M15 Commander Set Review!

Commander guru Sheldon Menery is stoked for all the playable Commander cards in Magic 2015! Read his thoughts on each and every relevant Commander card in the set!

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Emerson, Lake, and Palmer: Karn Evil 9

The most fun of having an ongoing feature column is that at least four times a year there will be new cards to talk about.

This is a Commander-only set review. There are plenty of cards in M15 which I won’t talk about even though they might be Standard powerhouses or bombs in
draft. I’m going to change up how we do the review a little bit, first discussing the non-rare cards (the commons and uncommons) which we’re likely to see
played in the format and then the rares, many of which will spend a great deal more time in decks. If you don’t see a card on the list, it’s simply that I
don’t see an application for it in the format beyond the narrowest possible uses. For easier reference, I’ve also divided them up by color.



Ajani’s Pridemate: Already getting played in theme decks, no reason to see that change.

Boonweaver Giant: This has Kitchen Table Combo written all over it.

Congregate: I hope putting it in the set opens the eyes of players who may not have seen it before (even though it got printed last year). Dream scenario:
I play Storm Herd. You play Congregate. Everyone wins.

Constricting Sliver: It’s a little pricey, but as the sliver deck gets rolling, this could clear the way for any number of attacks.

Devouring Light: Convoke coming back has some implications, the primary one being you can’t ever trust someone who is tapped out on mana. I’ve been singing
this song for a couple of years now, but in Commander you need the ability to exile things or someone is bringing them back. Do it.

First Response: Combo with Battlefield Forge? I dunno.

Heliod’s Pilgrim: Creatures that tutor for stuff are always valuable. Heliod’s Pilgrim is in a color that blinks and auras are getting better. You can also
fetch up classics like Pacifism and Cage of Hands.

Paragon of New Dawns: I like all the Paragons since they’re reasonably costed, buff some of your team, and have another ability. Vigilance is a little more
interesting than you might think at first blush since it lets you be both aggressive and defensive.

Pillar of Light: I’m going to keep repeating the word exile.

Triplicate Spirits: Tom Martell is going to find a way to put this into a Modern deck and win a GP with it.


Amphin Pathmage: Cheaper to activate than Rogue’s Passage (albeit more vulnerable since it’s a creature), it also doesn’t tap. This card can set up some
murders pretty easily.

Diffusion Sliver: Slivers are continuing their comeback. While this one seems valuable, the real way to deal with slivers is to wrath them away.

Jace’s Ingenuity: Blue instants that draw cards. How about them apples?

Military Intelligence: The super-low cost of this leads me to believe that it’s one of the better uncommon in the set. Who doesn’t attack with two
creatures? With Shadowmage Infiltrator, Thieving Magpie, and Edric, Spymaster of Trest, I can’t even do the math any more.

Paragon of Gathering Mists: Most of the big blue creatures already have flying, so I think you’ll have to look to multicolored blue creatures like
Thraximundar to get value out of this.

Turn to Frog: With all these frogs, I’m beginning to see how Pharoah felt.

Void Snare: Even though it’s a sorcery, I think some folks will take it out for a test drive.


Blood Host: It’s no Unspeakable Symbol.

Endless Obedience: I think that folks will just play Zombify unless they’re also using some inspired cards to combo with convoke.

Eternal Thirst: This is an aura that I wouldn’t mind putting on any number of creatures-once again remembering my buddy Thraximundar.

Feast of the Fallen: If this cost 1B, I might give it a whirl. At 2B, there are other choices.

Leeching Sliver: Too bad it’s the defending player. Otherwise, you could kill two players with your sliver army.

Necromancer’s Assistant: Watch and listen.

Paragon of Open Graves: Maybe my favorite of the Paragons. Deathtouch is the best of the rattlesnake abilities.

Rotfeaster Maggot: More good graveyard hate makes recursion strategies more difficult. This might be on the high end cost-wise to see a great deal of play,
but it’ll see some.

Wall of Limbs: Another card that I think will be pretty popular with the kitchen table set. Gets a counter every time you extort.


Act on Impulse: Maybe in some kind of combo deck?

Belligerent Sliver: I’m not sure slivers are being blocked anyway, but here’s a way to ensure fewer of them are.

Circle of Flame: Thematically a cool card, it creates a great visual of what an enchantment should be. Combo with Death Pits of Rath, or one of my
favorites, Shriveling Rot.

Might Makes Right: One of my favorite card names ever, I’m going to try it out. I suspect that it’s a little too expensive for what it does.

Paragon of Fierce Defiance: Haste is a dangerous ability in the format, especially when you can have it for your commander-and, since by definition, your
commander has to be red to play this card, it’s automatically larger as well.


Back to Nature: You’re not playing enough enchantment destruction, probably because you’re playing too many enchantments of your own. When the other person
gets the enchantment advantage (remember, there are some pretty good enchantment creatures these days), get Back to Nature.

Garruk’s Packleader: If you haven’t yet played with the Packleader, I strongly urge you to try it out. You will draw many cards. It may even draw some
targeted removal away from something truly dangerous.

Hunter’s Ambush: How many nongreen creatures are you getting attacked by? I’d say this one is highly dependent on your local environment. If there are
swarms coming from Grixis decks, then go for it. Otherwise, Tangle will do quite nicely.

Invasive Species: We all like to reset our Planeswalkers or reuse cool enters-the-battlefield triggers. Invasive Species can also reset something with
cumulative upkeep for you. A quite useful card at a quite useful cost.

Nissa’s Expedition: There’s enough good ramp out there that Nissa’s Expedition may be outclassed-but once again, convoke plus inspired does stuff.

Paragon of Eternal Wilds: Don’t try a little tenderness. Trample kills people. You need more trample. I need more trample. Say it with me: we all need more

Reclamation Sage: A less expensive Indrik Stomphowler will get loads of play. It doesn’t trigger Garruk’s Packleader, but that’s hardly a sin.

Restock: The last time it was printed, in Invasion, it was a rare. Feels more uncommon, and I’m happy they’ve chosen it as a reprint.

Roaring Primadox: I like bouncy things, so I like Roaring Primadox.

Satyr Wayfinder: May be a good replacement in Karador decks for Mulch, since it’s eventually going to go into the graveyard, fueling up your commander.

Shaman of Spring: Unless you’re playing tribal Elves, stick with Elvish Visionary. If you want something at the four-mana slot, I’ll suggest Masked

Undergrowth Scavenger: It doesn’t have evasion and its power and toughness don’t change (which can be both upside and downside), but I’m willing to give it
a whirl. Mid-to-late game, it can be quite large.

Wall of Mulch: Maybe it comes into that Karador deck for Elvish Visionary if you think you need some more defense.


Hot Soup: Best flavor card ever, and I hate puns.

Profane Memento: There are less useful things that people play in metalcraft decks.

Rogue’s Gloves: Being inexpensive to cast and equip definitely makes it playable.



Aegis Angel: The card is already played in both angel and non-tribal decks, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue. Sigarda, Host of Herons,
would do well to be protected by the Angel.

Ajani Steadfast: I love the new Ajani because the first two abilities aren’t all that scary and folks might think that they have time to keep you off the
ultimate, which is indeed a game-changer. The reasonable mana cost and good starting loyalty will end up making this a quite solid performer.

Avacyn, Guardian Angel: Certainly not played outside of angel decks or those with a very heavy commitment to white, Avacyn Jr. isn’t going to be as useful
as we think it is. Keeping all that mana up while still trying to be active in the game is going to be difficult. Don’t get me wrong-it’s going in my
Trostani deck, but I expect it to be a role-player, not a superstar.

Hushwing Gryff: We’re going to hear story after story of someone getting blown out by Aven Mindcensor’s cousin which we’ve locally already started calling
Torpor Bird.

Mass Calcify: This reprint already sees some narrow play. Will continue to do so.

Preeminent Captain: I initially thought that this might be a neat little sleeper card, but then I realized that there aren’t that many great soldiers that
aren’t also changelings to sneak in.

Resolute Archangel: Cool design, but it’s not the answer to Magister Sphinx or Sorin Markov that I’ve heard people say it is. Generally, they’re killing
you after setting you to ten, so unless you have this in play and a way to blink it, I don’t think it helps. It may, however, be perfectly a worthwhile
method of gaining 15-25 life in a game that’s grinding along or a bringing you back from the brink in an otherwise normal game.

Return to the Ranks: Since there aren’t that many creatures with CMC two or less that routinely get played in the same deck, I think one’s number of
targets for this wouldn’t be worth including it in a deck. This format is about a higher curve.

Soul of Theros: I’m high on the design and idea of the souls, a little less excited about the cost. They’ll for sure get played, and when they get
activated, will have significant impact. Paying 4WW to gain 30ish life or more (while dealing some combat damage) is a fine investment. At first, I rated
this toward the bottom of the souls; it’s creeping higher every time I look at it.

Spectra Ward: I just watched The Graduate in my film class, so when I look at this
card in my head I hear Simon & Garfunkel singing “Hello Bruna my old friend.” Uril, the Miststalker will also love Spectra Ward. I won’t expect to see
it other than in conjunction with those two commanders.

Spirit Bonds: This card is sneaky good. The cost to get a spirit is low, and the cost to protect one of your other creatures is also low. Just be careful
you don’t try to protect a changeling. Or Myojin.


AEtherspouts: Whoa, Nelly! And I don’t mean Nelly, I mean Nelly. Easily one of my favorite cards in the set. The owner chooses whether they go top or bottom,
but in the worst case, you’re probably costing him or her several draw steps.

Chasm Skulker: If there’s a control deck out there in new Standard, I think this will be a superstar. In Commander, where insane card draw sometimes
happens, Chasm Skulker will frequently be super-huge. In Simic decks, it’ll eventually get sacrificed to Greater Good.

Chief Engineer: Some combo with Thopter Assembly? Sharuum decks are going to love it too.

Jace, the Living Guildpact: This may be a peek into upcoming graveyard recursion sets, or it may just be a Jace that we’re not all that excited about. The
ultimate is strong, but I’m more likely to just be using it for the first ability and then if I get the ultimate, great. It doesn’t have the same kind of
arc as Elspeth, Knight-Errant does, where all you really want to do is get to the end.

Jalira, Master Polymorphist: A fixed, fair Arcum Dagsson? I think so. Powerful and useful without being broken at all. The nonlegendary clause keeps it in
check. Love it.

Mahamoti Djinn: For some of us old-schoolers, this is just a reminder of how good creatures weren’t in the 1900s.

Master of Predicaments: In Commander, everything costs more than four. Next.

Mercurial Pretender: I guarantee there will be folks who don’t practice their RTC skills and try to copy someone else’s stuff. The ability to bounce it
makes it nonetheless insanely good. You don’t have to hold onto it to get value. You copy your Solemn Simulacrum, bounce this, and then copy your giant

Polymorphists’s Jest: Otherwise known around here as “Sudden Froglings,” this is one of the star cards of the set. The mana cost is quite aggressive. Can
something with Protection from Frogs be far behind? I hope not.

Soul of Ravnica: The most overcosted of all the Souls. I’m not a fan.

Stormtide Leviathan: For some reason, I’d love to see this in a Future Sight border.


Cruel Sadist: Maybe cruel, saddest rare.

In Garruk’s Wake: Move over Plague Wind, your much better brother is here!

Indulgent Tormentor: It’s a demon, so you always have to keep an eye on it. I wouldn’t advise playing it with people you don’t know all that well. If you
have good reads on your group, then I think you can maximize the advantage. Pick that guy who never pays for Rhystic Study even when he can.

Liliana Vess: Nice reprint, and I love her ultimate ability.

Necromancer’s Stockpile: Both the graveyard decks and the zombie decks will love this. I might try squeezing more zombies into my Kresh deck in order to
play this. Even without the zombies, it seems worthwhile. Pitch stuff you can’t cast yet in favor of something else, reanimate it later.

Nightmare: Even decks with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in them don’t play this classic creature. Seems like they should.

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled: If someone playing black has Vedalken Orrery in play, be very afraid. This card will have a huge impact on the format. I’ll
certainly be finding slots for it in several decks. I predict it will be the card that when cast has the highest rate of “In response, I’ll <do
something>” in the set. Maybe the format.

Soul of Innistrad: Probably my favorite of the Souls because I like the activation cost best. I have a little trouble putting stuff back in my hand with
black decks when I can just dump them back into play, but I’m willing to learn new skills.

Stain the Mind: I suppose it might-who am I kidding? No one’s playing this in Commander.

Waste Not: I’m not a huge fan of the dedicated discard decks this might lead to, but I think it’s reasonably good-especially for the mana cost-for the
things that happen in the format anyway. It’s not a game-breaker, but nice little incremental value.


Aggressive Mining: The only place I see this in the format is in a Zedruu deck in which it gets quickly donated to someone else.

Burning Anger: At a lower cost, even just 3R, I’d think about it. I probably still wouldn’t play it, but I’d think about it.

Chandra, Pyromaster: As the red Planeswalkers go, I think this one has some playability, but I don’t see it all that much. Give it a whirl; I think you’ll
be happy you did. At least it’s not Tibalt.

Crucible of Fire: Kill people faster with dragons raining fire from the sky? Sign me up!

Goblin Kaboomist: The only thing to like about this card is that it makes land mine tokens.

Goblin Rabblemaster: Goblins which create more goblins? Whatever will we do? Better have a Fog handy.

Hoarding Dragon: Another underplayed card, but there are more players now than there were when it was printed four years ago. Let’s see if some of the new
folks like it. I sure do.

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient: One of the cards I’m most excited for in the set. Craziness ensues with Rings of Brighthearth, Bosh, Iron Golem, Vedalken
Shackles, Helm of Obedience, and more.

Shivan Dragon: I think the number of dragons in this set, plus Crucible of Fire, might be telling us something about upcoming sets.

Siege Dragon: Even without the ability to blow up Mirror Entity, the continuous Rolling Temblor is good enough for me.

Soul of Shandalar: Maybe some board control element here, but for the most part, I think there are things I’d rather do with my five mana.


Chord of Calling: Most excellent reprint in the set, which should bring the cost of the card down to reasonable levels. I like the new art better, too.

Genesis Hydra: I love creatures that are both huge and get me something for free (like Thicket Elemental). In Animar, Genesis Hydra will certainly do that.
Living the dream will be getting an Eldrazi. Who cares if you don’t get the cast trigger? Free Eldrazi!

Hornet Nest: One way to keep giant creatures off of your face (although I prefer Wall of Souls, since there is a cool thing you can do there by having
someone attack you and throwing the damage at someone else), I’d love to combo it with Nin, the Pain Artist.

Hornet Queen: I love this reprint because it’s the first time it’s available in foil. Right into Ruric Thar and His Beastly Werewolf Fight Club.

Kalonian Twingrove: Double Dungrove Elder (okay, it’s not hexproof, but still)! Two big monsters for the price of one with potentially more seeing that
Invasive Species and Roaring Primadox are in the set.

Life’s Legacy: Cheaply costed because it’s a sorcery, there are still plenty of uses for it-just not as many as Momentous Fall. There’s a good argument to
play both, especially when you’re playing Lord of Extinction and Stalking Vengeance.

Nissa, Worldwaker: I see the middle ability getting used as hyper-ramp and not much more. If there are other planeswalkers in play, I don’t imagine that
people are going to attack this Nissa. Maybe with Fires of Yavimaya out the ultimate becomes something, but since they’re creatures, you can’t tap them for
mana the turn they come out. Sure, once you’ve thinned your deck of lands you’re drawing nothing but gas, but those lands are dead with the first wrath
effect. All in all, it might work out to be something, but I imagine those instances will be rare.

Phytotitan: I will offer two words to go with Phyotitan: Greater Good.

Soul of Zendikar: Next to the blue one, the least exciting. And I even like beast tokens. I think I’d rather play Rampaging Baloths.

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard: A creature version of Hibernation’s End which doesn’t end up costing as much, I like Yisan a great deal-especially with Prophet
of Kruphix and/or Seedborn Muse. Then again, there are thousands of cards to like with those two.


Garruk, Apex Predator: The iconic card of the set, it might be slightly pricey (in both meanings) to see lots of play. I wouldn’t mind casting it, getting
one instance of the +1 and two of the -3 before having it go away. That’d be worth the seven mana. The ultimate is scary enough that people are going to
target it, so unless you have Doubling Season in play already, getting that emblem is going to be a rare instance.

Sliver Hivelord: Great. Indestructible Slivers. Just what we needed. Here’s hoping you have a Tangle or Insurrection. Otherwise, slivers are going to smash
your face.


Avarice Amulet: This first sentence perked me up. The second, not so much. Maybe put it on a creature no one wants to kill?

Battlefield Forge, Caves of Koilos, Llanowar Wastes, Shivan Reef, Yavimaya Coast: Nice that they’re reprinted so folks can get their hands on them, but
they’re already inexpensive enough that the players who wanted them have probably already picked up their copies.

Grindclock: A little slow, but with the low mana cost, Lazav, Dimir Mastermind or The Mimeoplasm decks might make use of it.

Haunted Plate Mail: Thematically, I love the card. If your local environment is wrath-heavy, it might be an interesting choice.

Obelisk of Urd: I remain unconvinced, but I suppose the math supports tapping six 1/1s, since they’ll do three points of damage each when they attack.
It’ll occupy a niche, but bring me Eldrazi Monument instead.

Perilous Vault: The end-all of rattlesnakes, I would consider playing it even without Ghostway or Sudden Disappearance, but I don’t mind a nice game of

Phyrexian Revoker: One of those rares that sees play in Modern and Standard, but probably won’t see much in Commander despite its obvious value.

Scuttling Doom Engine: I’ve heard people say that for the same mana cost, they might prefer Wurmcoil Engine. In general, I agree, but I also see a place in
decks like Sharuum which can really deal some damage with this thing.

Shield of the Avatar: It’s always going to prevent at least one damage (since there has to be the creature to which it’s attached), and the very nice cost
might lead it to see some play.

Sliver Hive: When people start playing Slivers again, I will be happy to have Sudden Spoiling and Polymorphists’s Jest at my command.

Soul of New Phyrexia: This card will have massive impact on the format. It’s clearly the best of the Souls. There will be that one anxious turn that you
play it but don’t have enough mana to activate it. Then you’ll be golden.

The Chain Veil: Some infinite mana combo with Garruk Wildspeaker? One might untap two lands and Overrun on the same turn. You could theoretically use it to
plus up a brand new Elspeth Tirel and then fire off her ultimate, but why would you? Destroying two things with Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker seems decent. And
Matt Tabak said Ral Zarek works, so there you go.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth: If Cabal Coffers ever gets banned, you can lay the fault firmly at the feet of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth.

M15 is the most playable-card dense set for Commander that has come along in a while. There are plenty of new toys (plus reprints of older ones, so now you
can run out to get that foil copy you’ve been waiting for) for decks all across the spectrum. Once again, I’ll offer congratulations to the design and
development teams, this time led by Aaron Forsythe and Billy Moreno, for creating a set that’s full of interesting cards without giving in to power creep.
I look forward to the challenge of finding room in all of my decks for some of M15’s gems.