Tribal Gideon In Commander

Multiple Gideon planeswalkers have been printed, but are there enough to make a “Gideon tribal” list…in Commander? Bennie Smith makes the attempt and comes to a surprising conclusion!

Ixalan brought a lot of really cool goodies for Commander fans, but there’s another thing the release brought that’s not printed on any card. (Well, I guess it’s kinda printed on Jace, Cunning Castaway). I am talking about a rules change to the way planeswalkers work that has some cool implications for Commander.

Starting with Ixalan, all planeswalkers past, present, and future will have the supertype legendary. They will also be subject to the “legend rule,” and the “planeswalker uniqueness rule” is going away.

What does this mean? In short, everything that is true about legendary permanents will now be true about legendary planeswalkers. This means we can now play many planeswalkers that have the same “types” and they can all stay on the battlefield at the same time. One particular planeswalker suddenly got a lot more interesting with this rule change.

Note that this rule change does not mean legendary planeswalkers can be your Commander unless an ability says so. But luckily for us, there is a loophole we can exploit for five planeswalkers, thanks to this cycle from Magic Origins.

Prior to this rule change, it was a little awkward to play one of these and also include other planeswalkers with the same type. Now we can effectively go “tribal” with our planeswalkers and can even have one as our Commander if we choose one of the above creatures. Because of Gideon of the Trials and the emblem he makes, the best of the bunch strikes me as Kytheon, Hero of Akros. Let us get brewing!

Gideon Tribal

Six Gideons in the house! That is not enough to be “tribal,” but with Kytheon so inexpensive, we can count on having a potential Gideon on the battlefield early and often. In addition, white has a few ways to search up planeswalkers and legendary permanents. The first we would nab is definitely Gideon of the Trials so we can go ahead and get that cannot-lose emblem.

It is interesting to note that Gideon has themes common across the different incarnations. Common to all is the ability to turn into a Human Soldier of varying sizes, from a 4/4 to a 6/6 to variable size depending on his loyalty. Then there is the “provoke” ability that forces an opponent or a creature to attack the planeswalker that shows up on a few. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar provides an Anthem effect with an emblem, and Gideon, Martial Paragon’s +2 ability provides a nice boost to your creatures prior to an attack or untaps them after the attack. This along with Kytheon’s triggered ability pushes me towards wanting to play token-producers and a fair number of creatures that can hit the battlefield quickly.

One thing to keep in mind: since “Commander-ness” is tied to the card, that means Commander damage can be accumulated by hits from either the Kytheon, Hero of Akros side or the Gideon, Battle-Forged side. This makes Kytheon unique in the cycle by being a threat for winning with Commander damage.

Gideon Flavor

Since we only have six actual Gideon cards, to push the “tribal” theme I turned to card names and flavor text. These cards actually work pretty well in the deck too. Oath of Gideon makes each of the planeswalker a bit more resilient and even provides a few bodies to help Kytheon flip. I was surprised to see Serene Master show up, since it is a Monk from a previous Commander product, but the flavor text ties it in nicely and Serene Master makes a good defender for our planeswalkers. Celestial Flare is not exactly a high-powered removal spell, but it can sometimes be a lifesaver is someone is attacking with a large “Voltron-style” creature or something big with hexproof.

Planeswalker Goodies

There are a few artifacts we would want to include in any planeswalker-heavy deck, like Heart of Kiran and The Chain Veil. The proliferate ability of Contagion Clasp and Contagion Engine can really crank loyalty production.

Luminarch Ascension is a subtle helper here, since it punishes players who attack my planeswalkers instead of my life total. I like Spectral Grasp and Vow of Duty because they neutralize a creature from attacking me while keeping them around to bother my other opponents.

Djeru, With Eyes Open does a nice Call the Gatewatch impression while providing a sizeable body and planeswalker protection for two mana extra.

Ajani Steadfast can help crank up loyalty on planeswalkers and had me realize there is no reason why I could not dip into more planeswalkers for the deck, so Ajani, Caller of the Pride and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion answered Gideon’s call.

I tapped Devoted Caretaker as a way to defend against the fair number of spells that can target and destroy planeswalkers directly.

Legendary Permanents Matter

With planeswalkers now being legendary, we can make use of a few cards that care about that. Thalia’s Lancers does a fair impression of Djeru, With Eyes Open. Yomiji, Who Bars the Way is expensive but strikes me as a great way to keep your planeswalkers coming back if your opponents keep destroying them. The one card that really jumped in use from this rule change is Honor-Worn Shaku. If you are not turning your planeswalker into a creature, you can use one of its abilities and then tap it to untap Honor-Worn Shaku for extra mana. We can all use extra mana, right?

Bastion Protector is not so much concerned about legendary creatures as it is your Commander, but I like that it boosts both sides of Kytheon, though it will only boost Gideon, Battle-Forged if you’ve turned it into a creature.


Some of our planeswalkers make tokens so I tapped a few other cards to boost that theme. With a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar emblem on the battlefield, a card like White Sun’s Zenith can be a very unpleasant surprise for our opponents.


One thing that is pretty cool about our army of Gideons is that we can cast Wrath of God to destroy all creatures on the battlefield and then turn our Gideons into creatures and attack on a clear battlefield.

I was tempted to include Nevinyrral’s Disk and even Magus of the Disk since they are battlefield sweepers that do not touch planeswalkers, but being mono-white provides more than enough sweepers without dipping into these.

Plains Matter

Since we are a mono-white deck, I thought we could make use of some cards that care about Plains. I especially love the recursive power of Emeria, the Sky Ruin and Emeria Shepherd, so land fetch from Oreskos Explorer, Thaumatic Compass and Solemn Simulacrum is welcome. Valor and Quarry Colossus do good work too.

Mono-White Utility

Finishing things off, we have a goodly amount of good-stuff cards. Eldrazi Displacer can do some interesting work with our Gideons; we can turn them into a creature to attack, “blink” them with Displacer, and then we can activate one of their other abilities. Sphere of Safety and especially Teferi’s Protection provide some great defense for our planeswalkers. Mikaeus, the Lunarch can provide a nice boost to our token strategy and can also put +1/+1 counters on our animated Gideon planeswalkers.

Okay, so here is the full list:

What do you think of Gideon tribal? Am I missing anything obvious? How would you go about building your Kytheon, Hero of Akros deck?

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)

Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)

Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)

Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)

• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visionary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician (Tribal Birds)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord (drain you big time)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Konda, Lord of Eiganjo ( The Indestructibles)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius ( new player-friendly)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Progenitus (

Fist of Suns and Bringers


Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice ( new player-friendly)

Uril, the Miststalker (my “more competitive” deck)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)