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Around the Wheel: The Final Stop


Here we are, at the final article of this time around the wheel. We end with colorless (I suppose there's an argument we could start at colorless?). Colorless is an interesting way to build a Commander deck, though since the last time I built a colorless deck for an article, a lot has changed. The Eldrazi brought Devoid into our lives, and while we still can't play a spell with Devoid that has Green or Black in its casting cost, we do now have options for instants and sorceries and such that have no color identity. Even more importantly, they brought us Wastes, so we're no longer stuck playing a ton of non-basics. We can even run colorless land-search like Burnished Hart, for example. That's a nice change.

The last several decks have been focused on trying to do something unexpected. I'd like to finish the series in the same way. Anyone can (and many have) build around a giant Eldrazi monster. There's not a lot to mine there. But as I looked through the options for colorless commanders, one in particular jumped out at me.

Hope of Ghirapur

Many, many years ago I was at my LGS looking for a Commander game. I was relatively new to the format, and came across someone who was playing Isamaru, Hound of Konda. As I was playing Sheoldred, Whispering One, I could not comprehend why someone would want to play a deck led by a vanilla 2/2. So I asked. He said, "turn one general."

Hope of Ghirapur may not be a 2/2, but in exchange we get a relevant activated ability and evasion. On turn one, we have a flying Commander that can start to chip away at our opponents' life scores. It's so cheap, we can reliably activate its sac ability to hamstring a spellslinger deck, and we can expect to spend our mana on other things, since we won't be spending it all paying a Commander tax. This seemed like a good Commander to suit up and wallop people, so we're going to go Voltron.

We are going to want some mana here; among other things, we may need to activate Hope's ability later in the game and will want to recast and suit it back up in a single turn. Fortunately, we have a few ways to do this. We can run our 40 lands, to make sure we're hitting our drops reliably. We can run some mana rocks too, though it's helpful if they have an additional ability in case we find ourselves flooded, so Mind Stone and other rocks that draw cards are prioritized. We're actually not running Burnished Hart, because we can't really abuse its sacrifice ability and there are enough lands with effects we want to run. We don't want to load up with Wastes, but we are running a few because Pilgrim's Eye is another evasive creature we can use to make sure we're hitting our drops. We're also running some ways to make things cheaper; Foundry Inspector is a good example. Forsaken Monument deserves a specific shout-out, because it turns all our lands into Ancient Tombs without the downside.

We also have a few different ways to get card advantage. The first is we're running a lot of equipment, which sticks around after the creature wearing it dies, so we get multiple uses out of the same card. We're also running Mystic Forge, which will hit 100% of the time we don't have a land on top. Rogue's Gloves is great in any deck where evasion is being used to regularly connect. Seer's Lantern is one of those mana rocks with an extra ability. Scry 1 to move that land on top to the bottom and hit with the Mystic Forge! Staff of Nin keeps extra cards flowing. Tome of Legends is likely to have a lot of Page counters on it, given how cheap our Commander is and how often we'll be attacking. And Trading Post can turn any excess artifacts we have kicking around into fresh cards. (It can also, of course, buy something back if we really need it; sacrificing a Pilgrim's Eye to get back that Mystic Forge seems like a good trade.) Sandstone Oracle is a nice way to refill a grip, too.

We're going to win by suiting up our Commander and swinging for a lot. Our backup plan is to suit something else up, but those guys have to hit for 40 and our Commander has to hit for 21, so let's focus on the Commander. The vast majority of our Equipment is designed to give our Commander a power boost of some kind; we're kind of counting on Flying to get it through most of the time. Blackblade Reforged is an excellent example of a great Equipment for us: cheap to cast and equip, with a massive power boost. Commander's Plate is another good one; in this case, it grants +3/+3 and Protection-from-just-about-everything. Fireshrieker seemed worth it, because the possibility of a one-hit kill is worth a single card slot. Argentum Armor is one of my favorite cards to play; it's expensive, but we can deal with that, and man is it powerful. Helm of the Host was the first thing I thought of when I settled on Hope of Ghirapur. Smack an opponent with a suited-up Hope and hit another one for one, then sac the token to limit their capabilities the next turn.

Oh, it's not an artifact, but we're running Eldrazi Conscription. Time it right and you'll win games with that.

We're Limited with removal, but we've got some. All is Dust is great for us, of course, and we've got Meteor Golem and Spatial Contortion and Scour from Existence. We've got some lands which destroy other lands as well. But the lack of great removal in colorless doesn't matter to us much: we want to come out of the gate swinging and force others to use their removal on us, not give them a chance to play threats of their own.

A few more things. We've got a number of ways to buy back our artifacts. Sometimes we really want that Brass Squire that got wiped a few turns back, or we want to rebuy our Unstable Obelisk to kill a pesky threat or our Unwinding Clock so we can keep up with our opponents. We're probably okay holding those until we can get value from them, rather than just playing them out because our field looks empty. Ugin, the Ineffable does a lot for us, making our stuff cheaper (a number of them go to free, including our commander), clogging up the ground with tokens, and killing stuff for us. Brass Squire makes Equipping free, which is quite useful for us. Darksteel Forge is a serious swing from us and makes losing the game much harder. Gruesome Slaughter was too much fun to cut, but in our case it's probably only useful if we have a giant commander or happen into a weird board state with several creatures. Plus, we have a few random huge guys with abilities of their own, all of which can be used as secondary win conditions. Artisan of Kozilek can carry a Loxodon Warhammer too, of course.

Hope of Ghirapur | Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

This should feel a bit different from your average colorless deck. Besides, it's fun to rip out of the gate like a thoroughbred racehorse sometimes, and it's especially fun with a goofy creature like Hope of Ghirapur.

There are some notable cards missing from this deck. The Swords of X and Y would all be good, but the completionist in me wants to run them all or run none, so none it was. Feel free to swap any and all of them in as you have them (or, heck, run just the one to hose your friend whose oppressive X/Y deck is making your playgroup sad). In that spirit, there are a lot of Equipment options available. I picked what I think is a good selection, but feel free to run what you've got or your favorites. Some equipment to improve evasion might be reasonable, like Trailblazer's Boots. Ogre's Cleaver would be hilarious.

That's it for me this year. I'm going to take the next month off to regroup and figure out what's next, but I'll be back! In fact, if you have any ideas for what you'd like to see from me, please post them in the comments! This is your chance to point a series in a direction you'd like to see it go. Please stay safe and have a good holiday season, and I'll see you in 2021!

Thanks for reading.

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