ReCycling Bin – Gahiji, Honored One Commander

Welcome back to the ReCycling Bin, a series in which I look back at theorycrafted Magic decks that never saw the light of day. This time, we’re looking at a deck I hoped would make Commander games move faster. Presenting, Gahiji the Giver:

Why’d I Build It?

I built Gahiji to solve two problems:

  1. I wanted to play a politics-style Commander deck, as I’d never done so before.
  2. I wanted to push my playgroup’s Commander games to move faster, by giving everybody a bunch of extra creatures and encouraging or forcing them to attack each turn.

I think most every Commander playgroup hits a point where its decks start to grind. Where players’ turns take ten to fifteen minutes, and games last an hour or more near consistently. When I was looking into building Gahiji, my playgroup (and most notably, my own decks) had hit that point. Turns and games were becoming long, drawn-out, and complicated.

And so I built Gahiji to make things easier on both myself and my playgroup. On most turns, Gahiji wants to tap out and affect the boardstate. It wants to force opponents to attack and interact with each other, and move games toward their conclusion more quickly (in a way that’s as fun as possible – by giving opponents free stuff and encouraging them to attack with it).

What Was the Deck Supposed to Do?

So how does Gahiji keep games moving? Well, Gahiji himself encourages opponents to attack (and notably, to attack each other – not you). To make sure even creature-less opponents have creatures to attack with, I included cards like Hunted Dragon, Hunted Troll, Alliance of Arms, and Sylvan Offering. Those cards give opponents some armies to smash against each other (and allow me to help out players who may be behind for some reason or another).

Then, I included cards that encouraged or forced my opponents’ creatures to attack. The deck’s many Curses and Vows encourage opponents to attack each other, while Goblin Spymaster, Fumiko the Lowblood, Marisi, Breaker of the Coil, Warmonger Hellkite, and Bloodthirsty Blade keep opponents’ creatures attacking even when they don’t want to.

Finally, I hedged against opponents disregarding my excellent gifts and incentives to attack each other by including a number of Ghostly Prison style effects that taxed opponents who decided to attack me. After finishing the deck off with some ramp, card draw, and removal (much of which leaves tokens behind), I finally landed on the recently updated decklist you can see here.

Why’d It Never See Play?

Shortly after I theorycrafted my initial version of Gahiji, I moved away from my Midwest playgroup. I then started playing Commander primarily in game stores, where most players play more powerful decks that are built to win quickly.

So Gahiji was no longer necessary, and he would not have been fun to play. Giving opponents who are already set to win on turn four or five more stuff to do is not as fun as encouraging my Midwest playgroup’s lower power decks to smash into each other. (Playing politics is less fun when there are less politics to play.) So I shelved Project Gahiji … until this year, when I began playing a lot more Commander with my Midwest playgroup again, “thanks” to the pandemic.

As I’ve started playing more Commander online, I’ve thrown Gahiji and a number of other theorycrafted decks together to try out. And playing Gahiji has been fun! The deck does not win (because that’s not what it’s designed to do), but it does encourage opponents to interact with and attack each other – and it move games forward. If you’re looking for ways to play politics and bluster and give your opponents gifts to attack each other with, simply because you want to play more games of Commander more quickly, I highly recommend trying out Gahiji.

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