Commander Legends is full of exciting cards, and of course, the Commanders themselves are always the most exciting. Any card that brings us a whole new deck is something I’m interested in, and I think today’s Commander does just that. I spoke to fellow Commander enthusiast and Level 3 Judge Elliot Raff about this card over the weekend, and we both agree it has the potential to power decks that we don’t see often in Commander. Let’s look at Ghen, Arcanum Weaver!
Ghen doesn’t care much for the combat step, choosing instead to focus on activations. Specifically, Ghen is here to play Goblin Welder for enchantments. There are a few ways to maximize this – the two most obvious options are using self-mill effects to cheat expensive enchantments into play by sacrificing cheap ones and cycling through enters the battlefield effects on various enchantments by moving them in and out of play. I’ve chosen to go with the latter, and I think we’ve got a pretty interesting deck as a result. Let’s take a look at what I’ve wrought here!
Of course, with a commander like Ghen, Constellation effects are going to be great. I’ve chosen these five as I think they’re the most powerful options. Ajani’s Chosen doesn’t technically have Constellation, but that’s just an ability word, and the outcome is what’s important here – it makes tokens, just like Archon of Sun’s Grace does. Doomwake Giant, one of my favorite cards when it was still in Standard, does a great job of messing up opposing battlefields, while Agent of Erebos clears out graveyards and Grim Guardian makes life totals go down.
Since we’ll have a lot of enchantments going to the graveyard, having a few more ways to bring them back sounds like a good plan. Auramancer just brings things back to hand, while Silent Sentinel and Sun Titan return them to the battlefield! If you’re interested in adding more effects like this, consider Monk Idealist and Treasury Thrull.
Heliod pumps out creature tokens, but the most important part is that they’re enchantments. That means they trigger cards like Doomwake Giant and can be sacrificed to Ghen for big value. With all the enchantments we have, it’s even possible to get Heliod into the physical realm for attacks and blocks.
Nothing too complicated here – let’s draw cards!
Both abilities on this card are going to be hugely useful – the cost reduction is amazing with all of our enchantments, and they’ll be going to the graveyard, which should grow this creature at a moderate clip.
What’s better than sacrificing our own enchantments? Sacrificing someone else’s enchantments, of course. Zealous Conscripts can sometimes steal a game by grabbing a key creature too, but I mostly see this as a value generator. I’m sure there’s a version of this deck that goes in on Skybind and blinks this a bunch, but that’s not what I did this time around.
Mardu is not known for its powerful ramp effects, so we make do with artifacts. Believe me, if they made Solemn Enchantolacrum (the enchantment creature version, naturally) I’d be jumping at it.
Yep, that’s all 14 of our creatures. We’re going to need to generate a lot of value from our enchantments to make this work, so we’ll do our best! Let’s take a look at the 25 enchantments I slotted in before we move into other kinds of noncreature spells.
This is a pretty comprehensive removal suite. Quite a few of these allow you to do fun timing tricks. Oblivion Ring is a classic, and Parallax Wave is similar – put all the activations on the stack, then sacrifice the Wave to Ghen in response. That way, the leaves the battlefield trigger resolves first, returning nothing, and then the activations resolve, exiling creatures forever. The genesis of this trick is the combo of Parallax Wave & Opalescence, where you put the last activation on the stack targeting Parallax Wave itself, which is even nastier because it gets you Parallax Wave back after the dust settles, allowing you to rinse and repeat. Fun fact: Parallax Wave actually used to have power level errata that specifically returned cards other than Parallax Wave to the battlefield in order to stop these shenanigans. On a less exciting note, Act of Authority can get you some extra value in this deck too: put the upkeep trigger on the stack, sacrifice it to Ghen, then choose to exile something. The Sagas are fun to reuse as they eventually expire, and Haphazard Bombardment is just a good time overall.
We have a little bit of a monarch subtheme here, partially because there are tons of good enchantments that give us the crown and partially because I think monarch is really fun. If I played more Pauper, I might disagree, but honestly, it has been years, and I mostly played Standard Pauper anyway. I love the Court cycle in Commander, but I have been hearing some concerns about Court of Cunning in Legacy.
I love cards you really have to work to use well, and Delaying Shield is here for just that reason. Put a bunch of damage on Delaying Shield, and once you find yourself massively in debt to this protective enchantment, toss it on the graveyard with Ghen and move on with your life (total). Force Bubble almost got a slot too, so consider that one as well.
It only triggers when we actually cast enchantment spells, but we should be doing a decent amount of that anyway.
I’m not always excited about slotting this in, but in a Mardu Enchanments deck, I’ll take what I can get. Smothering Tithe’s power makes up for some of the glowing weak points of this deck.
We will often have a decent number of enchantments in play, making this card more attractive than just Ghostly Prison. I don’t mind the additional cost, especially in social Commander.
Card draw is a big deal, and these cards certainly vary in power level. Land Tax is the top of the heap, but Demonic Lore and Treacherous Blessing really shine when you can just weld them out in favor of something without a downside. Just be careful that your Ghen doesn’t get killed in response. Phyrexian Arena is a classic source of long term card draw, and Dragon Mantle is a great starting point for the chain of enchantments.
I love the idea of welding this in during a big combat step that probably doesn’t even belong to us. If you have a favorite enchantment that doesn’t appear here, this might be the card you cut.
With ten instants, Fires doesn’t hurt too bad to just have around, but the idea of using it to cheat on mana and then welding it out for even more action is reminiscent of Standard’s Jeskai Yorion Lukka Fires decks. The only thing longer than that deck’s name was LSV’s Deep Dive into the deck, which was such a wonderfully comprehensive guide that, even though it was correct, I cringed when the cards that made it tick got banned.
Although making our enchantments into creatures can sometimes be very risky, we can just Ghen this out when we don’t need it. It’s always nice to get a steady stream of enchantments back from the graveyard, and that’s what this is here for.
It’s possible that I’m undervaluing these enchantments. What’s their point? Well, they’re recursive, which means we get to use them over and over again to weld things back in with Ghen. This deck is super dependent on Ghen – perhaps future sets will show us more Mardu Enchantress tools to augment him? I considered Brilliant Halo and Cessation alongside these, so if you find yourself looking for more like these, try those. (Antecedents abound!) Sentinel’s Eyes and Escape Velocity are also theoretical possibilities, though I’m not looking to wreck up our graveyard. Despondency is also a possibility, but that card is just so bad.
Now we’re out of the enchantment zone. This is the wide-angle removal zone, featuring such hits as… wait, one of these is new! Slash the Ranks is a wrath that keeps commanders around, which, given how dependent we are on Ghen, is a risk worth taking.
Spot removal! I recently said Hagra Mauling would be in tons of decks going forward, and here it is again along with a healthy helping of exile-based removal. Despark is a mana cost consideration because Ghen makes this deck just so hungry for mana.
Defending Ghen and our board of enchantments is a big deal, and it’s possible I should do more on that front. Teferi’s Protection is huge in that regard, and Deflecting Swat can help point removal point where we want it. Flicker of Fate is a nice defensive option that also rebuys on an enchantment’s ETB effect.
I like the idea of discarding a high-cost enchantment to this to draw cards, and it’s possible this should be a Jalum Tome-style artifact (probably not Jalum Tome itself) instead. That said, I’m not trying to self-mill here – that’s a different build.
This one’s here for the same reason as Zealous Conscripts, though sometimes it’s just a huge blowout randomly.
Untapping Ghen and reusing his activation can be tough given the cost, but it’s worth it if you can do it. I also love the haste-like ability the Elixir grants.
Speaking of haste, Swiftfoot Boots provides that as well as a way to protect our Commander – it’s a must-have here.
Six mana rocks should do it, especially since five of them contribute to Ghen’s activation cost. (Well, Fellwar Stone might actually not sometimes, given how much people love Simic.)
Untapped duals! The options have really grown with the completion of the Battlebond dual land cycle. Mana is just so much better than it used to be – I guess that’s what happened when Standard needs new land to keep things exciting.
Fetchlands abound as well, but I’m not going full off-color fetch.
These may enter tapped, but they tap for all three colors, which works for me. If you prefer City of Brass and Mana Confluence, well, I’m not here to tell you you’re wrong. You may, in fact, be right.
I can’t imagine not playing Bizarro Volrath’s Stronghold in this deck full of enchantments that we’re dumping in the graveyard.
A little bit of hate in the manabase goes a long way. That said, I’m lighter on these effects than I usually am, so that may be a sign that I’m getting soft in my old age (or that I got entranced by the theme here and ran out of room… oops.)
Because of concerns about Ghen’s mana cost, I rounded the mana base out with 7 Plains, 4 Swamps, and 4 Mountains. Without that, I would have gone down to just one basic Mountain and maybe three Swamps and replaced the rest with Plains. 15 basics should be enough to feed Land Tax.
If you like what you’re hearing, here’s the full list. Don’t forget: Commander Legends releases on November 20th, and you can buy Draft Booster Boxes right here at ChannelFireball.com – get yours today! I’ll see you next time with more articles about this awesome set and its various sweet Commanders. In fact, next time may even be my Set Review!
1 Act of Authority 1 Agent of Erebos 1 Ajani's Chosen 1 Arcane Signet 1 Archon of Sun's Grace 1 Arid Mesa 1 Auramancer 1 Blasphemous Act 1 Blood Crypt 1 Bloodstained Mire 1 Bojuka Bog 1 Brightclimb Pathway/Grimclimb Pathway 1 Burnished Hart 1 Clifftop Retreat 1 Command Tower 1 Court of Ambition 1 Court of Grace 1 Crush Contraband 1 Curse of Bloodletting 1 Deflecting Swat 1 Delaying Shield 1 Demonic Lore 1 Despark 1 Dictate of the Twin Gods 1 Doomwake Giant 1 Dragon Mantle 1 Dragonskull Summit 1 Elspeth Conquers Death 1 Fabled Passage 1 Fellwar Stone 1 Fires of Invention 1 Flicker of Fate 1 Generous Gift 1 Ghost Quarter 1 Godless Shrine 1 Grim Guardian 1 Gryff's Boon 1 Hagra Mauling/Hagra Broodpit 1 Hall of Heliod's Generosity 1 Haphazard Bombardment 1 Heliod, God of the Sun 1 Isolated Chapel 1 Land Tax 1 Luxury Suite 1 Magewright's Stone 1 Marchesa's Decree 1 Marsh Flats 1 Mesa Enchantress 4 Mountain (508) 1 Needleverge Pathway/Pillarverge Pathway 1 Nomad Outpost 1 Oath of Liliana 1 Oblivion Ring 1 Orzhov Signet 1 Parallax Wave 1 Phyrexian Arena 7 Plains (504) 1 Prismatic Vista 1 Rakdos Signet 1 Sacred Foundry 1 Savai Triome 1 Sigil of the Empty Throne 1 Silent Clearing 1 Silent Sentinel 1 Slash the Ranks 1 Smothering Tithe 1 Sol Ring 1 Solemn Simulacrum 1 Spectator Seating 1 Sphere of Safety 1 Spirit Loop 1 Starfield Mystic 1 Starfield of Nyx 1 Sun Titan 4 Swamp 1 Swiftfoot Boots 1 Swords to Plowshares 1 Teferi's Protection 1 The Eldest Reborn 1 Thousand-Year Elixir 1 Thrill of Possibility 1 Treacherous Blessing 1 Vandalblast 1 Vault of Champions 1 Word of Seizing 1 Zealous Conscripts 1 Ghen, Arcanum Weaver