First, we’ll take a look at Gideon, Martial Paragon himself as a planeswalker, as well as the three other exclusive cards in the deck. All are Standard-legal as long as Amonkhet is in Standard. Will Gideon and his friends from his aggressive red/white entourage match up to Liliana, Death Wielder and her crew?
His 0 ability is familiar to those who have played with other Gideon planeswalkers. He becomes an indestructible 5/5 Human Soldier who can take no damage that turn. Do remember that he doesn’t gain haste, so you can’t attack with him the turn that you first cast Gideon.
Gideon’s “ultimate” ability costs 10 loyalty counters, but it’s not hard to see it ending the game. Creatures you control gain +2/+2 until end of turn and you tap all creatures your opponent controls. That’s pretty good! All in all, this is a decent planeswalker. He doesn’t hold a candle to Gideon of the Trials, but he’s not meant to. This Gideon planeswalker is borderline Standard playable already. But at 5 mana, he doesn't quite do enough to see play in typical competitive decks.
Gideon’s Resolve is a 5 mana Enchantment that gives all creatures you control +1/+1. While this seems like a rather expensive “anthem” effect, because you get to search out Gideon, too, it’s actually well worth the mana investment.
Companion of the Trials is a nifty creature, exclusive to this Gideon deck. It’s a 2/2 flyer for 3 mana that has an ability that’s only available when you control a Gideon planeswalker. That ability costs 1W and untaps a creature you control. It’s not a tap ability, so you can use it as many times as you have mana. This untapping ability is going to be very relevant in this Gideon deck.
These three exclusive cards all serve a purpose in this Gideon deck. The theme of this deck focuses around a mechanic where needing to untap your creatures actually matters.
Now, let’s look at the whole deck list and get a feel for what we’re getting here:
1 Gideon, Martial Paragon
1 Glory-Bound Initiate
3 Gust Walker
1 Nef-Crop Entangler
1 Pathmaker Initiate
2 Honored Crop-Captain
3 Companion of the Trials
1 Devoted Crop-Mate
4 Graceful Cat
3 Ahn-Crop Crasher
2 Sparring Mummy
1 Tah-Crop Elite
2 Hyena Pack
1 Impeccable Timing
2 Cartouche of Zeal
1 Hazoret's Favor
3 Trial of Zeal
2 Gideon's Resolve
4 Stone Quarry
The Initiate is a particularly good creature with Exert. He’s a 3/1 for 2 mana, which is okay on its own. But with Exert, he gets +1/+3 and lifelink until end of turn. That means he’s a 4/4 with lifelink for only 1W! If you’re able to untap him with the ability of Companion of the Trials or Gideon himself on the very next turn, you can Exert all over again for next to nothing! If you’re looking to upgrade this deck, getting 3 more copies of this guy to round out a playset would be a great step!
Gust Walker is a fine common creature that’s a 2/2 for 1W, but he too has Exert! His ability gives him +1/+1 and flying! That’s pretty powerful, and he is definitely a must-run in this deck.
Nef-Crop Entangler is another 2 mana creature with Exert. This one isn’t quite as exciting, but he gains +1/+2 and trample with his Exert ability. While you wouldn’t think Trample on a 3/3 would be a big deal, it is when it’s used in the early course of a game!
Pathmaker Initiate is a cute card that can tap to make a creature with power 2 or less unblockable until end of turn. Honestly, this is a decent little creature if you’re playing in an Amonkhet Limited event, but I feel like he could be replaced with another Nef-Crop Entangler or another aggressive creature quite easily.
Honored Crop-Captain is one of my favorite creatures in the deck. She’s an aggressive 3/2 for 2 mana (one White, one Red) that gives other attacking creatures you control +1/+0 when she attacks. She gets the job done.
Devoted Crop Mate is a 3 mana creature that’s not only a useful 3/2 but has a really sweet Exert ability. When you Exert him, he can return a creature with converted mana cost 2 or less from the graveyard to the battlefield! That’s any of the creatures we mentioned up until this point! Talk about value!
Ahn-Crop Crasher is a playable Minotaur that’s a 3/2 with haste. He too has an Exert ability, which makes it so a target creature can’t block for the rest of that turn. On a creature with Haste, that’s plenty good. This is a good creature.
Sparring Mummy is a cute White Zombie. He costs 4 mana to cast and allows you to untap a creature when he enters play. This obviously works extremely well with the Exert mechanic, which is why he’s in here. If I were building a Constructed deck, though, this probably isn’t a creature I’d be playing, however.
As 4 mana creatures in this deck go, however, I do quite like Tah-Crop Elite. This bird is only a 2/2 flyer, but his Exert ability gives creatures you control (himself included) +1/+1 until end of turn. He’s fine as a one-of in my opinion.
Hyena Pack is the vanilla creature of the deck. With two copies of this 3 / 4 mana do-nothing creature, here is where you can upgrade your creature base. I’d probably throw in another Ahn-Crop Crasher and one of the aggressive two-mana creatures instead. But for an introductory deck, out of the box these are acceptable.
The Exert creatures are all pretty solid. So how does the rest of the deck shape up in assisting these Exert creatures to cheat once in awhile?
The instants in this deck aren’t too exciting. Impeccable Timing is a useful Magic card which deals 3 damage to a target attacking or blocking creature for 2 mana. Two copies of Electrify are about the only other removal in this deck. While 4 mana to deal 4 damage to a creature isn’t horrible, it’s no Flame Slash.
The Enchantments in the deck are decent, though. Cartouche of Zeal is a nice one-drop Aura that not only gives the target creature +1/+1 and haste, but when it comes into play, you can stop a target creature from being able to block that turn. Talk about value for a one-drop Aura!
It gets even better with Trial of Zeal. This Trial costs 3 to cast and deals 3 damage to a target creature or player. But when a Cartouche comes into play, you can return the Trial to your hand. It’s a nice combo of cards.
The last card we’ll talk about is Hazoret’s Favor. It’s one of the rare cards in the deck. It costs 2R to cast. At the beginning of each of your combats, you may have a creature you control +2/+0 and haste until end of turn. Although, if you do, you have to sacrifice it at the end of the turn. Still, it can be well worth the extra damage to sacrifice one of your creatures.
Thoughts on the Gideon Deck
While there's a lot to like in the Liliana, Death Wielder deck, the Exert-themed Gideon deck is pretty cool. The only concern that I have with it is that you will be wide open to counter attacks on many occasions. However, with some upgrades, this is a deck that can win some games quite handily. This deck does a great job with showcasing the Exert mechanic. If you add in Gideon of the Trials, this can be a really fun aggro deck.
If this looks like a deck you'd like to build from, the Gideon, Martial Paragon planeswalker deck is available on Amazon and TCGPlayer. Like any planeswalker deck, it even comes with two Amonkhet booster packs to help your deck and your collection.