Love For The Orphans

Power creep is mostly discussed in terms of new sets and competitive formats. But what happens when all-stars of the past are obsoleted? Sheldon pays a visit to the lonely Commander orphanage…

With new cards coming out soon, I thought it might be nice to talk about old cards before diving headlong into all that freshness. I have a big closet in
my game room (eight feet wide, five shelves high) which houses all my cards. They are reasonably well-organized (although I’ll concede that my organization isn’t
as cool as former Armada Games regular, now Boston resident Jesse Fisher, who found an old library card catalogue to use for his collection). I have quite
a few decks and they frequently get updated. I love searching through the collection to update them or build new ones. What I don’t like so much is putting
away cards. That means there are stacks of cards which used to be in decks that aren’t any longer. They’re piled up on top of boxes, so I have to move them
to get into the boxes. You’d think that it’d be less work over the long run to just file them where they belong, but who has the time for that? Anyway,
they’re still good cards, cards which certainly deserve to be in decks (and maybe are in many of yours to great effect), so I thought I’d give them a
little love, along with some ideas on what you might consider doing with them. The list is pretty random, and it’s not a “Hidden Gems” list. It’s more of a
“this card has been set aside in favor of something else, but still has some game left in it” list. It’s in alphabetical order for easy reference.

Angel’s Grace: Split second is what makes this beauty work. I frequently talk about needing Fog effects in the format, and this qualifies. Obviously, you’d
rather take no damage at all, but it also protects you from effects like Flaring Pain since it doesn’t prevent damage, it just changes what damage does to
your life total. Its best use is against combo decks and “win” effects like Felidar Sovereign, since you can lose and they can’t win.

Azorius Guildmage: The Guildmage was a superstar back in the day of my first deck, Phelddagrif. Whether it’s keeping your creatures alive when someone has
Oblivion Stone or not letting that planeswalker get to its ultimate, it’s still one of the class acts of onboard control.

Azorius Justiciar: Most valuable in a deck that blinks, I found that there were simply other things to use with Conjurer’s Closet, and this sat around as a
chump blocker after its initial work was done.

Blood Baron of Vizkopa: Maybe I was just playing the Blood Baron wrong. The problem is that once an opponent gets below ten life, they’re not long for the
game and unlike in Standard, it couldn’t simply be a finisher, since that person dying turned off the buff ability.

Blood Tyrant: In the first ever Planechase game I played in, there were for a brief moment seventeen copies of Blood Tyrant on the board. You can
understand why it was brief. It might be that we demand more out of our seven cost creatures in Commander, but this vampire was always attacking for eight
or nine the turn after it came into play. Perhaps the more mundane haste and card draw of Garza Zol, Plague Queen eventually trumped the wild and wacky
ability of Blood Tyrant, but it warrants a second chance. Perhaps with a Copy Enchantment on someone’s Doubling Season.

Djinn of Wishes: One of my favorite cards ever, I think I eventually got tired of playing with it. Just fine on its own, especially with top of the library
control, you might also consider playing it in a proliferate deck.

Dragon Roost: Dragon Roost suffered because they keep printing so many good dragons that I just want to play with them. I’d think outside the box and play
it in some kind of Naya control deck. Especially if your environment is hostile to creatures, the ability to keep making big, flying ones has great value.

Dreamstone Hedron: The decks that needed it had trouble getting to the six mana. The decks that could get to the six mana didn’t need it. Perhaps it could
do some work in a Sharuum, the Hegemon deck.

Eater of the Dead: Another early days MVP since there was very little good graveyard hate, I’d like to see it with some evasion. It gets outclassed and
easily blocked, and if you can’t attack with it, it doesn’t do much good. An Opposition deck might give it the teeth you want from it.

Echo Mage: I liked the idea of other people playing giant spells and me being able to copy them cheaply, but onboard tricks being onboard tricks, people
would wait until it wasn’t around to do big things. I suppose I should look at putting it into a deck where I cast big sorceries of my own, like in Melek,
Izzet Paragon.

Felhide Spiritbinder: Certainly not a card that has been around that long, and I think I simply didn’t put it in a deck that could use it. I keep talking
so much about how good cards would be with Opposition, I suppose that I’m going to have to build a deck with it.

Gift of the Gargantuan: I picked up this in multiples when it first came out, and it’s slowly gone out of favor as I’ve played it. Then they printed
Harmonize at just one more mana. I still want to believe.

Infernal Genesis: The card simply provides laughs. Giving my opponents creatures (not to mention targets for their own reanimation) wasn’t the reason I
stopped playing it-I simply wasn’t making good enough use of it. I think maybe I need to pair it up with Suture Priest and Blood Artist.

Interdict: Interdict’s main sin is that it’s not available in foil. It can’t hit a planeswalker’s activation, but I think it’s still worthwhile in any kind
of blue deck for out-of-nowhere blowouts (and drawing a card while you’re doing it).

Jushi Apprentice: When did I stop loving the drawing of cards? Jushi Apprentice is far more consistent than Myojin of Seeing Winds and it can draw out
someone else.

Khabal Ghoul: I wasn’t ever unhappy with Kresh Junior, there were just so many more cool and interesting zombies that it got put aside. If you’re playing
any kind of deck with Grave Pact and sacrifice outlets in it, Khabal Ghoul can get pretty huge pretty fast. It definitely needs a retry.

Lace with Moonglove: The card is capable of making nearly any tiny creature lethal and it replaces itself. I’m thoroughly surprised that we don’t see more
of it. Maybe that Naya control deck is the way to go.

Leyline of the Meek : This takes the kind of commitment to the token strategy that I don’t think I’ve ever had. I had it in a Rith, the Awakener deck, but
it’s more likely to have a spot in a deck piloted by Rhys, the Redeemed. Maybe we’ll see a token strategy coming out of Khans of Tarkir that will raise the
Leyline’s profile once again.

Mistmeadow Witch: Every time I talk about this card, people say how good it is. I keep asking why it wasn’t all that good for me. Even in my blinky Lavinia
of the Tenth deck, it just kept being medicore-occasionally useful, frequently disappointing. I’m going to give it another run when I build a Roon of the
Hidden Realm deck.

Mwonvuli Beast Tracker: Let’s face it-the only thing it used to fetch was Primeval Titan. There’s so much beef to get these days that we should all
reconsider playing it-even if it’s just to pick up that Acidic Slime in order to get rid of something inconvenient.

Nightscape Familiar: I’m already planning on putting this back into my Thraximundar deck. Non-green decks need a little mana help. This effectively makes
many of your spells cost one less-even better than ramping into an extra land if you’re casting multiple things in a turn. Also causes me to think about
the Medallions from Tempest (Jet Medallion and Sapphire Medallion in particular).

Ninja of the Deep Hours : Ninjas (except for Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni) are underplayed in the format mostly because there aren’t that many good ones. Ninja
of the Deep hours. Especially in a deck where you have loads of great enters the battlefield effects, ninja away! I don’t know what happens in your local
environment, but around here, no one uses ninjutsu with Sakashima’s Student-it’s just hard cast all the way.

Orim’s Thunder: My disappointment with this card likely came from unreasonable expectations. I always thought it was going to result in a huge momentum
swing and net the kind of two-for-one that seems more like a three- or four-for-one. It sometimes did that, but it more often resulted in taking out
something smaller instead. Awesome enchantments are getting much larger. I might put it back in an appropriate deck just in order to live the dream of
hitting Omniscience.

Rescue from the Underworld: Positively dripping with flavor, it seems like it should have been a simply better version of Makeshift Mannequin. The presence
of very good graveyard hate has really neutered the idea, especially because of the fact that there’s only one target-the creature in the graveyard. If the
spell is countered due to having an illegal target, you won’t get back the sacrificed creature. At the very least, if that happens you don’t have to exile
Rescue from the Underworld (a clause that I never liked, but what are you gonna do?). The cards to combo it with are obviously Lord of Extinction and
Flayer of the Hatebound. Okay, I have to put the card back into Kresh.

Restore the Peace: The dreams of having this in hand when one player hit another with a giant creature combat never really materialized. “Hey, as a thanks
for taking out the serious threat on the board, let’s put all the creatures that killed him back in your hand.”

Riptide Mangler: Another early days wrecking ball which was pushed aside for shinier things, it’s cheap and can be pretty large. Back when it came out, the
layering rules were different, and there really wasn’t equipment, so you couldn’t take advantage of being able to equip it with something that enhanced its
power and then target itself with its own ability. Now you can. I may be ready to replace Renegade Doppelganger with it. The Doppelganger is fine when you
have a low percentage of legendary creatures, effectively creating a hasty copy of whatever you cast. You’ll probably like the Doppelganger best with
Avenger of Zendikar. Riptide Mangler is simply going to have the power of something huge, and you won’t run afoul of blowing out yourself when you copy
your Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre.

Sage of Fables: I had it in Prime Speaker Zegana, but there were only seven or eight wizards in the deck, so it didn’t do much. It’s a card that belongs in
wizard tribal. If you’re going to build wizard tribal, I understand the draw toward Azami, Lady of Scrolls. I’ll challenge you to think outside the box;
you have more than twenty other choices. Run something wild like a fellow RC member does with Barrin, Master Wizard or maybe Rayne, Academy Chancellor. You
already have a whole school theme going there.

Spiteful Visions: I must have been waiting for a foil or something because this is exactly the kind of card I’d want to play in a deck that would support
it. You don’t need to play Nekusar, the Mindrazer and Windfall effects in order to get mileage out of it. Players will hurt themselves with it. Consider
taking the subtle route like with Baby Jace Beleren; everybody draws, everybody gets pinged. The problem is you might not keep your Jace alive too long
that way. How about Temple Bell instead?

Tectonic Rift: The TecRift dream would be to take out Maze of Ith and then battle someone. There are plenty of lands in the format that need to go (Cabal
Coffers; Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth; Nykthos, Shrine of Nyx just to name a few), so you get double value out of taking out one of someone else’s pieces and
dealing a good amount of damage to someone else. Add in Chaos Sphere for maximum jocularity.

Tracker: The first fighter, it’s gotten kind of outclassed by newer-generation fight creatures save for the fact that they mostly do it as an enters the
battlefield trigger instead of an activated ability. The latter is obviously more repeatable. You just need to buff up Tracker a little, maybe with Sword
of Fire and Ice, Empyrial Armor, or the nicely inexpensive Empyrial Plate. Give an older brother a chance.

Worldly Tutor: Going nearly tutorless means that there is a huge pile of cards waiting to get put back into boxes (and it occurs to me that it’s been a
long time since I’ve put cards back-it’s been more than a year that I decided to go tutorless). Strangely enough, there’s also a Lurking Predators in that
pile. It’s not that I’ve stopped playing one of my favorite cards ever, it’s that I took it out of one deck so that I don’t have it in every deck
with green in it. It was also convenient that the deck was Intet, the Dreamer, which has a lower creature count-but its theme is top of the library
control. In that deck, it was almost always Avenger of Zendikar, which became a bit boring. Worldly Tutor would be fun to play with Erractic Explosion. If
Lurking Predators goes into my five-color deck, I’ll consider dropping Worldly Tutor back in for its opportunity to create insane board states out of

Maybe it’s just a sign of my advancing years that I want to think that older things which were once great can be great again, some giant metaphor for where
I am in life. Maybe it’s nostalgia for the format’s elder days, when no one talked about Turn 3 kills and everything was about an invigorating journey of
discovery. Any way you slice it, I encourage you to look at back at some of the veterans that served you well once. You might be surprised at how well they
will serve you again.

This week’s Deck Without Comment is Halloween with Karador. May the spirts of the graveyard be with you!

Karador, Ghost Chieftain
Sheldon Menery
Test deck on 01-17-2014

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Here is the latest database version of all my decks: