While it was fun playing some games with the
precons straight from the box, for me the best thing about new Commander
product is finding homes for the cards in other decks. Several of the new
legends will spawn their own new decks (I’ve written about a couple of them
already), but I’ve got a fair number of my favorite decks just chomping at
the bit for an infusion of new. I bought two copies of most of the new
decks and some singles too, so I have a pretty good stack of new cards
looking for homes. I recently went through my decks, made some hard and
not-so-hard cuts, and added the new hotness. I thought it would be fun to
share my thoughts on why each of the new cards found a home in these decks,
starting with the ones that got a few tweaks and ending with some decks
that got a major update.
Grothama, All-Devouring – 2 new cards
I’ve had a lot of fun with Grothama, in large part because it’s such a
weird card that puts people off their game. It’s huge and can come out
really fast, but has a “drawback” that appeals to players’ greedy natures.
In the back of each opponent’s mind is the notion that maybe, just maybe,
they’ll get to draw a ton of cards off Grothama, but in reality, that
rarely gets to happen. That’s what’s so fun about it!
What? Well, I sure am having fun drawing cards from it!
Myth Unbound: Most often I’m drawing a bunch of cards because Grothama is
dying during combat, and I’ve built my deck such that I can play extra
lands each turn to help recast Grothama and keep up the engine. Myth
Unbound helps that strategy by cutting down on the commander tax, and
provides an additional draw if Grothama dies. Which is kind of what
Grothama does. I’m really looking forward to seeing it do some great work
Whiptongue Hydra: I’ve got a lot of big and beefy monsters, but since I’m
mono-green the skies are often my biggest vulnerability. After all, one way
to stop my Grothama shenanigans is by just flying over my huge monsters and
killing me, so Whiptongue Hydra to the rescue! Due to the nature of
Grothama’s trigger – it doesn’t need to specifically die to trigger, just
leave – I’ve got some cards that will let me reuse the Hydra to
periodically sweep the skies of flying annoyances. For instance, Erratic
Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis – 3 new cards
I love this deck. While I was going through the cards and seeing what I
might be able to cut, I discovered something: this is very close to
perfection, and it was hard to make any cuts. In the end I found room for
three. I’ve had some folks on Twitter ask me to post an updated list for
this deck, so stay tuned-I’ll go over the current incarnation soon. In the
meantime, here’s a little teaser:
Loyal Drake: Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis is the kind of commander opponents
don’t mind keeping around, so my hunch is that Loyal Drake will net me a
fair amount of cards over time. The casting cost is on point, curving right
before you cast your commander so you can start drawing the very next turn.
Loyal Unicorn: Again, I tend to get to keep my commander around, so this
card will likely do some really good work. This deck isn’t overly
aggressive, but there are a few creatures you’d like to attack with. For
instance, Dragonlord Ojutai – heyoo, vigilance!
Crash of Rhino Beetles: This deck tends to put a lot of land into play
relatively quickly, and a 15/15 trampler for five mana is a stellar rate.
This will certainly raise some eyebrows from my opponents, but you do have
to close out games at some point!
Ramos, Dragon Engine – 3 new cards
Ramos is another deck I really enjoy. It’s basically stuffed to the gills
with fantastic gold cards to just naturally add +1/+1 counters to Ramos by
casting good spells rather than slanting the whole deck around a +1/+1
counter theme. The only real “combo” I have is hoping to draw Villainous
Wealth when I have five +1/+1 counters on Ramos.
Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle: Lets you play Ramos on turn 5, or gives Ramos
two +1/+1 counters later in the game. I haven’t been overly impressed with
this card the few times I’ve seen it in action so far, but I still love it
so much purely for flavor and weirdness.
Geode Golem: While I’m a bit bummed it won’t add +1/+1 counters to Ramos,
the tradeoff of being able to cast Ramos for free and leaving up mana to
cast gold spells the same turn is just super exciting!
Windgrace’s Judgment: Wow, what an amazing new removal spell! As you’ll
see, I’m stuffing these in as many Commander decks as I can!
Aurelia, the Warleader – 3 new cards
I don’t win a whole lot of games with Aurelia, but it’s the most fun I’ve
had with a Boros deck, and I’ve not found any reason to build something
different. It’s got a strong equipment theme and lots of benefits for
multiple attacks, so when things come together it can be downright
powerful. But in typical Boros fashion sometimes the draws just don’t favor
Boreas Charger: I’m hoping Boreas Charger will help with consistency,
providing some ramp and ensuring a few more land drops. I also like how
this helps gets us a lot of the way towards turning on Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Loyal Unicorn: The deck likes attacking, so giving the team vigilance and
preventing combat damage on attacks is darn near perfect. The only downside
is that Aurelia tends to be a lightning rod. Luckily, there is a lot of
equipment so even all by its lonesome Loyal Unicorn can do some good work.
Heavenly Blademaster: A slam-dunk inclusion into an equipment-heavy deck
like this one. I like that this can step in and generate a pretty
frightening board presence if Aurelia is being kept in check.
Vona, Butcher of Magan – 4 new cards
I’m not entirely happy with Vona and have considering decommissioning the
deck but haven’t thought of a different spin on Orzhov that I’d prefer.
Right now, the deck does a pretty good job of just being a generic good
stuff deck-lots of removal and ways to answer things your opponent is
doing, lots of lifegain, with a handful of haymakers to try and close out
Loyal Subordinate: I’m not entirely sure Loyal Subordinate deserves a spot,
but I’m willing to give it a shot. I don’t like that it doesn’t do much in
the turns you’re waiting to cast Vona. But what I do like is how it
encourages players to take action or else slowly be drained of life.
Bloodtracker: I’ve got a fair amount of lifegain in the deck to help fuel
Vona, so Bloodtracker seems like a solid addition. Grow a threat that
provides you a bunch of cards when it dies? Don’t mind if I do!
Loyal Unicorn: While Vona doesn’t need the vigilance, my other creatures
sure can and preventing combat damage is just perfect!
Geode Golem: Orzhov doesn’t afford a whole lot of mana ramp outside of
Black Market and five mana isn’t the cheapest cost for a commander, so
shaving five mana for Vona sounds like a solid deal in this deck.
Rafiq of the Many – 5 new cards
My Rafiq deck isn’t optimized to be hyper aggressive, and I’ve layered in
some controlling elements to keep other players in check, but it can still
hit very hard when it needs to. It gives me a nice nostalgic call back to
when I played Rafiq in Standard, where the various exalted triggers could
add up to surprisingly potent attacks seemingly out of nowhere.
Loyal Drake, Loyal Unicorn, Loyal Guardian: All three of the lieutenants
work great alongside Rafiq, but what I like about having them in this deck
is that even without Rafiq himself, exalted cards can make even these
modest bodies into a threat.
Ravenous Slime: I wish this card had been designed at either two mana or
four since Commander is awash in great three mana cards. I don’t think this
card makes the cut in all green decks, but since exalted can make even the
smallest creatures into threats I’m willing to find room for it.
Geode Golem: Rafiq is scary and tends to die quite often, so getting a
discount to casting it from the Command Zone is very much appreciated.
Yargle, Glutton of Urborg – 5 new cards
My Yargle deck is all about boosting up our vanilla commander into a truly
frightening threat, and mono-black has lots of tools to do that. Oh and
yeah-lots and lots and lots of creature removal spells to try and make sure
there aren’t too many blockers out there!
Isolated Watchtower: Given the popularity of ramp spells in Commander, my
hope is that this is just good value for mono-color decks. What has your
experiences been with this so far?
Forge of Heroes: Making Yargle into a 10/4 seems worth a slot, no?
Endless Atlas: Another card I think does lots of good work in a mono-color
deck. I’m so excited this didn’t end up costing three mana!
Loyal Subordinate: If my attempts to attack with Yargle are stymied, I can
still encourage the game to move along with this life drain trigger.
Prossh, Skyraider of Kher – 6 new cards
Ah, Prossh! Definitely one of my higher-powered decks. Prossh is the kind
of commander that gets everyone’s attention around the table, so I’ve
invested a lot of the deck into making the Kobolds into threats too since
Prossh itself tends to get targeted quite a bit. This can play out in
dramatic fashion with Food Chain allowing you to generate arbitrarily large
numbers of Kobolds.
Treasure Nabber: Let me just reiterate that the correct way to play
Treasure Nabber is to not also play ways to sacrifice artifacts, because if
you do that Treasure Nabber just “turns off” mana rocks rather than borrows
them. Since Prossh likes mana, my hope is that people will be okay
occasionally letting me borrow their Sol Ring if I’m kind enough to give it
back. And hey, the times when Treasure Nabber isn’t pulling its weight, the
Goblin can make a tasty Prossh snack.
Reality Scramble: It seems to me that turning one or more of the numerous
random Kobold tokens that tend to be scattered about my battlefield into an
actual creature card from my deck is a pretty nice use for four mana.
Windgrace’s Judgment: Excellent removal, will find room.
Previously, Food Chain in the Prossh deck was a one-trick pony, and
occasionally it could even backfire and then you’re left with a commander
you can never cast again from the command zone. But even if Prossh Food
Chain shenanigans don’t end the game, you’ve basically turned Genesis Storm
and Skull Storm into absolute insanity. Barring something like Time Stop,
these “Commanderstorm” cards are just game-enders in my Prossh deck.
Feldon of the Third Path – 7 new cards
Feldon is another deck I love to play that doesn’t actually win all that
much. Still, I love graveyard shenanigans, and I love how very odd this
mono-red deck typically plays out. I was pleasantly surprised to find six
new Commander 2018 cards to add to the deck!
Retrofitter Foundry: Sometimes Feldon is a little slow out of the gate, so
having a card you can play early and dump mana into so you can slowly grind
some value is perfect. If I draw Trading Post too, well don’t mind me, I’ll
just be over here tapping and doing silly stuff…
Enchanter’s Bane: Red enchantment removal? Don’t mind if I do!
Reality Scramble: Feldon creates temporary tokens that die at the end of
the turn. With enough mana around, being able to cash one out for a random
creature or artifact from the top of your library seems like some great
Geode Golem: My Feldon deck is surprisingly mana-hungry, so getting a
discount to casting Feldon is a welcome addition. Plus, I’ve got a fair
amount of artifact shenanigans in the deck.
Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor: Make a copy of Varchild, attack someone
who’s open for three, and get three Survivor tokens at the end of the turn?
Don’t mind if I do!
Emissary of Grudges: When I was originally reviewing all the new cards from Commander 2018, this was one of only a few that I wasn’t overly
interested in. Then I realized having it in my graveyard available to copy
with Feldon at instant speed was a very powerful potential weapon, and I
quickly changed my mind. Change targets on the removal spell that’s trying
to take out Feldon. Better yet, change the target of Nihil Spellbomb that’s
trying to exile your graveyard!
Ancient Stone Idol: When there’s nothing else to do, copying a 12/12
trampler that leaves behind a 6/12 trampler seems exactly the sort of juice
my Feldon deck needs!
I first wrote about my Feldon deck in 2014, so I thought it would be nice
to share the current list with the Commander 2018 additions. The
deck has a lot of artifact shenanigans and a strong Goblin subtheme since
quite a few Goblins interact with artifacts nicely – Goblin Welder; Slobad,
Goblin Tinkerer; Goblin Trashmaster. Also, being able to make a copy of
Mogg Maniac or Mogg Shrieker at instant speed with Feldon can be
- 1 Myr Retriever
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Moggcatcher
- 1 Mogg Maniac
- 1 Anger
- 1 Siege-Gang Commander
- 1 Rukh Egg
- 1 Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer
- 1 Goblin Welder
- 1 Goblin Chirurgeon
- 1 Ravenous Baboons
- 1 Shrieking Mogg
- 1 Fortune Thief
- 1 Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
- 1 Ingot Chewer
- 1 Scuttlemutt
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Steel Hellkite
- 1 Zealous Conscripts
- 1 Hellkite Tyrant
- 1 Scuttling Doom Engine
- 1 Dualcaster Mage
- 1 Feldon of the Third Path
- 1 Magus of the Wheel
- 1 Matter Reshaper
- 1 Skyline Despot
- 1 Combustible Gearhulk
- 1 Scrap Trawler
- 1 Treasure Keeper
- 1 Hope of Ghirapur
- 1 Glorybringer
- 1 Meteor Golem
- 1 Dark-Dweller Oracle
- 1 Goblin Trashmaster
- 1 Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor
- 1 Geode Golem
- 1 Ancient Stone Idol
- 1 Emissary of Grudges
- 1 Loyal Apprentice
- 20 Mountain
- 1 Smoldering Crater
- 1 Great Furnace
- 1 Forgotten Cave
- 1 Winding Canyons
- 1 Terrain Generator
- 1 Darksteel Citadel
- 1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
- 1 Reliquary Tower
- 1 Phyrexia's Core
- 1 Homeward Path
- 1 Buried Ruin
- 1 Myriad Landscape
- 1 Arcane Lighthouse
- 1 Flamekin Village
- 1 Mirrorpool
- 1 Sea Gate Wreckage
- 1 Geier Reach Sanitarium
- 1 Nephalia Academy
- 1 Throne of the High City
- 1 Desert of the Fervent
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Memory Jar
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Mind Stone
- 1 Thousand-Year Elixir
- 1 Basilisk Collar
- 1 Liquimetal Coating
- 1 Spine of Ish Sah
- 1 Darksteel Plate
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Trading Post
- 1 Commander's Sphere
- 1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
- 1 Smuggler's Copter
- 1 Thaumatic Compass
- 1 The Immortal Sun
- 1 Victory Chimes
- 1 Retrofitter Foundry
- 1 Enchanter's Bane
- 1 Reality Scramble
So, what do you think? If you have any questions about some of the card
choices, please let me know!
What new cards have been finding homes in your existing Commander decks?
New to Commander?
If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
Commander Primer Part 1
(Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
Commander Primer Part 2
(Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
Commander Primer Part 3
(Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
Commander Starter Kits 1
(kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 2
(kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 3
(kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):
• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)