Another day, another deck review. Today I'm picking apart
NATURE OF THE BEAST
This is the Naya (red-green-white) deck, and it's general strategy seems to be "big creatures are better than not big creatures". Players who were around for Shards of Alara might find this familiar. This deck has more ways of ramping into higher amounts of mana than most of the other decks, goes without saying being the green deck, and thus rewards you by being able to play bigger scarier things turns earlier than other decks.
The deck also has a slight beast subtheme via cards like Contested Cliffs and Ravenous Baloth. Most of the other creatures in the deck, including two of the commanders, have the beast creature type, so these cards will often be relevant. In some one-on-one testing I did, I won every game I stuck a contested cliffs. That card is scary.
This beast subtheme was somewhat unexpected but often played out in good ways. Beasts don't usually come to mind as a tribe to build around in this format, largely because there aren't as many cards that reward you for playing beasts as some of the more iconic tribes like elves or goblins. But the way these games played out really reinforced the fact that it's not necessary the quantity of cards, but rather the quality. I definitely have some beastly ideas for the future, and this deck is a good place to start.
This deck is the deck most like the archtypal EDH day, full of haymakers. This deck doesn't have as many synergies as some of the other decks, and doesn't have as many politically minded cards, but it has more cards that are scary by themselves, and is probably the deck most capable of rebuilding after a board wipe.
A personal issue of mine is that I never felt like Mayael was living up to her potential. Don't get me wrong, I love Mayael. She was one of the earliest cards I ever played with, and my first EDH deck. But in this deck, I feel like she was wiffing more often than if the deck was built with her in mind. There are a lot of creatures in the precon that are big when in play, but start out small enough that Mayael can't cheat them into play. Baloth Woodcrasher, Naya Soulbeast, Marath and similar are nonbos (combos that do not work) with Mayael, and sinking 6 mana to do essentially nothing feels horrible. Were I you, I would take Mayael out, or add more fatties.
MARATH, WILL OF THE WILD
Marath was interesting to me in play. A jack of all trades, master of none; Marath does a lot of things, but there are other cards out there that do those things better. What makes Marath better is one of two things. One, he's your commander. You get the benefit of getting the effect more than once, and at a time of your choosing. Two, he's flexible. Want to attack for a little bit more, for whatever reason? Put some counters on your dudes, or hey, someone else's. Need to kill something? Kill it. Need to make an emergency blocker? Make it.
Marath's flexibility gives him a number of different potential roles as a commander. You could just cram a deck full of good spells, and have another as your general. Beast and Elemental are tribes with support cards, build yourself a tribal deck. What really interests me is a Naya-based swarm deck. There's all sorts of things in these colors that reward you for having lots of dudes or have redundancies for this sort of effect; Assemble the Legion, Rith, Beastmaster Ascension.
GAHIJI, HONORED ONE
Gahiji reminds me of another general from the last iteration of commander decks; Edric, Spymaster of Trest. They're legendary creatures that give everyone a reward for attacking players other than you. In both cases, whatever your opponents get out of the creature, more cards or more severe beatings, is likely less than what you're getting out of it because you had the added foresight of building your deck around the effect.
A lot of what I said about about Marath applies to Gahiji as well. He's powerful enough to be at the helm of a good stuff deck where your opponents just beat each other to death off your bonuses. He has the relevant beast creature type. He rewards you for playing with swarms. Something I like about Gahiji over similar swarm generals in the same colors like Rith and Hazenon Tamar is that his effect is almost instantaneous. You don't have to wait a whole turn to attack, you get it that turn. Also, because it benefits your opponents, they might be less likely to kill it than someone like Rith.
New arts included in this deck:
Eternal Dragon (previous Pro Tour promo only)