Commander Clinic is meant to be a light read or little five minute diversion about the commander format to get you thinking about improving your game. Deck Techs are more in depth and can take additional time to digest the entire article. Feel free to read the strategy in one sitting up to The Key Three and then read the rest of the article in a separate sitting. Do not forget to check out the full deck list on Arkidect.
Editor’s Note: After this article was published Golos was banned. This deck has been revised to be legal you can find the current legal deck Revisioning Golos: Better, Faster, Stronger
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is a powerhouse. If you have ever played against a finely tuned Golos deck,then you know how disgusting it can get. According to EDHREC most decks fall into the lands or big mana themes Superfriends does come in third with 467 decks. At the time of this writing for 8.7% of all Golos Decks. Golos is popular, although we are building him in an alternative to the majority of decks out there.
When you build Golos Superfriends it’s a trap if you just build it to theme only. While you want to construct it with the eye of activating his second ability, you do not want to ignore his ability to fetch any land from your deck. You want to add in a theme of blink mischievousness to get some critical lands out on the battlefield. Then abuse some ETB creatures that can round out your creature suite. Blink mischievousness also helps protect your limited number of creatures found in a superfriends deck from targeted removal. We will want to make sure there are some blink cards like Ephemerate and Mistmeadow Witch that give this benefit.
Not your Normal Superfriends Deck.
Most superfriends decks are value decks. This deck is no different; however, most want to control what and when they play and grind out deck value of their choice. Golos is different. For seven mana you will be exiling and playing three cards off the top of your deck. You will be attempting to activate Golos multiple times to create a critical mass of value. This adds a level of randomness to your superfriends deck with an eye of wanting to cast spells that have a combined mana value of eight or more for each activation of Golos.
The skill of playing this deck then becomes managing the planeswalker abilities of the superfriends you have and shaping them to give maximum impact on the board. It also means each card you select for your deck will be crucial. You will need a critical mass of certain cards if you want to make sure you hit them off the top of your deck. The deck also wants enough value from each card whenever you cast it. Sometimes you will whiff when activating Golos. Keep in mind for each time you whiff there will be times you will hit an amazing value off the top. The deck is enjoyable because depending what you pull off the top of your deck, your strategy can change for a turn. If you find you are gravitating away from combo decks that win using the same cards each time, then give Golos a try.
Your best card is a land.
Since your commander is a five mana you can utilize land ramp to get him out quicker while fixing your mana. This is solid as casual commander, players normally don’t target lands for destruction. When you cast Golos he fetches any land which puts you a turn closer to activating his second ability. If you already have the ability to tap for WUBRG Temple of the False God will get you there immediately. Although often that is not the case.
In most cases you want to fetch a newer released card from Kaldheim, The World Tree. The World Tree fixes your mana if you have six lands in play. When Golos fetches it you now have six lands. The deck is 90% of the way to activating Golos for the rest of the game or cast the best and brightest cards from your hand. Don’t get caught up with The World Tree’s second ability. You’ll never be activating it. The guaranteed mana fixing is all that’s needed. This build is counting on the lack of land removal. If your meta sees land destruction you will need to add cards like Prismatic Omen and Chromatic Lantern to your build.
What you blink can be critical. There are not as many enter the battlefield targets as a blink decks want. So often when the game is young the only target you will have to blink is Golos himself. This is fine because Golos can ramp a deck hyper-efficiently. The deck contains Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. Being able to fetch these cards out of your deck will allow you to create excessive amounts of mana to pump into Golos himself or cast some critical card pieces that are in your hand. Consider Cabal Coffers as a way to generate colorless mana. This saves your lands to generate any color you need and allows you to spend mana more efficiently.
The intense mana generation also insulates you from your opponents removing Golos. Oftentimes players can be dissuaded from targeting your Golos. When players observe you can cast him again and pull another land from your deck, they may look elsewhere. As much as you do not like to be timewalked (or losing a turn) by casting Golos again and again, your opponents do not want to be timewalked by targeting Golos again and again either.
There are only four other ETB cards in the deck. The main strategy is superfriends. As such the deck is constructed with an eye towards that strategy. Blinking isn’t an afterthought. Instead it’s making sure the card helps the deck function for its main purpose in addition to having an ETB effect. The deck is deliberate in it’s construction and the cards it wants to play off the topp of the deck. Because of this the ETB effects were very selective.
Eternal Witness brings a card back from the graveyard for reuse. Players know to target cards like The Chain Veil and Doubling Season so the ability to get them back is important. Dockside Extortionist is an additional ramp mechanism. It allows you to save up the mana for when you need it from turn to turn. If you can blink him things can get way out of hand. A few extra treasures can be an additional Golos activation or playing a key card from hand while activating Golos. With Golos fetching lands, Avenger of Zendikar will create a plethora of plants that you can use as blockers to protect your planeswalkers or close out a game late after several landfall triggers.
Finally Deepglow Skate can allow you to take over games. An unknown Skate in hand will disrupt your opponents calculations on when you can ultimate your planeswalkers. All of a sudden the skate allows you to ultimate two or three planeswalkers and things get out of hand. Then you blink the skate and planeswalkers loyalties double again helping to protect them from anyone considering to attack and remove your planeswalkers off the board. The skate will make things quite troublesome for your opponents. The skate either ends games or moves the table to the endgame. Dr. Strange would be proud.
I believe The Command Zone recommends around 15-18 planeswalkers in a superfriends deck. It’s understandable. At that level it allows you to include additional interaction with the table while allowing you to do your thing. It also allows you to have additional cards that help augment your superfriend strategy. However, I think that number is a little low.
When building your superfriends deck you are allocating cards to different effect categories. For example with Golos we will want the standard Card Draw/Quality, Ramp, and Removal. We also will want Blink Effects, some creatures, superfriends payoffs, and additional planeswalkers. Your planeswalker count can rise well above 18 if you can slot additional planeswalkers into nontraditional planeswalker categories. For example, in the blink category Aminatou, the Fateshifter and Venser, the Sojourner have abilities that blink cards and fit in those categories. Also, six out of ten removal cards of this Golos deck are planeswalkers. Using this method you can fit roughly 25 planeswalkers or more in your deck. This assures when you have your superfriends payoff you have the planeswalkers to make it work.
Not All Planeswalkers are Equal (sort of)
When you run this large amount of planeswalkers your opponent can not remove every single one that enters the battlefield. They need to save their targeted removal and use it sparingly. They can attack into them but it might not always be the best play for them. Often ramp planeswalkers or card draw planeswalkers will be glossed over because while they help you they are not hindering your opponent. Nissa, Who Shakes the World or even A Chandra, Torch of Defiance used to generate mana can be left alone as players focus on other threats elsewhere. Your opponents have to do this and it is to your benefit.
Over the years I found it’s not too difficult to use an ultimate loyalty ability of a Nissa planeswalker. It may not seem like much but excessive mana when Golos is on the battlefield can create some very explosive turns. Keep in mind explosive turns help win games of commander. It may be tempting to remove such planeswalkers from your deck. Don’t. These cards are the infrastructure of the deck.
The drawback is by putting these abilities on planeswalkers you are playing at sorcery speed as opposed to flash speed. It’s a tradeoff for being able to activate these abilities again and again and gaining value. In essence you’re outvaluing your opponents and creating a board state where they have to interact with you in order to progress their game. Also, while a planeswalker like Teferi, Master of Time is slotted as card draw/quality he has additional abilities in removal and taking extra turns. While you lose flash speed you gain versatility in your decision tree and that is an advantage too. Keep in mind while Teferi is in your deck for card quality reasons, your opponents will see the take two extra turns ability and target it for removal. If you can convince your opponents otherwise , then you should receive The Silver Tongue Award.
The Key Three
Often there are key cards that help the deck run smoothly or at a high level. There are many synergistic pieces to this deck. You can see the entire deck list on Arkidekt. Golos is a given and is not included here. Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider and other loyalty counter shenanigans are an honorable mention and not included either. Here are three additional cards that help explode your battlefield.
Oath of Teferi
This could also be The Chain Veil. The ability to activate your planeswalkers an additional time is exceptional. It speeds up the clock until you can use a planeswalker’s ultimate ability. The ability to mess with the math for activating a planeswalker’s ultimate ability is always beneficial. Also having a second trigger for many planeswalkers will greatly impact the battlefield. Oath of Teferi also blinks a permanent as well. An extra land from Golos is nice but it can also reset a planeswalker or functionally untap The Chain Veil. This card does two things your deck wants to do.
Rings of Brighthearth
Rings of Brighthearth is another way to get two ability uses of a planeswalker. It will cost you two mana and you will not get additional loyalty counters on your planeswalkers so it lags behind Oath of Teferi. If you are using a minus ability of a planeswalker then there is additional value as you do not remove loyalty counters off of our planeswalkers for your second use. Where the rings shine is with Golos. A second activation of Golos now costs two mana and not seven. For nine mana you will exile six cards and get to play them for free. It is well worth the investment and can bring you back from the brink of disaster or flat out win the game.
Every deck wants to draw cards. Sylvan Library is one of the better in green. For two mana it lets you dig three deep and take the best card. Plus for four life you can take additional cards if it benefits you. Early in the game four life to put a land in your hand plus get a card to use is pure value that helps you hit your land drops. As much as this is good, in Golos Sylvan Library is great! The Library helps set up your Golos triggers while providing all of the above. Being able to see three cards deep lets you know what is coming, if you decide to activate Golos. Then you can select a card that you do not want to cast for free and bring it to your hand for a better chance of hitting something amazing off of the trigger.
Helm of the Host
While the deck is not heavy in the ETB triggers we have one in the command zone and it is worth abusing. Pulling multiple lands from your deck while creating additional copies of Golos limits what your opponents can do to remove him. With two on the field single target removal becomes less of an option unless opponents work together. While not all cards have ETB triggers, some cards are absolutely brilliant when they are on your battlefield as multiples. Multiple Soul Herders can exile several different creatures and can grow quite large somewhat rapidly. While not multiple Deepglow Skate powerful, multiple Fluxx Channelers will accelerate your planeswalker ultimate clock. Finally, multiple Carth the Lions also mess with planeswalker math and accelerate the clock until you can activate the ultimate abilities of your planeswalkers. .
Zacama Primal Hunger
With three activated abilities Zacama acts almost like a planeswalker and is a fine inclusion. What makes him great is that when you cast him he untaps all your lands so that you can use his abilities and removal to help reign in the board. If you don’t need the board simplified the additional mana can be pumped into Golos. Unfortunately, it is a cast trigger so blinking him will not generate additional mana. However the deck does include Temur Sabertooth. If you can generate 10 mana through lands then you can cast Zacama untap your lands and then bounce him to hand and recast him again for infinite mana. This creates as many Golos triggers as you want and from there you can find a path to win the game.
Statistically it will not happen every game. when you DO hit Zacama off of Golos creates an explosive turn Ensues. These turns are difficult for opponents to come back from. Zacama is not needed in a Golos deck. However, in Golos, Zacama is a brand new Jaguar as opposed to a used Ford station wagon.
The downside is your opponents can do the math to determine when your planeswalkers can use their ultimate abilities. Then they try to put themselves in the position to stop you. Flux Channeler messes with that math. Especially if you are playing spells from the top of your deck that are unknown you could proliferate three times or not at all. Fluxx Channeler is an attempt to muddy those waters so that your opponents will focus on other threats.
Despite the mystery, this is what you need to know to plan for Flux Channeler. There are 42 noncreature-nonland cards in your deck which means when you activate Golos one of those cards in the exiled three should trigger Flux Channeler. This is the baseline for calculating when your planeswalkers will ultimate. You then calculate if you can proliferate more by playing cards from your hand. In the end the ability to catch your opponents off guard or to speed up your planeswalkers ultimate abilities is worth the inclusion in the deck over other superfriend mischievousness.
This deck will never out proliferate Atraxa superfriends. It doesn’t have to. Golos creates value in and of itself. The deck does not need to proliferate excessively. It just needs to proliferate just enough to give you an advantage. Your value engine will do the rest.
One way to build Golos is to manipulate your top deck. Cards like Brainstorm and Ponder are wonderful inclusions in such a deck. Knowing what you are going to get and manipulating it is quite powerful. Still a deck can only do so much before it gets watered down. Instead of doing what your deck wants to do well, you do nothing well. For this reason, the deck excludes a topdeck and scry effects package. There are scry effects on some lands. However, these effects are gravy and a free inclusion in a card slot that is primarily to generate mana.
This deck relies on the strategy of outvaluing an opponent by triggering Golos at a critical mass level. Then they can not deal with all that’s placed on the battlefield. Instead of one eldrazi the table must work together to eliminate, this deck challenges you to deal with five different threats that just entered the battlefield this turn. That’s two activations of Golos. At fourteen mana that seems like a lot. From experience, I can confirm it is not difficult to activate Golos twice in a turn. This is especially true when you can fetch Urborg-Cabal Coffers combo and you can use a Nissa planeswalker to untap additional lands.
No Peregrine Drake?
With the inclusion of Deadeye Navigator, Peregrine Drake and Palinchron are often quickly to follow in deck lists. This is understandable as it is a quick and easy way to generate infinite mana. Often I do not disagree with this. Commander Clinic is often on its soapbox preaching explosive turns win games. Infinite mana with The World Tree means infinite Golos activations and from there you can easily win. This build wants synergies, but in building it obvious infinite combos were avoided. This build wants to create an alternative to decks that win off of such combos and provide a random and enjoyable gameplay. It also wants to challenge the wielder to find the path to victory instead of searching for the go to combo that wins the game.
Summing it all up
In conclusion, Golos superfriends when built with an eye towards blinking Golos creates a fun and strong gameplay option for the commander table. If you find multiple strong decks in your meta. then consider playing Golos. He engages your mind to consider how to deploy your resources in an efficient manner and then how to win the game. The anticipation of the top reveal is enjoyable as well as it is random. The deck is not for the faint of heart as with all superfriends decks there are several staples that are expensive if you have to buy them. The good news is while expensive to build most of the money is tied up into staples and they can be used in other decks that you build. It certainly is worth giving Golos a try.