Hey folks, and welcome back. I’m very excited for the release of the new Commander’s Arsenal product—although it’s a real shame about how limited the release is. I understand that the intent is for it to be a status symbol and a big bonus for loyal stores, but this is even worse than the FTV products in that regard. Regardless, it’s a fantastic product, and I hope that, if you’re someone interested, you manage to get your hands on it. I know I’ve already made sure I’ll have one.
In some ways, it’s as much a Cube product as it is a Commander product—Edric, Scroll Rack, Chaos Warp, and Sylvan Library will all end up in my Cube—but I’m very excited to foil my [card the mimeoplasm]Mimeoplasm[/card] and build a [card diaochan, artful beauty]Diaochan[/card] deck. (Spoilers: That’ll happen next week!)
You know what else has been a great Commander product? Return to Ravnica! The rerelease of the shocklands obviously helps us all with our mana bases, but I’m really talking about a lot of awesome spells and creatures we’ve seen invading our favorite format recently. Since it’s Azorius week, who better to talk about than everyone’s favorite new Sphinx: Isperia, Supreme Judge!
Isperia has gotten a pretty huge upgrade since we last saw her [card Isperia the Inscrutable]in Ravnica[/card]. Sure, she costs one more mana, but +3/-2 and a much better ability (in my opinion) are definitely worth it. Isperia’s ability is fantastic in terms of flavor—she sets up a law (don’t attack me!), and a punishment for breaking it (I get a card!)
Despite that, Isperia’s still a flying Craw Wurm for six mana if you’re not getting attacked. Sure, we’ve got a nice deterrent (or a dead Sphinx). We probably aren’t getting to draw tons of cards. What we can do is pile up other effects to make it very, very hard for players to attack us, or really, do anything at all to us. The best offense is a good defense, or so the Azorius would have us think. And if we can encourage the other players to try to break through our defenses, more power to us—we get to draw cards!
This is a fairly obvious suite of lands, but they get the job done. The more of these you have, the more creatures it takes for your opponent to break through. If your opponent has to attack with two or three creatures to even get a chance to hit you, then you’re drawing cards off Isperia! Throw in a Vesuva and we’ve got another land we can use to protect ourselves.
Let’s keep taxes high! It’s a lot harder to kill someone when you have to spend piles of mana to attack them, and with cards like these, they’ll have to really have piles. The prevalence of token decks is already a great reason to play these, but it’s nice that they’re on-theme. Of these cards, Ghostly Prison and Propaganda are probably the best since they’re cheap and unconditional. Sphere of Safety is not for the faint of heart or the player lacking in lots of enchantments.
There’s even another lovely upside to these effects. Assuming they attack you and you survive, they’re probably tapped out, which means you can start wreaking havoc on them without much opposition.
Speaking of tokens…
We can give everyone a pile of Soldiers and not worry too much if we’ve got lots of Propaganda effects. Plus, if they try something, we’re drawing cards!
Let’s make it even more difficult for our opponents to do things, shall we? Of these cards, Invoke Prejudice is probably the goofiest, but when it’s working, it’s also very powerful. Rhystic Study is, of course, fantastic, since players will frequently elect not to pay 1 so that they can cast more spells, hold up more mana, or simply get greedy with an X spell. Spelltithe Enforcer is a little bit more… convincing in terms of getting them to pay.
A quick note about Rhystic Study and similar cards: Rules-wise, since you control all the Rhystic Study triggers, you’re obligated to ask your opponents if they want to pay 1 or let you draw a card. You can’t just shout, “YOU DIDN’T PAY 1!” whenever your opponents cast spells and then draw piles of cards. That’s not okay. I’m sure we’ve all played in the Wild West of Rhystic Study triggers before, and we all know it’s simply no fun. Whether it’s Rhystic Study, Mystic Remora, Frost Titan, Spelltithe Enforcer, or whatever, announce your triggers.
It’s a lot harder to kill you when you gain life when you’re attacked. Patron of the Kitsune and Righteous Cause are particularly awesome in that they let you gain life whenever someone attacks anyone else at all. I don’t see myself utilizing Fox Offering any time soon—I haven’t done so since Kamigawa Limited—but the Patron is pretty fantastic all the same.
Does anyone else remember playing against Sun Droplet in casual multiplayer games? I do, and man, was it ever annoying! (I’ve also heard stories about it being useful in the JSS back in the day, but I digress.) Sun Droplet will keep your life total high for a good long time. Angelheart Vial is a little iffier, but 2 life is worth a card, right? Finally, Darien is, well, Darien! Piles of Soldiers arrive to avenge you!
We want our beaters to be efficient but resilient, and the above fit the bill rather well. Quicksilver Dragon is cute and allows us to play some more goofy morphs (let’s say, Willbender, Brine Elemental, Vesuvan Shapeshifter, and Mischievous Quanar.) Indestructible creatures live through our wraths nicely, and of course, a nice protection from all colors never hurts.
Whoa! Hey! Slow down! This will really hamper your opponents’ abilities to play things and to keep themselves properly defended from one another. You should be very excited, as a blue/white player, to encourage infighting among the other players at the table. Obviously more than one of these effects at once isn’t particularly useful.
Normally, I don’t get excited about planeswalkers in Commander, but when it’s hard to break through to us, especially with modern-day Propagandas that protect our planeswalkers, this one is reasonably attractive. I’m pretty excited about the -2, what with the potential to draw piles of cards. You could also throw in a Jace, Architect of Thought if you feel like it—a blue Briar Patch isn’t terrible, but I don’t think it’s quite worth paying $50 to include it in a Commander deck at this juncture. Of course, I tend to pack my mana bases with expensive lands, so if this were my deck, you’d see Jace’s ugly mug in it.
Of course, we wouldn’t be proper bureaucrats if we didn’t steal something once in a while, would we?
Countering spells is very important once in a while, and gaining a little extra life in the bargain should help us stay alive. If the table is ganging up on us with powerful spells, we’ll need to be able to back up our board presence with some of the above countermeasures.
Season to taste with Wraths, point removal, and a few more beaters, and we’re in business.
Don’t forget the artifact, enchantment, and graveyard hate!
—Oh, and when you simply can’t be bothered being attacked at all:
Shall we see the full list, then? Should be fun, right?
COMMANDER: Isperia, Supreme Judge
Okay, that’s it for this week. Join me next week, when I—dang, I already told you what I’m doing next week, making it that much harder to lie to you… I know!
Join me next week when I don’t write about [card diaochan, artful beauty]Diaochan[/card]! Nope! Not even a little bit!