Welcome, dear readers, to the column that’s all things multiplayer here on MtGCasualPlay.com!
As the title may suggest (and very subtly at that!), Commander 2015 is going to be today’s topic, with the colors white and green in particular. Blue and black will follow in part 2 while part 3 will be dealing with red, multicolor, artifacts and lands.
As usual, I’ll be talking about cards that I feel I have something to say about – and that can be anything from a serious evaluation to meaningless babbling about something the card reminds me of. To this end, I apply a multiplayer angle, so if you like to get information on how a card performs in duels, you might want to look elsewhere. Also, be aware of the fact that everything I say is my own opinion and by no means the ultimate truth. You happen to disagree with me about something? Awesome! Let your voice be heard in the comments!
Alright, without further ado, here’s my two cents.
Angel of Serenity – I really like this reprint for its flexibility. It’s a giant beater that doubles as removal or assurance against sweepers. Nice! Unfortunately, it also has a secret function that is easier to miss – that of the removal magnet. You see, if you use the angel to exile cards your opponents own, they happen to want them back. No idea why but it’s true. So I would almost always pick at least one of my own creatures just to be on the safe side of things and make the decision as difficult as possible for them.
Arbiter of Knollridge – There are three deck types that can really benefit from this guy. First, combo decks that take out the whole table in one go. Second, attrition decks which take out everything that poses a threat and provide inevitability in the long run (most Karador, Ghost Chieftain probably fall under this category). And finally, decks that win via commander damage (see Uril, the Miststalker). All of them have in common that they don’t really care about your opponents’ life totals but need to survive to do their thing and would therefore gladly include this dude in their arsenal. By the way, another similar effect can be had from Resolute Archangel.
Banishing Light – An Oblivion Ring variant but one that can only exile permanents your opponents control and is therefore a little more restricted. Also, its wording doesn’t allow for shenanigans with Sun Titan and sac outlets. Still, not a bad card.
Bastion Protector – Uhm, this should probably be more or less an auto-include in decks that win via commander damage as it both pumps and protects your commander. It might also be interesting for decks that rely a lot on their commander but don’t aim at taking out opponents with commander damage where it is a little bit worse than Indestructibility and far worse than Darksteel Plate. It’s cheap, granted, but creatures are the permanents easiest to kill. If you don’t need the +2/+2 and still want a creature, you should probably prefer Aegis Angel because she’s way more flexible and a big flier to boot.
Crib Swap – I adore this card in tribal decks. Take a look at the following list of cards it synergizes well with: Enlistment Officer, Haakon, Stromgald Scourge, Elvish Harbinger, Angel of Flight Alabaster, Sunforger (I know, no tribal stuff going on here but it’s still good) etc. There are many more options out there, so there is no reason for you not to play Crib Swap.
Dawn to Dusk – There should always be an enchantment to take out with Dawn to Dusk but whether you can use it to return something from your graveyard depends on your deck. If you can choose both options, that’s great. If not, it seems a bit too expensive.
Dawnbreak Reclaimer – Oh, the political implications of this card! In the course of most games, there always comes the point when one player pulls ahead of the others so that they need to work together to prevent him or her from winning. It’s in situations like these that Dawnbreak Reclaimer really shines. Unless you choose an opponent whose brain functions like a random generator and is incapable of evaluating the board state, that is…
Dawnglare Invoker – Eight mana is a lot, yes. But being able to prevent a player from blocking every turn is brutal. This wizard becomes better in team formats where you can be protected by other players if you want to use Dawnglare Invoker‘s ability repeatedly.
Grasp of Fate – The magical words here are “up to”. You can choose a permanent for each opponent, sure, but you can also make friends by leaving someone out of the equation. Definitely an interesting and more powerful take on the afore-mentioned Banishing Light.
Herald of the Host – Ah, myriad. Apart from banding, there has never been a keyword with as long a rules text as this, has there? In contrast to banding though, myriad is far easier to understand. So it creates an additional attacker for each opponent other than the one Herald of the Host is attacking? Okay, I guess. Then again, you can choose which opponent you get a token for, meaning that myriad has some political aspects as well. I’m far more interested in other applications though. Imagine a four players game where you get two more tokens during combat. For free. Every turn. Now you only need something like Aura Shards, Champion of Lambholt, Court Street Denizen, Warstorm Surge, Elemental Bond and/or an instant-speed sacrifice outlet that doesn’t require tapping itself (Greater Good, Eater of Hope or Disciple of Griselbrand come to mind) to annoy the crap out of the other players. I have to admit, the longer I think about it, the more I like myriad. Be that as it may, 4/4 fliers may not be enough, so on its own Herald of the Host seems okay but not great. It’s certainly better in 60-cards formats than in Commander, though.
Kalemne’s Captain – Soldier decks around the world rejoice! You’ve finally received an efficient creature that can take out problematic noncreature permanents. Unfortunately, white usually strongly relies on cards that push your own board as or via noncreature permanents (Leonin Sun Standard, Stonehewer Giant, Karmic Justice or Sigil of the New Dawn just to name a few) and would fall victim to this giant which is why I like global artifact and enchantment removal in white a lot less than in green. Still, Kalemne’s Captain is a good card and deserves a spot in your deck.
Mesa Enchantress – White seems to really push the enchantment theme in Commander 2015.
Oreskos Explorer – White’s lack of ramp and card draw should lead to this cat scout’s being quite good, especially in later stages of the game. However, you’ll want to cast this as early as possible so there might be situations where you’ll get only a single land. Still, this is definitely a playable card in white. I mean, people are playing Borderland Ranger in green, and Oreskos Explorer actually has the potential to be so much better as you can search for nonbasic Plains as well. I like it!
Righteous Confluence – And here it is, the first representative of the new confluences. Being able to choose between three different modes is awesome but hardly anything new (say hello to Treva’s Charm, Abzan Charm and friends). Being able to choose more than one has been seen before as well (Hi, Command cycle!). A combination of the two though? Wow! Just wow. The confluences offer versatility in spades and will clearly be multiplayer hits at kitchen tables all around the world. That being said, what about Righteous Confluence in particular? Well, it’s white, and by that I mean that it is good at keeping you alive, either by creating blockers, taking out one or more enchantments that are giving you fits, or by providing large amounts of life. Or, you know, all of the above! It’s a good card, no question, but it remains to be seen how good exactly.
Shielded by Faith – Take that, Indestructibility! This one is cheaper (but of course requires more colored mana) and a lot more flexible. Play it early, then attach it to something better later in the game. Cool! But you know what? You can also play the political game and use it for creatures you don’t control because you need not be afraid of them ever biting you in the arse. If you enchanted an opponent’s creature and this creature suddenly poses a threat to you, just create a creature of your own and take it back.
Silent Sentinel – See – ah, forget it!
Vow of Duty – Urgh. Yes, the enchanted creature will never attack you, true. But you pumped it and gave it vigilance, so it’s quite likely that it can easily block your own critters for a long time. If you are into that kind of thing, try out Crown of Doom instead.
Arachnogenesis – So spider tokens are now officially and forever 1/2? Good to know. The card itself is a fog effect that can create a few eight-legged beasties, depending on how many attackers are coming your way. The last aspect makes it a bit unreliable, and if you’re not playing against dedicated token decks, the amount of spiders you get will be limited. I prefer something that can save your bacon but also takes out creatures (Hunter’s Ambush, Serene Sunset) or even players (Tangle) if used under the right circumstances.
Bloodspore Thrinax – If you are playing a dedicated creature deck (especially tokens), then this card was tailormade for you. An initial investment that pays dividends even far later in the game provided the thrinax doesn’t die. And if you can put additional +1/+1 counters on this monster, the game will be over very, very quickly.
Caller of the Pack – Why is this not a rare? Granted, if you have only one opponent, myriad does nothing and you have an 8/6 trampler for seven mana which is hardly awe-inspiring. However, just ask yourself for how long the table can hold out if each other player gets attacked by a trampling 8/6 every freakin’ turn in addition to the other things you’re doing. Things like Warstorm Surge or Parallel Lives for example. Yeah, that’s an awful lot of pressure. Just be aware that you become the archenemy as soon as you cast Caller of the Pack.
Centaur Vinecrasher – Terravore is a bomb in the right deck, and so is this guy. He exchanges the lower mana cost for the option of coming back after he died which is a clear upgrade in multiplayer games. Especially since the three mana required for Terravore often clash with land destruction spells (i.e. Stone Rain) which you need for this type of deck.
Ezuri’s Predation – Ah, the story behind this card! Ezuri has been compleated (no typo, I assure you) and now fights for the Phyrexians. Scary! Playwise, this sorcery is too expensive for my tastes. Funnily enough, it does two things and might have been better if it did only one of them. Consider if it only created the 4/4 beast tokens while your three opponents control a total of twelve creatures perhaps. That would give you 48 power! In the later stages of the game though, many creatures will be larger than 4/4, resulting in quite a few of your beasts immediately biting the dust. Duh. It’s still a powerful effect of course but I’m not sure if we couldn’t shave off a mana and still keep a reasonably priced spell. To me, this is Alpha Brawl territory – a card that should be a game winner but somehow ends up disappointing you time and time again.
Great Oak Guardian – A treefolk with flash?! That seems so inherently wrong and paradoxical that I’ll be cracking silly jokes about it for years! And all the while, my hordes of leaves and branches will be crushing everything underfoot. That being said, Great Oak Guardian is rather interesting in team formats where it can also pump your ally’s army. And the untap effect makes it cool on defense, too! Oh, and it’s ANOTHER infinite combo with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker… Nice card.
Overwhelming Stampede – Game over.
Skullwinder – Wizards surely put quite a few political cards into Commander 2015. And this snake is one of the best ones. Deathtouch has been great for defensive purposes ever since its creation, and Eternal Witness is still considered one of the best creatures ever printed. Put both effects on a single card and you have a clear winner, especially since deathtouch means that you circumvent Eternal Witness‘s frequent problem of not wanting to cast it early in the game when nothing interesting has yet found its way into your graveyard. And as if this wasn’t enough, Skullwinder also allows you to help out another player or to build an alliance against somebody else. What’s not to love? Looking harmless and unassuming enough, this is one of my favorite cards in the set.
Verdant Confluence – As with most Confluences, the challenge is to choose the right modes in any given situation. Since the options Verdant Confluence provides are so extremely different, it won’t be easy to cast it at the right moment and to the greatest effect. Also, don’t underestimate the last mode. Ramping from six to nine mana might not be the best choice but ramping from six to seven can make the difference between victory and defeat. All in all, I think this has potential but requires some serious testing and experience to really pull its weight.
To Be Continued…
That’s it for today, folks! Next up: blue and black. Until then, may you harness the powers of law and order to vanquish your enemies! May you call upon the spirits of the forest to stomp them into the dust!
Uhm, whatever. Just have a good time playing Magic!