Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim in Magic: The Gathering
Despite a ban in commander format, Golos is allowed (and often used) in MTG Arena's historic format, which is similar to commander (only one copy of each card except basic lands) but uses 25 life instead of 40 and only has cards from the Ixalan set onwards.
Golos's color identity accesses all five colors, which is great since it lets you put any spell in your deck, and he finds and plays a land on entry (try either the token-creating Field of the Dead or color-fixing World Tree). From there, he can pay seven mana to exile your deck's top three cards and let you play them for free for the rest of your turn!
Many Golos staples are easily found, from extra turns from Time Warp to ramps like Cultivate, but several worthy cards slip under the radar—here are ten great spells for your Golos historic deck in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Spare Supplies
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 2
Spare Supplies is colorless, which is great for a five-color deck since you don't need to have color-fixed to cast it early. On entry, it draws a card, and you can later pay another two mana and sac it to draw again.
This works great on any turn where you have some extra mana, or if you hold mana for a counterspell but your opponent doesn't cast anything. Being an artifact, it also has some nice synergy with a card we'll soon see.
9. Prophetic Prism
Prism's another respectable two-drop that draws on entry. From there, it simply lets you pay a mana to add one of any color, which is an easy color-fixer. Admittedly, the need for this becomes less important once you find "The World Tree" land with Golos (which makes your lands tap for any color while you control six or more), but Prism's great for early-game fixing and as a backup if your opponent removes Tree.
Tree also doesn't fix non-land cards like Mindstone, so Prism can also help with mana rocks.
Counterspells that don't need much blue work well with Golos since you'll be playing lands of every type. Enter Unwind, which counters any non-creature and untaps three lands, great for prepping another counterspell or sacrificing Spare Supplies.
7. Paladin Class
Most Golos builds emphasize high-cost spells, so Paladin Class makes a valued turn-one play that retains value later on. Its initial effect makes opposing spells cost one more mana during your turn, which is great for protecting your expensive game-changers from counterspells.
From there, it can level up for three more mana to give your creatures +1/+1 and again for five to give double strike when you attack. Both are valuable outlets for extra resources later in the game, but the initial effect is what's most important.
6. The Great Henge
Golos uses more removal and ramp than big creatures, so many players skip over Great Henge, which gets one cheaper (to a minimum of two) based on the strongest power among creatures you control. However, Golos's three power can reduce it to 6, and you're bound to have a few big guns like Uro or Nyxbloom Ancient, or you might free-cast it with Golos's effect.
No matter how you play it, Henge is amazing once out, immediately tapping for two mana and two life while also giving your non-token creatures a +1/+1 counter and draw on entry. That lifegain can save you against aggro, buying more time for your control deck to take over.
5. Faeburrow Elder
Elder gets +1/+1 and taps for one mana of each color you control; with just itself out, that's two mana (green and white), and it can skyrocket to five with the right permanents! It also has vigilance, so it can swing and tap, particularly useful against planeswalkers like Teferi Hero of Dominaria.
The key point to remember is that Golos's color identity is five colors, but Golos himself is colorless, so controlling him won't unlock more mana with Elder. But still, your other permanents will do the trick (you can easily get black through zombie tokens created with Field of the Dead).
4. Emry, Lurker of the Loch
Emry's cost decreases by one (to a minimum of one blue) per artifact you control. This often makes her a one-drop considering the theme's focus on mana artifacts (Chromatic Lantern, Replicating Ring, etc.) plus artifact creatures like Golos himself.
On entry, Emry mills four cards from your deck, and later taps to let you cast an artifact from your graveyard that turn. If Golos gets countered, you can let him hit your graveyard to avoid his commander tax, but you'll have to protect Emry in the meantime. Her self-mill also works well with flashback effects on cards like Ancient Grudge.
3. Scute Swarm
Scute Swarm is cheap enough to set up relatively early and scales amazingly into the late game. Whenever you play a land while he's out, you create a 1/1 insect token, but if you control six or more lands, you instead create a copy of Swarm!
This combos with Golos's land-find and can quickly amass dozens of tokens if left unchecked. The tokens also work well as blocker fodder to ensure you outlast threatening aggro decks (like Winota Joiner of Forces).
2. Kenrith's Transformation
This aura shuts down a threatening creature by making it lose all effects and become a 3/3 elk. Unlike most removal, this doesn't let your opponent recast their commander (at least until it dies), which really deprives them of their ace for awhile. Best of all, Transformation draws on entry, a rare cantrip-removal for just two.
This is just as brutal in tabletop commander and an auto-include in my own green decks; snag your own for less than two dollars! Bonus points if you run aura/enchantment support.
1. Dragonmaster Outcast
Outcast makes a great turn-one play. He starts as a simple 1/1, but your opponent can't leave him alone for too long, because he creates a flying 5/5 dragon token at your upkeep if you control six or more lands!
There's no downside to this other than the land requirement, meaning a single Outcast can eventually win the game via aggression; 5/5s flyers are no joke.
Staple Golos Cards in Historic Format
Today we saw many often-forgotten but useful plays Golos decks should consider, especially if you haven't found all the key cards in boosters yet. Here's a quick list of Golos staples I would definitely run as soon as you get one, and expect to see these against rival Golos decks:
- Swords to Plowshares
- Memory Lapse
- Chromatic Lantern
- Skyclave Relic
- Time Warp
- Alrund's Epiphany
- Emergent Ultimatum
- Genesis Ultimatum
But for now, vote for your favorite spell and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2021 Jeremy Gill