Hey folks! Welcome back. It’s hard to find time to play Commander during school—too much table tennis… I mean, homework… but I’ve still got a lot to say! In this case, I want to finish up my previous series so that you can get an idea of what Return to Ravnica cards are good in Commander (or at least, what cards I think are good!) As I say so often, let’s get to it! Note that I might or might not cover cards I talked about in my article last week on my Trostani deck.
This is kind of like a really crazy Veteran Bodyguard. I don’t feel particularly good about this one. Do you find that, in a single combat, your opponent deals to you and your permanents 6 damage or less? I certainly don’t see that happen very often when I play.
This is the bad kind of anthem! The kind that doesn’t pump all your creatures and doesn’t give them +3/+3! Harumph.
Rest in Peace
HAUMPH. See, one letter different from “Harumph” and it’s just so much better. Eat all the graveyards! No more shenanigans! Take that, [card xiahou dun, the one-eyed]Xiahou Dun[/card]! I hate to harp on Xiahou Dun, because… well, actually, I can’t freakin’ stand that card in Commander, so (series of expletives) Xiahou Dun!
I’m just pointing this card out so that we can all understand each other.
This card is not good.
This card is not good in the following formats:
-Magic in a two-person horse costume
Is not good.
Pendrell Flux wasn’t good. This isn’t good.
Sphere of Safety
I love me some good Ghostly Prison/Propaganda-type effects, and this one is pretty hot in combination with them. Why block when it’s simply so expensive to attack you? White has the easiest time blowing up [card gauntlet of power]Gauntlets[/card], Caged Suns, Mana Reflections, and so on, so it should be easy to keep your opponents locked out of attacking you.
Unless you’re populating, there has to be a better judgment out there for you. Iona’s Judgment is a sorcery but is at least more versatile, for example. Radiant’s Judgment? Day of Judgment? Um… Dominaria’s Judgment? What does that even do? I guess this well is not terribly deep.
Most decks see this as probably crap. But [card zedruu the greathearted]Zedruu[/card], he sees CASH FOR GOLD! Here, have this cash, and I’ll take your good thing. You don’t want the cash? Well, you’re not going to take one of my things, because you still have a thing of mine, meaning I still draw and gain life. And if you want something of someone else’s, then my currency stays out there and chaos ensues, which Zedruu loves. (That’s the red part of Zedruu!)
Okay, maybe this is unrealistic, but at least it’s hilarious. I mean, imagine it. Really imagine it.
Now imagine when your opponent’s [card kozilek, butcher of truth]Kozilek[/card] or [card ulamog, the infinite gyre]Ulamog[/card] flips up and shuffles all that business in. So much work for nothing!
If you’re really into your Szadek, Lord of Secrets deck, this might be for you.
It hits any creature, sure. It’s a 2-for-1, sure. But even for what it does, I feel it’s pretty inefficient. This is not the kind of card I want to be casting.
What the heck is this? I feel like someone just made a big ridiculous demon that’s awful in Commander. What’s that? There are plenty of those? The drawback is just too intense in multiplayer? Yep, throw it back.
RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE
Want to feel like Zeus? This is the ticket. Or card, I guess. Wrath the board and it’s all yours! It That Betrays be damned, this is the new hotness. It all comes back as Zombies, too, which doesn’t hurt. Toss this in any black deck that likes to clear things out and you’ll be pleasantly unsurprised.
The fewer conditions on removal in this format, the better, and when we can Murder something for just a little bit more, we should probably pay the extra B. It’s not really that much to ask in a format where games go long.
Hatin’! I love hatin’ in Commander, and Ash Zealot is a card I’ll be happy to play. Lots of spells get played out of the graveyard—it’s practically a second hand for lots of players—and with this, they get blasted for doing what they love so much. Just be careful, as the effect hits you as well!
If you’re in the market for a big, dumb 7/6, this could be a great option. Flying and trample let you get through for some big damage. Plus, it probably won’t cost very much money seeing as it’s pretty unremarkable outside Limited. A nice budget beatstick option.
This one basically just says, “2R: Each creature you control gets +2/+0 until end of turn.” That being said, if you’re rocking [card ulasht, the hate seed]Ulasht[/card], [card rith, the awakener]Rith[/card], or even Hazezon Tamar, it’s probably a desirable effect. A quick alpha strike with some tokens can do some damage, but with Dynacharge in your hand, you can win the game out of nowhere.
Mono-red or R/U decks are likely to benefit from this effect. The only problem is that it focuses the whole table’s anger on you, as you are blasting everyone every time you cast an instant or sorcery, which hopefully is happening a lot. Combine with cards like Past in Flames and Yawgmoth’s Will for most hilarious results. I’m sure I can brew up something horrifying and hilarious involving Mind’s Desire, Epic Experiment, Past in Flames, a pile of mana, and this fine fellow.
The only sad part about this one is that it’s mono-colored. My friends with goofy mono-multicolored decks (parse that phrase!) will be unhappy that they can’t play this one, but if you’re not committed to only playing gold cards, you might be able to shoehorn this in. Five mana is kind of a lot for this effect, though.
Oh man. [card karrthus, tyrant of jund]Karrthus[/card] and Scion of the Ur-Dragon are both pretty excited, as is any red commander with a desire to cast big Dragons. It doesn’t have haste or trample, which is a little bit of a shame, but once you attack one time, the Dragons begin to multiply! Any token deck that uses red is likely to want this as well.
If you’re not rolling the way some of us do with our big fancy dual lands, this guy can do a passable fetchland imitation. Go get yourself a dual land and treat yourself right! We only have five gates so far, but I’m sure that cycle will carry over to Gatecrash (the name sort of suggests it) so you’ll be able to do what you need to in a few months if you can’t already.
Is it bad that I’d rather play Iceberg?
It would be nice to have access to Maze of Ith, Alchemist’s Refuge, Winding Canyons, and so on every turn, wouldn’t it? Well, this helps you do that. Sadly, it doesn’t do anything else, and it’s so narrow I can’t really recommend it. Just play Seedborn Muse.
The Charm cycle is exciting because the cards are so versatile. If you’re putting something on top of someone’s library, you should probably have some way of dealing with it afterwards, like shuffling their library or milling them. The lifelink mode is fine, and the card draw is, well, just a cycle. Not great, not terrible.
Sure it costs a lot, but countering someone’s Titan and blasting them for 6 seems like it might be worthwhile. This one’s worth a shot.
BOOM! And then you can… uh… well, there’s probably something cool you can do with this guy. I used to have a deck that had one purpose only: summon The Unspeakable. It was truly horrible even in 60-card casual. I don’t expect it to be any good in Commander, but it’s just too hilarious to pass up!
Of course we need more power! We ALWAYS need more power! As a proud member of the Izzet League, I support this card and all decks you can shoehorn it into. Why spend 1UUU for Cryptic Command when you can spend UUU? Okay, maybe it’s not the best, but it’s fun.
This is probably the best of the Charms. Counter an enormous Genesis Wave? Do a little Faithless Looting? Uh… shock a dude? Okay, that mode isn’t super-impressive, but the others are reasonable. Give it a shot!
This will put a real hurt on token decks if you see a lot of those. Saprolings, Soldiers, Humans, and Homarids (okay, [card Homarid Spawning Bed]Camarids[/card]) alike will have to look out for the Staticaster. And he’s got flash, so you can respond to Collective Blessing, Overwhelming Stampede, or whatever other terrifying effect [card Trostani's Judgment]Trostani[/card]/Rhys the Redeemed/[card Ghave, Guru of Spores]Ghave[/card] is playing today.
Aside from being bonkers in Standard, this fellow should make an impact in Commander as well. The second ability is a great way to get creatures into the graveyard to reanimate, and as a bonus, it makes this guy a big beater! Plus, it regenerates, which is always a great bonus.
This one seems like a lot of fun. Being able to draw two cards as an activated ability will make the Chemister a huge target for removal spells, but if you can activate him, you’ll be well ahead. The second ability is a great way to blast big creatures or get some good value out of a Stuffy Doll.
New Prahv Guildmage
I’m most interested in the second ability, despite it being a five-mana investment. Once you get things going, you can start detaining multiple nonland permanents (this one hits more than creatures!) and vexing opponents with big creatures or cool artifacts.
The big man himself, Niv-Mizzet, Rapgenius! This guy is going to be laying down the beats for DAYS! Not only that, but he’ll be drawing you cards in the process. Sure, he doesn’t combo with Curiosity the way the old Niv did, but if you were doing that outside of a very competitive environment, you’re embezzling fun anyway. This one is powerful without having that oppressive combo and might just inspire me to rebuild a U/R deck. (I used to have a Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind deck without Curiosity, but people just assumed I had Curiosity and killed me on sight.)
More versatility! This one has three relevant modes, in my estimation. Destroying artifacts and emptying graveyards are always good things to do, and the third mode will help you against token decks you run up against. Go ahead, cast that Storm Herd—I’ve only got BR up!
Rakdos, Lord of Riots
Of course you’re going to make your opponents lose life, and when you do, you can get a big 6/6 flying trampler! If you can lay this fellow down on turn 4, you’ll be doing a great [card Ruhan of the Fomori]Ruhan[/card] impression without the drawback of not being able to direct your commander’s attack. The last ability doesn’t really seem to do much at first glance, but imagine hitting someone with Rakdos and then casting [card kozilek, butcher of truth]Kozilek[/card] or [card ulamog, the infinite gyre]Ulamog[/card]…
Yo, Rakdos, let’s kick it!
All right, I’ll stop, but make sure you listen:
Red/black is back with a brand new edition
of Blightning that scales a lot better in Commander
and lets you empty the hand of that bystander
Is it very good?
Yo, I don’t know
Give it a try and the value’ll show
Dumpin’ their cards and makin’ them scoop quickly
Might make you come off a little bit prickly.
Yo, Rakdos, let’s get out of here.
Word to Lyzolda.
It’s like Empyrial Armor, but it gives you an extra card draw each turn. If people in your group play Aura Graft-type effects (check the wording!) you might not want to try this one, but if you manage to get the card draw, it’ll pay for itself in terms of cards.
Rix Maadi Guildmage
Meh. This one’s not my favorite. You can mess with other’s combats or opportunistically poke people with the second ability, but I don’t think you’ll be too happy with it. The effects are at least cheap, so it might be worth a shot.
Exiling big creatures is probably the best use of this card. Making a Knight token seems awful most of the time, and the +2/+2 and trample will be relevant occasionally, but you’ll be casting weird sidegrade Reprisal a lot if you sleeve this one up, I think.
In the vein of Syphon Mind, this card will draw the aggression of the whole table, but it also has a reasonably powerful effect. I think it’s actually worse than Syphon Mind because you don’t get to draw, but the fact that it’s random discard makes me think it’s worth putting in a deck.
Look out! It’s the reverse version of Rakdos’s Return! Eric might start rapping again!
Fear not, folks—this one won’t make me break out into song. (Not today, anyway.) It’s a really good card, though. Commander decks are well known for being able to produce very large values of X, and if this is something your U/W deck can do, you’ll probably want to be doing this at the end of someone else’s turn.
An uncounterable Wrath effect? Sign me up! This will see plenty of play in Standard as well, so it might be a little expensive, but it’s certainly an effect you’ll want. If you’re behind on the board, there’s nothing worse than having your Wrath countered.
This seems like a fun way to sneak in for the win sometime, but I’m not envisioning a U/R deck that wants to do this.
Instant speed card draw is always welcome, and I’ve always been a fan of Careful Consideration. This may cost one more and be multicolored, but at the same time, it’s always the better “mode” of Careful Consideration, so it’s likely worth a try.
Another Regrowth effect is always welcome, even if it exiles itself. Not much to say but “Yay!”
Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
Trostani will gain you life. Trostani will make more creatures. Trostani will be properly referred to as “they.”
That is all. For more info, read my last article!
Once you get a 3/3 down, it becomes cheaper to double up on them, which is fine. Just playing this as Centaur Glade isn’t much to write home about, but once you start populating bigger and better stuff, you’ll be very happy.
Vraska the Unseen
This is basically Seal of Vindicate that takes out an opposing creature of your opponents’ choice. Even if you do manage to use the ultimate, I don’t see the Assassins getting through in Commander. This card is kind of “meh” to me for Commander.
This one is still great in token decks. Not a lot to say that I didn’t say last week.
Who’s NOT excited about this? Nobody! Just kidding, this is awful in multiplayer. My foil one is going to sit in a box and cry now. Boo hoo.
Cast this right after a Skull Rend and get to smashing! Syphon Soul is also a good card to play alongside this. The real deal, though, would be to activate Heartless Hidetsugu, play this, and then have some Fling effect ready in case someone wants to blow it/you up. You know, this sounds fantastic.
As Luis says, this card is a bit of a mess to look at, but it definitely shines in Commander. It does everything and eats cards in peoples’ graveyards while it does it! I can’t see not wanting this in G/B decks.
More graveyard hate post-Innistrad. This one is pretty sweet, as it keeps those Izzet players from going crazy with flashback shenanigans. It’s especially good if you’re trying to play creatures out of the graveyard while hating on the rest of the table, but especially bad if you’re facing down other reanimation strategies.
The bigger they are, the harder they populate. If you’ve got a 5/5 token around, this should be fine, but if you’re not working with anything bigger than a Saproling, don’t bother.
A Disenchant that lets you bring out another 8/8, 5/5, 3/3, or even 1/1 token—not a terrible card, as its versatility makes it better than something that just blows up their artifact or enchantment.
Azorius Keyrune, Golgari Keyrune, Izzet Keyrune, Rakdos Keyrune, Selesnya Keyrune
They’re no signets in terms of accelerating you early, but they do turn into creatures, which makes them more useful in the late game.
Sneak sneak sneak. Sneak your Commander through for the win!
All right! That’s it for this week. Next week is Pro Tour Return to Ravnica theme week, which means I’ll obviously talk about the Commander Pro Tour. Yep. That’s real.