Commander Focus: Golos, A token of my appreciation

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. Credit: Joseph Meehan, Wizards of the Coast

Modern Horizons 2 is out and one of the things the set revealed is a renewed focus on “named tokens,” with abilities that trigger off of them. Let’s review the three principle named tokens.

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Introduced in Throne of Eldraine, Food tokens have “2, T: Sacrifice this artifact, you gain 3 life.”

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Introduced in the Ixalan block, Treasure tokens have “T: Sacrifice this artifact, add one mana of any color to your mana pool.”

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

And Clue tokens, introduced in Shadows over Innistrad, have “2, Sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card.”

With their return in Modern Horizons, I thought it would be interesting to make a deck focused on pumping out lots of artifact tokens. Initially, this isn’t particularly threatening, gaining life, drawing cards, and ramping mana are all means, not ends. So in a sense, this is not in line with the way I normally build decks. But the truth is I often want to explore a mechanic and see if it can be used for something, so I build a pile of cards, then figure out how I can end the game with that pile of cards, what can I use that to do?

In the case of tons of artifacts entering play, there are a few triggers that occur.  They also go to your graveyard, which can trigger, and they are in and of themselves sacrifice effects.  All of which, again, can generate triggers.

So the basic conditions for the deck are just to vomit forth tokens, and to get a trigger into play.

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

What I like about this deck is, while it’s not 100% consistent, you have a lot of sources of clues and treasure, which means you get to draw cards and cast bigger and bigger spells. If all else fails, you can grab Golos, use him to mana fix for you, and then start using his ability to play off the top of your deck. One of the really unfun scenarios in a game like commander is to not be able to do anything, either not enough land or no draw effects or you only get to cast 1 spell per turn.

The point of this deck is to leverage these tokens, especially via Academy Manufactor

Academy Manufactor, credit Wizards of the Coast

This card, in my opinion, is frankly dumb, and it gets worse if you stack them. Somehow it’s a substitution effect but at the same time, it’s not triggered, but at the same time, multiple of them will replace an effect, sequentially, but at the same time.

Magic has some weird issues with timing, such as modular spells that have multiple effects resolving, all at the same time, but in order. Lorehold commander is a perfect example of this timing weirdness. Since the “create a 3/2 red and white spirit creature token” is the first part of the card, and the “Sacrifice a permanent, then draw two cards” comes later on the card, you can create a spirit creature token, then sacrifice it to draw two cards. This works in part because the sacrifice effect isn’t targeted.

With Academy Manufactor you get a weird progression. The formula is 3^(X-1) where X is number of Academy Manufactors you have.


Academy Manufactors Food Treasure Clue Total tokens
1                                1                                  1                            1                                     3
2                                3                                  3                            3                                     9
3                                9                                  9                            9                                   27
4                             27                               27                          27                                   81
5                             81                               81                          81                                243
6                           243                             243                        243                                729
7                           729                             729                        729                             2,187
8                       2,187                         2,187                    2,187                             6,561
9                       6,561                         6,561                    6,561                          19,683
10                     19,683                       19,683                  19,683                          59,049
11                     59,049                       59,049                  59,049                        177,147
12                   177,147                     177,147               177,147                        531,441
13                   531,441                     531,441               531,441                    1,594,323
14               1,594,323                 1,594,323            1,594,323                    4,782,969
15               4,782,969                 4,782,969            4,782,969                  14,348,907
16             14,348,907               14,348,907         14,348,907                  43,046,721
17             43,046,721               43,046,721         43,046,721                129,140,163
18          129,140,163            129,140,163       129,140,163                387,420,489
19          387,420,489            387,420,489       387,420,489            1,162,261,467
20       1,162,261,467         1,162,261,467   1,162,261,467            3,486,784,401


What exactly is going on here?  The logic is:

  1. The first manufactor creates one each of food, treasure, and clue tokens.
  2. The second one turns each of those into three. Logically this doesn’t really make any sense. Really only one substitution effect should be able to occur, but wizards chose to clarify this situation.  But somehow, the first Manufactor doesn’t see the second one creating tokens, but somehow the second one sees the first one…

Well, it’s a magic puzzle, that’s for sure. In any case, it gives us an opportunity to generate rather a lot of tokens. And while Food tokens aren’t that amazing, clue and treasure tokens are both really powerful tokens, allowing us to draw and allowing us to store mana.

I had this deck rated on PlayEDH, and it was rated as a “low” deck.  Frankly, my opinion is that this deck – if piloted decently – will absolutely dominate in low games, due to the internal synergies in the deck. It’s unlikely to have dead games with so many ways to generate clues for draw and treasures for ramp. Seven 1-cost mana dorks combined with 3 land searches, Dockside Extortionist, and Sol Ring should lead to you hitting Golos, Tireless Pilgrim early, and he generates further ramp and mana fixes excellently and gives you a mana dump if you have a lot of treasures just sitting around.

the ultimate win condition of the deck will generally be Reckless Fireweaver, Disciple of the Vault, Marionette Master, Mayhem Devil, Sludge Strider, or Havoc Devil.  Each of these either generates lifeloss or a ping on an artifact entering play, going to your graveyard, or being sacrificed, and all of these things will happen a lot.

There are some side avenues you can take here with Chatterfang, Squirrel General, and Pitiless Plunderer, and you can easily find yourself generating tons of value by blowing up your opponent’s creatures.

There’s a whole avenue of doubling effects available to you, as well as cloning abilities if you have a desire to make a deck such as this more competitive. In that instance, you’ll want to focus on landing doubling effects and a clone of Academy Manufactor and that should generate a truly absurd number of tokens and ending the game rapidly.  There’s also the option of using Time Sieve to take infinite turns pretty easily. You can see these cards in the sideboard, and I think this deck could unconventionally push into high territory pretty easily.  I don’t think that, ultimately the combo is power fast enough to execute in max power or cEDH games consistently, though this deck will tend to have a very smooth progression where many cEDH decks have virtually dead games due to the tightness of land and mana value.

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