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The Wrath of Goad

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I try not to make too many blanket statements about the format that I can't back up with data simply because I realize that I'm extremely privileged in that I can build my pods the way I want them. A majority of the Commander that I play these days takes place on my stream on Wednesday nights and I get to pick the other 3 participants. The kind of Commander I'm going to play isn't going to be the same kind of Commander you're going to play. I'm aiming for a game that looks good on webcam rather than one that I'm sure to win, for example, and I don't have to deal with some of the unknown craziness that comes with sitting down with 3 complete strangers. That said, I don't think the kind of Commander I play is entirely divorced from the kind of Commander you play, and I don't think it's that controversial to say that my observations about the format tend to resonate more than they tend to make me sound out of touch. I think some of the things I notice are universal, and with that in mind I think it's fair to say that Goad is a very strong mechanic, it's underutilized and it's a very 75% thing to do to a game of Commander.

Sometimes in Commander, it's very tough to get people to attack each other and forcing them to do so is a problem for people a lot of the time. They play utility creatures they'd rather not involve in combat, they feel bad attacking people, they spend time amassing a wall of creatures to hide behind. Goading shaves turns and turns off of the game by forcing people to both chip away at other blockers and lose blockers themselves. A lot more creatures die in combat when you're Goading. What if, perhaps, we played a deck where we wanted lots of creatures to die? What if, specifically, we made a Jund Goad deck because I wanted to build a Goad deck and worked backward from there to select the Commander, something I rarely do but don't regret in the least. Want to see the commander I picked? Thought you'd never ask! Feast your hundreds of tiny eyes on this Goad G.O.A.T.

Xira, the Golden Sting

Very much like the Alien in the movie "Alien," or the Aliens in the movie "Aliens," or the Aliens in the regrettable movies "Aliens 3," "Alien Resurrection," and I want to say a Predator crossover movie that I either saw or imagined during a fever dream, Xira lays eggs inside a creature and when that creature dies, the larva emerges from the corpse. You get absolutely no Goad support from Xira, but let's look at what we DO get, shall we?

Xira has good stats, is cheap, and has flying and haste. Serving with your commander means that your commander is a bit vulnerable, but you can kill someone quickly with 21 total damage, something that adds up quickly if you're buffing the power of Xira at all. Unlike the previous version of Xira which tapped to draw a card making it perhaps the least Jund card of all time, this Xira gets involved in combat and can come right back and serve after spot removal or a wipe, meaning she's very relevant. When your opponents' creatures kill each other, you get to draw cards and make tokens, and those tokens can be sacced to things like Ashnod's Altar and Attrition. Perilous Forays, Skullclamp - there is no wrong way to get value from the insect Xira makes. Lay eggs in your creatures, their creatures - it simply doesn't matter a ton, you're going to get some value. Drawing cards in Jund isn't quite as easy as it is in other color combinations, and your commander giving you multiple kinds of value means you can draw into your goad effects, further complicating your opponents' lives.

The deck is really starting to shape up - there is a real temptation to build some sort of Aristocrats build, but if we take all of the cards that would give us incremental advantage from sacking creatures like Blood Artist and use those slots for Goad cards, we can keep the board in turmoil as our opponents are obliged to do battle with each other rather than use and we can chump block or pick off anything that comes our way. We have a fast, aggressive commander capable of dishing out a beating and we have a full grip a lot of the time. This is going to be a ton of fun. Here's how I'd build it.

The Wrath of Goad | Commander | Jason Alt

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This looks like a TON of fun to play. You're going to jam as many goad creatures into the deck as possible, ensuring your opponents have to fight each other and you're going to wreak a lot of havoc on the board and get in and deal some serious damage with your commander, which is always nice. This is, as always, a bit of a hybrid build with the ratios very open to tweaking to fit your personal taste. Let's see how.

Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of War and Peace

You can REALLY lean into combat with Xira. Swords like Sword of Feast and Famine or Sword of War and Peace will do a lot of work in a deck like this, as will cards like Shadowspear which can also make it easier to goad some of their hexproof creatures. I don't love my commander being such a juicy target and therefore making me lose value if an aura falls off, but there are a few cycles of auras from Lorwyn block that can make Xira deal a ton of damage fast. Xira will be our primary damage-dealer in a build like this, so suiting her up for battle makes sense. If you can buff her power to 7, she becomes a three-turn clock and it's very easy to do that with a small amount of equipment and auras.

Grave Pact
Attrition
Blood Artist

If you want to play a more aristocratty build, Grave Pact effects would go a long way in a deck like this. In that case, you basically always put the egg inside your own creatures (eww) and then sac them to something like Attrition which lets you sculpt the board a bit more. You decide what lives and dies and which of the creatures that live fight for your amusement. You can add the Blood Artist stuff if you really want to, but honestly we have limited room and there are much more impactful effects. At minimum you want both Dictate of Erebos and Grave Pact to go with Attrition and Forays.

You can add cards that make all creatures attack every combat more and run more fog effects. That allows for very brief games where you're a less appealing target since they would rather get those lifegain and on-hit triggers than lose a whole combat phase swinging into Constants Mists. There was a real temptation to fully load up with my normal package or Sunstone and Crucible of Worlds. I rationalized it as everyone needing land and Geode Rager being very good in the deck. I ultimately refrained from building the deck I always build, but you don't have to do that.

Finally, this could be a Doubling Season type deck with more Planeswalkers and more tokens. It makes Attrition and Forays way better, but you're not throwing egg counters around trivially - it's one trigger per attack phase (add Moraug maybe) so you don't need a billion tokens, you just need them to hit each other hard so you can mop up.

What do we think? Am I mad to build a Goad deck around a commander without Goad? Am I a mad genius perhaps? Is there a fine line between stupid and clever that I'm walking nicely? Let me know in the comment section and don't forget to go to Amazon and preorder the book of all of my articles from catfancy.com. Until next time!

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