This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Commander With A Comedian

378127_10150441621792624_1477312954_n“F^%&, S#!*, dammit!” I roared into thin air before letting myself fall face first into my desk in defeat.

“Having some troubles?” a voice called from the doorway to my office. I looked up in time to see Vexing Devil walk in and seat himself in the worn lounge chair across from my desk.

“That chair is for clients,” I said as I returned to staring at the top of my desk for answers. I was making like it was the world’s flattest crystal ball. “And you can’t be a client, because we have a strict ‘No pants, no service’ policy in the Up! Your! Deck! offices.”

“Oh, you appear to have your hands full with your current client. I don’t think you’d be able to handle another case on top of it,” Vexing sarcastically stated.

I responded by growling at him. In my head it made me sound cool and threatening, but in reality it probably just made me sound like I had a throat infection.

“So who is the client that’s so difficult?” he asked.

I didn’t even look up, I just slid a card across the desk to him. He picked it up and looked at the picture, a depiction of a curious little goblin with a torch reaching out to touch an eldrazi hedron in an underground ruin.

“Tuktuk?”

"Oooh, pretty rock..." Tuktuk's last words.

“Oooh, pretty rock…” Tuktuk’s last words. Sort of.

I have a somewhat unhealthy appreciation for Tuktuk the Explorer. But I mean, what’s not to like? He’s red, which is my favourite colour. He has haste, which is my favourite keyword. He’s a goblin, which is among my favourite tribes, and he gives you value when he dies, which is like blue meth for magic players. Plus, he is just so endearingly stupid and doomed to die because of it. He is like the Wile. E. Coyote of goblins.

Unfortunately my meta makes pet cards a luxury you can ill afford, so if you’re playing a card it had better be worth its slot. And Tuktuk’s golem token, while intensely cool, is somewhat underwhelming in a standard EDH game.

Underwhelming in terms of stats only, because just look at this BAMF!

Underwhelming in terms of stats only, because just look at this BAMF!

Alas, I could not resist the siren song of Tuktuk. I needed to find a deck where I could play him. And not just where I could play him, but where he would be an indispensable addition to the deck’s repertoire. I needed a deck where I could draw Tuktuk off the top and go, “Man, am I happy to see your endearing little goblin face.”

Mostly, I just needed to kill someone with one of my favourite little goblins.

First Attempt: The Tuktuk deck

As Cat Stevens informed us so eloquently, “the first cut is deepest”. My first attempt at a Tuktuk deck did the obvious and put the adorable little goblin at the helm.

Go ahead and take a guess at how that ended.

The first heartbreak was the realization that I couldn’t send Tuktuk to the command zone and trigger his ability at the same time, so my little goblin had to stay perma-dead if I wanted to upgrade to my sexy golem. My sadness was so great and large it could be seen from orbit.

Squint just right, and you will  see my sadness just above South America.

Squint just right, and you will see my sadness right around the north pole.

But I could work around that. I just packed my deck full of graveyard hate. Scrabbling Claws and Relic of Progenitus meant that I could get my goblin and kill him too. I could also turn them into cantrips in a pinch, plus my deck was now Karador kryptonite. Things were looking up!

Turns out I was only looking up because I was about to fall flat on my @$$. Since Tuktuk isn’t Derevi, his cost would go up every time I made a golem. After just one trigger I would be paying five mana for a vanilla 5/5 beater. That just wasn’t going to work. It was clear that Tuktuk wasn’t meant to be the leader of a mighty, graveyard hating army.

Second Attempt: The Wort Problem

My next attempt to turn Tuktuk from pet card to powerhouse was in a Wort, the Raidmother goblin tribal deck. Since the golem token generated by Tuktuk is also a goblin, I figured that both of his modes could reap the powerful tribal benefits. This one was a sure thing!

Alas, Tuktuk remained just a vanilla beater, albeit an on-theme one. In a deck that would often prefer to have five 1/1 creatures to a single 5/5, Tuktuk fell behind.

I was beginning to think that they had written out Tuktuk's creature type wrong...

I was beginning to think that they had written out Tuktuk’s creature type wrong…

It was around this point that I had begun to lose faith in the idea of pet cards in general. I figured that my meta was too competitive for me to play subpar cards just because they made me smile. Even more than that though, I didn’t want a card I loved so much to be subpar in the deck I played it in. If I was going to have such a personal investment in a card, I wanted it to rock when I played it. I wanted to smile every time I top decked it. If all I was going to feel when I played Tuktuk was disappointment, then I didn’t want to play him and risk of losing my fondness for the critter.

But just then, at the very moment of my crisis of faith, the heavens parted. And God answered my plea.

Well, a god at least.

Well, a god at least.

Final Attempt: Purphoros, God of F^&* YEAH!

When I was sitting down to build my shotgun Purphoros deck, I had no thoughts of Tuktuk in my mind. After a few games and testing to see what worked with him, I realized that the double triggers I got off of Thunderblust or Furystoke Giant were a huge boon. My opponents were way more reticent to kill them than I had ever expected – knowing that my creature would re-enter the battlefield and deal damage was just too much value for anyone to willingly give me. And in a pinch, they could serve twice as sacrifice fodder to my Goblin Bombardment or Spawning Pit.

At this same time, I was looking for ways to increase the damage and value of single tokens. I already had a pump effect on Purphoros (so many people get killed when they forget about that part) so I didn’t need to worry about boosting a large army, I just wanted a way to increase the value of one tiny 1/1 elemental. I decided that an equipment package of the various swords would fill this role nicely, and their triggers could give some more consistency to the deck.

This is how I ended up looking at adding in Hound of Griselbrand, Pyreheart Wolf… and Tuktuk.

And you know what? Tuktuk is the best of the three. He is a surprise haste-y body to carry a sword into my opponent’s face. And my opponents never trade with him or try to kill him, because they know that if they do there will be a 5/5 carrying the sword next turn… Plus two damage. For some reason, the knowledge that I get a bigger token and a second trigger short circuits the part of my opponent’s brains that measures value, and they just decide that they do not want Tuktuk to die. I get away with attacks with him that no one would ever let through if he was any other card. It’s glorious.

Tuktuk triumphant! You had better pick these bad boys up before their price skyrockets!

Tuktuk triumphant! You had better pick these bad boys up before their price skyrockets!

And so I have found Tuktuk a home; one where he is an essential ingredient in my recipe to smash my opponent’s gnads into their throat. Turns out that even in Ottawa, you can still get away with having a tiny and endearingly stupid goblin as a pet card, as long as you have the right deck to back him up. At the very least, I can always count on having the element of surprise on my side.

‘Cause really, who plays Tuktuk?

This guy! If you haven’t heard enough from me, you can hear me arguing with Nole Clauson over at Rivals’ Duel. Or you can leave a comment below, write to me at EricBonvie@gmail.com, or follow me on twitter @ThatBonvieGuy.

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