Commander Keen: Commander


By James Stewart                               17/6/11

Commander decks are being released shortly. With the whole set already being spoiled we here at Cantrip Games figure that we should give you the inside scoop of what we think the best new cards are to help in your deck buying decision!

I based my “Real Values” before SCG (Star City Games) released their pre-order lists and adjusted a few prices to what I feel is a sensible value that reflects true market value and demand for cards.

My “Star Rating” is a reflection of what I feel is a card’s worth/potential in the Commander format alone.

Editor: These new cards are yet to be put into Gatherer.  In the mean time you can check them here in the Commander Visual Spoiler



 

Acorn Catapult: A wacky card that can kill pesky creatures or help build up your own squirrel army! Acorn Catapult can give you attackers or blockers or even help out one of your buddies if need be.

Three Stars

Real Value: $3-4







Alliance of Arms: An awesome inclusion to a deck with Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or Doubling Season. Alliance of Arms can build you an army in a single turn that can help swell the tide of aggression. This is a great late-game card but can also be used to feed a giant Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter or Fallen Angel.

Three Stars

Real Value: $4


 


Animar, Souls Elements: One of the best commanders of the set. Animar can rapidly turn cards in hand into creatures on the battlefield. His protection abilities are not totally irrelevant either as they can let you dodge some of the best spot removal in the format and dodge past a fair chuck of the better commanders out there (Uril, the Miststalker, Rafiq of the Many, Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund and so on).

Five Stars

Real Value: $10-12




Archangel of Strife: One of the early spoilers packs a powerful punch. She feels a little bit too much like a Red card and most players will choose war over peace which makes her into more of a global buffer that can considerably shorten games. She is an amazing angel to throw down with Kaalia of the Vast and becomes real mean when put into a token strategy of some kind.

Four Stars

Real Value: $5

 

Avatar of Slaughter: If you thought the Archangel would speed up games you haven’t seen this guy. Playing this and following it up with an Insurrection for the game could be a great sequence of play. 

Three Stars

Real Value: $4


 

Basandra, Battle Seraph: A great commander to beat face with and probably the best in her colours. Her abilities make her an awesome equipment holder and when coupled with a Leonin Shikari can be an unstoppable commander machine! The ability that stops players casting spells means that players have to fog before combat or not at all which lets you plan your attack for maximum value. The added bonus that many people fail to recognize is that Terese Nielson, the artist, has truly out done herself on this beautiful piece. Absolutely amazing!

Four Stars

Real Value: $5-6





Celestial Force: A great defensive card that can reverse non-general damage quite quickly. Its ability is little weak considering Verdant Force and Magamatic Force, Celestial Force’s cousins, have better game winning abilities. Not a bad beater than can bring you back from the brink of death.

Two Stars

Real Value: $3


Champion’s Helm: A Lighting Greaves that doesn’t offer haste or shroud to non-legendary creatures. On the upside, making your creatures bigger for a cheap equip cost and giving Hexproof to your commander feels like a good deal. Unfortunately an already spoiled card from M12 has ruined my taste for this because it offers haste, instead of the +2/+2 bonus, and hexproof for 1 mana less in the casting cost.

Three Stars

Real Value: $3-4

 

Chaos Warp: the Red version of Oblation offers up some interesting game dynamics and can create some wacky starts and finishes. Not only can it hate on commanders, it can give you a shot at an early Eldrazi or whatever other permanent monstrosity you play in your deck. Very neat. Very Potent. Very Commander-esque.

Three Stars

Real Value:$6


 

Command Tower: An awesome auto-include for two colour+ decks that makes me wish they would print 30 more copies with different names. This should be put in most people’s commander decks so demand will be high. This is a must-have and doesn’t relent on giving its owner an easy mana fix. Luckily this is in every commander pre-constructed deck so they should be easy enough to grab hold of. (Hopefully)

Five Stars

Real Value: $3-5 (This one is a hard card to price as its availability is still unknown. It is never going to see a reprint outside of Commander sets because of its specificity.)






Collective Voyage: An awesome ramp spell that will make everyone hate you or love you depending on what happens in the next turn cycle. Combo’s well with Stranglehold for a one-sided ramp to infinite synergy. This is very much a fringe card as it is awkward to include in a deck without it back

Four Stars

Real Value: $3-4

 

Crescendo of War: This feels like a Red card because of how combat-based it is. I feel that this was put into the wrong pre-constructed deck and should have been in the Heavenly Inferno deck which is more about combat. This can make for some pretty crazy combat, making creatures really big really fast. In a five player game this makes your attacking creatures on the following turn +5/+0! And that is only after one turn cycle!

Three Stars

Real Value: $5




Damia, Sage of Stone: On the surface Damia has quite a powerful ability. Her flaw, however, is that it’s an upkeep trigger so you can invest a whole turn in her and not get any benefit out of it because a someone cast Wrath of God. Her combat stats feel a little meek and the Deathtouch, while flavorful, feels underwhelming. Not a bad card but definitely one I would prefer to sub in as my commander from time to time.

Three Stars

Real Value: $6-7

 




Death by Dragons: It has been said by many that the dream is Turn 5 Sarkhan the Mad, Turn 6 Death by Dragons and Turn 7 Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund. Unfortunately this line of play is very much a “Magical Christmas Land” kind of plan i.e. Very specific. A cool and unique effect; I give it the Timmy thumbs up.

Two Stars

Real Value: $1

 

Dread Cacodemon: The cocoa demon is coming to eat all the creatures! Mmm cocoa. Well, all your ones anyway. His upsides include obliterating all opposing forces and giving you an 8/8 beast as a kicker. His downside means you can’t attack after you destroy their men unless you can untap your creatures or give the cocoa monster haste. This seems like a fair trade off though, and one I’m happy to make for some excellent value. Cocoademon!

Three Stars

Real Value: $4




Edric, Spymaster of Trest: A well-balanced blue/green legendary creature that has a fun ability is definitely met with joy. Blue and Green get a bad rap for being Over Powered in commander but Edric may change that. His cheeky political strategy is fun for everyone and can help the aggressive decks keep up with those combo and control players. Edric’s price is influenced by its potential in some other formats.

Five Stars

Real Value: $12

 




Flusterstorm: This doesn’t feel like a Commander card but one designed for an Eternal format that never quite made a set with Storm. A little bit disappointing for a Commander card and not really in the spirit of the game. Again, Flusterstorms’s price is influenced by other formats potential.

One Star

Real Value: $6-8





Ghave, Guru of Spores: This guy is so cool and can interact with a whole bunch of cards. The most obvious being Doubling Season but lesser known cards like Sigil Captain (which comes in the deck) also provide some whacky scenarios where he can get out of hand very quickly. This is one of my favorite new cards from the commander set.

Five Stars

Real Value: $10

 







Homeward Path: A great way to get back your stolen merchandise without having to pack specific hate like Brand or Brooding Saurian. Has no real downside in any deck that can afford to miss a coloured land (unless it is counter intuitive to your strategy, of course). There is very little reason not to have one of these in your deck waiting to ruin the blue player’s day. This may cause an increase in land hate from blue players, so beware!

Four Stars

Real Value: $8

 




Hornet Queen: Green’s new best answer to fliers is in fact five answers! Not only that, but when paired with a Reveillark the Queen can bust out a whole bunch more drones to do her bidding. If you were after another token producer to go with your Avenger of Zendikar I can recommend this quite happily.

Four Stars

Real Value: $6-7





Hydra Omivore: Big beats are big. The great thing about this is that people can’t complain so much for picking on them and it also gets around the new white enchantment Soul Snare. Not only is the omnivore big and mean he can interact with powerful cards like Hatred for the multi-kill awards!

Three Stars

Real Value: $5

 




Kaalia of the Vast: For a long time I’ve waited for something to let me put all my big monsters into play and Kaalia seems to provide a suitable answer. The biggest and best creatures from White, Black and Red are Angels, Demons and Dragons respectively. Very cool card with beautiful art. Great job, just what we wanted!

Four Stars

Real Value: $7-9

 

Karador, Ghost Chieftain: This was the teaser for the set when it was first announced and it still hasn’t lost any of its shine. Karador has a strong “build around me” feel and when obliged should not disappoint. Bringing back a Fleshbag Marauder or Shriekmaw each turn is fair but when you get back your Reveillark or Karmic Guide it can become bonkers really quickly.

Four Stars

Real Value: $10-12

 

Magmatic Force: Valakut, The Molten Pinnacle sees play so why shouldn’t a man who throws Lightning Bolts every upkeep. This beast demands some attention and respect. Picking off a token every turn or hitting someone across the head a couple of times can really stack up a lot of damage to someone’s board or leave them vulnerable to one final push.

Three Stars

Real Value: $3

 

Mana-Charged Dragon: What a way to kill someone. The great thing about the dragon is that it lets Red play some politics that can knock out their main competition and not have to spend a lot to do it! What’s more is that they can do every turn! My favorite of the “Join Forces” cycle as it is the only permanent and the only asymmetrical one.

Three Stars

Real Value: $4




Martyr’s Bond: A white Gravepact for all permanents including itself! Note that with Enchanted Evening out, if one of your creatures dies you can force opponents to sacrifice any permanent, not just creatures! Great Asymmetry in this card that fits into a prison style deck and works well with Smokestack! Very mean.

Four Stars

Real Value: $6

 





Minds Aglow: A card that gets better the lower the play skill is at the table. This seems like the ultimate trap card for the new commander player who wants to get the most out of their deck as fast as they can. NEVER GIVE BLUE PLAYERS CARDS; THEIR CARDS WILL ALWAYS HAVE MORE VALUE THAN YOURS!!!

Three Stars

Real Value: $4

 

Nin, the Pain Artist: Our first hint at enemy bi-colour in the set has lost a bit of her shine but should not be underestimated. Her feeble body is a disguise for her amazing card drawing powers and being just 2 to cast is not much of a mission to bring to the battlefield time and time again.

Three Stars

Real Value: $6

 

Riddlekeeper: Kind of janky and probably should have been an enchantment to make it harder to kill but more homunculus are never a bad thing. This should see some play in a mill-based strategy like Kami of the Cresent Moon or Szadek, Lord of Secrets.

Two Stars

Real Value: $2




Riku of Two Reflections: This guy is amazing. Not only can you make your Tooth and Nail twice as juicy, you can make those four creatures you just searched for twice as juicy. Note: Makes infinite mana with seven lands and a Palinchron.

Five Stars

Real Value: $10

 





Ruhan of the Fomori: His impressive body just about makes up for his lackluster ability. The cool thing about Ruhan is that you can always plead innocence for attacking a whiny player thanks to the die you roll. I am a little frustrated that he has no other combat ability but at four mana I can’t complain too much.

Three Stars

Real Value: $4-5

 

Scavenging Ooze: If you wanted a Withered Wretch for your green deck, you got one! Not only can this exile pesky reanimation or regrowth targets it can get bigger and give you some life in the process. This is a great card, has creepy art and extra awesome points for being an Ooze.

Three Stars

Real Value: $5-6

 

Scythe Specter: Not quite as good as its omnivore companion (Hydra Omnivore) and will probably attract a whole bunch of hate. It is by no means a bad card and is probably one of the best discard creatures out but is not on quite the same level as its stronger counterparts: Sadistic Hypnotist and Mindslicer.

Three Stars

Real Value: $3-4

 

Sewer Nemesis: Again, this suits a mill-based strategy and can grow very big like Lord of Extinction (or a mini one at least). Landing this one Turn 4 can get him upwards of 10 power by turn 7 or 8 which is not a bad investment in time, cards or mana.

Two Stars

Real Value: $3

 

Shared Trauma: The most specific “Join Forces” card that can be very powerful when built around. It is the only spell that mills multiple opponents at the same time for a decent cost. I am not a huge fan of this strategy but if ever was there a card to change that, this would be it.

Three Stars

Real Value: $3-4




Skullbriar, the Walking Grave: This has been overrated time and time again. It is only ever really good as a commander and even then there are far superior commanders in these two colours. I don’t think it is trash, I just think it is not as good as people hype it up to be. (Editor - It is awesome, I will be vindicated!)

Three Stars

Real Value: $5-6

 





Soul Snare: A cool card that can fend off unwanted commander attacks or other large beaters. This will probably be used more as a rattlesnake than a removal spell for that reason. Being only one mana means you can get it back with Sun Titan every turn!

Two Stars

Real Value:$2

 

Spell Crumble: If Hinder wasn’t enough now we have Spell Crumble to hide those pesky commanders. If you already play Hinder you may either wish to switch or add another one to your list.

Three Stars

Real Value: $3

 

Stranglehold: They fixed Mindlock Orb and made it even better! Now not only can we stop anything from Survival to fetch lands we can stop Time Warp and we can do this all without wrecking our own stuff or playing blue! Fantastic art, fabulous flavor and a great ability: not much more you can demand from a card.

Four Stars

Real Value: $5

 

Syphon Flesh: A neat twist on Syphon Mind which has been interweaved with Innocent Blood that showcases the power inverse proportionality. At a five player table this can net you eight power of men which is a good effort for an uncommon.

Three Stars

Real Value:$2

 

Tariel, Reconer of Souls: As much as I like the card, I would prefer her to be in my deck than as a commander. Positive points for the option as a commander, negative points for being not quite good enough.

Three Stars

Real Value: $7

 

The Mimeoplasm: This has a very cool ability that lets you take the form of any dead creature and get even bigger from another dead creature. When milling your opponent you will almost always hit a juicy, fat creature in the graveyard for The Mimeoplasm to take the form of.

Four Stars

Real Value: $9-10




Trench Gorger: By far the worst card in the entire set (both old and new cards. Yes I know they put Deadly Recluse in the set). This is utter jank and my level of disgust that this made it to the final print is astounding. The problem I have with this is that you must invest so much in a card that might not win you the game… it might not even kill anyone! (Compare a card like Avenger of Zendikar which can be lethal damage on a player without having to exile all your lands.)

Thumbs down Wizards L

(I cannot represent the number of stars in negative form so I am writing here instead)

Real Value: Whatever the cardboard cost to produce

 



Tribute to the Wild: A very nice multiplayer card that doesn’t hate on anyone specific. Can be a little frustrating when one person has multiple things you don’t like but definitely a good design.

Three Stars

Real Value: $2

 

Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter: Reveillark and Karmic Guide just keep getting better and better. Vish Kal can consume your opponent’s side of the field while you’re happy getting to cast your Shriekmaw for its Evoke cost and sacrificing it with its trigger still on the stack. Vish Kal is a little over-costed but that’s nothing to worry about since he can turn a losing game into a winning game in a couple of attacks.

Four Stars

Real Value: $7-8

 

Vow of Duty: Vigilance is the worst one of the Vows because you don’t want to give your opponents’ guys vigilance most of the time. If your opponent attacks they attack someone else leaving the way open for you to attack them. This is probably the worst of the Vow cycle.

Two Stars

Real Value: $2

 

Vow of Flight: Vow of Flight is quite cool because it can be used with Hakim Loreweaver to some degree of success. It reduces the damage of Mind Control effects while convincing the enchanted creature’s controller to attack with their bigger, beefier creature.

Two Stars

Real Value: $2




Vow of Lightning: First Strike and +4/+4 to my Uril, the Miststalker feels like a good deal. This Vow feels like the vow that will let the creature it enchants live the longest which can be good when setting up to steal it later on.

As it was pointed out to me the flavor text of this card, “’Ruhan would never agree to such terms’ – Ruhan of the Fomori” Ruhan talks about himself in the third person! Awesome.

Two Stars

Real Value: $2

 




Vow of Malice: This is probably the best of the vow cycle. It almost always makes a guy unblockable to one player and if you were the one taking the beats before it will stop that creature in its tracks and point it a different direction.

Three Stars

Real Value: $2

 

Vow of Wildness: The name should have been “Vow of Wilderness” to make it sound better. This vow stops chump blocking from opponents which can lead to it becoming a huge threat to your opponents. It, like its counterparts above, enjoys spreading love to other players.

Two Stars

Real Value: $2

 




Zedruu the Greathearted: This truly feels like a Red, White and Blue commander. A very unusual ability that has a build around me feel to it. Zedruu is not the worst Commander from the new set and will probably be more fun to play against than any of the other new commanders. Good cards to use with him: Howling Mine, Zur’s Weirdng and Jinxed choker!

Three Stars

Real Value: $7

 




After looking at the lists available here I feel that the most value for money is available in the Devour for Power deck as this deck contains not only great new cards (The Mimeoplasm and Damia Sage of Stone) but also awesome old staple cards: Eternal Witness, Solemn Simulacrum and Living Death.

All the decks look like great fun to play with and some really wacky and exciting card scenarios are just begging to crop up in a free-for-all pre-constructed battle!

 

That’s all for this week, hope you enjoyed the article. I’m looking forward to playing some Commander with the new set and I’m sure anyone who picks up one of the new decks will have a blast! Good luck at Launch Party!

 

Ciao,

James

 

 

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