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Commanding Candlekeep: Ganax, Astral Hunter


Candlekeep Sage is proving to be the gift which keeps on giving. With Abdel Adrian, we managed to make a deck which was a lot stronger than initially expected. Then with Viconia, Drow Apostate, we ended up with a fun interactive deck which will surprise a lot of players. By now I was expecting the unexpected, but this one turned out to be even more of a blast than I thought.

Ganax, Astral Hunter

See, my thought was we would go into the colors of Niv-Mizzet, and then we'd use them as our "thesis Enchantment," as my buddy Jason Alt is fond of calling them. Ganax will provide us with the mana, the Dragons give us cover and something to do, and eventually we put together some combination of Niv-Mizzets which allow us to draw all the cards and win the game.... Somehow. Candlekeep would, much like with Viconia, hang out in the background and offer us some extra cards.

But I went back and took a look at Abdel's deck, and thought "if I can get Ganax to bounce back and forth a bit, even if it's not as much as Abdel, I can make more Treasures and draw more cards!" Both of those things seemed good, so I started looking for some good ways to Flicker Ganax in and out. Rather than go for it all the time, though, I figured a few repeatable ways would get us there; we still want to play some Dragons, right?

Then it occurred to me if we put Xorn on the Battlefield, we'd make two Treasures every time Ganax came back. And if we Flicker Ganax with Deadeye Navigator, we'd be able to Flicker him infinitely. That's nifty, sure, and it draws us our entire deck, but we probably want to put a Lathliss, Dragon Queen on the 'field so not only are we drawing every card but we're making a whole boat load of 5/5 Dragons along the way. Niv-Mizzet is still great because we can throw damage around with all the card draw. And if we put that Deadeye Navigator on a Swashbuckler Extraordinaire, and still have Xorn out, now we make infinite Treasure tokens, which we can then use to make infinite mana. So now that we've drawn our entire deck and made infinite mana, we could play out Demanding Dragon and start Flickering it. I suspect we can get everyone to run out of Creatures and just die. We could tap everyone's board down with Juvenile Mist Dragon. Terror of the Peaks will probably get us there. Or we could just play out Zariel, Archduke of Avernus, tick them up, and win the old fashioned way with a bunch of Dragons.

And all of this without acknowledging we've also got a deck chock full of big ol' fliers ready to swing in and take massive swipes out of our opponents' life totals. I'd say we've got a deck.

Ganax, Candlekeep Sage | Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

Card Display

As far as I can tell, the combo only goes infinite with Deadeye Navigator and Xorn (or Deadeye and Rapacious Dragon for infinite Treasures). Otherwise, we're going to need plenty of mana to keep moving. Dragons are expensive, and we're skipping over many of the normal things a Tribal deck would do like making members of our tribe cheaper, since we need the space to deal with our combo. We have our normal 40 lands, plus several mana rocks, all of which are 2 or less so we have a turn four Ganax. As usual, we've got a few lands which let us use excess mana, and we may want to have a few extra for discarding, so we shouldn't struggle with flood.

Deadeye Navigator
Rapacious Dragon

Our Commander coming in and out will help us with our draws, of course, but it's useful to have a bit more. Fortunately, Unexpected Windfall, Pirate's Prize, and several others are happy to oblige; since we're going for Treasures, we may as well get them whenever we can. We're going to spend a bit more mana for a Faithless Looting, but stuff like Swashbucker Extraordinare or Goldspan Dragon make sure we'll make good use of all that coin. Niv-Mizzet is great with card draw, and Firkraag, Cunning Instigator does a good job of encouraging us to attack with our army of fliers and draws some extra cards, plus forces some damage around.

Have you ever noticed Dragon decks don't really mess around with other peoples' stuff? It's because they don't have to. They have a bunch of flying, firebreathing monsters at their beck and call - they are the epitome of the aggro in a game of EDH. We may not be dropping as many Dragons as a Dragonstorm deck, but we can still lean on our big Creatures to both keep the game moving and our opponents off our backs, and just in case, we have a few things we can do.

Reckless Endeavor
Reckless Endeavor seems like an excellent choice for us in place of Blasphemous Act. The Act is "better" and certainly more reliable, but sometimes we might just want some more Treasures and we can use this for that purpose, too. Our counters are not the best ones out there, either. Rather than go for the cheapest possible spells, we're going for those which give us flexibility. Archmage's Charm can stop someone's spell, but it can also draw us closer to another Dragon, a combo piece, or just buy us a Sol Ring if we want one. Insidious Will is similar because gives us options which we can leverage. The extra mana is worth spending for the flexibility.

Storm the Vault is really there for its flip side; when we can tap a Land for 10 or 12 mana each turn, it can be really helpful. Culmination of Studies is a neat little mana sink which can be great fun. Zariel can be put to use before giving us Haste by both protecting itself and working us toward an extra Combat phase, which is never a bad thing in a Dragon deck. Treasure Chest is a bit too on-theme to not include. Golden Argosy joins our methods of getting Ganax to beat it for a bit, and Identity Thief is this weird Creature which tends to draw attention, allowing us to more subtly assemble whatever we're assembling.

This deck looks like an absolute blast to play. Even with an unlimited budget I don't think I'd change anything about it. You can always upgrade mana bases if you want, but mana's not a problem here. This deck works great with more than half basics. We could "optimize" it with fast mana and more efficient card draw and all the things, but why bother? This will be super fun to pilot, be fun to play against at a table, will move the game along by threatening big attacks with winged giant reptiles, and will be able to occasionally close out a game which needs ending with a sudden infinite combo. Sounds like a good time.

I'd really like to know what you think of this deck. Please sound off in the comments! Does it look like fun? Not powerful enough? What would you change?

Thanks for reading.

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