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Raging Levine – Born of the Gods Commander Review, Part 1

Hey folks! I know some of you are hoping for the 5 for 50 Roon article, but it’s not quite time for that yet. First, we have to talk about Born of the Gods! That’s right, a whole new set releases on Friday, and we’ll be playing with lots of new goofy cards in our decks very soon. Believe me, this set has whole new ways to durdle.

Before we do that, though, I want to talk about the most recent change to the Commander Ban List. Apparently green fatties that are part of cycles and have ETB effects are just destined for brokenness, and with that in mind, [card]Sylvan Primordial[/card] has been banned. I feel pretty good about this ban for the following reasons:

• If you were playing green, you were playing [card]Sylvan Primordial[/card]. This was pretty much non-negotiable.
• Sylvan Primordial was universally unpleasant to play against.
• Much like [card]Primeval Titan[/card], many games came down to who played Sylvan Primordial and who made lots of copies of it. That’s not very much fun.

So in summary, I support this ban. I think it will increase diversity in the format (and it makes me sad that this is a problem) and make games more different and fun overall. Apparently some other bans/unbans happened recently, but who cares about those, right? (Kidding. My promo [ccProd]Bitterblossom[/ccProd]s care.)

Let’s move on from bragging about my collection and get to the point with a Commander-focused Born of the Gods set review! I don’t give scores to cards like LSV does, although I do make bad puns too. I just give my thoughts about cards, including what decks I think the card could go in or potentially create. After all, many cards are playable in Commander in many different environments and playgroups, so how can I really give number rankings? Besides, I just skip the stuff that I think isn’t any good. It’s not like this is Limited where you just have to play some cards, so why waste the time?

[ccProd]Archetype of Courage[/ccProd]

[draft]Archetype of Courage[/draft]

First strike is a good ability when people are playing lots of on-curve creatures and you want to win trades in the early and mid-game. I don’t see this happening a lot in Commander. If first strike is a big issue for you, you could certainly do worse.

[ccProd]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/ccProd]

[draft]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/draft]

This will either be a big player or a big disappointment in Constructed. Whether you pick it up now depends how you feel one way or the other about it. I think this is a decently cool mono-white Commander, though I’d rather have something with more universal application like Elesh Norn, Darien, Odric, or even the indestructible Konda.

[ccProd]Dawn to Dusk[/ccProd]

[draft]Dawn to Dusk[/draft]

If you’re playing a lot of enchantments that end up in the graveyard ([card]Defense of the Heart[/card], [card]Pattern of Rebirth[/card], Seal of Cleansing/Primordium, etc) or just want to grab them back after their inevitable destruction, this is a strong one. There are always enchantments to destroy, but this is really only worth it if you can get the 2-for-1.

[ccProd]Eidolon of Countless Battles[/ccProd]

[draft]Eidolon of Countless Battles[/draft]

What is this for? Token decks? Bruna/Uril decks? Bruna/Uril token decks? If you need a [card]Keldon Warlord[/card] in white, this creature delivers, but if you’re G/W you will probably be playing Wayfaring Temple or something similar. I suppose if you have a ton of Auras you can put this on Bruna, Kor Spiritdancer, or the like. If you get Wrathed, though, you still get blown out because you don’t have any Auras left. I don’t think this will be seeing tons of play.

[ccProd]Exorciate[/ccProd]

[draft]Excoriate[/draft]

Pay one more mana for [card]Iona’s Judgment[/card].

[ccProd]Fated Retribution[/ccProd]

[draft]Fated Retribution[/draft]

I don’t think people will be scrying with this too much, as instant speed wraths are just too good. I know some people are excited about this because it destroys planeswalkers, but those don’t usually live very long in multiplayer anyway. This gains a lot of value if you play a lot of Star or Attack Left, but [card]Rout[/card] was already playable, and this will be too.

[ccProd]Griffin Dreamfinder[/ccProd]

[draft]Griffin Dreamfinder[/draft]

This is to enchantment decks what [card]Sanctum Gargoyle[/card] is to artifact decks. I expect to see this quite a bit, especially given all the crazy enchantments (and enchantment creatures) we have in this block. Pick up foils of this if you can from non-Commander players—chances are you know a powerful planeswalker who wants one!

[ccProd]Hero of Iroas[/ccProd]

[draft]Hero of Iroas[/draft]

This is something you can play as a One Big Creature with lots of totem armor and get ahead quickly. If you’re an aura-centric deck like Bruna or Uril, I think this will be a good addition to your 99. Also, is there a consensus on how to pronounce “Iroas”? No matter what I try, it always sounds like I’m saying “Hero of Heroes.”

[ccProd]Ornitharch[/ccProd]

[draft]Ornitharch[/draft]

Birds for the bird god! Sorry, just giving special mention to bird-related cards as usual due to my Derevi deck (formerly Kangee.) This reminds me of [card]Belfry Spirit[/card] but better. I assume people will be paying tribute to avoid Birds, which makes me sad.

[ccProd]Plea for Guidance[/ccProd]

[draft]Plea for Guidance[/draft]

Now here’s a card with birds on it that’s fun for the whole family! If you thought [card]Idyllic Tutor[/card] was fun, wait until you try it as a 2-for-1. If you’re not of a tutoring mind, of course, this card probably infuriates you but I think there are enough cool enchantment toolbox decks that this will end up being fun. (I say this now, but I won’t be so jolly when Casey destroys me with it in a video somehow.)

[ccProd]Silent Sentinel[/ccProd]

[draft]Silent Sentinel[/draft]

As long as you can get your 4/6 in, you can get enchantments back. Am I the only one that is surprised this wasn’t an inspire trigger instead of an attack trigger? Development questions aside, this card is strong, especially if you can pull auras out of the yard and start stacking them up on the Sentinel. Totem armors will keep it alive and let you keep grabbing more enchantments. I can see this one being pretty infuriating for opponents.

[ccProd]Spirit of the Labyrinth[/ccProd]

[draft]Spirit of the Labyrinth[/draft]

This one’s a [card]Gaddock Teeg[/card]-style equalizer and no mistake. Some think of these as fun-haters, but I feel like they just make games more fair, at least until they die. And they will die. Prepare to be the target of lots of aggression if you play this—make sure the table hasn’t already drawn too many extra cards! This is yet another card that digs at Nekusar’s ability to take over games—I think it’s getting more and more dangerous to run the Mindrazer in random games.

[ccProd]Aerie Worshippers[/ccProd]

[draft]Aerie Worshippers[/draft]

These are my people! Tweet tweet!

[ccProd]Arbiter of the Ideal[/ccProd]

[draft]Arbiter of the Ideal[/draft]

Do you like free stuff? Sure, we all do. Arbiter of the Ideal is not necessarily the ideal way to get the free stuff, but if you want a 4/5 flyer that lets you play the lottery in your upkeep, this card provides that very service. You’ll want to pack your deck full of big stuff you want to cast for free and other ways to cheat it into play if you’re going to go this route, as a 4/5 flyer for 6 is not exactly big winner territory on its own.

[ccProd]Archetype of Imagination[/ccProd]

[draft]Archetype of Imagination[/draft]

More than just a Levitation, this keeps your opponents’ teams grounded. Turning the whole battlefield into a no-fly zone for everyone else is a pretty great way to control the skies and end the game if you have a sufficient board presence. Be careful about alpha striking one player out—you might get killed on the backswing by a player who doesn’t want to be your next victim, or the whole table might focus you out.

[ccProd]Fated Infatuation[/ccProd]

[draft]Fated Infatuation[/draft]

It’s a shame we can only copy our own creatures and that this costs UUU. Unless you really need an instant [card]Clone[/card] for your own team, I’d look elsewhere.

[ccProd]Perplexing Chimera[/ccProd]

[draft]Perplexing Chimera[/draft]

Oh dear. This is going to cause a lot of confusion for people. That being said, this card is super cool. Zedruu wants it, because it will get passed around the table a lot. Other blue decks probably want it too, because you can play it when you’re ahead and then let opponents fight each other about their spells after you send it away. Make sure you don’t get baited—be judicious about when you make the exchange.

[ccProd]Retraction Helix[/ccProd]

[draft]Retraction Helix[/draft]

Great with Shadowmoor-block untappers. If you’re already playing [card]Gilder Bairn[/card] or [card]Silkbind Faerie[/card] and you really want a second Banishing Knack (yes, this is a reprint) you could play this. There are also dumb things you can do with this card in [card]Umbral Mantle[/card] combos. Don’t be that planeswalker.

[ccProd]Siren of the Fanged Coast[/ccProd]

[draft]Siren of the Fanged Coast[/draft]

Note that you choose the opponent who gets the tribute decision, meaning you could be able to make a politically correct choice that gives you a creature. I think it’s unlikely, though. This card is probably not great.

[ccProd]Tromokratis[/ccProd]

[draft]Tromokratis[/draft]

As far as I can tell, this card’s name means “terrorist.” (Correct me if I’m wrong.) That’s weird. So is this card. I think we’ll see it as a Commander, as it’s unpleasant to block. It’s immune to sorcery-speed removal, but like all creatures maligned by the internet, it does die to [card]Doom Blade[/card]. I don’t think this will be a specter that haunts all tables, so you should easily be able to scare up a foil.

[ccProd]Vortex Elemental[/ccProd]

[draft]Vortex Elemental[/draft]

If we’re going to put [card]Gomazoa[/card] in Commander precons, we might as well acknowledge that Vortex Elemental is good too. You just have to hold up an island- don’t worry about summoning sickness. You can also just shuffle it in in response to removal at any point, which is great, and you can force creatures into the vortex. If you need another blue way to tuck a Commander and [card]Spin into Myth[/card] isn’t enough, grab this.

[ccProd]Whelming Wave[/ccProd]

[draft]Whelming Wave[/draft]

Before you put out an APB on all Sea Monsters, consider that this can just be a sorcery-speed [card]Evacuation[/card] for one less mana. That being said, put this in your Lorthos deck. Just do it!

[ccProd]Archetype of Finality[/ccProd]

[draft]Archetype of Finality[/draft]

This archetype is much better at changing combat than the white archetype. Token decks that include black (Ghave, sometimes Prossh, Endrek Sahr, and others) will enjoy yet another card that makes their teams more deadly. I see this one being a niche player that is sometimes going to play a huge role in forcing through damage or winning games.

[ccProd]Asphyxiate[/ccProd]

[draft]Asphyxiate[/draft]

Most creatures are untapped at one point or another. Also, look at that man’s hat! I guess fedora-wearing bodybuilders get what they deserve? Or something?

[ccProd]Bile Blight[/ccProd]

[draft]Bile Blight[/draft]

Remember, this is a singleton format, but if you hate token decks so much that you want to play [card]Echoing Decay[/card], you could play this instead if you wanted, I suppose.

[ccProd]Champion of Stray Souls[/ccProd]

[draft]Champion of Stray Souls[/draft]

This card is best with creatures that have death triggers ([card]Abyssal Gatekeeper[/card] and the like) so that you can get a big advantage while you grind your opponent out. I see this having great synergy with cards like [card]Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker[/card], [card]Grave Pact[/card]/[card]Butcher of Malakir[/card], [card]Endrek Sahr[/card], [card]Blood Artist[/card], and many more black cards. Best of all, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of, although you’ll be missing lots of draw steps keeping it alive. If you want to play a grindy late game, this is your man. Or skeleton.

[ccProd]Drown in Sorrow[/ccProd]

[draft]Drown in Sorrow[/draft] [card]Infest[/card]++. ‘nuff said.

[ccProd]Eater of Hope[/ccProd]

[draft]Eater of Hope[/draft]

Again, this is a grindy attrition card that synergizes with the same cards [card]Champion of Stray Souls[/card] likes. I envision them being friends that go together in a graveyard-focused deck that makes some tokens and is probably led by Endrek Sahr. You’ll want [card]Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/card], [card]Cabal Coffers[/card], [card]Magus of the Coffers[/card], [card]Nirkana Revenant[/card], [card]Crypt Ghast[/card], [card]Black Market[/card], [card]Altar of Shadows[/card], and other sweet enablers to keep this one company and help generate the amount of mana necessary to feed this beast.

[ccProd]Eye Gouge[/ccProd]

[draft]Eye Gouge[/draft]

What happens if you put out a Zubera’s burning eye? Does this do anything against [card]Deadeye Navigator[/card]? How does this card interact with [card]Eye for an Eye[/card]? Can you gouge the [card]Eye of Doom[/card]? How about the [card]Eye of Ramos[/card]? What happens when Eye Gouge is exiled by [card]Eye of the Storm[/card]? Does this card just kill [card]Xiahou Dun[/card] forever? (Please?) And what of the maligned Starter card “[card]Eye Spy[/card]”?

Join us tonight at 10 PM on Kamigawa’s #1 talk show, “Gods’ Eye: Gate to the Reikai.”

[ccProd]Fate Unraveler[/ccProd]

[draft]Fate Unraveler[/draft]

Yet another friend for Nekusar, and a fairly resilient one at that. It’s a 3/4 with the powerful ability “black,” putting it out of range of quite a bit of removal. I think this card puts everyone past Nekquilibrium if it’s in play with Nekusar—my friend Tim thinks Nekquilibrium is right around 2.5 damage per turn, and I agree—so be wary of playing it if you’re behind.

[ccProd]Fated Return[/ccProd]

[draft]Fated Return[/draft]

It gains indestructible? Okay, sign me up. This is pretty insane. I think this will be cast at instant speed most of the time. I’m quite happy to see that this card can grab creatures from opponents’ graveyards too. I think this will be played in tons of black decks—if you can grab a foil for cheap, I definitely suggest it.

[ccProd]Gild[/ccProd]

[draft]Gild[/draft]

Don’t be a cackler—get underground and find that red! If you’re breaking your pick looking at an opponent’s indestructible creature, grab this ground hog and find Aladdin’s Lamp with this new tool, Johnny Newcome!

Okay, that’s all the miner slang I could find on the internet. This card is similar to [card]Sever the Bloodline[/card], except you miss out on the flashback and the [card]Maelstrom Pulse[/card] clause in favor of a token you can sacrifice for mana. ‘Salright.

[ccProd]Odunos River Trawler[/ccProd]

[draft]Odunos River Trawler[/draft]

If you’re playing black, white, and lots of enchantments, I suggest playing this creepy zombie. You’ll get a lot of value out of it. Decks are very dependent on powerful enchantments these days, so you should expect yours to be destroyed from time to time.

O, du nos play this card! I forgot to read all the words on it and it only gets enchantment creatures back! Thanks to assiduous commenter Kevin O’Connor for catching this. Good in limited, bad in commander unless you’re super duper heavy bestow.

[ccProd]Sanguimancy[/ccProd]

[draft]Sanguimancy[/draft]

This might be the only format where Sanguimancy doesn’t threaten to outright kill you all the time. That being said, it’s still a scary card and I’d rather play something like [card]Skeletal Scrying[/card]. If I’m going to lose life to draw cards, I’d like to make the decision about how much of that I’ll be doing rather than depending on my devotion to Erebos. This is all notwithstanding the idea that, if you just have something like [card]Grave Pact[/card] in play when you cast this, you can get blown out pretty hard.

[ccProd]Shrike Harpy[/ccProd]

[draft]Shrike Harpy[/draft]

Once again, because of the “an opponent of your choice” clause, you might be able to get this one through with the ETB effect, but if that’s what you want, shouldn’t you just play an Edict?

Okay! That’s it for Part 1. Join us next week for Part 2—that’s right, this article was so long that I had to split it and delay Roon even further. Sorry! Until then, enjoy the new set, and may you open sweet foils in your boxes!

-Eric Levine
[email protected]
@RagingLevine on Twitter (my Twitter is blowing up right now!)
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