Goldberry, River-Daughter is a really cool card.  It’s not explosive, but it does things few other cards can do.  Specifically, removing counters is a powerful ability not very many cards have, and having it in the Command Zone lets you build around taking advantage of this in a way you usually don’t get to.

I’ve concluded that I prefer deckbuilding when I have a clear objective, and the clearest objective is to win the game. But I also like building around cool cards, so I don’t know if it’s technically correct to call this a cEDH deck, in that at the moment, I don’t think I’d want to take it to a tournament. It’s definitely high powered, in that I’m trying to give it the best chance of winning I can while using Goldberry as a commander.

So, what are these counters that are strong to remove?  Mostly lore counters on Sagas and age counters on cards with Cumulative Upkeep.  Unfortunately, there aren’t really that many cards that make those that are quite as strong as I’m looking for, but Goldberry can’t really remove counters that quickly anyway, so you’re not looking to have a ton of these things.

The best cumulative upkeep card is very clearly Mystic Remora, and slowing the rate at which it gains counters is extremely strong, as it’s already among the strongest cards.  The second best is probably Glacial Chasm, which is somewhat interesting, but I don’t expect damage to be an important enough part of the game to want to play that card.

The Saga Question

As for Sagas, I started by considering a lot of them, but in the end, while pursuing competitive viability, I could only really justify Urza’s Saga (the best by a lot), Scroll of Isildur, and The Antiquities War.  If you were to target a lower power level, I’d want to have more fun with Sagas and I’d add The Bath Song and Inventive Iteration.  This deck is built around artifacts, but if you built it around Instants and Sorceries instead, you could do some very sweet things with Founding the Third Path and The Mirari Conjecture.  If you’re going casual and want big plays, the Kiora Bests the Sea God is sweet.

With Urza’s Saga, Goldberry allows you to remove the third counter in response to triggering the third chapter to find an artifact, which allows you to keep Urza’s Saga around for another turn to find another artifact.  This means that having multiple artifacts that cost one or zero that play well together is particularly strong, since you can find combos.  Most obviously, this allows finding Mana Vault and Manifold Key, but it could also allow you to find Astral Cornucopia and maybe Surge Node, especially if you had Power Conduit.

Power Conduit is a much stronger card than Goldberry, River-Daughter, but it can’t be a commander, still it’s a great card to play in the deck.  In fact, it’s the primary reason I want to include artifacts which use charge counters.  Goldberry is at its best when it’s removing counters you don’t want from things. It’s at its worst when you don’t have any counters.  Given that there aren’t many strong cards that get counters you don’t want, it helps to play several other cards that have counters just to make sure you can draw cards with Goldberry. This is another good reason to include some artifacts with charge counters like Surge Node, Astral Cornucopia, and Everflowing Chalice.

Because Goldberry can’t remove a kind of counter she’s already removed until she moves that counter off of herself, she can’t keep sagas or cumulative upkeep cards around forever, unless you have a way to untap her so that you can do both every turn.  To allow that I’m playing Magewright’s Stone, Thousand-Year Elixir, Mirran Spy, and Invasion of Segovia (which, amusingly, is also a source of counters).

Walking Around The Multiverse

Another good way to get counters is by casting planeswalkers.  These generally like to keep their counters, but they can also spare one for Goldberry, and she can always give it back, or put it on another planeswalker later.

My current collection of planeswalkers is:

Narset, Parter of Veils:

As cheap as you can get for a blue planeswalker and generally a strong stax piece, this deck also plays few creatures so Narset will almost never fail to give you a card and it can find your combos.  Narset is also particularly good if you can add extra counters to it, which this deck can do.

Jace, Cunning Castaway:

This is a much worse card, and probably too cute, but I want to try it.  I’m playing Ichormoon Gauntlet since I have a lot of planeswalkers and can cast a lot of spells, and Jace, Cunning Castaway is the best way to really go off with Ichormoon Gauntlet.  Realistically, I’d expect this to be the first card cut from this deck.

Teferi, Master of Time:

This card is flat-out strong in multiplayer games, a great source of counters, and also great with Ichormoon Gauntlet.

Karn, the Great Creator:

This card cares very little about its loyalty or loyalty abilities, which makes it play well with Ichormoon Gauntlet and it’s a good stax piece.

Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim:

This is a great source of loyalty counters in a deck that can draw this many cards, which makes it another great card with Ichormoon Gauntlet that can also protect you, threaten other players, draw cards, or use its ultimate to remove problematic permanents.

Tezzeret the Seeker:

A lot of your best cards are artifacts, this finds them.

Ugin, the Ineffable:

This is a cost reducer for Sensei’s Divining Top+The Reality Chip combos that also helps cast other things and has some generally useful abilities.

That covers most of the cute Goldberry specific counters type stuff, so what does the deck do, or more precisely, how does it win?

Getting Across the Finish Line

This deck plays a lot of artifacts–you want all the usual fast mana to pair with Goldberry’s card draw in addition to the counter synergy cards, so I’ve included several legendary blue creatures that like artifacts: Emry, Lurker of the Loch, which can help find important combo pieces, Sai, Master Thopterist, which does a great job of protecting your planeswalkers, and Urza, Lord High Artificer.

This deck also wants to play Fabricate and Transmute Artifact because so many of its best cards are artifacts.

With all of those cards in the deck, I think it only makes sense to include a Krark-Clan Ironworks package with Myr Retriever, Scrap Trawler, and Spine of Ish Sah.  This is one possible way for the deck to win.

The deck also plays Displacer Kitten, which can probably win with something like Narset, Parter of Veils or The Antiquities War by digging for mana positive artifacts and eventually assembling a combo.

Hullbreaker Horror is another way to generate infinite mana with a few mana artifacts.

The Reality Chip+Sensei’s Divining Top+Cloud Key or Ugin, the Ineffable or an infinite mana engine, or Sai, Master Thopterist+Krark-Clan Ironworks can draw your deck.

There’s also Power Artifact with Basalt Monolith.

You do need something to do with infinite mana, so the deck has Staff of Domination and Walking Ballista in addition to Urza, Lord High Artificer.

Rhystic Study, Paradoxical Outcome, and The One Ring are both present as fantastic card draw spells.

Rounding out the deck is a handful of counterspells and general interaction.

Noteworthy lands include Minamo, School at Water’s Edge, which is another way to untap Goldberry. We have Karn’s Bastion to proliferate, Tolaria West to find Urza’s Saga, Blast Zone, which Goldberry can allow to kill things with MV=0, Homeward Path, Academy Ruins, Mystic Sanctuary, Ancient Tomb, fetches to find Mystic Sanctuary, and Snow-Covered Islands (to cast Arcum’s Astrolabe).

Counters, Counterspells, and Counting On Yourself to Draw a Third Land

As constructed, this might be in an awkward middle ground between being just a little too weak for cEDH and too strong for even some High-Powered tables, but it’s really easy to tune it down to a much lower power level by replacing infinite combos with whichever additional sagas and planeswalkers you’d have fun with.

As a new card, it’s a good way to show off some fun interactions a lot of opponents won’t have seen before and make some cool plays. So, I think it’s a good consideration as a basis to modify to whatever would be appropriate for your table.

The full decklist is available here

Sam Black (any) is a former professional Magic player, longtime Magic writer, host of the Drafting Archetypes podcast, and Twitch streamer. Sam is also a Commander Cube enthusiast, and you can find Sam’s cube list here. For anything else, find Sam on Twitter: @SamuelHBlack.

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