MTG Commander Deck Of The Week: Voltron Questing with Kosei, Penitent Warlord

Are you ready to accept a commander’s quest? Bennie Smith shares a mono-green Commander Deck of the Week built around activating Kosei, Penitent Warlord.

Kosei, Penitent Warlord
Kosei, Penitent Warlord, illustrated by Matt Stewart

A lot of “Voltron“-style commanders tend to just be difficult to deal with creatures that you want to make as huge as possible and smash opponents with combat damage; the classic example is Uril, the Miststalker with its hexproof ability, which makes it difficult to use pinpoint removal to get rid of it. It’s a pretty straightforward approach – load up Uril with Auras and crash into the red zone.

What makes Kosei, Penitent Warlord different to me from other Voltron-style decks is that you have to go on a quest of sorts to unlock its power.

Kosei, Penitent Warlord

Kosei’s Quest

Kosei doesn’t have anything extra going for it until you meet three conditions: it’s got to be enchanted, it’s got to be equipped, and it’s got to have a counter on it, +1/+1 or otherwise. Without those tasks checked off, Kosei is just a 0/5 creature with no protection or evasion.

But even though it presents as a chill, laid-back commander, your opponents will be wary of your quest, because once the three conditions are met, you’ll unlock a whopper of a powerful ability: “Whenever Kosei, Penitent Warlord deals damage to an opponent, draw that many cards and Kosei deals that much damage each other opponent.”

Depending on Kosei’s power at that point, even one hit could be game-ending, so once Kosei has had one or two conditions met, chances are good your opponents will be on high alert and ready to take down Kosei once the third condition happens.

This leads to a fun game of cat and mouse, threat evaluation and politics. If you can check off all three conditions but keep Kosei relatively small in power, it might fly under the threat assessment radar. Once shields are down, that’s when you can cast a strong power booster and have your haymaker payoff.

Regardless of how things play out, when playing a Voltron-style commander, you must be ready to have your commander bite a removal spell early and often and roll with it. It’s part of the game you’ve signed up for when playing this style of deck.

Okay, let’s dig in!


Glowcap Lantern Sword of Hours Ordeal of Nylea Bone Sabres

These cards are valuable because they check off two of the three conditions all by themselves. If Kosei is already equipped, you can enchant it with Ordeal of Nylea, attack, get that +1/+1 counter, and unlock Kosei’s combat damage ability.  These double-dippers can let you surprise your opponents if they think they have another turn or two to worry about Kosei. I want to pick up Andúril, Narsil Reforged from the Holiday re-release of Tales of Middle-earth Commander to add to the deck soon.


Spider Umbra Rancor Rune of Might Snake Umbra Boar Umbra Treefolk Umbra Boon Satyr Bear Umbra Indomitable Might

I’m a big fan of the Umbra Auras, since they can help keep Kosei alive through destroy effects at the cost of sacrificing the enchantment. Some of them have a sweet bonus effect too, like Snake Umbra letting you draw a card, and Treefolk Umbra letting you deal damage equal to the creature’s toughness rather than its power, which is particularly nice with your 0/5 commander. Bear Umbra is like a green Time Walk, letting you get extra use out of your lands post-combat.

Indomitable Might is one of the MVPs of the deck. Its flash ability can be a surprise way to unlock Kosei’s full abilities, and it allows you to deal full combat damage to the defending player even if it is blocked.

Trample is a useful form of evasion to help ensure combat damage from Kosei is dealt to opponents, so Rancor and Rune of Might are some great inclusions for that.


Skullclamp Leather Armor Commander's Plate Hero's Heirloom Blackblade Reforged Mirror Shield Horned Helm Hammer of Nazahn

Commander’s Plate is the hero here, providing a good measure of protection for Kosei as well as evasion for all but green and colorless creatures. And I’ve got Hero’s Heirloom and Horned Helm to provide more trample.

+1/+1 Counters

Oran-Rief, the Vastwood Biophagus Doomskar Warrior Loyal Guardian Surrak and Goreclaw Emergent Woodwurm

Some of the cards called out above provide +1/+1 counters, but I’ve got more of them here. Biophagus provides some much-appreciated mana acceleration, while also giving creature spells you cast with it a +1/+1 counter. I’m a big fan of the backup creatures like Doomskar Warrior already, so getting that +1/+1 counter to help with Kosei’s quest is gravy.

Other Counters

Hornbash Mentor Slippery Bogbonder Titanoth Rex

Other forms of counters check that box off Kosei’s quest, with Hornbash Mentor providing some much-appreciated trample, and it can even add +1/+1 counters. If you can slip Slippery Bogbonder’s hexproof counter onto Kosei before removal targets it, that’s a big help too.

Counters Matter

The Ozolith Kami of Whispered Hopes Kodama of the West Tree

The Ozolith is a great way to store your hard-won counters when Kosei or another creature with the counters die. Kami of Whispered Hopes is a powerhouse card for just two mana, providing an additional  +1/+1 counter and potentially generating a bunch of mana itself. And Kodama of the West Tree doesn’t care how a creature’s been modified – an Aura, an Equipment, or a counter – it’ll give it trample and if the creature deals combat damage, you get to ramp with a basic land from your deck.  Perfecto!

Finish Them!

Triumph of the Hordes Beacon of Creation Colossification

As fun as Kosei’s questing can be, the games tend to be a bit long and grindy, so I wanted a few ways to help finish the game. Triumph of the Hordes giving your crew infect along with +1/+1 and trample can push through a lot of poison counters, particularly with a bunch of tokens from Beacon of Creation. Don’t forget an unlocked Kosei will deal damage to each opponent when it connects, so if it can push through ten infect damage, it’s lights out for everyone!

I have to admit Colossification is a pet card of mine, but I love its outrageousness – it gives enchanted creature +20/+20! If you’ve fully unlocked Kosei and can deal 21 points of commander damage to an opponent, and then deal 21 damage to each other opponent and draw 21 cards, that’s going to be huge!


Quirion Ranger Scryb Ranger

Because I love Colossification so much, I’m including two ways to untap Kosei, since enchanting a creature with Colossification taps it. That way, I can attack the same turn as I cast Colossification!

Card Draw

Bygone Marvels Tribute to the World Tree Battle Mammoth Seasons Past

I have to say, I’m leaning pretty heavily on Kosei for the occasional card draw, but I do have a few more ways to draw. Tribute to the World Tree even doubles as a +1/+1 counter enabler for Kosei, since Kosei is a base 0/5. Battle Mammoth assumes that either Kosei or a card attached to Kosei will get targeted by interaction, so the Mammoth will provide some card draw for my troubles.

Seasons Past and the new Bygone Marvels should help me recover key Auras or Equipment I lose along the way.


Boseiju, Who Endures Nature's Claim Over the Edge Cankerbloom Atraxa's Fall Beast Within Ezuri's Predation

There’s not a ton of room for removal options, but I’ve squeezed some in here for emergencies. I really like the new Over the Edge for enchantment or artifact removal, even at sorcery speed; the fact that you can cash it in for two explore triggers is awesome and could very well add the final counter piece of the Kosei quest!


Homeward Path Field of Ruin Tower of the Magistrate Witch's Clinic Tamiyo's Safekeeping Snakeskin Veil Scavenging Ooze Gaea's Gift Tranquil Frillback Bedrock Tortoise Questing Beast Thrun, Breaker of Silence Cauldron of Souls Silkguard

I’ve included some cheap protection spells like Silkguard and Tamiyo’s Safekeeping to help keep Kosei around. I have high hopes for the new card Bedrock Tortoise, which gives your creatures hexproof on your turn, which should let you load up Kosei unhindered. It’s also nice that it lets Kosei deal damage based off its toughness, which will usually be five points higher!

Mana Ramp

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx Sol Ring Sakura-Tribe Elder Lotus Cobra

I’ve got some mana ramp in the lists above but have included a few usual suspects as well.  I didn’t go too heavy here since Kosei is a relatively cheap commander, so I should be able to recast it several times if needed without heroic ramping efforts.  Since much of my gameplan revolves around permanents, I’ve got one of my few copies of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx in this deck.

The Deck

Okay, here’s the full decklist!

Here are the deck stats from our friends at Archidekt:

So, what must-have cards might I have missed including here?  What is your favorite Voltron-style commander?

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!