Last updated on August 5, 2022

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim | Illustration by Joseph Meehan

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim | Illustration by Joseph Meehan

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim became the most popular commander in EDH nearly overnight before it was banned in September 2021. What was the Rules Committee thinking, and why was this powerful Commander banned?

Let’s dive right in and see why!

Is Golos Banned in EDH?

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is banned in Commander, meaning it can’t be your commander or included in your 99.

When Was Golos Banned?

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim was banned in a Rules Committee quarterly update post on September 13, 2021, roughly two years after its release in Core Set 2020.

Is Golos Banned in the 99?

Yes, Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is banned from being included in the 99 other cards in your EDH deck. Bans in the Commander format have included both as your commander and in the 99 since September 12, 2014.

Was Golos the Most Popular Commander?

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim had over 7,500 individual decklists floating around the internet in September 2021, becoming the most popular choice for a commander ever, almost overnight.

Reasons for Banning

Banishing Light - Illustration by Willian Murai

Banishing Light | Illustration by Willian Murai

Why was Golos banned? Well, the Rules Committee offered a few reasons in their official post, and founding member Sheldon Menery shared insight in his blog post to Star City Games.

Crushes Diversity

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim’s mere presence in the format is its largest problem. Golos promotes a lack of diversity. It was just “the best” in any 5-color Commander deck.

Why play Cromat or Kenrith, the Returned King when Golos can perform either duty much better? Golos quickly pushed niche decks and quirky commanders to the wayside, resulting in a homogenization of the format as a whole.

The Rules Committee wants Commander to be about weird brews like Ladies Looking Left tribal, Dune-themed worm decks, etc. These other fun decks get shut out from the format with Golos stomping around, unable to compete with the three free spells Golos pumps out for just seven mana.

Better Choice

Still worse, Golos was the best choice for most decks. Almost any deck instantly became stronger by splashing in a few 5-color lands. Golos’s access to both ramp and free spells synergizes with everything from tribal decks to a typical Ghave, Guru of Spores-style combo deck.

You can include the best spells from every color with access to all five. The tradeoff for this is usually that your commander has a prohibitive casting cost, and your mana base is difficult to wrangle. Golos circumvents both of these problems by casting for colorless mana and fixing your mana base by grabbing any land, not just a basic land.

Easy to Cast

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim was incredibly easy to cast since its mana cost is all colorless. Especially in any of the decks that splash into for access to Golos.

Ramping when this commander enters the battlefield effectively reduces the commander tax to one. So countering and removing it won’t stop your opponent immediately. Golos basically had no downside in the format.

Free Spells

Any mechanic that gives you free spells of any kind is generally approached with caution by the Rules Committee. Not to mention that Golos, Tireless Pilgrim’s ability is repeatable, sometimes even more than once per turn.

Golos had the potential to end games as soon as it hit the field. You’re usually only one land drop away from activating its ability and generating a staggering amount of advantage that can easily win you the game when it arrives.

Player Reactions

Cry of Contrition - Illustration by Daren Bader

Cry of Contrition | Illustration by Daren Bader

Players had mixed reactions to Golos’s ban. Two main camps formed: the first filled with players who supported the ban, and a second filled with those frustrated by the ban.

Criticisms focused on the removal of the “Banned as Commander” list. EDH’s banlist originally had a separate category for cards that could be played in the 99 but not as your commander. Cards like Braids, Cabal Minion and Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary were too strong for players to have constant access to so they were banned as commanders only and could still be included in your 99.

But the Rules Committee has decided that two separate banlists is too confusing for players and just outright bans cards. A lot of players believed that Golos, Tireless Pilgrim should be banned as a commander but still playable in the 99.

Will They Ever Unban Golos?

The Rules Committee rarely unbans cards. That said, they did unban Worldfire in the same post where they banned Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. The format has changed significantly since its inception, and the RC believes that the investment to make Worldfire work is now appropriate for Commander. Maybe we’ll see Golos unbanned when the format catches up to that kind of speed and power.

Or maybe we’ll see a return to the two separate banlists: Banned as Commander vs. Banned in Commander. Critics have argued that Golos, Tireless Pilgrim could be balanced in the 99 but repeated access to it in the command zone is much too powerful.

Best Alternative 5-Color Commanders

Golos let you cast spells for free, but that ability isn’t unique among 5-color legends. Codie, Vociferous Codex cascades into a free instant or sorcery, and Sisay, Weatherlight Captain can tutor legendary permanents to the field.

Other cards offer outlets for the mana in your 5-color deck. Cards like Cromat, Kenrith, the Returned King, and Kyodai, Soul of Kamigawa are great mana dumps with abilities you can activate multiple times per turn.

And there’s no shortage of tribal commanders either. The Ur-Dragon, Scion of the Ur-Dragon, and Tiamat fill that role for dragon decks, and the slivers have Sliver Queen, Sliver Overlord, The First Sliver, Sliver Legion, and Sliver Hivelord.

You also have Najeela, the Blade-Blossom for warriors, Horde of Notions for elementals, and Karona, False God or Morophon, the Boundless for everything else.

Commanding Conclusion

Kenrith, the Returned King - Illustration by Kieran Yanner

Kenrith, the Returned King | Illustration by Kieran Yanner

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim isn’t the first legendary creature to be banned for being too strong, that honor goes to Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary, and it certainly won’t be the last. If there’s one thing Wizards Coast lacks it’s foresight, specifically on how new cards will affect formats.

Remember Oko, Thief of Crowns and what that did to every format it was legal in? Or Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer? Or Skullclamp? The point is, WotC won’t always get the card design right, and bans and restrictions are a healthy part of maintaining any competitive game.

What do you think? Was Golos, Tireless Pilgrim unfairly banned? Or should it just be “banned as commander”? Should we even take the Rules Committee’s decrees so seriously? Let me know what you think in the comments below or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.

Thanks, and happy brewing!

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1 Comment

  • Avatar
    Bei August 5, 2022 7:46 am

    That ban actually made me doubt the RC for the very first time. I think that the basic assumption the RC is working on is not stringent or logic enough for the impact their decision have on the format. Even if there’s always the option for houserules, players tend to take whatever framework they can find. That ban showed, that the framework is built largely on taste and lines drawn along deliberate and changing principles. Why regulate a card that aims a mid-tier decks at best, fully knowing that there are so many stronger and “less-fun” commanders? A banlist that allows any sort of degenerate two card combos (Thoracle only being one example) and high power ramp/counterspells but shuts off mid-tier commanders makes no sense to me. Neither is the commander tax reason a valid argument: there are commanders that do not only reduce the tax, but dodge it completely. There are even commanders that dodge the casting cost altogether! Taking Golos’ reduction as a reason for a ban seems totally out of touch with reality.
    The fully colorless casting cost is bad design, I’ll give you that, and making him real 5c would make him a more interesting card. But again, if that warrants a ban, there some hundred cards already lined up waiting for the axe that’s not about to come.
    And lastly, anybody able to understand the principle of a stack will surely be able to understand that there are two banlists… come on! On that issue, I’ve read a comment from the RC that introducing a second banlist for commanders only would lead to a bigger banlist in the end. But why? That would mean that there are cards out there that are all ban worthy and should be banned but aren’t because of… what exactly?
    In conclusion, I totally fail to see the beauty or logic behind bans aiming a mid-tier stuff.

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