12 Baldur’s Gate Cards You Should Play in Commander

Bennie Smith is hyped to add Baldur’s Gate cards to his Commander MTG decks, and not the usual suspects! Get his list of a dozen delights from the new set.

Descent into Avernus
Descent into Avernus, illustrated by Bruce Brenneise

Today’s the day when the first round of my StarCityGames.com preorders from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate should be arriving in my mailbox, and I am so stoked!  I’ve gotten some random cards from various packs on Prerelease Weekend, but nothing quite beats getting a stack of exactly the cards that you want to start putting into your decks.  Or even making some brand-new ones!  I’ve written about Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm and Raggadragga, Goreguts Boss, and plan on building full Commander decks with them in paper.

I also plan on building this Background pair to add to my mono-green stable of Commander decks:

Wilson, Refined Grizzly Raised by Giants

Wilson is an interesting card as your commander. I’m really looking forward to pulling the deck together and running it.  I might even write about it—if y’all are interested, let me know!

Honorable Mentions

I thought it would be fun to give you a peek at some of the cards that I’m super-excited to play with and tell you why you should give them a try too!  I picked two from each color combination and two artifacts. I’m not going to include the obvious choices since, like everyone else, I am definitely stoked to get my hands on some of the mythic rare Ancient Dragons!

Ancient Copper Dragon Ancient Silver Dragon Ancient Brass Dragon Ancient Bronze Dragon Ancient Gold Dragon

And yes, I am incredibly excited at the long-overdue reprinting of the multiplayer allied color lands originally from Battlebond:

Bountiful Promenade Luxury Suite Morphic Pool Sea of Clouds Spire Garden

And also, the much-needed reprint of Reflecting Pool!

Reflecting Pool

Having these high-quality color-fixing lands for Commander around $10 a pop is fantastic!

No, today I want to turn you on to some of the cards you may have overlooked in the hopes that you might get as excited as I am to give them a whirl in your Commander decks.  Let’s dig in!

Contraband Livestock

Contraband Livestock

Swords to Plowshares has been a premium removal spell since it was first printed in Limited Edition Alpha, and even though it’s been printed 46 times, it’s still worth $2 for a good reason.  While mass removal is more efficient in multiplayer, you still need to have pinpoint removal available so that you can remove a problem permanent without nuking the entire battlefield.

Sometimes you need to get rid of a creature permanently, and unless the creature in question is a commander, nothing is quite as permanent as exile.  In white, the go-to card is always going to be Swords to Plowshares.  However, for the #2 and perhaps #3 slots we have options, and in my mind Contraband Livestock immediately rises to the forefront.

I just love the tension in the mini-game of rolling a d20 for the effect.  You know the creature is going to be exiled, and in most cases good riddance—seriously, get that Avacyn, Angel of Hope trash off the battlefield! But what do they get in exchange? 

Half the time it’s going to be a 2/2 green Boar creature token, which is pretty insignificant in most Commander games. (Just under) half the time it’s going to be a 4/4 green Ox creature token, which is big enough to be significant a lot of the times, though obviously much better than that Avacyn. But then, there’s that 5% chance you roll a natural 20 and your opponent will get a 0/1 white Goat token, which will elicit all sorts of Greatest Of All Time jokes at the table. That variable outcome of the card really makes for a much more fun experience than most pinpoint removal spells and I’m slotting this in every white deck I have; I can’t wait to play it!

Aboleth Spawn

Aboleth Spawn

Commander players absolutely love creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers; creatures die constantly in Commander games, and guaranteeing value from your mana investment before it shuffles off to the graveyard is irresistible. Aboleth Spawn copying the trigger from Eternal Witness, Solemn Simulacrum, Avenger of Zendikar, Sun Titan, and friggin’ Dockside Extortionist is going to be amazing! 

Letting it have flash means you can sneak it onto the battlefield when one of these cards is on the stack, but I don’t think you’re going to need to be so tricky with it.  With ward 2 and just a 2/3 body, I don’t think this is necessarily going to be such a must-kill as to draw pinpoint removal unless someone is setting up a combo kill involving those triggers.

Altar of Bhaal

Altar of Bhaal

I love that Adventures are back, being perfect flavor inclusions in a Dungeons & Dragons-themed set. Altar of Bhaal is quite nice even without the attached Adventure, simply because getting to reanimate a creature from your graveyard during your turn is excellent even outside of Reanimator strategies, assuming you’re playing creatures you’d want to get back from your graveyard.

I’m probably not slamming this in any black creature deck, but for ones that make token creatures quite easily alongside regular creature cards, I’m definitely going to include it. Zombie tribal decks immediately spring to mind, and can’t wait to slot one in my Narfi, Betrayer King deck!  If your deck happens to be playing Eternal Scourge, Misthollow Griffin, Torrent Elemental, or Squee, the Immortal, you might consider Altar of Bhaal if black is in your color identity.



Fans of “impossible” commanders like Phage the Untouchable or Haakon, Stromgald Scourge are stoked to get another tool to make their awkward commander work, but I think it’s got a lot more applications and deserves a slot in a lot more Commander decks.  The one-mana slot is tough to fill in our decks, and so having something like this to include is very welcome.

At the baseline, most lifegain decks are going to want this since the activation is so cheap. Also, if you’re playing partners or Choose a Background pairs as your commander, this can save a significant amount of commander tax later in the game. Lastly, unless your deck has a bunch of graveyard recursion, shuffling your graveyard into your library can improve the density of nonland cards that you’ll be drawing later. There’s just a lot of value packed into this one-mana artifact, and I’m stoked to put it in a lot of decks!

Journey to the Lost City

Journey to the Lost City

When I first started playing Magic in 1994, Millstone was a popular win condition in control decks. I absolutely loathed getting milled to death and was absolutely miserable each activation, watching two cards that I wanted to draw get thrown into my graveyard.  The old flavor text was spot on: More than one mage was driven insane by the sound of the Millstone relentlessly grinding away.

One day, a much wiser player gave me a tip for mentally dealing with Millstone.  “Having a card milled into your graveyard doesn’t matter until it’s the last card in your library. If there’s a card you need that gets milled, just think of it the same as being on the bottom of your library. You’d never see it either way; play your deck and don’t worry about it until your library runs out.”

Why do I bring this up?  Journey to the Lost City reminds me a bit of getting milled when you don’t want your cards ending up in your graveyard. Exiling cards from your deck is even worse, since the only way to get those cards back is to get a 20 on your die roll, and if someone destroys the enchantment, those cards are gone forever.

Math Alert!

Though exiling four cards a turn sounds like a lot of your deck gone, let’s do the math:  100 cards, minus the commander, minus your opening seven-card hand, minus four draw steps by the time you cast this, leaves 88 cards in your library.  Exiling four cards plus your draw steps means this enchantment could potentially kill you by the time eighteen more turns go by.  Most Commander games are going to be done before Turn 22, so I don’t think we need to worry about that. Like the mental trick with dealing with Millstone, just imagine that the exiled cards are on the bottom of your library and don’t sweat it (unless your deck plans on winning with a specific combination of cards). 

So, what’s the upside?  Half the time you’ll get to ramp a land during your upkeep, and the other half of the time, you’ll get a Wolf token that’s at least a 2/2 but potentially bigger. If you roll that 20, though, assuming Journey has been around at least a few turns, wow, that’s going to be insane! 

Much like Contraband Livestock, I think there’s some cool gameplay value in the mini-game rolling this each upkeep. 95% of the time, the triggered ability probably isn’t worth a removal spell that’s going to be better sent towards Rhystic Study or Smothering Tithe, but once enough cards have been exiled, the risk from rolling a 20 is going to weigh on your opponents. Any green deck I have that’s playing a large percentage of permanents, I’m going to give this a try in it, and of course if my deck has something like Barbarian Class or Wyll, Blade of Frontiers, I’m definitely slamming Journey in there!

Wild Magic Surge

Wild Magic Surge

This is another card that has a mini-game attached to it.  For two red mana at instant speed, you can destroy any permanent an opponent controls, which is incredibly potent and flexible pinpoint removal!  But then the mini-game begins:  what card are they going to get instead?  I imagine it’ll usually be a permanent that’s worse than the one you destroyed, but sometimes it’s going to blow up in your face and that’s going to be epic and perfectly in keeping with the flavor of “wild magic surge.” I’m shoving this in all of my decks that play heavy red.

Greatsword of Tyr

Greatsword of Tyr

I think this is sneakily a really sweet Equipment card that I’m ready to slot in a lot of decks. I love that it puts a +1/+1 counter on the creature directly and taps down a blocker each time the equipped creature attacks, so if you’ve got +1/+1 counter synergies or extra attacks, it will do a lot of work. Greatsword of Tyr isn’t going to set off alarm bells like Skullclamp or Sunforger, so it will probably stick around giving you value for a while. I’m definitely slotting it into my Bruenor Battlehammer deck but am considering it for Osgir, the Reconstructor and Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun.

Robe of the Archmagi

Robe of the Archmagi

Robe of the Archmagi isn’t sneaky in how good it is, but I still think that people might be discounting how good it is.  Basically, if your commander is a Shaman, Warlock, or Wizard and has blue in its color identity, I think you’re going to want to run this. Even if your commander is small – think Talrand, Sky Summoner or Emry, Lurker of the Loch – you can slot in ways to boost its power to potentially draw you a fair number of cards. I strongly advocate nearly every deck run Blackblade Reforged; how would you like to draw cards equal to your commander’s power plus the number of lands you control?  I know I would!  There are also things like Hand of Vecna, Commander’s Plate, and Hero’s Blade.

From the Catacombs

From the Catacombs

I’m a huge fan of initiative!  Undercity is an awesome dungeon designed to be better for multiplayer than the original cycle of dungeons from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. And I love that the initiative can be passed around the table just like monarch does, which should help push the game forward. Each room as you journey through Undercity has nice effects for various Commander battlefield states, and the final room is going to be awesome for most Commander decks that play a reasonable number of creatures.

So, I really like From the Catacombs even for decks that aren’t focused on dungeons, since the initiative can get passed around the table once it enters the game. At five mana it’s costed well; hopefully by the time you can cast it there’s been a worthy creature killed that you could bring back from the graveyard. It’s a nifty way to stop creature recursion, since the creature you animate will self-exile if it leaves the battlefield.

Later in the game you should be able to pay the escape cost, especially if you have any amount of self-mill (dredge, I’m looking at you). I don’t currently have any decks that self-mill a bunch, but I’m definitely planning on slotting this into a couple of my black decks:  Doran, the Siege Tower; possibly Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth; and maybe Gyome, Master Chef.

Descent into Avernus

Descent into Avernus

When I first saw Descent into Avernus, I thought, “LOL, yeah right,” and just dismissed it as another of a long line of red chaos cards. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I like it, and I think I’m going to try it out in a number of my red decks. It’s a game accelerant, and in pods that aren’t filled with combo kills, sometimes games can get bogged down.  Everyone loves Treasure tokens, of course, so there’s going to be some degree of hesitancy to destroy the enchantment in the early turns.  But that damage is going to add up: two, then four, then six, then eight… and in the meantime everyone is getting to pop off with a bunch of extra Treasure tokens.

Just at its baseline, I think it’s worth putting in some Commander decks, and that’s not including all the ways you can add to your deck to break the symmetry.  For instance, Manglehorn or Blind Obedience means your opponents won’t be able to use the Treasures that Descent creates until their own turn, leaving you with the advantage on your own turn. With the explosion of Treasure cards in Commander, Viridian Revel is becoming a metagame all-star and obviously does good work alongside Descent. Torbran, Thane of Red Fell and Fiery Emancipation are other ways to break the symmetry in your favor!  I’m planning on trying Descent in my Valduk, Keeper of the Flame and Tahngarth, First Mate Commander decks.

Dungeoneer’s Pack

Dungeoneer's Pack

There’s a lot of value packed into this artifact, and I think it’s well worth playing in any deck with some degree of artifact synergies. For five mana split over two turns, you get the initiative (you already know how I feel about initiative), gain three life, draw a card, and create a Treasure token. Assuming this is the first time in Undercity, you get to search up a basic land to your hand and draw a card. And while the value is undeniable, it’s not backbreaking value, so I don’t imagine it will provoke a removal spell from your opponents that something like Skullclamp or Panharmonicon will. I’m definitely going to be slotting this in my Glissa, the Traitor and Osgir, the Reconstructor decks at the very least.

Erinis, Gloom Stalker

Erinis, Gloom Stalker

Last on the list is Erinis, Gloom Stalker, which I think does solid work in the 99 of green Commander decks, even if you don’t get to take full advantage of all its abilities. A 3/3 with deathtouch for three mana is decent, but that attack trigger is solid value!  Opponents aren’t going to want to block it with something bigger, and even if they chump block it, you’ll still have already gotten the trigger.

If your deck has some number of fetchlands like Misty Rainforest, Evolving Wilds, Myriad Landscape, or Blighted Woodland, you should strongly consider Erinis for your deck. There are also some number of quality utility lands that involve sacrificing that make this card even better: favorite Mirrorpool springs to mind, but there’s also Buried Ruin, Command Beacon, Inventors’ Fair, Urza’s Saga, and – if you’re a degenerate – Strip Mine.  Another thing to consider is playing cycling lands like Tranquil Thicket or Indatha Triome. In fact, any effect that lets you discard a card from your hand for some benefit lets you combo with Erinis if the card you’re discarding is a land.

Lastly, if your deck is already doing shenanigans with extra attack steps, then you get bonus benefits from Erinis—cards like Aggravated Assault and Moraug, Fury of Akoum.

So, what cards from Baldur’s Gate are you most excited to slot into your Commander decks?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and get conversations started about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  You can also find my LinkTree on my profile page there with links to all my content.

I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.  You can also find the lists for my paper decks over on Archidekt if you want to dig into how I put together my own decks and brews. 

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

Visit my Decklist Database to see my decklists and the articles where they appeared!