Koll, the Forgemaster was recently previewed for Kaldheim. Let’s dig into his potential to help Boros with alternate win conditions!
When I saw Koll previewed the other day, I initially felt indifference: “Sure, here’s another ‘equipment matters’ card, Wizards is clearly amidst a renaissance with that idea.” At face value, the card is pretty good for the cost. Returning fallen creatures to hand in equipment decks is card advantage, and the buff to equipped tokens was some nice gravy on an otherwise pretty playable card. It slots into Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale, for example — high CMC equipment Commanders can use every bit of cost reduction for recasting they can get!
It didn’t take long, however, for me to realize that this thing is a little more spicy than you’d think.
Essentially, being able to bounce a creature back to hand when it dies opens us up to comboing. With a way to make our equipment free to equip, a sacrifice outlet, and a zero-cost creature, that’s infinite enters-the-battlefield triggers, and infinites dies triggers.
One of the most obvious ways to perform this combo is with direct damage to face. Goblin Bombardment is a sacrifice outlet that does damage, so if we equip Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh with Lightning Greaves and sacrifice him, he will be returned to our hand, before we can perform the loop ad nauseum until everyone is dead.
What’s more, we can make this combo line cheaper and easier to cast. Shuko costs one less than Greaves, and Altar of Dementia and Memnite are artifacts. As Memnite has a power of 1, this will let us use Altar of Dementia to mill everyone out instead.
What makes Koll, the Forgemaster so attractive as a Boros combo Commander is that there are just so many possible roads to Rome: Altar of the Brood provides another way to mill, and cards like Ornithopter and the many other Kobolds other than Rograkh all cost 0 mana to play.
Sacrifice outlets are also plentiful, and even if they don’t natively provide a win condition, they can enable other cards, like Impact Tremors. Some sacrifice outlets come bundled in with a creature, too, in the case of Skirk Prospector.
Boros cEDH Build
It’s entirely possible that a cEDH version of Koll, the Forgemaster exists, and it’s largely because the deck plays so many cards that are already very good in competitive Commander. Benevolent Bodyguard is a widespread protection creature, and when combined with a Phyrexian Altar, you can recast it as often as you like.
Dockside Extortionist is an auto-include in all red cEDH builds, as it allows many decks to combo early. In a Koll build, it won’t take many treasures to let the goblin pirate enable himself — with just four artifacts and enchantments to make treasures from, Dockside can go infinite with Mask of Immolation or Mortarpod.
Additionally, the ever-combo-ready Deathrender can also contribute to the many lines of redundancy needed for a deck like this to work. Mogg Fanatic and Fanatical Firebrand already provide a combo-kill with Phyrexian Altar and Shuko, but with Deathrender, they don’t require the extra mana production to re-enter the battlefield. Instead, order the triggers so that Mogg Fanatic is returned to your hand before the Deathrender trigger resolves, then simply put Mogg Fanatic back into play.
I can’t write this article without giving Skullclamp its dues, and honestly? It absolutely deserves its own section!
If we can give ourselves a way to equip Skullclamp for free, we can effectively draw through our entire library by having a one-toughness creature to equip to.
Given our deck is likely to hit metalcraft pretty easily, Puresteel Paladin is a way to give free equip while also letting us draw cards occasionally. Nahiri, meanwhile, reduces equip costs. While she may be a little pricey for cEDH, she is a good fit for the deck, particularly as universal cost reduction to equipment and creature removal is a nice combination.
Fervent Champion can equip most equipment you’ll be playing in the deck for free, and Kazuul’s Toll Collector can still draw the deck with Skullclamp if you have a sacrifice outlet in play. Both of these creatures are also fantastic with Sunforger, and if you’re feeling able to cast it in the first place, being able to equip it for free once or twice a turn cycle can really help you to stay in the game.
Drawing our deck is of course the optimal way to ensure we can combo off if we don’t naturally draw into a combo line within the first couple of turns, so it’s paramount we take advantage of this if we can.
Control & Enabling
cEDH, of course, isn’t only about playing solitaire Magic and hoping to pop off. You’ll also need to set up your combo — and protect it.
Fast mana is the name of the game, and given we’re likely to be playing artifacts, we can go for Mox Opal and artifact lands. We also get access to Mox Diamond, Mox Amber, and Chrome Mox. Given our sometimes limited need for colored mana outside of our Commander, Simian Spirit Guide can offer some amount of assistance, too.
Given how strong Jeska’s Will is, I’d be interested to see how much work it can do in a format where card draw is king. Resolving it may be a challenge, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t able to do a lot of work for us. Likewise, Magda, Brazen Outlaw can provide some amount of utility as a way to use Dockside Extortionist to tutor whatever we need into play — or maybe just a Blightsteel Colossus! Impulsive Pilferer may seem forgettable, but being able to sacrifice it early to fix our mana may just be what we need.
We’ll also need to take advantage of all the interaction we can lay our hands on. Red has a number of ways to thwart blue spells and removal, and not taking them would be unwise in cEDH.
Likewise, although we can play Aura of Silence and Thalia, we should also stock up on cards like Mana Tithe and Orim’s Chant. Our deck means to pop off early, so we need as much interaction as we can reasonably include if we stand a chance of playing around Force of Will and other cheap counterspells.
Boros in cEDH currently still sits pretty far away from the most consistent of strategies. Though decks like Aurelia/Helm of the Host and Feather have been able to post wins from time to time, it’s the mono-color red and white decks — like Godo, Bandit Warlord and Heliod, Sun-Crowned — that have been most consistent at pushing into the upper echelons of play.
Koll, the Forgemaster excites me — he has many lines to take to get to a win condition, a bunch of redundancy, and crucially? He costs only two mana in the Command Zone. He’s a Commander that will age well, with every new equipment or cheap creature asking us: will this work with Koll?
He’s going to make waves in EDH, competitive or not, and I’m excited to see how people end up brewing around him.