The Great(est?) Commander Legends Deck Update

No single set has shaken up Sheldon Menery’s deckbuilding like Commander Legends. See what made the cut.

Jeweled Lotus, illustrated by Alayna Danner

After a great prerelease weekend, we’ve already seen the impact—mostly on the loads of fun—that Commander Legends is bringing to the format.  The set is chock-full of compelling cards, with lots of them that will go into your existing decks and lots more which will inspire you to new brews. 

For me, updating decks is always a struggle.  I love slotting in the new cards, but always hate saying good-bye to old friends.  During the Zendikar Rising deck update, I mentioned it might be the last time I do a piece on making changes to my suite of nearly 60 decks.  With all the great cards in Commander Legends, however, it seems like if I’m going to close the chapter on this ongoing feature, it should be with what might be the most important Commander set of all time. 

Unless it’s significant (like there’s a slot in some other deck for the card), I won’t bother you with what’s coming out of the deck to make room.  The new cards are the important ones anyway, and they’re what I’m excited about.  We’ll talk today only about the cards which are going into existing decks.  If some strong card seems missing from this list, rest assured that it’s slated for some new build.

I also won’t go over the individual Pirate cards, since there are too many of them.  I’ll be doing a full update of Admiral Beckett Brass as soon as I acquire all of them.  You can be sure that Azure Fleet Admiral; Amphin Mutineer; Brazen Freebooter; Breeches, Brazen Plunderer; Captain Vargus Wrath; Coercive Recruiter; Crimson Fleet Commodore; Dargo, the Shipwrecker; Daring Saboteur; Emberwilde Captain; Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator; Merchant Raiders; Port Razer; and Zara, Renegade Recruiter all have a strong possibility of making it into the new version of the deck.


Akroma, Vision of Ixidor

Into:  Rith’s Soldiers

It might seem like the newest Akroma belongs in my Angel tribal deck, piloted by Trostani, Selesyna’s Voice.  It turns out that it might be better in a deck with Odric, Lunarch Marshal, who can spread around the keyword salad.  Since Odric is a player in my Rith deck (it actually has both versions), in it goes.  It doesn’t hurt that I got a foil version in my Collector Booster box.

Akroma's Will

Into:  Rith’s Soldiers

Sure, it’s a combo with Akroma, Vision of Ixidor.  It’s also simply a great finishing move when you have a good swarm of creatures, which is something the Rith deck can definitely create.  Don’t sleep on Akroma’s Will (since it’s an instant) on simply being able to save your team from a battlefield sweeper.  Indestructible will save them from nearly anything and they won’t take damage from cards like Blasphemous Act (which could be important if Repercussion is on the battlefield).

Archon of Coronation

Into:  Queen Marchesa

The primary question for me coming out of reviewing Commander Legends is whether I’m building a new monarch deck or not.  For the time being, I’m going to stick with Queen Marchesa (whom I got an etched foil of in my Collector Booster box) while sprinkling monarch cards throughout other decks. 

Archon of Coronation is excellent at mitigating the disadvantage of being the monarch, since people are likely to start attacking you.  Sure, you might give up the crown, but at least it’s not at the expense of a great deal of life.  This deck has enough You Did This to Yourself elements to discourage attacks anyway.  No Mercy is a most excellent one.  Adding the Archon and a few other monarch cards will kick the theme into overdrive.  I’m mostly sad that there’s not enough room in the deck for Court of Grace.

Keeper of the Accord

Into:  Ruhan Do Over

Keeper of the Accord needs to go into a deck without green in order to take advantage of the lower land count.  In this deck, it will also make Soldiers, and I can keep the creature count down via Goblin Bombardment

Soul of Eternity

Into:  Trostani’s Angels

While the Trostani deck is Angel tribal, it’s also a lifegain deck.  Nothing will be better than quadrupling my life total with a little Soul of Eternity encore while Trostani is on the battlefield.  Since there’s already a Serra Avatar in the deck, it doesn’t seem like too much of a theme violation. 


Body of Knowledge

Into:  Phelddagrif

While Body of Knowledge isn’t specifically a Maro-Sorcerer, it’s basically one nonetheless.  Adding the no maximum hand size clause is most excellent.  On top of that, the third ability, drawing cards when it takes damage, has all kinds of implications.  If it gets chump blocked, draw a card or two.  If you trade, there’s solid value.  If it’s the victim of a Blasphemous Act, draw a whole pile.  The only thing is you have to be careful.  The card draw isn’t a may ability, so I won’t be blocking any Lord of Extinction anytime soon.  Card is strong all around.


Into: You Did This to Yourself

There’s a temptation to violate my only-one-of-a-new-card rule with Hullbreacher.  It slots easily into any deck, even with the faintest hint of blue.  While it’s a Pirate, it has bigger fish to fry than going in the Pirate deck—although there’s a nice alternate win condition there with Revel in Riches.  Instead, I’m going with the deck that seems like it fits best, You Did This to Yourself.  I can’t wait until someone wheels.  The only sad part is that I can’t get it with Sunforger.

Mana Drain

Into:  Dreaming of Intet

This isn’t actually an update, but more of a flex, since I got one in my Collector Booster Box.  I had a foil one created by Scott Marshall back sometime in like 2008—he took a real Legends one (at the time not going for a big pile of money) and gave it a foil treatment.  I’ve played it ever since.  It just seemed like I should put the pimpier one in a signature deck.  Also in this deck, the foil extended art Sol Ring I got.  The box was serious value.

Sakashima of a Thousand Faces

Into:  Dreaming of Intet

A predominant part of the creature suite involves Clones, so this Sakashima was a natural fit.  Who wouldn’t want to have two Intet, the Dreamer flying around?  Even when I play the deck as one of the other commanders, Riku of Two Reflections or Surrak Dragonclaw, copying them could be excellent value.  The deck knows how to produce mana, so being able to create two copies of creatures or spells is just super saucy.

Sakashima's Will

Into:  The Threat of Yasova

Yasova likes to borrow things (and sometimes not give them back).  While it’s mostly about the Threaten effects, gaining control of someone’s commander for good is better than having to pay mana every turn for it.  And there are some commanders which tend to be out of Yasova’s reach. 

Siren Stormtamer

Into:  Animar’s Swarm

Animar, Soul of Elements sometimes needs a little protection.  It has it from black and white, so it’s not getting a Swords to Plowshares or Path to Exile, but there are plenty of other ways to disrupt it, most of them blue.  Having something that cheaply puts a counter on Animar and then gives it a bit of a shield is a no-brainer. 

Sphinx of the Second Sun

Into:  Dreaming of Intet

Requirement:  a blue deck that can generate the mana required to be able to cast an eight mana creature and have the resources to protect it.  Enter the Intet deck.  Because it has lots of instants, the precombat main phase will likely involve a big permanent, then the postcombat one just untapping so, a la Wilderness Reclamation.  Also:  Clones.  The fuel is real.


Falthis, Shadowcat Familiar

Into: Ikra and Kydele

Falthis makes Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper harder to block, which means more life gain from attacking with it.  The card also makes me consider replacing Kydele with a more aggressive partner.  Kydele is fine and all, but if we’re going into battle mode, there are quite a few blue partner choices to consider, some of them even adding red or white.  Sakashima of a Thousand Faces seems the most aggressive, being able to copy both Ikra Shidiqi and any of the other large monsters in the deck.  Adding another color would require a complete rebuild, but the idea is still worth thinking about. 

Nadier's Nightblade

Into:  Gisa and Geralf Together Forever

Nadier’s Nightblade isn’t a Zombie, but it works with all the token creation that the Gisa and Geralf decks has. Most importantly, it turns Tombstone Stairwell into an absolute wrecking ball that might kill the table before the turn even gets back around to me. 

Opposition Agent

Into:  Halloween with Karador

I’m on record saying that I think that Opposition Agent is the kind of card we need a little more of in Commander.  It’s definitely pushed; I’d play it even if it cost four or maybe even five.  It will go into one of my signature decks because it’s a card that you can’t complain about when someone kills it.  Karador, Ghost Chieftain knows how to bring it back again.  Lock out combos with Maralen of the Mornsong aside, Opposition Agent will have a serious impact on all levels of play in Commander.  Be prepared.

Sengir, the Dark Baron

Into:  Rakdos Reimagined

It’s pretty simple.  Big, scary Vampire goes into Vampire deck.

Szat's Will

Into:  Kresh Into the Red Zone

This deck likes to do a few things that Szat’s Will can help with.  The first mode will make Kresh insanely large.  As a combat trick, it will likely be quite deadly.  The second mode will clear out graveyards so that I can cast a more selfish Living Death


Dargo, the Shipwrecker

Into:  TBD

While it’s most likely going into the Admiral Beckett Brass rebuild, there’s some argument to put Dargo into Kresh.  The creature sacrifice will pump up Kresh, or the turn’s previous sacrifices will fuel casting Dargo for just one red mana.  Either way, seems worth the consideration.

Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar

Into:  Saskia Unyielding

What’s better than Saskia?  Double Saskia for everyone.  Faces will be smashed, especially since I picked up the Secret Lair International Women’s Day version of Saskia to lead the charge. 


Anara, Wolvid Familiar

Into:  Ruric Thar’s Beastly Fight Club

Beast tribal is beats tribal, and having Ruric Thar stay around to provide more beatings is the direction to go.  Ruric Thar is a little mindless, so slamming him into battle with no fear does exactly the kind of thing the deck wants to do.

Apex Devastator

Into:  Animar’s Swarm

Sometimes Animar decks can get silly, and nothing would be sillier than cascading four times for just two green mana.  It’s a very Timmy move for a very Timmy deck.  Even a small discount makes casting Apex Devastator worth it, since we’re casting the spells off cascade—meaning we’ll tick up Animar more for each creature that we deck. 

Court of Bounty

Into:  Proliferating Chulane

Chulane decks can get boring as dumb value engines, which is why I built this one with a proliferate theme.  Adding Court of Bounty leads it more into the value realm while still maintaining some of the odd charm of not doing it the way everyone else is. 

Kodama of the East Tree

Into:  Animar’s Swarm

The Animar deck has creatures with good enters-the-battlefield triggers all over the place.  Casting Kodama of the East Tree for less than six will likely start a chain of creatures getting cast that might just end up with my hand being empty.  I won’t complain, even if Kodama of the East Tree’s triggered ability doesn’t put counters on my commander.

Three Visits

Into:  TBD

This will go into some new deck that I build soon. I just wanted to give a shout out because it’s such a sweet reprint.  Also got a foil one in my Collector Booster box. 


Most of the multicolored cards merit consideration as commanders in their own right.  While I’m working out which of them I’ll definitely build, I’ll put a few into existing decks.  The number might rise once I’m sure that I won’t be building decks with them.

Averna, the Chaos Bloom

Into:  Yidris Rotisserie Draft

If you’re going to cascade nearly every turn, you might as well get additional benefit from it, right? 

Colfenor, the Last Yew

Into:  Commander Legends Boxing League

I’ve already opened my box for Boxing League.  Full details are coming next week, and I though it might be a cool preview of which commander that I’m leaning towards.  Although there are plenty of partner pairs to consider, Abzan Elves looks like it’s a strong front-runner.

Hamza, Guardian of Arashin

Into:  Karador Do Over

Plus one counters matter decks deserve cool plus one counters matter cards.  Hamza, Guardian of Arashin will most often cost just {G}{W} to cast and eliminate the generic mana requirements for other creatures.  There has to be a loop in here somewhere.

Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty

Into:  Animar’s Swarm

There are many big monsters in the Animar deck, so getting extra things is full of win.  Imoti is likely cast on the cheap itself.  With these new cascade things, I might move the deck away from the morph creatures / Cloudstone Curio shenanigans into a new kind of tomfoolery.


Bladegriff Prototype

Into:  Karn Evil No. 9

Welcome back, my friends to the show that never ends.  Removal is one of the things that this deck lacks, so adding something that can deal with permanents is just what it needs.  Plus, who doesn’t love the politics?

Commander's Plate

Into:  Karn Evil No. 9

Let’s turn Karn into a beatdown Golem!

Ingenuity Engine

Into:  Karn Evil No. 9

Might as well keep giving Karn some new toys.  Pro play here is to sacrifice Spine of Ish Sah in order to activate Ingenuity Engine.  Sure, it’s pricey, but that Urzatron is running anyway, right?

Jeweled Lotus

Into:  N/A

If you haven’t heard me say my piece on this card already, here it is.  The card itself might not be all that dangerous to the format, but what it represents is.  The only thing it does is make the format faster, which is the absolute wrong direction.  Its mere presence changes the dynamic of the format into what can only be unhealthy.  I’m not saying this card is worth a ban, but it’s certainly worth keeping our eyes on.  If you’re speculating on this card, be very cautious. 


Rejuvenating Springs, Spectator Seating, Training Center, Undergrowth Stadium, and Vault of Champions will all find homes in appropriately colored decks.

War Room

Into:  Karn Evil No. 9

Sure, there’s lots of value here, but the real reason to play the card is so that I can endlessly quote Dr. Strangelove

I’ll never stop updating my existing decks, but it’s simply time to retire this feature.  There are plenty of other ways of getting excited about the new cards coming out of a set, so we’ll explore those avenues as we move into the future.   

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