From the Vault: Commander!
Before I get to Glissa, the Traitor in Standard, I wanted to touch on the recent announcement by Wizards of the Coast of a new From the Vault
product: From the Vault: Legends! I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this product is coming out the same year as the new
Commander decks that will be offered soon and figure it’s all part of a push to promote this format we all love so much in 2011. Hopefully, this
will translate into some nice sales figures that will continue the love in 2012 and beyond. I thought it would be fun to speculate on what Legends we
might expect to find among the 15 cards in FtV: Legends, beyond the sneak preview of a Legend from the fall expansion, and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
that’s plainly obvious in the new artwork.
Wizards of the Coast’s reprint policy*
Unfortunately, Wizards of the Coast’s new strict interpretation of their reprint policy tells us that only Legends printed
after Urza’s Destiny (Mercadian Masques forward) will be considered for the set. Ironically, this means that From the Vault: Legends won’t
have Legends from… you know… Legends. Can you imagine Johan with the FtV foil treatment? Breathtaking! Alas, we’ll not be
seeing such a thing.
“The 15 legendary creatures are all printed in the current card frame. For several, it is for the first time.”
Mirrodin was the first expansion with Legends that utilized the current card frame, so that means several cards will be Legends from Masques Block,
Invasion Block, Odyssey Block, and Onslaught Block.
“All cards are black bordered and tournament legal. This means that these cards are legal for use in any tournaments where the original
printings are still legal. For some cards, it is their first time with a black border.”
It’s pretty obvious that “first time with a black border” means one thing—Portal: Three Kingdoms Legends! There are 31 to
choose from here, and I know I’m not the only Commander fan who wouldn’t love to get their hands on some of these. I’m going to guess
that they won’t be including “Horsemanship” here since it’s an ability that many players haven’t even heard about, so
that trims the list down to 16. Here are a couple possibilities:
Cao Cao, Lord of Wei (black): While hand destruction isn’t something I personally use in Commander much, there’s no denying that
tapping to force someone to discard two cards is pretty powerful, even if it can only be used during your own turn.
Dong Zho, the Tyrant (red): Has a pretty strong comes-into-play ability, which creates nice tension with the format rules that let you keep playing
your Commander from the Command zone. If I’m not mistaken, it can really punish someone for playing Blightsteel Colossus!
Hua Tuo, Honored Physician (green): The ability is a bit restrictive and not super-splashy, and he’s rather small in form, but the ability
does combine quite nicely with a lot of Commander staples.
Zhuge Jin, Wu Strategist (blue): Pretty small himself, but the ability to tap and make one of your creatures unblockable can certainly be taken
advantage of in Commander.
If they do include Horsemanship, here are a couple other strong choices:
Lu Xun, Scholar General (blue): having an unblockable Commander is potent in the game, even for one so small since there are plenty of pieces of
equipment that can make Lu Xun hit harder, and drawing a card for each hit is total gravy.
Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed (black): having an unblockable Commander is potent in the game, but then being able to regrow a black card from your
graveyard by sacrificing him seems pretty ridiculous when you can then replay him again from the Command zone.
- Sun Quan, Lord of Wu (blue): Obviously, making all your creatures practically unblockable is going to be ridiculous in Commander.
Tagline: “There are some allies whose power is legendary.”
It continues: “Assembled here are fifteen of the most powerful legends in Magic history, legends heralded for their devastating powers and
fearsome abilities. As a Planeswalker, you have searched the Multiverse for such allies. That search is finally at an end.”
Allies whose power is legendary… fifteen of the most powerful legends in Magic history… devastating powers and fearsome abilities. These
are some strong promises here, aren’t they? I somehow don’t anticipate Norin the Wary to make the cut.
So what do the tea leaves tell us? Teferi clearly indicates that this won’t be an all-gold set, so we can expect some number of monocolor
Legends. Some ideas:
: Maga, Traitor to Mortals is a pretty popular Commander, and while the artwork is already cool, it would probably pop quite nicely with the FtV
treatment. Ink-Eyes has tournament cred but already has a pretty sweet alternate version with the Prerelease foil.
: I could see Squee, Goblin Nabob getting the nod here, partly as a bust on the “most powerful allies” thunder but also considering
that Squee actually has quite good tournament cred. I’ve not seen Squee used as a Commander myself, but I’ve been considering the
implications of late. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker is a strong candidate.
: Kamahl, Fist of Krosa seems like a natural selection here—powerful, flexible, and already has good artwork that could use some FtV pop.
: would they drop Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero—who warped a whole Pro Tour around her—onto the Commander radar? I sure hope not, since all
that tutoring would really slow down games. My guess here would be Mageta the Lion, a powerful tournament card that is also quite good in
Yet most people lean towards gold Legends for their Commanders, so my guess is that most of the cards will not be monocolor. For balance, I’m
going to figure that we’ll have five monocolor legends—one of each color. That leaves ten other legends… now, we know that the
Commander deck product is going to feature five “wedge” Commanders, so I’m going to guess we won’t have any of those here.
I’m figuring instead we will have five “shard” Commanders, Legends with three allied colors. Some options:
(W/G/R): It’s highly unlikely to be Rith since he was featured in FtV: Dragons. That doesn’t leave us much! I’d guess it would
have to be Uril, the Miststalker, despite being so new, since he definitely qualifies as a potent Commander and could very well benefit from some
spiffy new artwork.
(G/R/B): We’ve got a couple options here! Kresh the Bloodbraided is a popular and powerful Commander; Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund is ridiculous
in the right deck; and Darigaaz, the Igniter is a classic Dragon Legend.
(R/B/U): A couple choices here, though Mishra, Artificer Prodigy doesn’t really work in singleton formats like Commander, so I doubt
he’s going to show up. I’d lay a bet on Garza Zol, Plague Queen—I don’t see her played much currently, but she’s
clearly powerful and with the Vampire support thrown around lately and maybe with some sexed-up new artwork, that could change.
(B/U/W): Alright, hang on a second—take a look at what you find here: Zur the Enchanter; Ertai, the Corrupted; Sen Triplets; Dromar, the
Banisher; and Sharuum the Hegemon. Holy crap, but this color shard has a plethora of riches! In terms of sheer power, Zur gets the nod, though I
wouldn’t be surprised to see Dromar – which was powerful enough to see tournament play back in the day – get the nostalgia nod.
(U/W/G): Like Naya, there’s not much here; clearly, Rafiq of the Many stands head and shoulders above the rest.
That leaves five more. Do we have enough five-color legends that are sufficiently devastating and/or fearsome? Looking at the list, I’d pick
Sliver Legion, Scion of the Ur-Dragon, and Progenitus for sure. Horde of Notions is potent but pushes for a pretty narrow tribal theme, something
we’re already bumping into with Sliver Legion and the Scion. Child of Alara is powerful but unfortunately doesn’t play nice with the
Commander zone. Cromat could probably make the cut, and if it had a cool, new picture and frame, maybe people would give him a try and be surprised at
how good it can be. That leaves one more—maybe the new sneak preview Legend? We’ve only had 11 five-color Legends in the history of Magic,
so we’re due another one.
If instead they are going with five Legends featuring two paired colors… well, there are so many choices I could go on and on, and I supposed
I’ve already beaten this horse enough. What legends do you think will be in or hope to see in From the Vault: Legends?
New Standard with Mirrodin Besieged
I know a lot of people are more interested in drafting with Mirrodin Besieged, or messing around with Extended, but I’m always primarily
interested in Standard, and right now I’m mostly interested in trying out new cards from Mirrodin Besieged in Standard! The new set made
a nice splash this past weekend in Indianapolis, and I’ve got my fingers crossed for some new brews at Pro Tour: Paris this weekend. I want to
bring something new and exciting to my next Friday Night Magic.
One card I’ve been particularly intrigued by is Glissa, the Traitor. This card has obviously been pushed hard on the power scale for Constructed:
a 3/3 for three mana that can basically fight, kill, and survive combat with just about any creature out there would be pretty awesome on its own, but
Glissa’s also got a triggered ability that’s like icing on the cake if you’re playing some number of artifacts that might find their
way into the graveyard. The first build I’ve knocked around has been putting her into a G/B Fauna Shaman deck:
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Vampire Hexmage
- 1 Joraga Treespeaker
- 4 Vengevine
- 4 Fauna Shaman
- 1 Sylvan Ranger
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Sylvok Replica
- 1 Molten-Tail Masticore
- 1 Necrotic Ooze
- 4 Perilous Myr
- 4 Glissa, the Traitor
- 1 Thrun, the Last Troll
I started from the Fauna Shaman/Ooze deck I built for States, though in here, the Ooze is mostly redundancy for Fauna Shaman and also to be a
Molten-Tail Masticore without the upkeep. I’d move the Gigantomancer and a few more Oozes to the sideboard for the matchups where I might
actually have time for such shenanigans. Perilous Myr make for decent early plays that stand a good shot at ending up in the graveyard by the time
Glissa makes an appearance, and I suspect Sylvok Replica will get some work in the new metagame.
Of course, Glissa in this deck is mostly just another high-quality creature that can provide a source of card advantage/creature refill on occasion.
What I really want to do with Glissa is break her right the eff off! So I went into the lab and, several explosions in my face later, this is what I
came up with:
At her core, Glissa wants opponent’s creatures to die so she can get artifacts back from the graveyard. In Standard, this desire suggests a few
clear-cut choices: Ratchet Bomb, Perilous Myr, and Jinxed Idol. The Bomb and the Myr end up in the graveyard but can also kill opposing creatures,
while the Idol can force your opponent to kill a creature and allow you to get back an artifact—possibly even a Myr you sacrificed earlier to
hand off the Idol.
Then we’ve got Throne of Geth and Piston Sledge, which can sacrifice artifacts for profit. Throne of Geth suggests proliferate as a subtheme to
the party, so I’ve added Contagion Clasp and Lux Cannon—which just so happen to also potentially kill opposing creatures. Inkmoth Nexus
adds another avenue to win that takes advantage of the proliferating going on. An early Chimeric Mass for one could also swell to huge proportions from
proliferation and has the added benefit of dodging sorcery removal (Black Sun’s Zenith) and having no throat (Go For the Throat).
Glissa is obviously a big part of making the deck hum, but unfortunately she’s pretty vulnerable to removal—Lightning Bolt and Go for the
Throat take her out. I’ve added Nim Deathmantle for a little bit of backup. Where is Ashnod’s Transmogrant when you need it? Tap, sac: Glissa
becomes immune to Lightning Bolt and Go for the Throat. That would be awesome! I have been considering Liquimetal Coating as Throat insurance
in the sideboard…
What’s In A Name?
Last week, I told you I was thinking of changing the column name from You Lika The Juice and opened it up to votes and suggestions from you, my
readers. Here’s how things shook out from the voting:
- I Lika The Juice– Keep It! 205 votes (48%)
- I Think You Should Change It 226 votes (52%)
As an alternative name, I suggested Yavimaya Elder, and a lot of you seemed to like it:
- I Think You Should Change It to Yavimaya Elder 126 votes (56%)
- I Think You Should Change It to Something Else 100 votes (44%)
Of course, Yavimaya Elder didn’t get an overwhelming vote of support, so I think I’m going to open up another round of votes putting up
Yavimaya Elder against some other suggestions I received that I think would make good names; you can find this in the Google Docs poll below. But
first, a few honorable mentions!
- A Bennie for Your Thoughts
- Indomitable Ancient
- Bennie There, Done That
- Casual B.S. (Bennie Smith)
- We’re watching you, Mr. Anderson
- You Lika the Spruce Goose
- Friends with Bennies
There were also some amusing, off-color name suggestions that I don’t think are appropriate for a family-friendly site like
StarCityGames.com… So, here are the “finalist” suggestions that I think would make a good column name:
: it’s green, it’s an awesome card (and in fact was in my States-winning deck), Yavimaya is a very Magic-al place name, and
“elder” suggests the wisdom of age. As an old dude, I’d like to think my age and longevity in the game illuminates my writing with
some degree of understanding and insight.
: Nicely blends a potent green spell name with the format name I write about quite a bit. My one concern is that, while I do write a lot about
Commander, I do write about other Magic topics about half the time.
: it’s green, it’s an awesome card, and it happens to be one of my all-time favorite Magic cards. Plus, I’ve been around witnessing
Magic for a long, long, (eternally) long time… I see you.
: If you look at some really old cards (such as Argivian Blacksmith, Hyperion Blacksmith, Repentant Blacksmith), you’ll see
“Summon Smith” on the creature type line. So the name harkens back to the first days of Magic (as do I) which is cool.
Drop me a line if you’ve gotten anywhere with post-MBS infect decks; I’m going to be digging into that as well.
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me
feedback, ideas, and random thoughts on Magic and life.
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 Primer Part 1
(Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
Commander Primer Part 2
(Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
Commander Primer Part 3
(Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
My current Commander decks
(and links to decklists)
- Vorosh, the Hunter (proliferaTION)
*Due to Wizards’ reprint policy, the following Legends cannot be reprinted and won’t be included here (for reference).
- Adun Oakenshield
- Angus Mackenzie
- Asmira, Holy Avenger
- Autumn Willow
- Baron Sengir
- Barrin, Master Wizard
- Bartel Runeaxe
- Boris Devilboon
- Commander Greven il-Vec
- Crovax the Cursed
- Daughter of Autumn
- Eladamri, Lord of Leaves
- Ertai, Wizard Adept
- General Jarkeld
- Gosta Dirk
- Grandmother Sengir
- Gwendlyn Di Corci
- Hakim, Loreweaver
- Hazduhr the Abbot
- Hazezon Tamar
- Hivis of the Scale
- Jacques le Vert
- Karn, Silver Golem
- Lady Caleria
- Lady Evangela
- Livonya Silone
- Lord of Tresserhorn
- Marton Stromgald
- Maraxus of Keld
- Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
- Orim, Samite Healer
- Purraj of Urborg
- Radiant, Archangel
- Ramses Overdark
- Rashida Scalebane
- Rasputin Dreamweaver
- Reveka, Wizard Savant
- Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
- Rohgahh of Kher Keep
- Selenia, Dark Angel
- Shauku, Endbringer
- Sidar Jabari
- Skeleton Ship
- Sliver Queen
- Soraya the Falconer
- Spirit of the Night
- Tetsuo Umezawa
- Tuknir Deathlock
- Veldrane of Sengir
- Zirilan of the Claw
- Zuberi, Golden Feather