Damia, Lord of Gorgo… Oh My God what am I doing with my life

22 Oct

So, I’ve made a horrible horrible mistake. Sultai (or, if you’re an old bastard like me, BUG) is widely regarded as the best colour combination in Commander (or, if you’re an old bastard like me, EDH). Green’s acceleration and big ol’ fatties. Blue’s permission. Black’s discard and destruction. Sultai, not Abzan (or, if you’re an old bastard like me, “Junk” – yeah, let’s face it, the new names are better…) is the true colour of inevitability.

My old Damia, Sage of Stone deck was BUG Sultai Goodstuff.


Yep. Real card. They sure don’t make ’em like that any more. Thank God.

Well,┬áit was and it wasn’t. I had janky-as-hell cards like Teferi’s Puzzle Box (hey, I’m skipping my draw step, I didn’t care), Ice Cauldron (see right) and EDH all star Bottled Cloister in there, but I also had Genesis Wave and Avenger of Zendikar and Hinder and Living End and Rite of Replication and a bunch of other really good cards.

I hated it.

It was slow, and grindy, and boring, and totally soulless, and although it tried to do cool stuff with Damia triggers and drawing cards and so on, it usually just ended up Genesis Waving for a thousand and winning with whatever came up.


So, back to my bad decision.

“Self,” I said to myself (since that’s the only way I get intelligent conversation these days, since the restraining order and all – Oh hai Mark!), “what you need to do is give yourself an actual theme. Something to tie the cards in the deck together. A restriction if you will. A wise man once* said ‘restrictions breed creativity’. (Oh hai Mark!) So, think of a decent theme, restrict yourself to that and let the creativity flow, man!”
*way way waaaaaay more than once

But what theme? Do I want to Enter the Infinite? Do I want to Doomsday my way to victory? Do I want Horror tribal? While all of those sound amazing (….) I decided I wanted to do something else. Why win when you can…not?

Here’s where I made my first big mistake. I came up with too many ideas. I managed to knock them down to:

  • Sultai Goodstuff (hey, it is the best colour combination in Magic after all)
  • Gorgon Tribal
  • “Snake” Tribal (Gorgons, Naga, and Snakes)
  • All Deathtouch, all the time
  • Poison/Infect/Wither (with Proliferate)

Way back when Kamigawa was legal in standard with Mirrodin I had a pretty fun (but definitely causal – after all this was when Mirrodin was Standard legal and if you weren’t playing Arcbound Ravager you were playing it wrong) Snake deck – with Seshiro, Sachi, Sosuke, Shisato, and Sosuke’s Summons, with Orochi Hatchery and draft deck all-stars like Orochi Ranger (I’ll let you look that one up yourself). It was a lot of fun and I thought maybe this deck could recreate that with some additional oomph from black and blue.


I eventually more-or-less settled on the Wither/Poison/Infect deck though.

Then I realised I hated playing against Poison, so why would I want to do that to a table?

So I settled on Deathtouch “Tribal”. But that’s kind of meh as theme.

So I went back to Gorgon Tribal. And then to Snake tribal.

And then I made my second big mistake. I asked a local Facebook group which deck I should build. And of course, their most popular answer was Sultai Goodstuff, because they all have no soul.

The second most popular result in that poll was Gorgon Tribal, so (after way too much writing) here we are. Gorgon Tribal, go!

So I sit down at Scryfall, type in “type:Gorgon” and hit go.

15 results. Fif. Teen. Turns out, there are 15 Gorgons in all of Magic, and that’s counting the Golgari in the most recent Ravnican expansion. Adding changelings doesn’t even help that much – as it turns out there’s only an additional 16 changelings in Sultai colours, and most of them are pretty awful. However, there’s enough…just… to work with here, so let’s get to brewing!

Definites, sorted by CMC:

So, 10/15 isn’t a bad ratio – there are a few interesting options in there. Plenty of Deathtouch, but what grabbed my attention was that Gorgon Recluse and Infernal Medusa have an ability that isn’t seen very often – they destroy any (nonblack for one, or nonwall for the other) creature they block or are blocked by – even if they don’t deal it any damage. This is an ability shared by a few creatures – notably Basilisks and Cockatrices – some of them require dealing combat damage and some of them don’t. Of note, just about the only creature that has this ability, and that can destroy any and all creatures blocked by it is Tangle Asp – one of the creatures I had in my CHK-era snake deck. In it goes! And, as it happens, the only other creature with that condition-less text is Venomous Dragonfly, which is a flying 1/1 for four. I’ll pass on that one for now. I’ll keep an eye on the other creatures in this category that do the same thing to non-Walls, as Walls are a lot less common than black creatures. That only consists of Cockatrice and Thicket Basilisk.

Looking at the rest of the gorgons; Arisen Gorgon is a 3/3 for 3 that has deathtouch if we control a Liliana planeswalker. Maybe decent, if we end up with any. Keepsake Gorgon is a 2/5 for 5, which for a the low low cost of 7 more mana, becomes a 3/6 and destroys a non-Gorgon. No thank you! Likewise Korozda Gorgon is a 2/5 for 5 that messes with +1/+1 counters, which isn’t something I’m likely to be interested in. Masked Gorgon will give all of my opponent’s green and white creatures protection from my deck. HARD pass. The last gorgon not on the list is Damia herself. Might be playing that one.

Looking at the available changelings, there’s only two I actively want to run: Chameleon Colossus, and Cairn Wanderer. That ain’t helping much. Some of the instants are interesting though – Nameless Inversion and Ego Erasure both remove all creature types from their “targets” (Ego Erasure doesn’t actually target any creature), which would handily get around the whole non-Wall thing we were talking about earlier. I suppose at a stretch I could include Amoeboid Changeling for the same reason.

So, how do you take advantage of the fact that your creatures kill everything they block, or everything that’s blocking it? The first thing I thought of was that since people tend to want to keep their creatures, they just won’t block. Of course that has it’s own advantages when it comes dealing 40 damage to your opponents! So then I thought of adding things that trigger when damage is dealt to players – Curiosity effects, Saboteur (“destroy target “) effects, and things like Quietus Spike. The list of playables (note that I have a pretty relaxed idea of playable) is:

  • Bloodforged Battle-Axe
  • One with Nature
  • Sixth Sense
  • Sigil of Sleep
  • Dowsing Dagger
  • Hammer of Ruin
  • Mask of Memory
  • Mask of Riddles
  • Rogue’s Gloves
  • Quietus Spike
  • Snake Umbra
  • Spellbinder
  • All the Swords of Stuff and Junk(tm) (although I only own three swords and they’re all in other decks)
  • Bident of Thassa
  • Larceny
  • Scytheclaw
  • Nature’s Will

Obviously some of these are better than others and I won’t be putting all of them in. In particular, since I’m in Blue, and my General is Damia, I shouldn’t need a whole lot of creature-based card draw.

There’s another angle to this though; if I have a creature that destroys all the creatures blocking it, why no make all the creatures block it? I’m talking old school Lure effects here. Similarly to the “Curiosity” effects above, I’ll be valuing repeatable/persistent effects over instants and sorceries. As far as I can make out, my options there are:

Special mention to Ochran Assassin, who has this ability and Deathtouch, Breaker of Armies, who has this ability and 10 power (which is it’s own kind of Deathtouch, if you look at it a certain way), and Stone-Tongue Basilisk, which has this ability if I have Threshold and destroys creatures it damages; two conditional, uh, conditions, is probably one too many for what I’m trying to do. Also there are a few cards (not many) like Courtly Provocateur and Provoke which sort of do the same thing – Predatory Rampage seems especially good – but again one shots probably aren’t going to cut it here.

That’s a shorter list than I’d like, but 6 (3 good, 3 not so good) is probably enough to get one when I need it. Especially since I’ll (hopefully) be drawing multiple cards per turn with Damia. More on that later.

Making my creature alluring (DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE) does two things; if the lure effect is on something with Deathtouch or the Tangle Asp ability, it effectively functions as a one-sided Wrath; and it all but guarantees the rest of my team getting through and getting those combat damage triggers.

Of course, my creature is almost certain to die when it gets blocked by someone’s whole team (which, incidentally, makes Nemesis Mask way better than all the Aura Lures). Unless, of course, they don’t! So, part 3 of my unnecessarily complicated death machine is to give the Lured creature regeneration or indestructible. Luckily quite a few of these effects are serpent-themed, to wit:

  • Asceticism
  • Blessing of Leeches
  • Molting Skin (and it’s identical twin, Broken Fall)
  • Draconian Cylix (synergy with Damia!)
  • Medicine Bag (even better with Damia!)
  • Rushwood Herbalist (Medicine Bag with legs)
  • Gaea’s Embrace
  • Gaze of the Gorgon (is a one-shot, but it has to go in this deck)
  • Jolrael’s Favor
  • Nurturing Licid (handy things these Licids!)
  • Regeneration
  • Serpent Skin
  • Strands of Undeath
  • I should mention Yavimaya Hollow here, but I will also mention that it’s a bit pricey for me
  • Darksteel Plate
  • Shield of Kaldra
  • Soul of New Phyrexia (expensive to activate every turn)
  • Stonehoof Chieftain
  • And a few other instants that grant indestructible until end of turn

There’s way too many there to play them all, so I’m probably going to add these ones:

Which still might be a couple of cards too many. We’ll see.

This is turning out to be a pretty mana hungry deck (and I have some plans for big game-ending plays), but I think we’ve got to a point where we’ve got a decent theme going, we’ve got some cards we want to put in to play out that theme, and now we get to the (for me…) boring part of deckbuilding where we put in ramp, card drawing, and removal. About the only thing I need to talk about now is how we’re going to win this thing. Having a bunch of 2 and 3 power Gorgons isn’t going to cut it – but we are (if the plan works) going to have a TON of creatures in my opponents graveyards. It’s always fun to get your head beat in by your own creatures, right? Enter these:

  • Animate Dead/Dance of the Dead/Reanimate
  • Beacon of Unrest
  • Bone Dancer (this card could be completely amazing if it’s attacking alongside a Lured creature!!!)
  • Boneyard Parley (this is probably really bad, but picking five creatures out of everyone’s graveyards is pretty tempting)
  • Coffin Queen
  • Endless Obedience
  • Extract from Darkness
  • Fated Return
  • Fool’s Demise
  • Grimoire of the Dead
  • Necromantic Summons
  • Puppeteer Clique
  • Rise from the Grave
  • Rise of the Dark Realms
  • Scion of Darkness (ties into the whole Lure/Combat damage thing as well)
  • Sepulchral Primordial
  • Thrilling Encore(!!!! – among other things I don’t need a regenerator to get my Lured guy back using this, as it’s all creatures from all graveyards)

Again, I won’t be putting all of these cards in, but it’s nice to know we have options. Now, I have to make cuts, and put in the usual boring stuff. Here we go!


Other Creatures

Lure Effects

Regeneration/Indestructible Effects

Saboteur/Combat Damage Effects

Reanimation Effects


Honestly I haven’t thought too hard about this one; the following are just what I thought of off the top of my head, that are good enough to include:

Card Draw/Card Advantage

Our General is all the card draw we’d ever need, but there’s no guarantee she’ll be in play so we’ll need some back up:


That’s 66 cards so far (67 including the General, of course). That leaves 33 slots, and there is no removal included so far. That’s not really optimal. I don’t think I’ll need a lot of creature removal as that’s what this deck does (all going according to plan) but I’ll definitely need some artifact/enchantment/Planeswalker removal in here. I want to add at least 4 slots for removal, and I want to run 36 or 37 land, so that means dropping seven cards and taking the card count down to 59.

Time for everyone’s least favourite game show:


First off; all of the Gorgons are staying. In the other creatures category, Ochran Assassin is a nice backup but is probably too weak to be of any use. (66) Rushwood Herbalist is a bit slow, and as a creature is probably too vulnerable. (65) The other creatures are all fine.

Seton’s Desire goes as I can’t guarantee I’ll have Threshold – if the abilities were the other way round, I’d be keeping it. (64).

I like all the Regeneration effects – Molting Skin and Serpent Skin are probably the two weakest, but they’re also the two that are most on theme, so I’ll keep them.

The Saboteur effects is probably the category I most overloaded on – I know for sure I want to keep Quietus Spike, Scytheclaw, Bident of Thassa and Snake Umbra. Nature’s Will is an absolute beating, and can stand in as a budget replacement for the good half of the Sword of Feast of Famine (which I don’t own). That leaves One with Nature (staying), Dowsing Dagger (which I’d like to keep but will cut for now – 63), Mask of Riddles (cut, 62), Larceny (staying for now) and Night Dealings (cut, 61).

From the reanimation suite, the only one I really want to cut is Necromantic Summons (60). The rest all do something game-ending, or have an angle that I’m keen to try out (Convoke, repeatability, non-targeted).

For the counterspells, I’ll be targeting non-creature spells with them most of the time. The exile spells and Rewind stay, but I think I’ll cut Hinder (59) and Spell Crumple (58).

Adding in 37 lands gives us 95 cards, so we have 5 spots for removal, which seems about right (remember, all going well we’ll be drawing 3 or 4 cards every turn). Hopefully I don’t need to worry too much about creature removal, although a board wipe or two never really goes amiss.


Add lands to taste (I’m going to put Dowsing Dagger back in and count that as a land) and by God I think we have a decklist! I won’t type all that out again (again) but here’s a link to the deckstats page for it: Damia, Sage of Gorgons

And, that’s it! Now I just have to hit up Card Kingdom and get a bunch of these cards and I’ll actually be able to play the deck!

If you made it this far, thanks very much for reading the increasingly boring ramblings of some random guy on the internet – you go and have yourself a great day, and watch out for the Gorgon invasion!


Welp, turns out Rhystic Study and Stonehoof Chieftain are waaay more expensive than I thought; in the meantime I’ve removed them and replaced them with Mystic Remora and Darksteel Plate respectively.


Posted by on October 22, 2018 in Challenge of Doom, EDH/Commander, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , ,

2 responses to “Damia, Lord of Gorgo… Oh My God what am I doing with my life

  1. Graveborn Muse

    October 22, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Nice article, but I think you should have gone with snakes. Like you said though, slim pickings in Sultai.

    • Viperion

      November 13, 2018 at 1:38 pm

      Snakes is still a favourite. I may make a mono-G snake deck (maybe B/G but probably not) so I have a casual Mono-G deck – my Omnath is a bit fast for my usual group.


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