Welcome to the second part of my Commander 2015 review! The first part dealt with white and green and can be found here in case you’re interested.
Today’s agenda is all about blue and black though. Please be aware that I always evaluate cards from a multiplayer perspective as I’m a multiplayer Magic enthusiast at heart and almost never play in duels. Furthermore, what I say reflects my own opinion and may well differ from what you or others think. In that case, why don’t you let me know in the comments at the bottom of the article? I’d be happy to read your thoughts and ideas so that I can convince you that mine are better, ha!
AEthersnatch – If a card wants me to keep up six mana, it had better be good. In this case, it’s an extremely flexible effect with blowout potential. Unfortunately, its efficiency completely depends on what your opponents are playing, and if nobody casts anything you’d like to steal, you may have well wasted a turn. My suggestion? Use it in a deck with lots of instant-speed spells and abilities where you would keep up your mana anyways.
Broodbirth Viper – I love the idea behind myriad, I really do. That being said, most of the cards with myriad leave a lot to be desired. A 3/3 will be outclassed rather quickly in most games, so getting additional ones that even have to attack different players doesn’t exactly help. And then it doesn’t even have any kind of evasion? Thanks, I’ll pass.
Day of the Dragons – This has been one of my finishers of choice in my Roon of the Hidden Realm deck for some time now, and I’m never unhappy to draw it. This is how it’s done: Cast a few creatures, then Day of the Dragons. Next turn, attack for 25 damage or more. If someone manages to kill the dragons, return Day of the Dragons to your hand via Capsize and profit from all those lovely ETB triggers of the creatures that return to the battlefield. Nice.
Dominate – Yes, this is probably too expensive considering that you have to pay three mana in addition to the converted mana cost of the creature you want to grab. I just want to point out, though, that this is an instant.
Gigantoplasm – Fblthp is back, and he brought a friend! In all seriousness, the last few years have gifted us with a lot of awesome clones – Phyrexian Metamorph, Dack’s Duplicate, Evil Twin, Clever Impersonator, and now this. We might actually start to question the sanity of anyone who’s still playing the original Clone!
Illusory Ambusher – Would you play a five-mana instant that said: “Prevent all combat damage a creature without flying or trample that is attacking you or a planeswalker you control would deal this turn. If this creature has toughness 4 or less, destroy it. Draw cards equal to that creature’s power.”? For all intents and purposes, that is what Illusory Ambusher does, and it sounds already quite nice. But please don’t forget that your own damage sources let you draw cards as well. If the ambusher is on the battlefield and you cast Magmaquake or Blasphemous Act, you basically wipe the board and draw an insane amount of cards. That’s just sick! And Nin, the Pain Artist REALLY loves this guy. So in my book, this card is pretty good.
Mirror Match – Another six-mana instant. However, this one is very, very interesting as it has the potential to be a one-sided Day of Judgment. In blue. Just saying.
Mystic Confluence – Once again, blue gets the most competitive and thus most expensive card in a cycle. Be that as it may, Mystic Confluence has some serious blowout potential and should more or less be an auto-include in any deck that plays blue. At worst, this will be a counterspell for five mana (if you use the first mode three times for countering the same spell) which is not exactly good but sometimes necessary. At best, it can completely screw someone over by countering three spells or by breaking their defenses wide open. Oh, and draw one or two cards while we’re at it. This is a fantastic and extremely versatile card.
Sleep – Sleep has been around for some time now and I somehow have the impression it doesn’t get the love it deserves. People play Overrun, right? Well, Sleep is the blue Overrun and more. It makes it so that nobody is ever safe, no matter behind how many walls they’re hiding. Being a sorcery hurts it somewhat but it’s basically a mass detaining for two turns in a row and that should count for something.
Stolen Goods – Look, I understand why Wizards keep making cards like this, and in most cases (as with Talent of the Telepath for example), I think this is actually a neat addition to the game. However, spells that basically give you completely random effects need a definite upside to be worth it, and in this regard Stolen Goods just doesn’t deliver. Yes, getting something like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or Violent Ultimatum makes you appear like a boss but what about Sakura-Tribe Elder or Counterspell? What if your opponent reveals Daru Warchief? Well, Sakura-Tribe Elder for four mana is just bad, Counterspell will not even be castable for lack of a target in most cases, and Daru Warchief needs other soldiers to reach its maximum potential. So yeah, Stolen Goods might be able to give you a serious discount on something, and if you know what’s on top of their library, more power to you. On its own though, this card is certainly not reliable enough.
Synthetic Destiny – Take a look at the card. Do you see what I see? Yeah, a six-mana instant again. This is clearly getting out of hand… Be that as it may, Mass Polymorph with flash is fascinating. Even though its delayed trigger means that you’re not getting your new creatures before the next end step, it also means that you can just laugh at all the mass removal in the world because you’ll get a new army anyways. And with a little luck you’ll even upgrade what you exiled. It gets even better if you have a way to produce multiple creatures on the cheap or in one go (see Myr Battlesphere, Ant Queen or Sliver Queen). What’s not to love?
Ambition’s Cost and Ancient Craving – Huh? What the hell is going on here? Is it just me or did they really include the same card twice but with different names and rarities? This is … uhm … awkward?
Banshee of the Dread Choir – See Broodbirth Viper, even though a 4/4 might put a little bit of pressure on somebody. Still, not a fan.
Black Market – Ever since Wizards got rid of manaburn, my interest is piqued whenever I come across a card that gives me mana for free. And just like Braid of Fire, this old goodie can provide a lot of it if it stays on the table. The initial investment of five mana is no small thing but it just so happens that creatures die all the time in multiplayer games. Also, if you’re playing this, you’re playing black, so removal and sacrifice engines shouldn’t be too difficult to come by. If it doesn’t get destroyed, Black Market is a powerhouse that provides you with fuel for the rest of the game. And in Commander, there are quite a few legends that could make good use of this enchantment. May I introduce you to Geth, Lord of the Vault, Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief, Erebos, God of the Dead, or even Sliver Queen? And Ghave, Guru of Spores is absolutely bonkers here. Try it out, people!
Corpse Augur – When it dies, huh? Well then, unless you want to commit suicide, you’d better include a bit of graveyard manipulation in your deck. This can draw you a stupid amount of cards if you manage to time it right but might also spell certain doom. Better in formats with higher life totals, such as Commander.
Daxos’s Torment – Interesting concept. First and foremost, this is a 5/5 flier with haste that can attack only once if you don’t play other enchantments which basically means he is just crap unless you do. If you do though (and especially in tandem with Heliod, God of the Sun or the new Daxos the Returned), this card is a threat that is quite hard to deal with as creature removal of the sorcery type won’t ever get him.
Deadly Tempest – Mass removal that costs six mana better had a nice upside, and Deadly Tempest does. If you are forced to wipe the board, there’s probably a reason for it, and in most cases this means many reasons, so it’s likely that you’ll also deal quite a bit of damage with it. Creature decks in general and token decks in particular have always been afraid of Massacre Wurm, and this card is more bad news for them. Control players should love it.
Dread Summons – The Mimeoplasm can’t wait to get its hands (Claws? Talons? Paws?) on this one.
Scourge of Nel Toth – Demanding the sacrifice of not one but two creatures seems a bit excessive at first glance but I have this silent suspicion that this beastie is better than it appears. I mean, it’s a 6/6 flier that can be recast for only two black mana as soon as it dies. The only requirement is that you need two other creatures for that. In the right deck though, this should not be a problem at all. I know I want one for my Karador, Ghost Chieftain deck where it will work nicely alongside Grave Pact, Dictate of Erebos and Butcher of Malakir.
Thief of Blood – A planeswalker killer by nature, this girl obviously also has a bone to pick with all the hydras out there. All but Progenitus that is, but then he has protection from everything, right?
Underworld Connections – If you’ve ever played Phyrexian Arena, this card seems like a joke in comparison. However, I think we should ignore the arena when we are evaluating this card because c’mon, wouldn’t you pay and 1 life to draw a card every turn if you could? Why, I know I would – and I already have. Underworld Connections is a good card that just happens to be worse than one of the best enchantments ever printed in black. In my opinion, that’s hardly a reason to let it fall by the wayside.
Vow of Malice – I’m not a fan of the Vow cycle. That being said, Vow of Malice is one of the better ones as intimidate is an inherently aggressive ability that should lead to the enchanted creature being used as an attacker more often so that it can’t block your own creatures. Still, I would always prefer something else to take out opposing monsters.
Wretched Confluence – It doesn’t matter how I combine the three modes, I can’t seem to be happy about the cost-benefit ratio here. The saving grace is that it’s an instant but for me, none of its modes do enough. Getting back your three best creatures is not bad, and neither is drawing three cards at instant speed (I’ve sometimes played Jace’s Ingenuity after all). And taking out three small dudes can really annoy someone under the right circumstances. I know all that and I understand that Wretched Confluence offers you many more alternatives than the three I just mentioned, and yet I can’t shake the feeling that this card could have been so much more.
To Be Continued…
With this ends part two of my Commander 2015 review. Join me next time when I take a closer look at red, multicolor, artifacts and lands!