Casual Castle: Gond Combo

Off Topic

-spooky- moves back to the relaxed side of Legacy to show off an incredibly budget-friendly deck!

It's been a while since my last foray into budget casual, but have no fear: I brewed up some good stuff while I was gone. There are many awesome decks to show off in the coming months. They're tons of fun to play, and cheap, cheap, cheap! Several - including today's sweet combo deck - cost no more than $5 USD for all 60 cards!

Magic 2015 has quite a few nifty treats for us to brew with, but what I'm most pumped about is Heliod's Pilgrim. This cheap card is a strict upgrade to Totem-Guide Hartebeest because it comes down much earlier, making it a far more impressive tutor for aura-based combo decks. There are a few key strategies that this new Cleric improves upon, but I want to focus on just one today: Gond Combo.

For those of you that are not in the know, Gond Combo is what you get when you combine Presence of Gond with any creature that untaps when another creature hits play. The cheapest and most common are Midnight Guard and Sunstrike Legionnaire, but I have also seen people play with Intruder Alarm. Once the combo is assembled, you have yourself a nifty army of infinite 1/1 Elf Warriors and a soon-to-be-dead opponent. The combo is super cheap, with Presence of Gond costing as little as eight cents, Midnight Guard at three cents, and Sunstrike Legionnaire at 13 cents. In other words, going infinite doesn't cost much these days.

Since this is a combo deck, we know almost exactly what we want in the initial build: a maximum of every combo piece to start us off. With Heliod's Pilgrim added in for consistency, we get something that looks like this:

We are on a budget as is, so we probably don't want to be splashing a third color just for Intruder Alarm. Running a full playset of each piece gives us maximum consistency, which is something we really need in a combo deck that lacks blue card draw and draw manipulation. Consistency can be increased even more after we add in some hard-tutors. Heliod's Pilgrim is the reason we are playing this combo, but we can use creature tutors as well. Most of these are expensive, like Sylvan Tutor. Others are cheap, but not cheap enough, like Eladamri's Call and Worldly Tutor. Many cheap tutors like Altar of Bone have a too-painful drawback, since all of our creatures are key to our strategy. However, we still have one great option: Congregation at Dawn.

Congregation is on-color, has a low cost of 13 cents, can find both pieces of the combo, and can find protection all in one go. Depending on how the board looks you can resolve a three-creature stack Congregation that looks like this: protection creature > Sunstrike Legionnaire > Heliod's Pilgrim. This ensures a win within the next 4 turns. If you need more speed, or only one combo piece, Congregation includes a magical set of text that reads "up to three creature cards." This means we can choose anywhere between zero and three creatures for the search. On a budget, Congregation at Dawn is a must.

Now that we have consistency and combo, it's time for protection. This being a creature-based combo, we are most vulnerable to creature removal spells and burn. Common offenders here are Lightning Bolt and Doom Blade. No combo deck should leave home without some way to protect its combo, and lucky for us, we have a few options that should stop removal in its tracks. Benevolent Bodyguard is my protection of choice when it comes to creatures. He's a one-cost winner that activates at instant speed and can come down on turn one. Being a creature, he also has the benefit of Congregating along with our combo buddies. White has plenty of instants that mimic his sacrifice ability as well. Blessed Breath, Brave the Elements, Emerge Unscathed, Faith's Shield, and Stave Off are all perfectly fine choices that can keep either your Guard or Monk alive. You could also go the green route. This means hexproof-givers like Vines of Vastwood or Ranger's Guile. My personal favorite, though, is Gods Willing. Sure, it can't protect your Presence of Gond like Faith's Shield can, but this is a combo deck, and combo decks need card sorting! If I can dig for one combo piece while I protect the other from removal, then I am a happy camper.

There are other protection possibilities, but for now, let's stick to what we have and check back in a bit. Throw in some removal in the form of Condemn and we should be pretty good on the whole "staying alive" thing.

This deck is really starting to shape up. Looks like all we need now is a bit of speed and we are good to go. Combo decks are pretty weak when it comes to forming a board presence, so the faster they can combo off the better. Fast mana means fast turns, so what can we come up with? White doesn't really have much in this department, but you know Green does. Llanowar Elves, Fyndhorn Elves, Elvish Mystic... take your pick. Once you've decided on one of them, throw in some Avacyn's Pilgrim for a little white color-fixing and additional speed. Selesnya Signet is a stellar option too, although I am not including it in this particular list.

With this, all we have left are lands. If we want to keep the deck as cheap as possible, we should stick to basics and cheap dual-color taplands. Graypelt Refuge is strictly better than Selesnya Guildgate, while still being super cheap, so there is no reason not to play a full four. All in all, with lands all figured out, the final product looks like this:

Deck Name: Gond Combo
Deck Type: Combo
Cost: $4.13 USD TCG Low Pricing

This leaves us with a full-fledged and fully functional combo deck that, according to TCG prices, can be purchased for around four bucks! How's that for value? Of course, there is always room for adding a little money. The above list will probably have some issues with mana. This can be quelled with a few Razorverge Thickets and Brushlands, if you are still looking to stay on the cheap side. Birds of Paradise could also replace some Elves or Pilgrims for even better fixing.

As far as other changes go, Condemn could be replaced with Swords to Plowshares, Benevolent Bodyguard might do better as Mother of Runes, and Congregation at Dawn might be better suited as a set of Eladamri's Call. In the end, though, it's all up to you. Make it yours!

One deck down, tons more to go! I'm very excited to have more content for you all, as well as the time to write it all up. I should be able to get these casual articles out pretty consistently, and I hope that you continue to enjoy them. Squandered Resources articles take a bit more time and research however, so I can't make any promises as to how often I will be able to produce them. Looking at the recent price hikes in cards, this shouldn't be too much a surprise. I can't write about competitive budget decks if there are no budget-friendly cards left to write about! That being said, I will certainly try my best. I love researching decks, forming combos, and toying with different strategies. Developing and writing these articles is as much fun for me as playing Magic itself! Of course, I know I'm not perfect at it either. That's where you come in. Don't forget to leave me any and all comments, criticisms, questions, and ideas. Doing so will help me tremendously. Thanks for your support, and as always, I'll see you all next time!

Did you like this article? Want more? Check out all of them here! You can also like Squandered Resources on Facebook for updates on article releases, deck lists, and more!

Editor's Note: This article was written well before Khans of Tarkir was released, and was delayed on our end. Apologies for any out-of-date information it may contain. -Talore


  • To post a comment, please or register a new account.
Posts Quoted:
Clear All Quotes