When our friends in R&D make cool new multiplayer-focused cards, we like to take a look at them. This particular set, Conspiracy, has quite a few cards
that are going to make a splash in Commander. I’ll review them first by the new cards and then have a few things to say about some of the cards that are
reprinted in the set.
The first thing to remind everyone is that the conspiracy cards are not legal. They’re banned in Vintage, and we start with the Vintage banned list (check
out Rule 7) and go from there. This doesn’t mean that WotC is controlling the banned list. It means that these cards are meant for drafting only. If you
have a Commander Cube, go for it. If they hadn’t expressly banned them in Vintage, we would have banned them. Just because they mention the command zone
doesn’t mean they’d be legal. Remember that the command zone is also where emblems go. If your group would like to experiment with them and tell us all
about it, we’d be happy to listen. It would be a pretty far stretch for us to legalize them, but we’d still love to hear about what you come up with.
Brago’s Representative: If you’re going to play the will of the council cards, it seems like giving yourself an extra vote is the right idea. You could
pretend you’re the Koch brothers.
Council Guardian: While I like the mechanic itself, the only way I can see this card getting played is in a giant tribal deck.
Council’s Judgment: On the other hand, this one will go right into many decks. When there is something on the battlefield that’s going to kill
everyone-say, Purphoros, God of the Forge-you can bet that it’s going to win in a landslide. Even if there isn’t agreement, something is getting exiled,
and you can be sure that it’s not going to blow back and be one of your own.
Custodi Soulbinders: This counts everyone’s creatures, not just your own. Unlike many of the other cards that count the number of creatures, the
power/toughness of this one doesn’t change unless you start removing counters. There are all kinds of hijinx possible here with Cathar’s Crusade or Ribbons
of the Reikai.
Custodi Squire: It’s a slightly larger, slightly more expensive Eternal Witness for a slightly smaller subset of types. The good news is that you’ll always
get something. The best news is that it’s not targeted, so it will get around Ground Seal.
Rousing of Souls: Everyone draws, you get a platoon of flying spirits. Seems like an okay trade. I’m not the biggest fan of giving other people cards, but
I suppose it’s okay if you get something tangible in exchange for it.
Academy Elite: Like Custodi Soulbinders, it counts everyone’s graveyard, so the Elite might be pretty large for only 4 mana. Of course, if you’re playing
it in your Prime Speaker Zegana deck, there will be plenty of counters to go around as well.
Marchesa’s Emissary: I know we all like to be social and attack the person with the highest life total. Now there’s an actual reward for doing so.
Marchesa’s Infiltrator: Unfortunately, trying to damage the player with the highest life total might not always draw you a card.
Muzzio, Visionary Architect: When you’re playing Scroll Rack, you only need to look at the top 2 cards anyway. Muzzio (which in my head is “MOOTZ-ee-o,”
not “Muzz-ee-o”) seems like a non-broken cousin of Arcum Dagsson.
Plea for Power: Strong either way. I can imagine just saying “You guys choose. Either is fine with me.” Since I’m going first, I might always choose the
opposite of what I want. Or will I? You need to decide how tricky I am (Hint: I’m not particularly tricky at all).
Bite of the Black Rose: “Creatures your opponents control” is the operative here. Will of the Council should be called Will of the Council to Do Something
Cool for Me.
Drakestown Forgotten: Hey, look! It’s a bigger Golgari Troll. And it’s a Zombie.
Grudge Keeper: One of the best name-function matches ever. Love it.
Tyrant’s Choice: A radically different card in draft (which includes Commander Cube) than it will be in Commander. I doubt we see much of it.
Grenzo’s Rebuttal: If you’re playing a deck that blows up bunches of stuff, the kind that just loves rampant destruction, this is your card. It’s going to
bite you, so it seems like Grenzo isn’t really all that bright.
Scourge of the Throne: This is the king of dethrone cards (see what I did there?). It’s getting played because it’s a dragon, it’s getting played because
it has a cool ability. I know Kiki-Jiki combos reasonably well with lots of cards, but if you have an open or safe spot for it to attack into, it can
create many, many Scourges of the Throne-until everyone’s life total drops below yours.
Treasonous Ogre: I know the combo kids are working out something super-janky to make with this card. The mana ability can get you to the dethrone
ability-the world is turned upside down here!
Selvala’s Charge: I really, really want an elephant lord soon.
Selvala’s Enforcer: I’m a little less sold on this. Mostly, because there are no elephants.
Brago, King Eternal: Many people will build a blink deck out of Brago, but I still see him as a role-player in Lavinia of the Tenth or Room of the Hidden
Realm. Just be careful that you aren’t on the wrong end of Time Stop.
Dack’s Duplicate: Wow. Dethrone is whatever, but giving it haste is scary. For the same CMC as Clone, you get even more value. Sure, you have to be in red
as well as blue, but if you are, this creature is a winner.
Deathreap Ritual: This is a great card which will give you incremental advantage and no one will target it to blow up (although copying it is another
story). The benefit that it gives you will not seem as significant as other powerful enchantments, like Lurking Predators or Greater Good. It’s not as good
as either of them, but it’s still a powerhouse.
Extract from Darkness: Great googly-moogly! Obviously, it can’t be a targeted ability since what you reanimate might still be in the library, so once again
it gets around things like Ground Seal. Lazav, Dimir Mastermind is salivating over this card. So is The Mimeoplasm.
Flamewright: Super-solid in draft. Not particularly exciting for Commander.
Grenzo, Dungeon Warden: I don’t know what Grenzo was doing with his spells, but his ability is fantastic! Think about Grenzo and scry for a minute. You’re
welcome. Or Junktroller. You’re welcome again.
Magister of Worth: A card that I think will justifiably see a considerable amount of play. I also think that the will of the council choice will in most
cases be clear.
Marchesa, the Black Rose: Just the ability giving all your other creatures dethrone is a little scary. The third ability is totally silly. Black and red
have enough sacrifice outlets to make life quite miserable for your opponents. Creatures with undying become more valuable because they don’t even have to
attack to get the +1/+1 counter. Great design, really cool card, and we’ll see our fair share of her.
Marchesa’s Smuggler: Slightly limited in use, but potentially devastating when you do.
Selvala, Explorer Returned: Great hat. I’m not sold on the ability being worth giving my opponents cards, but we’ll run it and see. Because of the hat.
Woodvine Elemental: Of the parley cards, this one might have the most explosive upside potential, and most well worth giving the opponents potential
AEther Searcher: While it’s perfectly legal in the 100-card decks, it doesn’t really do anything special unless you drafted it. Ditto for Agent of
Acquisitions, Cogwork Grinder, Cogwork Librarian, Cogwork Spy, Cogwork Tracker, Lore Seeker, Lurking Automoton, Whispergear Sneak, or Paliano, the High
Canal Dredger: Grenzo says hello. Also, simply great at saving stuff in your yard from the graveyard hate or the depredations of other peoples’ Sepulchral
Coercive Portal: Brilliant design. It’s another one where I think the choice most times will be obvious, but I’m okay with drawing cards for free when it’s
Deal Broker: Colorless looting.
Glimmerpoint Stag: There are plenty of blink decks, but we rarely see the stag. Hopefully, this reprint will get people excited about it again.
Kor Chant: I love seeing reprints from the ancient days. One of the great, old “gotcha” cards, the straightforward way to use this is having a creature
kill another creature twice its own size. I leave the trickier stuff up to your imagination.
Pristine Angel: This was one of the most significant cards in the old days of the format. I’m happy that more players will be able to discover it now.
Reya Dawnbringer: She hasn’t been reprinted since Tenth Edition (unless you count the Duel Decks), and she’s another superstar from the format’s formative
days which I’m happy to see getting introduced to a whole new generation.
Silverchase Fox: In the world where enchantment gods are indestructible, you have Silverchase Fox. You need Silverchase Fox. Deep down in places you don’t
talk about at cocktail parties, you’re glad to need Silverchase Fox.
Swords to Plowshares: The best StP art of all. What’s that? Terese Nielsen is awesome? You don’t say.
Valor Made Real: I bet most of you thought this was a new card, since no one has ever played it. For the same mana cost as Holy Day, I can see why-unless
you’re playing something huge with deathtouch.
Vow of Duty: I’m all for reprinting cards from a Commander set in foilable sets. The vows represent a cool political tool/slice of self-protection. I
wouldn’t mind seeing more of them.
AEther Tradewinds: Another card that I’m surprised we don’t see more often. This set is really doing a nice job of exposing some hidden gems.
Brainstorm: Yep, everyone can have the pimpy version now. I have 20 Ice Age copies. Anyone want to trade for a foil?
Dream Fracture: The art is wild. We don’t see it played much because there are cheaper counterspells-but how many of them draw you a card?
Fact or Fiction: I’m an original art man.
Misdirection: The hits just keep coming for those of us who want to be nostalgic about the old days, when creatures sucked and spells were king.
Stifle: Like I was saying…
Traveler’s Cloak: Not enough cantrips get played. Maybe there’s a cantrip deck somewhere.
Altar’s Reap: When this card came out in Innistrad, I thought we’d see it to great effect in decks that like creatures to go into graveyards. “Sacrifice
Kokusho, draw two,” is good beats. We haven’t seen nearly as much of that as I thought. Maybe I should lead the charge.
Ill-Gotten Gains: Someone in our local group plays this every now and again, and it’s usually pretty good, especially in bringing back to reasonability the
player who has gotten out of hand drawing cards.
Skeletal Scrying: Especially if you’re playing fetch lands (even the budget versions of Terramorphic Expanse or Evolving Wilds), they make nice fodder to
exile in order to draw cards. Alternately, you can exile something scary which an opponent is about to reanimate-and get cards for your trouble.
Smallpox: A surprisingly annoying little card. People will remember that you played it, and the defense “Hey, a least it’s not Pox” won’t fly.
Victimize: One of my favorite cards of all time, now available in foil!!! This set is really exciting. Remember that when you’re playing this, the
sacrifice isn’t part of an additional cost, it’s part of the resolution. If on resolution the creature you intended to sacrifice isn’t there, then you can
sacrifice something else. If you have nothing to sacrifice, too bad for you.
Sulfuric Vortex: Preventing life gain is for more than just mono-red decks. I’d say it’s reasonable defense in commander as well.
Gamekeeper: I’m stoked to consider playing this creature again. It used to be quite a thing in the olden times, but just kind of faded away. Getting
fatties for free is good. We should do more of it.
Hydra Omnivore: Yes! Another Commander card that we can now have in foil. So many Omnivores have gone unplayed due to their non-foil nature, and now we can
rectify that situation.
Terastodon: I’m telling you, elephant lord.
Wolfbriar Elemental: I’m surprised that we don’t see this creature more often. I’ll be keeping it in mind for my mono-green deck.
Wrap in Vigor: I thought this was a new card until I looked it up.
Decimate: Cool new art for a cool older card. Remember that you must have all the legal targets in order to cast the spell.
Dimir Doppleganger: More and more great graveyard hate means that graveyard manipulation cards once thought frightening are now less scary.
Edric, Spymaster of Trest: We already had him in foil in Commander’s Arsenal, so it’s a little less cool than other Commander reprints might be-but it’s
still a serious card for you in Simic colors. I don’t think it’s so much a political card as a “there are better people to attack” card.
Mirari’s Wake: Yay! Eventually affordable in foil!
Mortify: Way better art than the original. Captures the mood of the card, especially in displaying the colors.
Pernicious Deed: Back to the original art after it was printed as a judge foil, I like that great old cards are becoming more available to newer players.
Still doesn’t destroy Planeswalkers, though.
Spiritmonger: There were once people calling to ban the card in the format (not that we paid that much attention to that particular argument). Creatures
have come a long, long way.
Altar of Dementia: A card that I’ve wanted in foil for a long, long time, and I never thought I’d get it. I look forward to future Conspiracy-like sets
offering up other tasty bits, like Turnabout and Fault Line.
Reito Lantern: It’s like they really want you to build that Grenzo deck.
Vedalken Orrery: It’s an old favorite that players love, although it’s fallen a little out of favor in my local group. Maybe this will lead to some
Reflecting Pool: I wonder how many exclamation points I can squeeze onto this line without annoying you. I have a bunch of these out to be altered at the
moment (the Tempest version, obv), so I’m hoping that its inclusion here, even with the updated art, will make the foil a little more price-friendly.
Conspiracy is a draft-focused multiplayer set which yields interesting cards for our 100 card decks. It makes me seriously consider the idea of a Commander
Cube. It offers us a few exciting new commanders, plus some cards that leverage the politics of the multiplayer environment. I’m quite interested to see
which ones will make the biggest splash.
Here’s the weekly deck update:
- 1 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Willbender
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Yavimaya Elder
- 1 Eater of the Dead
- 1 Vulturous Zombie
- 1 Big Game Hunter
- 1 Riftsweeper
- 1 Puppeteer Clique
- 1 Woodfall Primus
- 1 Extractor Demon
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
- 1 Necrotic Ooze
- 1 Mindshrieker
- 1 Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
- 1 Consuming Aberration
- 1 Duskmantle Guildmage
- 1 Sepulchral Primordial
- 1 Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker
- 1 Notion Thief
- 1 Jace's Mindseeker
- 1 Phenax, God of Deception
- 1 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
- 1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
- 1 Strip Mine
- 8 Forest
- 1 Reflecting Pool
- 6 Swamp
- 5 Island
- 1 Underground Sea
- 1 Tropical Island
- 1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge
- 1 Overgrown Tomb
- 1 Watery Grave
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Gilt-Leaf Palace
- 1 Twilight Mire
- 1 Exotic Orchard
- 1 Drowned Catacomb
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Hinterland Harbor
- 1 Grim Backwoods
- 1 Opulent Palace
- 1 Spire of Industry
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Regrowth
- 1 Chains of Mephistopheles
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Traumatize
- 1 Oversold Cemetery
- 1 Aether Snap
- 1 Scrabbling Claws
- 1 Mesmeric Orb
- 1 Crystal Shard
- 1 Evacuation
- 1 Altar of Dementia
- 1 Greater Good
- 1 Skyshroud Claim
- 1 Pernicious Deed
- 1 Fact or Fiction
- 1 Far Wanderings
- 1 Cloudstone Curio
- 1 Sudden Spoiling
- 1 Damnation
- 1 Rite of Consumption
- 1 Life's Finale
- 1 Mindcrank
- 1 Spider Spawning
- 1 Essence Harvest
- 1 Psychic Spiral
- 1 Mind Grind
- 1 Rise of the Dark Realms
- 1 In Garruk's Wake
- 1 Altar of the Brood
- 1 Villainous Wealth
- 1 Talent of the Telepath
- 1 Arachnogenesis
If you want to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that’s been alive since 1987), ask for an invitation to the Facebook group
“Sheldon Menery’s Monday Night Gamers.”