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Doubling Your Fun With God-Eternal Rhonas

The Zombie Gods continue catching Bennie Smith’s eye! This week, he makes God-Eternal Rhonas his Cobra Commander with a sweet mono-green build!

Wow, War of the Spark continues to deliver the goods for Commander fans! I’ve delivered quite a few write-ups for legends from our latest Magic expansion, and there remain plenty of options to explore. This week I want to dig into another of Bolas’s minions, God-Eternal Rhonas!

Rhonas the Indomitable was a very cool card but somehow Wizards R&D has topped itself with an even better version. I love the ability all of the War of the Spark Gods have that gives you the option of putting it a few cards deep in your library instead of exiling it or putting it in your graveyard, and green gives that ability some added oomph, as we’ll explore below. Of course, the big deal of new Rhonas is the doubling of power for each of your creatures, and there are certainly ways to leverage that ability even more. The vigilance is quite nice in multiplayer too.

Let’s get brewing!

Trampling Creatures

Doubling power is a great ability that gets better the more creatures you have on the battlefield. Of course, if your opponents have chump blockers, then it doesn’t matter how big those creatures are unless you have some sort of evasion, especially given that the doubling power is tied to when Rhonas enters the battlefield, so I’ve decided to lean heavily into creatures that naturally have trample already. Luckily for us, green has plenty of options even if you can’t dip into other colors.

Stampeding Wildebeests and Stampeding Serow jumped out to me right away. Not only do these creatures have trample, but their upkeep trigger lets you pick up God-Eternal Rhonas so you can cast it each turn and get its enters-the-battlefield effect. Plus, if you have any other green creatures with enters-the-battlefield effects, you can reuse them over and over. Speaking of that, I like Untamed Kavu here, since it can come down early as a 2/2 with relevant abilities, but then later you can pick it up with one of the Stampeding creatures and cast it again with kicker so it’s right-sized for mid- to late-game.

Add Trample

Rhonas itself is notably missing trample, and since it has deathtouch, it certainly behooves us to consider ways of giving it trample. That way, a single point of damage is considered lethal, so you can punch through a blocker with the remaining power to damage your opponent or a planeswalker. Berserk is a nice call here since it lets Rhonas get in on the power doubling game, and the destroy effect is okay since it’s so easy to get Rhonas back. Plus, it can serve as the rare green creature removal spell if your opponent has a huge threatening creature that’s attacking, preferably someone else.

Loxodon Warhammer is particularly nice since it can gain you life, and is a fine card to equip to many of your other large creatures even if they already have trample. Rhonas the Indomitable and Rhonas’s Monument can dish out trample here and there when you can meet the requirements. I also like Power Matrix here, since all four added abilities combine to make God-Eternal Rhonas nearly unstoppable.

Power Matters/Boosting

Power doubling makes effects that increase power even more potent, so I want to find room for Beastmaster Ascension and Pathbreaker Ibex. There are also cards that care about high power, so I found room for Garruk, Primal Hunter. Rishkar’s Expertise is a great card even without power-boosting shenanigans, but if you get to the point in the game that you can cast Rishkar’s Expertise the same turn that you’ve gotten a trigger from God-Eternal Rhonas, you’re going to be drawing a ton of cards!

Card Draw/Selection

One really cool thing about the green God-Eternal card is that we’ve got a lot of ways to get back Rhonas when we tuck it into our library faster than normal. Mirri’s Guile and Sylvan Library enable us to go ahead and draw Rhonas our next turn, and Fauna Shaman can activate to go ahead and bring Rhonas back to our hand. Choosing “creature” with Abundance has a pretty good chance of digging back Rhonas the next time you draw a card.

Of course, what’s really insane is the interaction with Greater Good. Sacrifice Rhonas to Greater Good so you can draw five cards; Rhonas’s die trigger goes on the stack, and then he gets tucked into your deck three cards down. Then you draw four cards plus Rhonas and discard two. Oh, and don’t forget you can sacrifice some large creature you’ve doubled the power on with Rhonas after attacking with it to draw a bunch of cards too!

Removal

We’ve got some good removal options for monogreen when it comes to artifacts and enchantments, and creature-based removal is particularly good when we’ve got the Stampeding creatures that we can reuse a few times. Options for creature removal are a little more limited, but we’ve got some fight options with Ulvenwald Tracker and Titanic Brawl, along with Beast Within. Duplicant is basically a one-shot here because the Stampeding creatures only return green creatures, but it’s still worth playing, especially since it exiles the problematic creature.

Mana Ramp

Mana ramp is always welcome in Commander, but not quite so vital in this particular deck. For one thing, you want to spend some number of turns casting creatures that can benefit from Rhonas’s power doubling so you’re not particularly wanting to rush to play your commander ahead of curve. Also, Rhonas’s other ability means that you won’t need to worry about paying the commander tax all that often. Still, if you end up with something like Greater Good drawing a bunch of cards where you won’t mind having extra mana to leverage the extra resources, so I like adding Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Zendikar Resurgent to the mix.

Good Stuff

I’m rounding out the list with some good cards that don’t really fit in the other categories. Blade of Selves, Panharmonicon and Helm of the Host can do a lot of fun things with Rhonas’s power doubling triggered ability. Heroic Intervention, Nim Deathmantle, and Cauldron of Souls can help protect cards we have on the battlefield. Lastly, I like Yeva, Nature’s Herald providing our green creatures with flash, which can play around sorcery-speed mass removal.

Sweet deck! But wait, there are too many cards. I’ll start by looking at our mana curve:

Number of cards Converted mana cost
1 8
2 17
3 16
4 12
5 8 + commander
6 8
7+ / X 5

75 total cards plus 38 lands equals thirteen cards too many, so we need to make some cuts! Let’s see what we can trim, starting with the top of our curve.

Creatures that are cast after you’d cast Rhonas are probably a little less effective, so I wanted to trim a few at the top of the mana curve. Duplicant is a difficult choice, but because so many of my cards care specifically about green creatures, I feel it’s not as good here as it could be. I’ve got enough creature-based removal that have nice synergies with the rest of the deck that I’m okay with cutting Rain of Thorns.

When I was originally pulling together potential cards for the deck, it looked like there might be cause for a +1/+1 counter theme, but other cards seemed better for the first pass, so that theme diminished. Loyal Guardian is a fine card and has trample, but it’s much better if we were going wide rather than going tall. Kalonian Hydra would be perfectly fine even if all it did was double its own counters, but I think I like the other five-mana creatures in my list a bit better. At four mana, Pir’s Whim and Abundance seem less powerful than the other choices, so they get the axe.

It’s heretical to cut Rhonas’s Monument, but I don’t think it’s doing as much work here as Oketra’s Monument does in the God-Eternal Oketra deck. Since mana ramp isn’t as crucial in this deck, I think it’s okay to cut Cultivate. I’ve got other cards that seem a bit more powerful than Return to Nature, Talons of Wildwood, and Mirri’s Guile, so I’m okay with cutting them. The last cut was tough, but I ended up picking Shapers’ Sanctuary in part because it never seems to play as well as I expect it to in Commander.

Okay, so here’s how the deck ended up:

God-Eternal Rhonas
Bennie Smith
0th Place at Test deck on 05-20-2019
Commander

What do you think? Are there any cards I’ve overlooked? And if you see any new cards from War of the Spark that should find a home here, let me know!

Oh, by the way, I got a token card included in the next series of Star City Games Personality Tokens! I am thrilled and honored to get my mug immortalized on this awesome Matrix-inspired token card. Go check out this link to find out how you can get your hands on some! And if you’re able to come attend the Commander Celebration at SCG CON in June, you’ll get to come play me and see some of these tokens in action as I make copies of sweet creatures.

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!

Deck Database

Below I’ve got links to decks I’ve written about going back to January 2017. If you want to read the associated article, just put “Bennie Smith” and the commander name into Google and it should pop right up. I’ve written a lot about Commander — and Magic in general — so if you want to explore further, the Star City Games article archives have my articles all the way back to January 2000!

Commander Compare & Contrast

Zedruu, the Greathearted with Emma Handy

Nahiri, the Lithomancer with Anthony Alongi

Feldon of the Third Path with The Professor

Commander Strategy

Why You Should Commander Like Me

Let’s Talk About Lands

Who Should I Attack?

Targeted Removal in Commander

War of the Spark

God-Eternal Oketra, Storrev, Devkarin Lich, Nicol Bolas Tribal, Feather, the Redeemed, Massacre Girl, Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion

Ravnica Allegiance

The Haunt of Hightower, Teysa Karlov, Prime Speaker Vannifar, Rakdos, the Showstopper, Nikya of the Old Ways, Lavinia, Azorius Renegade, Judith, the Scourge Diva

SCG CON Winter 2018

Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow, Grothama, All-Devouring; Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis; Feldon of the Third Path; Ramos, Dragon Engine; Inalla, Archmage Ritualist; Prossh, Skyraider of Kher; Brago, King Eternal

Ultimate Masters

Garna, the Bloodflame

Guilds of Ravnica

Niv Mizzet, Parun, Emmara, Soul of the Accord, Lazav, the Multifarious (decklist in the comments), Tajic, Legion’s Edge, Etrata, the Silencer, Izoni, Thousand-Eyed

Commander 2018

Aminatou, the Fateshifter, Xantcha, Sleeper Agent, Lord Windgrace, Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer

Core Set 2019

Sai, Master Thopterist, Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma, Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire, Chromium, the Mutable

Battlebond

Grothama, All-Devouring

Dominaria

Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle, Grand Warlord Radha, Arvad the Cursed, Muldrotha, the Grave Tide, Slimefoot, the Stowaway, Yargle, Glutton of Urborg, Squee, the Immortal, Firesong and Sunspeaker, Jodah, Archmage Eternal, Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker

Masters 25

Hanna, Ship’s Navigator

Rivals of Ixalan

Azor, the Lawbringer, Etali, Primal Storm, Nezahal, Primal Tide, Zacama, Primal Calamity, Tetzimoc, Primal Death, Zetalpa, Primal Dawn, Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Unstable

Grusilda, Monster Masher, Dr. Julius Jumblemorph

Ixalan

Vona, Butcher of Magan, Tishana, Voice of Thunder, Admiral Beckett Brass, Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

Commander 2017

Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith, Inalla, Archmage Ritualist, Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist, O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami, Mairsil, the Pretender, Taigam, Ojutai Master

Hour of Devastation

Razaketh, the Foulblooded, Zur, the Enchanter (Mummy’s Curse), Djeru, With Eyes Open, The Locust God, Karona, False God (All the Deserts), Nicol Bolas, Neheb, the Eternal

Amonkhet

Oketra the True, Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun, Atogatog (Cartouches & Trials), Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, Samut, Voice of Dissent, Rhonas the Indomitable, Hazoret the Fervent

Kaladesh Block

Yahenni, Undying Partisan, Nicol Bolas, Child of Alara (Five-Color Energy), Rishkar, Peema Renegade, Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, Sram, Senior Edificer

Commander 2016

Breya, Etherium Shaper, Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice, Tymna the Weaver // Ravos, Soultender

Other Commander Decks

Thada Adel, Acquisitor, The Ultimate Golgari Deck, Anafenza, the Foremost (shutting down shenanigans), Momir Vig, Simic Visionary (no green creatures), Kytheon, Hero of Akros (Tribal Gideon), Tasigur, the Golden Fang