Hey folks! I’m back with some more exciting Commander news for you. We’re well into Return to Ravnica spoiler season, and people are getting excited about cards for Standard, Modern, Legacy, Vintage, Cube, Limited—the list goes on and on. What I want, though, is to talk about some of the new cards and their viability in Commander. (No, I don’t have a preview card. Maybe next time. Hint hint Wizards?) Keep in mind that this is only part 1 of the article; I’ll get part 2 out when the whole set is spoiled.
So why start doing this now? Well, I’m very interested in talking about these cards now, because the closer it gets to release day, the harder it will become to preorder some of these, so I want to give you folks (and really, me) a chance to make decisions about these cards quickly. Prices will fluctuate wildly, but I’m not in that business, so don’t expect financial advice here.
I will also only be talking about officially spoiled cards out of respect for Wizards of the Coast. Don’t expect me to reply to questions about cards that aren’t officially spoiled yet for that same reason.
This card is awesome. Let me share with you, in brief, a conversation I had about this card with Andy Cooperfauss, our Cube writer and editor:
ANDY: I think the Angel is good in Cube.
ME: Angel of Mega Fiend Hunter? Seems fine.
ANDY: Yeah. Well, it’s like a Duplicant that gets value when it dies, so you can play a threat that refills you if they kill it.
ME: Holy [friendly word].
See, I didn’t even finish reading the card initially. You can exile creatures, sure, but you can also hate on their graveyard or reload when your Angel dies. This card is, as we say, very real. The first thing we think when we see an Angel is, of course, [card kaalia of the vast]Kaalia[/card], but I think this card is reasonable in any Commander deck that plays white and wants to go big. Bring back your dead guys, get theirs out of the way—this card works hard.
This one is just in here for those of you who love Mistmeadow Witch, Momentary Blink, Ghostly Flicker, and so on. Shutting down two creatures for a whole turn cycle can help you stay alive, but politically, it can also make you help some very good friends at your table. This card can lock down two Primeval Titans at once! Certainly not incredibly powerful, but potentially fun and impactful.
For those of y’all who have [card Kangee, Aerie Keeper]Kangee[/card] decks… wait, no, that’s just me.
I call this card “Der Dieb,” because we are declaring Martian Law!
Beyond being a sweet Sealab reference (and I sure do need to get one of these altered) I don’t know that it’s that great. It avoids some of the annoyance of blinking the Justiciar, but for only half of the effect. I can’t see this being terribly impactful in multiplayer, so I’d probably shy away from this one.
I think people are going to be frustrated by this card quickly. Hooray, seven mana to bounce every nonland permanent I don’t control! At first, I assumed this was a sorcery, because this couldn’t be this close to Disperse while still having this overload effect—but no, it’s an instant, so some end of turn blowouts are definitely possible with this card. I love that the Izzet effect is “modified radiate” for two reasons:
1. It doesn’t hit your stuff, which is really nice, and
2. It doesn’t create a trillion copies of the spell, which means it’s not as much of a mess during gameplay.
Here’s a spicy one, no mistake. The +1 ability allows you to defend yourself against everyone at the table, which is good because everyone really likes to attack people named Jace or people who are friends with people named Jace. Generally I find that people have bad threat assessment abilities when it comes to planeswalkers in Commander. Usually, people worry about them way too much, but once in a while, people figure this out and overcompensate, leaving them alone and getting eaten by incremental advantage. They’re generally not as good in Commander as they are in 1v1 games.
Mini-Fact or Fiction is okay, especially if you pick someone at the table who wants to help you out, but the ultimate really shines with this guy. This Jace is Doubling Season-Compliant, meaning that if you play him with Doubling Season on the battlefield, you can blast his ultimate out right away and cast a pile of spells for free. Your opponents’ best spells. YOUR best spell. I can’t begin to explain to you how incredible this is.
If you’re building some kind of Mean Girls themed deck or something, this new-art reprint is for you, but otherwise it’s just a crappy Dissipate most of the time. I only mention it because of the hilarious art.
If you’re on some sort of Ghave-based tokens deck (and Ghave users: for the love of everything, please take your Ashnod’s Altar out—no one is having any fun at most tables when you do that), then you might want to consider this fine lady. She’ll pump up the jam when you attack, and the effect is even better than it looks at first glance, being multiplicative and all. I don’t usually advocate anthems in token-based Commander decks, but this card combines well with them.
If you like discarding cards and you want to do something with that, this could help you, but I’m not holding my breath. I guess you could throw it in your Marrow-Gnawer deck with Relentless Rats, Pestilence Rats, Lab Rats, and other Rat-related permanents, but unless you’re seriously Rat tribal, this doesn’t seem like a big winner to me.
The upside is you get to choose when you draw your card and lose your life. The downside is you attach it to a land, meaning the effect essentially costs one mana as well, and you can get seriously two-for-one’d.
Mayael the Anima seems pretty excited about this, as does any red commander who likes big fat creatures. It’s not really something you can use to collude with another player at the table—the part where the creatures fight each other doesn’t really help you out with that. It does fill up the graveyard, and I feel like [card kresh, the blood braided]Kresh[/card] could certainly use this to grow himself.
The overload on this card generates an okay sweeper, but not one I’d bet my life on. 4 isn’t a lot of damage to creatures in a format like Commander. This is definitely more of a Standard card, and a very good one at that.
This one I can get behind! You can actually blow away all of the non-flying creatures you don’t control with sufficient mana. It’s not quite a [card bonfire of the damned]Bonfire[/card]-level blowout, but I think that anything that leaves your creatures alive and kills theirs is a good start. It’s no Plague Wind, but we can’t all play black, can we? Plus, it plays much better with Repercussion, a card I’ve talked about in the past.
This is an efficient creature that makes another one even larger. Have I mentioned how interesting scavenge creatures are with Experiment Kraj yet? I haven’t? Well, they’re very exciting, if I do say so myself. Kresh and anyone else interested in +1/+1 counters should also apply.
Speaking of Kresh, this card seems like a natural fit in a deck like that. When you’re sacrificing creatures to effects like Greater Good, you want the payoff for that to be as high as possible. This card lets you get even more +1/+1 counters! How terribly exciting! And you can put them on your Forgotten Ancient and redistribute them later, instead of having to worry about wanting to split them but not being able to. Mr. Babycakes is good like that.
Another card I can see being good in token decks, this one will need a power (and likely toughness) boost before it becomes useful. If you can get it up to a 3/3 or 4/4, you can really overrun your opponent. Now, before there’s an overwhelming stampede for this card, it is still a 1/1 for 3, so try to curb your predatory rampage for the time being.
This guy’s no reanimation target, at least not at sorcery speed, but if you’re prepared to use Sneak Attack or a similar method (Killer Instinct + Top or Worldly Tutor? Impromptu Raid + Garruk’s Horde?) to get it into play on the cheap and sacrifice it, you can get 15 power of trampling value quite easily.
Okay, that’s all for today. Next time I’ll talk about the rest of the spoiler. Thanks for reading as usual. Join me next week when I discuss the power of planeswalking and how it can help you lose weight and stay in shape this winter!