Embracing The Chaos – The Fab Five

Sheldon continues Commander Deck Preview week by discussing five cards previewed from last week and their applications in the Commander format. Don’t forget to snatch up your copies before they run out!

Leading up to last week, there had been five Commander cards previewed, which internally got dubbed
“The Fab Five.” I’m going to give you my take on all five of them.


Basandra, Battle

First of all, the art on this thing is amazing. I’ve loved Terese Nielsen’s work since the Alliances Elvish Ranger (one of my other
favorites being Fifth Edition Stream of Life), but in this piece, she’s completely outdone herself. I love this art so much that I’m
considering using it as the Commander for an Angel deck instead of Razia, Boros Archangel, despite Razia—in an absolute sense—being a
better card.

Basandra is still no slouch. Her first ability is somewhat limited, since the biggest combat-beating spells are sorceries, such as Overwhelming
Stampede and Titanic Ultimatum. Going in knowing there are no combat tricks that you can’t see gives you some significant advantages, but I
don’t see this as the primary reason to play her.

Forcing another creature to attack is a significantly better ability. You can’t tell them whom to attack, but you sure can get an
otherwise-troublesome creature out of your way by forcing it into an unfavorable attack or simply by having it tapped for your next combat. The Boros
colors would lean toward fat lifelinkers as rattlesnakes, but you could be more directly aggressive with cards like Powerstone Minefield, chaotic with
Impulsive Maneuvers, or just gain the life off Righteous Cause. There’s no penalty for not attacking, but you can control the narrative of a turn
by making an opponent use his utility creature when you want him to instead of when he does.

Overall Rating: B+ (the plus being due to the art).


I’m going to have a great deal to say about Karador on Thursday, when I talk about running Aaron Fortino’s Teneb-turned-Karador deck in the
League (I got the consent of the League folks to run it just so I could write about it).

Overall Rating: A


Nin the Pain Artist

Yes, you’re going to put her in your Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind deck (or the other way around). Yes, Psychosis Crawler will get played. Forgive me
if I consider those choices yawn-worthy.

I’d like to see folks do less obvious stuff with her. Clearly, you can simply use her to ping your own dudes for some card draw. The first cards
that jumped into my head were Mogg Maniac and Stuffy Doll. In your U/W/R decks, you could use Lashknife Barrier or Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant, since
the card draw isn’t dependent on the damage actually getting dealt. Of course, don’t forget the value of shooting your own guys who were
going to die anyway.

You could use it in the Intet wedge with Broodhatch Nantuko; or Saber Ants; or for a huge green commitment, Sekki, Seasons’ Guide; and, of course
for super-insanity, Vigor. If you want to get really crazy and play five colors, you could play it with Phytohydra.

You could equip a creature with Magebane Armor or just go all the way (once again, with U/W/R) with Mark of Asylum. At that point, Nin could just
target herself (although that’s obviously risky).

The simplest use of Nin is to just destroy your opponents’ dudes, but that comes with a price. There are a few black cards that can help you
mitigate that damage, like Kederekt Parasite, Underworld Dreams, and Spiteful Visions. A Grixis Meandeck that punishes players for drawing or for
having big hands isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. Fellow L5 Toby Elliott gave me the idea that if you’re dipping into black, you
can run Maralen of the Mornsong. The downside to that is that you can’t hit your own guys for drawing.

You can use Nin to your advantage with the newest “if you play blue, you have to play me” card, Consecrated Sphinx, or the classic
Mind’s Eye. If you really want to Embrace some Chaos with Nin, insert Chains of Mephistopheles.

I think one of the best uses of Nin might be political. “Don’t attack me” or “attack that guy” and “I’ll let you draw
some cards.” You might get into little games of chicken with “If you do that to me, I’m going to have the other guy draw
cards.” Then, there’s always the Highest Bigger game. “Who wants to draw some cards? Whattaya got for me?”

Overall Rating: A


Archangel of

When I first saw this card, I saw the great possibilities for War, not so much for Peace. Despite this being a sad commentary on the world, War is the
only way to go. War obviously turns your Battle Angels into Super Battle Angels, and it will certainly help your mono-white decks (especially those
that have a large number of two- and three-drops) get a little more aggressive, which isn’t terrible since in white you have some protection
against other peoples’ huge things.

I can see her going into your Rith token decks (funny how in the format, I think of all token decks as Rith decks, even though that’s obviously
not the case). If you like how huge your Avenger of Zendikar tokens are now, wait for the Archangel, and they’ll be bigger.

You’ll want to consider ways of mitigating the bonus you’ve given to other players. A card I’ve recently discovered, Crackdown, is a
nice start. Obviously there’s Meekstone if your guys have vigilance or, if you’re playing it in a deck with green, Seedborn Muse (or green
and blue, Murkfiend Liege).

All in all, despite the fact that I think the design of the card is quite clever, I see its uses as moderately narrow.

Overall Rating: B


Death by

Who is going to be the first to live the dream of turn 5 Sarkhan the Mad, turn 6 Death by Dragons, turn 7 Karrthus? That will be truly epic.

Past that, it’s another great political card, one especially designed for when one player has gotten well ahead of everyone else. I’d be a
little anxious about giving other players 5/5 fliers while earning the enmity of a single opponent. While it seems on the surface to be a good
political play—and certainly good for the folk who’ve done nothing—that one guy, if he survives, is going to send some hate your way.
We’ve talked before about the value of being second best, and part of that value is avoiding painting a target on your own head. Death by Dragons
comes with its own spray can.

Again, a very interesting and cool design. I think the card will get played often in the beginning and then taken out when people realize it’s
not doing what they’d hope it would do.

Overall rating: B-

There are no new card previews today, but there are some art previews that I can show you. Basandra isn’t the only piece of amazing art in this
set. Here are but a few:

Ghave, Guru of Spores
Ghave, Guru of Spores. Art by James Paick. All preview links or copies must be accompanied
by artist credit, WotC Copyright, and preview sourced to StarCityGames.com

Zedruu, the Greathearted
Zedruu, the Greathearted. Art by Mark Zug. All preview links or copies must be accompanied
by artist credit, WotC Copyright, and preview sourced to StarCityGames.com

Tomorrow, we’ll preview a card that truly Embraces the Chaos.

You can see all of the already-spoiled cards here.