Commander Deck of the Week: Kibo, Uktabi Prince

Who doesn’t love a little monkey business? Join Bennie Smith for the Commander deck of the week featuring Kibo, Uktabi Prince

Kibo, Uktabi Prince
Kibo, Uktabi Prince, illustrated by Filipe Pagliuso

Last week while sharing my Etali, Primal Conqueror deck and sharing my love of Gruul commanders, I mentioned I had a Kibo, Uktabi Prince deck that was unfinished, “in progress” as it were. Writing about it got my mind going, and in no time I’d cut the deck down to the commander and 99 other cards.  Kibo has really cool implications in the modern Commander metagame, and I wanted to get the decklist out there into the world to help inspire others to build themselves a Kibo, Uktabi Prince deck too!

Kibo, Uktabi Prince

Kibo’s abilities definitely put him as a tribal leader for Apes and Monkeys, but he’s also sneakily an anti-artifact card in a time when Commander pods are awash in Treasure tokens. I mean, just look at the top two themes of decks in the EDHREC deck database:

Now, Monkeys and Apes do not have nearly the tribal support that other creature types have had in Magic, which is actually a hidden superpower for the tribe. When someone reveals that they’re playing an Elf, Goblin, or Zombie tribal deck at your Commander Pod, you know you’re in for a bruising fight that you are very likely to lose. But individual Monkey and Ape cards aren’t all that threatening when they hit the battlefield and are unlikely to attract targeted creature removal spells. But if they’re constantly getting +1/+1 counters from Kibo when Treasures are getting used and artifacts are getting destroyed or sacrificed, they can quickly become big battlefield threats out of nowhere.

I love that Kibo’s activated ability presents a rock and a hard place choice for your opponents. They can spend their artifact Banana tokens to make a red or green mana and gain two life, but if they do, Kibo will add a +1/+1 counter to each Ape or Monkey you control. Meanwhile, you can spend your own Bananas to power out your Monkey and Ape creatures.

Even if you find that your opponents are slow to use their Bananas, or even slow in using their Treasures until they figure out a way to remove Kibo, you can force the issue with tons of artifact destruction that’s available in green and red, which harkens back to green’s primal roots as an anti-artifact color from the very beginning of Magic. But specifically, is a call back to Uktabi Orangutan.

Uktabi Orangutan

Before I dig into my decklist, I wanted to address the Ape in the room: I do not have Doubling Season in the deck.

Doubling Season

I only own one copy of Doubling Season and it’s in my Thantis Planeswalker deck. If I had an extra copy of it, I would definitely find room for it here since it would do a ton of work both in creating extra Banana tokens and doubling the +1/+1 counters. But it’s not $90 worth of work for me to buy another copy, but if you own a Doubling Season that’s looking for a home, by all means slot it into your Kibo deck!

Okay, enough monkeying around, let’s check out the deck!

Cheap Monkeys and Apes

Treetop Village Kird Ape Simian Sling Wily Bandar Scrounging Bandar Barbary Apes Zodiac Monkey Simian Simulacrum Gorilla Warrior Raging Gorilla Gorilla Shaman Yavimaya Steelcrusher Uktabi Orangutan

It’s a little slim pickings on the lower end of the curve for decent Ape and Monkey cards, but I’m happy to dust off my Arabian Nights Kird Ape and my Legends Barbary Apes for a deck! Gorilla Shaman and Uktabi Orangutan play perfectly on theme, with the new Yavimaya Steelcrusher adding to the artifact hate.  I already play Gorilla Shaman in some decks to slowly chew through Treasure tokens, but it certainly finds Banana tokens much tastier!

If you haven’t played with Treetop Village much since its debut in Urza’s Legacy, you may not realize that it’s been errata’d to turn into a 3/3 green Ape creature with trample.  So, if you have the mana available – you can even tap itself to pay for half its activation – you can let this nab some +1/+1 counters from Kibo and grow into a threat that’s resilient to mass sweepers for creatures.

More Expensive Monkeys and Apes

Summit Apes Kird Chieftain Gorilla Chieftain Ferocious Tigorilla Silverback Elder Gorilla Berserkers Silverback Shaman Kogla and Yidaro Ancient Silverback Kogla, the Titan Ape Grunn, the Lonely King

Higher up the mana curve, the all-stars are the legendary Apes!  Kogla, the Titan Ape has been a big favorite of mine since it came out, being a fight spell when it enters the battlefield, and then munching on problematic enchantments and artifacts when it attacks. The new team-up version Kogla and Yidaro can be “cycled” away to destroy an artifact or enchantment, shuffled back into the deck and you get to draw a card. I’ve already put this in several decks, and it does excellent work, and I’m incredibly happy to put it here.  Then there’s Grunn, the Lonely King; even without kicker, he’s likely to still pick up +1/+1 counters from Kibo and if he attacks alone, he’s going to hit real hard.


Universal Automaton Woodland Changeling Masked Vandal Guardian Gladewalker Realmwalker Bloodline Pretender Taurean Mauler Chameleon Colossus

Since worthy Apes and Monkeys are a bit less in number than a typical Tribal deck wants, I’ve rounded out the numbers with some quality creatures with the changeling ability, particularly lower on the mana curve. Realmwalker is a bit tricky since we’ve got both Ape and Monkey creatures, but since there are more high-impact Apes I’d likely name Ape for its ability to cast from the top of the library.

Slightly higher up the mana curve, I’m thrilled to run Chameleon Colossus, who’s size doubling ability goes great with the extra +1/+1 counters and protection ability can terrorize black creatures at the table.

Tribal Support

Path of Ancestry Mutavault Heirloom Blade Kindred Summons

Some generic tribal support cards will go well here, particularly Mutavault which, like Treetop Village, can cheaply activate to pick up some random +1/+1 counters while ducking sorcery-speed battlefield sweepers.  Kindred Summons is a card I don’t play all that much, but I figured with Kibo making Bananas it should be relatively easy to cast ahead of schedule.

Giving Out Artifacts

Curse of Opulence Descent into Avernus

I wanted a couple other ways to give out artifacts to my opponents besides Kibo, and these two seemed like great choices.  Descent into Avernus in particular is an impressive way to get the game fired up in a hurry!

Artifact Destruction

Vandalblast Shattering Pulse Ancient Grudge Liquimetal Torque Structural Assault Wave of Vitriol Red Sun's Zenith

While Kibo can force an opponent to sacrifice an artifact by attacking, I figure I’d rather tap Kibo to make Bananas and use other ways to destroy artifacts if my opponent isn’t cooperating and using the Bananas in a timely fashion.  Vandalblast with overload is a format staple, and I love the new Structural Assault – with Kibo on the battlefield, your own creatures should survive the damage and grow to a formidable size at the same time!

With all the artifact destruction, Liquimetal Torque is a no-brainer that will let me turn any nonland permanent into an artifact for destruction!


Nature's Claim Hull Breach Return to Nature Fade from History Blasphemous Act

I’ve got other removal spells that can destroy artifacts, but also can destroy enchantments.  Blasphemous Act is here in an emergency in case someone else is going bonkers with their creatures and I need to push the button and burn down the house.

Card Draw

Forgotten Cave Tranquil Thicket Skullclamp Viridian Revel Harmonize Return of the Wildspeaker Shamanic Revelation

I’ve peppered in a fair amount of card draw that you’d expect, from Skullclamp to Harmonize to Return of the Wildspeaker.  Shamanic Revelation can potentially net some decent life gain if Kibo has managed to pump the team a few times.

Viridian Revel has gotten some hype in recent years as anti-Treasure tech, but it’s a gamble to play it for that and your opponents end up not playing many Treasure cards. In this deck though Kibo is handing out Bananas, so there’s plenty of reason to revel back home.


Field of Ruin Skarrg, the Rage Pits Kessig Wolf Run Heroic Intervention Evolutionary Leap Rhythm of the Wild

I’ve got some interaction slots here, with lands that can give a creature trample like Skarrg, the Rage Pits, to help a big Ape or Monkey punch through blockers. I have to say Evolutionary Leap and Rhythm of the Wild caught my eye for thematic reasons but they are both quite good as well.

Mana Ramp

Blighted Woodland Sol Ring Wild Growth Rampant Growth Cultivate Skyshroud Claim

I’ve got mana ramp sitting right in the command zone, but I wanted a few other ways to help develop my mana and help cast some of the higher end Apes.

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?  Since I just put this together, I’m curious if you have had any experience playing with or against a Kibo deck you could share?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and get conversations started 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!