Counterpunch - Ghave Precon Upgrade

Ghave Precon Redux

Hello again precon pals! Welcome back for another Precon Redux, where we take an older Commander precon deck and reimagine it in the current era. We’re finally having some Fungus fun, because today’s deck is Counterpunch, led by Ghave, Guru of Spores.

I’m Something of a Guru Myself

Ghave is a 0/0 Fungus Shaman for five mana in Abzan colors (white, black, and green) that enters the battlefield with five +1/+1 counters. It allows you to pay one mana to remove a +1/+1 counter from one of your creatures to make a Saproling token, or pay a mana to sacrifice a creature and put a +1/+1 counter on target creature. Ghave is the fifth most popular Abzan commander, with an impressive 6,285 decks. Its main themes are tokens, counters, and sacrifice/aristocrats

Of the decks from the original Commander precon set, Counterpunch is one of the best for sticking to its themes. That’s not to say there aren’t outliers (hey Celestial Force), but this deck has significantly more cards to keep than previous Redux entries. We’ll be sticking with the counters and tokens strategies, but pumping them up with today’s powerhouse cards and more aristocrats.

The backup commander is Karador, Ghost Chieftain, who shows up at number eight on the top Abzan commanders list. This Centaur Spirit cares far less about counters than Ghave, but loves to bring back all those nontoken creatures we’re gonna sacrifice. The other new legend in the deck is Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter, who only has a very sad 250 decks due to his high casting cost and weak ability. 

Here’s the original deck list for Counterpunch:

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View this decklist on Archidekt

What We’re Keeping in Our Ghave Deck

Before we get into the new hotness, let’s recap the rules of Precon Redux. Wizards of the Coast has some unspoken guidelines for how they build their precons. Since it’s our goal to reimagine this as a new precon that Wizards would create, we’ll want to establish those rules and adhere to them as closely as possible. For a full explanation of the series, please check out the first article here.

  • Value of the deck is no more than $120, excluding the original legends
  • Value of the land package can be no more than $10
  • Aim for two or three high value reprints (around $10)
  • Keep all legendary creatures that were first printed in the original precon
  • Stay close to a typical 10/10/10 build (10 ramp spells, 10 card draw, 10 removal)
  • We don’t have to tie into a specific set, as most precons have been doing since Commander 2020
  • Universes Beyond cards are off-limits if they couldn’t be reprinted as Universes Within without changing the name. For instance, we won’t include Mirkwood Bats, Rosie Cotton of South Lane, or Arwen, Weaver of Hope in today’s Redux. They’d be good in this deck, but their names preclude us from using them.

Here are the nonland cards we’re keeping from the original deck:

A few more cards than what we’ve been saving for the other 2011 decks. Several of these really fit well with our counters and tokens themes. Speaking of which…

Themes and Strategies We’ll Expand On for Counterpunch Redux

This is the first precon from 2011 where I felt like the deck had an actual strategy and game plan that worked. Don’t get me wrong, there was still a lot of chaff in the precon, but this one had a much better starting point than Zedruu or Riku. So thankfully all we really need to do is enhance the deck’s plans by improving it with today’s card pool.

Let’s start with the counters. The Ozolith is unlikely to get a precon printing with its current price, but baby Ozolith, a.k.a. Resourceful Defense, is perfectly usable here. Is it as good as The Ozolith? No. But it still does a lot of work at keeping the counters flowing even when our creatures die. For increasing counter creation, we’ve got Hardened Scales, Corpsejack Menace, and Kami of Whispered Hopes, along with cards that give counters to entering creatures, Good-Fortune Unicorn and Bloodspore Thrinax. We’ve even got Champion of Lambholt, the +1/+1 counter staple and powerhouse. Champion ends games; I've seen it many times.

For a little more fun with counters, I’m throwing in Nils, Discipline Enforcer. If you know me, you know I have a strong love for "Discipline Daddy," and try to promote him whenever I can. He gives us a counter each turn, but more importantly he protects us from big attackers, especially from players who might be on counter strategies as well. There’s also Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher, which will get a counter when we sacrifice creatures, and also help us get stuff back from the yard. 

We can’t just rely on Ghave to make tokens, so let’s see what else we can cook up. For new tokens every turn, we’ve got Awakening Zone, Nesting Dovehawk, and Mycoloth. There are also landfall triggers with Felidar Retreat (this one’s good for counters too) and Sporemound. Silverwing Squadron and Adeline, Resplendent Cathar make tokens on attacks, while Kambal, Profiteering Mayor and Baron Bertram Graywater make tokens when other tokens are made. And of course we’ve got the biggest token-making spell there is (assuming you’ve got a high life count), Storm Herd. Just watch out for people who might play a Rakdos Charm (I did this once; it was hilarious). And last we have one of the strongest cards in the deck, Divine Visitation. 1/1 Saprolings are nice, but they can’t wreck players nearly as much as 4/4 flying Angels can.

The original precon didn’t offer much for the Aristocrats strategy, but with all of these creatures coming and going, it seems like a fitting way to move some games along. So for that we’ll add Slimefoot, the Stowaway, Bastion of Remembrance, Cruel Celebrant, Syr Konrad, the Grim, Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim, and Zulaport Cutthroat.

And last, as you may know, a few cards have been printed that do some wacky things with our commander. Because of that, the deck does include a combo or two that center around Cryptic Trilobite and any card that increases +1/+1 counters added. This includes Good-Fortune Unicorn, Corpsejack Menace, and Hardened Scales. You can check out the combo with the Unicorn on Commander Spellbook here:

csb logo

My True Love Ghave to Me

Here’s the deck list for Counterpunch Redux:

Counterpunch Precon Redux

View on Archidekt

Commander (1)
Creatures (34)
Artifacts (7)
Instants (5)
Enchantments (9)
Sorceries (5)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (38)

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
View this decklist on Archidekt

With this upgraded precon, we’ve moved the deck into modern times with the aristocrats package and powerful token and counter synergies. We’ve also added some great reprints to get people to buy it, with Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, Divine Visitation, Psychotrope Thallid, and Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools. Nothing here over $10, but several cards just under it to make the deck enticing to collectors. 

Is this a realistic precon? It’s probably a bit high on power level, but certainly not the most powerful precon ever. It does have an infinite combo, but not an easy one to pull off since there are no tutors. Also, combos in precons isn’t unheard of - the recent Creative Energy from Modern Horizons 3 had one. We’ve got plenty of precon staples here, but also some newer cards that haven’t gotten precon love yet, like Cankerbloom and Vanquish the Horde.

So what do you think of this reimagined precon for Ghave, Guru of Spores? What cards did I miss? Would you take the new precon in a different direction? Let me know in the comments below, and keep checking back for more precon fun, here on EDHREC.

More Precons:

Creative Energy Precon Review - Modern Horizons 3

Eldrazi Incursion Upgrade Guide - Modern Horizons 3

Graveyard Overdrive Upgrade Guide - Modern Horizons 3

Andy's been playing Magic on and off since Fallen Empires. He loves to travel, drink, eat, and spend time with family and friends.

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