Commander’s Eye Peek At Planechase 2012

With Planechase 2012’s release just one week away, Bennie Smith takes a look at some Planechase cards you might want to include in your Commander decks.

I have to be honest: I wasn’t a big fan of Planechase when it first came out. I picked up a deck or two, and have collected a fair number of the planes cards, but the very few games I played didn’t really move me all that much. However, I did not play Planechase with Commander decks, and that’s an angle that Wizards seems to be pushing hard this time around—which makes sense given that they didn’t have Commander deck products available when Planechase was released previously but do now.

I find the idea of adding Planechase variability to a Commander game more appealing than playing the small, preconstructed decks—anything that can produce some wild, chaotic swings in games sounds like a good thing to me! Of course, what’s really exciting about Planechase this time around are the brand new cards that are being printed exclusively with multiplayer in mind. I can’t wait to get my hands on them for my Commander card stock, whether or not we’re playing Planechase.

This week we’ve been getting some previews of the new Planechase cards that are set to release on June 1st, and some of them are quite exciting from Commander’s perspective. I plan on digging deeper into the ramifications of building Commander decks specifically with Planechase in mind (namely the planar deck cards), but I’m going to wait on that until all the cards are available to look at and I (hopefully) hold them in my hand. For now, let’s take a look at some Planechase cards you might want to include in your 100-card decks.

The Legends of Planechase 2012

Any fan of Commander immediately searches for new Legends to build decks around, and the sneak previews have already given us a handful of them.

Maelstrom Wanderer

We got this preview a while back, and I know a lot of us are pretty excited to give him a try. What’s particularly interesting about this guy are his colors—he’s the RUG wedge that Wizards gave some love to in the Commander deck products, so Maelstrom Wanderer joins Intet, the Dreamer; Riku of Two Reflections; and Animar, Soul of Elements.

Riku and Animar are sweet legends to build Commander decks around, but they’re very demanding of the rest of your deck. You can’t necessarily run many your favorite red, blue, or green cards in your Riku or Animar deck without potentially clashing with optimizing the deck for those Commanders.

Maelstrom Wanderer is much like Intet in that he gives you a powerful creature to play without making too many demands on the sorts of cards you want to play. Maelstrom Wanderer suggests you play some creatures (since he gives them all haste) and suggests you play some spells that cost less than eight to cascade into. That’s quite open ended, isn’t it?

The double cascade ability is pretty sweet and makes you want to add more cascade cards to the deck. However, Maelstrom Wanderer’s colors limit you to just Bloodbraid Elf (which is great!) and Violent Outburst (which is pretty meh). The Wanderer’s cost is such that you don’t necessarily want to try to keep casting him over and over again with bounce (much less from the Command Zone too many times).

One card that you’d love to play in this deck is Mirari’s Wake, but sadly that requires white. There are some other options: Heartbeat of Spring, which sadly helps everyone; Mana Geyser can give a nice one-shot explosion of mana; Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger is expensive but effective, though sadly the same mana cost as Wanderer so you can’t cascade into Vorinclex.

Cascade shenanigans aside, one thing that’s nice about Maelstrom Wanderer is his creature type—elemental! There is some nice tribal stuff you could tap into from Lorwyn block to take advantage of that being an elemental. Brighthearth Banneret and Smokebraider can help cast Wanderer earlier.

Horde of Notions’ ability is interesting; if you can keep getting Wanderer into the graveyard, you can keep casting it for WUBRG and keep getting the double cascade. Of course, Horde of Notions can’t go into a Wanderer deck, but Wanderer could go in a Horde of Notions deck—having all five colors of course opens up the floodgates on cascade shenanigans. A Horde of Notions elemental/cascade deck sounds very interesting…

Vela the Night-Clad

Vela the Night-Clad makes a very interesting Commander choice. Blue and black have all sorts of great "saboteur" creatures that do fun stuff if they can just connect with their opponent. Headhunter and Riptide Pilferer; Rootwater Thief, Thrummingbird, Cephalid Constable, Dimir Cutpurse, Scroll Thief, Ashling, the Extinguisher; Blizzard Specter, Fiend of the Shadows, Scythe Specter, and Wanderwine Prophets.

And of course, all the Ninjas have "saboteur" abilities…

Black and blue saboteur creatures with landwalking abilities would be particularly nice, since if the defending player can block despite Vela’s intimidate ability then their landwalk ability would be relevant. I’m thinking of cards like Thada Adel, Acquisitor and Wrexial, the Risen Deep.

To maximize the value of intimidate, you’ll want to play with at least Scuttlemutt if not Distorting Lens as well.

Then there’s the last block of text on Vela…the life drain on your opponents whenever your creatures leave play. Since you’re black you’ve got all kinds of great ways for lots of creatures to die (Tombstone Stairwell springs to mind), and since you’re blue you’ve got all kinds of great ways for creatures to bounce back to your hand (imagine killing several opponents due to a well-timed Evacuate).

And, of course, all the Ninjas have ways to have creatures leave play via bounce…

Thromok the Insatiable

This guy—what a name! You can’t help but want to lower your voice to its deepest, gravelliest pitch and rumble, "THROMOK…IS…HUNGRY!" every time you cast it. Legendary Hellion: hell yeah!

Devour X…now that’s something pretty exciting, isn’t it? If you’ve got four creatures lying around waiting to be eaten, Thromok will be a 16/16. Add a fifth creature to the mix, and that’s a 25/25! Add haste and trample (this is a green and red deck after all), and that’s instant death for someone via Commander damage. You want Anger and Brawn in this deck, easy Hellion food.

It’s a shame that there’s not black mana in the color identity, which prevents you from taking full advantage of all the Jund devour/token shenanigans available from Alara block. Still, green gives you a ton of options, and it’s going to be exciting to see just how big people are going to make Thromok… Devour 6 is 36/36… 7 is 49/49… 8 is 64/64. Not just scary sitting there on the battlefield, but think about combining it with Electropotence, Warstorm Surge, and Pandemonium!

Krond the Dawn-Clad

Krond’s giving me an original Legends vibe; maybe it’s the crazy triple green/triple white casting cost? That’s six colored mana you need to cast this guy, so think long and hard before adding any cool lands to your Commander deck that tap for colorless mana.

On the stats, Krond is a pretty sweet creature. 6/6 is substantially large, flying is nice evasion, and vigilance is incredibly valuable in multiplayer.

The special ability is pretty sweet too—exiling a target permanent is one of the best forms of removal in the format. But you gotta stick your neck on the line a little bit to do it by putting an enchantment on a creature that can’t otherwise protect itself from removal, potentially setting yourself up for some card-disadvantage.

You can mitigate that with the everlast enchantments like Rancor and Spirit Loop, and you can also layer some protection for Krond with Asceticism and Privileged Position or something like Mother of Runes or Coalition Honor Guard. You can also toughen his Dawn-Cladness up with some indestructibility—Shield of the Oversoul and Indestructibility are ideal here, being enchantments—but it wouldn’t hurt to think about running Darksteel Plate or Eldrazi Monument.

Grand Abolisher ain’t bad either for getting at least one swing in with the aura you just cast.

That’s it for the new Legends spoiled as I write this. We do have a few other sweet, non-Legendary cards I want to add to my Commander card stacks.

The Not-Legends of Planechase 2012

Dragonlair Spider

This card jumps to mind as a love letter to Spider advocate Jon Becker. Best Spider ever made? For multiplayer, without a doubt! It’s obviously going to do a lot of work in a THROMOK! deck, but I can see putting this in any green/red Commander deck. I love the flavor of this guy; he’s so big he builds webs in Dragon lairs! Since the standard Dragon size is 5/5, being a 5/6 is pretty much the optimal Dragon-killing size.

I’m not sure why he makes Insects when other people cast spells… I’d have thought they’d be little 1/1 baby Spiders.

Silent-Blade Oni

Speaking of Ninjas, we got a sweet one here in Silent-Blade Oni: a Demon Ninja! How cool is that? Ninjas are going to be featured heavily in the Vela the Night-Clad Planechase deck, and I’m sure many of us are going to love that sweet flavor. I’m looking forward to the chance to bounce a card that my opponent has in play (perhaps a blocker), swing in and connect with Silent-Blade Oni, and then cast the card I bounced and have it come into play under my control.

Elderwood Scion

Even without the weird text, the stats on this guy are pretty sweet—trample and lifelink on a 4/4 for five mana is pretty decent. But those last two sentences in the text box are pretty nice, giving you a discount to target it with spells while taxing your opponent for targeting it with spells. I don’t think it’s enough to make this creature amazing, but I do think it’s a perfect companion creature in a Krond, the Dawn-Clad or Uril the Miststalker deck.

That’s all I got this week. Tonight I’m hoping to get down to FTW Games in Richmond to play some Standard. I’ve got a new spin on Necrotic Ooze that I want to test out, and I am eager to see how it does. Afterwards, I might swing by Richmond Comix for some Commander.

So what do you think of what we’ve seen so far in Planechase 2012? What cards are you eager to get your hands on?

Take care,


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com

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