Happy Valentine's Day Week! If you haven't checked out the #mtgvalentines on Twitter you ought to pretty funny stuff. My favorite? @DennyDowty: Shoulda put O-Ring on it. My contribution? @blairwitchgreen: Saffi Eriksdotter I'd give my life for you!
I know I'm a little late to this Dark Ascension review party but I was so focused on the StarCityGames.com Open in Richmond and my Glissa/Ratchet Bomb/Pod deck that I haven't had much of a chance to digest Dark Ascension through the lens of Commander until now. Of course Pro Tour Dark Ascension in Hawaii this past weekend has certainly given fans of Birthing Pod some more to chew over—and I'll be digging into that soon—but this week I wanted to shift gears back to casual.
For Commander fans one of the first things we do when a new set is spoiled is search for new legendary creatures we can build decks around! Dark Ascension brings us just two but they're both pretty good ones.
While I don't quite get their mindset there are Commander players out there who like to sit back and hardly ever play any creatures at all. Typically they'll play various and sundry spells designed to ramp their mana and protect themselves from harm while they draw cards and plot some combination that will kill all their opponents at once. Thalia Guardian of Thraben does a great job of making that sort of strategy much more painful without completely locking them out of being able to play their cards. A Thalia deck is going to naturally be heavy on creatures but there are plenty of great utility white and artifact creatures you can round the deck out with even if you're not necessarily interested in a fast beatdown approach. Thalia's easy casting cost also makes her a fine addition to any white creature-heavy deck especially those who can search her up as a silver bullet against the sort of players I mentioned above.
As someone who loves playing lots of creatures that do stuff while they're in play undying is a mechanic that I love and being able to give all my dudes undying is something that sounds totally awesome! I've not yet completely worked out what I want to do with Mikaeus the Unhallowed in Standard but in Commander there are so many options it makes my head spin. The first thing that popped to mind was Mindless Automaton: remove the two +1/+1 counters on it to draw a card Mikaeus brings it back with a bonus +1/+1 counter. With some extra mana lying around you can draw a card and then “loot” for another card. Triskelion is obviously pretty nuts but how about Workhorse? Holy crap! There are all sorts of ways to get rid of or use those +1/+1 counters and have that creature keep coming back I could go on and on but we'll save that until I build my Mikaeus deck…although the unbounded loop potential of Triskelion and Workhorse has me thinking that Mikaeus is not going to be seen as a “fun” Commander at the table. Your mileage may vary but don't be surprised if you're hard-targeted when you reveal Mikaeus the Unhallowed as your Commander.
This is pretty expensive but that's okay—you don't want to cast it until you've got a decent number of cards in your graveyard anyway. It's potentially a pretty powerful effect for 100-card decks and is easily splashable. If you're doing scary things with your graveyard and you're playing white with plenty of mana acceleration I could see running one of these. Just make sure you're running stuff like Scroll Rack so you don't get stuck with this in your hand in the early game.
While I don't usually like “griefer” cards in Commander that punish everybody there's no denying that some players need to be griefed to keep them from executing their hellishly fast combos that kill the table and so I can appreciate having a targeted effect like this one. By the time you can cast it it should be relatively clear who might be up to the sort of shenanigans this Curse can put the kibosh on.
There are a lot of dudes packed into this one card. If generating a ton of tokens is your thing (and if you're Commander is Teysa Orzhov Scion then it's certainly your thing) then this is a spell that fits right in!
For fans of Isamaru Hound of Konda or other aggressive Commander decks Loyal Cathar helps you keep up the pressure without overextending into sweepers.
[Editor's note 2/17: Loyal Cathar can't actually go into a white deck because of color identity rules in Commander! It also counts as a black card.]
There are plenty of Commander fans who love their angels and this is one of the better ones. Keep her in mind if you've got ways of having (non-Spirit) creatures die and come back over and over again (something like Bloodghast with Perilous Forays comes to mind).
I'm still working on my Sudden Disappearance deck for Standard but I think this card will be quite handy for Commander as well. This card does a ton of work—not only clearing away any blockers and non-land defense your opponent has before you swing in for the attack but you can also use it to untap attacking creatures after combat to keep opponents from counterattacks. Reuse permanents that have nice enters/leaves the battlefield abilities (Reveillark for instance) and reset any permanents with counters that need to be reset (planeswalkers Eternity Vessel Ice Cauldron).
An excellent defense against graveyard shenanigans involving creatures that is also good for something if there are no graveyard shenanigans to worry about.
Powerful but fragile the important thing to remember is that gaining control is permanent even if she gets destroyed afterwards. If you've got a way to give her haste (Thousand-Year Elixir) then she likely deserves a spot in your deck.
This is one of the few counterspells that I'm thrilled to be able to put into a deck (right up there with Time Stop and Spelljack). You'll likely want to pair this up with some large and threatening creatures since each opponent has at least one creature (their Commander) that they're going to play at least once a game.
Wow what a great card to slap on opponents who like to fiddle around and cast spells instead of playing out permanents. While it might be an oxymoron this is definitely a “fun curse!”
There are certainly a lot better (cheaper) Tutors in Commander but this is potentially the perfect three cards in your deck represented by one card. There are certainly ways for generating a lot of black mana in the format so I can see this card being quite nice in those sorts of decks.
Pinpoint removal has to be pretty good in Commander since it's typically competing with more multiplayer-friendly sweepers…but I'm pretty sure this one fits the bill.
I love the fact that you can use this to save other player's creatures if you want to exercise your political muscle.
A decent backup copy of Patriarch's Bidding for your Zombie tribal deck.
At eight mana this is competing with some pretty awesome expensive red spells in the format: Insurrection Obliterate and Warp World. What I like about it though is how it will pretty much guarantee that all of that player's creatures will be destroyed…and if there are some other players who take their turn before your victim does that can leave him wide open.
Another “fun” curse but one definitely not at all fun for your victim. If your opponents are trying to figure out how to best dish out some pain it's going to be hard to resist sending it at the player with this curse attached.
Whether it's paired up with undying persist or something like Patriarch's Bidding I see Flayer of the Hatebound being involved in some really big splashy legend-making plays in Commander games!
While obviously not as good as Sakura-Tribe Elder it's close enough that you'd want to play this in the same sort of decks as STE.
The timing of this is what makes it much better than people are giving it credit for: you can use it the same turn you cast it during your end step. I see this is an auto-include for Doran the Siege-Tower decks but really just about any green deck with a decent number of creatures in it combos nicely.
I'm not sure a vanilla dork makes the cut in most Commander decks even if he's 10/10 and potentially cheap to cast. I might be wrong though.
I expect the first time I cast this I will literally cackle with glee (especially if I have Multani Maro-Sorcerer and Greater Good in play). I also expect the first time I cast this and someone removes my graveyard in response I'll be a very sad mage. Yep sounds like an awesome Commander card to me!
An indestructible green creature is definitely intriguing…but man is he small and grows so very slowly. However if you've got ways to pump him up (equipment auras) I can see throwing him in the mix especially if one of those pieces of equipment is Viridian Longbow…paired with Basilisk Collar perhaps?
Vigilance is a great ability for a large creature to have in multiplayer to play both offense and defense and so is trample (to shrug off chump blockers). Add undying to the mix? Sold!
This limited gem might just make a jump over to Commander for the sheer fact that you can target other player's creatures turning what looked to be an easy chump block of a giant monster into a potentially lethal blowout. The flashback really pushes it right up there to the edge.
These new tribal lords are nice additions for the right decks (especially the Zombie lord) though I'd be shocked if someone tried to play a tribal Werewolf deck for Commander.
While he's relatively small for his cost there are all sorts of shenanigans you can pull with this guy in Commander. Equip him up with Sword of Feast and Famine to take advantage of the doublestrike play with Sun Droplet to gain life and draw cards…lots of fun things you can do.
I can't even begin to list all the crazy fun things you can do with this card in Commander! I might even have to do a Single Card Strategy on this guy. The more players the more graveyards you can plunder with the Lich. It's a shame he's not legendary because he'd certainly make a fun Commander!
If your Commander is human (Saffi Eriksdotter; Thalia Guardian of Thraben; Adun Oakenshield; Azusa Lost but Seeking; Hanna Ship's Navigator; Cho-Manno Revolutionary; Iwamori of the Open Fist) it's certainly worth giving him vigilance and a bonus spirit creature when he dies.
This card is definitely tailor-made for Commander! With so many great ways to get around the expensive casting cost (Quest for the Holy Relic Stoneforge Mystic Stonehewer Giant and Godo Bandit Warlord) all you need is to have a good creature with evasion to equip and boom! You've got an insane legendary Demon on your side!
This card is definitely appealing as a way to store creatures of yours that would otherwise die (assuming you've got a way to destroy Helvault) and as expensive removal of opponent's creatures in a pinch. I'm just not quite sure it's gonna prove good enough for Commander.
If you play a significant number of creatures then this card strikes me as a slam-dunk. I like how it's not limited to searching your library for creatures. Remember when I mentioned above about ways of having creatures die and come back over and over again? If that's in your deck you could conceivably use Jar of Eyeballs to Tutor a card from your library and stack your deck each turn.
It's a bit slow but if you've got green and black and creatures in your deck it would be hard to justify not running this grindy card-advantage engine with fun things like Abyssal Gatekeeper Veteran Explorer Viridian Emissary Pawn of Ulamog Mindslicer and Noxious Toad!
This card however is definitely a slam-dunk for any deck running black white and creatures! Combine with trampling creatures and you can get some serious mileage out of this.
In conclusion much like Innistrad there are certainly a ton of cards from Dark Ascension that I want to play in my Commander decks! What do you think? What are your favorite Dark Ascension cards for Commander?
That's it for this week!
I'm still looking for a roommate so if you know anyone looking for a place to live in the Richmond Virginia area please get in touch!
Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me feedback ideas and random thoughts. I've also created a Facebook page where I'll be posting up deck ideas and will happily discuss Magic life or anything else you want to talk about!
New to Commander?
If you're just curious about the format building your first deck or just 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
Previous Commander Decks Currently On Hiatus