Why I chose Gishath
Hello and welcome to my first article for A&B games. I thought I would start off about speaking about my favourite format, EDH/commander. I have only recently moved into the area and thought I’d share my thought process for picking a new deck for a new meta.
Local EDH scenes are fragile things. It doesn’t take much to start an arms race or to sour the entire area to a general/deck/player. Players are there for one thing, to have fun. It’s important to remember that not everyone has the same idea of what “fun” is, especially in EDH. Some players just want to make the biggest creature in their deck, some players take sadistic glee out of making a turn 2 winter orb and others just want to see how big of a fireball they can cast. Some people want to play 1v1 duels commander and others want a 12 player planechase game that won’t finish for 6 hours.
I have embraced every aspect of magic and have played EDH at just about every level. My first EDH deck was an Ob Nixilis the fallen deck, as it was the only legendary creature I had and it took literally every black card I had to make it up to 99 cards. It featured such mtg all stars as Insidious bookworms. I have also played competitively tuned lists, like an Edric deck that ran Gaea’s Cradle and helped warp the Hull EDH meta to the point where it’s THE place to play competitive EDH in England.
My idea of fun in EDH completely depends on my opponents. It’s not fun to use an Ashling the Pilgrim deck VS a tuned Grand Arbiter list, in the same way as it’s not fun for me to use a competitive Animar deck VS a modified pre-con deck. A game of magic is only as good as the people you are playing with and I want a game of magic, not a slaughter fest.
To that end I did some asking around about the EDH scene at A&B Games. The consensus was that infinite combos weren’t allowed and there weren’t any competitive decks, bar maybe 1 or 2. This gave me some idea of what the local scene was like but didn’t give me all the details. What is considered “competitive” varies wildly, I’ve asked people if they want to have a competitive game only to be asked if we can put the competitive decks away after game 1.
So I decided to combine my love of dinosaurs with my love of magic. Gishath was the obvious choice but it also has some key parts that forces the deck to not be too powerful. Firstly and probably most importantly Gishath is naya in colour, the key here is that he isn’t blue. Blue is widely considered the strongest colour in magic and is easily the strongest colour in EDH. An overloaded cyclonic rift is still one of the best plays in EDH and is almost always the correct play. Also newer players tend to hate blue, so keeping away from that is just a bonus. This was more of a safeguard against myself, by avoiding blue hopefully I won’t be tempted to do stuff that is too broken.
Second Gishath is 8 mana to cast. While it is theoretically possible to cast him on turn 1, in my current list turn 4 is likely with a good hand but he probably won’t show up till turn 6. While a good amount of power is given for this 8 mana, it’s still 8 mana. Most competitive commanders average a cmc of 3-4 and will reliably be made on turn 1 or 2. By using a
commander at 8 mana, you allow players to actually do things before the big bad dinosaur hits the table.
Third, no matter what I do, Gishath will be bad. In order to make Gishath’s ability consistent, you need to run 30-40 dinosaurs. Currently there are 54 dinosaurs in magic in naya, if you include the changelings. Of these maybe 10 of them are good enough to go into a normal edh deck. So in order to run enough dinosaurs for Gishath to reliably hit a dinosaur, you need to run a lot of bad dinosaurs. This dilutes the deck with bad dinosaurs and can sometimes make it look like you are playing Ixalan limited.
EDH is my favourite format, I want to play it at every opportunity. Ideally that would mean being able to play it where I live. I wanted to respect the meta I was moving into and didn’t want to upset that meta in any way. Hopefully by choosing Gishath as my commander I managed to do this. After all, making a giant dinosaur while humming the Juarrasic Park theme in my head is about as in the spirit of EDH as one can get.