The banning of Golos, Tireless Pilgrim shocked the Magic community so much that it crashed the announcement page on MTG Commander. Quick reactions on forums and playgroups were “was it really necessary?” We’ve also know to be a powerful Commander. Having 5 colours in its identity already brings it flexibility and access to all the spells in Magic history. But why ban Golos instead of other 5-colour Commanders? We take a look at the 3 very important factors:
Reason 1: Golos Requires Only Generic Mana to Cast
If you look at other powerful 5-colour Commanders – Najeela, the Blade Blossom, and Kenrith, the Returned King come to mind – you’ll find that they have at least one colour in their casting cost. That means you’d need a Mana source for that specific colour in your opening hand. In the days of Jeweled Lotuses and Arcane Signets, acquiring that specific Mana may not sound like a stretch, but we all know Magic is full of variance and because your Lands and Mana Artifacts are going to distributed among five colours, the odds of hitting the one you need is actually pretty low.
Golos, the Tireless Pilgrim has no such burden holding it back. All you need is ramp up to 5 Mana, and you’re off. These could be a combination of Talismans, Signets, and even Diamonds or Thran Dynamo.
So what about Ramos, Dragon Engine and Morophon, the Boundless since both have generic casting costs but have a 5-colour identity. Apart from the obvious fact that Golos costs significantly less (5 compared to 6 and 7 respectively), it’s this lower cost reason combined with the other two major factors (ramp and free spells) below that illustrate why Golos was put on the Commander ban list.
Reason 2: Golos Gives a Free Land, Reducing Commander Tax
Once you’ve got Golos, Tireless Pilgrim on the board, it tutors for any Land (basic or otherwise) and puts it immediately into the Battlefield. This is crucial because of two things:
Firstly, it helps fix whatever coloured Mana you are currently lacking and takes you one step closer to activating its ability. You could even search for a Fetchland such as Flooded Strand or Polluted Delta, and use those to find a Dual Land that can provide two different coloured Mana that you might have been missing.
The other thing about free ramp is that it essentially reduces your Commander Tax by 1, as any future casting of Golos always gives you one free Land. Unless all your Lands are already on the Battlefield (which would make Commander Tax irrelevant anyway), then this ramping ability puts you at double the advantage against other Commanders.
Setting back a player’s Commander is a crucial part of any Commander game, and if one like Golos can reduce the effectiveness of that strategy, it puts itself in the forefront of the ruling committee’s eyes.
Reason 3: Three Free Spells for Each Ability Activation
The last factor for Golos’ banning might also have been the most back breaking. For 7 Mana (2 generic and all 5 colours), you get to Exile the top 3 cards of your Library and play any number of them for free. The keyword “play” means you can put Lands down too (though not breaking the 1 Land per turn rule), and you can also play both Creature and Noncreature spells.
There is virtually no drawback to Golos’ activated ability. Other Commanders might restrict you to just choosing one of those cards to play for free, while others might require you to spend the Mana needed to cast them. Golos has zero drawback – it doesn’t need to Tap and it doesn’t need to be Sacrificed. If there is such a thing as a perfect ability, this is as close to it as it gets.
If we look at Ramos, Dragon Engine and Morophon, the Boundless again, both have significant drawbacks to their activated abilities. Ramos netts you 10 Mana, but that’s hardly enough for you to cast three big spells, plus you’d need to have the cards already in hand. In addition, Ramos’ ability can only be activated once per turn, unlike Golos.
Morophon’s passive ability of reducing 5 colours for other spells of the same type is not as amazing as it seems. Most spells have a generic component, which means you’d still need to be spending some Mana to get those cards out. It’s nowhere near as powerful as Golos’ ability.
End Step: Did Golos Really Need to a Ban?
Was Golos an incredibly strong Commander? Undeniably.
But there are plenty of other strong Commanders out there, so does this set a bad precedent for future bans? It does feel harsh as those have built the deck now have to do a complete rework of their deck. Whether or not the ban is justified will be clearer in time. The feedback among playgroups could be positive, leading to more fun and balanced games all around.
What does your group think? Would you set your own rules and ‘unban’ specific cards like Golos? Let us know at email@example.com!