While the planeswalker Gideon of the Trials making waves in Magic the Gathering’s competitive Modern format, it proved easy to forget that there another incarnation of Gideon somehow simultaneously existed on the plane of Amonkhet. Featured in one of the two Amonkhet Planeswalker decks, Gideon, Martial Paragon is a powered down, but still very interesting Gideon planeswalker.
First, we’ll take a look at Gideon, Martial Paragon himself as a planeswalker, as well as the three other exclusive cards in the deck. All are Standard-legal as long as Amonkhet is in Standard. Will Gideon and his friends from his aggressive red/white entourage match up to Liliana, Death Wielder and her crew from the opposite Amonkhet Planeswalker Deck?
Gideon, Martial Paragon has a casting cost of five mana (four generic and one White mana) and comes into play with five loyalty counters, which is a decent number for any planeswalker. His first ability adds two loyalty counters and untaps all your creatures. It also gives them +1/+1 until end of turn.
His 0 ability (which doesn’t affect loyalty counters at all) is similar to other Gideon planeswalkers. This ability transforms this Gideon into an indestructible 5/5 Human Soldier who can take no damage that turn. He doesn’t gain haste, though, so you can’t use this ability and attack with him the turn you first cast Gideon.
Gideon’s “ultimate” ability costs a whopping ten loyalty counters; fortunately, it’s not hard to see it ending the game. Creatures you control gain +2/+2 until end of turn and you tap all creatures your opponent controls. If you have enough of a presence on the board, the impending alpha strike could easily be what you need to either end the game or put your opponent in an extremely rough spot.
All in all, Gideon, Martial Paragon is a decent planeswalker. He doesn’t hold a candle to Gideon of the Trials, of course, but he’s not meant to do so. This Gideon planeswalker seems borderline Standard playable already. But, at five mana, he doesn’t quite do enough and wouldn’t see play in typical competitive decks.
But, these decks do offer an interesting support card: a way to seek out your Gideon planeswalker. With each of these Planeswalker decks, you get two copies of a card that not only can grab your deck’s planeswalker from your deck or graveyard, but also has an additional effect.
Gideon’s Resolve is a five mana Enchantment that gives all creatures you control +1/+1. While this seems like a rather expensive “anthem” effect, because you get to search out Gideon, too, it’s actually well worth the mana investment. This Enchantment would inevitably find its way into Gideon planeswalker tribal decks in EDH.
Another card exclusive to this Gideon planeswalker deck is Companion of the Trials, a nifty 2/2 flying creature with a casting cost of three mana. The Companion has an ability that’s only available while you control a Gideon planeswalker. This ability costs one generic and one White mana and allows you to untap a creature you control. As this ability doesn’t require the Companion to tap, so you can use it as many times as you have the available mana. Useful as this ability is, though, it’s so situational, that outside of playing this exact planeswalker deck at your kitchen table, it’s not really that good in the context of, well, the rest of Magic the Gathering.
Yet another exclusive card for this planeswalker deck isGraceful Cat, a common 2/2 kitty for three mana (two generic and one White mana). He gains +1/+1 whenever he attacks. While this is a decidedly average uninteresting creature, in the context of this planeswalker deck, he’s a solid role player.
These three exclusive cards all serve a purpose in this Gideon deck, in which the focus is that untapping your creatures actually matters.
So, let’s look at the whole deck list and get a feel for what we’re getting here:
1 Gideon, Martial Paragon
1 Glory-Bound Initiate
3 Gust Walker
1 Nef-Crop Entangler
1 Pathmaker Initiate
2 Honored Crop-Captain
3 Companion of the Trials
1 Devoted Crop-Mate
4 Graceful Cat
3 Ahn-Crop Crasher
2 Sparring Mummy
1 Tah-Crop Elite
2 Hyena Pack
1 Impeccable Timing
2 Cartouche of Zeal
1 Hazoret’s Favor
3 Trial of Zeal
2 Gideon’s Resolve
4 Stone Quarry
Glory-Bound Initiate is a great example of what Gideon, Martial Paragon’s deck is all about. This Amonkhet rare card features the Exert mechanic. Exert allows you to activate an additional ability when the creature attacks, at the cost of that creature not being able to untap for an additional turn. While the Exert ability is usually worth it , a deck that has consistent ways to untap its creatures essentially pays next to nothing for using Exert abilities.
The Initiate is a particularly good creature with Exert. He’s a 3/1 for two mana, which is okay on its own. But, with Exert, he gets +1/+3 and lifelink until end of turn. That means he’s a 4/4 with lifelink for only 1W! If you’re able to untap him with the ability of Companion of the Trials or Gideon himself on the very next turn, you can Exert the Initiate all over again for next to nothing! If you’re looking to upgrade this deck, getting three more copies of this guy to round out a playset would be a great first step!
Gust Walker is a fine common creature that’s a 2/2 for 1W, but he too has Exert! His ability gives him +1/+1 and flying! That’s pretty powerful, and he is definitely a must-run in this deck as is. Nef-Crop Entangler is another 2 mana creature with Exert, but this one isn’t quite as exciting. Yes, the Entangler gains +1/+2 and trample with his Exert ability. Indeed, Trample on a 3/3 being cast in the early courses of a game. Still, a single copy is not all that great, and you’d be better off with another Initiate in its place.
Speaking of Initiates, there’s a Pathmaker Initiate, too. This creature can tap to make a creature with power 2 or less unblockable until end of turn. While, this is a decent little creature if you’re playing in an Amonkhet Limited event, he could be replaced with another aggressive creature quite easily.
Honored Crop-Captain is one of my favorite creatures in the deck. She’s an aggressive 3/2 for 2 mana (one White, one Red) that gives other attacking creatures you control +1/+0 when she attacks. She gets the job done, and would be better suited as a full playset (four copies) rather than just a pair.
Devoted Crop Mate is another three mana creature with Exert. When you Exert this 3/2 creature, he can return a creature with converted mana cost 2 or less from the graveyard to the battlefield! That would include most creatures in this deck. Talk about value!
Ahn-Crop Crasher is a playable Minotaur that’s a 3/2 with haste. He too has an Exert ability, which makes it so a target creature can’t block for the rest of that turn. On a creature with Haste, that’s plenty good. It’s not a bad creature.
Sparring Mummy is a cute White Zombie. He costs 4 mana to cast and allows you to untap a creature when he enters play. This obviously works extremely well with the Exert mechanic, which is why he’s in here. But, if I were updating this into the beginnings of a Constructed deck, though, this would be one of the first cuts as a four-mana creature in a deck that wants to focus its efforts on two mana creatures.
As four mana creatures in this deck go, however, I do quite like Tah-Crop Elite. This bird is only a 2/2 flyer, but his Exert ability gives creatures you control (himself included) +1/+1 until end of turn. He’s fine as a one-of in my opinion in the context of planeswalker deck play, but he’s yet another potential cut.
Hyena Pack is the vanilla creature of this deck. With two copies of this 3/4 mana do-nothing creature, here is the most obvious place to upgrade your creature base. I’d probably throw in a couple more oft he aggressive two-mana creatures mentioned already instead. Honestly, even for an introductory deck out of the box, I’m not sure including these is acceptable.
Still, the Exert creatures in this deck are overall solid. So, how does the rest of the deck shape up in assisting these Exert creatures to cheat once in awhile?
The instants in this deck aren’t too exciting. Impeccable Timing is a useful Magic card which deals 3 damage to a target attacking or blocking creature for 2 mana. Two copies of Electrify are about the only other removal spell in this deck. While 4 mana to deal 4 damage to a creature isn’t horrible, it’s no Flame Slash.
The Enchantments in the deck are decent, though. Cartouche of Zeal is a nice one-drop Aura that not only gives the target creature +1/+1 and haste, but when it comes into play, you can stop a target creature from being able to block that turn. Talk about value for a one-drop Aura!
It gets even better with Trial of Zeal. This Trial costs 3 to cast and deals 3 damage to a target creature or player. But, when a Cartouche comes into play, you can return the Trial to your hand. It’s a nice little combo of cards that provides a value loop.
The last card to discuss is Hazoret’s Favor, another Amonkhet rare card in the deck. It costs three mana to cast – two generic and one Red mana. At the beginning of each of your combat phases, you may have a creature you control +2/+0 and haste until end of turn. But, if you do, you have to sacrifice that creature at the end of the turn. Still, it can be well worth the extra damage to sacrifice one of your creatures.
My Final Thoughts on the Gideon Planeswalker Deck
While there’s a lot to like in the Liliana, Death Wielder deck, the Gideon deck does a great job showcasing the Exert mechanic from the Amonkhet set. My main concern with this deck as it stands out of the box is that it forces its pilot to keep turning creatures sideways. This means will be wide open to counter attacks on many occasions. However, with some upgrades, this is a deck that can win some games quite handily.
If this looks like a deck you’d like to build from, the Gideon, Martial Paragon planeswalker deck is still available on eBay. Like any planeswalker deck, it even comes with two Amonkhet booster packs to help your deck and your collection.Plus, if you add in Gideon of the Trials, this can be a really fun aggro deck for casual kitchen table Magic.