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 - 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

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. 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. 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 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.

The London Mulligan Guide! Hand 1: Mountain, Mountain, City of Traitors, Dire Fleet Daredevil, Argentum Armor, Red Elemental Blast, Blood Moon.

Hand 1 Show

Hand 2: Mountain, Sandstone Needle, Dockside Extortionist, Magnetic Theft, Twinflame, Chalice of the Void, Argentum Armor.

Hand 2 Show

Hand 3: Mountain, Buried Ruin, Mana Crypt, Honor-Worn Shaku, Prismatic Lens, Argentum Armor, Magnetic Theft

Hand 3 Show

Hand 4: Mountain, Mountain, Great Furnace, Dwarven Ruins, Whipflare, Flameshadow Conjuring, Welding Jar.

Hand 4 Show

Hand 5: Great Furnace, Manifold Key, Fellwar Stone, Defense Grid, Flameshadow Conjuring, Stranglehold, Pyroblast

Hand 5 Show

Hand 6: Mountain, Mountain, Mox Diamond, Lotus Petal, Goblin Engineer, Hammer of Nazahn, Whipflare

Hand 6 Show

Hand 7: Inventors' Fair, Lotus Petal, Everflowing Chalice, Treasonous Ogre, Blood Moon, Cursed Totem, Possibility Storm

Hand 7 Show

Hand 8: Mountain, Mountain, Sandstone Needle, Buried Ruin, Mana Vault, Lotus Petal, Ricochet Trap

Hand 8 Show

Hand 9: Mountain, Expedition Map, Basalt Monolith, Goblin Engineer, Ricochet Trap, Grafdigger's Cage, Dire Fleet Daredevil

Hand 9 Show

Hand 10: Mountain, Mountain, Buried Ruin, Darksteel Citadel, Chalice of the Void, Sensei's Divining Top, Welding Jar

Hand 10 Show

Hand 11: Mountain, Mountain, Prismatic Lens, Expedition Map, Brass Squire, Krark-Clan Ironworks, Daretti, Scrap Savant

Hand 11 Show

Hand 12: Mountain, Hammer of Nazahn, Goblin Engineer, Red Elemental Blast, Ricochet Trap, Thunderclap, Possibility Storm

Hand 12 Show

Hand 13: Mountain, Darksteel Citadel, Metalworker, Chalice of the Void, Goblin Engineer, Grafdigger's Cage, Argentum Armor

Hand 13 Show

Hand 14: Sequestered Stash, Inventors' Fair, Prismatic Lens, Mana Vault, Goblin Engineer, Thunderclap, Whipflare

Hand 14 Show

Hand 15: Mountain, Mountain, Blast Zone, Sequestered Stash, Trinisphere, Lightning Bolt, Helm of the Host

Hand 15 Show

Hand 16: Mountain, Mountain, Blast Zone, Hammer of Nazahn, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, Whipflare, Grafdigger's Cage

Hand 16 Show

Hand 17: Mountain, Emergence Zone, Thran Dynamo, Treasonous Ogre, Abrade, Mogg Salvage, Chaos Warp

Hand 17 Show

Hand 18: Mountain, Mountain, Mountain, Rite of Flame, Dockside Extortionist, Red Elemental Blast, Welding Jar

Hand 18 Show

Hand 19: Mountain, Mountain, Great Furnace, Metalworker, Brass Squire, Hammer of Nazahn, Daretti, Scarp Savant

Hand 19 Show

Hand 20: Mountain, Buried Ruin, Fellwar Stone, Manifold Key, Brass Squire, Flameshadow Conjuring, Possibility Storm

Hand 20 Show

(this part of the guide is a bit outdated, and uses a lot of cards that are no longer run, but it is still nevertheless useful for learning some of the interesting tricks that you can do with the deck. 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.

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 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