Commander Deck Tech: Carth and Friends


The introduction of Carth the Lion, a new commander from Modern Horizons 2, is bringing the superfriends archetype to Golgari. Not having access to all the colors but concentrating on black and green is a welcome change for a planeswalker-heavy build, as it helps us focus on a more fun and less oppressive strategy!

carth and friends

Modern Horizons 2 has brought with it a plethora of new legends from various places and times across the Magic multiverse. This includes fan favorites from old stories or flavor texts such as Dakkon, Shadow Slayer, Garth One-Eye, and Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar. One character that comes with a unique new ability and also shares a lot of history with other Dominarian legends is Carth the Lion.

This new Golgari commander gives planeswalker an extra +1 loyalty on each activation of any of their abilities. Garruk, Cursed Huntsman's first ability now adds one loyalty counter to himself, and a planeswalker's −1 ability doesn't cost any loyalty anymore. This makes it easier to ultimate certain walkers (the already mentioned Huntsman can do it right away) and/or helps them stick around for longer. Because the bonus is added to the cost, you never need to worry about someone destroying Carth in response either, for the same reason that Lightning Bolt cannot kill a loyalty 3 planeswalker who uses their +1 immediately after resolution.

Carth the Lion Carth the Lion

With all of that out of the way, it's time to get down to deck design. Is it possible to build a good Golgari Superfriends deck? Do black and green planeswalker have any synergies? Geen planeswalkers like Garruk and Vivien usually support creature-heavy strategies while black planeswalkers such as Liliana focus on reanimation most of the time. Can we find a middle ground that we can exploit? Let's take a look.

The Game Plan

So how are we going to win with Carth in a regular-sized Commander game? We all know how weak planeswalkers can be in a multiplayer environment. Unless we build a solid defense, it will be very easy for our opponents to attack our planeswalkers dead before we can get any real value from them. Carth's extra +1 loyalty helps, and Carth's other effect will help us find another planeswalker when one of them dies. Letting us dig seven cards deep should secure a replacement. Unfortunately, what we're getting is a planeswalker at a point when the first planeswalker already wasn't safe. This does not win games by itself.

Our overall strategy should focus on generating more value than our opponents and finding ways to protect our planeswalkers until we can activate their most powerful abilities. In order to do this we also need to use more creatures than other spells, since creatures can block incoming attacks and help us build up defenses.

Creature Spells

Similar to spells like Cultivate or Rampant Growth, creatures that help us ramp are a priority in this deck because they serve two functions: mana acceleration and blockers. Springbloom Druid, Farhaven Elf, and Wood Elves are prime examples of this. On the other hand, a creature like Elder Gargaroth provide us with flexible options, and since it has vigilance, it is a good blocker as well. Silent Arbiter will make it harder for our opponents to swing into our planeswalkers, especially if we have multiple on the battlefield.

elder gargaroth evolution sage

Playing a planeswalker deck, it would be a sin not to include Evolution Sage here. Doubling Season and Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider are powerhouses too as they make it super easy to get to our friends' ultimates. Meanwhile Pir, Imaginative Rascal has a similar effect to our commander, giving planeswalkers an extra counter—both upon entering the battlefield and on activation of their plus abilities.

Spells That Make Creatures

An interesting way we can aid our strategy is to use spells that create creatures tokens. Cards like Arachnogenesis and Rise of the Dread Marn can really surprise our opponents and give us just the time to get to our ultimates. Culling Ritual and Pest Infestation are other ways to push us ahead, slowing down our opponents while giving us value either in the form of more mana or 1/1 Pest tokens. Similarly Awakening Zone gives us an 0/1 Eldrazi Spawn that we can keep for blocking or use for mana. I have included Field of the Dead as this will eventually provide us with a free 2/2 whenever we play a land.

pest infestation awakening zone

Superfriend Support

One of the best cards to include in a deck that features a lot of planeswalkers is The Chain Veil. This allows us to activate the loyalty abilities of planeswalker twice each turn. Combined with Carth, this speeds things up quite rapidly. On the other hand, when we want to get rid of a bunch of creatures and/or artifacts or enchantments, we can use Pernicious Deed and Nevinyrral's Disk. These destroy each other nonland permanent except for planeswalkers. I am running snow-covered basic lands in the deck so that we can make full use of Blood on the Snow. Similarly The Elderspell can be a quick way to ultimate a planeswalker while triggering Carth's dig ability a number of times in a single turn.

nevinyrral's disk the elderspell

The Superfriends Themselves

With a clear plan on how to protect our planeswalkers, now let's look at which are worth playing. We have to strike a balance between having too many and too few planeswalkers. Having too many puts us at risk of not drawing enough ways to protect them, whereas too few would render our support redundant. This means we have to pick and choose the planeswalkers that can give us the best shot at winning or generating value. I have a fondness for planeswalkers that can protect themselves by creating tokens. Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury creates a mana dork but can also be used as removal or card draw. Garruk, Apex Predator, Garruk, Cursed Huntsman, and Garruk, Primal Hunter all create a token and have other useful abilities.

garruk, apex predator tevesh szat, doom of fools

Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools creates two 0/1 Thrull tokens, which can be used as blockers or sacrificed for Tevesh's second ability to draw cards. Vraska, Relic Seeker can create a 2/2 Pirate token or destroy an artifact, creature, or enchantment to create a Treasure token. Liliana Vess tutors for a card while also having a powerful endgame ability. Liliana of the Dark Realms can help us not miss our land drops. Liliana, Dreadhorde General creates tokens and also wins the game if we manage to ultimate her. Nissa, Vital Force doesn't create a token but provides us with a 5/5 body or you can immediately use her ultimate with Carth out. Sorin Markov is a mean card that can make someone's life total go down to ten immediately, while Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Vraska, Golgari Queen have powerful abilities that can end games on the spot.

The Deck

Carth and Friends

Closing Words

Carth has an amazing story within the world of Magic, from summoning Dakkon to fighting Dihada, founding House Carthalion and being an ancestor to Jared Carthalion, True Heir. I encourage you to go and seek out those stories. In addition to being a cool character with a rich history, Carth is a really interesting legend that brings so much needed support to the superfriends archetype without the need to play Atraxa, Praetors' Voice. This can be a fun deck that is not oppressive for other players. It does not really do well against aggressive decks, so in those matchups some political machinations might be needed to enact our game plan.

What do you think about all the new legends from Modern Horizons 2? Which other legend from the past and early years of Magic would you like Wizards to print? Let us know with a comment below!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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Ascun(24.06.2021 11:35)

I made a more casual build :-)

Dulatus(23.06.2021 07:32)

I like Fog Effects to protect my Planeswalkers. I play cards like Moment's Peace, Constant Mists, Spike Weaver or Tangle.
Also Deathtouch Creatures like Acidic Slime, Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Hornet Queen, Ogre Slumlord and Ophiomancer are good Creatures to defend against attackers. Very few Players like to sacrifice their Creatures only to kill a Planeswalker for the Team.

rsci1(23.06.2021 14:40)

Dulatus ohh yes good points. I completely forgot about Ophiomancer, that is perfect for this deck!!

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