Greetings, Commander players! With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, we at Commander's Herald thought it would be fun to build a festive Commander deck that celebrates the holiday.
When we think of Thanksgiving, we usually think of feasts, pilgrims, the fall season, and endless political arguments - we've all got one family member who can't resist broaching the topic. We won't be implementing that last category, but there are a plethora of fun and flavorful cards in those other categories that we can include to make a turkey and cranberry sauce-worthy EDH deck!
Gyome, Master Chef
The commander that we'll be using for our Thanksgiving EDH deck is. Being a chef, epitomizes the Thanksgiving holiday, and his Food-token-generating ability just sweetens the pie.
Let's take a quick look at's abilities. His first ability states that during our end step, we create a number of Food tokens equal to the number of nontoken creatures we had enter the battlefield this turn. That means that we'll want to have a sizeable number of nontoken creatures in our deck to make sure we're triggering 's ability as consistently as possible. That said, there are other cards in this the deck that reward us for playing noncreature spells, so we want to have a good balance of card types.
's second ability allows us to sacrifice a Food token to tap a creature and give it indestructible until end of turn. Something worth noting about that ability is that offers some strategic flexbility. While we can use it to protect our own creatures from board wipes, fatal damage, etc., it can also be used to tap down our opponents' creatures and prevent them from attacking or activating tap abilities.
Let's start with creatures, since they're one of the central pillars of the deck.is a must-include, primarily for strategic reasons. We'll (hopefully) be creating a lot of Food tokens with this deck, so tripling our token output is immensely powerful. The addition of Clue and Treasure tokens will give us the extra mana and card draw we need to keep our engine running and hopefully outpace our opponents. is another excellent inclusion since we'll be running many creature spells in the deck. We won't have as much space for instant and sorcery card draw because we do need a high density of creatures, so can help make up for that deficit.
Another creature that'll be an excellent source of card draw in this deck is. He allows us to sacrifice a creature or artifact (most likely a Food token, which is definitely a flavor win) to draw a card. He's also a Vorthos win, as he's one of 's colleagues in the culinary world.
Perhaps nothing is more important to Thanksgiving than the idea of a feast. It's the biggest meal of the year for most of us in the United States, and thus we'll want to include hungry critters that will feast alongside us on the most gluttonous of holidays.and both fit the bill extremely well. Each one will generate us Food tokens when they enter the battlefield, and they both have abilities that can make use of our Food tokens.
Another association that we often draw with Thanksgiving is with the larger season of autumn and the idea of the harvest. We have a number of harvest-themed creatures that pack quite the punch and will also help us draw cards. Bothand will help us draw cards, one when creatures enter the battlefield, and the other when creatures die.
I'm also includingand its sister sorcery card for Vorthos reasons, though also gives us the Food tokens we need for 's ability.
Finally, we need some mana dorks that will help ramp us while also giving us those enter-the-battlefield triggers that we want forand many of our other creatures' abilities. I'm going with a mix of mana-efficient mana-generators, such as and , and Vorthos darlings, like and .
Artifacts and Enchantments
For artifacts, I just have four inclusions, all for flavor reasons.and will generate us Food tokens while also providing the added benefits of recursion and buffing, respectively. makes equipped creatures more vulnerable, but it also makes them unblockable, which is important, as we don't want our value creatures, such as the Harvests, to get blocked and die in combat. Plus, we're making a Thanksgiving deck, and we need to include as many food cards as possible to commemorate the holiday. Finally is one of the most Vorthos-y cards in this entire deck. It's also very group hug-y, which really captures the spirit of Thanksgiving.
For enchantments, the two most important Vorthos cards areand . , similar to , gives us a trifecta of tokens (Clue, Food, and Treasure). We have to cast both a creature and a noncreature spell during our turn to trigger its effect, however, so make sure to run a healthy balance of creatures and noncreatures when including this card in the deck. Its powerful effect is certainly worth the extra effort when it comes to deck design. offers a more modest effect, giving each of our creatures a +1/+1 counter when they enter the battlefield. Being that we'll be playing a number of creature spells and creating some token creatures (more info below), the effect will start to add up over the course of the game.
gives us life each time our opponents' creatures die, and the great thing about the card is that it will trigger when our opponents kill each other's creatures, so we don't even need to run extra removal to trigger the effect. The upkeep cost is no worry to us, as we'll be gaining a plethora of life from our Food tokens and card abilities throughout the game.
is another Vorthos win, but it also has some powerful effects that will help us throughout the course of the game. It gives us Food tokens equal to the number of opponents we have, but equally important is its second ability, which allows us to pay two mana when we gain to life to create 4/4 Rhinos. Being that we'll be gaining life on most of our turns, this card will likely be creating Rhinos during most of our turns.
You may be tempted to leave out, as granting four power doesn't sound like enough of an effect to warrant a spot in the deck, but on top of perfect Vorthos synergy, this card ends up doing a lot of work in versions of this deck that are interested in dealing commander damage to our opponents. Even in our version of the deck, there are several pump spells and +1/+1 counter effects available, so defeating our opponents with commander damage is a real possibility.
Finally, I recommend running some enchantment ramp, both because the harvest flavor of the cards fits the theme of our deck, but also because enchantment ramp is just very good and highly underrated.
On the topic of ramp, many instant and sorcery ramp fit within the theme of harvest, so we will want to include some of those cards for both their effects and their Vorthos synergy. While we were certainly want to include ramp staples such asand , we will also want to include some less common cards such as , , and . Those latter three are not only excellent Vorthos inclusions but are also potentially powerful ramp cards. in particular will likely fetch us several lands, as we will have creatures with different powers most times that it is played.
The two most important Vorthos instants/sorceries for our deck areand . Both cards provide us with Food tokens while also being useful sources of removal. Other recommended Vorthos removal spells include , , and . I highly recommend including if you decide to include one of the win conditions that I'll be discussing later in . In my deck's story, the in 's cupboard turns into an uncontrollable .
There are really just two Vorthos lands that I've included in my build, with the rest being included for mana fixing. The two Vorthos lands areand . in particular gives lifelink, which will be important in assuring that we hit our life gain triggers. Also, this deck build is seeing some overlap with my previous deck in this column, . Perhaps and are neighbors--that would be a fun Thanksgiving get-together to see!
When it comes to win conditions, the most important thing is to find one or two strategies and to lean heavily into those strategies. That means choosing cards that synergize well or work within the same strategy. For this build, Landfall payoffs are the primary win condition. Our three primary Landfall payoffs and synergizers are, Avenger of Zendikar[/el], and . Scute and Avenger will create armies of token creatures when we play lands, and given the large number of ramp cards that we are playing, they will likely get multiple and consistent triggers every turn.
helps us find lands and gives us a payoff for having a lot of lands with its -3 ability.
There's a secondary win condition in the token creature creation that we get from cards such as, , and . One way or the other, our goal is to cast and create lots of creatures and then overwhelm our opponents with them.
I hope that you'll find this deck to be fun both during the Thanksgiving season and beyond (I certainly have!). Hopefully you all will have the opportunity to play some games of Commander with your friends and family this holiday season, and if you build this deck, I hope that your fellow players will enjoy the flavor and theming of this deck. I mentioned in the last article that I would be writing up a Christmas-themed EDH deck tech, but I decided last-inute to write up something for Thanksgiving first. My next article will be the promised Christmas-themed deck tech. I will also be writing an end-of-year wrap-up before year's end that looks back at the past year and looks forward to the year ahead.
Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone, and happy gaming!
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