Updating Gishath

Hello folks!

I hope you are having a great day today!

Are you ready to get your Dinosaur on?

A few months ago, I offered my column as a place to explore getting another opinion for your Commander deck. I figured this could be a theme that I hit up once every six weeks or so. This is the third such deck we’ll be reexamining for you.

I have reached out and begun some deck reconfiguration and suggestions for readers who have submitted their Commander decklist for review. I want to follow their idea and vision for the deck, not my own.

Today it’s all about the Dinosaurs! (Yes, that’s a Jamie Wakefield reference).

I’m very happy with today’s submission, as it’s less Spike-ish than the others. When your Commander is an eight-mana Dinosaur Avatar, you know that you are embracing the big smash side of the format. So, let’s look at the deck!

This deck was submitted by Karl. In his submission, he gave me some thoughts:

Karl:

I knew that Naya was always a color identity that interested me, but it wasn't until Gishath was released that I knew I had found my commander.

I love being able to ramp fast and start dropping dinos, but I always have the fear that I'll get board wiped or subject to removal. Additionally, tapping out to play a big dinosaur happens a lot, which leaves me feeling like I can only make one play per turn to affect the board, so I need to choose whether I want to board wipe, play a dino, or ramp (in the early turns). I think this is probably one of the weaker aspects of the deck, and something that I could use some assistance with.

I think $50 is a reasonable budget for updates, as that gives me cards to chase after in the next year, or at least look for stuff to trade for.

Additionally, I was able to play it recently (and will probably play again very soon), and everything went really smoothly. Ramp went super well, I cast Gishath, and the ultimate play was casting Akroma’s Vengeance, then protected my stuff with Boros Charm and swung for Commander damage at one player and took another out with my dinosaurs.

Lastly, I'm a huge fan of the themes and feels of Magic, so I made sure that all my basics were Naya, as I love the art, and they feel more home to these behemoths than the Ixalan ones (not to say that I don't love those). Secondly, as Ravnica is my favorite plane, I have a hard time including cards from guilds other than those that make up the Naya colors (Boros, Gruul, and Selesnya). I guess that's just the Vorthos in me.

Okay! Karl is clearly a Timmy who loves big plays. He likes flavor. He likes Dinosaurs. Let’s help him out!

Karl’s Gishath’s Lost World Take 1 — Commander | Abe Sargent

Commander (1)
Creatures (30)
Planeswalkers (2)
Instants (7)
Sorceries (9)
Enchantments (6)
Artifacts (7)
Lands (38)
Buy This Deck From CoolStuffInc.com

All right Karl! Let’s see what we can do to strengthen up your Dino Deck.

Gishath, Sun's Avatar

This is Karl’s leader. And there are 88 Dinosaurs out there for Gishath to go to the mattresses with.

Now there are some cards I’m happy to see here! I like Territorial Allosaurus, for example.

And I LOVE Berserk here!

So, we have a $50 budget for this rebuild. Let’s get started!

As you can see, Karl’s deck has Dinos, support, card-drawing, and mana making. The rebuild won’t replace too many things, but there are some flavorful or fun things to add in that I think can increase the fun-equivalent of Karl while also playing into some of his needs.

One of the things I want to do is to look at the Dinos. Anything Karl is missing?

Yes:

Territorial Hammerskull
Wayward Swordtooth

This is a 3-drop that Karl is running right now, and it’s fine in Limited or 60 card decks that want to tap down a blocker when you swing. As a pre-Gishath body it’s not very threatening or synergetic. On the other hand, there is a 3-drop that works much better:

The Swordtooth is also three mana, works better later, helps ramp you to get to our big stuff later, and gives you an outlet to drop lands. It’s a strong addition to the deck.

Out Territorial Hammerskull; In Wayward Swordtooth

Rubblehulk
Etali, Primal Storm

Rubblehulk isn’t bad, and I’ve run it in my Commander decks in the past. Getting a big ol’ bloodrush on Gishath to get more Dinosaurs out is cool! But it’s not consistent. Plus, you have a genuine Dino available in your colors that provides beef and card drawing with the modern Red method.

Out Rubblehulk, In Etali, Primal Storm

After those swaps, every non-Dinosaur creature in your deck is either Xenagos, God of Revels or a Dino enabler (Forerunner of the Empire; Knight of the Stampede; Atzocan Seer).

Now, what is your deck trying to do?

Are you triggering a bunch of enrage effects and overloading your enemies with various triggers? Or are you running a Smash Face deck that ramps into Dinos and your leader?

They might share some cards in common, but they aren’t the same deck.

For example:

Pyrohemia

This Pyrohemia is in your deck. It’s a good card, no doubt, if you are pushing enrage. But your deck lacks a lot of enrage enablers. For example, you are not running these Dinosaurs:

Raging Regisaur
Raging Swordtooth

Now both of those are on-curve beaters that will also trigger your enrage. Are you enrage? Or are you ramping into Dinos? I don’t think you are enrage, I think you are pure ramp, so I will be making a few changes to focus on that for you.

Kindred Boon

I feel your need for added protection of your Dinosaur investment. Here’s Kindred Boon. Toss divinity counters on stuff and make them indestructible! Tell your foes to keep away!

Out Pyrohemia, In Kindred Boon

Xenagos, the Reveler
Domri Rade

I get why you are running Xenagos, the Reveler. Making mana for your dorks is strong. But it’s uncertain mana and you just have to hope it works when you add it to your deck. Getting a 2/2 is fine each turn, so you can do that as well. But it’s slower if you have an empty board to do the 2/2 a few times and then +1 for mana. On the other hand, meet Domri Rade. Our littlest Gruul Smith is card advantage and can fight to have your beefy beaters smash the weaker stuff, and you can accidentally trigger enrage too. Just because you aren’t enrage doesn’t mean that it’s still not pertinent. Domri is cheaper at 3 mana, and the better class of card.

Out, Xenagos, the Reveler; In Domri Rade

Fracturing Gust
Asceticism

I love mass removal at instant speed, and Fracturing Gust is strong at answering crap. But many of the support that I am adding are either enchantment and artifacts, and I don’t want the tension of wanting to cast this but liking your board position. So out heads the Gust for another protection-laced enchantment. You have both regenerating and hexproof now.

Out Fracturing Gust, In Asceticism

Dowsing Dagger
Lost Vale
Sword of the Animist

Dowsing Dagger into Lost Vale is a fun card that can work under the right circumstances. Sword of the Animist attacks for lands every turn. By the time you’ll attack enough to flip into Lost Vale, the Sword of the Animist will have gotten you multiple lands, and can keep on growing.

Out Dowsing Dagger, In Sword of the Animist

Naya Charm
Harsh Mercy

Naya Charm isn’t bad. It’s an instant Regrowth or a “Tap your stuff” effect, but it’s rarely doing anything else. What if I told you that there was a three-mana Wrath effect that would protect your entire team? Sure, it can protect a few other folks that are randomly chosen as well, but it’s worth it.

Out Naya Charm, in Harsh Mercy

One of the questions that any player of a tribal deck will want to ask is whether or not Changelings work for that deck. Is a dork like Chameleon Colossus worth running?

Snapping Sailback
Chameleon Colossus

It depends on your deck, it’s needs, and your view on that sort of stuff. It would give you a nice four-mana Dinosaur body earlier that also plays well later as you have more and more mana available to pump it.

The Sailback really isn’t where you want to be unless you are running my Tim Deck. A flash Fungusaur isn’t really doing much in Gishath Commander.

So, I am making this change. If your inner Vorthos says that Colossus isn’t a real Dino, then I’d recommend Zetalpa, Primal Dawn here instead.

Out Snapping Sailback, In Chameleon Colossus

Dinosaur Stampede
Trumpet Blast
Overwhelming Stampede

Dinosaur Stampede is a flavorful Trumpet Blast effect for your deck. Because you only cast it when you swing, it’s only giving you +2/+0 and trample, and the instant doesn’t really offer much. If you are going to run a temporary one-of effect, why not run the on-color Overwhelming Stampede or something similar?

Out Dinosaur Stampede; Overwhelming Stampede

I don’t think you’ll need 38 lands. So, we’re pulling one to give you the best two-mana answer that has ever been printed.

Heroic Intervention

This is Heroic Intervention. For two mana, all of your stuff, including non-critters, gets both indestructible and hexproof too! It works with your own stuff like Akroma’s Vengeance that you already have and will save not just your team but all of your stuff.

Out Mountain, In Heroic Intervention

Reliquary Tower
Slayers' Stronghold

Be honest. How often are you actually keeping a grip of more than seven cards where this comes in useful? I doubt it’s often. But Slayers’ Stronghold plays perfectly into your deck! It’s a useful mana-sink, giving a newly arrived Dinosaur both haste and vigilance gives you a free swing and keeps it back. Adding two damage to the trample machine of your leader can dig two cards deeper into your deck. This is just a clear-cut better choice for your deck.

Out Reliquary Tower, In Slayers’ Stronghold

Explosive Vegetation
Sylvan Scrying

I was thinking about pulling Explosive Vegetation for Sylvan Scrying so you could get any land and increase your turn two plays. Skyshroud Claim is better in this deck, because while its options are weakened in a deck without the original duels, you can still plop out Temple Garden and Stomping Ground. That’s not bad, and I’m sure a lot of folks would prefer the four-mana Claim getting two shock lands to the Explosive Vegetation’s just fetching out two basics.

The Scrying can get anything earlier. You can get a non-basic that works better. You can get Path of Ancestry instead to fix your mana fully and scry. Or grab Slayers’ Stronghold or Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion. And as your mana base gets stronger, this improves in ability.

Out Explosive Vegetation; In Sylvan Scrying

Worldly Tutor
Eladamri's Call

In a deck with as many creatures as yours, Worldly Tutor is good! It has a lot of ways to recommend pushing the table around, right? For a single mana you can ensure that your next card drawn is going to be the perfect answer or problem from your deck. But it’s card disadvantage and you have to wait for your critter. Eladamri’s Call is one more mana, and your chosen will arrive forthwith. No card disadvantage. It’s normally a good upgrade in quality!

But the Worldly Tutor has one extra spin on the wheel. When you have swung with Gishath, and it’s unblocked, you can set up the biggest, nastiest Dino in your deck on top to get it into play. That’s a cool extra twist. Does it happen enough?

I like the Call more because it’s less of a “win more.” If you are smashing and getting in a hit with it and reviewing the top cards of your library and getting free Dinosaurs out, then your deck is already humming. You don’t need this extra harmonica. Where the Call serves you better is in the early game as a tuning fork to find the right note to set up. Maybe you need to get mana or to pop an artifact or enchantment and thus keep your board position flowing.

Therefore, it’s Call in, Tutor out.

Out Worldly Tutor; In Eladamri’s Call

And there we go!

Our 13 changes:

Budget — $51.00

I came in at a buck too much. Sorry!

Feisty Stegosaurus

*Cough* Feisty Stegosaurus *Cough*

The Asceticism is expensive at 15 bucks, but it’s still a whole lot cheaper than Privileged Position!

There are three lands I’d want to add, but the first two are pricey.

Cavern of Souls
Yavimaya Hollow
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep

Cavern of Souls is obvious. Uncounterable Dinos! Yavimaya Hollow adds another answer to your deck. And adding first strike to Gishath is sick. The first is almost $100, the Hollow is $40, and Shinka rocks 4 bucks, but I ran out of room in the budget to swap it. Not cheap!

Bountiful Promenade
Spire Garden

If you always play multiplayer, then the Battlebond lands in your color are also key additions to secure for your mana base.

What about Kessig Wolf Run for your deck?

And there we have it! Here’s Karl’s updated deck:

Karl’s Gishath’s Lost World Take 2 — Commander | Abe Sargent

Commander (1)
Creatures (30)
Planeswalkers (2)
Instants (5)
Sorceries (11)
Enchantments (7)
Artifacts (7)
Lands (37)
Buy This Deck From CoolStuffInc.com

I hope you enjoyed this Timmy-esque rebuild! Thanks for submitting it Karl!

Gishath Rises

Appendix:

Here are my previous Commander deck reconfiguring suggestions!

Project the FirstVhati il-Dal — Vhati is one of my favorite leaders of my various real-life brews I have, so I was happy to help someone focused their deck more. The goal of this deck is to machine-gun and kill various dorks. Check it out!

Project the SecondMerieke Ri Berit — This Esper deck uses a number of untapping effects to steal and kill the target, and then keep up the frenzied pace. It seeks to control the board, and what folks are running, to ensure fairness for all. Check out my rebuild!


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