Obviously this also left me an opportunity to talk about the now mostly-unbanned [card kokusho, the evening star]Kokusho[/card]. Again, there’s really not a lot to say. Kokusho didn’t need to be banned, but I definitely support not having it around as a Commander. Exiling Kokusho or a graveyard is the only real defense against Kokusho-looping, and if it’s a Commander, you can’t even do that!
With that in mind, then, I’m going to move on and talk about some more RTR cards that you should be ready to sleeve up when the set comes out. Again, I’ll only talk about officially spoiled cards (Editor’s note: At the time of publication, the full official spoiler had just gone up). You may have seen other cards on some mysterious website, but I won’t talk about those.
This one is obviously a big game in tournament Constructed formats, but what of Commander? What actually costs 3 or less? Sure it’s uncounterable, but don’t be fooled by the Standard and Modern hype—this one’s not ready for prime time in Commander.
Archon of the Triumvirate
This locks down not one, but two things when it attacks. Sure, it costs 7 mana and is only a 4/5, and sure, it doesn’t protect itself like a Frost Titan might—but this one provides you with a greater deal of control over the battlefield. Great for your Archon tribal deck also! (There are five others, but [card Krond the Dawn-Clad]Krond[/card] costs GGGWWW, sadly)
Can we even host this art on the website? Think of the children! Seriously, though, 10 trampling power for six mana is lovely, especially when we get a token we can populate. I love cards that represent a deadly threat all by themselves, and I love the ones that split that threat over multiple permanents even more because it’s harder to neutralize two 5/5s than it is to get rid of a 10/10.
Obviously this card is insane for token-based strategies. Cards like Fresh Meat, Martial Coup, and so on get much better when the creatures they make are larger. I don’t advocate anthems in Commander decks most of the time, but this one is so splashy and powerful that I don’t think we can ignore it.
This might be a good [card Ghave, Guru of Spores]Ghave[/card] card—after all, it synergizes rather well with Ghave itself, and it might also do well in a deck with cards like Gilder Bairn, Experiment Kraj, and other various Simic-type effects. Obviously if you’re throwing 5 +1/+1 counters on something with scavenge, it’s even better for 5 to be 10.
I won’t lie, UUR is a bit of an awkward cost. I’ve also never had a great experience with Swift Silence. However, the versatility that this card offers might make it more playable. I don’t think this will be much more than a Double Negative most of the time, so you might just want to play that. But if you’re having Maelstrom Wanderer problems, this could help you combat the cascading menace.
Do you need another Oblivion Ring?
Seriously, that’s about all this is in Commander. Unless you’ve got multiple opponents playing the same cards or you’re trying to shut down token strategies, this is probably not the card for you. Token strategies, due to the nature of the better token generators, often have two or three types of tokens on the battlefield at a time, so this might not even do what you need it to do.
Although this pemits regeneration, it’s still much more versatile than Terminate. You’ll need to blow up planeswalkers fairly often—even though I think planeswalkers are much worse in Commander than people think—as they become more prevalent and better than they used to be. The new Jace is going to be a target for this more often than not, and cards like Karn Liberated and Sarkhan Vol can cause problems you can’t always solve easily. Point removal isn’t always great in Commander, but you do need some (Yes, you do!) and this is not a bad way to handle making such cards less “dead” at various points in the game.
Now this is what I’m talking about—epic indeed! Boom! Genesis Wave for instants and sorceries will obviously make a splash in any deck with both red and blue. Riku of Two Reflections seems well-poised to take advantage of this spell in particular.
A quick rules interlude: Epic Experiment lets you play these spells for free. This is what we call an “alternate cost.” Other alternate costs include:
Now, when you pay alternate costs, you can only pay one alternate cost. You can’t pay more than one to get more than one crazy effect (if a spell somehow had both evoke and overload, say, you could only do one of them).
So, let’s pick a fantastic card for this example at random and not from a specific conversation on Facebook: Cyclonic Rift! Now, you might be asking, if I were to cast Epic Experiment for, say, 7, and hit Cyclonic Rift, would I be able to play Cyclonic Rift for its overload cost by paying 6U? Or even for free?
The answer is no! You would not be able to do this. Epic Experiment ONLY lets you cast the spell if you agree to play by its rules, i.e. by casting the spell fo’ free! So if it’s free, you can’t pay for it. You don’t pay for free. That’s just not how it works. And you definitely can’t overload for free.
This card is, as I said, really awesome—unless you hit another X spell, in which case it becomes a little less saucy. Counterspells also make it less exciting, but if you’re packing your deck with tons of those in Commander, you’re probably operating under an abnormal social contract.
Where the previous card was a huge hit, this one seems like a bit of a bust. You get three instants, sure, but costing 3, 2, and 1? Not a great result for Commander, methinks, nor for any other format. Not for a 7-mana investment, anyway. I could be wrong, and I’m sure we’ll find out in a few months; we all know hindsight is 20/20.
Have I mentioned how much I hate it when games drag on and on and on? Havoc Festival is my kind of party. Gain life? Nope. Lose life? Yes! Wound Reflection + Havoc Festival will certainly kill people… or get them to kill you. Heartless Hidetsugu and other such effects should also help increase the pressure on your Commander table if that’s something it needs.
I played a game that really dragged on the other day, where I would have LOVED to have this on the table. (Of course, those people don’t use the Commander damage rule, which I found out when I got there—but we’re working on that. If you want to play Magic in the Amherst area, come to Worlds Apart games and hang with me on Fridays!)
Pew pew! Sonic boom! Combo with Guile for, uh, something, probably. Anyway, casting sorceries at instant speed keeps things interesting, and getting a 4/4 hasty dragon in the bargain won’t make anyone sad. Well, okay, your opponents will be pretty sad. Epic Experiment at instant speed? Let’s make this happen, shall we? Need a turn? Time Warp at the end of someone else’s turn and sneak in out of the normal sequence. Obviously this has many of the same applications as Vedalken Orrery, but it comes with a 4/4 dragon! (Of course, only speeding up sorceries is a bit of a disadvantage, comparatively.)
Isperia, Supreme Judge
I’m not usually a fan of a card that relies on people beating you up, but this one is interesting. On the one hand, if people are beating the heck out of you, you’ll be drawing a lot of cards. On the other hand, people won’t want you to draw all of those cards, so it’s quite likely they’ll leave you alone. So you get a flying Craw Wurm for 6 mana. I’m not really sure how good this one is, to be honest, but it sounds okay. Not the best, certainly, but not the worst. Four toughness is a bit meager for my tastes, I’ll say.
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
What gets me on this guy is the phrase “each opponent.” Fire off that enormous Lord of Extinction at EVERYONE! Boom! And you can bring Jarad back, too—even if he’s not your Commander—at the cost of a Swamp and a Forest. If you can make your creatures bigger with something like scavenge you can really do a number on all of your opponents. Yes, all of them.
[card eladamri's call]Entombadamri’s Call[/card]? Don’t mind if I do! Okay, it’s not quite Entomb, since it’s only creature cards—but still, this is quite the deal for [card the mimeoplasm]Mimeoplasm[/card]s everywhere. Or [card kresh the blood braided]Kreshes[/card]. Or [card Karador, Ghost Chieftain]Karadors[/card]. Or whatever. Jarad’s Orders is extremely trill. Go get a [card kokusho, the evening star]Kokusho[/card] and a Lord of Extinction and wreak some serious havoc, or do some crazy [card mikaeus, the unhallowed]Mikaeus[/card] stuff.
The first ability might one day kill someone, but it’s the second one I’m interested in. All those Saprolings! Geez. I hate to keep bringing up Lord of Extinction and Kresh, but Lord of Extinction and Kresh! Okay, those guys are awesome and I clearly need to make a Kresh deck. I obviously have one on my mind that I just need to build.
Okay! I haven’t made it through everything, but by next week we should know all about Return to Ravnica, so I’ll be able to finish up in the next week or two. There are a LOT of cards to talk about! Man. Join me next time as I analyze the goofiest card art in Magic to date and how that art stacks up against the weird Tim Curry face on Mercurial Chemister.