The Great Summer 2020 Commander Deck Update

Between Core Set 2020 and Commander 2019, Sheldon Menery has a lot of deck updating to do! Check out all the goodies he’s adding to his decks, where they’re going … and what’s getting cut!

It’s been more than a month since Core Set 2020 came out, and because of things like Gen Con, Commander 2019, and a few other events, I haven’t yet had the chance to update my suite of Commander decks with any of the cards. We’re going to roll it all into one, right here, right now.

The job of taking cards out of decks in favor of new ones never gets easier. Sure, we’re excited to play the new ones, but there’s lots of love for most of the old favorites as well. The idea of just building fresh decks to put the new cards into is pretty attractive, but at some point you realize you can only play so many decks in a given period of time. There are a few of my 50 that don’t get as much time and attention as they deserve. So the answer is to just play more often, right?

As I discuss what deck the cards will go into, sometimes the reason a card is leaving the deck is that there just needs to be room. I’ll only make mention of why a card is going out if there’s a significantly different reason. There are certainly more cards worth playing than I have room for, so if a card doesn’t appear on this list, then it’s likely getting reserved for an upcoming deck. Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero is a prime example; he just needs to lead a deck, and as it happens, I’d like to rebuild my Boros one anyway. To avoid confusion, I’ll split the cards up by the two sets for clarity.

Here’s what I’m doing with Core Set 2020.


It’s an Angel deck that gains life. Seems pretty straightforward.

I’m a fan of all the Cavaliers, but the color intensity means that they need to go into monocolored or guild decks. Making the one that can blow up any nonland permanent repeatably will help this particular deck control the battlefield the way it wants to.

Again, it’s an Angel deck, and I want to get as close to 100% tribal as possible.

If you have an enchantment deck, you’ll probably want to make them cheaper to cast. That Rune-Tail is likely going into the new build of Gerrard. It’s too cool of a card to just let go of.


I suspect the first card to gain control of will be Homeward Path. This card had a shot of going into You Did This to Yourself, but as you’ll see, it got quite a few other things.

The deck does a nice job of proliferating, but was short on card drawing, hence the change.

“…or legendary spell” is the operative on this one. There are a number of popular commanders that make the world awkward for Animar, so it makes sense to have a little extra defense against them that’s also flexible.


Blood for Bones does things that I want a Karador deck to do. It puts a creature into the graveyard for later use, it uses something that’s already been put there, and it gets another one out of the ‘yard just in case there is some graveyard hate coming along.

There’s so much going on with Cavalier of Night that it’s like someone designed it with my deck in mind. It does a job both coming and going – and you know one of the creatures that it’s going to frequently bring back to the battlefield is Saffi Eriksdotter.

The deck is a Demon deck with the alternate win condition of Liliana’s Contract, so another Demon will help things along, especially one that’s such a beater for so little mana.

If I use only the +1 ability and no others, I’ll still be pretty happy with this very inexpensive version of Sorin.

One of the most talked-about cards in Core Set 2020 from a Commander perspective. I’ll just have to make sure that I don’t draw myself out in a late-game situation.


Marauding Raptor is a two-benefit card in a single package for the Dinosaur deck, since it makes them cheaper to cast and it triggers enrage abilities. All kinds of winning.

The finisher in this deck tends to be a big direct damage spell like Bonfire of the Damned. Being able to copy it twice – potentially hitting all three opponents – is the stuff dreams are made of.


Because it’s a Karador deck, the number of times I’ll actually exile Cavalier of Thorns is pretty small. The first ability more than mitigates the second one being an effective blank.

In four-color decks, you need access to the right colors of mana. Elvish Reclaimer will help turn double of one thing into one each of two things. It’s also in my deck that has the most fetch and other lands that end up in the graveyard. Makes me wonder if I should also play Terravore.

It’s a potential finisher when someone has too many blockers of the appropriate colors, but it’s really just anti-counterspell tech.


It was pretty convenient to be able to take out Mirror Entity for a cool new Knight, since I knew I wanted Mirror Entity in the deck with Atla Palani, Nest Tender.

Trying to turn this into as close to 100% tribal as possible (there’s three of them, so is it tri-tribal?), and Endrek Sahr doesn’t fit. Plus, you’ll later see where it’s going to end up. It’d be pretty cool alongside Corpse Knight, for example.

Creatures die in the Muldrotha deck so that they can live again. Moldervine Reclamation’s card draw keeps the hand full so that the cycle of life can repeat itself over and over again.

I honestly didn’t check if there were more Elementals before just jamming Risen Reef into Muldrotha, because it just seemed to fit. That’s probably because Muldrotha is an Elemental. I might, after a few more games, evaluate whether any of the appropriately colored Cavaliers, which are Elementals, should go in here instead of elsewhere. Cavalier of Gales should maybe go in right away. And Mulldrifter. And so on.

Not to be too cute, but Waste Not is wasted in the deck. I have some ideas for what to do with it, and it’s too good at what it does to strand it in a deck that it doesn’t really go into. Tomebound Lich will help the Zombie deck get cards into the graveyard for eventual reanimation or use with Tombstone Stairwell.

Artifact and Land

Obviously, you put Lotus Field into the deck that can get back the sacrificed lands.


And here’s what I’m doing with Commander 2019:


It’s a Soldier, which is a sub-theme in the deck, and it will help get Rith through in order to get its triggered ability going. It can protect other permanents as well in a pinch, but my intention is to use it as an offensive weapon. Cliffside Rescuer can certainly go into a Karador deck as well.

A Fog that also does other things. The only downside is that it exiles itself.


I’m a little giddy about the fact that there’s new morph stuff for this deck. Kadena’s Silencer is a card that you can certainly make use of a nearly all-blue deck. I’ll look forward to using it when an opponent has a boatload of triggers from something; instead of taking half an hour to deal with them, we can just have a little silence.

The main reason this went into the Ruhan deck was that I want to get rid of the non-damage battlefield wipes. I want to encourage opponents to keep creatures on the battlefield and to attack with them so that I can do rude things.

When I started making my notes for the Commander 2019 cards, the one I scrawled next to Mass Diminish was “something with Massacre Wurm.”

The possibilities for the wildest and wackiest plays with Sudden Substitution are many. For Aminatou, it might mean giving or getting back something post-shift. Mostly, it’s just there for the fun. The true story about Cauldron Haze, which has led to some interesting plays (again, post-shift), is that I thought I was putting Batwing Brume into the deck.

So much doing it to yourself here. Even if it’s a by-Commander-standards low number of cards, like six or seven, that Thought Sponge is going to be big. I suppose I might have to institute an internal rule of only attacking the player that made it huge in the first place.


Speaking of writing notes, “Where’s Survival of the Fittest?” was the one for Archfiend of Spite. Hard-casting it will be fine, but for the same seven mana, I’d rather put it onto the battlefield and get something saucy into my grip.

There’s the compelling thought here that while there will be cases in which I hard cast Gift of Doom, it would never be in the deck in the first place if it could only be hard-cast—and I’m not sure there’s a cost that’s cheap enough for a hard-cast-only version of the card.

Also going into the Lord of Tresserhorn deck: Repay in Kind.

The operative word on this card is exile. The flexibility is wonderful, but I’m playing it in a deck that doesn’t run that many creatures anyway, so the symmetry isn’t actually all that symmetrical.


Obviously, Dockside Extortionist goes into the Pirate deck. More importantly, it goes into the one with Revel in Riches in it.

Tectonic Hellion is a card built for Grixis decks, which are the ones always behind on land. One of the other reasons it’s in this particular deck is that the deck contains Sneak Attack, so the Hellion can get its job done at a much cheaper cost. This is also the deck that Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder is going into (for Champion of Stray Souls), so that I can gain more life with Dross Harvester and have Attrition fuel.

I like that the card is getting exiled no matter what, but you get to decide whether or not you will cast the copy. That way, they can’t choose to Damnation you when you just wanted that Rampant Growth.


In a deck of angry Dinos, this one might be the angriest. Nice combo with Marauding Raptor, too.

Why is this not a Snake Elemental??? There’s a Birthing Pod / Prime Speaker Vannifar chain in the deck, and I’ve found so far that Genesis is okay but not great in the deck, so a sweet new five-drop can take its place.

Kresh gets killed. Often. Not having to spend eleven to cast it will be really nice every now and then.


I slotted Mirror Entity into this deck as well so that I could do cool things with Atla Palani. And Hazezon Tamar.

There are numerous ways this deck gets creatures onto the battlefield without casting them, such as Birthing Pod and Lurking Predators. Giving them haste makes them more deadly.

Exchanging a one-time sacrifice outlet for a repeatable one is worth the exchange of losing life instead of gaining it. Greven will keep getting into the red zone until one of us is dead.

Deck that makes tokens? Check. Deck that has Avenger of Zendikar? Checkmate.

For the first time ever, I’m replacing the commander of a deck with a different commander because the new one runs the deck better than the old one. I suppose the question is if I can still call it the Mimeoplasm Do-Over.

Artifacts and Land

One of the things that this Yasova Dragonclaw deck likes to do is generate multiple combat steps. Aeon Engine in effect does that from the perspective of the player across the table, who’s waiting a long time to take a turn. I see Aeon Engine as a card that will generate kills in situations in which you wouldn’t otherwise get the same chances.

My first thought was to put Empowered Autogenerator into a deck that could get it out by Turn 3, but the nongreen deck certainly needs it more. Dragons can get expensive, so it’s a nice boost for the Esper deck.

There’s a singular reason that Pendant of Prosperity goes into this particular deck: Brooding Saurian. I’m happy to help you out for a little bit, but I want that damn thing back.

When getting one morph for free with Kadena isn’t enough, there’s Scroll of Fate.

I looked at all my decks to see which commander had the best enters-the-battlefield trigger. Surprisingly, there aren’t many of them. The Mimeoplasm is definitely the one I want to take advantage of most often.


I’m happy that there’s more time these days for playing Commander. All these deck changes mean that I’ll be curious as to how they’ll work out—which were good ideas and which less so. The only way to find out is to do battle.

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