If you thought Modern Horizons was a set for Commander players, the new core set Magic 2020 is looking like an arguably bigger feast for enthusiasts of the format! There are a few cards I’m particularly excited to try out, but in today’s article I’m going to focus on one (as spoiled in the title!). In this article, I’ll discuss what makes me really like this card and showcase one of the decks in which I’ve decided to try it out.
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim brings together a lot of things I like about Commander, and not just with respect to strategic considerations. I’ll summarise this with the following points:
It’s often said that games of Commander are more about the journey than the outcome. What better way to be on-theme with this idea than having my journeys led by a tireless pilgrim – one who can travel across plains, between islands, through swamps, over mountains, and among forests. A pilgrimage is commonly known as a journey of moral or spiritual significance, and in my opinion the ways this card is designed to operate in the game echo the key elements of such a journey.
Golos has an ‘enters the battlefield’ trigger that lets its controller search their library for any land and put it into play tapped. Cards that can search for or play extra lands are often associated with the theme of travelling or exploration, like Pilgrim’s Eye, Traveller’s Amulet, or Exploration.
Golos’s activated ability resembles (at least to me) the finding or discovery of the significance or destiny for which the journey has been made. The mana requirements of the ability skew it slightly towards being activated later in the game, mimicking the climactic events of a journey being revealed near its end. Finally, activating Golos has an unknown element behind it. Revealing three haymaker spells lets us know that reward was there to be found on the journey – ‘the prophecy was true!’ In the alternate scenario, revealing three lands informs us that, despite the paths we have trodden this game, no reward was there to be found, and maybe the prophecy failed to be realised!
From a strategic point of view, the enters the battlefield trigger is excellent, allowing us to search for ANY land and put it into play, not just a basic. A generic 3/5 artifact creature with this ability alone would be valuable in many Commander decks. Ensuring that we can hit our land drops and making use of utility lands are two very important strategic aspects of the game, and Golos’ first ability enables both. I’ve talked about these topics from time to time in my articles, and Master of Bargains Kristen Gregory has articles in her budget column which go into more detail on both ramp and utility lands in Commander.
Activating Golos is obviously as powerful as the deck’s ability to consistently meet its mana requirement and the power-level of the cards in the deck itself. In addition, it’s worth noting that cards revealed can be played at any point during the current turn, and don’t need to be played straight away! This means, if a reactive spell is revealed, all is not lost – it could potentially be used later in the turn (but opponents know about it and will likely play around it). We’ll explore the activated ability in the next section in a bit more detail. For now, I’ll summarise how I see myself using it strategically by saying that I mainly treat it as an incidental bonus to having a 3/5 for five mana that can find a land in my deck.
Golos as a Commander allows for a lot of creative space when it comes to deckbuilding and deck ideas. The most obvious port of call is centred around maximising the benefit one can gain from the activated ability so here are my thoughts on three important aspects of this.
A smoother path to destiny
Including cards like the above will help us meet the mana requirements for activating Golos. Cascading Cataracts can be searched as a potential sixth land, meaning that on the following turn activation is a possibility. Chromatic Lantern removes any colour limitations on our lands and Composite Golem is another card that can be used to easily support the mana requirements (repeatedly if recurred). There are a range of green cards that can also help dramatically to fix one’s mana, such as Cryptolith Rite, Joiner Adept, Prismatic Omen, and Song of Freyalise. Although I’ve spotlighted a few cards here that will turbo-charge the consistency of activating Golos, we may want to give consideration to cards like Kodama’s Reach and Cultivate (search for two extra colours) and the landbase as a whole to smooth things out on a broader basis. There are many lands that generate one of any colour such as Mana Confluence, Gemstone Mine, and Forbidden Orchard, but they each come with a price. Cards like Reflecting Pool and Exotic Orchard can also be effective and have a low failure rate. If we’re playing on an unlimited budget, fetchlands, dual lands, and shocklands combine well to flexibly support our ability to meet the mana requirement (despite not being strict ‘rainbow lands’). Lower budget decks may want to make use of the tri-lands from Khans of Tarkir, such as Mystic Monastery and those from Shards of Alara, such as Opaline Palace.
What does destiny have in store?
Whether we want game-winning power, game-warping madness, or lockdown and misery, including some over-the-top effects that play to our poison will increase the chances of activating Golos being a worthwhile investment. There is no guarantee that our coveted spells will be on the top of the deck when we activate Golos, but we have to be ‘in it to win it,’ as they say. I’ve handpicked four distinct cards in the above picture, but it’s important to recognise that Golos presents a real platform for our deck to express itself – a chance to play three ‘signature spells’ for the low price of 2WUBRG. With respect to this, the possibilities are endless, as we could include any format-legal card in the deck! It’s important to remember that attempting to activate over and over is not necessarily the most consistent and efficient way of executing a gameplan, and sometimes we might just want to cast the spells we have in our hand in regular fashion. However, when the time is right, casting three cards at a potential mana discount could be just what we need!
Cheating or tampering with destiny
Perhaps we can have our cake and eat it by ‘making sure’ the top three cards are the right ones when we activate Golos’ ability. Effects like this will remove the unknown element which minimising the likelihood of fail-cases. As noted earlier in the article, I personally like the unknown element, so we might not see my deck tutoring for Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, and Emrakul, the Promised End with a Congregation at Dawn any time soon – but I’m mindful that others will have different tastes. Sensei’s Divining Top is reusable, making it invaluable if we want to navigate our plan throughout the game (bonus ‘thematic value’ in the sense that the teachings of a divining Sensei could be deemed useful to a travelling pilgrim). There are also a number of other effects that are similarly repeatable like Academy Ruins, Volrath’s Stronghold, and the newly printed Hall of Heliod’s Generosity that could also help out anyone looking to shape their own destiny.
Brewing with Golos
If some of you have read any of my previous articles, or have played Commander with me recently, you’ll know I have five mono-coloured decks and a colourless deck. One of the reasons I like Golos is because to me, the card presents me with the challenge to morph these decks into weird and wonderful five-colour decks. The deck I’m showcasing in this article represents Golos’s pilgrimage over mountains! In this section, I’ll explain how I switched this deck up from a pure Mono Red deck.
Mono-red Golos decklist
How smooth is my path to destiny?
In short, I don’t want to make it easy to activate Golos. This is because, if there’s an easy strategic option, then with it comes the potential for every game to descend into manafixing as quickly and efficiently as possible. Instead I’ve stuck to what I mentioned earlier in the article about it being more of a bonus or something to aim for over the course of a game (‘bonus rounds’ keep their charm when they don’t occur very frequently). This means I didn’t want to put Cascading Cataracts, Chromatic Lantern, or even a cycle of fetchlands, dual-lands, and shocklands into the deck. Thematically, I liked the idea of non-cards being able to contribute to the mana requirement as it expresses something about Golos’ journey (some items were needed during the quest). Balancing running a ‘mono-coloured’ deck with the option of activating Golos was a tricky balance to strike, but here is how I decided to do it.
Command Tower is a straight-up ‘freebie’ and Opal Palace can help us with a new colour with its filtering ability. Vesuva and Thespian Stage are flexible and won’t necessarily always help us, but they provide interesting options that may or may not play a part in meeting the mana requirement for activation. Vivid Crag might not be the most ‘efficient’ choice, but having only ‘two attempts’ at generating the right colours keeps things challenging.
Despite what I’ve said in the past about ‘mana rocks’, I do think Commander’s Sphere is something I want to run here to help with the mana requirement. The drawback of ‘mana rocks dying’ is mitigated by its ability to be sacrificed in exchange for a card. Golden Guardian, Dowsing Dagger, and Treasure Map all transform into lands (Gold-forge Garrison, Lost Vale and Treasure Cove respectively) that provide coloured mana in one way or another. Mirage Mirror is a card I’ve always liked, and if needed can transform into a way for us to generate coloured mana.
What does destiny have in store?
I’ve listed the full deck at the beginning of this section of the article, so I’ll let readers be the judge of what’s truly in store on Golos’ journey. I have also decided to try out the following spells in one of the deck’s slots (and you thought that was a decklist error?).
I wanted to add a spell that does something very different to what red normally does. I’ve put Ojutai’s Command in the decklist, but I will probably switch between these spells in the coming weeks of playing the deck. This process will likely descend into me trying ‘a random non-red card from my trade binder’ every so often to shake things up. While it adds some unpredictability to the mix, I won’t hide that it might be a dead draw during a game unless the mana is there. Perhaps my fondness of unlikely but potentially rewarding possibilities has gotten the better of me!
How much do we cheat or tamper with destiny?
Treasure Map helps us by scrying and Sunset Pyramid also can once it has run out of brick counters. Improving our draws is a path we try and take when we can in most Magic formats and these cards are part of the deck mainly in the name of that, rather than optimising our Commander. I’d therefore say that it’s hard to argue that the cards in the deck allow us to have our cake and eat it with regards to Golos’ ability.
I’m quite happy with the overall result of the deck itself. I play in a few Commander groups locally and all of them have kindly allowed me to try the deck out a little bit even though Golos hasn’t quite yet been printed at the time of playing. The look on the opponent’s face when you Ojutai’s Command their Commander having only played red or colourless spells can be priceless – though I’ve not yet managed to do it through the activated ability yet. I will concede that the deck is a shade less ‘optimised’ than my previous mono red Commander deck led by Daretti, Scrap Savant. It plays many of the same cards, but some consistency has been sacrificed in the name of something I’ve so far found to be fun, challenging and, at times, hilariously unpredictable so I can’t complain at all!
I hope this article has awoken some of your thematic, strategic, and creative juices for building and playing Commander decks. Admittedly, making a mono-coloured deck into a five colour deck the way I have might look like I’m ‘just making things difficult for myself’. For instance, I could have instead built a deck using more of the cards I suggested when discussing cards in the Creative section. I just wanted to do something a bit closer to my heart, which is likely very different from a typical five-colour deck. The way I see it is that it’s a deck that can simply be played as a mono red deck with added bonuses!
I will probably write a follow-up article in which I will look at Golos’s adventures across plains, between islands, through swamps, among forests, and traversing wastes, and these may well include more cards from Magic 2020 as the set is released!
I’ll also be playing in a few of the European Modern Qualifier events over the summer so expect some content on Competitive Modern in the future too.
Hit me up if you have any further thoughts! You can find me on Facebook and Twitter. I play most of my Magic in Leeds in the North of England, but I’m planning to go to both Magic Fests in July (Barcelona) and August (Birmingham), so if you’re going to either, I may see you there!
As always, thanks for reading, and good luck and have fun in your next game!