17, Jan, 22

Best Starter Commanders - Karlov Of The Ghost Council

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If you've got the most life on the table then you're safe. If you've also got the biggest creature then you're probably winning.
Article at a Glance

Gaining life is one of those things that’s just really easy to appreciate, even as a newer MTG player. If the aim is to reduce your foe’s life total, then having more life must be good.

It’s simple, and while in normal MTG it’s not always as powerful as we may like, in Commander, you’ve got a lot of options to turn it from a way to stall for time, to a way to crush your opponents.

Meet your commander

One of the most aggressive lifegain commanders in the format is Karlov of the Ghost Council. Karlov is a two-mana black and white 2/2. Whenever you gain life, you get to put two +1/+1 counters on them. Then, you can pay one white and one black mana and remove six of those counters in order to exile a target creature. In short, not only will Karlov get big really quickly, but they’re also a powerful piece of removal too.

It means that the strategy here is easy: gain life. You don’t need to do anything more than that to be able to win the game, because after only a few instances of life gain your two-mana commander is going to be bigger than any other creature on the battlefield. Karlov is a powerhouse, and you’ll be able to crush people with ease with only a few cards out.

Well, as long as they’re the right cards.

Read More: Best Starter Commanders – Obeka, Brute Chronologist

Best creatures for Karlov

The main thing about Karlov is making sure you can gain life in a lot of ways, and ideally in as many instances as possible. To this end, your turn one play is incredibly important. The best plays are Lunarch Veteran, Soul’s Attendant, and Soul Warden. Each of these allows you to start gaining life immediately, and they’ll also trigger as Karlov enters, meaning that he’ll immediately gain two +1/+1 counters too.

Aside from those, the rest of your creatures can just be linked to gaining life. That means having a copy of Witch of the Moors in the deck is excellent. This is a five-mana 4/4 with deathtouch that reads, “At the beginning of your end step, if you gained life this turn, each opponent sacrifices a creature and you return up to one target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.”

We’re huge fans of Rhox Faithmender, a four-mana creature that doubles the amount of life you gain, so you should make sure you’ve got a copy in your deck. Other than that, the only other truly essential creature we’d recommend is Felidar Sovereign, because it’s nice to be able to win the game just because you’re looking really healthy.

Read More: Commander Challenge – Marionette Master

Best support cards for Karlov

Again, turn one plays make all the difference in this deck, and Cleric Class, while not as good as the one-mana creatures above, is still very good. It’ll help you gain more life, get more +1/+1 counters, and even bring back a creature from your graveyard too. Authority of the Consuls is also an excellent turn one play too.

Aside from that, make sure you’ve got both Sanguine Bond and Exquisite Blood in your deck to allow for a win condition that can go off in an instant, which can be essential if you don’t like commander games that go on for too long. You don’t have to put them in the deck, but we’re not fans of having a single commander game last for four hours.

There are two artifacts that we really think are essential too. The first is Bolas’s Citadel, a six-mana black artifact that lets you play things from the top of your deck at the cost of life, which isn’t an issue in this deck. The other one is Aetherflux Reservoir, a four-mana artifact that reads, “Whenever you cast a spell, you gain 1 life for each spell you’ve cast this turn. Pay 50 life: Aetherflux Reservoir deals 50 damage to any target.” Basically, you can literally turn your life total into a weapon, and that’s incredibly hard to beat.

Read More: Best Starter Commander – Wulfgar of Icewind Dale

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