Hello again! I’m back with more Commander-related stories. For those of you who live under the same rock I do, as I don’t usually pay attention to Reddit, I did an AMA on /r/MagicTCG. You can find it here. It’s over, but maybe you’ll learn something fun or funny. Anyway, even though my laptop decided to eat my notes for part 2 of this article series, I’m continuing it—because honestly, I remember a lot of the cards, and what I don’t remember I’ll just replace with cool different stuff. Let’s jump right in!
Keeper of the Dead
Commander decks love to play out of the graveyard. The graveyard is like a second, more awesome hand for us. If this describes one of your decks, why not try Keeper of the Dead? It’s repeatable removal for those of us who keep lots of creatures in our graveyards. A shame it only hits black creatures, but for two mana, this is a decent bargain. Decks featuring our favorite [card The Mimeoplasm]dinosaur-armed freak[/card] will obviously make good use of this one.
Ritual of the Machine
More black Control Magic effects for a [card xiahou dun, the one eyed]Xiahuo Dun[/card], Korlash, or similar mono-black deck? Don’t mind if I do! It’s got the old Terror-style restriction on it, but again, that’s not the worst thing in the world. It’s kind of like a black Switcheroo, except the creature you lose goes to your graveyard instead of your opponent. Plus, you get to sing “Welcome To The Machine” by Pink Floyd while you cast it.
Okay, maybe that’s awful, but the card is sweet.
With power greater than the number of cards in their hand? That’s cute. Not only is it cute, it hoses those big dumb decks that just slam lots of huge creatures into play. This card seems like a reactionary metagame card rather than a card you take to random games, but if there’s someone (or more than likely, more than one person) in your local group that is ramping too hard, this might be a useful weapon.
This card has always been a Type 4 all-star! The ability is a little bit mana-intensive, but cards like Cabal Coffers, Primeval Titan, or any of the famed (and hated) mana-doublers like Mana Reflection or Caged Sun could easily turn this card into a killing machine. Repeatable removal is never a bad idea, and this one does good work. As usual, we can’t kill black creatures with it, but really, what does? Nothing. It’s frustrating, honestly.
At first blush, this card looks like Greater Good‘s idiot brother. However, I feel like this fits into graveyard decks reasonably well. If you’ve got cards in hand you want to dump, this is a great way to do it, and you’re not losing too many in the process. Obviously, Enchantress-type effects make this card stronger and turn it into a big lootfest. (See also: Azorius Aethermage.) I’ve seen an enchantment-based [card treva, the renewer]Treva[/card] or Angus Mackenzie deck abuse this before with cards like Replenish, but that often turns an otherwise fun game of Commander into a bit of a self-indulgent affair, so I’d recommend shying away from that strategy.
I’m a fan of Propaganda effects in control decks. This one has the dubious distinction of being a world enchantment and requiring you to tap a creature you control during your upkeep, but quite honestly, being able to protect yourself from a token trouncing in a black deck could be worth it. An Esper deck could use it to load up on more Propaganda effects, but that might be overkill. It’s hard to say until you try it out!
I’m not sure if this one is good enough, but I’ve seen Eight-And-A-Half-Tails do stuff before, so this might work out. I’m not too concerned about some 2/5 or giving that 2/5 shroud, but I do care about giving other creatures I control protection from the color of my choice. A repeatable (I love repeatable effects) way to protect my creatures from removal or make combat math untenable for my opponents is always attractive to me, and this is no exception.
Tornado is awesome because it gets not one, but two kinds of counters. They’re both bad counters, so cards like Aether Snap that remove counters go great with it. (Just don’t try to do this in your Skullbriar deck.) Tornado might cost you a few life, but like I said, combo it with something like Chisei, Heart of Oceans and go on a permanent-destroying spree in green! The first hit is even free. (Well, life-free.)
You’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve thought about playing this card, but I never seem to remember to do it, and I never see it in play! This is like Willow Satyr last time, only without the weird restrictions and, conveniently, with two more power. There are plenty of other legendary creatures you can steal—including Eldrazi (think big, people!) and some utility guys—besides commanders, so I think we can safely say calling on the Empress is a good idea.
This is one that I think could do some damage in a Kresh the Bloodbraided deck. Throw a fat creature into play from your hand and pull one back from the graveyard. Then at least one of them will die, growing your Kresh, and you get to Raise Dead the one from your graveyard to cast and presumably have it die again! Sacrifice either or both of them to a Greater Good or something similar (Altar of Dementia or any other Altar) and you’ll get some good value out of this spell.
Cheating expensive things into play is one of the main attractions in Commander. There are lots of big, splashy artifacts you can blast out with the Gnomes, and their cost isn’t prohibitive. Sure, it’s no Tinker, but in an artifact-heavy deck, you can throw a Blightsteel Colossus or similar into play at discount prices. Bonus points for playing it in a Gnome-themed deck with Bottle Gnomes, Ersatz Gnomes, Clockwork Gnomes, Metrognome, Patchwork Gnomes, Ticking Gnomes, and the oft-forgotten Quarum Trench Gnomes. Gno mercy! (I have a friend who argues that Ersatz Gnomes shouldn’t have the creature type “gnome” at all. It’s an amusing semantic discussion.)
Song of Serenity
Talk about hate. Dear [card zur the enchanter]Zur[/card]: I hate you. Dear [card uril, the miststalker]Uril[/card]: I hate you. This isn’t a card for everyday play, or even for every group, but any toolboxy deck that can search this up will be happy to have it in the right context. You can also enchant your opponents’ creatures with auras and have those auras also be Pacifisms! If your group allows a wishboard or uses the optional sideboarding rule, this could just save you from a Zur-related death.
It might only be a minor frustration, but anything we can do to shut down that one [card azusa, lost but seeking]Azusa[/card] player at the table helps. I’m a bit dismayed that Azusa is getting an oversize printing in the new Commander’s Arsenal product. In my opinion, Azusa decks are among the least fun decks in the current landscape. Will they end up sacrificing a Forest? Probably. This still slows them down, and again, I can’t complain about that. Plus, who doesn’t love counting all their permanents all the time?
White and black aren’t shy on enters-the-battlefield effects, and Escape Routes is a great way to re-buy on those effects. Cards like Restoration Angel, Nekrataal, Stoneforge Mystic, Faceless Butcher, and so on can be easily reset with this lovely little Planeshift common. You’ll notice, once again, that this is a repeatable effect, so you’ll be bouncing your creatures to your heart’s content. Plus, you can freak out and shout about your creature running for the hills whenever you activate it. Sweet!
Do you hate your friends?
Let me rephrase. Do you hate your friends’ 5-color decks with all those stupid dual lands? Is Price of Progress too much of a one-shot effect for you? Slam Primal Order on the table and watch your opponents… well, you’ll probably watch them destroy Primal Order, but at least they’re using their time on that, right? Plus, if they don’t, they get blasted for tons of damage. Boom! Get ‘em.
Who likes X-spells? Magmaquake? Earthquake? Fault Line? The X-spells that deal damage to lots of creatures shine when paired with Repercussion. Now, if you’ve got creatures, you’ll take a hit too, but anyone packing lots of tokens or blasting off a huge Genesis Wave will be sorry if you live long enough to quake their creatures—and them—to death. My friend Tim used to play this card in a deck with Cave-In and other such effects from that period in Magic, so I know just how terrifying it can really be.
Okay, that’s my deal for the week! Join me next time as I turn my article in on time!