Rally the Ancestors - Legends of the Honored One

Gahiji, Honored One
(Gahiji, Honored One | Art by Brynn Metheney)

Legends of the Honored One

Welcome to the Rally the Ancestors Holiday Special. To celebrate, we’re of course working with red and green, and adding some white for all those who might be dreaming of snow. In honor of the season, we’re honoring a less-played Naya commander who gives gifts to everyone nice. If they’re naughty and attack us, not so much.

Gahiji is a very interesting commander and I’m surprised he isn’t played more. (Selfishly, somewhat pleasantly surprised as it gives me something interesting to write about!) Gahiji is the 30th most-played Naya commander (or partner pair), with a paltry 789 decks on EDHREC at time of writing. A 4/4 for five isn’t a great stat line, but his effect is very powerful for go-wide decks and functions as a solid political tool as well. We’ll be leaning into both those themes, but with a twist.

When researching cards for this article and looking for things that played into token creation and attacking, I started noticing that there were quite a few legendary creatures that fit the bill. Naya colors also have a lot of ways to benefit from casting legendary/historic cards, and thus a theme was born! Playing with mostly legendary creatures isn’t too much of a restriction given how many have been printed in the past few years, and there are tons of powerful ones as well!

Deck Goals

  1. Ramp into Gahiji and attack, attack, attack. Let’s use mostly creature-based ramp since Gahiji turns mana dorks into competent attackers once he hits the board.
  2. Use mostly legendary creatures and token generators to go wide and hit hard. Creating lots of creatures feeds Gahiji’s game plan nicely, and playing legends is our key theme.
  3. Find ways to benefit from playing legendary creatures. Thankfully, there are legendary creatures that do that themselves.


Tips For Building And Playing Gahiji, Honored One

How do you not include her?

  1. There are no shortage of legends that we could play in a deck like this; making cuts was tough! I opted to keep the curve to reasonably low, though I make a concession for Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite since she often wins the game on the spot.
  2. I also wanted to stick to legends with decent bodies in addition to fitting the theme, with a few notable exceptions for those with triggered abilities too good to pass up. It’s important to remember that our legends themselves will have to do some attacking as well; don’t be too afraid to lose one in the name of pushing damage through (as always, we have a backup plan).
  3. Try to influence other players to attack each other. It’s fun to play politics, and Gahiji already gives opponents some incentive to attack other players. I suspect they’ll turn on Gahiji eventually, but hopefully we can goad a few to keep the battlefield fresh with blood. Other people’s blood, that is. While this isn't the deck's focus, it's a great way to stay alive!
  4. Given we’ll be attacking plenty, we’ll want a few ways to influence combat and not leave ourselves too vulnerable in the process. Not to worry. We have plenty of ways to cheat death and generally control the flow of combat.


The Deck

Key components of our deck include:

Creatures that produce mana

Still strong: Birds of Paradise, Llanowar Elves, Avacyn's Pilgrim, Faeburrow Elder
New hotness: Armored Scrapgorger, Delighted Halfling, Llanowar Loamspeaker, Biophagus

"Mana dorks", as they're so politely referred to, make up a key component of this deck. They speed things up early, and Gahiji turns them into competent attackers as well. Birds of Paradise is still as good as it gets, though Delighted Halfling is also quite strong with all the legends we have. Armored Scrapgorger is seeing a fair bit of Standard play but I think it's been slept on in Commander. It's ramp and graveyard hate on the same card, and eventually it has decent stats too. Give it a go; I know I'll be doing so. Biophagus is also a standout since this deck is running 42 creatures. An extra +1/+1 never hurts.


Legendary Creatures That Create Tokens

Still strong: Brimaz, King of Oreskos, Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin, God-Eternal Oketra, General Ferrous Rokiric
New hotness: Baird, Argivian Recruiter, Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation, Torens, Fist of the Angels

Going wide is a very valid strategy with Gahiji, and while we might not go as wide as some builds we still have legendary creatures to help us get there. Brimaz, King of Oreskos is still very good at this, as is Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin. Baird, Argivian Recruiter should be quite easy to trigger once Gahiji hits the board. General Ferrous Rokiric has a low floor (he's fragile) but a high ceiling, and this deck has enough multicolored cards to take a chance on him. Last but not least, Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation is a great new addition from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan that can really push our army over the top. Tripling tokens is no joke.


Legendary Creatures That Mess With Combat

Still strong: Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist, Odric, Master Tactician, Marisi, Breaker of the Coil, Iroas, God of Victory, Grenzo, Havoc Raiser
New hotness: Kutzil, Malamet Exemplar, Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor, Éowyn, Fearless Knight

Odric, Master Tacticianis still very good at his job and is right at home here. He can change the course of a game with a single swing. Iroas, God of Victory is a Boros staple for good reason. Most of the enemy-color pair gods from Journey into Nyx are quite strong and this one is no exception. Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor is right on the cusp of new/old but it has a bit of an oddball effect that's perfectly at home here. Lastly, Kutzil, Malamet Exemplar and Marisi, Breaker of the Coil are a pair of cool cats that keep our opponents from casting spells at inopportune times. Effects like theirs are perfect for aggressive builds like ours.


Legendary Creatures That Care About Attacking

Still strong: Sophina, Spearsage Deserter, Moraug, Fury of Akoum
New hotness: Éomer, Marshal of Rohan, Wulfgar of Icewind Dale, Karlach, Fury of Avernus

Most of these cards are quite recent, and there has definitely been an uptick in this style of legendary creature lately. Cards like this help aggro decks compete in Commander and there are several that fit exceptionally well here. The furious pair of Moraug, Fury of Akoum and Karlach, Fury of Avernus, along with slightly less furious Éomer, Marshal of Rohan let us take advantage of Gahiji's power buff an additional time, which can put a serious hurt on opponents. Wulfgar of Icewind Dale benefits a large portion of our deck as well.


"Legends/Historic-Matters" Cards

Still strong: Urza's Ruinous Blast, Captain Sisay, Reki, the History of Kamigawa
New hotness: Bard Class, Hajar, Loyal Bodyguard, Gimli of the Glittering Caves, Glóin, Dwarf Emissary, Flowering of the White Tree, War of the Last Alliance, Confession Dial

So yeah, The Lord of the Rings expansion really made the legend theme in this deck worth exploring. From a pair of Dwarves that work very well in this build to the best anthem ever in Flowering of the White Tree, to an excellent tutor in War of the Last Alliance, this set gave this deck a lot. Also slotting in here is the OG herself: Captain Sisay, a very on-theme board wipe in Urza's Ruinous Blast and a subtle-yet-powerful enchantment in Bard Class. Reki, the History of Kamigawa is slightly underpowered these days but this deck isn't loaded with card draw otherwise (I'm looking to Skullclamp to put in some work). It fills a niche. Last but not least, a fun new artifact from Doctor Who, Confession Dial. I don't imagine we'll be escaping too often here, but in long games it should help us grind a victory out.


More Token-Makers And Tokens-Matter Cards

Still strong: Skullclamp, Alliance of Arms, Tempt with Vengeance, Windbrisk Heights, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
New hotness: Jetmir, Nexus of Revels, Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second, Grand Crescendo, Roar of Resistance, Court of Embereth

Once again, some new sets like Streets of New Capenna have really helped a deck like this' game plan. Jetmir and Jinnie Fay are perfect here. Since I have a soft spot for niche red chaos cards, I'm also quite excited to try out newcomer Roar of Resistance. Speaking of chaos, I finally have a home for Tempt with Vengeance and Alliance of Arms. These cards have always intrigued me, but this is the first deck I've built where they actually feel good and not just hilarious. They can still backfire, but ideally they benefit us more than others. Lastly, Court of Embereth is a powerful way to introduce the monarch mechanic to the table. We get tokens regardless, and potentially get to nuke all our opponents for a ton if we can make it to our next upkeep as the monarch. It's exactly what this deck wants.

Last, a quick note on some land choices. Forbidden Orchardis generally not something I want to play, but this deck is political enough that I don't mind having it around. Giving our opponents 1/1s that they can conveniently turn into 3/1s if they attack each other is kinda fun. Treetop Village is an old manland that I don't see as much of anymore, but it's incredibly efficient compared to most others. If you're running green, give it a shot.

That covers most of it; here's our list!


Honoring the Honored One

View on Archidekt

Commander (1)
Planeswalkers (1)
Creatures (42)
Instants (5)
Sorceries (5)
Artifacts (5)
Enchantments (6)
Lands (35)

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How I Used EDHREC To Build This Deck

Honestly, because this deck was so full of legendary creatures, browsing top commanders for the deck's colors was a quick way to get some ideas. And while I wasn't going too hard on the token theme, there was still some good inspiration on the Naya tokens theme page. Theme pages in general are a good place to start when it comes to finding the latest and greatest for your decks. Don't sleep on them!

For example, if you want to build with Gahiji and lean further into a forced combat theme, there are no shortage of ideas on that theme page. In this case, our deck is a smattering of a few different themes in a legends shell. Head over to that page to see all the ones I could've included; there were no shortage of options (let me know in the comments if there are others you would've tried!). To sum up, Gahiji is a very flexible commander; perhaps even more than I thought at the outset of putting this together. He's well worth revisiting and I'm glad I did.

Happy holidays, everyone. May your games be merry and may your commander always resolve.

Read More:

Rally the Ancestors - #justoliviathings

Archetune-Up - The Cat that Hits Back

Dallas is a communications professional, writer and nearly life-long Magic player from Canada. Commander is his format of choice. When not playing or writing about Magic, you can find him skiing or biking in the mountains he calls home.

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