A huge part of the appeal of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, especially for Commander enjoyers, is the inclusion of massive haymakers. Unsurprisingly, a set so heavily centered around Dinosaurs has a lot of enormous Creatures to offer. One Dinosaur, however, has been hyped up like no other. It can heavily swing games almost immediately with its triggered ability, and unlike many other high-mana game breaking Creatures in recent times, this ability is not a cast trigger. Instead, it’s an enters-the-battlefield effect, making it very easily abusable, especially in Commander. This card is none other than Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant.
Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant on its own is an eight-mana 12/12 with Trample. However, the real power lies with the fact that when it enters play, you can dump your whole hand of Creatures into play for free! The key here is making sure that you have ways to guarantee that you hand is chock full of elite Creatures to put onto the battlefield. Luckily, there are tons of sources of card advantage available in Commander. Let’s start by taking a look at one of the more interesting ways to fully abuse Ghalta’s triggered ability.
Using the Stack to Your Advantage
In general, a huge part of the reason why cards like Ghalta with massive enters-the-battlefield effects are better than cards with massive effects from a cast trigger is that this opens the door to cheat them into play. There’s a reason why Atraxa, Grand Unifier is able to have success in Legacy Reanimator decks. Cheating Ghalta into play is a perfectly legitimate strategy as well, and as we will see later, there are a multitude of ways to do this in an efficient manner.
What’s even more interesting, though, is that you can respond to Ghalta’s enters-the-battlefield ability with a variety of card drawing effects. As LOS5-R34P3R points out, if you have Greater Good in play, you can respond to Ghalta’s triggered ability by sacrificing it and drawing 12 cards. Now that you have a grip full of cards, when Ghalta’s ability resolves, you will likely have a lot of Creatures to put into play all at once.
This trick isn’t exclusive to Greater Good, though. There are plenty of other ways to draw a bunch of cards in a similar manner. Life’s Legacy and Momentous Fall, for instance, are great inclusions alongside Ghalta as well. The reason that Greater Good is likely the most reliable of these effects is that you can play Greater Good ahead of time. Ghalta is an eight mana play after all, and having enough mana left over to cast Life’s Legacy or Momentous Fall might not always be easy. That’s why it can be important to have ways to cheat Ghalta into play for cheap.
Cheating Ghalta into Play
Assuming Ghalta is not your Commander, there are actually a ton of ways to get Ghalta into play for cheap across the color pie. In green specifically, you have two elite four-mana tutors that allow you to search for Ghalta from your library and put it into play without needing to cast it! Natural Order is the best of the bunch. All you have to do is sacrifice any of your expendable green Creatures, like mana dorks, and you can put Ghalta directly into play.
Thanks to MTG Jurassic World, we now have access to Savage Order as well. While Savage Order does require you to sacrifice a Creature with at least four power, which is certainly more restrictive, tutoring for Ghalta is still on the table because it is indeed a Dinosaur.
In black, there are a multitude of ways to reanimate Ghalta for cheap. Reanimate, Animate Dead, Necromancy, and more all do the job as long as you can get Ghalta into your graveyard. Entomb is definitely the most efficient way to do this, but cards like Jarad’s Orders can be helpful too.
Red, white, and blue primarily have ways to cheat Ghalta into play from your hand. Cards like Sneak Attack or even Surprise Deployment can do the trick. Flash, if you’re trying to play Ghalta in Vintage for some reason, is a very efficient option.
If Ghalta is your Commander, and you are playing a mono-green deck as a result, you can use the likes of Command Beacon or Road of Return to get Ghalta into your hand from the Command Zone, then cheat it into play with Elvish Piper or Howlpack Piper. All of these ways to cheat Ghalta into play help further enable your dreams of drawing a ton of cards and building a big board out of nowhere.
Winning the Game
While the combo of drawing 12 cards and dumping a bunch of Creatures into play is surely satisfying, it may not always be successful at ultimately winning you the game. The 12 cards could end up being mostly Lands, and even if you get to make a sizeable board, it’s important to have ways to maximize it. Fortunately, with Greater Good in play, there’s more shenanigans to be had.
As stated, responding to Ghalta’s enters-the-battlefield effect by drawing 12 cards is a great start. What if you add in a way to copy Ghalta’s triggered ability to the mix? This is where things start to get even more interesting.
If you have an effect like Panharmonicon that copies Ghalta’s triggered ability, it’s possible to go even crazier. When Ghalta enters the battlefield, you will now create two triggers on the stack. You can respond to the first like normal by sacrificing Ghalta to Greater Good and drawing 12 cards. Then, you put in a bunch of Creatures from your hand into play with the first Ghalta trigger. Before the second Ghalta trigger resolves, you can begin sacrificing other big monsters to Greater Good to further fuel your hand.
Assuming your first Ghalta trigger built out a board of high-powered Creatures, you may be able to draw a ton of new cards. Once the second trigger resolves, you will likely have an even more enormous and scary battlefield. In addition, all of this card draw can help you make sure you can find a Haste enabler like Concordant Crossroads to make victory all but assured.
It’s amazing just how impactful Ghalta can be when built around, so if you’re in the market for an EDH deck with a ton of massive bombs, Ghalta should provide a big upgrade.