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The Garth Challenge in Commander


Hello Happy Folks! I hope that you are having just the most amazing day today!

Today is my fourth deck that I am building around a leader from Modern Horizons 2. I am taking on what I call the Garth Challenge.

Let's look at my first three decks:

  1. First, I built around Yusri, Fortune's Flame! This deck is rife with cards that flip coins and care about flipping coins like Krark's Thumb and Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom. It was awesome and you can check it out here!
  2. Secondly, I built around Carth the Lion and made a great Golgari Planeswalker Matters brew around said Lion. I ran cards like Grist, the Hunger Tide and Rings of Brighthearth. I also made sure to skip the EDHREC.com page to really build the deck all on my own. Want to check out Carth's Buddies Brew?
  3. Third, I created a deck around Aeve, Progenitor Ooze! This deck includes one copy of (almost) every mono-Green Ooze as well as cards that are good for storm like cantripping creatures and free spells like Mutagenic Growth and Lotus Petal. You can read the brew here!

And that's it!

Let's look at Garth!

Garth One-Eye

This is Garth One-Eye. As you can see, he's an on-curve five mana for a 5/5 and he's all five colors so your deck can include every legal card ever printed. You can tap him to make one of six options for the kitchen table. As of right now there are 65 Garth decks over at EDHREC.com. There are four ways that I see to build around Garth.

  • Blink - The first is the most abusive. That's Blinking Garth. The goal here is to abuse Garth by tapping for the Black Lotus, then blinking him, then tapping for the Black Lotus. He has an infinite combo with Deadeye Navigator and a haste enabler. You soulbond him to the Navigator, and then you tap him and give yourself a Black Lotus. Sac the Lotus for mana. Blink him with the Navigator and net a mana. Repeat. You can abuse this with any blinking effect that costs fewer than three mana. You build up enough mana and then win with an infinite mana engine.
  • Tapping - Another way to build around Garth isn't to abuse the Black Lotus ability but to synergize with the tapping ability. You'll get the most value from Garth if you tap for every spell as you'll destroy two permanents with Disenchant and Terror, you'll draw with Braingeyser, and you'll net a spell with Regrowth, and then get a dork with the Shivan Dragon. The banner card in this build is Thousand-Year Elixir that lets him tap on arrival for a Black Lotus and can untap him to get a second tap and use your Lotus mana, or other mana, for his other abilities. Then you add in a bunch of other tap abilities.
  • Alpha Tribal - Notice something about Garth's abilities? They are all from Alpha. Another great way to build around him is to just run a bunch of cards from that set as well. This would be a very flavorful way to brew around Garth!
  • Commander '95 - I created a format called Commander '95 that only allows cards up to and including cards published in 1995 which is Homelands and the Arena novel that Garth appeared in. Run that format!

You can also check out Kendra Smith's vision of Garth in her builds here. Over at EDHREC.com I think that they are misbuilding Garth. How so? Here are among the most common cards.

These are all in the most played sections of the decklist and then you have cards like Smothering Tithe here as well. This is not a Five-Color Taxes deck.

So, which of the four decks am I choosing?


Five-Color Tap!

I don't remember any leader printed with a tap ability on a 5C identity so I am running it here! The vast majority of the cards in my brew are not on the EDHREC.com page for Garth.

What do I want to step into?

A. Haste - We need enough haste that we can tap Garth and his buddies on arrival to the battlefield. Haste is key here!

B. Ramp - Many of the key tap abilities in this build will require mana and in some cases a lot of colored mana. Therefore, we need ramp, particularly that of colored mana. We'll run most of the lands that can tap for any color of mana, and I'll toss in mana rocks that tap for many colors rather than things like Ancient Tomb or Mana Crypt. I'll run a ton of lands in here that aren't on EDHREC.com like Rupture Spire and Ancient Ziggurat. I'll also lean into mana dorks like Birds of Paradise that we can use as part of our engine.

C. Tappers - We'll need a bunch of dorks that tap for abilities for us to untap. A lot!

D. Untappers - We'll also need a bunch of ways to untap our leader for more uses as well as other key tappers. It's awesome in this build!

E. Support - We'll need card drawing and removal, as well as ways to reload Garth by sacrificing or blinking him after we've tapped him six times. And we'll need protection for our many permanents.

Let's get started with "A. Haste!"

Samut, Voice of Dissent

The first card I thought of is Samut, before she got her planeswalker spark! It's awesome here as it plays two roles in one card! Firstly, she gives all of your cards haste and thus let's you tap all day long. Secondly, she will let you spend a mana to untap another dork and thus let you reuse your Garth in the same turn that you drop him. She also is good in combat with double strike, vigilance, and flash to jump out and kill an attacker. I adore her here!

Swiftfoot Boots
Fires of Yavimaya

Let's turn to some more haste enablers. I cannot run Lightning Greaves in here, it's a non-combo, or "nonbo." It gives shroud so you cannot target Garth with untapping effects like Samut and Thousand-Year Elixir. Swiftfoot Boots are one of the only haste enabling equipment here, as just one more is getting played. I also am running Fires obviously.

Sarkhan Vol

The first cycle of Incarnations was nasty good and the cycle of mythics from Modern Horizons 2 is iconic as well and has already made a big splash. The Red uncommon from the first printing of Incarnations gives your team haste if you have a Mountain and it's in the graveyard. Between fetch lands and cards like Solemn Simulacrum, Cultivate, and Kodama's Reach we can get you that Mountain if you control Anger. I am running two planeswalkers in my build and Sarkhan is the first. I am running him for that +1 to give your team haste and +1/+1 which makes him better than Fires since he'll pump the team although he is easier to answer. Don't sleep on his -2 to Threaten a dork for a turn. Steal one foe's Commander to Commander Kill another player about to die to his leader. Use it and abuse it!

Alright let's turn to some cool untapping stuff!

Magewright's Stone
Kiora's Follower

Check out the Stone! It'll untap your leader with a single generic mana and that's pretty cheap. But it only untaps dorks with tap abilities, which is most of the dorks here. Want to untap something else? Just untap Kiora's Merfolk, which is the best untapper here as you can untap anything with a simple tap with no mana needed. It's a great two-drop 2/2. It's run in a ton of Commander decks and there are 10,612 registered over at EDHREC.com. I love untapping a land or a mana rock to make more mana.

Umbral Mantle

Let's take a deep dive into the power of Umbral Mantle. I am shocked that this uncommon is not on Garth's EDHREC.com page since it works so well on him! Drop it for three mana and then equip it for free, pretty nice. Imagine it equipping Garth after he arrives without investing any mana. Then you can tap Garth for one of his abilities with haste. For each three generic mana you are sitting on, you can untap Garth and keep on keeping on. You will also make your leader bigger for the swinging, and if you have a lot of mana, then you could swing with an 11/11 at someone's face for a lot of Commander damage out of nowhere. It's also great on other tappers which will look at later. It's an ideal mana sink and the first untap of Garth is free if you make and sacrifice a Black Lotus. I love this thing in a Garth deck!

Argothian Elder
Magus of the Candelabra

I talked earlier about running mana dorks like Birds of Paradise and Paradise Druid to tap for any color of mana to untap with the untappers. You can see why Argothian Elder is here. As you can see, this Elf is a four-mana 2/2 that will tap to untap two lands and with the many lands that tap for any color of mana here that is pretty good for the value. Anything from Command Tower to Archway Commons is great for untapping here. You can likely get two mana of any color from this untapper and you can reload some lands we'll look at later as well. I really liked the idea of untapping lands so I tossed in the Magus that can do so. You can turn mana like Sol Ring or the wrong color into great lands as well as lands that tap for various abilities that we need in this build. It's great here!

Tideforce Elemental

Check out the old school Imp from Ice Age. It's a 1/1 Imp for four mana that can tap to untap a Blue creature which is...Garth One-Eye! Need to untap something else? Untap that Blue tapped untapper and then untap what you need. The Imp can also tap and send a non-Wall dork that has been controlled the entire turn to attack. If it doesn't, it dies. Norritt plays two roles here as a tapper and untapper. That's your Abe Tech right there! Have you seen the Tideforce untapper? You can invest a Blue mana to tap or untap a key creature and then it has landfall and can untap and then do it again. Note that you can do this to tap and lock down a key dork and this Elemental is not the only way to tap something in our untappers we have Puppet Strings and Puppeteer as well.

Tolarian Kraken
Tidal Force

When I searched for untappers over at Gatherer I really enjoyed taking some that were big enough to help swing for serious damage and play keep away. Check out the Kraken! As you draw cards you can pay a mana to untap Garth and friends. You can also tap a foe if you prefer.

Check out the Elemental! At the beginning of your upkeep, untap trigger Garth or a buddy and then tap them for said ability and untap for free! You can also tap-lock something as well. Note that the Force untaps or taps a permanents not a creature so you can tap something else to get an untap. It also triggers every upkeep like Verdant Force so you can untap in every single upkeep. Just one round of turns at a four-player Commander game will untap Garth four times for no mana! Pretty nice for the team, right?

Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner

Let's look at my other planeswalker, Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner. She will draw you a card when Garth or a few other creatures with a power 4 or more arrive to the battlefield under your control, but that isn't why she's here. Nope! She's here for that -1 on a 7 loyalty three-drop. She can really untap a lot and in this build she's unlikely to be targeted for removal as she cannot really do much card drawing in any meaningful ways.

Alright, let's turn to our tap abilities.

Arcanis the Omnipotent
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

Check out this duo! I love it a lot here! Both have hard casting costs in a five-color brew, but these are why I'm running so many lands like Rupture Spire et al. I also have Reflecting Pool to help with these sorts of cards. Arcanis is arguably the best tap ability in the deck. You can tap it for drawing three cards without using any mana at all. And if someone tries to kill your Arcanis you can just bounce it back to your hand and recast it later. It's also pretty nifty and keen and cool with the untapping and the haste giving.

Now look at Kiki-Jiki, who is arguably the second-best tap ability in the brew. It has haste innately, so you'll be able to tap it on arrival even if a haste enabler isn't around, which is sad for this deck. Then you can tap and make a copy of any nonlegendary dork and said copy has haste, so you can tap, and then make a copy of a tapper and then tap that copy for a second ability. You cannot copy a foe's dork like a Mulldrifter or a Flametongue Kavu with an enters the battlefield ability that you seek to copy, since it has to be something you control. But it's still good here! I love it with Solemn Simulacrum as well as bigger things like Tidal Force. Enjoy this duo!

Merieke Ri Berit
Visara the Dreadful
Avatar of Woe

I love Merieke Ri Berit here. She's a three-drop 1/1 from Ice Age. When you tap her, you can steal target creature from a foe. If Merieke is tapped you'll control said creature. She doesn't untap like normal during your untap step. If she untaps, you destroy said creature and she can tap to steal another dork. In this untapping machine? She can steal, and then you can untap to destroy, and then steal, and then untap to destroy and keep on keeping on! Or you can steal and then untap her to steal something better when it dies in combat or something.

In my original build I tossed in Utter End and Vindicate for emergency removal, but I pulled them for Visara and the Avatar. You can drop them and then tap to destroy some creature and then you can keep on tapping. The Avatar can easily be dropped for cheap later in the game and then with haste can tap to destroy something immediately. They also trigger Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner, and the Avatar is great with Kiki-Jiki. Visara is in the same cycle as Arcanis and is another dominant force of nature. Nothing to kill? No worries they each have evasion, just swing away!

Budoka Gardener

I love Budoka Gardener here as it can tap before it flips and after it flips with very different results. Drop it on turn two and then you get an on-curve 2/1 that can tap to drop a land. If you draw it later in the game after you have 10+ lands you can tap it to make an X/X Elemental, where X is your land count, at least 10/10. Both tap abiltiies are great at being reloaded, and Dokai's tap can win your game quite quickly.

Bloodline Keeper

I really liked the idea of tapping and making creatures, so I searched on Gatherer and added in a few dorks. This Vampire is my second-favorite tap. It's just a four-drop, so it's cheap for the curve, and you can tap to produce a 2/2 flyer that can block flyers or swing over ground pounders. It's also a solid 3/3 flyer itself, which is on-curve. Then when you have five Vampires (likely if you untap it a few times and it counts itself so you only need four tokens) then you can flip it into a 5/5 flyer that can still tap for Vampires and pumps all other Vampires by +2/+2. It's great here!


But this? It's my favorite tapper of creatures! Sure, it's expensive, but it's a beefy 8/8 with vigilance. Swing and keep it back. Then you can tap it for a nasty 8/8 and untap it and keep on keeping on. This fun Beast will win games! I adore it in a tap and untap shell. And with haste? You can attack with an 8/8 out of nowhere and then tap and make an 8/8 on the turn you dropped it!

Bloom Tender

Most of my mana dorks are obvious. This isn't. Check out this Elf Druid! This is the only card I added from Garth's EDHREC.com page since we are so different. If you control Garth, this taps for five mana. That's a lot of mana that can be used for various needs. You could Regrowth or Terror or Disenchant and still have three mana. You could untap it, and then get another with the same mana! The Tender can easily come down earlier. This can always tap for green since it counts itself. If you have the mana and a creature with a different color this two drop can make two different colors of Garth and three others for a third-turn Garth. It's very synergetic here!

Mother of Runes
Giver of Runes

Want to protect a team that is going wide? I hear ya! I am running cards like Teferi's Protection and Heroic Intervention. I also have this tapper duo as well, the Runes Sisters. Each can tap to save a key dork from targeted removal. Is it tapped? Untap it with an untapper and then tap to save something else. You can also give something protection and then make it a great undying chump blocker or you can slip through a mono-colored defense with something like Godsire. The Giver can give colorless protection as well but cannot protect herself. Love them here!

Tradewind Rider
Nullmage Shepherd

I have two ways to tap multiple creatures at once for a nice effect and this duo does so nicely. The former card can tap itself and two other dorks for returning a key permanent. Note that unlike most bounce spells, this can bounce a land. You can do it on your own card to save it from removal or or recast a tapper with haste out to get another tap ability from it. You can bounce and recast Garth after he has used all abilities. You can also use it to bounce and remove an opposing threat or Commander. The latter card will let you tap a bunch of dorks for a Naturalize. And it's repeatable. Might I suggest using it at the end of a foe's turn before you take yours and untap? That way you'll keep your shields up. Missing a mass haster? No worries you can tap them without worrying about summoning sickness. Both are great here!

Ethersworn Adjudicator

I love this duo! Check out the craziness of that Elemental. It's Red and Blue. You can tap it and two untapped Red dorks to shoot something for 3 damage. Nice. Hard to pull off as we don't have that many Red dorks, although we have Kiki-Jiki, Anger, Garth himself, and Feldon of the Third Path. It's here for that untapping ability. If it's tapped then you can untap it and untap two tapped blue dorks, which we have all over this build. I love it a lot here! Swing, and then untap your stuff, or tap it for something like Tradewind Rider and then untap two Blue dorks and itself (like the Rider) and keep on going! The Vedalken Knight is great here as well as it serves two functions. It's a 4/4 flyer for four mana, which is pretty good here as we don't have a lot of flyers. You can swing and then untap it with its ability, or you can tap it for Nullmage Shepherd and then untap it with mana. You can tap it and some mana to destroy a dork or an enchantment and then you can reload with itself or a mana free untapper like Kelpie Guide and keep on going! Both work nicely here!

Rings of Brighthearth
Lithoform Engine

I had to run the Rings here as well as in my build two weeks ago with Carth the Lion. As you tap Garth or a Friend for an ability you can spend just two generic mana and copy said ability! That's awesome here and incredibly powerful. If you made a Black Lotus, then you just made a lot of mana.

The Engine is great here, too. You can spend two mana and tap it to copy an activated ability of Garth. You can also copy an instant or sorcery (unlikely) or copy a permanent spell like Solemn Simulacrum or Avatar of Woe when it's on the stack, which is pretty awesome in a deck like this, and you might prefer that for this build over copying an ability once.

Battlemage's Bracers
Illusionist's Bracers

I also tossed in the Bracers duo. The Battlemage ones can give the equipped dork haste so you can toss them on Garth or another key tapper. Did you tap said tapper for a cool ability? Copy it for a mana! Untap and keep on keeping on. The Illusionist's pair are more to equip, don't give haste, but don't cost mana to copy. Pretty nice in here, right? And again, with the Black Lotus ability? Nasty!

Now let's move to some cool lands.

Flamekin Village
Hanweir Battlements
Slayers' Stronghold

The first place I went to were the haste-enabling lands and there are three that have been printed. We need some backup ways to give something haste in case our easier-to-answer Fires of Yavimaya or Sarkhan Vol are answered. You can tap a mana and the Village and the Battlements to give something haste until the end of the turn. It's good for bigger stuff like Godsire and better for tappers. You can use the Stronghold and give the creature haste, vigilance and a two-power boost, which is great on Garth. You can swing with him on a 7/5 Commander that kills in three hits and can tap after combat for his ability. Good stuff!

Phyrexian Tower
High Market

Want to know how we reload Garth after we've tapped him six times? Check out this trifecta! I have sacrifice engines and a blink effect. The lands here will sacrifice a Garth and then let you recast him with a Commander Tax as well as sacrificing things for mana or life as you have the need. We don't have any recursion here as I didn't want to compete with Garth's Regrowth effect. You can sacrifice a creature about to be exiled from something like Swords to Plowshares so you can tap Garth to Regrowth them back later. The mana from the first land can help to pay for the Commander Tax. We also are running blink here as well to give your Garth a new life.

Let's look at one more card! Check out Golden Guardian and its flip Gold-Forge Garrison. Drop it with the easy to get four generic mana for a 4/4. Drop Garth. Fight him and kill the Guardian and then transform it to a land that taps for two mana, which is good for your untappers. You can tap your land to make a 4/4 Golem and you can reuse this with your untappers of lands as well. I like it in here a lot as another tap into creature maker, win-con, mana sink, and any color mana maker. Enjoy it!

Alright let's stop talking and look at the build!

Tapping with Garth | Commander | Abe Sargent

And there we are! So, what did you think about my build? I hope that you enjoyed it! Anything in here that I missed or that you like a lot? Just let me know! Enjoy!

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