Golos, Tireless Pilgrim Isn’t Just For Commander

Could five-color really work in the upcoming Standard? Sam Black gives it his best try while experimenting with Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. When a seemingly obvious Commander plant starts popping up in Standard, expect the unexpected…

Sometimes it’s easy to tell when a card is designed for Commander. An activated ability that costs every color of mana to ensure a five-color color identity is a good start. Often, these cards have no real use outside of Commander. Sisay, Weatherlight Captain is a great example of this. That card actually bothers me a little in Modern Horizons Limited because it’s so out of place in the set. I’d be fine with the card existing in a set like Dominaria, of course, but it’s a little frustrating to see a blank card rare in a great Limited format that I know wouldn’t be there if it weren’t designed for Commander.

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim isn’t like that. Golos is a card that’s designed for Commander that’s also just independently good in any context. It’s easy to overlook Golos as purely a Commander card because of cards like Sisay, but I think this could be a player in Standard and maybe even Modern.

Golos is the halfway point between Solemn Simulacrum and Primeval Titan. It costs one more mana than Solemn Simulacrum, but it doesn’t have to find basic lands – it can find anything. That could be a missing Tron land in Modern, or if you already have Tron, it could be a Cascading Cataracts to use to activate its ability. In Standard, it could be a land that gives you your missing color or it could be a utility land like Field of the Dead or Cryptic Caves.

Now that you have a 3/5 that ramped you to seven mana, if your opponent doesn’t answer it, you can play three cards off the top of your deck. How good is that? Well, it’s about half as good as connecting with Fallen Shinobi, except you get to fill your deck with powerful cards if you want, so it’s pretty great. Like, great enough that I’d call this a must-answer threat. With five toughness being the magic number in Standard and a relevant enters-the-battlefield ability, what’s not to like?

Oh, I guess maybe you don’t like that you need every color of mana?

We just had Singleton on Arena and the first thing I did was build a Niv-Mizzet Reborn deck, and my conclusion was that the mana was surprisingly good, and that’s without even getting to make it easy by playing four Chromatic Lanterns, so I think we can swing it with just a little effort in Standard.

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim honestly might be the best thing you can spend five mana on in Standard. I’m not saying it’s definitely better than Teferi, Hero of Dominaria because they’re wildly different cards, but the power level’s there. If they answer it, you got to tutor a land onto the battlefield, and answering a five-toughness creature isn’t trivial. And if they don’t? Golos can easily take over a game.

Field of the Dead is a big part of that. I was here for Golos when I thought this was just a 3/5 ramp creature that my opponent had to answer, but now I know that after they do, I’ll be getting a free 2/2 whenever I play a land or another Golos.

Traditionally, you really don’t want colorless lands in a deck that’s trying to get WUBRG, but given that this only needs colorless mana to cast and the activated ability can use colorless, it’s not really a problem. It’s like the difference between Goblin Chainwhirler and Cryptic Command.

Anyway, the power level of a card in a vacuum doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t go in a deck, and Golos doesn’t cleanly slot into an existing deck, so what are we looking at if we want to cast this thing?

This is a few creatures short of what I’d like for Neoform, but I think turning Elvish Rejuvenator into either Elite Guardmage or Hostage Taker or turning either of those into Niv-Mizzet Reborn or Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is great. Time Wipe is amazing in this deck, and in general, the spells are a little scattered but very powerful.

This deck is doing a little work to support Neoform, and it doesn’t have to do that. You could use a similar skeleton with a few more sweepers or early interaction in place of Neoform and some creatures, and just take this as a skeleton for the manabase for a five-color control deck.

The real takeaway from this deck should be that one way to build Golos is as a true five-color deck with a singleton manabase that takes advantage of Field of the Dead. You definitely want the four Evolving Wilds, since in addition to making it a lot easier to make the mana work, because they leave the battlefield and replace themselves with a uniquely named land, you don’t have to worry about drawing multiples with Field of the Dead, and in fact they can let you double-trigger Field of the Dead in the late-game.

I’m a little worried about the early-game in this kind of deck. Maybe that’s an argument for cutting the Neoform package to play more removal, or we could take a look at different approaches:

This deck is basically the Sultai Casualties of War deck I built last season with more acceleration and Golos as a finisher/ramp spell. There’s an unfortunate interaction between Hydroid Krasis and Golos where Hydroid Krasis occupies the space of an expensive spell in your deck but it doesn’t do anything when you activate Golos, so your Golos is weaker than it would be if you had some six-mana spell in that slot, but at the end of the day I think it’s best to build for the cases where you don’t get to activate Golos, since I think activating it should often be good enough either way, so ultimately I’m more inclined to play them together.

This deck is really taking advantage of the fact that you don’t have to have every color to cast Golos. Between Paradise Druid, Chromatic Lantern, and searching for an off-color land, you’ll usually be able to activate it, but not 100% of the time, and that’s okay. It will usually die and this deck has other things to spend the mana on.

Other three-color shells could also use Golos, but I like this one in particular because it has such high-impact spells, ramps well, and uses the extra land well for other things if Golos is answered. It also really wanted a high-impact threat, yet also wants as many mana sources as possible, and really cares that Golos helps hit the sixth or seventh land.

This variant of Standard Mono-Green “Tron” demonstrates that you can even use Golos in a mostly -ono green ramp deck that can still take advantage of Nissa, Who Shakes the World. Golos plays very similarly to Nissa, in that both are five-mana threats that also help cast your other big spells, but Golos helps even if it’s destroyed. The fact that Ugin makes Golos cheaper to cast won’t come up terribly often, but it does make it more likely that you can cast both the turn after casting Nissa.

Another noteworthy takeaway from this list is that Karn, the Great Creator can grab Golos from your sideboard, as it is an artifact creature. That means this deck has more access to Golos than it would if it had four copies in the maindeck.

The point here is that there are tons of ways to build Golos decks. It’s colorless, and at five mana it fits smoothly in midrange or control shells. It’s a functional curve-topper because it’s a mana sink and it can search for lands that are also mana sinks. Or you can use it as part of a ramp package that’s looking to take advantage of even larger spells. You certainly want to have some way to access every color of mana in your deck, but that can be accomplished without playing a crazy, balanced five-color manabase – especially because Golos does so much work to fix for itself.

Commander is a really high-powered format and I honestly think the precedent of working to make sure that there are Commander hits in Standard products means that these kinds of cards will occasionally or maybe even often end up at a power level where they make a big impact on Standard, even if that wasn’t their intended purpose.

Don’t sleep on this one.