Raging Levine – 5 for 50 #4: Gahiji

Hey folks! I’m back with the fourth article in my 5 for 50 series. For those of you who weren’t here last time, that means we’re taking the five Commander 2013 precons (released recently on Magic Online) and turning those precons into serviceable decks on the cheap. Each one already costs $29.99, so we’re spending up to 20 tix to upgrade them, meaning we’re spending $50 or less on each one in total. We’re also using the alternative commanders ([ccProd]Gahiji[/ccProd], [ccProd]Sydri[/ccProd], [ccProd]Roon[/ccProd], [ccProd]Nekusar[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Shattergang Brothers[/ccProd]) instead of the headliners to make things a little more fun.

(Side note: I’ll once again be using MarlonBot prices for this article. This is not because I endorse it or particularly care about one bot or the other—in a land where differentiation is impossible, I’m loyal to whomever I happen to have bot credit with. They just so happen to have prices listed for every card, not just rares like some others do. I wouldn’t even mention them if I didn’t think it was important to give them credit for their work.)

Sydri (Again)

As usual, I want to talk about last week’s deck before moving on to this week’s offering. The only thing I really think could use improvement about Sydri is that she really needs some more big artifacts to animate. I don’t just want big stuff that just exists to be big, though—I want cards that actually do things. Here are my ideas:

[ccProd]Akroma’s Memorial[/ccProd] (2.02)
[ccProd]Argentum Armor[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Dreamstone Hedron[/ccProd] (0.03)
[ccProd]Keening Stone[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Mind’s Eye[/ccProd] (1.33)
[ccProd]Mirrorworks[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Ring of Three Wishes[/ccProd] (0.55)
[ccProd]Soul Conduit[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Urza’s Blueprints[/ccProd] (0.05)

How did I miss Mirrorworks on my first go-round? I think it would contribute a great deal to Sydri’s success. I’m also easily sold on most of these—Keening Stone and Soul Conduit are probably the worst of the bunch, and Argentum Armor is weird because it’s an equipment. Ring of Three Wishes is fun because you can bash with it when you run out of counters.

I don’t think there’s a lot else I would do to this deck. I was pretty happy with it overall. I’ve played a couple of games now—hopefully I can record a video soon!

Let’s move on to this week’s secret ingredient:

[ccProd]Gahiji, Honored One[/ccProd]

Well, that’s quite the political effect. The goal is to encourage other players not to attack us, only in a way that’s not quite as openly ridiculous as previous commanders that have tried to encourage that (see Odric, Master Tactician). Let’s do what we always do: take a look at the mana! We have the following mana symbols on our cards:

28 red (32.2%)
43 green (49.4%)
16 white (18.4%)
87 total mana symbols

Now, let’s look at the number of lands we have that can produce (or can fetch lands that can produce) each color in the deck:

16 red (38.1%)
21 green (50%)
16 white (38.1%)
42 total lands

As usual, we’re counting Opal Palace as a colorless producer.

Well, that doesn’t sound right at first blush, but think about this: this deck is designed to cast [ccProd]Marath[/ccProd] on turn 3 and then keep casting Marath until everyone is dead. Of course it needs those 16 white sources to hit Marath on turn 3 every time! Gahiji is a little different, and we’ll be changing the balance up as we get further into deckbuilding.

Speaking of deckbuilding, let’s do the best part of this process: the cuts! Usually this is a painful process, but this is a preconstructed deck, not something we know and love. Let’s see what we can extract here:


1 Archangel
1 From the Ashes
1 Terra Ravager
1 Where Ancients Tread
1 Witch Hunt
1 Spitebellows
1 Warstorm Surge
1 Crater Hellion
1 Magus of the Arena
1 Grazing Gladehart
1 Krosan Warchief
1 Drumhunter
1 Ravenous Baloth
1 Naya Soulbeast
1 Spawning Grounds
1 Fires of Yavimaya
1 Spellbreaker Behemoth
1 Fiery Justice
1 Mayael the Anima
1 Naya Charm
1 Rakeclaw Gargantuan
1 Marath, Will of the Wild
1 Opal Palace

So we’re cutting 23 cards, including a land. Obviously we want to use Gahiji to its fullest and encourage players to attack but avoid being attacked. How can we stop ourselves from getting beat up?

[ccProd]Ghostly Prison[/ccProd] (0.53)
[ccProd]Norn’s Annex[/ccProd] (0.19)
[ccProd]Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs[/ccProd] (0.05)

We have a classic, an NPH bulk rare, and one Conley Woods favorite. Shamefully, we don’t have access to blue, which means we don’t have quite as many good [ccProd]Propaganda[/ccProd]-style deterrents, but that’s okay. Paradoxically, we actually do want creatures to be attacking. We can’t have creatures just sitting there doing nothing! That’s not honorable at all!

[ccProd]Avatar of Slaughter[/ccProd] (0.51)
[ccProd]Basandra, Battle Seraph[/ccProd] (1.82)
[ccProd]Boros Battleshaper[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Bullwhip[/ccProd] (0.03)
[ccProd]Curse of the Nightly Hunt[/ccProd] (0.03)
[ccProd]Fumiko the Lowblood[/ccProd] (0.14)
[ccProd]Goblin Diplomats[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Invasion Plans[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Rage Nimbus[/ccProd] (0.05)

Let’s get specific about these. Avatar of Slaughter is an awesome offering from the last set of Commander decks. When combined with Gahiji, the Avatar will create a huge incentive for the other players to beat up on each other. Basandra and Rage Nimbus are pretty simple effects that force specific creatures to attack—good for getting rid of problem creatures or “encouraging” a specific player to start swinging, which often starts the cycle of retribution. Bullwhip is a worse card, but it’s also better because you can make whip noises, crack (heh) Indiana Jones jokes, or sing Devo songs. Curse of the Nightly Hunt and Goblin Diplomats do a great job of making particular players turn everyone sideways, leaving them open for other players to end their lives abruptly. Finally, Invasion Plans is just plain confusing with everything else that’s going on, and it encourages blocking so that creatures actually die.

Now we need to make sure we have some strong token generation effects, as I believe that’s the best way to take advantage of Gahiji’s ability. We also need a couple of cards that combo well with the tokens we’re going to make. Let’s see if we can’t make that happen!

[ccProd]Tempt with Vengeance[/ccProd] (3.00)
[ccProd]Gisela, Blade of Goldnight[/ccProd] (3.80)
[ccProd]Assemble the Legion[/ccProd] (1.91)
[ccProd]Hazezon Tamar[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Skullclamp[/ccProd] (1.46)
[ccProd]Kessig Wolf Run[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Hunted Troll[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Hornet Queen[/ccProd] (3.94)
[ccProd]Nemata, Grove Guardian[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Living Hive[/ccProd] (1.05)

Yes, I know we don’t get the tokens from Hunted Troll, but how could I resist? I toyed with including all of the Hunted cards that we could, but I really only like the Troll. Tempt with Vengeance is really strong in this deck. We actually want people to take the offer, and I think they’ll want to. Gisela does a good job of helping us end the game, as does Kessig Wolf Run. Speaking of Kessig Wolf Run, Living Hive is quite good at completing said run in very few parsecs and creating lots of tokens for us to mangle folks with. We’ll be making lots more tokens with Assemble the Legion, Hornet Queen, and Nemata, Grove Guardian anyway, and we can haumph them for cards with the Clamps. Finally, although Hazezon Tamar is not our Commander, he’ll still provide us with lots of sandmen. (I need some Neil Gaiman tokens!)

Finally, I think no Naya deck is complete without the crushing power of this card:

[ccProd]Titanic Ultimatum[/ccProd] (0.05)

I wanted a card that says “I’m gonna stomp all over your face, even if my heart won’t snap back into place.” I think this card does that pretty well.

So, at this point, we’ve spent 18.91 tix, which means we have 1.09 left to shore up the mana base. Speaking of mana base, let’s take a look at how we’re doing on mana symbols:

28 red (32.9%)
39 green (45.9%)
18 white (21.2%)
85 total mana symbols

I think we need to up the red count a little without really reducing the number of W-producing lands in the deck. Let’s see what we can do:

-1 [ccProd]New Benalia[/ccProd] -1 [ccProd]Mosswort Bridge[/ccProd] -1 [ccProd]Contested Cliffs[/ccProd]

+1 [ccProd]Gruul Turf[/ccProd] (0.09)
+1 [ccProd]Kazandu Refuge[/ccProd] (0.03)
+1 [ccProd]Highland Weald[/ccProd] (0.09)

That’s another .21 tix spent (putting us at 19.12 spent) that changes our land base to the following:

19 red (45.2%)
23 green (54.8%)
15 white (35.7%)

I think that should do pretty well for us. We can just bank that extra .88 tix—I don’t want to spend hours trying to eke value out of it. For those following along at home, that means our list looks like this:

Commander: [ccProd]Gahiji, Honored One[/ccProd] [ccDeck]—–Land—–
1 Gruul Turf
1 Kazandu Refuge
1 Highland Weald
1 Boros Garrison
1 Boros Guildgate
1 Command Tower
1 Drifting Meadow
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Gruul Guildgate
1 Homeward Path
1 Jungle Shrine
1 Khalni Garden
1 Rupture Spire
1 Secluded Steppe
1 Selesnya Guildgate
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Slippery Karst
1 Smoldering Crater
1 Temple of the False God
1 Tranquil Thicket
1 Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree
1 Vivid Crag
5 Mountain
8 Forest
1 Plains
1 Forgotten Cave
1 Naya Panorama
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Mold Shambler
1 Deadwood Treefolk
1 Baloth Woodcrasher
1 Rampaging Baloths
1 Valley Rannet
1 Avenger of Zendikar
1 Krosan Tusker
1 Eternal Dragon
1 Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
1 Avatar of Slaughter
1 Basandra, Battle Seraph
1 Hunted Troll
1 Living Hive
1 Hornet Queen
1 Nemata, Grove Guardian
1 Hazezon Tamar
1 Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
1 Rage Nimbus
1 Goblin Diplomats
1 Fumiko the Lowblood
1 Boros Battleshaper
1 Sol Ring
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Druidic Satchel
1 Behemoth Sledge
1 Tower of Fortunes
1 War Cadence
1 Boros Charm
1 Sprouting Vines
1 Slice in Twain
1 Street Spasm
1 Hull Breach
1 Cultivate
1 Harmonize
1 Wrath of God
1 One Dozen Eyes
1 Slice and Dice
1 Rain of Thorns
1 Fireball
1 Savage Twister
1 Seer’s Sundial
1 Darksteel Mutation
1 Curse of Chaos
1 Curse of the Forsaken
1 Curse of Predation
1 Mystic Barrier
1 Restore
1 Tempt with Discovery
1 Ghostly Prison
1 Tempt with Vengeance
1 Skullclamp
1 Titanic Ultimatum
1 Assemble the Legion
1 Invasion Plans
1 Curse of the Nightly Hunt
1 Bullwhip
1 Norn’s Annex[/ccDeck]

As a bonus, I’d like to show you fellow Massachusetts judge and video compatriot Elliot Raff’s Gahiji list that he played in a video previously. It’s not built in the same way I build decks in these articles, but I think it’s a good illustration of what a Gahiji deck should look like.

Commander: [ccProd]Gahiji, Honored One[/ccProd] [ccDeck]—–Land—–
1 Arid Mesa
1 Clifftop Retreat
1 Command Tower
1 Forbidden Orchard
5 Forest
1 Jungle Shrine
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Krosan Verge
1 Mossfire Valley
6 Mountain
4 Plains
1 Plateau
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Savannah
1 Spinerock Knoll
1 Stomping Ground
1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Taiga
1 Temple Garden
1 Temple of the False God
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Yavimaya Hollow
1 Akroan Horse
1 Avatar of Slaughter
1 Basandra, Battle Seraph
1 Blazing Archon
1 Bloom Tender
1 Boros Battleshaper
1 Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile
1 Fumiko the Lowblood
1 Gahiji, Honored One
1 Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
1 Goblin Diplomats
1 Hunted Dragon
1 Hunted Lammasu
1 Hunted Troll
1 Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
1 Liege of the Hollows
1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
1 Oracle en-Vec
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Rage Nimbus
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Terastodon
1 Varchild’s War-Riders
1 Windborn Muse
1 Alliance of Arms
1 Cultivate
1 Day of Judgment
1 Harmonize
1 Insurrection
1 Kodama’s Reach
1 Mogg Infestation
1 Skyshroud Claim
1 Tempt with Vengeance
1 Wrath of God
1 Aggravate
1 Incite War
1 Master Warcraft
1 Mercadia’s Downfall
1 Mercy Killing
1 Return to Dust
1 Spore Cloud
1 Curse of the Nightly Hunt
1 Elephant Grass
1 Form of the Dragon
1 Ghostly Prison
1 Grand Melee
1 Greater Good
1 Invasion Plans
1 Island Sanctuary
1 Mirari’s Wake
1 Predatory Advantage
1 Seed the Land
1 Sphere of Safety
1 War Cadence
1 War’s Toll
1 Acorn Catapult
1 Coalition Relic
1 Crawlspace
1 Gruul Signet
1 Norn’s Annex
1 Selesnya Signet
1 Sol Ring[/ccDeck]

It’s another great take on this deck, and I think it’s worth a look for more ideas. I deliberately didn’t look at it before building my own deck, but Elliot (as usual) has some great picks here. Spore Cloud? Daaaaaang.

Okay! Next time we’ll get to Roon, but in between we’ll probably do some review of Born of the Gods. Hope you can wait!

-Eric Levine
[email protected]
@RagingLevine on Twitter


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