I hope everyone was able to play some Throne of Eldraine Prerelease events this weekend, whether at your local game store or on Magic Arena! I played in aPPrerelease Friday evening, and while I got some sweet blue rares including Emry, Lurker in the Loch, the rest of my blue cards were exceedingly mediocre and I ended up cobbling together a fairly decent Golgari deck with a good amount of Food token synergies. I racked up two wins but then got knocked down by two good players with good decks.
My Prerelease pack loot included the Emry; a Prerelease foil Wishclaw Talisman; Midnight Clock; Mirrormade; Gadwick, the Wizened; Acclaimed Contender; and Stormfist Crusader. In my two prize packs I opened another Stormfist Crusader and a Feasting Troll King, which I was pretty excited about.
But Wendy’s packs were insane! She opened a full-art Garruk, Cursed Huntsman; Vantress Gargoyle; Fae of Wishes; The Circle of Loyalty; Prerelease foil Acclaimed Contender; Gadwick, the Wizened; Faeburrow Elder; Hushbringer; and an insanely cool alt-art special frame Queen of Ice in foil. Wow!
I also played some of the new Standard in the Magic Arena event where you get to play twelve games with any cards in Standard, whether you own them or not. I went 3-1 with a cool Golgari deck I’ve been calling Knight-Time Cat Food. Check out my Twitter if you’re interested in that deck! It includes three copies of Questing Beast and the card is as good in Standard as you’d expect.
But can it make the grade in Commander?
I think it can! It’s a big pile of stats, for sure. Vigilance and haste are two fantastic abilities to have in Commander, and a 4/4 for four mana is aggressively costed. Though its size can get outmatched pretty quickly by other creatures typically seen in the format, the deathtouch ability keeps it relevant on the battlefield.
The next line of text means you can ensure that Questing Beast can’t be chump blocked by tokens or small creatures. If someone wants to stop its attack, they’ll need to put something meaningful in its path.
The last line of text can either be exceptionally helpful in Commander or not at all useful, depending on the decks you’re facing off against. Locally, I don’t see too many planeswalkers played in Commander decks, but when they do show up, you definitely want a way to deal with them that doesn’t necessarily involve spending a card on.
For me, the third line of text for Questing Beast is what makes it a really cool choice as a commander.
Any effect that prevents damage from your creatures doesn’t work. At first blush, this means that your attackers are immune to spells like Fog or Darkness, which is fine—you do see those spells on rare occasions. But dig a little deeper and you can see the true power here—Questing Beast lets you turn effects like Fog into a combat trick! How cool is that?
I’m cooking up an awesome deck taking advantage of all the pieces of the Questing Beast pie that you can find below, but first let’s go over the Top 10 cards that make the deck one your opponents will find both fearsome and cool!
1: Maze of Ith
Maze of Ith does some fantastic work here as a repeatable threat that sits there staring all your opponents in the face. When you attack with Questing Beast, if your opponents block it in an attempt to kill it, you can target it with Maze of Ith and prevent all the damage dealt to Questing Beast, while Questing Beast allows its own deathtouch damage to continue on to the blockers. Which basically presents the dilemma to the opponent you’re attacking—do you block with something large enough to kill Questing Beast, in which case Maze of Ith will foil that plan; do you put something smaller in front of it and just throw the card away; or do you just take the hit?
Maze of Ith can work defensively too against a large creature, preventing all damage that would be dealt by the attacker but you can still block and kill it with Questing Beast and not lose your commander. Which basically means, if you’ve got Questing Beast and an untapped Maze of Ith, odds are pretty good your opponents’ biggest and baddest creatures will look elsewhere during their attack steps. All this means just the threat Maze of Ith presents will affect a lot of what your opponents will do when it comes to attacking into or blocking Questing Beast.
I’m including some other cards that present a similar, on-battlefield threat:
I mean seriously, how awesome is it going to be each time your opponent has to read Leery Fogbeast—because let’s be real, nobody remembers what Leery Fogbeast does—then looks at Questing Beast, and then just shakes their head?
Of course, on-battlefield threats can be dealt with – targeting Maze of Ith with a Strip Mine is something Magic players have been doing since before EDH and Commander were even a twinkle in Sheldon Menery eyes. That’s why I’m including a fair number of instant-speed cards that function as Fog, and at the top of the list is Constant Mists. Once you’ve ambushed your opponents with Constant Mists, if you buy it back, it’s going to sit there like a threat in your hand, just as effective as something like Maze of Ith, only it’s much more difficult for opponents to interact with.
I’m including similar cards, including the OG Fog, but then other variants that have some additional utility:
I really love that Blinding Fog can also serve as a way to protect any of your creatures from targeted spells or effects. Respite and Blunt the Assault provide some surprise lifegain. But really, once you cast one of these, your opponents are always going to have to worry that you have another in your hand, so make sure you leave up a little mana and practice your bluffing face.
Fog shenanigans aside, let’s not neglect some of the other things that Questing Beast can do. Giving a deathtouch creature trample is the peanut butter and chocolate of green’s color pie. For those not in the know, here’s how it works:
If an attacking creature with deathtouch and trample becomes blocked, the attacking creature first assigns damage to the creature(s) blocking it. Once all those blocking creatures are assigned lethal damage, any remaining damage is assigned as its controller chooses among those blocking creatures and the player or planeswalker the creature is attacking. However, since the creature has deathtouch, assigning even 1 damage to a creature is considered to be lethal damage.
When Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma attacks, Questing Beast and any other creatures you have that are power 4 or greater (including Goreclaw) get +1/+1 and trample until the end of the turn. So Questing Beast can deal lethal damage to up to four blockers and still punch through for damage to your opponent.
I’m including other high-quality cards that can give our attackers trample:
Questing Beast and our Fog shenanigans are going to make our opponents really not want to block our attackers, so let’s turn the screws a bit more. Giving all your attackers deathtouch means that a Fog spell is going to be devastating to the defenders’ blockers, so your opponent is going to be loath to do so. But Ohran Frostfang’s ability means than any unblocked creatures that deal combat damage are going to let you draw more cards, including perhaps another Fog spell.
I’m including some other cards that pressure our opponents during our attack steps:
The Great Henge is one of the best new cards for Commander in Throne of Eldraine, hands-down. Pretty much any green deck is going to want to find room for it and Questing Beast is no exception. Turn 3 or 4 Questing Beast with its four power means The Great Henge will come down the following turn right on curve, while giving you back two green mana. Which should allow you to cast a Fog, perhaps?
Green has a lot of great cards that allow for raw card advantage along with card selection, and I’m including a lot of them here to keep the gasoline flowing:
Tome of Legends is a snazzy new card from the Brawl decks and it particularly loves a commander like Questing Beast that comes down fast and immediately starts attacking. My deck is well set up to just keep attacking with Questing Beast each turn so Tome of Legends is incredibly cheap and reliable card draw.
Ohran Frostfang got me thinking of other deathtouch creatures which can stand alongside Questing Beast and kill blocked or blocking creatures through a Fog effect. Green has plenty of them, but then it occurred to me that the original “deathtouch” creature didn’t even have deathtouch—just check out the text of Thicket Basilisk. All it cares about is being blocked or blocking any number of creatures, and those creatures are going to die, so that makes Fog a weapon even if you don’t have Questing Beast on the battlefield.
I’m including a few other Basilisks in addition to the deathtouch creatures:
7: Nemesis Mask
Okay, so if we’ve got a number of Basilisks in the deck, if you’re an old-school Magic player like me, then thoughts will turn to Lure. Thicket Basilisk plus Lure was the original green Wrath of God. The problem with Lure is that it’s just a plain ol’ Aura, so you’re setting yourself up for getting two-for-one’d by any sort of targeted removal your opponents may have. As an Equipment, Nemesis Mask is more versatile, so once you make the initial three-mana investment, for the same cost as a Lure, you can have a Lure effect on any creature you want, which is quite helpful in pushing damage past blockers.
I’m including some other cards with similar effects here:
Worrying about running a card like Lure got me to thinking about Gargos, Vicious Watcher. This is a card that quite handily punishes pinpoint removal by fighting and hopefully killing threatening creatures around the battlefield. Gargos having vigilance makes it a really nice side-by-side companion attacker and blocker with Questing Beast.
Creature removal in green can be pretty scarce, so I’m including some other cards that can help in that department:
I really like Viridian Longbow since it turns Questing Beast into a stone-cold killer thanks to its deathtouch, and it’s particularly nice since Questing Beast has vigilance. You could announce your attack and then tap to kill the potential blocker. Since I’m running a fair number of other creatures with deathtouch, Viridian Longbow does lots of good work.
9: Acidic Slime
All of the Questing Beast shenanigans take up a lot of deck space, but I wanted to find some room for a few cards with interaction. Acidic Slime is a good one since it can kill an artifact, enchantment or land and then stick around with its deathtouch and do deathtouchy things.
I’ve got a couple other cards to deal with problem noncreature permanents:
Lastly, I wanted to include some cards that can help Questing Beast do more than its four power and toughness would otherwise limit it to. Asceticism adding hexproof really turns up the heat, especially since you can also regenerate it.
I’m also including these:
Blackblade Reforged is a Commander all-star and does a nice job of scaling up the threat of a commander for the late game. Spidersilk Armor shores up the natural vulnerability that green has to flyers, and adding a fifth point of power to Questing Beast can be very helpful.
Okay, so I’ll round the list out with some mana ramp and some cool lands. Here’s how the deck ended up:
- 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1 Matsu-Tribe Sniper
- 1 Spike Weaver
- 1 Thicket Basilisk
- 1 Sylvan Basilisk
- 1 Matsu-Tribe Decoy
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Leery Fogbeast
- 1 Dawnstrider
- 1 Spore Frog
- 1 Stone-Tongue Basilisk
- 1 Ohran Viper
- 1 Thornweald Archer
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Deadly Recluse
- 1 Hornet Queen
- 1 Ambush Viper
- 1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
- 1 Noble Quarry
- 1 Heir of the Wilds
- 1 Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma
- 1 God-Eternal Rhonas
- 1 Gargos, Vicious Watcher
- 1 Ohran Frostfang
- 1 Thorn Mammoth
- 1 Keeper of Fables
- 20 Forest
- 1 Slippery Karst
- 1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
- 1 Yavimaya Hollow
- 1 Maze of Ith
- 1 Tranquil Thicket
- 1 Winding Canyons
- 1 Dust Bowl
- 1 Deserted Temple
- 1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
- 1 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
- 1 Myriad Landscape
- 1 Blighted Woodland
- 1 Mirrorpool
- 1 Desert of the Indomitable
- 1 Scavenger Grounds
- 1 Field of Ruin
- 1 Arch of Orazca
- 1 Blast Zone
- 1 Castle Garenbrig
- 1 Rancor
- 1 Umezawa's Jitte
- 1 Spidersilk Armor
- 1 Emerald Medallion
- 1 Sylvan Library
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Fog
- 1 Constant Mists
- 1 Nature's Will
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Moment's Peace
- 1 Sword of Light and Shadow
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Loxodon Warhammer
- 1 Nemesis Mask
- 1 Viridian Longbow
- 1 Respite
- 1 Lull
- 1 Harmonize
- 1 Tower Above
- 1 Beastmaster Ascension
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Asceticism
- 1 Blunt the Assault
- 1 Revenge of the Hunted
- 1 Arachnogenesis
- 1 Seasons Past
- 1 Blinding Fog
- 1 Blackblade Reforged
- 1 Guardian Project
- 1 Force of Vigor
- 1 Sword of Sinew and Steel
- 1 Tome of Legends
- 1 The Great Henge
What do you think? Are there any cards I’ve overlooked? If you see any new cards from Throne of Eldraine that should find a home here, let me know!
By the way, those of you who are interesting in Glissa, the Traitor as a Commander deck, I did a collaboration recently with The Professor from Tolarian Community College and we built a Glissa deck featuring cards from Throne of Eldraine, so be sure to check it out!
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!
Also, come play Commander with me! Coming up November 8th is MagicFest Richmond right here in my hometown, and I’m planning on hitting the Command Zone there at least one of the days. The following weekend, November 14-17, is the always spectacular SCGCON! Their
But that’s not all—Star City Games will be putting on #CommandFestDC December 13-15th and I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be one of the special guests there. Stay tuned for more details as they become available!
I’ve been writing about the Commander format and Magic: The Gathering in general for nearly two decades. Visit the Star City Games article archives for tons of content dating back to January 2000!
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