Outlaws of Thunder Junction - Gonti, Canny Acquisitor Deck Tech

Gonti, Canny Acquisitor
(Gonti, Canny Acquisitor | Art by Anna Podedworna)

Grand Theft Exile

Howdy partner, and welcome to a very special article for Outlaws of Thunder Junction (OTJ). Here at EDHREC, we're all about Commander, and shortly before this article goes up, Wizards of the Coast will have previewed the faces of the preconstructed decks coming along with the OTJ main set. We're jumping in as soon as we can to check out these new commanders and figure out what we can do with them, even before the rest of their decks are revealed. If you haven't seen Gonti, Canny Acquisitor yet and read this far, I commend your impulse control. Let's saddle up and see what they can do!

Gonti, canny acquisitor borderless card art

Gonti's new Sultai (blue-black-green) incarnation is a callback to their original mono-black version, Gonti, Lord of Luxury. The original is less suited for Commander, targeting only one opponent and only once when it enters the battlefield. The new version continues the theft theme, but scales up to multiplayer and gives us access to two more colors to explore different options for stealing our opponents' stuff!

These types of theft decks tend to have a common problem from a purely competitive perspective. It's usually better to be playing your own cards, because you built a deck in which they all work together. Your opponents' cards won't necessarily work with yours. However, it is very fun to bash people with their own Dragons, steal the land they needed off the top of their deck, or put together some wacky combo from two different decks to win the game. Therefore, this seems like a home run for a precon, and I'm excited share some ideas about it.

Before we break down everything you can do with new Gonti, there's one caveat: I'm not privy to the rest of the new cards in the precon, so how they interact with our new favorite Aetherborn won't be detailed here. But it's a safe assumption that they'll go together very well.

The Basics for Gonti, Canny Acquisitor

Gonti's abilities are actually somewhat complicated, especially if you haven't encountered similar cards. So let's take them piece by piece and explain their meaning:

  • "Spells you cast but don't own cost 1 less to cast" - Spells you don't own are your opponents' spells, so this cost reduction will apply when you're casting their stuff, but not for yours.
  • "Whenever one or more creatures you control deal combat damage to a player, look at the top card of that player's library and exile it face down..." - this ability will trigger whenever you deal combat damage to a player, regardless of how many creatures hit them. So you can get a maximum of three triggers per combat, one for each of your opponents.
  • "...You may play that card..." - good news, we can play our opponents' lands in addition to casting their spells!
  • "...for as long as it remains exiled..." - so you can play it whenever you want for the rest of the game, even if Gonti isn't on the battlefield.
  • "...and mana of any type can be spent to cast that spell." - and we don't need to worry about what color mana we use to cast it.

On the surface, these are pretty powerful abilities to have in the command zone. Mana acceleration and card advantage are the best things to do in Commander, and Gonti gives us a form of both. Outside of casting the spells without paying their mana costs, this is probably the best way the triggered ability could have been worded, being very flexible with timing and mana. Note that Gonti doesn't need to be one of the creatures to hit your opponents, and the mana discount doesn't apply only to the cards exiled with the second ability, so evasive creatures and other thieving cards are high priority to add to the 99. Let's take a look at some examples.

Other Theft Effects

First, let's look at other ways we can take advantage of the cost reduction, which really means other ways we can steal our opponents' stuff. I'm a big fan of Cunning Rhetoric. It can help deter attacks, kind of like a black Ghostly Prison, especially when opponents know you actively want to cast their stuff. Tasha, the Witch Queen will generate a 3/3 each time you cast an opponent's spell, which is especially good since we can send them into combat to trigger Gonti's ability yet again. Siphon Insight is a two-shot version of Gonti's effect with added card selection, and you can do it at instant speed. It will exile the card face down, striking fear and uncertainty into the heart of the opponent you target with it.

Court of Locthwain is another precon exclusive card that makes you the Monarch, and we can take advantage of its thieving effect even if we don't keep the crown. Plus, since we plan to fill the deck with evasive threats, getting the Monarch back will be mostly trivial. The next two cards are creepy brain monsters: Intellect Devourer and Elder Brain. Both effects on these cards are amped up by Gonti's static ability, and they come stapled to creatures that can attack our opponents as well.

There are plenty of other effects like the ones above, and I'd be surprised if a few of them aren't reprinted in the 99 of Gonti's precon. Draugr Necromancer, Brainstealer Dragon, Agent of Treachery, Fallen Shinobi, and many others are all great inclusions to maximize the grand larceny plan. Check out the EDHREC page (like I did) for similar commanders, including original Gonti, Sen Triplets, and Xanathar for more ideas!

Casting From Exile

Including more theft cards to use in conjunction with Gonti is the "level one" way to build the deck. Digging a bit deeper, one theme we've seen more often in Magic lately is payoffs for casting spells from exile. The "good in Prosper" meme is a meme for a reason, but fortunately we can take advantage of those types of cards with Gonti as well.

Our first stop is the Universes Beyond: Doctor Who precons, specifically Paradox Power. There are a bunch of cards with the Paradox ability word, which trigger specifically if you cast a spell from somewhere other than your hand. The Thirteenth Doctor is actually the face commander of Paradox Power, and could definitely be useful in the 99 of a Gonti list to pump up your evasive threats and then untap them so they can play defense as well. Other notable cards are Surge of Brilliance, Rassilon, the War President, and Graham O'Brien.

There are some in-universe options as well. Perhaps the best is Sage of the Beyond, which further reduces the cost of our opponents' spells and is an evasive body that we can Foretell. Tlincalli Hunter is a card I didn't know existed until now. I'm a big fan of Adventure spells in Commander, because they sort of break the 100-card rule. Retrieve Prey offers a twist on Regrowth which works great with Gonti, and then it can be cast later as a giant trampling Scorpion Scout (yes, look again at its type line) which can help to trigger Gonti and cast a creature stolen from an opponent's deck for free.

Again, you can use EDHREC for more ideas. You can sort the Exile theme page for Sultai and Dimir, or check out partner pairings for The Thirteenth Doctor.

Evasive Threats

Our last major section to consider for Gonti is the suite of evasive creatures to include so we can guarantee hits. Ideally, these will be what you play out in the first few turns, so that when Gonti comes down on turn four or five, you're ready to start stealing! There are no shortage of evasive creatures. A cursory Scryfall search reveals that there are nearly 1000 creatures with flying that have mana value less than five - and that's just flying. Finding ones that offer some utility in the early game or synergize with the rest of our plan are the ones you'll want to include, but any creatures with flying, trample, menace, deathtouch, or just plain old "can't be blocked" all work for this purpose. Here are a few of my favorites:

You can also include cards like Brawn and Wonder to grant your whole team evasion, including whatever you steal from your opponents.

Final Thoughts on Gonti and Sample Deck

It's clear we have a bunch of different cards, themes, and effects that we can use to build Gonti. Some other ideas might be to use Eldrazi Processors like Ulamog's Nullifier to further utilize opposing cards in exile. Maybe you get some further intel about what you're going to steal with Lantern of Insight, or include a Rogue subtheme since they tend to be evasive, share a type with Gonti, and thematically tend to be thieves. I've included a few of these in a sample deck list below. Since I primarily write budget articles, I couldn't resist value engineering the list a bit, especially when it comes to the mana base. Hopefully if you plan to pick up the precon, this gives you some ideas about some potential changes!

Embracing the variance of what we can find from our opponents' decks will be key to having the rootinest, tootinest time (sorry, I couldn't resist) with Gonti, and I'd love to hear about what you intend to do with the deck. Be sure to drop a note in the comments, and check out EDHREC for more Outlaws of the Thunder Junction content as we head into preview season. You can find more of my content here and every other week on EDHREC as well, or give me a follow on Twitter @BrewForYourBuck.

Gonti's Grand Larceny

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Creatures (38)
Instants (8)
Sorceries (5)
Artifacts (7)
Enchantments (4)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (36)

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Brian played Magic intermittently between 2003 and 2017 when he fully embraced his love for Commander. Finding ways to maximize the value of each piece of cardboard in the deck is one of his favorite things to explore, especially if it involves putting lands in the graveyard! Outside of Magic, Brian works as a consultant in the marine industry, turning his passion for boats and ships into a career.

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