God Tribal: Praising the Gods with Child of Alara
Unfortunately, due to a combination of work and other commitments, I’ve not had any time to write, and on top of that I didn’t get to make it to CommanderCon!; however, I have had time to brew and get some reps in at my local game store.
With the release of Amonkhet and the five new gods I finally got around to making something that I’ve been thinking about for a while, God Tribal.
I went into this deck knowing I was definitely going to be playing all 20 gods, so I had to play a 5-colour general. The first and most intuitive pick would be Karona, False God because of the whole God theme, however, since I don’t own a copy of this card, I went with Child of Alara since all of your gods are indestructible anyway.
The God Package
The gods of Amonkhet
I’ll start with the new toys that the most recent set gave us:
There are some significant differences between these five new gods and the old Theros gods.
- These gods are not enchantments
- These gods are always creatures
On the one hand, not being enchantments makes them much less susceptible to cards like Return to Dust and a Merciless Eviction naming enchantments, however they are weaker to creature exile removal such as Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares (some of the most popular removal in the format) as well as being much weaker to edict effects like Grave Pact.
Probably the best part of these cards is their activated abilities, Kefnet allows you to draw a bunch of cards and re-use ETB utility lands like Bojuka Bog, Hazoret lets you deal with planeswalkers without attacking, while Bontu allows you to sacrifice Child of Alara when you get into a sticky situation.
The first gods ever printed were the five mono-coloured gods from Theros. These cards all have great activated abilities as well as static abilities that slowly gain you advantages that eventually allow you to overwhelm your opponents. Unlike the Amonkhet gods, these are not creatures until you have five devotion (the number of symbols in permanents’ mana costs) relating to each god (blue for Thassa, black for Erebos, etc). What really makes these cards is their low mana costs. With the highest mana cost among these being four, they’re great early plays for the deck while it ramps into the more expensive gods from the following two sets (Born of the Gods & Journey Into Nyx).
Born of the Gods… Gods
This is where we start to get into the territory of multi-coloured gods. Due to the colours, these gods help to turn each other into creatures where the Theros gods don’t. This isn’t the only upside, in my opinion I also find these multicoloured gods (both the ones above and those in Journey Into Nyx) to be more powerful than the mono-coloured gods when taking them at face value. Xenagos helps to pump all of your already huge gods, Phenax gives you an alternate path to win, Mogis can potentially slim down your opponents’ boards, while Ephara and Karametra give you the two most important resources, cards and lands.
Journey Into Nyx Gods
The last five creatures in this criminally under-supported tribe come from the third set in the Theros block. While this set is widely known for having near to no value, it does have what I consider to be some of the most powerful gods. Kruphix is a monster when he is the general of a commander deck where he fuels everything that Simic decks want to be doing; however even in this deck he does a surprisingly high amount of work. This set also has Keranos, a card that has seen play in the sideboards of most eternal formats and who also crushes your opponents by providing an avalanche of lightning bolts and card advantage. Iroas only really shows his real power in the late game when your gods become creatures, however at that point he seems a lot more like a ‘win-more’ than something actually necessary. Finally while Athreos’s ability probably won’t be relevant most of the time and Pharika is probably one of the weaker gods, they can simply just be played as cheap mana beaters.
After deciding on the God Tribal theme for this deck I knew that outside of those I just wanted to play a bunch of fun cards I had never really found a home for outside of this deck. I did manage to keep some of these cards within the god theme but for the most part they’re just sweet cards.
Recently I’ve been moving away from control decks and building a lot more stompy big-stuff decks, so that games are a little more interactive with some of the newer players. Knowing that all of my creatures that matter in this deck are indestructible I know that I couldn’t help but stack the deck with a ton of wraths. The OG Wrath of God and its colour-shifted counterpart Damnation are great efficient board wipes that help keep you alive to reach your more expensive spells and don’t allow some tricky regeneration cards like Welding Jar or Thrun, the Last Troll. My other two four-drop wraths are the uncounterable Supreme Verdict and the more versatile Nevinyrral’s Disk allowing me to be able to deal with more than just creatures.
This deck only runs a total of three instant speed spot-removal spells but does also run two board wipes that we can play at instant speed. Rout and Fated Retribution are great in this deck with Rout having a versatile mana cost and Fated Retribution being able to kill planeswalkers, something this deck struggles with.
The other boardwipes are In Garruk’s Wake, Austere Command, Sublime Exhalation and Decree of Pain. Each of these serves a different role in the deck, however as these are pretty self-explanatory I won’t waste time in this article explaining every single one, onto spot removal!
As mentioned previously in this article there are only three pieces of spot removal in this deck and during deck building I knew I wanted to focus on spot removal that was incredibly versatile to help me be able to deal with a variety of decks. I ended up going with Anguished Unmaking, Cyclonic Rift and Beast Within as they can all deal with pretty much any permanent with Beast Within even being able to deal with troublesome utility lands.
Tutors and Card Advantage
Tutors are always a controversial topic in Commander, with one side saying that they ruin the format by making the singleton aspect of the format much less important as tutors are essentially extra copies of that card, while the other side argues that without tutors games of commander would grind on and on until one player top decks a win condition. I’m currently on the fence with this issue. I do believe that tutors should be minimal in a deck; I also think that a small number are required to make a large number of decks function, however, as always this number is dependent on both your decks power level and the playgroup you are a part of.
For this deck, I took all of the above into account and decided that compared to the other decks in my playgroup this deck is weak. To counteract this weakness I have added a number of tutors, some without conditions and some more conditional.
Being five colours I felt like Bring to Light was an auto-include. Being able to search up a specific god (since most are five mana or less) or a board wipe in a tight spot is very important to making sure that this deck functions as requires. The other auto include was Conflux another card that should probably be in most five colour decks as it allows you to effectively search for five different cards.
I decided to include three of the better black tutors, Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor and Beseech the Queen. These all allow me to search for whatever I need to have in the specific moment when I cast them. I would argue that Beseech the Queen could be replaced with Diabolic Revelation if your playgroup plays slightly slower decks, however this is a playgroup dependent change that will vary from player to player.
From experience I know that one very important thing for five colour decks is being able to filter your draws and generally draw more cards so that you can either make your land drops of the correct colours or simply just have the cards to be able to survive against the much more efficient two and three coloured decks.
I decided that to make myself less of a threat I would dedicate some of my card draw slots to more group-huggy oriented cards. I settled on Rites of Flourishing and Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis as they not only draw me more cards but also help to ramp/fix my mana by allowing me to play more lands in a turn.
Another of my card draw slots went to another enchantment, Sylvan Library. I don’t think this card needs much of an introduction, if you’ve played with or against this card you know how much of a powerhouse it is. Being able to reorganise future draws or pay life to draw more cards can swing games hugely.
The last card is something that serves two purposes and one I would only expect to see in a Captain Sisay deck. Heroes’ Podium both pumps up all of your gods while also giving you the opportunity to dig through as many cards as you can pay mana for to find another legendary card be it a god or even a Planar Bridge.
This deck is incredibly slow and as such needs to be able to protect itself from other decks. While a lot of this comes from the huge number of board wipes it also comes from a trio of enchantments that keep both me and my creatures alive.
Sterling Grove and Priviliged Position are great with indestructible permanents as they make the cards far more difficult to remove by reducing the potential removal to only a handful of exile-based board wipes and edict effects, this means that all of my opponents’ spot removal is turned off and if you have both in play it means that they are also both protected from spot removal.
To protect myself from just being beaten down I knew I had to add a Ghostly Prison style effect. With the high density of enchantments I decided upon Sphere of Safety, something that benefits from me simply playing the majority of the cards in my deck.
I won’t spend much time talking about the ramp package as it’s pretty much your normal Oracle of Mul Daya, Sol Ring kind of deal, but there are a couple of cards I think are pretty great in this deck. Having all of the shock lands and a number of fetch lands means that I can easily get most, if not all, of the basic land types making Domain pretty powerful. There is one card from Commander 2016 that has a great effect with Domain, Prismatic Geoscope. When I first saw this card I slated it as a worse Gilded Lotus due to it coming in tapped, however after playing with it a number of times I completely rescind that statement. In a five colour deck this card is a must and pushes you so far ahead of your opponents in mana that you will be hard pressed to lose if you still have good cards in your hand.
The other cool card I wanted to quickly talk about is Urza’s Incubator. I know that this is normal in tribal decks however being able to play it and name god before you’ve even played any creatures never fails to get a great reaction from your opponents, ignoring how great this card is that’s enough of a reason alone to play this card.
Fun and/or Generally Sweet Cards
The rest of the cards are really only there to have fun with. Maelstrom Nexus and Maelstrom Angel are a ton of fun to play with and it’s rare that you see these cards since they can only be played in five colour decks. Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder and Maelstrom Wanderer just give you so much value and playing gods for free is unreal for this deck and all of the colours in their mana costs help to turn your gods into creatures much easier.
As mentioned before the deck runs Planar Bridge, with the deck playing so many expensive spells being able to both tutor and play these cards is very useful and Planar Bridge does both of these in one neat little package. One of the best targets for Planar Bridge and something that fits into the god theme is legacy staple Omniscience. Playing all of your cards for free is absurd and most games where you can cast this card you will probably win.
Finally are some big haymakers. Kozilek, the Great Distortion lets you draw more cards and gives you access to some conditional counterspells while Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre gives you protection from being milled and another incredibly versatile removal spell that is almost uncounterable.
I honestly love this deck. It’s one of the most fun decks I’ve built and played in a long time and every time I play it I have a stupid grin across my face that nothing could wipe off (except maybe a Merciless Eviction but I’ve not been blown out by that yet). If you like playing a bunch of stupid cards that die to barely anything and cascading into other stupid big cards, this is the deck for you.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my insight into this deck as much as I love playing it.