Archetune-Up - King of the Beasts

(Gahiji, Honored One l Art by Brynn Metheney)

One Beast to Rule Them all

Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, a weekly article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!

Sometimes deck ideas spring from the most unexpected of places.

If you follow me on Twitter, I'm sure that you're aware that I have constructed and have been working on a Jeskai Cube. A good friend of mine, who is a Jund aficionado, similarly started brainstorming a Jund Cube and was trying to figure out a fun theme in Gruul colors that could work for his format.

We wracked our brains, and eventually we stumbled upon three cards that hinted at a theme not often utilized by Magic that also happened to inspire me to write this article:

Now, Beasts are not the most robust tribe in terms of direct support, but they are a wide tribe in terms of what creatures have the type "Beast". A quick search on Scryfall shows that there are just over 400 different Beasts in Magic at the time of writing this article, which is much more than I originally anticipated. Beasts don't have a very cohesive thematic through-line, like Goblins or Elves might, but they are often large and efficiently costed, so why not try to build with them?

After looking at the color options for the deck, I settled upon either building around three colors with Gahiji, Honored One, or embracing all five colors and utilizing Morophon, the Boundless. When digging deeper into what five colors provided me, I was a bit underwhelmed. The deck would get really great cards like Kindred Discovery or Etchings of the Chosen, but they weren't enough to make me comfortable with spreading the mana base so thin.

Since we are forgoing black and blue, let's see what Naya has in store for us with Gahiji's average list:

Average Gahiji Beasts

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Commander (1)
Creatures (33)
Artifacts (7)
Sorceries (9)
Instants (4)
Enchantments (7)
Planeswalkers (2)
Lands (37)

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There is a solid amount of ramp and interaction in the deck, which is always welcome. That being said, I think that there are a few too many creatures. I think trimming a few of the more lackluster, linear Beasts and replacing them with more potent, versatile ones will help this list out a lot. Having a plan of stomping people is something that I'm all for, but if the deck's creatures can only smash face, we're going to have a bad time.

With that said, let's take a peek at EDHREC's Beast Tribal Page and see what goodies it has for this list!

Beasts of Burden

Creatures are the most important part of any tribal deck, so that's what I am going to start off with first! For these, I wanted to try and diversify our creature portfolio with Beasts than can provide powerful effects on top of having a strong body in their own right.

During my Neyith of the Dire Hunt article, I expressed my disdain for Elder Gargaroth's design, but I definitely cannot deny its power. I'm looking for Beasts with utility, and Gargaroth provides. It has a massive body, is outfitted with three fantastic keywords, and comes with its own baked-in "charm" with three modes. If I told you that there was a Beast that could create more Beasts and gain life, you might think I was talking about Thragtusk, but no, Gargaroth can do this repeatedly while also having the potential to draw cards, to boot! Any green stompy deck wants Gargaroth, and this one is no exception.

Mutate is one of my favorite mechanics in recent memory, so I wanted to make sure that I could include a couple of Beasts that had good Mutate triggers. Both Gemrazer and Sawtusk Demolisher are well-costed creatures that can function as tweaked copies of Hull Breach and Beast Within, respectively. If we need creatures on the board, we can play them outright, or we can Mutate them onto creatures such as Manglehorn or Krosan Warchief in order to get their effects and tweak these smaller Beasts' stats! If you are more of an "enters the battlefield" kind of person, perhaps Affectionate Indrik or Indrik Stomphowler are more up your alley. They aren't as strong as either of the two Mutate creatures above, but they will always provide immediate value no matter the board state.

The Game Nights products come with one new card for each color that are exclusives to that product. If you have never heard of Highcliff Felidar, that's probably why. This Cat Beast is a sizable threat that casts a slight variation of Crackling Doom when it enters the battlefield. Being able to eat the biggest creatures on the board so that our huge monsters can attack unopposed is something that I'm very interested in, and coming with a 5/5 vigilance body is nothing to scoff at, either, especially once Gahiji pumps it!

Rounding out the creature inclusions is Titanoth Rex. Unless we're able to get out Mirari's Wake or Zendikar Resurgent, I don't see Titanoth being hard-cast all that often, though, when it is, I'm sure that it'll shake the entire table. What I like most about Titanoth Rex is the ability to cycle and distribute a trample counter onto another Beastie that we control. There are a few ways to grant trample to all of our creatures, but having the option to give a single creature trample whenever we want and also draw a card is exactly the kind of utility that I wanted to bake into this deck.

Crush Them Underfoot- Erm... Underhoof!

As integral as the actual Beasts are to this deck, they still need support! In this section, I have five cards that help round out the deck and polish it a bit better so that we can crush opponents under the weight of our big monsters!

Heroic Intervention is the only defensive spell in the deck. If we have a board full of creatures, we want to be able to save them from opposing removal whenever possible. That being said, while protection is important, Intervention is the only spell of this caliber included on this page. If you want to add a few more cards similar to Heroic Intervention, I would suggest Teferi's Protection, Flawless Maneuver, Unbreakable Formation, or Make a Stand.

True Conviction is a card that I've mentioned plenty of times on Archetune-Up, and it is what I would consider white's strongest anthem effect. Double strike and lifelink are two potent abilities when combined, providing both offensive and defensive capabilities. This combination of keywords allow us to outrace any other deck, especially once you throw trample into the mix. True Conviction is a game-ending card, and it's perfect for decks chock full of huge, big beaters.

Similarly, Warstorm Surge is right at home in decks with big ol' monsters. Whenever any of our Beasts enter the battlefield, we can deal damage equal to its power to any target. This means that we can use it as creature or planeswalker removal, or just a way to hit opponents' life totals directly, giving each creature of ours pseudo-haste. Beasts have a similar card for their tribe, the aforementioned Æther Charge. It is a bit less versatile, since it deals a static four damage to an opponent, but if you are wanting to have thematic synergies, perhaps look into adding that card over Warstorm Surge.

When mentioning True Conviction, I mentioned that it paired really well with trample. Well, luckily, I added two ways to grant it into the deck.

The first is Rhonas's Monument. This monument provides a cost reduction bonus to all green creatures in the deck (which 95% of our creatures are), and the ability to grant +2/+2 and trample whenever we cast a creature spell. Both of these effects are something that this brand of deck relishes having. It will let us pump out creatures more quickly while also putting opponents into a world of hurt when combined with Gahiji's sizable bonus of +2/+0!

Garruk's Uprising is a strong little uncommon from Core Set 2021, and, much like Rhonas's Monument, does everything that this deck wants. If we play it when we have a sizable creature on board, we draw a card. It provides trample to our entire team. Then it draws us a card whenever a big creature ETBs on our side of the field. Perfection! Uprising strikes a fantastic balance between pressing the advantage of having huge trampling creatures and maintaining card parity when we play them, and all on a simple uncommon, to boot!

Stirring Souls with Wild Ferocity

A vast majority of the support for Beast tribal comes from older Magic expansions, which is why I never would have thought about making a Beast tribal deck prior to stumbling upon it when working on a cube.

While Beast Tribal support may have waned over the years, the printing of Beasts, themselves, have not, which is what makes a Tribal deck like this viable. I might be a control player at heart, but I can never resist a good old-fashioned stompy deck, especially when it revolves around a tribe as innocuous as Beasts.

Who knows what other tribes are in a similar situation? Do you know about a tribe with a lot of creatures but not much other support? Please, let me know down below, I'd love to hear about it!

If you’d like to reach me, I’m active on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.

King of the Beasts

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Angelo is a Connecticut resident who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. Along with Commander, he loves Limited, Cube, and Modern, and will always put his trust in counterspells over creatures. He is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation's rotation out of Standard.

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