[Planeswalker Spotlight] Gideon

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another Monday here at Strictly Average. I hope you all had a good weekend, and are getting excited for Standard rotation as Guilds of Ravnica approaches. Thanks to a suggestion from one of the readers I’m going to start a new article series focusing on individual Planeswalkers, and for the first one we’ll take an in depth look at Gideon.

Planeswalkers, first introduced in Lorwyn, have been a mainstay in many strategies since their release. From Jace Beleren being in Dimir Faeries, Chandra Nalaar supporting a Big Red strategy, and seeing other decks with Ajani Goldmane, Liliana Vess as well as Garruk Wildspeaker the early days of Planeswalkers in Magic found a home for them all.

These are always cards that players gravitate to first, and younger players get wide eyed when they pull one from a pack. I’ll always remember the time when a I sold a young player a booster pack of Magic 2015, and saw his eyes get huge when he pulled a foil Nissa, Worldwaker. Planeswalkers often times makes someone’s day, as well as saves them while in play.

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So let’s take a look at one of them. Today we’ll talk about Gideon.

Gideon Jura

The first time we encountered Gideon was with the expansion Rise of Eldrazi. He appeared to fight the Eldrazi in order to not only save the plane of Zendikar, but also save the rest of the multiverse as well. He was also the first Planeswalker to be able to turn into a creature. While this version had a prevent all damage clause others later on would be indestructible when this happened.

His impact was immediate forming the first ever Superfriends deck in Standard, and honestly if you’re going to call your deck Superfriends it HAS to be Jeskai colors. He currently is at home in Azorius Control in Modern, but what if you wanted to build a Superfriends deck in Modern? Let’s take a look.

Modern Jeskai Superfriends

Creature (5)
3 Wall of Omens
2 Snapcaster Mage

Planeswalker (4)
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Gideon Jura
1 Ajani Vengeant

Sorcery (6)
4 Serum Visions
2 Supreme Verdict

Instant (17)
4 Path to Exile
3 Cryptic Command
3 Lightning Helix
3 Lightning Bolt
2 Electrolyze
1 Logic Knot
1 Negate

Enchantment (3)
2 Search For Azcanta
1 Detention Sphere

Land (25)
4 Flooded Strand
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Celestial Colonnade
3 Island
2 Field of Ruin
2 Steam Vents
1 Arid Mesa
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Sulfur Falls

Sideboard (15)
4 Spreading Seas
2 Stony Silence
1 Settle the Wreckage
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Wear // Tear
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Celestial Purge
1 Negate
1 Dispel
1 Ghost Quarter

How the deck works

The plan is straightforward: Assemble the Superfriends.

  • Gideon Jura will need to be played after a board sweeper, or if the board is mostly clear and he can survive the hit back. His +2 ability will be used the most until it’s time to turn the corner.
  • Jace, the Mind Sculptor will hide behind Jura as well as Wall of Omens allowing you to gain the card advantage you need to win.
  • Ajani Vengeant combos with Gideon Jura to keep the board cleared with both of their + abilities, and then will also start a light mana denial plan until the ultimate.

This deck does tend to go long so you’ll need to utilize your counterspells and removal efficiently to get these walkers deployed. You also have a solid sideboard plan vs Tron with Spreading Seas, Crucible of Worlds, and Ghost Quarter to team up with your Field of Ruin.

 

Gideon, Champion of Justice

The second offer of Gideon came in Gatecrash showing Gideon being a part of the Boros Legion. That one sentence is probably the best thing to say about this card. Arguably the worst Planeswalker ever printed his abilities lead me to believe he was meant to be a giant threat where his loyalty would be enough to win the game in one swing (or several if you active his ultimate). However, what if we did put him in a deck? What would it look like?

Boros Justice

Creature (4)
4 Wall of Omens

Enchantment (2)
2 Oblivion Ring

Instants (25)
4 Angelsong
4 Holy Day
4 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Safe Passage
3 Lightning Helix
2 Gideon’s Reproach
1 Aurelia’s Fury

Planeswalker (3)
3 Gideon, Champion of Justice

Sorcery (2)
2 Day of Judgment

Lands (24)
4 Arid Mesa
4 Field of Ruin
4 Inspiring Vantage
4 Plains
3 Mountain
2 Clifftop Retreat
2 Sacred Foundry
1 Ghost Quarter

Sideboard (15)
3 Damping Sphere
3 Repel the Abominable
2 Shatterstorm
2 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
2 Combust
1 Crucible of Worlds

How the deck works

This deck is essentially a Fog deck. You want to blank the combat damage while building up Gideon’s loyalty. Once you are above 15 you can exile all other permanents (including lands), and then start attacking your opponent. Your burn spells help deal with creatures early, and may provide you some life as well. Wall of Omens, and Angelsong can also help you draw cards, and you can keep Tron off of their lands game 1 by being a 2 color deck.

In the sideboard you have some tech vs Storm. Dawn Charm can counter Gifts Ungiven as you are the target of that spell. Repel the Abominable is also a flavor win for the deck, as well as a way to stop Grapeshot from killing you.

 

Kytheon, Hero of Akros / Gideon, Battle-Forged

 

Since the first days of Magic: the Gathering the archetype White Weenie has been as much of a staple archetype just as Elves, and Goblins. Through all of the changes that have happened in the game there are only a few things for certain: Death, Taxes, and White Weenie being good.

When Magic Origins was released we had a chance to see the earliest days of five planeswalkers who would soon become known as The Gatewatch. One of these was Kytheon, Hero of Akros. Hailing from the plane of Theros, young Kytheon ran the streets until he was caught. Growing up he learned the power of Hieromancy, but failed being good at what he does (being an invulnerable warrior), and his spark ignited. Sending him to Alara, Zendikar, and other planes as well. He is the tank of the party, and is always ready to get into the Red Zone. If I was going to build a deck around this guy it would look like this.

Modern Death & Taxes

Creatures (29)
4 Blade Splicer
4 Leonin Arbiter
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Thalia’s Lieutenant
4 Kytheon, Hero of Akros
4 Thraben Inspector
3 Militia Bugler
2 Mirran Crusader

Artifacts (4)
4 Aether Vial

Instants (4)
4 Path to Exile

Lands (23)
10 Plains
4 Ghost Quarter
4 Tectonic Edge
2 Horizon Canopy
2 Shefet Dunes
1 Eiganjo Castle

Sideboard (15)
4 Damping Sphere
2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2 Kitchen Finks
2 Rest in Peace
2 Burrenton Forge-Tender
2 Selfless Spirit
1 Crucible of Worlds

How the deck works

 

Kytheon, Hero of Akros wants you to build a creature heavy deck, and as we see now in Modern one of the best ways to do this is with Aether Vial. Being able to deploy creatures on your opponent’s end step keeps the pressure going, and helps transform Kytheon, Hero of Akros sooner than later.

Once he is flipped you can find opportunities to protect your creatures by making them indestructible, or add in on the attacks. Leonin Arbiter also comes along for the ride to tax greedy decks via land destruction or fetchlands, and you can find more creatures to cast with Militia Bugler. Notice that it gets around an active Leonin Arbiter as well.

In the sideboard we have yet more cards to deal with degenerate mana decks, and a few copies of another Gideon we’ll talk about today.

 

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is quite powerful, and arguably the best Gideon card ever printed. While I feel Gideon Jura is the best this one is right up there with the original. This card was a mainstay in Standard during it’s entire rotation, yet does not see much play in Modern. He currently has a home in the sideboards of some Legacy Death & Taxes lists, but what can we do in Modern? In Standard he was part of many decks, one of which was (incorrectly imho) titled UW Flash. So let’s browse the internet for something close…

Modern Azorius Flash

Creature (8)
3 Augur of Bolas
2 Snapcaster Mage
2 Restoration Angel
1 Vendilion Clique

Artifact (1)
1 Runechanter’s Pike

Enchantments (3)
2 Search for Azcanta
1 Detention Sphere

Instants (13)
4 Path to Exile
3 Cryptic Command
3 Thought Scour
1 Sphinx’s Revelation
1 Negate
1 Azorius Charm

Planeswalker (3)
2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Sorcery (7)
4 Serum Visions
2 Supreme Verdict
1 Wrath of God

Lands (25)
4 Celestial Colonade
4 Field of Ruin
4 Flooded Strand
4 Island
2 Glacial Fortress
2 Hallowed Fountain
2 Plains
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Moorland Haunt
1 Prairie Stream

Sideboard (15)
2 Spell Queller
2 Stony Silence
2 Dispel
2 Sugical Extraction
1 Comandeer
1 Torrential Gearhulk
1 Settle the Wreckage
1 Negate
1 Ceremonius Rejection
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Academy Ruins
1 Cavern of Souls

How the deck works

Prior to the Innistrad block leaving Standard there was a deck that actually had flash creatures in it allow you to utilize those creatures for their come into play abilities, or cast spells from the graveyard again. Restoration Angel was the most prominent in that role allow you to get extra value from not only Snapcaster Mage, but also Augur of Bolas. This deck plays somewhat like a midrange deck with the focus being on tempo plays to stay ahead until you can cast your win conditions. We can’t have too many non-instant or sorcery card in the main deck, and you may want to cut some if you find him missing on some triggers, however being able to select the card you need sometimes is better than just drawing a raw card. If you find this card not working for you at all I would replace him with Wall of Omens.

If your creatures die then you can make some new ones with Moorland Haunt to keep the pressure going. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar also provides a steady stream of creatures, and once you enchant one with Runchanter’s Pike it’s difficult for the opponent to block.

Your sideboard also has some tricks up it’s sleeve including Torrential Gearhulk which would be amazing to blink with Restoration Angel.

 

Gideon, Martial Paragon

Gideon, Martial Paragon was the first Gideon exclusively found in the Planeswalker decks. These decks are made to buy, and play Friday Night Magic right out of the box without any changes. These type of decks first appeared with the Kaladesh expansion, and replaced the intro decks that were designed. Each deck like this has only one Planeswalker card, and is focused on that card. These are definitely neat in design, and may have some space to brew with, but they are not made for Tier 1 play to make sure they are accessible to everyone.

Unlike other Gideons this one seems to work best with creatures you control. What could we possible do with this?

Modern Orzhov Tokens

Enchantment (9)
4 Intangible Virtue
3 Bitterblossom
2 Legion’s Landing

Instant (7)
4 Path to Exile
2 Fatal Push
1 Anguished Unmaking

Planeswalker (5)
3 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
2 Gideon, Martial Paragon

Sorcery (15)
4 Lingering Souls
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Thoughtseize
2 Spectral Procession
2 Collective Brutality

Land (24)
4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Field of Ruin
4 Marsh Flats
4 Plains
2 Godless Shrine
2 Isolated Chapel
2 Swamp
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Vault of the Archangel

Sideboard (15)
4 Damping Sphere
2 Wrath of God
2 Auriok Champion
2 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Grafdigger’s Cage

How the deck works

We’re focused on Gideon’s +2 ability in this deck, and with the majority of our spells making creatures we can swarm the field consistently to keep the pressure going. Notice how I seem to always have this Field of Ruin + Ghost Quarter + (sometimes) Crucible of Worlds package in decks? It’s to make sure the deck has games against Tron and Titan Valakut decks. While building a brew is great one should ALWAYS prepare for this matchups with Big Mana decks as they are the easiest to incorporate into the deck.

Due to not have any counters, and more than likely tapping out on your turns you have a heavy discard package to be proactive with your plays, and keep the opponent off balance. If you land Gideon while having Sorin, Solemn Visitor and tokens on the field you should be close to wrapping up the game.

 

Gideon of the Trials

Now we get to the last Gideon on the list. This one provided to us in Amonkhet has the ability to prevent you from losing the game as long as you have a Gideon planeswalker in play. Any Gideon will do not just this one.

Sounds pretty powerful right? This card, along with Approach of the Second Sun, Settle the Wreckage, and Search for Azcanta helped Azorius Control get up off the mat in Standard. Some of these cards have made it over to Modern, however as of late this Gideon has seen little play.

Let’s change that shall we?

Solar Flare

Creature (10)
3 Sun Titan
3 Wall of Omens
3 Phantasmal Image
1 Snapcaster Mage

Enchantment (1)
1 Detention Sphere

Instant (7)
4 Path to Exile
2 Negate
1 Fatal Push

Planeswalker (5)
3 Liliana of the Veil
2 Gideon of the Trials

Sorcery (12)
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Lingering Souls
2 Thoughtseize
1 Unburial Rites
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Collective Brutality

Land (25)
4 Flooded Strand
3 Darkslick Shores
2 Concealed Courtyard
3 Polluted Delta
2 Cavern of Souls
2 Field of Ruin
2 Plains
2 Watery Grave
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
1 Marsh Flats
1 Swamp

Sideboard (15)
4 Spreading Seas
2 Geist of Saint Traft
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Bottle Gnomes
1 Celestial Purge
1 Negate
1 Collective Brutality
1 Dispel
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Ghost Quarter

How the deck works

Those of you familiar with my writings know how much I loved this version of Solar Flare. Using discard outlets like Liliana of the Veil as well as Collective Brutality will put cards in your graveyard that you can get back with Sun Titan. So with Gideon of the Trials as a card with the converted mana cost of three he seemed like a natural fit. If you have his emblem in play Sun Titan can keep Gideon in play if he ever goes to the yard.

This deck is a tap out control deck. The only cards you really need to worry about are those that impact the graveyard so stay focused on the main plan, and you should be able to survive long enough for a win.

Will you look at that. 6 Gideon decks? Yep. There’s a lot of room to brew in Modern with just one Planeswalker, and with the right foundation you can build a solid deck that you can take to your local FNM.

What are your thoughts on these decks? Which one is your favorite? Do you have a deck with Gideon? If not how would you build one? Please share them below, and make sure to follow me on both Facebook as well as Twitter. Make sure to also send me your questions via social media as I am doing a Q&A for my article on September 10th. Please see the corresponding posts on my Facebook page, as well as Twitter (probably easier on Facebook honestly).

Until next time, where we go back to Jund…

TAP MORE MANA!!!

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