Entropic Unrising!

Bennie Smith could not be more excited about Commander 2016! He’s doing his best to doctor one of the most popular new commanders from the recent release!

They will not force us

They will stop degrading us

They will not control us

We will be victorious

— “Uprising,” by Muse

This past weekend the new Commander 2016 decks finally went on sale! It seems that Breed Lethality (the Four-Color Not Red deck) is the one that most people are going nuts over, in part because the cover commander, Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice, is so cool. It’s been difficult to find the deck out there, much less for MRSP, which has been a bummer for me, not because I’m necessarily going nuts over Atraxa (though I’m looking forward to playing the card) but because the deck also contains the two Golgari partner legends, Reyhan, Last of the Abzan and Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper. Given my Golgari heart, it shouldn’t surprise my constant readers that I’d be chomping at the bit to acquire those two lovies.

My LGS had an event Saturday where each player could buy in, get one deck semi-randomly, and play it out of the box against everyone else in pods of three to four people. They only had one box of Breed Lethality and two boxes of the other four decks, so everyone had to give the owner their first two preferences and then draw the boxes out of a bag. Trading could be done afterwards if the two players agreed to it. Needless to say, the guy who got Breed Lethality was pretty stoked. I drew Invent Superiority (the Four-Color Not Green deck) but was able to trade it for Entropic Uprising (Four-Color Not White), which was more my speed.

I had a blast playing Entropic Uprising. In the first pod I happened to draw Whispersilk Cloak, which makes it pretty difficult to stop Yidris from dealing combat damage, and having several turns where all my spells had cascade put me way ahead of my opponents. I was well on my way to victory when a misunderstanding over one opponent’s life totals (I thought he was at ten but he was actually at two) stopped me from killing him, so on his turn he cast Reverse the Sands to give me two life and the other opponent cast Crackling Doom to kill me. Keep track of life totals, kids!

The second pod went on quite a while. I was able to get a little bit ahead early with Yidris and cascade but finally Yidris was killed too many times for me to recast. Strangely enough, I ended up going nuts with tokens when I had both Nath of the Gilt-Leaf and Waste Not on the battlefield and started drawing spells like Reforge the Soul, making everyone discard their hand and giving me a ton of triggers. Here was the battlefield state at one point:

That’s a lot of tokens!

My last opponent ended up gaining an absurd amount of life, so I shifted gears once again and killed him by decking, forcing him to deplete his library and draw a card when he had no more to draw.

I was impressed that Entropic Uprising had several different tracks it could take.

Commander 2016 Deck Name: Entropic Uprising

Theme: Chaos

Development champion: Yoni Skolnick

On the mothership, lead designer Ethan Fleischer gave us some details on the color underpinnings of the themes:

“Blue is eager to discover the results of empirical experiments. Black is happy to confuse its enemies. Red embraces chaos on an elemental level as an essential part of its nature. Green is content to let the universe unfold as it will. White, as the color of order and structure, tries to contain chaos at every turn—but chaos will not be contained!

“This deck embraces variance, playing cards sight-unseen from the top of the deck, flipping coins, and otherwise injecting additional randomness into the game. This deck is for players who prefer to “just see what happens” than to carefully plan each move.”

Okay, so what are our Commander choices for Four-Color Not White? From what’s included in Entropic Uprising, we have the four-color commander:

We also have two partner options. Vial Smasher the Fierce can partner with either Thrasios, Triton Hero or Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix.

Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder is an exciting card right off the bat. Cascade is a powerful and fun ability on cards in Magic, and Commander fans are already having a blast with repeatable cascade spells like Maelstrom Wanderer, Etherium-Horn Sorcerer, and the occasional Maelstrom Nexus. Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder gives us the potentially insane ability to make all of our spells during our turn have cascade… we just have to have Yidris deal combat damage first! And given that Yidris is a commander and Commander damage is something players try to avoid accumulating, there is going to be some resistance to that gameplan.

Yidris has trample, though, which helps the creature “get there” through chump blockers. It makes me think a good gameplan with Yidris to maximize cascade would be to try to push damage through chump blockers so that you’re not panicking one particular player by accumulating too much commander damage against them. All it takes is for one point of combat damage to get through blockers and you’ll have unlocked the cascade party for the turn. So I’d be looking for ways to keep Yidris alive and boosting its power to punch through blockers, rather than just making it flat-out unblockable, which would make him that much more threatening.

The one thing to keep in mind when thinking about cards to play alongside Yidris is that you don’t want to cascade into reactive spells. This is particularly tricky since playing Yidris gives us access to blue. Cascading into a counterspell with no spells on the stack you want to counter feels pretty bad—not that you have to cast it, but getting nothing from your cascade is a bummer. We’ll want to make sure any reactive spells we play are flexible and have options to minimize the cascade whiff.

Vial Smasher the Fierce is an interesting card that doesn’t feel like it really fits all that well in the rest of the deck. I know the theme of Entropic Uprising is chaos, but having its triggered ability potentially harming anyone basically makes you an overt enemy to everyone. If we wanted to make Vial Smasher the Fierce one of our commanders, we’d like plenty of instants or spells with flash so we could trigger it multiple times. Giving Vial Smasher lifelink would also likely ease the pain from the retaliation we’ll be getting.

Of our potential partners with Vial Smasher, none really make a natural fit. Vial Smasher wants you to play a spell on your turn and then have mana and spells left over to play a spell or more on your opponents’ turns. Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix wants you to play draw lots of cards in one turn to make a lot of mana, and the best way to do that is going to be spells. The extra mana on your main phase can certainly be useful. Thrasios, Triton Hero can provide some card selection plus mana ramp or card draw, but at a fairly hefty mana cost. Green gives us plenty of mana ramp options and Thrasios makes a great mana sink. Still, sinking four mana into Thrasios is going to provide us with less mana to throw spells to trigger Vial Smasher on each of our opponents’ turns.

Okay, let’s see what we have to work with from the other cards in Entropic Uprising. Here are the brand new ones:

Few of the new cards really helped out Yidris and the cascade plan. Some of them just seemed to play into the theme of chaos, like Boompile, Cruel Entertainment, and Goblin Spymaster. I played Goblin Spymaster this past weekend, and the timing of its trigger is a little awkward—there is a lot of time for opponents to kill off the Goblin token spy before it stirs up trouble for their team. And Boompile seems super-awkward: you’re not going to pop it off unless you really need to, and if you really need to, then having it work only 50% of the time seems really bad. Like, even if you’re playing a Krark’s Thumb deck, Boompile will end up destroying Krark’s Thumb! I know, I know—embrace the chaos, and enjoy the not knowing. That’s not my natural state.

Cruel Entertainment seems potentially like a lot of fun—let two players Mindslaver each other, sit back, and enjoy the show! The undaunted mechanic on cards like Curtains’ Call works nicely with Yidris by letting us potentially cast a much larger spell off cascade than we otherwise would have. Even at full price, though, Curtains’ Call is a great instant-speed removal spell that can pretty much answer anything you need to answer unless there is only a singular creature in play.

I really like Runehorn Hellkite. While its size relative to casting cost isn’t anything to write home about, a 5/5 flier is rarely going to be irrelevant. But once it’s dead, having a “Wheel of Fortune” effect just sitting in the graveyard to be used at any time is quite nice. The threat of using it should also encourage players to play out their cards a little more actively than they may have preferred.

The basic landcycling spells are awesome, great for fixing early on and with decent effects late. I’ve been particularly impressed with Ancient Excavation; its effect is well worth the mana cost at instant speed. Ash Barrens is astonishingly good, giving basic landcycling for only one colorless mana! Plus, if you do not need the color fixing and put it onto the battlefield, it doesn’t enter tapped.

Let’s look at the nonland reprints they gave us.

This is a decent collection of “good stuff” cards across the four colors in the deck, so if you know anyone who is just starting out in Magic and Commander, you could certainly recommend Entropic Uprising. There are a fair number of cards that draw cards, like Wall of Blossoms, Coiling Oracle, Aeon Chronicler, Dragon Mage, Wheel of Fate, and Treasure Cruise. Horizon Chimera pays off the card draw with some lifegain, and with so many “discard your hand and draw X cards” effects, that can really add up!

In fact, while playing the deck I was struck by just how many of those sorts of cards and effects were in the deck, alongside some cards that synergize well with that. As you may have noticed in the game state snapshot above, Nath of the Gilt-Leaf and Waste Not love it when your opponents are discarding cards. So does Sangromancer. You can even time things like Evacuation where you can bounce all creatures back to their owners’ hands and then replay a couple of key creatures of your own before casting your Windfall.

This strategy feels strong and well-supported in the cards we already have, so I think we’ll go with that and pick Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder as our Commander.

Okay, so here are the cards I’m cutting from the deck:

A few of the cards like Spellheart Chimera have a dash of “instants and sorceries matter,” but I think there are way too many other card types in the deck to go in this direction without a serious retooling. The new cards on this list are serviceable but strike me as either underpowered or not working all that well with the overall gameplan. A few got the axe to make room for a few more cards I wanted to add. If you have any questions about anything specific I cut, feel free to ask me!

Here are the cards I want to add to the deck. I looked for a couple of extra one-mana spells since you can guarantee you’ll hit Wheel of Fate if you cast them with cascade, if that’s what you want to do.


I wanted to further support the draw/discard theme, and what better addition could there be than the original Wheel of Fortune? Temur Ascendancy makes every creature with four or better power a cantrip and gives the team haste – which can be helpful when opponents keep killing Yidris. Psychosis Crawler weaponizes your card drawing and provides a removal spell target other than your commander. Phyrexian Reclamation is a great card in general, but I think it does extra work here, since with the draw/discard effects you’re bound to discard a creature you’d like to recover later.

Push Through with Yidris

Giving a trample creature deathtouch is the ultimate in “pushing through” combat damage to your opponent, so I think it’s worth pushing the four-color manabase a bit to play Bow of Nylea. Onyx Mage can often just threaten to give Yidris deathtouch to discourage too many blockers, and you can save that mana to cast your spells after combat damage is done. Instant-speed removal like Terminate can mess up your opponent’s combat math by removing a blocker and letting Yidris’s damage trample through.

Sword of Feast and Famine is a powerful card in general, but it does extra good work here, since it lets you untap all your lands after combat to cast spells to cascade off.


I did cut some cards that played into the “chaos” theme of the deck, so I wanted to add some of that back. Since Yidris is all about cascade, and cascade is very much all about chaos, I thought adding a couple of cascade spells to the deck made sense. Shardless Agent has been printed enough times and is cheap enough that I don’t feel so bad adding it to decks. Rashmi, Eternities Crafter does a pretty good cascade impression, and Unexpected Results is truly a chaos card in the best way.

The mana is already good as-is, though obviously if you have a good stock of dual lands to pepper in, that would be helpful. I went ahead and swapped an Island for a Breeding Pool and a Swamp for an Overgrown Tomb to provide a smidge more green mana for Bow of Nylea. Here is what I have:

Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 11-18-2016

I had a blast playing the deck right out of the box and I’m looking forward to seeing how it runs with these tweaks. What do you think? Do you like my Commander choice or would you go a different route?

What’s really cool is that we have other options utilizing partner legends to build our Four-Color Not White outside of what’s provided in Entropic Uprising. The enemy-color legendary creaturess from Stalwart Unity and Breed Lethality give us four different partner configurations that are also Four-Color Not White. Just partner one card from the top row with one card from the bottom:


What sort of themes do these various configurations suggest? I don’t really see any real synergy between the Golgari and Izzet legendary creatures. If I squint hard, I note that Reyhan and Ludevic are both Humans. Maybe Human tribal with a splash of Wizard and Warrior synergies?

Kraum, Ludevic’s Opus is a Zombie, and if you pair it with one of the Golgari legendary creatures, you cover the vast majority of Zombies in Magic. Ikra Shidiqi is probably the best choice, since the lifegain can help offset the damage that some of the Zombies can inflict upon their controller.

The allied-color partner cards from Open Hostility and Invent Superiority give us one last option for Four-Color Not White:

This is certainly an odd pairing, but notice that both of our legendary creatures have triggered abilities based off dealing combat damage to our opponents. How about casting and sacrificing Glaring Spotlight each turn to chip away at life totals and generate Saprolings? Panic Spellbomb and Alchemist’s Vial make it easy to slip by a lone blocker each turn while generating some card advantage.

Which way are you planning to build your Four-Color Not White deck?

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 write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)

Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)

Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)

Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)

• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visionary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician (Tribal Birds)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord (drain you big time)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Konda, Lord of Eiganjo ( The Indestructibles)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius ( new player-friendly)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Progenitus (

Fist of Suns and Bringers


Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice ( new player-friendly)

Uril, the Miststalker (my “more competitive” deck)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)