Conditions Allow - Rohgahh of Kher Keep

(Rohgahh of Kher Keep | Art by Edward P Beard Jr.)

Like Herding Kobolds

Hello, everyone. This is Conditions Allow, where I talk about a commander with a drawback and try to turn it into a strength. This week, as promised, I’m taking a break from mono-colored legends to build around a very unique commander. This legendary creature is the only multicolored Kobold in Magic: Rohgahh of Kher Keep.

Rohgahh of Kher Keep may be unique, but like every other Kobold, he's pretty underwhelming. While Rohgahh is on the field, every Kobolds of Kher Keep you control will get +2/+2, making them a free 2/3. Kher Keep and Soul Foundry can help in making additional Kobolds, but not at a fast enough rate to be relevant. And this is all assuming you can keep control of all these Kobolds: Rohgahh’s second effect requires you to pay three red mana during your upkeep, or else an opponent will gain control of every creature you control named Kobolds of Kher Keep, along with Rohgahh himself. 

This isn’t the only obstacle to building Rohgahh as a tribal powerhouse, seeing as he doesn’t really support a tribe, but a particular creature: Kobolds of Kher Keep. We have access to exactly one creature with that name, although it does mean Rohgahh could find a place in casual Prossh, Skyraider of Kher decks. 

Fighting Against Extinction

Still, this is EDH; we can do anything we want, so let’s take a look at Rohgahh of Kher Keep’s EDHREC page to see what other players have done when building this deck. All seven of them.

A strong contender for our best support card is Soul Foundry. This four-mana artifact Imprints a creature from our hand when it enters the battlefield. Then, for the low cost of that creature’s converted mana cost, we can create a token copy. Kobolds of Kher Keep has a mana cost of zero, meaning we can tap the Foundry for a free token every turn.

There are some tricks we can use to untap Soul Foundry a couple of times every turn, but are they really worth it? Rohgahh of Kher Keep will never be a powerful commander, but that doesn’t mean we have to jump through hoops to create a couple of 2/3’s every turn. Unless you want to; I'm not going to tell you what to do.

So what am I going to do? For me, it’s time to look to a much more popular commander and see what we can learn from them. Specifically, I'm looking at Zedruu the Greathearted. Our commander has a built-in method to change control every turn, so let’s see if we can take advantage of that. 

Sharing Our Toys

There aren’t any cards on Zedruu’s page that directly benefit us simply for our opponents controlling our permanents, other than Zedruu, herself, of course. Most of the Top and Signature cards either help donate cards or have detrimental effects that the Zedruu player is hoping to force their opponents to deal with. 

These pseudo-stax pieces come in all forms, from Aggressive Mining to Grid Monitor to Rust Elemental. Aggressive Mining isn’t helpful for us since we don’t have easy access to effects that give away enchantments. In fact, we don’t have easy access to giving away anything except Rohgahh of Kher Keep who, of course, does nothing.

But maybe we can make Rohgahh do something. There are some enchantments, like Dual Casting, that give creatures additional activated abilities. Could we stick a few of these on Rohgahh and pass him around the table, giving our opponents the option to make tokens with Elemental Mastery, or even boost their own forces with Dragon Throne of Tarkir? Well, yes. We can even include Umbral Mantle, to get multiple activations, and Illusionist’s Bracers to double all of these effects. 

Still, we run into a problem: this is about the full list of enchantments we have access to that give beneficial effects, and they're all fairly situational. Each opponent can safely ignore them. Even if we do get lucky enough to face off against opponents that want these effects, they're unlikely to get them very often: each player can choose who gets Rohgahh next, so the other players will just keep him away from those who can actually use his effects.

Not as Nice as We Seemed

First off, we need to make Rohgahh useful against any deck, no matter what strategy it is implementing. To do this, we’re going to follow the lead of Rust Elemental, and simply deal damage to our opponents. Rohgahh of Kher Keep taps as part of its control changing effect, so Insolence and Lust for War will both throw around free Shocks every turn. As it turns out, there are also quite a few enchantments that deal damage to a creature’s controller every upkeep. Most of these, like Stab Wound and Parasitic Bond, also deal two damage, but there are a few that are slightly more dangerous.

Festering Wound is probably the best of these effects since it scales with the game until the table is deciding where to aim upwards of seven damage during their upkeep. Unnatural Hunger doesn’t scale, but has a useful sacrifice clause that can act as removal once everyone’s life totals drop below 20. 

There are also some interesting support enchantments to consider including: Banewasp Affliction acts as a deterrent against sacrifice effects, while Shade’s Form simply returns Rohgahh to the field under our control if he ever dies. Further protection comes from Lightning Greaves, as shroud is better for us than hexproof since it stops even the creature’s controller from targeting it. Finally, Assault Suit outright stops players from sacrificing our commander at all. We are playing a strange variant of Voltron, so this is invaluable.

Every Rose has its Thorns

This all sounds great, if not super powerful, but we still have to worry about every player passing Rohgahh back to us on their turns. Dealing two damage to an opponent isn’t worth it if we have to pay four life in return. Luckily, there is still text on Rohgahh of Kher Keep we can take advantage of: Rohgahh doesn’t jump around the board by himself; he chooses instead to travel with an entourage of Kobolds of Kher Keep

Spy Kit is a niche equipment that actually changes the equipped creature's name. This lets us make any creature into a Kobolds of Kher Keep, even powerful Demons like Razaketh, the Foulblooded and Vilis, Broker of Blood, each of which are incredibly powerful cards: Razaketh obviously gives you access to any card in your deck, while Vilis turns any damage or life loss into card draw. Of course, that includes the damage done by all of the enchantments we just discussed. This is a huge boost to everyone, and makes the decision of who to pass Rohgahh and Vilis to next an extremely difficult one.

The idea is that your opponents won’t want to give up control of either of these creatures, and they definitely don’t want to give them back to you. Other great options for gift creatures are Treasure Nabber, who will give each player that controls it a huge mana advantage, and Dark Confidant, which offers further card advantage while furthering our burn game plan.

Resilient as Roaches

This is obviously a risky plan: handing a player Razaketh, the Foulblooded alongside sacrifice fodder isn’t something you usually want to do. In fact, I’d go as far to say it's not something you ever want to do. We’re going to need to be very careful about which of our creatures we equip with Spy Kit, and which opponent we give them to. Political deals will be our best friend, alongside a strong suite of reanimation effects to ensure we can use our big creatures too.

We also have to make sure Rohgahh stays in play. If he ever gets removed, our powerful creatures will be stuck under an opponent’s control, and we just handed them a very strong position at the cost of a couple of points of damage. The previously mentioned Lightning Greaves and Assault Suit are both incredibly useful here: shroud stops anyone from targeting Rohgahh, while Assault Suit removes the threat of our commander being sacrificed to Razaketh. Funnily enough, Razaketh can even search it out for us before we cast Rohgahh.

For a little added protection, we can look at the “counterspells” available to red and black. While we don’t have access to true blue Counterspell, we can mimic that effect: Imp’s Mischief and Ricochet Trap both let us point removal away from our commander, forcing actual counterspells to let our key spells resolve. We can also use Homeward Path to grab our creatures back if someone really starts to go off. With the addition of card draw, appropriately group hug in nature, and a little ramp, we have ourselves a deck.

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As I’ve already said, this is a very risky strategy. We’re giving away some very powerful creatures without doing much damage. Of course, this will hopefully encourage our opponents to ignore us and race to their own win conditions. Shrewd political deals are going to be key to surviving beyond a couple of Rohgahh triggers, and even then we can’t expect to win very often. However, I do think we make up for that with how funny this deck can be. If you really want to play to win, you could replace some of the damage enchantments for stax pieces and damage doublers to counter the boost you’re giving away. I don’t know if it would work, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

What do you think? How would you approach building Rohgahh of Kher Keep? Is there another commander you’d like to see me tackle? Let me know in the comments.

Ben was introduced to Magic during Seventh Edition and has played on and off ever since. A Simic mage at heart, he loves being given a problem to solve. When not shuffling cards, Ben can be found lost in a book or skiing in the mountains of Vermont.

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