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Johan and friends

a voltron deck utilizing the incredible might of Johan!

This is a voltron deck where the goal isn't to buff the commander, but rather other creatures in the deck - Johan's friends. This is because Johan isn't very fit for being buffed or even attacking.

The deck contains a set of large hexproof creatures which are designated to be played as voltron (ex: Plated Slagwurm). You will probably only need one of these at the time. To be able to find and cast such a large creatures before you are overrun by faster decks, effects like ramp, tutor, and loot are included (ex: Migration Path, Fierce Empath, and Faithless Looting).

In addition to searching for mana and voltron creatures, looting can be used to get rid of cards you have two of which you would only really need one of. Like having two voltron creatures, two creature tutors, or two trample effects etc. Looting can also be used to place certain cards into your graveyard (ex: Dragon Fangs), and to fill your graveyard for threshold effects (ex: Seton's Desire).

Once you have played your voltron, you should equip it heavily. My favorites effects are lure, deathtouch, and first strike, which in combination allows you to kill a heap of creatures in one swing (ex: Nemesis Mask, Gorgon Flail, and Fireshrieker). Once you have equipped it with what you have available, you should play Johan to top it off with vigilance.

Some recursion is included in case of the tragic death of your voltron, or other emergencies (ex: Regrowth and Open the Vaults).

Funfact section: Even though the card doesn't tell you, Johan is in fact a human wizard!

Suggestions are welcome :)

The price of my budget decks keep rising, so I'm marking the current price to see how the value evolves.

Current price (cardkingdom): 54-58$

Indestructible is quite a bit better than regeneration, and even thought auras that provide indestructible are a bit $ expensive, there are really only two cards that needs to be switched out. Also, this deck is really cheap atm, so a couple of more dollars wont hurt that much.

OUT: Regeneration and Serpent Skin

IN: Shielded by Faith and Shield of the Oversoul

The deck was alright, but not super fun to play, so I decided to try to mix things up a bit. It turned out I was going to mix things up a lot..

My brainstorm started with the idea that I wanted to make playing Johan a rewarding option more often. Exert isn't that bad of a synergy, but it just didn't feel good enough. I actually think the way to get the most out of Johan is to play a deck with plenty of cretures, so that you can give the vigilance-like effect to more cards at the same time. But that immediately sounds like a human tribal deck, and I don't like to play tribal. So ultimately I wanted to keep playing voltron.

In voltron, Johan is valuable to play when you feel like your voltron creature needs vigilance. So first of all, there shouldn't be any other vigilance effects in the deck (if you want to force yourself to spend the stupid cost of 6CMC every time you want vigilance). Second, you need to know for sure that your voltron can handle blocking whatever comes at it. This is where I stumbled upon Spirit Mantle and cards alike it. This is a really cool vigilance voltron card because it allows you to attack unblockably, and then block whatever (single) large creature is attacking you. Sadly there aren't enough protection from creatures effects to viably make this a main strategy. But, there are also indestructible effects and regeneration effects which also lets your voltron block more or less anything. But then again, indestructible effects are $ expensive and regeneration has a negative synergy with exert.

This whole ordeal made me realize how little impressed I've been with exert. It is terrible in edh, and not even fun at all.. So what else can you play as voltron targets? Well, I looked at all sorts of creatures to change with the exert creatures, and I realized that I can get creatures with hexproof included, and drop the whole goose hunt for hexproof auras / equipments! Not just that, but I could get large hexproof creatures, so that I wouldn't need half as many auras / equips to make the voltron a threat. This is the moment when it dawned on me that I've been sitting for way to many games with creatures that has like 4 auras on it, but is only like 9/9 and has two times trample and lifelink. Which is quite the waste if you ask me. It would be much more fun to spend those auras to get like a 9/9 with first strike, deathtouch, lifelink, AND trample. Now were talking about a creature that is fit to get vigilance from Johan and block whatever comes at it.

I did not want to keep playing the voltron board wipes either (the keep one creature wrath of gods), cause this would keep detering me from playing Johan. So to be able to output the same effect (on one player), I decided to make it my goal to assemble the perfect board wiping creature: the big, hexproof, deathtouch, lure, first striker. Such a creature can make every enemy creature block it and assign 1 deathtouch damage to it WITH first strike, and kill somewhere in the range of 10 creatures without being hit from a single one of them. I believe that this, in combination with the occational trample, lifelink, and regeneration, is the recipe for a good time playing voltron.

So for the new strucutre of the deck:

  • I kept the best recursion, aura / equip tutor, and removal cards;

  • I added loot spells to be able to recycle aura / equip effects I have two of (you wont need double trample);

  • I added ramp to be able to cast a large voltron creature as soon as possible;

  • I added creature tutors to increase the drop rate of large voltron creatures;

  • I added three of each prioritized effect - lure, first strike, and deathtouch;

  • I added two of each secondary effect - regeneration, trample, lifelink, and x/x boost;

  • I added a pair of draw effects.

I'm making a huge overhaul on this deck, so I'm making a backup list. You could call this the stable version 1.0 .

Johan

buffs

1x Angelic Destiny 1x Armadillo Cloak 1x Behemoth Sledge 1x Epic Proportions 1x Grafted Wargear 1x Loxodon Warhammer 1x Mythic Proportions 1x Prodigious Growth 1x Shield of the Oversoul 1x Unflinching Courage

destroy all art / ench

1x By Force 1x Calming Verse 1x Heliod's Intervention 1x Tranquil Domain

destroy all creatures

1x Divine Reckoning 1x Myojin of Cleansing Fire 1x Single Combat 1x Winds of Rath

draw

1x Eidolon of Blossoms 1x Keen Sense 1x Kor Spiritdancer 1x Mask of Memory 1x Mesa Enchantress 1x Rogue's Gloves 1x Satyr Enchanter 1x Sixth Sense 1x Snake Umbra 1x Verduran Enchantress

exert

1x Battlefield Scavenger 1x Bitterblade Warrior 1x Emberhorn Minotaur 1x Glory-Bound Initiate 1x Gust Walker 1x Khenra Scrapper 1x Oketra's Avenger 1x Rhet-Crop Spearmaster 1x Rhonas's Stalwart 1x Watchful Naga

hexproof

1x Alpha Authority 1x Canopy Cover 1x Mask of Avacyn 1x Mirror Shield 1x Slippery Bogbonder 1x Swiftfoot Boots

impact

1x Nylea's Colossus 1x Open the Vaults 1x Overwhelming Stampede 1x Sudden Disappearance

land fetch

1x Civic Wayfinder 1x District Guide 1x Ondu Giant 1x Solemn Simulacrum 1x Wild Wanderer

lands

1x Ash Barrens 1x Boros Garrison 1x Command Tower 1x Desert of the Fervent 1x Desert of the Indomitable 1x Desert of the True 1x Drifting Meadow 1x Evolving Wilds 7x Forest 1x Forgotten Cave 1x Gruul Turf 1x Jungle Shrine 1x Labyrinth of Skophos 1x Mountain 1x Naya Panorama 7x Plains 1x Secluded Steppe 1x Selesnya Guildgate 1x Selesnya Sanctuary 1x Slippery Karst 1x Smoldering Crater 1x Terramorphic Expanse 1x Tranquil Thicket

totem armor

1x Boar Umbra 1x Felidar Umbra 1x Indrik Umbra 1x Mammoth Umbra

utility

1x Crystal Chimes 1x Godo, Bandit Warlord 1x Heliod's Pilgrim 1x Plea for Guidance 1x Remove Enchantments 1x Scarab of the Unseen 1x Three Dreams

I'm still having many dead land draws and I rarely need a lot of mana (except for when I've just used some recursion and have a lot of my enchantments on hand), so I'm adding even more cycle lands. I'm also adding a utility land just for the fun of it :)

OUT: 3 x Forest, 2x Plains, and 2 x Mountain

IN: Slippery Karst, Smoldering Crater, Drifting Meadow, Desert of the True, Desert of the Fervent, Desert of the Indomitable, and Labyrinth of Skophos

I think the deck has too many lands, and I don't really play any mana sinks, so I'm gonna experiment with fewer lands. Im also adding some cycle lands.

The experiment I'm conducting is to check how many lands I can remove, while still being able to play Johan on turn 8 (6 available mana with RGW included) in 90% of test games (with no opponent). I empirically tested the deck 20 times with 35 lands, and was able to achieve the goal 19/20 times, which is 95%. Then I tested the deck 20 times with 34 lands, and this time I was only able to achieve the goal 16/20 times, which is 80%. Although this is a fairly low sample size, I am going to take the results at face value and stick with 35 lands.

I added some utility cards that looked fun (recursion and fetch). I was also very close to adding Silent Arbiter, which I think is good in voltron. But it just barely didn't make the cut, partially because its stax, and I don't need the hate when I'm playing budget :P

OUT: 2 x Forest, 2x Plains, and 2 x Mountain

IN: Secluded Steppe, Tranquil Thicket, Forgotten Cave, Godo, Bandit Warlord, Remove Enchantments, and Heliod's Pilgrim

So even thought I would like to play as many enchantments as possible, and thought Prison Term has worked fairly well, I have decided to remove both cards in the creature control category, and also merge the category with utility. I want to aim towards not dealing with a single threat at a time such as these cards do, and rather clear multiple at the same time, like the destroy all creatures or destroy all art / ench categories does. However, it is a possibility that Prison Term will return to the mainboard in the future.

In comes another impact and another utility card. Reasoning for adding these is that they look fun. And I was so happy with Three Dreams, that even though Plea for Guidance is a lot worse, I think it will still do well. As a bonus I think I can combo these two cards by using Plea for Guidance to fetch both Nylea's Colossus and some other cheap enchantment like Keen Sense and possibly quadruplic my voltron's stats during one round! (it does however negatively synergise with Tranquil Domain).

OUT: Prison Term and Shackles

IN: Plea for Guidance and Nylea's Colossus

So flavourwise, I dont think the muscle category fits this deck. I think the idea when I put them in was that since I didn't have an impact category, I needed some category of big cards that would change the board late game. Now, they are instead mostly an annoyance since you keep double guessing if you should wait playing auras untill you get a muscle on the the board, and the undermine the exert cards which are supposed to be the "good voltrons". The only good thing about them is that they are good replacement voltrons if your early game / initial voltron dies.

I found a few utility cards that I thought could be fun to play instead. Remove Enchantments and Calix, Destiny's Hand just barely missed a spot each. Also, I found a better boardwipe.

OUT: Meglonoth, Palladia-Mors, the Ruiner, Rith, the Awakener, and Rout

IN: Scarab of the Unseen (what a janky gem I've found!), Crystal Chimes, Three Dreams, and Single Combat

Another big update. The combo with Johan and "tappers" such as Master Decoy does not have a very big impact. The idea of utilizing Johan to be able to both attack and use a tap ability with an attacking creature could work, but has several disadvantages. This combo in particular - having a tapper voltron and Johan on the board, then attack with the tapper voltron and tap a creature defending player owns before block step, has the following issues:

  1. You do not gain full advantage of the vigilance-like effect because the tapper voltron cannot block after using its ability;

  2. The combo only applies if the chosen voltron creature is one of the tappers, these are the worst voltrons because they have the smallest bodies;

  3. If you play a tapper which is not chosen as voltron, it doesn't do much unless you keep a spare plains open at all times, and even then you cannot tap creatures in response to actions (attack / block / tap effect);

Because of these issues, it doesn't quite feel like a combo, and that leads to questions about why I'm even playing Johan as the commander. So to justify playing Johan, and to actually bother to play him onto the board more often, I would like a slighty better synergy.

One slightly better synergy is creatues with exert, like Rhonas's Stalwart.

In addition I restructured the land base, renamed wincon category to impact, I removed a land fetcher, a impact card, a land, and I added a buff, a draw enabler, and a multitarget art / ench destroyer.

OUT: Benalish Trapper, Blinding Mage, Frondland Felidar, Gideon's Lawkeeper, Goldmeadow Harrier, Master Decoy, Squall Drifter, Stun Sniper, Thornscape Apprentice, Whipcorder, Jungle Wayfinder, and Gideon Jura.

IN: Rhonas's Stalwart, Bitterblade Warrior, Watchful Naga, Glory-Bound Initiate, Khenra Scrapper, Emberhorn Minotaur, Oketra's Avenger, Battlefield Scavenger, Rhet-Crop Spearmaster, Gust Walker, Shield of the Oversoul, Heliod's Intervention, and Verduran Enchantress

LANDS IN: Ash Barrens, Naya Panorama, Terramorphic Expanse, Gruul Turf, and Boros Garrison

Pretty big update incomming. Many decks I play against rack up crazy board states which this deck just can't compete against, so I'm bringing in board wipes to counter that. The plan is that if I just destroy the creatures (and not other permanents), I might be able to keep my voltron creature alive by letting a totem armor aura go. Board wipes with instant speed have been prioritized as they double as wincons (in hindsight I'm not so sure instant speed wipes are that much better, with the exception of playing against combo).

Singe target removal was not working great. I could in many cases remove some annoying stuff and get some kudos from the players, but it rarely seemed like it was worth it. Im swapping them out for destroy all artifacts / enchantment spells.

Cage of hands did not work out great, and Ajani Unyielding doesn't quite seem to have enough impact.

In addition to putting in destroy all creatures / enchantments / artifacts, I'm adding some big spells that will act as wincons against one other player in the game. Gideon Jura has also been reclassified as a wincon.

OUT: Disenchant, Hull Breach, Naturalize, Acidic Slime, Beast Within, Chaos Warp, Oblation, Oblivion Ring, Cage of Hands, and Ajani Unyielding

IN: Rout, Myojin of Cleansing Fire, Divine Reckoning, Winds of Rath, Calming Verse, Tranquil Domain, By Force, Open the Vaults, Overwhelming Stampede, and Sudden Disappearance

It's really boring to get stuck topdecking with no good cards available, so I'm adding more draw. Since I play lots of enchanments, draw on playing these seems reasonable. The most expensive / least versatile tappers are going out.

OUT: Naya Battlemage, Nomad Decoy, Blinding Souleater, and Law-Rune Enforcer

IN: Eidolon of Blossoms, Kor Spiritdancer, Mesa Enchantress, and Satyr Enchanter

Guess who just discovered custom card categories?

I wanted to add some big dudes, in comes: Rith, the Awakener, Meglonoth, and Palladia-Mors, the Ruiner.

I wanted some draw mechanics, in comes: Keen Sense, Rogue's Gloves, Mask of Memory, Sixth Sense, and Snake Umbra.

And since removal is cool, i added: Beast Within.

Out goes tap-creatures that are less reliable, non-reusable creature control, boosts that are tailored for Johan, and also one land (39 total is fine, right?): Avacynian Priest, Sigardian Priest, Darksteel Mutation, Shield of the Oversoul, Runes of the Deus, Scourge of the Nobilis, Hero's Blade, and Tenza, Godo's Maul.

Since i'd rather have less efficient land fecthing creatures (ETB effects) than more efficient land fetching sorceries, Im making the following update:

OUT: Sakura-Tribe Elder, Explosive Vegetation, Kodama's Reach, Skyshroud Claim, and Sylvan Scrying

IN: Jungle Wayfinder, Ondu Giant, Wild Wanderer, Civic Wayfinder, and District Guide

I wanted to add more "creature prisons" with return to hand effects. Sadly I could only find one I thought was passable (Cessation and Forced Worship seems a bit too weak to play). While looking at removal cards I also restumbled upon Chaos Warp which suddenly seemed very fun.

OUT: Condemn and Journey to Nowhere

IN: Cage of Hands and Chaos Warp

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Date added 5 months
Last updated 5 days
Exclude colors UB
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

3 - 0 Mythic Rares

19 - 0 Rares

27 - 0 Uncommons

23 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.48
Tokens 0/0 Zombie Army, Treasure
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Revision 9 See all

6 days ago)

+1 Shielded by Faith main