God of the Forge

Theros offers a bevy of Commander options, but it’s tough to consider the smorgasbord before us without trying to answer the question: How do we use the Gods?

The issue is that their devotion is an on/off switch rather than a scale, so we aren’t rewarded for going whole-hog on that front, and most of them don’t really offer other build-around options. I say most–

Purphoros, God of the Forge

–but Purphoros does. The God of the Forge is loud and clear in saying that he wants a lot of creatures entering the battlefield on your side. There are tricks to generating more enters-the-battlefield triggers, but Flickering doesn’t add more bodies for his Firebreathing, and tokens don’t add to your devotion. The only way to hit all three criteria is to cast a bunch of red creatures the old-fashioned way.

And that’s a trap.

An indestructible enchantment is tough to deal with for most Commander decks; an indestructible creature is less so. That’s not to say that we never want Purphoros to hit his devotion cap, but rather that we want to control when it happens and for how long. Tokens do an excellent job of enabling that gameplay by keeping our devotion count fairly low and by making the inclusion of sacrifice outlets worthwhile so that we can avoid our deity taking a Spin into Myth.

Equipped for Godhood

So, we’re going to be building a tokens deck. Obviously, we’ll need some ways to make tokens. The name of the game is quantity over quality, so if you’ve been itching to play Skittering Invasion, now’s your chance. That preference also means that anthem effects such as Homura, Human Ascendant will be performing at their best. But that’s all pretty standard issue. So, what makes a Purphoros, God of the Forge deck distinct from other red tokens decks? Purphoros is the one dealing the damage.

Loxodon Warhammer
Batterskull

A lifelinking Purphoros puts even Gray Merchant of Asphodel to shame, and life-gain’s not the red God’s only trick. There’s also multiplying damage. Since each trigger deals damage separately, Purophoros can complete a Quest for Pure Flame in no time, and Neko-Te puts an already-fast clock into overdrive. If you’re playing in a more cutthroat group, you can even suit your commander up with a Grafted Exoskeleton!

Taken altogether, these interactions map out a deck that will cut down on game times without robbing players of the chance to execute their plans:

"The Smithy"

“So, how does it actually play out?” you ask.

“I’m glad you asked that,” I reply.

“Of course I asked,” you counter, “you’re controlling my speech!”

With that, we agree to cut the witty banter and move on to a game recap.

God among Men

Three other commanders hit the board, and we were off to the races.

Selenia, Dark Angel
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Karona, False God
Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter

Selenia got off to a strong start with a turn-one Sol Ring into Expedition Map for Cabal Coffers. The rest of us were just starting to catch up on mana when the card-draw began. Selenia used Black Sun’s Zenith to kill her own Academy Rector, secretly a devotee of Erebos, God of the Dead. Vish Kal followed suit with a Phyrexian Arena, and I decided to take advantage of all the life-loss by summoning Purphoros, God of the Forge.

Selenia had other plans.

Return to Dust

With the competition for both God and card-draw engine out of the way, Erebos began piling up cards, unfazed by Vish Kal’s Emeria Angel. Apparently content to leave the game be, Karona brought things to a Standstill, but we only had to wait for Selenia’s turn to come around again before it was broken by an entwined Promise of Power.

I fought back with Akroma’s Memorial to turn my Solemn Simulacrum into a suitable blocker, but Karona’s response was delayed for a turn as Diabolic Tutor ate up most of her mana. Vish Kal received a shiny emblem from Sorin, Lord of Innistrad to boost his army, and Selenia entered the field of battle for herself. Meanwhile, I busied myself recasting Purphoros, all of us oblivious to Karona’s machinations.

Eye of the Storm

The enchantment immediately subsumed Vish Kal’s Swords to Plowshares, which took out Selenia’s 9/9 Demon token. Then, he followed it up with a Requiem Angel and started swinging wildly with his army of Birds.

Selenia wasn’t worried by the small fries. She took herself down to 1 life and then used Reverse the Sands to put Vish Kal on death’s door. Eye of the Storm would repeat the spell for anyone who wanted, but Selenia’s Erebos ensured that nobody else could ever swap into a higher life total. All that meant it was time for me to start with the bashing. Myr Battlesphere let Purphoros nog everyone else for 10, and the haste–vigilance combo from Akroma’s Memorial added another 16 to the damage count. That killed Vish Kal and left me at 34, with Karona at 24 and Selenia at 21. But Selenia wasn’t about to go down without a fight.

Wrath of God
Debtors' Knell

Luckily, I had another round of creatures to clean things up. Siege-Gang Commander into Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker hit for 18 direct damage and allowed Purphoros to come down from his mountain, but the allegedly lethal attack came to an abrupt halt when Karona’s Pact of the Titan allowed for an instant-speed Wrath of God off Eye of the Storm.

Selenia went to get the drop on Karona by returning to the battlefield and fulfilling Erebos’s devotion quota, but Karona had yet another cheap instant to clear the board. With my enemies nearly tapped out, I knew the time was at hand to release certain death upon the crowd.

Snake Basket

Another one bites the dust.

Forging Alliances

I’m not usually one to take aggressive bents on Commander, but for me, playing with Purphoros fulfilled the same destructive urge as knocking over a sandcastle at the beach. If you have even the slightest inclination toward aggression, I’d strongly recommend honoring the God of the Forge with a prayer. You might just find yourself taking the cloth.

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