You Lika The Juice? Stoked For New Phyrexia And Commander Decks!
Thanks everyone for the kind words regarding the “life update” from last week! I'm really excited about the future and the big positive changes I hope to bring about in the coming months, and the support of friends and readers helps fuel that excitement!
Speaking of excitement, this week brought us some Magic stuff to really get stoked about! First up was Monday's spoiling of some New Phyrexia cards in Japanese that were scanned and uploaded on MTG Salvation. While it took a while to get a good translation into English, it was certainly worth the wait. The cards look awesome, no doubt in large part because they're mostly rares and mythics. Keep in mind that there's a chance these cards may not be entirely accurate or even somehow faked, but since StarCityGames.com has already loaded them into the database and offered them up for preorder, I feel pretty safe in assuming they're legit.
The “Phyrexian mana” looks really cool, where you can either play certain color mana or life points for casting spells or using activated abilities. I love that this lets you play these cards faster than normal in the early game, where your life totals are plentiful while your mana is at a premium, but later on when your life totals are lower, you can spend mana that's presumably more plentiful. In Commander when your life starts out twice as high, these Phyrexian mana cards are even better.
I like that you can “splash” these into decks that don't even have the particular colored mana available, if you're willing to only pay the life. It makes for some interesting deckbuilding options.
A couple initial thoughts on them… [Click on the images for translated card text. –LL]
Karn, the Released : I know a lot of Commander fans are a bit worried about Karn's ultimate ability, especially anyone who's had the misfortune of having Shaharazad played in a Commander game. When I talked about the Commander Banned List , I noted that there are a couple cards obviously banned for being Global Resets (Balance, Sway of the Stars, Upheaval), and Karn certainly qualifies. The one thing that might save Karn from getting the banhammer is how slow it is—even with proliferate shenanigans, going from 6 to 14 loyalty is going to take at least a turn or two. If we look at the “I Win” cards on the Banned List, they all win immediately, whereas slow “I Win” cards like Mortal Combat or Felidar Sovereign are not on the list. My hunch is that Karn will be played a bunch in Commander but will not really be problematic enough to warrant a ban.
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite : This was actually officially spoiled by WotC, and it definitely makes for a spicy mono-white Commander! Boosting your army while shrinking all of your opponent's creatures is amazing and particularly brutal against those who go nuts with their token creatures. Lastly, vigilance is particularly awesome to have in multiplayer, especially on your Commander. Let's not overlook this as a pretty amazing “Titan” in Standard either—the four power and seven toughness easily deals with nearly all of the 6/6 M11 Titans.
Puresteel Paladin : Obviously, any equipment-heavy Commander deck is going to love this, and given how equipment-hungry Standard has become, I'm sure it's going to see lots of play there as well. The metalcraft ability doesn't get better the more copies of the Paladin you play, and while the “draw a card” ability accumulates for each copy on the battlefield, it's still “just” a 2/2 dork for two mana in a land where we expect so much of our creatures. Seems perfect as a one-of for a G/W Fauna Shaman/Stoneforge Mystic deck.
Chancellor of the Dross , Chancellor of the Furnace: I just wanted to quickly say I love how these feel like an unholy union between the Leylines and Infernal Spawn of Evil. Oh, and I also bet the green one is going to suck.
Glistening Oil : Before your eyes glaze over and move on to the next card, take a minute and think about it. Sure, it's an aura spell… but it's also a two-mana rare. Why is it rare? Would it be really insane in Limited as an uncommon? It could be that it's incredibly awesome and has been pushed for Constructed. First off, if you're not playing against an Infect deck, this can make damage dealt to you be effectively zero for the first nine points the target creature deals while it shrinks it by -1/-1 during each of your upkeeps. Also, if the creature dies or the aura is destroyed, you get it back. Hm, what if you put it on Melira's Keepers, it won't ever shrink!
Phyrexian Canceller : Yes, this is a ridiculously powerful, upgraded Negator, but for four black mana, what do you expect? We're in an age where creatures are souped up for the mana you spend, and the harder it is to make that mana, the better the creature becomes, especially something like this that makes it nearly impossible to play another color or have colorless-producing lands. They have to make it worth it for the harsh tradeoff.
Praetor's Grip : Let me just say I love the psychological torture this card will provide in Commander games, since you exile it facedown. Until you play it or until they tutor, they won't know what card you've got sitting over there. Awesome!
Urabrask, the Hidden : All your creatures have haste, and all your opponents' creatures are super-slow? Sounds pretty freakin' awesome to me in Commander, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it make a few waves in Standard, especially as a one-of in Fauna Shaman decks.
Spawning Shell : I really love the design of this card. Not only does it use the Phyrexian mana that I talked about above, but I like how it forces the upgrade so you don't just keep sacrificing Wall of Omens to put out another Wall of Omens. Making it sorcery-speed certainly reins in its power but gives it a nice tension. When adding this to your deck, keep in mind that you'll optimally be casting this when you have four mana (and four life), so you'll want a hearty three-drop and some really good four drops to tutor for. Obstinate Baloth (which immediately recoups you the lost life) might not be a bad place to start.
Fresh Meat : Comparable to Caller of the Claw, in some ways Fresh Meat is worse (one more mana, not a creature, not an Elf), but in one spectacular way it's an improvement—making a couple 3/3s is a huge upgrade from making a couple 2/2s. I do like how nice it plays with Eldrazi Spawn tokens.
Caged Sun : A strict upgrade to Gauntlet of Power—for one more mana, you don't have to share either of its abilities, which is pretty freaking awesome.
Hex Parasite : Has our Savior arrived to finally end the terror reign of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and his fellow planeswalker bullies? Probably not, but this colorless insect certainly provides at least some sharpened sticks and sling stones to any deck that isn't able or willing to run Vampire Hexmage. Keep in mind that Hex Parasite can eat planeswalkers for a discount if he can “get in there” unblocked, since each loyalty counter removed has it deal incrementally that much more damage. If Gideon's been ramped to eight loyalty with no other blockers, Hex Parasite can take him down for four mana, two life, and your attack step. Let's also not forget the fun we'll be having munching charge counters off Tumble Magnets and Everflowing Chalices! Definitely my favorite card spoiled so far; can't wait to add it to my Glissa deck.
Next up on my Excite-o-meter was the product picture teaser for the Commander decks WotC put up on Wednesday. Have you seen the two new Legends each of these deck boxes tease us with? Man, let me tell you I cannot wait to get my mitts on these decks!
Mirror Mastery (U/R/G wedge, featuring Intet, the Dreamer)
We see a legendary Human Wizard called “-ku of Two Reflections” that appears to cost 2URG. His text begins “Whenever y-… sorcery spell, you… spell.” Given the name and the artwork, I'm guessing that it likely reads “Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, you may play one or two copies of that spell.” Which sounds positively insane, so maybe there's a catch. The other legend is some sort of whacked-out-looking vegetable monster; how awesome would Legendary Creature – Plant be? It's got “Protection from…” something, possibly black and white, this wedge's enemy colors?
Political Puppets (R/W/U wedge, featuring Numot, the Devastator)
We see a legendary Minotaur Monk called “-ruu the Greathearted” that presumably costs 1RWU. Wasn't I just recently talking about how Magic badly needs some badass Minotaurs? A “Monk” isn't exactly what I had in mind, but beggars can't be choosers. The first line appears to read “At the beginning of your upkeep, you…” and the second line starts with what appears to be the word “gain” and ends with possibly “anywhere” with the sentence continuing to the third line. Unfortunately given that this is a white card, I bet the word after “gain” is life. Really have no freaking clue about the third legendary creature other than it also has an “At the beginning…” triggered ability and can't really make out the creature in the artwork.
We see a legendary Human Cleric called “-ama of the Vast” that appears to cost 1WBR. She has flying and a “whenever” triggered ability. There's also some sort of legendary creature with flying and vigilance and a tap ability where you choose—I bet it's something political! The artwork shown for that appears to be some winged creature, maybe even something crow-like?
Counterpunch (B/G/W wedge, featuring Teneb, the Harvester)
We already know Karador, Ghost Chieftain since it was previewed back in December, so there's only one mystery of the three featured legends: Ghave, Guru of Spores, who presumably costs 2BGW and is a freakin' Fungus Shaman! We can be pretty sure the first line reads “Ghave, Guru of Spores enters the battlefield…” and the next line reads “with f--…” Considering his name, it's a safe bet that he enters the battlefield with five spore counters, though what he does with those spore counters is anyone's guess, though a search for the word “spore” in Magic cards' text boxes gives you twenty or so ideas. Thelon of Havenwood fans, rejoice!
Devour for Power (G/U/B wedge, featuring Vorosh, the Hunter)
The first thing I thought when I saw this was that Tom from Monday Night Magic has finally gotten a legendary Ooze creature to build a Commander deck around! It's called The Mimeoplasm and presumably costs 2GUB. The beginning of its text box appears to read “As The Mimeoplasm enters the battlefield…” and the line ends with “creature,” and the sentence continues. Given the name, I think it's a safe bet that this comes into play and makes a copy of a creature in play and then somehow replicates that creature, maybe either during your upkeep, or possibly whenever it's dealt damage, or attacks, or blocks, or some other condition. One thing I am certain—it's going to be awesome! The other legendary creature looks like some sort of undead humanoid in the picture, which fits considering the name of the deck and the fact that it has deathtouch. The next ability starts with “Skip your draw step…” which suggests some sort of Necropotence, Recycle, or Null Profusion ability, though given the deck name maybe it's more like a “fixed” Greater Good!
These products are releasing in June, and given that it's already April, that's only a little over two months away. I can't wait!
Before I wrap things up this week, I did want to touch on the Commander League play at Richmond Comix, which started last Friday night and will run all April. I went out there late after work Friday night and got to play in two games, and heading up there, I was extremely excited to try out my two brand new decks, tweaked specifically for playing in the League. I considered both of them at least a little bit high on the power scale, and each featured a sideboard. The first deck I played was a five-color special I built for a couple reasons. First, I've not before played a five-color Commander deck—let me just say it's freaking hard to trim down to your 60 or so non-land cards when you've got access to all five colors. I tried to stay focused on a few specific goals for the deck.
1. Be able to take advantage of playing all five colors with things like Fist of Suns, the Bringers (except for the sucky green one), sunburst cards like Etched Oracle, Legacy Weapon, Obelisk of Alara, and Maelstrom Archangel. I also wanted to go nuts with Composite Golem + Nim Deathmantle without necessarily having a way to instantly kill the board with infinite mana. Since I have some pretty awesome artifacts, I added Guardian Beast to the mix.
2. Be able to really leverage Yawgmoth's Will if/when I cast it, without being totally dead to graveyard hate. I had more cards initially that got cut along the way, but Urza's Bauble, Mishra's Bauble, and Spoils of Evil remain. To supplement the Baubles, along with Nihil Spellbomb, Dispeller's Capsule, and Expedition Map, I added Auriok Salvagers and Salvaging Station.
3. Try to take advantage of Wishes and your sideboard; I ended up finding room for Living Wish, Burning Wish, Glittering Wish, Bound / Determined, and Death Wish. I also added in a Riftsweeper that could recover Wishes and anything critical that had been exiled by an opponent.
To round out the deck, I added good mana-fixing and generally high-powered “good stuff” cards. I threw in my Candelabra of Tawnos, which does a nice job of fixing mana when you have lands that tap for different colors; I wanted to get in at least a couple games with it before the siren song of SCG's Legacy buy list becomes too great for me to resist. I've had this card since the late 90's, and it has strong sentimental value but man, $150 is $150!
Here's the full decklist if you're interested:
- 1 Composite Golem
- 1 Etched Oracle
- 1 Ethersworn Adjudicator
- 1 Auriok Salvagers
- 1 Aven Mindcensor
- 1 Bone Shredder
- 1 Bringer Of The Black Dawn
- 1 Bringer Of The Blue Dawn
- 1 Bringer Of The Red Dawn
- 1 Bringer Of The White Dawn
- 1 Citanul Hierophants
- 1 Dauntless Escort
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Guardian Beast
- 1 Joiner Adept
- 1 Madrush Cyclops
- 1 Maelstrom Archangel
- 1 Qasali Pridemage
- 1 Riftsweeper
- 1 Seedborn Muse
- 1 Stonecloaker
- 1 Treasure Mage
- 1 Trinket Mage
- 1 Forest
- 1 Island
- 1 Mountain
- 1 Plains
- 1 Swamp
- 1 Arcane Sanctum
- 1 Bayou
- 1 Bloodstained Mire
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Crumbling Necropolis
- 1 Crystal Quarry
- 1 Exotic Orchard
- 1 Forbidden Orchard
- 1 Godless Shrine
- 1 Grand Coliseum
- 1 Jungle Shrine
- 1 Krosan Verge
- 1 Maze of Ith
- 1 Murmuring Bosk
- 1 Overgrown Tomb
- 1 Reflecting Pool
- 1 Rupture Spire
- 1 Savage Lands
- 1 Savannah
- 1 Scalding Tarn
- 1 Seaside Citadel
- 1 Steam Vents
- 1 Stomping Ground
- 1 Taiga
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Tropical Island
- 1 Vesuva
- 1 Vivid Crag
- 1 Vivid Creek
- 1 Vivid Grove
- 1 Vivid Marsh
- 1 Vivid Meadow
- 1 Windswept Heath
- 1 Candelabra of Tawnos
- 1 Clearwater Goblet
- 1 Coalition Relic
- 1 Contagion Clasp
- 1 Crystal Shard
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Dispeller's Capsule
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Fist Of Suns
- 1 Jester's Cap
- 1 Kaleidostone
- 1 Mana Vault
- 1 Mishra's Bauble
- 1 Nihil Spellbomb
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Obelisk of Alara
- 1 Salvaging Station
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Urza's Bauble
- 1 Aura Shards
- 1 Mirari's Wake
- 1 Oversold Cemetery
- 1 Sylvan Library
- 1 Krosan Grip
- 1 Spoils of Evil
- 1 Vampiric Tutor
- 1 Legacy Weapon
- 1 Burning Wish
- 1 Chronomantic Escape
- 1 Death Wish
- 1 Demonic Tutor
- 1 Glittering Wish
- 1 Living Wish
- 1 Syphon Mind
- 1 Yawgmoth's Will
I talked about my initial sideboard strategy last week, and I think most everything is self-explanatory. Griff didn't show with his Kiki-Jiki deck so perhaps the anti-LD was a waste of two precious slots. Ten cards isn't much!
The first game was four players—I had Progenitus, and there was also Azusa, Lost but Seeking; Zur, the Enchanter; and Rafiq of the Many. I felt a little dumb in retrospect picking Progenitus as my general—initially I thought it would be cute to use Fist of Suns to cheat him out earlier than ten mana would indicate, but picking him as my Commander freaked out the dude playing Rafiq, and he came after me hard instead of worrying about Zur and Azusa, two vastly more broken Commanders than Progenitus.
While I was trying to fend off Rafiq, Zur was busy setting up with Vanishing and a host of other auras and generally trying to race Azusa before she enabled some high-mana combo to fire off. On turn 3, I was pleased to try out Chronomantic Escape for the first time, a card that Sheldon has mentioned before that sounded pretty cool—after all, if it's cast and someone counters it, you get a pretty good idea of that player's immediate intentions. If it's not countered, you've got a full round of safety.
Anyway, the turn before Escape was set to come out of suspend, Zur played Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. Yep, the card that's not only a total beating against all opponents while also giving you amazing benefits, it also just happens to totally screw over suspend cards. Frowny face. Soon afterwards, Zur attacked, fetched up Empyrial Armor, and cast Sunder. The game was over shortly thereafter.
And I had just played Fist of Suns. Wooo.
Game two I lost against Niv-Mizzet comboing off with Thought Reflection and Mindmoil in play.
To say that I was disappointed in my first two League games would be a massive understatement, but it has certainly given me some good food for thought. Apparently, it's actually pretty difficult for me to build a hyper-competitive Commander deck that has any chance against these sorts of decks. I was initially worried my Progenitus deck might be “too good” – which is hilarious in retrospect. I really like the deck though, so I'm not sure what, if anything, I'm going to do to change it up.
I do, however, have another deck idea brewing that just might have a shot against the most overpowered Spike Commander decks. Stay tuned…
Tally Heilke shows us how we can make our own plush baby Myr! I can honestly say I have never once thought about owning a sewing machine until I read Ms. Heilke's post.
Brad Houston (@herodtusjr) has a Dr. Evil Commander deck (with Nicol Bolas as Commander/Dr. Evil). Check out the decklist , and don't miss the “things overheard while playing the deck!” Kagemaro, First to Be A Fat Bastard LOL!
When the New Phyrexian cards were spoiled, @thenetbrew started a meme called #karnnorris. As someone who never gets tired of Chuck Norris jokes, I instantly found this amusing and really looked forward to seeing what the Twitterverse would cook up for our Magic geek amusement. Apparently the only people amused were me, @andrea2s1, and @SethBurn. Still, I'm sharing the #karnnorris meme here, if only so I can go back and find it later:
- Karn is #mtg 's chuck norris. When he gets pissed he just remakes the plane in HIS image.
- Karn's zero ability is Fateseal5, Brainstorms for 10, and bounces two permanents, but you're not badass enough to use it
- Karn isn't colorless, he just moves so fast the colors blend together
- Karn once showed up two turns late to a battlefield, so he just told everyone to start over.
Join me next week where I talk about the other League Deck I built (the whispered-about Myr deck) and discuss what I'm going to play for Regionals, coming up soon! Have a great weekend.
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
New to Commander?
If you're just curious about the format, building your first deck, or 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 (and links to decklists) :
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus: