fix the deck by producing red Mana.

Mox Amber I’m not entirely sold on this one yet. It doesn’t help us cast Godo or any of our rocks, and for that reason it has been left out of the deck. But it is a zero drop artifact that can help pay for the equip cost on the helm once Godo hits the field. I will be curious to see the impact Mox Amber makes in other decks before considering inclusion here.

Ruby Medallion This two Mana rock pays out one on the combo turn to help pay for Godo, and can have a larger impact if we are also playing other red rituals or cost reduction. However, it doesn’t help us ramp out other artifacts, so I have left it out at this time.

Zhalfirin Void Basically a free scry, but at the cost of yet another red Mana source.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance Chandra can ramp, albiet slowly. And she can draw cards, although they must be played or exiled. And she is creature removal, which the deck definitely needs. I personally feel is she just shy of good enough at any of these modes for me to run her. From the testing I have done, her cost of 2RR really hurts being able to drop her on turn 2, where most of the time when we have 4 mana available on turn 2 it is in the form of 4 colourless or 3R. Her +1 for exile cannot be used when you don’t have at least 4 mana open as well, unless you want to risk permanently exiling your Helm of the Host.

Warping Wail I really like this card, and it may end up in the main deck someday. The colorless Mana requirement will certainly not be an issue for this deck, and it does many of the things we look for in a modal spell. It can be a last ditch counter to a game winning sorcery, creature removal for problems like aven mindcensor, and ramp if the other two modes aren’t needed.

Spawning Breath Similar to warping wail, this both ramps and removes small creatures. Its win-win. I just don’t have enough card slots.

Faithless Looting This is one of the best chances we have in mono-red to dig into our deck. Remember, we aren't necessarily looking for any specific card, as all that's in the command zone. Faithless Looting can make an iffy hand great, and help us pull out the gas we need for an early win. However, it can also be a trap card in your opening hand, concealing how bad your hand really is. It is also negative card advantage, and the flashback isn’t usually worth playing as we usually run out of cards in hand and then it’s effect is generally less useful. Additionally, it doesn’t do any work for us in the late game if we are topdecking, where something like Sensei’s Divining Top lets us dig a bit further. Ultimately it hasn’t made the cut in this list, but I wouldn’t fault someone for running it.

Tormenting Voice / Wild Guess / Cathartic Reunion / Pirate's Pillage Red doesn’t give us a lot of options to dig into the deck, but some of these lesser loot/rummage effects may be considered for your build.

Conjurer's Bauble Cheap artifact recursion is great, and we can use Godo to get the helm back from the library. Unfortunately the most likely scenario for this card is having Godo on the field already, meaning he needs to die or be copied to tutor the helm back into play.

Veilstone Amulet Veilstone provides protection from creature removal on the combo turn, as the very act of casting Godo will make him untargetable. If creature removal is rampant in your meta, this may be a good choice.

By Force / Vandalblast / Smelt / Crash Additional artifact destruction if needed.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon Might seem like too much mana, but our deck can pump out a lot of mana. It works well in creature-heavy metas to wipe a cluttered boardstate, and it sticks around afterwards as an annoying stax piece with his +2 ability striking down creatures.

Ghirapur AEther Grid This came as a suggestion from the discord as a way to turn our many artifacts into laser beams for dorks, combo critters, and stax weenies in creature heavy metagames.

Trinisphere / Sphere of Resistance / Damping Sphere These are good choices for a storm-flooded meta, although they will slow our own ramp game plan a touch as well. If you want to run this, consider cutting the 2 mana rituals and Rite of flame, as these are dead cards with the 3-Ball.

Arcbound Reclaimer / Trash for Treasure . Daretti made the cut over T4T by being able to be used well and not end up as a dead card. Arcbound has the upside of being recruiter-ed, but still the extra Mana is likely too much. These may be good options if artifact removal is overwhelming in your meta as a result of Godo.

Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer Slobad is another option for pre-emptively protecting the helm. It's a much worse welding jar, and didn't make it over other recursion options.

Tower of the Magistrate If you end up with a lot of godo mirror matches, this card will shut them down in a heartbeat. Similarly, if this tower starts cropping up in your meta to stop you, perhaps including Strip Mine may be worthwhile. You can also get around it using Rishadan Port .

Mouth of Ronom / Blighted Gorge Although expensive to activate, these provide us low opportunity cost creature and planeswalker removal in land form, usable at instant speed, and nearly uncounterable. This is another meta dependent consideration, however.

Nephalia Academy If wheels or targeted hand hate are a problem, this can keep the vital Helm in the deck where it belongs.

Winding Canyons This one may see some play testing in the main deck soon. With the canyons out, we can drop Godo for 9 on the end step before our turn, hopefully when everyone else is tapped down. On our main phase we can equip and swing for game. In this way canyons acts as a safer way to play "Godo-pass", and thus cost reduction for the total combo, in land form.

Homeward Path This is a meta call against Gilded Drake , which can be pretty rough on our plan.

Goblin Chirurgeon This is the creature equivalent of Slobad. While we don't see a lot of artifact exile, we do see enough creature exile and -1/-1's to make the Goblin Chiropractor an iffy choice. Still, one red for pre-emptively stopping Beast Within , Pongify , and Doom Blade is not bad. It might be worth a deck slot if you see these cards often in your playgroup.

Scorched Ruins This was in an early iteration if the deck, but I honestly think it's a bit of a trap card that I fell for. It always felt like ramping for +2, which is worth it even with a big down side. But I always forgot, this is my third land drop too. So it's really only ramping for +1, and sometimes at the cost of my only red sources, or valuable utility lands. It's also a super strip mine target. All that combined, and with as many colorless sources as we already run for utility, I decided to remove it.

Burnout Another interaction card if you decide to run all of them, burnout is decidedly the worst anti-blue counter card for the extra 1 Mana cost, and inability to hit non-instants.

Ruination / Boil These very powerful, but very meta dependent, choice are on our possible watch list for inclusion. Ruination was found to do a tad too much damage to us as well in playtesting.

Warrior's Oath If you can't get enough final fortune effects, here's another from P3K! We believe that two is enough redundancy on this particular effect (it is not nice to draw more than one of them).

Blade of Selves This card can be used in a 4 player game to search out two equipment’s when you attack with it equipped to Godo. This can Grab Hammer and Helm to continue the combo the normal way. When combined with card like Generator Servant for haste, it can end up reducing the combo cost. It can also reduce the mana needed to equip on the second turn when playing cards like Final Fortune , which can allow you to ritual into them and get Blade instead of Helm, and then grab Helm with Blade the next turn and combo off. The other thing you can do with it is play Godo for Blade and pass the turn, if the blade ends up in the grave it isn’t as big of a deal as if we lost Helm (though Godo can end up stuck in play and with a higher commander tax, so use with caution). Overall all of these slight advantages still were not enough to justify a slot in the deck.

Scavenger Grounds Utility lands give us some excellent functionality in relatively low cost of inclusion in the deck. In this case, we have some excellent graveyard hate in a land slot from Scavenger Grounds. While this can really shut down some graveyard based strategies from our opponents, we don't really have much need for our own yard unless we are trying to return a destroyed Helm of the Host. In more recent versions of Hulk decks (shufflehulk etc), they aren't as vulnerable to grave hate as previously so this land ended up getting cut for a spare red, but it might work for your meta if you need grave hate.

Electrodominance A new card which has some nice interactions. Dropping a Brass Squire or Panharmonicon at end step can make an unassuming boardstate win out of nowhere. It is also a nice scalable burn spell. You might even get the chance to kill someone at instant speed by maxing it out and Fork ing it. While it played generally pretty well, overall it was found to be just not quite good enough during playtesting to warrant a slot.

Kuldotha Forgemaster This card is good, but a bit slow. It can be used as a cost reducer of sorts, If you play the Forgemaster and pass the turn, the next turn you can play Godo and get Hammer of Nazahn, then crack the Forgemaster for Helm (5+6 over two turns lowers the top end needed for the combo). It is also useful as protection for the main combo when you already have another line to combo off, as it can go fetch up Defence Grid and lock your opponents out of answering your win. In a pinch it can be used as a way to draw 7 with Memory Jar if you run that card as well, and can also be recursion for getting the Helm or another card back from grave via Codex Shredder. Additionally, if you have 2 of Top/Key/Paradox, it can get the other part of the combo, and if you have an abundance of artifacts,

Experimental Frenzy This card has some potential to create some nice chains of spells, but can be quite unreliable. Getting a couple lands on top can just end your chain, as can a number of other targeted cards where they may not be a target available. Overall it seems a bit overcosted for the effect, too slow, and the cost to destroy it is also a bit steep. Needs more testing though.

Rending Volley / Galvanic Blast These cards are possible swap outs for Lightning Bolt or Thunderclap . 4 dmg is nice, uncounterable is nice, and volley does hit most of the threats to the deck that those cards are meant to answer. It does miss some possible threats though (Yisan, Hermit Druid, Bob and some others). Blast is nice, but on those crucial first couple turns it can often fail to impress, generally better to just have a reliable 3 dmg. But if you need more targeted removal, these are probably the best available.

The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale A strong stax effect that doesn’t hurt us much at all, but it does cost a land drop, which can result in slowing the deck down considerably. It might be worth including; as the meta has shifted toward decks with lots of creatures grinding for advantage (Tymna-Thrasios and Najeela builds) this card has gotten a lot more viable. Currently being tested.

Mishra's Workshop While it doesn’t help us with the combo, it can enable dropping our ramp artifacts quickly, and can also drop stax pieces like Trinisphere on turn 1, which can be strong. Currently being tested.

Fiery Confluence While it is expensive at 4 mana, a combination board wipe/artifact destruction spell that is pretty flexible has potential. Needs more testing to see if it is worth it’s steep cost.

Karn, the Great Creator Another strong stax piece, currently being tested. His + ability may need to be used to animate an artifact to help defend him, as our deck doesn’t run a lot of defences for him otherwise.

Ugin, the Ineffable An interesting card that warrants testing. While expensive, he does reduce the cost of a lot of the cards in our deck (though most artifacts in hand will probably have been cast before him to enable casting him). He is a nice source of card advantage potentially, as well as blockers, and his -3 ability helps us deal with problem permanents.

Goblin Engineer A solid card for us from Modern Horizons that is currently being tested. While he might seem bad at first because of the 3 CMC restriction not being able to rescue Helm (well he can but it is a slow line involving Codex Shredder or Expedition Map/Buried Ruin), he is actually really useful in a lot of other ways. He can Ramp via a Basalt Monolith or Sol Ring search, but his strongest play is to put Defence Grid in the grave and drag it out the next turn for one Red mana before you combo off.

More to come.....

Vladimir: We'll hang ourselves tomorrow. Unless Godo comes.

Estragon: And if he comes?

Vladimir: We'll be saved.

Card:Helm of the Host has enabled a fast combo / stax hybrid deck that’s competitive even in very high level cEDH pods using Godo, Bandit Warlord . The deck is incredibly fun, powerful, lightning fast, and a bit risky. In a word, it is very RED. I hope you will enjoy this new build, and adjust as needed for your meta. Let me know how it goes in the comments below, and if you have any questions, thoughts, comments, or suggestions. If you like the deck, I would appreciate an upvote :) Now let’s get out there and make some Godo's!

Again, a special thank you to the Red Love discord group for brainstorming this deck! It has been a group effort, and I am thankful for the combined expertise of all involved. I would especially like to thank...

‘Insertcleverphrasehere’ (playing Godo ComboStax): Clever has a lot of hours piloting Godo-Helm online. His experience and opinions have been invaluable. Thanks also to Clever for writing the mulligan guide in this primer. He managed to get to the final table at the 2019 Spike Feeders online cEDH tournament playing Godo. Now co-author of this primer.

‘Silly’: Currently authoring a deckbuilding guide to supplement this primer based on our many discord single card discussions.

‘xAzurelx’ (playing https://manastack.com/deck/godo-engine-of-war): thanks for extensive experimentation and help in exploring new card possibilities for the deck.

‘Hissp’ (playing Host Godo)

‘Ishmoken’ (playing Godo Helm of The Host): managed to get to the final table at the 2018 online cEDH tournament playing Godo.

‘Bentifico’: Has the honor of winning the first paper cEDH I know of while piloting Godo-Helm.

‘Noobzaurs’ (playing Godo Helm Stax): a great player of cEDH and invaluable for advice and knowledge, especially with how various cards fit into the ever-evolving cEDH meta.

As of this writing (May 2, 2018) there are currently only 15 cards on the decklist valued at over $15 individually. These fifteen, however, make up the overwhelming majority of the cost of the deck. Six cards are on the reserved list and are likely to see significant further price increases - City of Traitors , Mox Diamond , Fork , Lion's Eye Diamond , Wheel of Fortune , and Grim Monolith .

For the deck to function at a bare minimum, of course all that is really required is Godo, Bandit Warlord and Helm of the Host . That’s part of what makes the deck so powerful! Everything else is just to get us there as quickly as possible, slow down our opponents, and protect the combo when we get there. While this handful of more expensive cards aren’t individually necessary for a successful strategy, their influence combined gives us the consistency to operate in a truly competitive environment.

Interaction and Stax Pieces

Most of our stax elements are relatively inexpensive. The two exceptions are Blood Moon and Chalice of the Void . While powerful, these certainly aren’t requirements for the deck to function. Less expensive land disruption like Ruination and Boil , or interaction such as Pyroclasm , By Force , Spawning Breath , etc can be considered for these slots.

Combo Protection

Cavern of Souls should be a priority to obtain among the more expensive cards in the deck. It’s ability to force the combo through really can’t be overstated. In the short term, however, consider additional combo protection like Burnout , Veilstone Amulet , or Goblin Chirurgeon , or even Reverberate .

Fast Lands

The ramp provided by Ancient Tomb , City of Traitors , and Gemstone Caverns can be instrumental to very early wins. Replacing them with mountains will slow the deck, but may be necessary for budgetary reasons. Utility lands like Zhalfirin Void or Command Beacon (still expensive, but much less than city of traitors) are other possibilities.

Mana Rocks

Under $25, we have Chrome Mox and Mana Vault . On the higher end, Mana Crypt is probably the most important. These should be considered as priorities for the deck as well. Card: Mox opal, Grim Monolith , Lion's Eye Diamond , and Mox Diamond complete the expensive rocks.

Of course some of these slots can be filled with lesser mana artifacts like Fire Diamond or Coldsteel Heart . You may also consider additional cost reducers such as Flameshadow Conjuring and Strionic Resonator or Mana rituals such as Vessel of Volatility , Generator Servant , or Skirk Prospector . If you have increased the amount of red Mana sources through lands and artifacts, Geosurge would probably be worth running.

Utility Cards

Imperial Recruiter is somewhat irreplaceable in his ability to tutor Treasonous Ogre from the deck. Running a third fork effect in Dualcaster Mage may allow you to piggyback on an opponents tutor, however. Card: wheel of Fortune can be replaced with a budget wheel like Reforge the Soul , or card selection such as Tormenting Voice or Sensei's Divining Top (which may or may not be strictly budget either).

"Pre-con" Godo

Hissp has created an extreme budget list, totaling about $35 to stay in line with the current WotC preconstructed decks. Obviously it won't have the same speed or resilience as a fully optimized list, but if you'd like to explore the Godo-Helm combo idea on a shoestring, this list is definitely worth checking out!

Pre-con Godo

April 15, 2018 - I added a change log! I also added a frequently asked questions section. Perhaps that will help with some of the disbelief that this can, in fact, be a competitive deck. Swapped warrior's oath out for chaos warp in my build.

April 16, 2018 - I added a section under card discussions for honorable mentions. This will include things removed from the deck over time, situational cards, and choices made by some of the other Godo decks that I don't choose to run. I also swapped out Generator Servant for Voltaic key.

April 17, 2018 - Direfleet daredevil is out to put Warrior’s Oath BACK in. Daretti is out for Trash for Treasure. Mountain out for scavenger grounds. Mountain out for faithless looting. Thanks to a great discussion over on the discord, I added a LOT of cards to the honorable mention tab. Thanks a lot to Hissp, Betefico, ScarySpaceBeast, James.., Ishmokin, and especially Insertcleverphrasehere for the brainstorming help.

April 18, 2018 - Added a more detailed explanation of the combo under it's own tab for those unfamiliar with how Godo-Helm works. Added a handful of new honorable mention cards.

April 20, 2018 - Moved burnout down to the honorable mentions to make room for Chalice of the Void in the main deck. The ability to do double duty as disruption and protection worked out well in limited testing, and is worth trying in the main deck for the time being. April 23, 2018 - took out Vessel of Volatility. Just never played out how we hoped in actual games, always a bit clunky to get out. Replaced with thought vessel.

April 24, 2018 - I got a lot of feedback on the list from insertcleverphrasehere who rocked the deck on cEDH discord's ranked channel. He went 5 of 10 for the day, and got some fabulous information and play video to analyze. Look for changes coming soon as a result of that discussion. One right off the bat, dropping another mountain for fractured powerstone. THANKS again Clever!!

April 25, 2018 - Thanks to a major brainstorming session on the discord, we have decided to swap shattering spree with vandalblast, strionic resonator with fiery cannonade. Trash for treasure is out for codex shredder, which is much less a dead card when recursion isn't needed. We pulled dualcaster mage out for dire fleet daredevil, despite the former working in the twinflame backup wincon. Without the good tutors, the odds of actually getting the combo are sufficiently small. We decided to run dire fleet daredevil instead, which provides more flexibility, as well as a bit of grave hate, without having to leave Mana open. It can even function as a counterspell on the combo turn provided there is one in a graveyard.

April 28, 2018. THANK YOU everyone for your support. Waiting for Godo is now the most upvoted Godo list on tapped out. Thanks!! I swapped out sequestered stash to put in inventors' fair. Discord user Silly did some impressive maths for us, and as a result we are dropping the third and most expensive final fortune effect, Warrior's Oath. I'm going to include Grafdigger's Cage as a trial run.

May 2, 2018. User: Insertcleverphrasehere has written an AMAZING mulligan guide for the deck. Check it out under the Game Plan tab. Added budget build tab.

May 3, 2018. User:Hissp has written an extreme budget godo list totaling about $35! I've added it to the budget section.

May 21, 2018. Swapped Slobad, goblin tinkerer out for lightning bolt.

May 29, 2018. Replaced vandalblast with shattering spree. This spot is so hotly debated. But sometimes, you need one thing (torpor orb, null rod, etc) not just gone - but gone 3 or 4 times over!

June 3, 2018. Added sequestered stash back in place of one mountain.

June 5, 2018. In - thunderclap. Out - fiery cannonade.

June 10, 2018. In - Metalworker, Rishadan port, defense grid. Out - coalition relic, mountain, reverberate.

August 25, 2018. In - Slobad, strionic resonator. Out - faithless looting, soulbright flamekin.

August 26, 2018. Out - Slobad. In, Daretti, Scrap Savant . As it turns out, adding Slobad was a controversial decision in the discord! It was decided that a recursion card like T4T or daretti may be a better choice, as it doesn't contribute to the pre-combo cost (which is already very steep), and is a better card to draw after you already lost your helm.

March 16, 2019. Out - Strionic Resonator . In - Paradox Engine . As it turns out, Paradox engine has tested very well by everyone that played with it, often providing enough mana to re-attempt the combo immediately even if countered. Strionic resonator just doesn't make the cut as the worst of the cost reducers and the 5th mutually redundant Hammer of Nazahn line.

March 20, 2019. Out - Scavenger Grounds . In - Mountain . With the meta shifting away from grave strategies that are vulnerable to the Scavenger Grounds ability (breakfast hulk being phased out in favour of shufflehulk variants), it didn't seem worth running over a spare red land.

March 25, 2019. Out - Fork . In - Sensei's Divining Top . Fork is less useful in setting up early tutors because the deck hates leaving mana up early game, Top has some great interactions with Paradox Engine, including a non-helm line with Volt Key drawing the deck and setting up a win with infinite mana/mill/dmg.

May 9, 2019. Out – Mountain , Rishadan Port , Desperate Ritual , Pyretic Ritual , Last Chance . In – Blast Zone , Emergence Zone , Trinisphere , Sweltering Suns , Whipflare . Got some great new colourless lands from the new set to upgrade our land package. Changes adapting to a new meta of creature-based decks that grind for advantage in the midgame (Najeela/Shufflehulk). Trinisphere has tested very well, and cutting the 2 mana rituals both makes sense (as they are dead cards with it) and opens up more deck space for some board sweepers. Other options for sweepers might be Volcanic Fallout or Fiery Cannonade , and that choice may be meta dependent; Sweltering Suns is nice because it can be cycled away if you don’t need it or lack RR to cast it. Whipflare was chosen over Pyroclasm because it doesn’t hit metalworker and there are few artifact creatures that we otherwise care about in cEDH.


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