The Primer has moved:
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...
UPDATE - Over 50k views on tapped out!! Thanks y'all! The red discord is very proud of the work we've put together here.
UPDATE 2 - Thanks to the team over at the cEDH Decklist Database for including Godo Helm among the 'recommended' top commanders of cEDH! Check it out! http://cedh-decklist-database.xyz/primary.html UPDATE 3 - The Primer is also on Moxfield if that is what you prefer. https://www.moxfield.com/decks/URpEcoe6e0GBp3GzsstyBg
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 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.
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.
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.
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 ).
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.
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 prepared the following mulligan guide to help understand the decision process. There are 20 sample hands with rationale for how to mulligan with them. These 20 hand came up at random and I have done my best to mulligan them through the series of hands that came up, as I would in actual games. As such, in a couple cases I have ended up with worse hands than if I had kept an earlier hand, however, it is advisable under the London Mulligan to mulligan aggressively with this deck. Picking 5 of 7 really isn’t that bad for this deck, so don’t be afraid to mull down that low. The deck can win on turn 1 with as few as 4 cards in hand. The more cards you see, the stronger your opener will generally be as this deck has a high variance in card quality.
This mulligan guide uses the new London Mulligan and was built from scratch. The old mulligan guide, which was with an older version of the deck and before the London Mulligan can be found at the bottom of this section in spoiler tags.
Hand 1 Show
A slightly awkward keep in that you need another red source to use the Magnetic Theft, but you’ll be dropping a turn 1 Blood Moon! All our nonbasics will make red after that, even Tabernacle. You might even get to 11 off the LED if you draw even more fast mana to go with your Grim Monolith. A hard yes for me.
Hand 2 Show
If the decks you are playing against are affected by Grafdigger’s Cage (Hulk decks, Yisan, etc), then this is a good keep. Lots of nice protection here with defense grid and the ability to Expo-map your way toward a Cavern of Souls for uncounterability or just Ancient Tomb for more mana. It doesn’t really have a victory plan yet, but it has all the pieces to quickly power out whatever you might draw in the first couple turns. I’d probably keep this.
Hand 3 Show
Hand 4 Show
It has solid ramp, some good stax, and decent recovery options with Buried Ruin. You can play Engineer for a lot of different options depending on how the game goes. It is not terribly fast, but I like this hand a lot if the decks you are against have a lot of colors to punish with the Blood Moon. If they aren’t likely to be affected, you probably should ship this hand into:
Ooof… what a hand. If you were to keep it Thunderclap would obviously go on the bottom. A hand with no red sources and all the rituals. Oh dear. A risky but potentially rewarding keep as you could ritual yourself into a Blood Moon+Wheel of Fortune if you draw a mountain. I don’t like waiting on red sources, as you are not actually that likely to draw one off the top though.
Our aggressive mulls have been rewarded!, chuck Brass Squire and Daretti on the bottom and you are set up for a turn 3 combo. If you draw any ramp at all, you can consider turning City of Traitors into a mountain with Blood Moon, or if you draw a land you could delay to turn 4 for the Ogre and drop the Blood Moon Turn 2. Definitely going to stop here.
Hand 5 Show
Yep, this is a keeper. We have interaction, we have a turn 3 win in hand. No need to continue from here. Ogre is awesome.
Hand 6 Show
It isn’t bad, isn’t amazing either. You can drop a turn two Basalt Monolith, but you’ll be exiling something for Caverns (if you aren’t on the play). I’d toss it. Mulls into (6): Sol Ring , Manifold Key , Everflowing Chalice , Grafdigger's Cage , Shattering Spree , Final Fortune , Wheel of Fortune .
Haha, Magic is fun sometimes. No land in sight. Mull to 5 it is.
Oh dear, sometimes the aggressive mulls punish us. You could keep this, dumping Grid and Hold on the bottom and hope to draw a land. I’m going deeper.
We are obviously keeping here. This is a great hand, I wish we had it earlier. Clap obviously goes on the bottom, along with Buried Ruin. I think my preferred hand here is Mountain, City of Traitors, Basalt Monolith, and Panharmonicon.
Hand 7 Show
Yep, this one is fine. Consider sandbagging the Cage if you can so that metalworker taps for more mana. This is a good hand, especially if at least one of our opponents has red lands. We can get there off of Metalworker and LED if we have to though.
Hand 8 Show
Much worse than the first 7, and definitely going to 6 from here.
You only keep this hand if you know that the turn 1 totem is going to wreak your opponents, otherwise we have to go deeper.
I’m going to keep this. There are too options. Racing, and slow rolling. If you want to go for the turn 3 win, you can keep the caverns and hope to draw a land or ritual to get you there. I’d probably ship back the Gemstone Caverns (we can’t really afford the card disadvantage here) and the Stranglehold. If the Cage is unlikely to be useful in this matchup, keep the Stranglehold. You will likely draw a roc to play turn 1 or 2 or a land to get you there by turn 4. It’s fine and probably not worth racing. If your opponents play a ton of artifacts and/or enchantments, or deal you a bunch of damage somehow in the early game, recruit a Dockside Extortionist instead.
Hand 9 Show
All my favourite stax cards and no way to cast them. Mull.
On the plus side, we can put Argentum on the bottom, but on the downside the hand just isn’t good enough. Turn three Trinisphere is too slow. Mull to 5.
Not great but we kinda have to stop here. It is awkward as we really want 6 of these cards at the very least. I’m probably keeping the lands, Blood Moon, and Flameshadow Conjuring here. It is slow but will get there eventually.
Hand 10 Show
If the cage here is likely to be effective stax, you can keep this, otherwise going to 6 from here is acceptable.
Keeping this. Turn 1 Cursed Totem is pretty solid as it turns off you opponents’ dorks immediately. Mogg Salvage here is probably not necessary. We can represent 5 mana turn 2, but we need to draw into some gas to get there. It’s fine.
Hand 11 Show
You can gamble on Dockside being amazing and keep, but that is a lot of lands. If you know your opponents are all playing artefact/enchant heavy decks, feel free to keep, otherwise keep going.
I don’t love this hand, and I’m likely tossing the Warp to the bottom. It has some awkward sequencing to play around the Sandstone Needle counters. It depends on what you draw turn 1, but you might just have to play out the mountains and play the needle later.
Hand 12 Show
This hand is solid. Turn 1 totem, Turn 2 Flameshadow and you should be all good to go for a turn 3 combo. If you draw another red source you can keep red blast open. If you don’t, and opponents have mana open, sandbag the Seething Song and wait.
Hand 13 Show
Well, we can’t do better with this hand. Top would have to work overtime to dig us out of this hand.
Helm isn’t a problem here, as we can put it on the bottom. Not a great hand though…
Keeping this and throwing Metalworker on the bottom (he would otherwise only be relying on artifact cards we draw off the top as we pretty much have to cast the artifacts we have in this hand. Manifold Key is essentially a Sol Ring, and we can represent 6 mana when we untap on turn 3, this gives us a decent chance to draw into some gas and get there. We can keep one of Cage/Salvage, whichever you think will be the best against the decks you are facing.
Hand 14 Show
This is only at all decent if you can copy a tutor with Direfleet to go get Ogre. I can’t really rely on that so I kind of have to mull it unfortunately.
The only worry here is playing too many artifacts too quickly and making your metalworker less good than he could be. Power him out turn 2 with at least 2 artifacts in hand (+ what you draw) and you should be pretty set for a good start to the game. Probably putting Mind Stone on the bottom. If we lose the Metalworker we will probably want to play the Chalice for 2 or more to be able to get our mana count up
Hand 15 Show
This on is good. It is a tad slow, but Magneti theft will get you there before long. You can win as early as turn 4 with this hand even if you draw nothing else relevant.
Hand 16 Show
Turn 1 Blood Moon against some decks is game over. Shame it also turns our Tomb and Cavern off. This hand relies on the Daredevil to find something good to tutor us or filter us into gas, but it’s a good hand. Whipflare is also solid here as our opponents who start before us can’t even keep their dorks that they get in before the Moon drops.
Hand 17 Show
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Hand 20 Show
That is a lot of rituals. I’ll take it! Top can help us filter our draws until we decide to jam Dockside.
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Hand 21 Show
It is decent. Playing this hand does depend on what you draw, and you are going to need a bit more land or rocks to make it work. The easiest line though is T2 Hammer with CoT and Mox, T3 Godo with Rite of flame and a land you need to draw. Having Magnetic Theft is slightly redundant, as it seems easyiest here to go the Hammer route. If you draw some quick gas on turn 1, i.e. Mana Vault or Grim Monolith, you could change tack and aim to win on Turn 2 with the Magnetic Theft instead.
Hand 22 Show
This hand is't stellar, but is probably keepable because of Faithless Looting. I'd keep it if it were the second 7. Faithless Looting gives a lot of chances that this hand can become quite good.
Hand 23 Show
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Hand 25 Show
5 more hands to highlight interesting plays.
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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 generally 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. One notable exception might be Conqueror's Flail , which is a useful card off the top of the deck with Treasonous Ogre or our other utility creatures, or used with cards like Twinflame for some lines. This isn't really a backup win condition though, rather a type of protective card that is tutorable.
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.
(Note, after the banning of Paradox engine, the below notes about it are kept out of posterity.)
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
Tap Top to draw, pay 1 to untap Top in response with Key, then tap Top in response to draw again. Then you will draw a card and put Top on top of your deck, then draw the Top with the second Top trigger. Cast the Top with the other 1 mana and untap Key and your mana rocks, then repeat the loop to draw your deck.
As soon as you draw fast mana artifacts such as Moxen, Mana Crypt , Grim Monolith , or Mana Vault , play them as you can then start generating extra mana each loop. Once you have a bit of spare mana, then look out for casting and untapping some red-generating rocks, as we will need some red mana as part of the next part of the combo.
Once you have drawn most of your deck, try to leave a dozen cards or so and tutor for any missing pieces with Gamble/Imperial Recruiter if you need to, but if you have to draw the whole deck it isn’t a dealbreaker either.
What we are looking for are Goblin Welder , Codex Shredder , Twinflame and one of Metalworker or Brass Squire . If some or even all of these are in our graveyard already, we can get them back with Daretti, Scrap Savant , and then via the Codex Shredder and Goblin Welder. With these cards:
1: Cast Codex Shredder and Goblin Welder and then cast Twinflame on Goblin Welder to make a token with haste (you can also use Heat Shimmer here, but you will need the Twinflame later in the combo anyway).
2: Sac the Codex Shredder with its second ability (5 mana), grabbing back Twinflame to hand.
4: Untap Welder and Key and your mana rocks with the Paradox trigger.
5: Tap welder to sac your cheap artifact to grab Codex Shredder back to play.
6: Tap the Codex Shredder to mill 1 card off an opponent’s library.
7: Untap the Codex Shredder with the Voltaic Key (1 mana).
8: Sac the Codex Shredder with its second ability (5 mana), grabbing back your cheap artifact to hand.
9: Repeat steps 3-8 infinitely. If you have at least 7 mana from tappable mana rocks, you will generate infinite mana, and you will also infinitely mill your opponents (if you kept 7 or more cards in your deck you can now cast Wheel of Fortune for the win if you want, but there are other ways to win as well if this fails or you don’t have 7 cards).
This is where it gets interesting:
10: Cast Metalworker and Brass Squire (you actually don’t need both, you could just sac another artifact in their place for one loop to get two of them, but casting both here shortens the steps).
11: Cast Twinflame, using the Strive ability it to copy both creatures (resulting in 4 total artifact creatures).
12: Sac Codex Shredder to get Twinflame back to hand.
13: Sac one of the 4 artifact creatures with Welder to get Codex Shredder back into play (3 total artifact creatures now).
14: Cast Twinflame, untapping the Welder with Paradox, and Striving it targeting each of your 3 artifact creatures (after resolution you have 6 total).
15: Repeat steps 12-14, copying your copies and roughly doubling your artifact creatures each time for infinite artifact creatures.
You can now use your infinite artifact creatures as fuel to return any card from your graveyard to hand in the same way as twinflame in steps 12-13, sacing an artifact token each loop and untapping your welder using the cast of the card you got. Lightning Bolt can be used to burn your opponents to death. You can also destroy any number of artifacts, and you can also cast Chaos Warp infinitely, though if you need to warp something out of the way, you should refrain from milling that player fully in step 9, as otherwise that permanent will just return to play. You can also play Dire Fleet Daredevil , and copy it infinitely using the Twinflame loop to cast all of the instants and sorceries from your opponent’s decks (having milled their decks into their graveyards). If you still have 7 or more cards in your deck, you can cast Wheel of Fortune to force an empty-deck-draw from your opponents (or alternatively use some sort of targeted draw spells from your opponent’s graveyards if you have fewer).
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 (now banned), 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. Unfortunately for us, the P-Engine is now banned, so not much to be done there.
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.
Manifold Key / Voltaic Key On it's own, the keys don'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-producing 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. We are currently only running 1 key, as drawing 1 of them dead isn't too bad, but drawing two of them dead is a disaster we don't want to run into.
Prismatic Lens This can both ramp and color fix your Mana for interaction like counterspells and forks. Fellwar Stone is similarly good, and the colourless versions are also solid ( Thought Vessel and even Fractured Powerstone is a solid card. Everflowing Chalice is nice as it can also scale upwards when you have extra mana to spend. We currently aren't running Fractured Powerstone as the deck has just run out of slots and we simply don't need that much 1 mana ramp. The upcoming Arcane Signet will take the place of Thought Vessel as an almost strict upgrade.
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.
Dockside Extortionist The pirate is a solid creature, likely to see play in other cEDH decks that run red. Early game it might only generate a couple of treasures, but a few turns later it can explode into an easy win. Most often he is a positive mana ritual, even early in the game and he synergies amazingly with Panharmonicon and Flameshadow Conjuring . It can even be worth hitting this guy with Twinflame/Heat Shimmer to make an even bigger pile of gold.
The rest of the rocks I’m sure you know what makes a good Mana rock.
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 to search your deck a second time. 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). These cards are also great recovery cards. If you lose your Helm you can search and equip an Argentum Armour and start knocking players down, and can allow you to combo through a Null rod or Ouphe. Heat shimmer can target other people's creatures, hitting things like Eternal Witness, etc. These are core cards that should probably see play in every Godo list, from casual to cEDH.
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.
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, and can play through a Null Rod. It also is a haste enabler for godo when you need to blow up a permanent ASAP, and gives haste to Goblin Welder/Engineer/Brass Squire. It copies Dire Fleet Daredevil , Goblin Engineer , Imperial Recruiter , and Dockside Extortionist 's ETBs. Though we are running a lot of lines that are redundant to each other through Hammer of Nazahn, other creatures in the deck with ETBs give these cards more utility beyond just copying godo's trigger. 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, especially with Collector Ouphe being much more common (although if Ouphe is your major concern, consider running more boardwipes instead). With the printing of Dockside Extortionist and other nice creatures, this is looking better and better. Note that it also has built in protection against destroy or damage on Godo, as you should stack the Flameshadow trigger under Godo's search trigger, and only get the second Godo token after Godo is safely indestructible. If they kill him in response, you can just attach Helm to the token and win anyway.
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.
On the Others:
Strionic Resonator is a decent cost reducer that we don’t run. It is relatively cheap with an upfront cost of 2 mana, but it can't play through a null rod, though only reduces the combo cost to 8, and telegraphs your next-turn win, which is usually not great 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), unfortunately P-Engine is now banned, so I guess that interaction doesn't matter much anymore. It has some ok synergies with other creatures in the deck with ETBs, but paying 2 extra mana for them isn't ideal.
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 annoying, 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. While most counters in cEDH are of the non-creature variety, there are enough Mana Drains and Counterspells around to warrant grabbing this card with your Expedition Map a lot of the time.
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 used to enable the Rube Goldberg Combo after drawing your deck with Paradox+Top+Key before Paradox was banned, welp. The new Goblin Engineer actually CAN get helm back from the grave, but only if you search for Codex Shredder or Expedition Map first. Currently Codex Shredder isn't in the main list (mostly to make room for Tabernacle), but it has proven its worth as a solid card and is definitely worth playing.
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 the Top loses some lustre without many shuffle effects, but we can include the off color fetches if you want (was tested, but these can do significant damage to our Treasonous Ogre lines, and are vulnerable to things like Root Maze etc.). 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.
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. Enables some of the more memorable plays that can be done with the deck (like winning off casting an opponent's Ad Nauseam )
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. A nice target for Goblin Engineer , allowing you to sneak it in to play uncounterable on your combo turn for one red mana.
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.
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 in the early game, or occasionally a Mana Crypt , although it can also pull interaction, combo protection, or helm recursion. It’s so classic red, and despite the risk, it’s definitely worth playing. Gamble wins a lot more games than it loses us, especially when we have such amazing cards to search up with it.
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). Ultimately Direfleet snags a slot where the others have not, because it doesn't require us to leave mana open.
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 . If you have low life, you can get Brass Squire as a cost reducer. You might even consider Magus of the Moon , or Goblin Engineer to grab a stax piece or Defense Grid.
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, or grab a Defense Grid , Trinisphere , Cursed Totem or Grafdigger's Cage , he can also grab Welding Jar as a way to preemptively stop any artifact destruction effects your opponents might have. Although slow, getting metalworker can sometimes be a lot of mana, but you will have 2 turns of waiting for a highly telegraphed payoff.
Goblin Matron With the recent printing of Dockside Extortionist , this card is looking to be a potentially good card. Targets in the primer include Dockside Extortionist (lots of mana, especially later in the game), Goblin Engineer (a stax piece or ramp), and Goblin Welder (recover helm). If you run this card you'll also likely want to run the aforementioned Goblin Cratermaker to add some extra utility to it. How good the matron is will likely boil down to how good Dockside Extortionist turns out to be in your meta (generally amazing). Her ETB can also be copied by Panharmonicon and Flameshadow Conjuring, helping you build card advantage to and recover from a failed combo attempt.
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.
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. Fiery Confluence is another more expensive, but versatile option.
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. The dream is to cast them from a tapped out board with Simian Spirit Guide as the red Force of Will.