Slice of Life
Hello, all! If you're like me, you're thrilled about the release of Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate. You're even so thrilled that you preordered a box and couldn't help but gush about the flavor of the set.
That being said, it's back to the usual grind here on Sift Through Sands, and this week we'll be talking about two commanders from the last Commander Legends:and . Both of these fine cards make interesting EDH decks that allow us to build around utility. If that's not what this article series is about, I can't tell you what it is.
Gnostro and Lathiel are fun to build around because they provide utility payoffs. Lifegain in Commander is very popular, but you need a way to turn lots of life into winning the game. Gnostro and Lathiel both lend themselves to different archetypes, with Gnostro usually having a Storm build while Lathiel often being a straightforward +1/+1 counters deck. However, they both give us a lot of room to work with. Gnostro is our payoff, providing three different utility options as we sling our spells, and similarly, Lathiel allows us to turn passive lifegain into aggressive damage. They're fair, balanced, and still easily powerful. Let's check Gnostro out!
Gnostro with Garlic Sauce
We're going with Storm in this deck, as you can see, but in a different way than usual. Gnostro is probably better in the 99 of a different Storm deck, but having access to the utility options at any time make it shine. As we begin the game, ramp is always important, but more importantly, it's important to time our draw spells well to filter through the deck. Cards like, , and all help us get the lands or dorks we need to get going.
Once we have some mana, getting Gnostro out is a priority, along with some of our other Storm payoffs.is a great source of card advantage, helps us get extra value from Gnostro, and helps us keep our spells going with lots of Treasure tokens. As we filter through our deck with our cantrips and Gnostro's scrying, we start assembling our big payoffs. and help us start ticking our opponents' life totals away, while , , and net us tokens to keep us in a good position defensively and offensively. Our modal double-faced cards, like and friends, provide a great crutch to the deck.
The real stars of the deck come in building around pieces that Gnostro helps us take advantage of. Gnostro's lifegain ability is the least exciting of the three options (sorry, horse head), but leaning into lifegain can help surprise opponents who are going to be expecting the late-game. and help us out with this, and not only doubles our cast triggers, but works with Gnostro's scrying fairly well. By late game, , , and can swing in to help close the game out.
In a more focused way than Gnostro, our Lathiel deck is based around using Lathiel as a payoff for passive lifegain. Let's take a look at the list.
No Pain, All Gain
I run this Lathiel list in paper, and it's an all-star. Lifegain is inherently unimpressive to many players, and Lathiel being able to take advantage of massive gain combos is a sight to behold. As we move into the game, the potential to get massive creatures suddenly is a common occurrence, and it can happen at surprising speed. Starting from turn one, we want to get our low-to-the-ground threats on the table., , and all help us set up threats later, while ramp pieces like and make sure we stay ahead of the curve.
Once we get Lathiel in play, we start setting up our big plays. Interactive creatures, like, , and , keep us gaining life and +1/+1 counters every turn as we prepare for our bombs, like . Our heavy-hitting enchantments, like , , and , provide some insane boosts. , , and help bring the game to a fantastic crescendo, while often hands us the game on a platter
As we assemble our threats, utility and removal are important. Any lifegain we can tack on to generally useful spells helps the deck keep rolling. Board wiping with, recurring something with , or locking a problematic card down with is generally useful, but adding on lifegain for little extra mana keeps our deck working.
This incidental lifegain binds our Gnostro and Lathiel decks together. In both decks, we have cards that gain us incidental life for payoffs, allowing us to take advantage of what may seem unimpressive or too defensive to some opponents. Although there are many of these in both decks, the following cards are in both lists:
These cards work well in tandem. The creatures boost our life totals to enable our big threats, whileand (which is easily becoming a pet card of mine) both help us tie lifegain and draw together in decks that easily fulfill their conditions. Any deck that gains life as an incidental addition can get a lot of use out of these, from to .
That's all for now! Hope everyone enjoys brewing with Battle for Baldur's Gate! And I want to hear about your lifegain decks! Do you run off-color ones, like Philomène's Izzet list, or you a madman who runs or ? Does lifegain deserve more respect these days? Let me know in the comments and keep an eye out for the next entry of Sift Through Sands.