Wallet Warriors: Ghalta, Primal Hunger and Etali, Primal Storm
Welcome back Wallet Warriors! We’re crashing into Rivals of Ixalan deck techs with a double feature: Ghalta, Primal Hunger and Etali, Primal Storm! You can grab both of these decks for $50 each!
Rivals has done a great job of satisfying our craving for big flashy legends with its cycle of elder dinosaurs. These no doubt hearken back to the original elder dragons which were the catalysts of our format. The two dinos I have for you today were the top of their class from my review you can check out here.
Now let’s get right into it with the biggest stomach on Ixalan: Ghalta!
Ghalta, Primal Hunger
Overall Game Plan
Ghalta is not a subtle beast and neither is the goal of this deck. We want to land our commander as fast as possible and start chomping off heads before the rest of the table has a chance to react. Ghalta can deal 24 commander damage in two hits if left unimpeded. With trample this means our opponents will need at least 4 toughness on their board to block with if they don’t want to die after the second bite.
The primary way we are ramping up to our big dino is with cheap creatures that have way too much power. These typically have some kind of drawback but once Ghalta hits the table our opponents will have a big problem while we might have some small ones to deal with.
Another way to get Ghalta out ahead of schedule is to temporarily boost our creatures power with cards like Vines of Vastwood and Blossoming Defense. These double as protective spells as well as a way to get that extra point or two of power to be able to afford Ghalta.
We also have a few cards in the 99 that benefit us from having beefy creatures. Life’s Legacy and Momentous Fall give us some card draw when we don’t need one of our monsters anymore. Soul’s Majesty and Rishkar’s Expertise do something similar for more mana but let us keep our creature. Then we’ve got Overwhelming Stampede and Pathbreaker Ibex to give all of our creatures a boost based on our biggest monster.
Tips and Tricks
The absolute earliest we can get Ghalta out is turn 2 and we need three specific cards to pull it off. We’ll need a Sol Ring, Lupine Prototype and Invigorate. Turn 1 we play Sol Ring and use it to cast our Lupine Prototype. Then on turn 2 we cast Invigorate for free on our Prototype leaving us with nine power in play. Then we drop our second land, combined with Sol Ring gives us four mana total and our second green source meaning we can drop Ghalta and watch our opponents get incredibly salty with how lucky we were!
Selvala is traditionally found as the leader of mono-green combo decks because of how much mana she can produce but we would be running her as a fair card draw engine that can also generate a boatload of mana.
Garruk, Primal Hunter is the first Garruk I would look to if you wanted to feature some of the swole hunter. This Garruk could easily replace our Soul’s Majesty since they have a similar effect but one has the upside of making a bunch of beasts.
Rhonas and Heart of Kiran are a couple of mythic rares with a lot more power than their casting cost so they are clear upgrades for Ghalta’s army.
Lastly for upgrades we can boost our mana dorks with a couple that can effectively add three mana to Ghalta’s casting cost.
Now let’s ride right into the eye of the storm with our next elder dino: Etali!
Etali, Primal Storm
Overall Game Plan
This deck is much less focused on the commander than the previous one. We’re definitely trying to get Etali out fast and abuse it’s attack trigger but we’ve got other things going on as well. Etali is not only harder to cast than Ghalta but much harder to cast multiple times if it’s sent back to the command zone. Ghalta’s cost reduction applies to the commander tax so even if he’s died a couple times you can still get the full discount with enough power in play and drop him for two mana. Etali does not have this luxury so we can’t always rely on having the red dino in play.
We have some additional heavy hitters to ramp into like Inferno Titan, Molten Primordial and Hellkite Charger. In mono-red we don’t have access to a lot of ramp so we have to make due with artifact based mana rocks. Since we’re already running a bunch of artifacts we’ve got a small artifact sub-theme as well. We have some discard outlets in Tormenting Voice, Key to the City and Rummaging Goblin to toss our big artifacts into the grave then we have Trash for Treasure and Goblin Welder to pull them out of the grave and into play.
Now, when we do have Etali in play we’ll want to make the most of it so we have some ways to give us extra combats and therefore more shots at casting free spells. World at War, Fury of the Horde and Godo, Bandit Warlord are some of these. Remember when using Godo that you’ll want to fetch up an equipment that can give Etali vigilance because Godo won’t untap your dino before the second combat.
Tips and Tricks
There are some unfortunate anti-synergies with Etali and the extra combat cards that you have to watch out for. Keep in mind that when you flip Relentless Assault or Fury of the Horde with Etali’s attack trigger, it won’t provide an additional combat since it was not cast during a main phase. From Gatherer: “It (Relentless Assault) only creates an additional combat and main phase if it resolves during a main phase.” Here are the official rulings.
Interestingly, because of how World at War is worded it will give you an extra combat but you won’t get to Rebound it since it was not cast from your hand.
A couple cards that do synergize well with Etali are Reverberate and Wild Ricochet. When these are in your hand they are great answers to single target removal and are able to counter a counterspell but when you flip them off Etali you can put the cards you flip onto the stack in any order so you can copy a spell that you flipped off one of your opponents libraries.
These are the very first cards I would pick up once you’ve gotten the taste of the storm. These are two very powerful artifacts that are good in most mono color decks that don’t have access to this kind of deck manipulation. They work especially well with Etali since you can set up the top of your deck for his attack trigger. Plus as an added bonus they fit with our artifact sub-theme.
These two planeswalkers fit nicely into the two strategies we’re going for: ramp and artifacts. Koth can provide ridiculous amounts of mana with his minus ability and Daretti gives us some redundancy with his ability to get an artifact out of our graveyard.
Aggravated Assault is a no-brainer since it’s just the best card in the format for taking extra combat steps. Lightning Greaves is another great little card that pulls double duty at protecting our monsters while letting them attack right away, it’s also an artifact if you wanted a bit more upside.
There we go! Our first foray into the Rivals of Ixalan set and we made it out alive! These are two super cheap and super fun decks you can pick up for $50 each with plenty of room for upgrades.
I really hope you all enjoyed this double deck tech and I’ll see you soon with the next article!
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