Commander Primer: Jhoira of the Ghitu

In this extensive and updated Commander primer Leonard unlocks his Pandora’s box of Jhoira secrets and insights — including a lengthy Deck Talk video and Return to Ravnica card suggestions.

Deck Talk

Leonard takes his time (be forewarned) and explains every inch of his deck in this extensive Deck Talk special. Don’t forget to scour through the article below for the condensed version or if you are seeking yet additional hints and tips.


In a format such as Commander where players seemingly love to hug with relish the 30-turn mark, the general Jhoira of the Ghitu stands out from the rest of the cast, shattering that kind of slow-play ethos with her powerful suspend ability.

How does casting the most outrageous spells ever printed in Magic history sound for you? Powerful? What about casting those on a clean, previously wiped board state? Powerful enough?

Jhoira Rules the World

Let me clarify the last point for those unfamiliar with this general of generals.

Jhoira’s game plan is a real sight to behold. Two uncolored mana are enough to suspend, with 4 time counters, cards like Worldfire, which annihilate any opposition. Following that up with a nicely suspended fattie (of which there are many in the deck) or, say, Omniscience will understandably meet little approval by your opponent or opponents.

As such, Jhoira’s true strength surely lies more in the 1-on-1 department than in multiplayer, for once your row of opponents takes sight of Jhoira and your suspending the most outrageous Magic cards, you might as well start playing multiplayer Commander with a Deathmark on your brow.

That is not to say that Jhoira isn’t perfectly capable of powering through such a wall of opposition. In fact, if you want to put your Jhoira EDH brew to the ultimate test, you should play more multiplayer games with her, where you are effectively up against a team of potent Vintage Singleton decks, all 3-on-1 against you.

Jhoira Loves You Back

A combo-control deck at heart, Jhoira might not the deck of choice for everyone. Let me correct myself: it certainly isn’t a deck for everyone. In order to help you determine whether it’s the right deck for you, go through our small checklist below.

Jhoira is the deck for you…

  • if you’re looking for a rather affordable and competitive deck.
  • if you like to cast the biggest creatures and most broken cards in Jhoira’s color identity (blue, red or colorless) that have seen print and are still legal in the format.
  • if you like to play the short, quick game. By turn 3-5, which really means turn 7-9 in Jhoira’s future-sightish time meter (due to her suspend-4 ability), you generally have a pretty good idea of the outcome of the game.
  • if you don’t mind being loathed by your opponents and targeted constantly in multiplayer games.
  • if you’re a masochist.

If you can confidently agree on most of these points, Jhoira is your deck.

Jhoira Wants You to Care

Commanders who are the quintessential nucleus to their decks, such as the generals Zur the Enchanter or our very Jhoira of the Ghitu, require a highly streamlined list of those 99 cards. As a result, you’ll find that most of the card packages listed below fit a very specific role and can’t be messed with too much.

I will now go over each card worth commenting on in each of the dedicated role packages and propose runner-up cards that didn’t make the cut or are worth thinking about including into future revisions of this deck. I included a few suggestions in the mix from the upcoming Return to Ravnica as well.

Deck List

Use the snapshot of my Jhoira list below as a reference point and in order to better keep track of these rather complicated Commander decks.

Click image to enlarge

Mana Base

The main goal was to have the proper mana fixing to support the heavy-colored cards we’re running in this deck, while keeping the costs for such a mana base at a reasonable level. As such, there are lands included here (like the basic fetchers, etc.) that could easily be upgraded with more expensive fixing — it’s not ultimately necessary though. I paid special attention to include as few tapped lands and colorless lands as possible. Cavern of Souls should probably be included in here as well; it’s just awesome to go to battle with it against countermagic (Talrand & Co).

  • Homeward Path: In any case, you should run this land even though it’s a little on the expensive side. It replaces Brand, thus effectively saving you a whole card slot.
  • Tolaria West: Not only does this find you any value land (like Homeward Path), but it can also fetch Pact of Negation or ramp in Mana Crypt. Well worth playing in any blue-based deck!
  • Ancient Tomb: I can’t urge you enough to play this. It ramps and works nicely with Jhoira’s ability.

Runners-up: Cavern of SoulsThe Tabernacle at Pendrell ValeRiptide Laboratory

Ramp & Fixing

Jhoira doesn’t need much in terms of fixing or ramp simply because you rather suspend stuff than hard-cast it. However, you’d still want to ramp to at least five mana as soon as you can (for casting Jhoira plus one suspend activation), and this package will help you get there assisting you in staying alive in the game if the Jhoira plan fails.

  • Trinket Mage: He can fetch you ramp or Sensei’s Divining Top. Every blue-based deck should run it (so do we here).
  • Darksteel Ingot: This is probably the loosest slot in the entire package. However, it has some synergy with a large portion of the board sweepers that don’t exile permanents, so it will mostly stick post-wipe. Once Return to Ravnica gets released, we can easily swap it out for Izzet Keyrune, which has a heavy upside (man-artifact & draw). Chromatic Lantern would be the other option.

Runners-up: Izzet Keyrune; Chromatic Lantern; Grim Monolith

Card Draw

The draw package helps your early game get going, especially if you’re in need for digging for a certain type of threat (usually a fattie or sweeper). It’s important to understand here that Jhoira’s late game, in other words Eldrazi & Co, really is her early game. Getting the card draw right is essential to any Jhoira deck.

  • Mystic Remora: This is the real star of the draw package. There’s no way any opponent’s going to pay four colorless mana so that you draw no card. Remora thus rightfully gets the nod over outdated cards like Rhystic Study.
  • Sensei’s Divining Top: This is a staple and you should run it despite not having many shuffle effects in the deck. As a recurrent effect it does it’s job, though, of setting up your turns.
  • Impulse: I chose this over Preordain simply because, at instant speed, it finds you the very specific card you’ll need to close the game. Same goes for  Fact or Fiction over Deep Analysis (see below).
  • Jace Beleren: That little Jace comes sooner into play than his big brother could have a significant impact in blitz-type games. However, in terms of sheer power level it’s probably better just to include Jace 2.0 — if you can afford him. It’s important to note that, while planeswalkers are underrepresented in Commander, they are the type of card that’ll stick the most likely after a board-wipe.

Runners-up: IntuitionJace, the Mind Sculptor; Karn Liberated; Jace, Architect of Thought (multiplayer; Return to Ravnica)

Old hats:

  • Memory Jar: I’m not a fan of this card largely because it’s expensive and requires you to have Jhoira going already, or some form of board action.
  • Deep Analysis: It’s very solid if you don’t have to keep mana open for countermagic or removal, or if you can discard it, and then recast it for its flashback cost. However, I’d always cut it for Fact or Fiction because you don’t want to tap out on your turn all that often, especially not for a full four mana, and FoF finds you whatever you’re looking for and more.

The Utility package really is a potpourri of the all the support cards that fit into neither of the other categories. That being said, a lot of the card slots are exchangeable according to your local meta or personal taste.

  • Fury Charm: This card has a much higher versatility than Clockspinning. It’s ability to destroy artifacts is especially useful in Commander where players rely on their cheap artifact ramp.
  • Phyrexian Metamorph: This clone beats most other cards in terms of versatility. Kill an opposing general? Check. Copy an artifact mana source? Check. This is part of the clone package together with the wonderful morphling Vesuvan Shapeshifter.
  • Capsize: Spells with a recurrent effect deserve our every attention. This is one of the best for a blue-based deck. It’s red brother is Reiterate.
  • Chaos Warp: This is your premiere removal spell if you’re in a pinch. It helps burying those pesky generals that you failed to counter and can be tutored up easily (Mystical Tutor). In rare instance you can use it on your own creatures since your chances of drawing into a bomb are not that unlikely.
  • Quicksilver Amulet: Your alternative Jhoira if you will. I can’t state enough how powerful this card is in a Jhoira deck especially with early accelerants.
  • Spin into Myth: Effective removal in Commander is harder to come by than you might think. This may be a bit on the expensive side, but it can bury an opposing general for the rest of the game.

Runners-up: ForcefieldSmokeReiterateTime Stop

Old hats:

  • Blatant Thievery: If you’re into Jhoira, you’re most likely not playing multiplayer much. As such, if you’re only snatching one permanent off your enemy, this is useless and too overcosted.

Jhoira’s game plan is to shell out (read: suspend) a board-wipe followed by a fattie. At times you can also hard-cast some of the lower-costed sweepers. Counters are there to make sure that your suspended permanents come into play and to protect Jhoira or to interfere with your opponent’s game plan.

  • Pact of Negation: This is basically the affordable substitute to Force of Will.
  • Mana Drain: Though costly, it’s definitely worth buying Mana Drain. This counterspell is a win condition on its own and can accelerate you into heaven very early on or if your opponent has pulled ahead through ramping.
  • Memory Lapse: A great counterspell that time-walks your opponent. Gets the clear nod over cards like Remand.
  • Exclude: This spell looks way worse than it actually is. Commander is still a creature-based format, and this will come in handy against opposing generals — at single-blue even.
  • Hinder: Probably the best counterspell in Commander, since it can defeat decks that rely heavily on their general (like Jhoira or Zur, for instance). A must-include if you ask me; Spell Crumple hits in the same vein and could be a potential addition.
  • Venser, Shaper Savant: This is a very recent addition of mine. A signature blue card, Venser pretty much functions as a counterspell here but can fill other purposes as well in conjunction with the rest of the deck or just as a blocker. Occasionally, he comes in handy to attack planeswalkers back as any flash creatures does.
  • Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir: “The Tef” mostly disables opposing countermagic and spot removal. A Jhoira staple.

Runners-up: Force of WillRethinkMisdirection; Counterflux (Return to Ravnica)

Old hats:

Time Walks

This category reads more like stalling your opponent. We have actual Time Walks in here, land denial, and Paradox Haze to speed up your suspended stuff. Since we’re not going to combo for infinite turns (takes too long), I shrank down this section to run more sweepers and creatures. A must-play as is.


Sweepers are one of the central components to any Jhoira deck. As such, this package is pretty much locked up as is. In general you want to play as many board-wipes as possible.

  • Apocalypse: For just five mana you’re in the exiling-everything business.
  • Sunder: Look at it, a land-defying blue card at instant speed!
  • Worldfire: I’ve had players fume over this card. While it’s counterable, and therefore not as good as Obliterate perhaps, it’s just scary for everyone if it resolves, even for the caster. If your opponent has a very low-costed general, you could be in a world of pain should you have no creature follow-up in the pipeline or in case you’re playing against a larger number of enemies, especially against guys with burn spells.

Runners-up: Blasphemous Act


And finally, the fatties. Here’s the real meat, and there are all kinds of configurations out there depending on one’s personal taste. I deem the Eldrazi 4-beast squad an auto-include though. Annihilator does make a hell of a difference on keeping a wiped board clean and empty as it should be or to make pretty sure your attacking has an impact.

  • Omniscience: While not a creature, it’s a game-ender nonetheless. This also demonstrates that every new set, whether core set or not, requires close deckbuilder attention.
  • Arcanis the Omnipotent: Together with Sphinx of Uthuun, Consecrated Sphinx and Niv-Mizzet, this belongs to the draw-card fatties subpackage. While they are not Eldrazi, these card-draw creatures are important to keep you in the game. After a complete board-wipe it matters not so much what creature is the last beast standing, and it’s good to have some lower-costed creatures as well that can be hardcast if needed.
  • Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur: Don’t let his low power and toughness fool you. This guy ends games, at least for one opponent at the table and thus is more geared towards 1-on-1.
  • Akroma, Angel of Fury: I wanted at least one creature that is uncounterable. He can also be morphed into (cast as a three-drop), though opponents overly familiar with the Jhoira archetype won’t be surprised very much. I can see this getting the axe over Bogardan Hellkite who works better in conjunction with Worldfire for instance. But I love my creatures to have some form of protection, still.
  • Inkwell Leviathan: Untouchable trampler who connects. Does the job for me.
  • Greater Gargadon: While underwhelming as a fattie, it’s pretty good still because you don’t have to rely on Jhoira for the suspend part.

Runners-up: Bogardan HellkiteDeep-Sea Kraken (multiplayer)

On Combos

Many Jhoira lists run the Twin/Kiki combo consisting of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror BreakerSplinter Twin, Pestermite, Deceiver Exarch just to have another win condition in the deck that doesn’t rely on Jhoira at all. That kind of combo is hard to counter in Commander and yet efficient (if not cheesy). However, Jhoira decks generally lack any way of tutoring up those combo pieces which tends to make this whole combo idea look rather absurd in a 99-card deck. Same goes for the Niv-Mizzet combo package which we do not run. Rather, I decided to use these free slots to further consolidate the main game plan.

How does your Jhoira brew look like? Have you got some insane card suggestions? Leave your feedback in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!


4 responses to “Commander Primer: Jhoira of the Ghitu

    • While I’m not in particular favor of Ghave’s color identity, rest assured that new Commander primers will hit the site in the very near future since I really enjoy the format.

  1. I have been working on a Jhoira List for over a year. The criteria was that it had to be good in both one on one and multiplayer. I have played over 450 games with the deck and changed over 50% of the cards in the list. When I started my list looked alot like yours, but over time it changed to something much different.

    This is, in my opinion the best Jhoira list I have seen, and I have seen alot:

    Land (35)
    1x Ancient Tomb
    1x Flooded Strand
    1x Bloodstained Mire
    1x Cascade Bluffs
    1x City of Brass
    1x Command Tower
    1x Darksteel Citadel
    1x Dust Bowl
    1x Eye of Ugin
    1x Faerie Conclave
    1x Forbidden Orchard
    1x Ghitu Encampment
    1x Great Furnace
    6x Island
    1x Misty Rainforest
    1x Mountain
    1x Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
    1x Polluted Delta
    1x Scalding Tarn
    1x Seat of the Synod
    1x Shivan Reef
    1x Spinerock Knoll
    1x Steam Vents
    1x Strip Mine
    1x Sulfur Falls
    1x Tectonic Edge
    1x Tolaria West
    1x Volcanic Island
    1x Wasteland
    1x Wooded Foothills
    Artifact (13)
    1x Chrome Mox
    1x Crucible of Worlds
    1x Expedition Map
    1x Grim Monolith
    1x Mana Crypt
    1x Mana Vault
    1x Memory Jar
    1x Nevinyrral’s Disk
    1x Oblivion Stone
    1x Quicksilver Amulet
    1x Scroll Rack
    1x Sensei’s Divining Top
    1x Sol Ring
    Planeswalker (2)
    1x Karn Liberated
    1x Tezzeret the Seeker
    Enchantment (1)
    1x Blood Moon
    Sorcery (19)
    1x Apocalypse
    1x Blasphemous Act
    1x Bribery
    1x Decree of Annihilation
    1x Devastation
    1x Devastation Tide
    1x Enter the Infinite
    1x Eternal Dominion
    1x Fabricate
    1x Jokulhaups
    1x Merchant Scroll
    1x Obliterate
    1x Personal Tutor
    1x Reforge the Soul
    1x Ruination
    1x Temporal Mastery
    1x Time Warp
    1x Timetwister
    1x Wheel of Fortune
    Creature (17)
    1x Artisan of Kozilek
    1x Avatar of Slaughter
    1x Blightsteel Colossus
    1x Consecrated Sphinx
    1x It That Betrays
    1x Jhoira’s Timebug
    1x Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
    1x Kederekt Leviathan
    1x Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
    1x Magus of the Moon
    1x Pathrazer of Ulamog
    1x Rift Elemental
    1x Simian Spirit Guide
    1x Sphinx Ambassador
    1x Stormtide Leviathan
    1x Trinket Mage
    1x Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
    Instant (12)
    1x Cunning Wish
    1x Dizzy Spell
    1x Evacuation
    1x Firemind’s Foresight
    1x Fury Charm
    1x Lightning Bolt
    1x Long-Term Plans
    1x Mana Drain
    1x Mystical Tutor
    1x Reiterate
    1x Reset
    1x Timecrafting
    Sideboard (10)
    1x Boil
    1x Capsize
    1x Chain of Vapor
    1x Chaos Warp
    1x Force of Will
    1x Hibernation
    1x Pongify
    1x Seething Song
    1x Sunder
    1x Volcanic Fallout

    Take a look, hopefully it will give you some ideas, the combo (which every good edh deck should have to win through locks, or infinite life) is a three card combo that is fetch-able by firemind’s foresight. Reset Reiterate Bolt.


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