Commander Deck Of The Week: Ghalta, Primal Hunger

It’s time to go big for cheap in your next Commander MTG game! Bennie Smith shares how he does it with his Ghalta, Primal Hunger deck.

Ghalta, Primal Hunger
Ghalta, Primal Hunger, illustrated by Mike Burns

I had been eying building a Commander deck around Ghalta, Primal Hunger for a long, long time.

Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Ghalta is more than just a big beatdown monster. The cost reduction tied to your creatures’ total power means that it’s quite easy to reduce the mana to cast Ghalta to just two green mana, even accounting for commander tax. There are all sorts of ways to take advantage of a cheap 12/12, and cards that care about the twelve-mana cost of your commander, to make building and playing the deck a lot of fun. 

Even so, I already had a large stable of mono-green decks on my shelf.  Did I really need another one, even though this one would have a lot of unique elements to make its gameplay considerably different?

Well, then came the Secret Lair version with a cereal box design and a super-cute Ghalta art.  Once it was available to buy as a card single, I snagged a copy and went to work building the deck.  After making some tweaks from recent sets, I wanted to share this sweet decklist with you all!  Let’s check it out.

Power Pumping

Giant Growth Gather Courage Might of Old Krosa Rancor Biophagus Llanowar Loamspeaker Blackblade Reforged Invigorate Tangleweave Armor Defiler of Vigor God-Eternal Rhonas Surrak and Goreclaw Zopandrel, Hunger Dominus

Ghalta’s cost reduction means temporary power-boosting effects can act like a Dark Ritual, so cards like Giant Growth become appealing.  You can attack with your creatures, cast Giant Growth to push through damage, and then take advantage of the power boost to cast Ghalta on your second main phase for cheaper than you would otherwise. Invigorate can even be cast for zero mana, and you can give life to a player you’re not attacking.

Tangleweave Armor costs just four mana and immediately puts twelve power on the battlefield, so if you have another two green mana, you can follow up with Ghalta. Since it’s a living weapon, if there is a battlefield sweeper, you can equip it to another creature you cast and very likely can cast Ghalta again from the command zone.

God-Eternal Rhonas doubles the power of all your other creatures when it enters the battlefield, and Zopandrel, Hunger Dominus doubles the power and toughness of each creature you control at the beginning of each combat until the end of the turn. You can likely even sacrifice Ghalta to Zopandrel’s ability to give it indestructible and still easily recast Ghalta due to the huge size of everything. And if Ghalta survives to your combat step, having it double in size very likely means someone is dying to commander damage.

One little trick I thought I’d point out with Llanowar Loamspeaker—it represents a total of four power, since it can tap to make a land you control into a 3/3 creature until the end of the turn.

Big Creatures

Old-Growth Troll Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig Psychosis Crawler Grothama, All-Devouring Gigantosaurus Old One Eye Mossbridge Troll

I’ve made room for some high-powered monsters up and down my mana curve. For five mana, Gigantosaurus and Grothama, All-Devouring each cover the ten generic mana for Ghalta, and Old One Eye supplies eleven power across two bodies for six mana. Old One Eye even has the ability to come back from the graveyard if it dies, which I love as a rebuilding-the-battlefield option post-sweeper.

Mossbridge Troll is secretly a 25/25 creature, since it will be pretty easy to tap ten power worth of creatures to pump it up.  This will more than cover any amount of commander tax Ghalta might have accrued!  Slap a Rancor on the Troll and go to town!

I’ve got a lot of card draw in this deck, including Greater Good, which makes Psychosis Crawler into a potential win condition—sacrifice Ghalta to Greater Good, draw twelve cards and discard three, and Psychosis Crawler makes each opponent lose twelve life. Your hand will be up nine cards, which should make the Crawler big enough to allow for a recast of Ghalta for cheap to go again!


Haywire Mite Nature's Claim Liquimetal Torque Atraxa's Fall Cosmic Hunger Ram Through Cankerbloom Tranquil Frillback Beast Within Glissa Sunseeker Silverback Elder Ezuri's Predation

I’ve got a lot of the removal cards that you’d expect in mono-green, including the incredible Ram Through, which can function as a green Fireball when your creature has trample. Liquimetal Torque can turn creatures into artifacts to make something like Nature’s Claim into a creature removal spell.

And don’t forget Ezuri’s Predation, which is green’s Wrath of God and will tend to leave behind a fair number of 4/4 green Phyrexian Beast tokens which, again, will help discount Ghalta.


Tower of the Magistrate Demolition Field Winding Canyons Allosaurus Shepherd Shadowspear Barrow-Blade Tamiyo's Safekeeping Heroic Intervention Brooding Saurian Deathrender

Playing a mono-color deck means room for colorless utility lands, and I’m happy to slot in Tower of the Magistrate to help protect against getting stomped by something like Sword of Feast and Famine that will give creatures protection from green. Also, since I’m playing big monsters that might make a very tempting steal target for something like Control Magic, I’m running a Brooding Saurian.

Deathrender is in the deck to provide some insulation against mass removal; I’m likely to only deploy one or two large creatures at a time due to mana constraints, so there is usually something huge lurking in my hand that can be put onto the battlefield with Deathrender’s trigger.

I know I keep talking about Barrow-Blade, and I’m going to keep doing so until I see more people playing it.  In here it lets you attack with a giant monster into something that has deathtouch or indestructible that might otherwise stymie your beatdown.

Card Draw

Reliquary Tower War Room Bonders' Enclave Mosswort Bridge Skullclamp Shigeki, Jukai Visionary Garruk's Uprising Tribute to the World Tree Greater Good Guardian Project Doomskar Warrior Return of the Wildspeaker Genesis Storm Emergent Woodwurm Majestic Genesis Last March of the Ents

I’ve got a bunch of card draw effects in the deck to keep my foot on the gas.  Greater Good is the big one here; sacrificing a Ghalta to draw twelve fresh cards and then recasting Ghalta for two green mana makes you feel unstoppable. I also love Doomskar Warrior and Emergent Woodwurm, since their backup ability adds more power to the battlefield.

Any deck that recasts its commander over and over again in a game is a great place to play Genesis Storm. I’m also really looking forward to casting Last March of the Ents with Ghalta on the battlefield.

Mana Ramp

Blighted Woodland Myriad Landscape Castle Garenbrig Sol Ring Exploration Gaea's Touch Food Chain Wayward Swordtooth Selvala, Heart of the Wilds Gwenna, Eyes of Gaea Kodama's Reach Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma

Any deck with as much card draw as this one is a great place to run Exploration and Gaea’s Touch; as I get infusions of fresh cards, it’s nice to make an extra land drop along the way. Wayward Swordtooth is another excellent choice for this, and it also provides a whopping five power for Ghalta. Food Chain is bonkers here with Ghalta, giving you thirteen green mana to cast creatures with, and you’ll likely be able to recast Ghalta from the command zone again and maybe again for two green mana each time (charging up that Genesis Storm).

Selvala, Heart of the Wilds can bite you in the butt sometimes when your opponents cast bigger creatures, but I don’t think that’s going to happen very much here.  Plus, it’s going to tap for a ton of green mana once you’ve got a big creature on the battlefield like Ghalta.

Other Utility Lands

Mirrorpool Command Beacon Tranquil Thicket Slippery Karst

Lastly, here are some more utility lands I’ve added.  Command Beacon is helpful if you’ve built up a huge amount of commander tax and your opponents have destroyed a lot of your huge creatures and gotten rid of Food Chain; sacrifice it and bring Ghalta back to your hand for one more hurrah. Mirrorpool is one of my all-time favorite lands and I slot it wherever I can. In this deck where you can copy some huge monster, it’s even better. Lastly, I’ve got a couple of cycling lands to help smooth out my draws.

The Deck

Okay, here is the full decklist:

Here are the deck stats from our friends at Archidekt:

What must-have cards might I have missed including here?  Which of the reprinted legends from Commander Masters are you most excited to build around?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and start conversations about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  You can also find my LinkTree on my profile page there with links to all my content.

I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.  You can also find the lists for my paper decks over on Archidekt if you want to dig into how I put together my own decks and brews. 

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

Visit my Decklist Database to see my decklists and the articles where they appeared!