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Ghave, Guru of Spores Token Swarm EDH

Magic Card Back

Hello, and welcome to another of my famous* Commander deck breakdowns! This time, I will be looking at my Ghave, Guru of Spores deck, and breaking down what makes it tick. While there are many ways a person could build a Ghave deck, mine focuses on creating and pumping a massive army of tokens with which to beat your opponents to a bloody pulp. It also has a minor sacrifice subtheme, in order to make further use of all of the tokens produced if attacking someone just isn’t an option. You may want to use this deck, or one similar to it, if you like decks with a lot of synergy, but don’t want to use broken combos or if you REALLY want to beat some face. You’ll want to steer clear of this deck if you like interacting on the stack, want to play a more subtle strategy, or prefer to play a more control or combo oriented game.

*Not yet, but it will happen

Ghave

I’ll start off with all of the ways to produce tokens (at least in the version that I run):

The first and most important step in playing a beatdown deck is making creatures. Since we’re focusing on using tokens, I’ve assembled a good collection of token generators. Many of them, like Lingering Souls, Captain’s Call, Increasing Devotion, and the like are quite simple: they create tokens. Many of these cards, however, also have other effects that help advance your game state. Beckon Apparition and Necrogenesis can take care of annoying resurrection-based strategies (such as my Sheoldred, Whispering One deck) by exiling their creatures in response to any attempted resurrections. Selesnya Charm, Sundering Growth, and Phyrexian Rebirth all take care of problems on the board and/or create tokens for you to populate. Awakening Zone and Growth Spasm provide some mana ramp. Sorin, Lord of Innistrad both creates and pumps up tokens, as does Thelonite Hermit. Growing Ranks and Parallel Lives are great enchantments that grow your army by leaps and bounds. Finally, Requiem Angel provides some much-needed insurance against board wipes like Wrath of God and Supreme Verdict. Luminarch Ascension deserves special mention here, because of the fact that, if you can play it on turn 2, it will more than likely activate by turn 4, and then you can begin flooding the board with powerful angels.

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Your tokens, unfortunately, will not accomplish much when they are only 1/1 or 2/2. To fix that, there are many ways to pump and/or give them useful abilities:

These boosters generally fall into three categories: stat-pumps, ability adders, and combat tricks. Most of these effects are pretty self-explanatory. Golgari Charm‘s regeneration lets you be more reckless in your attacks or defense, and also protects your army from board wipes, while Zealous Persecution lets you really mess with enemy combat math. Serra’s Blessing, Intangible Virtue, Vault of the Archangel, Eldrazi Monument, and the fantastically powerful Akroma’s Memorial all pile abilities onto the army you have built, making them better in combat. The remainder of the listed cards are all dedicated to making your creatures larger. With enough enhancement on the board, it’s possible to eliminate two or more players in a single attack step with this deck.

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In addition, there are several cards that really benefit from you playing large amounts of creatures:

Aura Shards kicks a large amount of ass in EDH, making it so that your opponents can’t keep any artifacts or enchantments on the board. All of the creatures are there just in case. Sometimes, you need one or two incredibly large creatures in order to block commanders or to smash peoples’ defenses.

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If the Token Army strategy isn’t working for you, the deck also includes a powerful sacrifice subtheme.

First, the sacrifice outlets:

The most important part of any sacrifice engine is to have a sacrifice outlet, preferably one that doesn’t require any mana to operate, such as Ashnod’s Altar or Sadistic Hypnotist. The others on this list, however, are well worth paying mana to activate. Skullclamp is, and has been since its printing, incredibly powerful in any token build, drawing you a large amount of cards and allowing you to restock your hand. Attrition, true to its name, lets you clear an enemy’s board (provided you have enough mana) by sacrificing your own. However, any enemy will more likely run out creatures before you do, letting you swing through with your remaining units. Perilous Forays is a great way to ramp your mana incredibly quickly, especially when paired with Emeria Angel. Finally, there’s Ghave, Guru of Spores himself. His abilities allow for a setup of constant creation and sacrifice of tokens, which abilities will be exploited by the next batch of cards. Bone Splinters is an odd one out here, but it still does great work by removing any creature (even Black creatures) from the board at the cost of a single token.

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Cards that benefit from sacrifice outlets:

These are the cards that make your sacrifice outlets (even more) worth using. Skirsdag High Priest can turn your sacrificed creatures into large demons, while Grave Pact, Martyr’s Bond, and Butcher of Malakir clean your opponents’ boards. These cards are especially powerful when used in conjunction with Ghave himself, since he has both a sacrifice outlet and a token creation built into his card, allowing you to force all opponents to sacrifice a creature for only 2 mana. Twilight Drover has a wonderful interaction with Ashnod’s Altar, where, with only one token death to begin the cycle, you can generate many spirit tokens for only one white mana apiece by sacrificing one spirit token to the Altar to generate the needed mana.

The mana base:

Honestly, there can be any mana base you want, depending on whether or not you want to spend an inordinately large amount of money on fetchlands, dual lands, shock lands, tap lands, or any of the other really expensive lands that can smooth out your mana base, or whether you would prefer to stick with the much cheaper basic lands.

Deck Strengths

Ghave is completely capable of quick and overwhelming wins with large token swarms. It comes out of the gate early, and is able to maintain its momentum for a long time. In addition, the sacrifice subtheme really helps it diversify, allowing it to win battles of Attrition as well as battles of pure strength. It also recovers quite nicely from board wipes.

Deck Weaknesses

Ghave is weak to board wipe effects. there are a few ways to compensate for it, but if you don’t have them, your army and your game plan will be put to a halt for a while. Also, artifact and enchantment hate can really mess with the deck, reducing your tokens back to their normal size.

The list (That I use):

Commander

Ghave

Creatures (20)

Artifacts (5)

Enchantments (17)

Planeswalker (1)

Instants (8)

Sorceries (9)

Lands (39)

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That’s my take on Ghave, Guru of Spores EDH. If you have any questions, comments, or clarifications, feel free to leave a comment below or get a hold of me at Jake@Geekenstein.com!

 

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Jake Petersen

I am an avid video gamer and player of Magic: The Gathering. If you want to discuss either, or my articles, leave a comment or contact me at JakePPetersen@gmail.com. I love interfacing with fans, so feel free to hit me up.
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  • WrathsForFun

    Just wana throw these out. Phyrexian alter, ANY undying creature young wolf/Strangleroot Geist/Butcher Ghoul (insta inf creature and mana with phyrexian alter or ashnod’s alter), you have Juniper Order Ranger but lack Sigil Capitan, Mentor of the meek also a FANTASTIC draw base, Corpsjack Menace for double counters, Also Ivy Lane Denizen allows guru to make saps at 1 mana without net losing counters for some super sap generation. Oh also Doubling season Duh :P hope i helped :D

    • Jake Petersen

      1) You need a Persist creature to take advantage of Phyrexian Altar and Juniper Order Ranger for infinite mana. And like I said, the sacrifice engines are only a subtheme. The main plan is to annihilate people with buffed tokens. However, Ashnod’s Altar could easily come out for Phyrexian Altar, since they serve the same purpose.
      2) I don’t include Sigil Captain because of the fact that I have all of the buffing enchantments, so most of my tokens will not be entering as 1/1s anyway.
      3) I had Corpesjack Menace in here for a while, until I realized that it doesn’t pull its own weight and swapped it out.
      4) If youu would like to donate a Doubling Season in order to make this deck better, hit me up at Jake@Geekenstein.com!