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Is the Midnight Gond Combo in Magic the Gathering Still Good?

I’ll never forget when I first learned about the Midnight Guard and Presence of Gond combo in Magic the Gathering. It was actually while I was picking through the bulk boxes at my local game store. While I was hoarding Utopia Sprawl and other useful common and uncommon cards, one guy was hoarding Midnight Guard and Presence of Gond. He wanted to build several playsets of four copies each because he felt they were a good investment for Pauper. For the 10 cents a piece that commons sold for at that game store, it was a pretty good move on his part.

Midnight Guard was originally printed in the Dark Ascension set and would be reprinted in Magic 2015 and Battlebond. Presence of Gond was originally printed in Shadowmoor and would get a reprint in Commander 2013 and Masters 25. Midnight Guard’s effect in itself isn’t that exciting, as all it does is untap whenever another creature enters the battlefield. 

But, Presence of Gond is an enchantment that allows you to tap the enchanted creature to create a 1/1 Elf creature token. Because the Guard will untap when the Elf token enters play, you can create as many tokens as you like. On its own, you can create as many tokens as you like and overwhelm the board, so the Midnight Gond combo is a win condition all in itself.

In Pauper, a competitive format where you can only play Magic cards printed at the common rarity, there are plenty of cards to supplement this Midnight Guard and Presence of Gond combo. Check out this Midnight Gond combo deck that deck building legend Saffron Olive built back in August 2018.

Midnight Gond Combo

Creatures (23)

  • 4 Benevolent Bodyguard     
  • 4 Nettle Sentinel     
  • 4 Soul Warden     
  • 3 Soul’s Attendant     
  • 4 Thermo-Alchemist     
  • 4 Midnight Guard
  • Spells (10)
  • 4 Faithless Looting     
  • 4 Sprout Swarm     
  • 2 Prismatic Strands     

Enchantments (4)

  • 4 Presence of Gond     

Lands (23)

  • 4 Ash Barrens    
  • 3 Blossoming Sands    
  • 2 Boros Garrison    
  • 2 Crumbling Vestige    
  • 1 Forest    
  • 1 Khalni Garden    
  • 1 Mountain    
  • 2 Plains    
  • 1 Rugged Highlands    
  • 1 Selesnya Sanctuary    
  • 2 Survivors’ Encampment    
  • 3 Wind-Scarred Crag    

Sideboard (15)

  • 2 Electrickery     
  • 2 Pyroblast     
  • 1 Relic of Progenitus     
  • 2 Journey to Nowhere     
  • 2 Standard Bearer     
  • 1 Kor Sanctifiers     
  • 2 Oblivion Ring
  • 3 Spidersilk Armor     

Benevolent Bodyguard is a great card in this combo deck, as he allows you to protect your key creatures at the cost of his sacrifice. Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant let you take advantage of lots of creatures entering the battlefield by gaining lots of life over the course of the game. Nettle Sentinel is a cool card that combos well with another key card in this deck, Sprout Swarm. As if your Elf tokens weren’t enough, this two-mana Convoke spell allows you to make even more 1/1 creature tokens!

Thermo-Alchemist is a cool card that allows you to not only have a 3 toughness creature on board, but also allows you to “ping” opponents over the course of a game. Faithless Looting gives you the ability to dig for your combo creatures and is generally just one of the best draw spells in the game, especially Pauper. Prismatic Strands gives you another way to protect your combo.

Another Midnight Gond Pauper Combo Deck: Gond Life

Another good Midnight Gond combo deck that’s seen some competitive success is called Gond Life. It’s similar to the combo deck we just looked at, but it focuses more on life gain. 

The Gond Life deck incorporates Commune with the Gods to dig for your Presence of Gond or Midnight Guard and plays powerful token generation cards like Battle Screech, Cenn’s Enlistment, and Rally the Peasants in place of Sprout Swarm. It posted decent results in Pauper Challenges on Magic the Gathering Online and is definitely a deck list worth checking out.

Creatures (16)

  • 4 Benevolent Bodyguard
  • 4 Midnight Guard
  • 4 Soul Warden
  • 4 Soul’s Attendant

Spells (17)

  • 1 Cenn’s Enlistment
  • 4 Commune with the Gods
  • 3 Faithless Looting
  • 3 Prismatic Strands
  • 2 Rally the Peasants

Enchantments (4)

  • 4 Presence of Gond

Lands (23)

  • 3 Ash Barrens
  • 2 Blossoming Sands
  • 1 Boros Garrison
  • 2 Crumbling Vestige
  • 1 Evolving Wilds
  • 1 Forest
  • 2 Khalni Garden
  • 1 Mountain
  • 3 Plains
  • 2 Selesnya Sanctuary
  • 2 Survivors’ Encampment
  • 3 Wind-Scarred Crag

Sideboard

  • 2 Electrickery
  • 1 Flaring Pain
  • 1 Journey to Nowhere
  • 2 Last Breath
  • 2 Oblivion Ring
  • 2 Pyroblast
  • 3 Spidersilk Armor
  • 2 Standard Bearer

How Good is the Presence of Gond Combo in EDH?

Unsurprisingly, Presence of Gond does see a fair amount of play in EDH decks, although not at an extremely high rate. Elf decks with Commanders such as Rhys the Redeemed and Ezuri, Renegade Leader particularly like having Presence of Gond around as a way to produce a few extra Elf tokens over the course of a game. It also sees play in some token Commander decks such as Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice. It’s not a huge card in the format, though. 

Midnight Guard does sometimes see play alongside Presence of Gond in Rhys and Trostani decks. The Midnight Gond combo isn’t bad in EDH, so it does exist as a neat interaction within a number of Commander decks. But, because you’re playing with single copies in a 99 card deck, the combo is nowhere as reliable, so not as many people tend to include it in their EDH decks. That being said, I’ve always included it whenever possible; actually, the combo has won me games, despite not being a win condition you can count on in every game.

Is the Midnight Gond Combo Playable in Modern?

In a deck sometimes known as G/W Twin, the Midnight Gond combo is one Modern players have attempted to make a competitive budget deck in the format. If someone comes up with a good list, I’d definitely give it a look. But, the Midnight Gond combo is a bit slow and too easily disrupted in the high power Modern format. On the other hand, Pauper has enough protection to push it through and multiple strategies that can incorporate it.

The Midnight Gond combo is a pretty fun way to flood the board with tokens, although it’s not quite as “oops, I win” as Splinter Twin combo – although it’s pretty close in the Pauper format. Also, because the combo pieces have been reprinted a couple of times, it’s cheap to build and easy to acquire in foil.

Unfortunately by 2024, the Pauper format has come a long way and the Midnight Gond Combo is nowhere as competitive as it once was. That being said, thanks to the Magic Online exclusive Penny Dreadful format – in which cards worth 1/100 of a tix are legal – the combo is still alive and well in casual circles. Here’s a Green/White Twin Penny Dreadful deck list for your viewing pleasure, although if you look at more recent results, they aren’t so promising.

While the Midnight Guard and Presence of Gond combo hasn’t aged well, it’s not suddenly bad. The power creep among commons has necessitated Wizards of the Coast creating a panel to oversee the Pauper format, after all. If you get the combo off undisputed, you’re probably in good shape. Just remember a good top deck can wipe your entire board, so if you do pull off the combo, it’s best to be able to gain infinite life first. That way, winning is likely going to involve whoever runs out of cards in their deck first. 

All in all, Midnight Gond combo is probably only a fun alternate win condition in EDH in 2024. Still, when it works out well, it can be game-ending. If you can give those tokens haste somehow, it’s much better. Fortunately, if you just play Pauper for fun, these lists are still entirely legal as of this writing. As one of my all-time favorite Magic the Gathering combos, if you’re in the mood to make a ton of Elves and potentially gain infinite amounts of life, this is a great one to run out and play.

Have you ever played a deck with the Midnight Guard and Presence of Gond combo?

~ Amelia <3

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Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy. Personal Website: https://www.thephoenixdesertsong.com

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