While I've been having a ball with new Commander cards, a new Standard-legal set has crept up on me with a whole gaggle of things to get excited about, especially in the wake of the bannings that have made Standard something to be interested in again. Since the complete spoiler is now available as I finish this up, I figure why not talk about Magic 2012 this week?
Green Card Drawing
Blue has always had card-drawing as a theme, and it's dominance in that area continues in M12… but it's actually quite amazing how much they've given to green!
Garruk, Primal Hunter: When it was revealed that the new Jace was five mana and that the new Chandra was four mana, I was 95% certain that the new Garruk would be three mana. Three mana! I was all excited about that idea; especially considering green's one-drop mana dorks, dropping New Garruk on turn 2 seemed awesome! Then Garruk got spoiled… at five mana… oof. I quickly perked up though when I read the abilities—get a 3/3 Beast for +1 loyalty? Draw cards? Make a ton of 6/6 Wurm tokens? Sign me up!
Hunter's Insight: I'm really glad this is an uncommon because I'm going to want to have one of these in every single Commander deck with green I have in addition to the playset for Standard. WotC has been trying to give us some new really good green card drawing for a while now, and the attempts haven't quite hit the mark—Momentous Fall, Lead the Stampede. I think Hunter's Insight finally brings the noise and gives green hexproof creatures something extra to be happy about.
Rites of Flourishing: Magic 2012 is chockfull of great Commander cards both old and new, and I see Rites as one of these cards. Still, having it in Standard for a year is certainly something interesting to ponder, especially in the narrow window where we'll have Explore, Rites, and Oracle of Mul Daya. That's some crazy landfall/acceleration possibilities!
The Graveyard and You
Wizards often seeds cards in new sets that will work great with future sets, but oftentimes these cards tend to be subtle and tricky. This time around, Wizards seems to be screaming that we've got a graveyard-centric set coming up this fall, and they've given us a ton of cards that play into that theme. Just check ‘em out:
Sun Titan, Belltower Sphinx; Jace, Memory Adept; Jace's Archivist, Jace's Erasure, Merfolk Looter, Merfolk Mesmerist, Sphinx of Uthuun, Visions of Beyond, Cemetery Reaper, Smallpox, Sutured Ghoul, Vengeful Pharaoh, Zombie Infestation, Grim Lavamancer, Reclaim.
I'm kind of surprised that Fauna Shaman didn't get reprinted considering how nicely it plays with the graveyard.
Birthing Pod Ladder Rungs
Since the printing of the awesome Birthing Pod, one thing I've become very aware of are creatures with nifty comes-into-play abilities (and, to a more limited extent, leaves-play or goes-to-the-graveyard abilities), and due to the nature of Birthing Pod, I look at them as rungs upon our casting-cost ladder. Here are the new ones from M12 that look interesting:
2cc: Grand Abolisher, Phantasmal Image
4cc: Stonehorn Dignitary, Solemn Simulacrum
5cc: Archon of Justice, Vengeful Pharaoh
Some these cards are so good I can't help but wonder if we should build some sort of U/W/g Venser, the Sojourner/Birthing Pod deck, especially once you get up the seven-mana rung—who wouldn't want to blink Sphinx of the Uthuun and get a free Fact or Fiction every turn?
Necrotic Ooze Alert
Ever since Scars of Mirrodin I've been keeping my eyes peeled for good activated abilities on creatures that I wouldn't mind being spliced onto a Necrotic Ooze. There weren't very many quality ones until New Phyrexia came out. Magic 2012's got a few more:
I'm particularly excited about Merfolk Looter; in the Necrotic Ooze deck I ran at States last year, the Enclave Cryptologists were very helpful for priming the graveyard, but unfortunately Necrotic Ooze wasn't able to copy the darn ability because it was tied to level up.
Vengeful Pharaoh + Merfolk Looter
I'm not sure why, but Vengeful Pharaoh just pushes all the right buttons for me—it's super-flavorful and a great utility creature that recurs itself out of the graveyard. The bad boy has deathtouch even when he's in the graveyard, how cool is that? And like the villainous Mummy he keeps coming back from beyond the grave. I'm not sure when or where, but I do think there's going to be some sort of funky Merfolk Looter deck that take advantage of Vengeful Pharaoh, making sure he stays in the graveyard and continues gunning down any creature foolish enough to attack you.
I thought I heard rumors that Rancor was considered for Magic 2012 but ended up getting cut, which is certainly a tragedy… but its legacy lives on with this spicy, face-smashing recurring Aura! Equipment has certainly given Auras a mighty high bar to pass in order to make a splash in Constructed decks, but I'm pretty sure Angelic Destiny meets that bar and look forward to trying it out!
Master Thief + Liquimetal Coating
For those of you – like me—who think Liquimetal Coating is a very interesting card to consider building around, we've now got an additional tool to add to the mix—Master Thief! Thanks, I think I'll take that Gideon Jura off your hands…
Arachnus Spinner + Arachnus Web
I thought the Arachnus Spinner/Arachnus Web combo was merely cute at first, considering that the creatures you really wanted to web up would just keep breaking through your web, and eventually you'd end up with 4 Webs in the graveyard and a big creature stomping you in the face… then I had my RTFC moment and realized that Arachnus Spinner could retrieve Webs from the graveyard as well as the library… ohhhhhh! Now that is mildly interesting is it not? I started thinking about things that you could sac the Web off and bring it back to good effect (something like Smokestack or Auratog) but the best I could find was the underwhelming Magmaw in Standard. Maybe Innistrad will bring us something fun to sac Webs off to, and maybe some sweet Spiders? Jon Becker must be on cloud nine.
There are a couple of head-scratcher cards that are just downright weird in Magic 2012. Personal Sanctuary is one of them. I can't help but wish this was my beloved techy Mark of Asylum reprinted instead… the only thing that springs to mind is playing this to blunt Mana Barbs?
Sundial of the Infinite
Here's the other head-scratcher! Noel deCordova wrote about this last week on the Mothership. I think it might make a techy sideboard card against decks that have spells or effects they want to play on your turn, and force them into tough decisions. There doesn't seem to be anything in particular—yet—in Standard where you can proactively take advantage of ending your turn early.
As is customary, I wanted to throw out some new deck ideas utilizing Magic 2012 cards that I'd like to try in the coming months.
People have played 4 Jace Beleren alongside 4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor—why can't we do the same with Garruk? There is actually a pretty nifty line of play that seems worth exploring—play Garruk Wildspeaker, untap two lands. Next turn use his ultimate, put him in the bin, then play Primal Hunter and draw some cards, then attack with your trampling weenies. Assuming you've got at least a 2 power creature that survived with the +3 power boost, you'll be refilling your hand.
I'm particularly digging the idea of doing something like this: end of your turn, Dismember your lone creature, Beast Within your land, my turn, untap, and cast Viridian Emissary and Smallpox. Your opponent will lose another land plus the Beast token, while you'll replace your land with the Emissary being sacrificed.
Here's another funky Glissa deck I've sketched out using the Probably Not Ready for Prime Time Empires artifacts:
The Empires cards are tempting, because when you have one of each they really do get pretty nuts, but when they're not powered up they're fairly mediocre for the mana costs involved. Still, we've got Kuldotha Forgemaster available to us, with Glissa to get back artifacts that get destroyed or sacrificed along the way and Spellskite to protect your Empire pieces from artifact destruction. There are probably more powerful things to do than assemble the Empire pieces, but it does at least seem worth checking out for fun.
Speaking of Probably Not Ready for Prime Time…
I just got to give Tribal Spiders a try, you know?
- 1 Immolating Souleater
- 1 Molten-Tail Masticore
- 1 Pestilent Souleater
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 4 Spellskite
- 1 Trespassing Souleater
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Fauna Shaman
- 1 Jace's Archivist
- 4 Merfolk Looter
- 4 Necrotic Ooze
- 1 Renegade Doppelganger
- 1 Skinshifter
- 4 Vengevine
Here's an update to the monowhite Podpeople deck I posted a while back, considerably changed given that Stoneforge Mystic got the boot:
Scott Pilgrim #1, Come on Down!
I got to play some much needed Commander this past Friday night, and before I went up there I had decided which of the new Legends I wanted to build a deck around. I picked Edric, Spymaster of Trest because I was curious to see how having him in play would affect the flow of the game. On the one hand, he encourages people to attack other players and to leave you alone, but on the other hand you're potentially feeding people an awful lot of cards which can be extremely dangerous in Commander.
To better control the flow of attacks I decided to include some surprise cards like Tangle, Constant Mists and Spore Cloud, along with some on-board control like Spike Weaver and Tawnos's Coffin. Storm Seeker was a way to more directly punish those who take too much advantage of Edric.
To piggy back off my opponent's good card-drawing fortune I've included some Clone-type cards to copy their best creatures.
In order to take advantage of Edric myself I decided to include dudes and spells or equipment providing various flavors of evasion. Protection abilities are usually quite handy for this though I did include the flexible Distorting Lens and Scuttlemutt to make sure whatever I needed protecting from became the correct color.
One awesome combo I was hoping to pull off was connecting with Hydra Omnivore, smashing everyone else with damage and drawing a card for each opponent off Edric.
Here's what I brought to the table:
1 Edric, Spymaster of Trest
1 Maze of Ith
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana Vault
1 Distortion Strike
1 Whim of Volrath
1 Shadow Rift
1 Writ of Passage
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Simic Signet
1 Phyrexian Splicer
1 Scryb Ranger
1 Distorting Lens
1 Gaea's Blessing
1 Looter il-Kor
1 Aether Figment
1 Constant Mists
1 Dryad Sophisticate
1 Thada Adel, Acquisitor
1 Spell Crumple
1 Mirri, Cat Warrior
1 Hunted Phantasm
1 Spore Cloud
1 Krosan Grip
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Coalition Relic
1 Neurok Invisimancer
1 Loxodon Warhammer
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Whispersilk Cloak
1 Mindbreak Trap
1 Storm Seeker
1 Icy Manipulator
1 Spike Weaver
1 Chameleon Colossus
1 Tawnos's Coffin
1 Power Matrix
1 Sakashima the Imposter
1 Vesuvan Shapeshifter
1 Vesuvan Doppelganger
1 Seedborn Muse
1 Body Double
1 Acidic Slime
1 Psychosis Crawler
1 Jodah's Avenger
1 Time Stop
1 Ethereal Usher
1 Hydra Omnivore
1 Lurking Predators
1 Quicksilver Gargantuan
1 Simic Sky Swallower
1 Woodfall Primus
1 Homeward Path
1 Strip Mine
1 Mystifying Maze
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Bant Panorama
1 Command Tower
1 Rupture Spire
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Breeding Pool
1 Tropical Island
1 Vivid Grove
1 Vivid Creek
1 Simic Growth Chamber
The game didn't play out quite the way I had anticipated, with the guy going first playing a Howling Mine and then following it up with Mikororo, Center of the Sea so that everyone was already so flush with cards that Edric didn't matter so much. I did employ Tangle and Spore Cloud to protect myself from Kaalia of the Vast and her massive attacking Demons and Dragons, and some counterspells to protect against a Living Death that one player had primed with Survival of the Fittest. Eventually I did play Edric and he did in fact affect the flow of the game but I was too busy making sure I could protect myself that I wasn't able to play out very many of my own creatures to take advantage of Edric myself.
My initial impression? He's a very interesting commander and I look forward to playing more games with him!
Which of the new Legends from the Commander decks have you built brand new decks around?
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
I've started a blog ; it's not Magic-related but you may find it fun to read and comment on. I update at least once a week so check on it often!
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):
- Melira, Sylvok Outcast combo killa)
- Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)
- Glissa, the Traitor undying artifacts!)
- Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo' Myrs)
- Thelon of Havenwood Campfire Spores)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus: