We all know what kind of card we’re up against here. The card that causes the whole table to groan in dismay; the card that you wish they’d just never printed so you didn’t have to deal with it. That is, of course, unless you’re playing it, in which case it’s a fair and reasonable card and it’s everyone else who has the problem.
The Worst Cards to Play Against in Commander
Honorable Mention: The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Just in case the card’s ability itself wasn’t already obnoxious enough, a repeated series of buyouts now means this card has an extremely obnoxious price tag. Talk about asserting dominance–just slap down a $2,500 card that means no one is having fun with creatures any more, and see how the table likes it.
5. Craterhoof Behemoth
Last week, we talked about how Cyclonic Rift has probably ended more games of Commander than any other card–but if there’s a contender for that title, Craterhoof Behemoth is right up there, winning games out of nowhere. It’s the go-to top-end for any deck that goes even a little bit wide, and there comes a point in every game where everyone starts glumly thinking “I’m just dead to a ’Hoof, here.”
Playing this card, especially with its old partners in crime, Tooth and Nail alongside Avenger of Zendikar, is the supremely brainless way to finish things off as a green mage. Build up a board, tutor for (or better, just draw) the Craterhoof, and you don’t even have waste precious brain cells on figuring it out and crunching the numbers. Tap eight mana and turn ’em sideways without even counting. Don’t worry, it’s probably lethal.
4. Teferi’s Protection
You’ve carefully crafted a lethal turn over the past twenty minutes of gameplay. Your brilliant, Xanatos-like scheming has brought you to your deserved position–one of imminent victory, where your opponents have no way out. Wriggling in your net, they seek an escape–but none is to be found. You put the final pieces in place, assuring their doom and your supremacy, only for some dumb white mage to tap three mana and cast Teferi’s Protection.
There’s no problem with defensive permission spells; there’s nothing wrong with cards that can flip the script and get you out of certain seemingly-impossible positions. There is a problem, however, with a card that is the biggest freeroll in the history of the game. If it resolves, Teferi’s Protection gets you out of any situation, no questions asked. There’s no subtlety, no finesse, no sophistication to the card. You’re basically just playing the Get Out of Jail Free card from Monopoly.
There are those in this world who seem to believe that fun is a zero-sum game. If you’re having fun, they reason, then I’m not having as much fun as I could be. These people want to sit there and hoard all the fun for themselves, greedily drinking your fun milkshake while you sit there doing your best to remember what your mother taught you about being polite. It’s this kind of person who brings Humility to games of Commander.
Commander is a creature-based format–almost single deck has a minimum of one creature in it, and it’s extremely rare for Humility to do anything other than wreak havoc with everyone’s respective gameplans. You fill your deck with sweet creatures, only to have them turn into 1/1s with no abilities–where’s the fun in that? I’ll tell you where the fun is: it’s being had by the person who played Humility, grinning like the smug villain that they are.
2. Expropriate/Time Stretch
In the grand scheme of things, extra turns aren’t always a huge deal. In a format built on making enormous, silly plays that you couldn’t get away with in competitive Magic, an extra turn here or there isn’t going to get too many hackles up. But here’s the problem with Expropriate: it’s never “just” an Expropriate. The same goes for Time Stretch. It’s never “just” two extra turns. Oh no. Not at all.
The rich only get richer; during those extra turns, these cards will be copied, returned from the ’yard, recast, duplicated, replicated, reverberated, flashed back, and who knows what else until they’ve got enough turns stored up to last until the heat death of the universe. The worst part is this: they don’t even end the game on the spot! You’ve got to wait for them to take their seventeenth extra turn before they finally go off with Laboratory Maniac or just beat you all down with their stupid 2/1s.
It’s not just Armageddon. It’s Ravages of War. It’s Obliterate, Jokulhaups, Devastation, and Decree of Annihilation. It’s Winter Orb, Stasis, Static Orb, and even Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger. It’s Impending Disaster, Ruination, and Price of Glory; it’s Back to Basics and Blood Moon. It’s anything and everything that messes with our lands. Commander decks are built to go big or go home, and anything that blows up a stack of lands is not going to be well-received.
What’s a Stone Rain or two between friends, you ask? You won’t have many friends at the Commander table with that kind of attitude, I can tell you. Nothing–nothing–gets Commander players saltier than interfering with their mana, and especially their lands. There’s a certain kind of player who likes to resolve Armageddon, and it’s a rare treat for them, because they’re usually auto-banned from any Commander playgroup as soon as they try to. Don’t be Armageddon Guy.
What are your thoughts? What other cards do you hate losing to? Are you Armageddon Guy? Let me know in the comments below!