The Great Baldur’s Gate Commander Deck Suite Update

A new set brings new options for Sheldon Menery’s ever-growing rotation of Commander MTG decks. Which three dozen cards made his latest cut, and where?

Displacer Kitten, illustrated by Campbell White

We’re at my simultaneously favorite and least favorite time in the release cycle.  I get to update my decks with all the new hotness that’s recently come our way.  I also have to say good-bye to some old friends in order to do it.  The silver lining is that, next time we meet, I’ll have drafted up a few decks featuring the new cards, especially the commanders.  For Commander Legends:  Battle for Baldur’s Gate, it’ll mean crafting at least one deck that boasts choosing a background. 

For those of you who haven’t played along before, my promise is to put only one copy of a new card into the existing suite.  Once I start building, all bets are off and we might see something like Candlekeep Sage or Displacer Kitten in multiple new builds.  But for now, let’s dive right into what we’ll be doing with the existing decks.


Ancient Gold Dragon

Into:  Merieke’s Esper Dragons

We’re going to resculpt this Merieke ri Berit deck a little in that we’re changing up a contingent of the Dragons from older ones to Commander Legends:  Battle for Baldur’s Gate options.  The mana costs will come down a bit, but not so much as I’d want to call the curve tight or anything.

Archivist of Oghma

Into:  Isshin, Habanero-Level

Especially at a higher-powered end, people are going to pay attention to whether or not their search is worth their draw.  This is the kind of back-and-forth mental play that I find a crucial element in some Commander games.  For the most part, they’re probably still going to search, since what they’re searching for is generally known, while what we draw is most often not.  Still, I’m happy to take it.

Battle Angels of Tyr

Into:  Trostani’s Angels

I’ve talked about there being enough Zombies, Demons, and a few other classes to make second (or third) tribal decks with.  Angels is probably there already, too.  For now, this lower-mana-value piece will get the deck doing stuff a turn earlier than normal.  We’re probably not going to fill all three categories every time we hit, but the incremental advantage is enough, especially when we might occasionally triple up due to myriad. 

Flaming Fist

Into: Saskia, Who Does Not Yield

Saskia is about dealing extra damage when she connects in combat.  Flaming Fist is about making the original damage a little scarier in the first place.

Lae'zel's Acrobatics

Into: Lavinia Blinks

Lae’zel’s Acrobatics is a defensive spell that turns offensive when we have lots of good enters-the-battlefield triggers.  We’re always going to save our creatures, but on that second half of the rolls, we’re going to get double triggers.  Lavinia is set up for maximum value in blinking, although I suppose it makes sense in my Rith Do Over as well.

Noble Heritage

Into: Breena Will Do It To You

The dreamy synergy between Breena and Noble Heritage means that when those attacks go elsewhere due to the call of the card draw or the fear of the Inkshield!), they’ll deal more damage.  I expect additional politics involved—and am well aware that the political playing field is tilted to my advantage.


Ancient Silver Dragon

Into:  Merieke’s Esper Dragons

Yes, it’s the pricey one, but with a little time to survive, we’ll get some serious card draw (unless we get unlucky a few times).  And we only need to hit once to get the unlimited hand size for the rest of the game.  I dare say that Ancient Silver Dragon is the kind of Dragon we all wanted when we first got our hands on Magic; finally, here it is.

Candlekeep Sage

Into:  Ikra and Kydele

I’ve been thinking for a while about replacing the kind of redundant Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix with something else (at least in setting the deck’s colors).  The partner would have to be either blue, blue/black, or blue/green, and I’d want it to play into some of the attacking the deck likes to do.  We’ll move Candlekeep Sage into the 99, where it can do double duty protecting Ikra Shidiqi and whichever other one we choose.  We’ll want to stay away from the Simic good stuff and go with something that reflects the oddball plays the deck likes to get up to. 

Displacer Kitten

Into:  Dreaming of Intet

I think I slept on Displacer Kitten a little in my full set review.  It should be in the Top 5.  No, it’s not Paradox Engine, which some people have been comparing it to (there’s a big difference between “one” and “all”), but there’s still quite a bit going for it. 

Yes, there are plenty of easy combos to run with the card.  We’ll see how well folks come around to finding novel uses for it.  Although it’s probably the most-discussed card of the set so far, I don’t see it going anywhere soon.  In this Intet deck, its swingiest target will probably be Avenger of Zendikar, but there’s nothing wrong with resetting Glen Elendra Archmage or just getting another use from the trigger on Eternal Witness.

Dungeon Delver

Into:  Sefris Dungeons

Instead of being about running dungeons faster, Dungeon Delver is about finding those secret passageways and extracting even more treasure.  Whether we’re going for the Monty Haul loot of Dungeon of the Mad Mage or just tightening our run through Lost Mine of Phandelver, Dungeon Delver is our ace down a literal hole.

Kindred Discovery

Into:  Aminatou’s Demons

Naming Demons, the “or attacks” clause on Kindred Discovery becomes relevant because we’re getting into the Red Zone with Aminatou’s Demons as often as possible. 


Ancient Brass Dragon

Into:  Oldest Stickfingers

After having set up some nice creatures in the graveyard to reanimate with Old Stickfingers, Ancient Brass Dragon will get us some of them back onto the battlefield without having to expend cards to do it. 

Agent of the Iron Throne

Into:  Queen Marchesa, Long May She Reign

My initial search was looking to see in how many decks I play Forbidden Orchard.  Queen Marchesa was a nice bingo because she’s also good at killing bunches of other creatures.  The alt win condition of just draining people down is even more alive that it was yesterday. 

Armor of Shadows

Into:  Brokkos, Apex of Mutate

The +1/+0 buff will rarely be relevant, but protecting our whole Brokkos stack sure will be. 

Brainstealer Dragon

Into:  Merieke’s Esper Dragons

With the addition of Brainstealer Dragon, this Merieke deck longs for the addition of Conjurer’s Closet.  First, we can stuff creatures we’ve borrowed with Merieke into the closet, thereby getting rid of the problems with Merieke’s untap clause.  Then, once Brainstealer Dragon is online, we get to drain life while we’re doing it all.  Searching the boxes for that extra Conjurer’s Closet as we speak.

Call to the Void

Into:  Karador, Version 3

I’m not sure that Call to the Void is going to be all that good, but it’ll be quite a bit of fun.  That’s the experience I’m looking for anyway.  It’s in one of the versions of Karador, Ghost Chieftain since getting creatures back from the graveyard is trivially easy for Karador.

Eldritch Pact

Into:  The Millmeoplasm

In this deck led by The Mimeoplasm, which is based around mill as a win condition, Eldritch Pact is a kill spell, plain and simple. It could be as a follow-up to Traumatize or just a late-game piece in which the graveyards are big.  Either way fits.


Ancient Copper Dragon

Into:  Karrthus and His Dragons

There are probably enough really good Dragons to split into two decks (like Zombies!).  We’ll slot Ancient Copper Dragon into the Jund version so that it can fuel blasting out with some of the other big reptiles in the deck.


Into:  Kaalia’s Demons

While we won’t get any of Balor’s triggers when we put it onto the battlefield with Kaalia of the Vast’s ability, we’ll get them when it’s around to battle next turn.  I’m particularly fond of the third.  In most Commander games, the second ability is nearly always going to find someone to target.  Do note that we’re targeting the opponent and not the artifact itself, so in particular hexproof and shroud may not apply. 

Baeloth Barrityl, Entertainer

Into:  Queen Marchesa, Long May She Reign

Part of Queen Marchesa’s gig is becoming the monarch and hanging onto it.  Baeloth will ensure that no chip damage will be able to take it away.  Baeloth may also lead me to scrapping a few other cards, like Staff of Nin and Ward of Bones, in order to put in cards which will buff Baeloth and expand his reach.  In last week’s piece, I mentioned Sword of Light and Shadow, which would offer us reuse of some creatures and a little bit of life gain.

Carnelian Orb of Dragonkind

Into:  Karrthus and His Dragons

Every new Dragon that we cast having haste is just the kind of thing we want in order to get life totals dwindling in a hurry.  I’m going to keep saying yes to three-mana-value rocks with cool abilities.  If I’ve picked up anything from our friends in Studio X, they’re going to continue trying to make them. 

Coronation of Chaos

Into:  Kresh Into the Red Zone

This is a perfect card for Kresh, which sometimes has difficulty getting combat damage through.  It also has limited defensive capabilities; Coronation of Chaos will help on the back end.

Death Kiss

Into:  Karazikar Goad is GOAT

With Death Kiss on the battlefield, it will not take long at all for opponents to get thoroughly battered by each other’s creatures.  As I’ve found in a few of the games with fellow Commander Rules Committee (RC) members, the only time this gets awkward is when some of those creatures have lifelink, making those opponents more difficult to kill in the long run.

Elturel Survivors

Into:  Adun’s Toolbox

Because it’s a toolbox deck, Adun has to make the most of the creatures that do the attacking.  With myriad giving us extra copies, copying Elturel Survivors with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker before heading to combat multiplies the multiples, sending lots of damage out in all directions.

Firbolg Flutist

Into:  The Threat of Yasova

More myriad for more value. We’ll have to remember that the tokens from myriad go away at end of combat.  There won’t be any Conjurer’s Closet tricks, and if we want to sacrifice the creature(s) to Perilous Forays or Goblin Bombardment, we have a narrower window in which to do so.


Ambitious Dragonborn

Into:  Karador Do-Over

The Karador Do-Over deck is about +1/+1 counters, so Ambitious Dragonborn slots right in.  It’ll likely have to pick up its counters from the power of something already on the battlefield, since many of the deck’s creatures are natively 0/0. 

Earthquake Dragon

Into:  Karrthus and His Dragons

Although it’s weird to me that something called Earthquake anything isn’t red, I’ll get over myself pretty quickly when dropping a flying, trample, 10/10 onto the battlefield.  So say we all. 

Emerald Dragon

Into:  Adun’s Toolbox

It might make some sense to put Emerald Dragon into a deck that will reanimate it.  I like more the idea of being able to regrow the card into my hand with Adun Oakenshield and then use Dissonant Wave again.  And again. 

Green Slime

Into:  Adun’s Toolbox

The same goes for Green Slime as it did with Emerald Dragon.  I see it doing its job to counter the activated or triggered ability, likely destroying something, then chump blocking.  It’ll be there again for Adun to regrow.  Do note that the ability is not optional (there’s no “may”), so be careful if you want to play the card in a deck with Living Death or some other mass reanimator.

Jaheira's Respite

Into:  Jenara Proliferate (Used to be Chulane)

There’s not some major synergy here, just a card I want to play in a deck that had openings.  We won’t be sad when there’s an Avenger of Zendikar on the battlefield and we take Jaheira’s Respite.  Nor will we be upset to have some planeswalkers and Evolution Sage

Monster Manual

Into:  Oldest Stickfingers

This card and this deck were just made for each other.  Zoological Study will power up Old Stickfingers if we’d like to go on an Adventure, protecting Monster Manual from discard spells. With enough mana, we can just get right to putting some expensive creatures onto the battlefield on the cheap. 


Bhaal, Lord of Murder

Into:  Adun’s Toolbox

We’ll be getting some goad action out of Bhaal to go along with some of the other new things that we’ve put in the deck this time around.  It’s the first bit of goad the deck has, which I suppose is what a toolbox deck does—give you little bits of this and little bits of that and lets us assemble into something that may be a little different this time from the last. 

Duke Ulder Ravengard

Into:  Rith Do Over

With plenty of creatures that have nice triggered abilities, Duke Ulder Ravengard will make our combats even more compelling.  Duplicant and Hellrider both change the combat math a great deal.  The former by clearing the way, the latter for piling up the damage.

Artifact, Colorless, Land

Mighty Servant of Leuk-o

Into:  Glissa Vehicles

With a great number of ways in the deck to get the two-creature crew, Mighty Servant of Leuk-o will find itself drawing some cards for us, as well as serving up some nice damage.  Even a trade in combat is fine, since Glissa, the Traitor will eventually bring the Servant back to our hand anyway.

Nautiloid Ship

Into:  Glissa Vehicles

Nautiloid Ship really does what I want in a Vehicle.  It has two relevant abilities—one in combat, one outside of it.  Even if we never get to put a creature from the exile pile onto the battlefield under our control, re-castings of Nautiloid Ship will have other players’ graveyards in a manageable spot.  The only downside might be getting it Cloned, but sometimes we just have to live on the edge.

Patriar's Seal

Into:  Merieke’s Esper Dragons

I really will continue singing the chorus about three-mana-value rocks with relevant abilities.  Patriar’s Seal is relevant to Merieke since it makes her into a destroyer of creatures.  I didn’t even have to look at the list of decks to figure out where it would go.  I knew that as soon as I saw it on the full preview list.

Overall Thoughts

I thought I was going to be a little cooler on putting the cards from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate into the deck suite, but at 36, the set is well-represented.  What’s even better is that it’s going to get even more so as I start building new decks with it. 

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