Well hello readers, welcome back to MTGCasualPlay.com and my Top 10 MTG Origins Cards for Commander! My goodness, has it really been four months since my last Top 10 set review? Time to scrape the rust off and get to work! As always, my rankings take into account new cards (no reprints) and playability with regards to fitting into a wide range of decks as opposed to niche, corner-case goodness. For each card I will include a FOR ME… section to indicate how I would personally use the card in my existing or future decklists.
I can guarantee that I excluded at least one card that you believe should be listed here. That’s cool, let me know where you agree or disagree and tell me what card makes your Top 10 list. What would you rank higher (or lower)? Please comment and leave feedback in the section below!
Be sure to check back every once in a while for my other Commander articles. I am definitely looking forward to my Top 10 list for Battle for Zendikar, due out in October 2015!
Had it not been for Nissa’s forest going into hand instead of put onto the battlefield, the Elven Walker may have earned a spot in my top 10. While in Legendary Elf form, she is a bit worse than a Borderland Ranger. However, as Nissa, Sage Animist she earns the right to an honorable mention. As a planeswalker her +1 Coiling Oracle impersonation is enough to quench the thirst of a card hungry player. Even though this is the Sage Animist’s best feature, her other two abilities do have potential in the right Commander build. I plan on a mono green deck in the near future, I’m sure she’ll be there.
Woodland Bellower: Part of the Big Brother program, Woodland Bellower always brings a little friend with him wherever he goes. Reclamation Sage and Eternal Witness make great additions to the program.
Animist’s Awakening: For the gamblers out there… Throw some mana into this and see what you get! This card can be boom or bust in the real estate business.
Pyromancer’s Goggles: I’ll be putting this in every mono red deck I ever build. Ever. This card has flavor and fun. The restriction to red spells is what keeps it out of the top ten.
Enough of the “honorables”. You came here for a Top 10 List, so let’s get to it!
Top 10 MTG Origins Cards for EDH Commander
#10 – Starfield of Nyx
See that dude hanging over there on the fence, yep, that’s me. What am I doing? Well this fence separates my thoughts on whether or not Starfield of Nyx is a “good” card or a “great” card for EDH. After reading the first line of rules text, my Johnny bone tingled with excitment. My first inclination was “oh my freaking goodness, this card is too good! No way!” It reads: At the beginning of your upkeep, you may return target enchantment card from your graveyard to the battlefield.. However, the next line painted a frowny face on the canvas and brought me back to reality. “As long as you control five or more enchantments, each other non-Aura enchantment you control is a creature in addition to its other types and has base power and base toughness each equal to its converted mana cost.” You may be thinking, what’s not to like about beating your opponents down with a 10/10 Omniscience? I’ll tell ya. Having my Omniscience get jacked in the mouth with a Swords to Plowshares.
While some decks may clamor for the second ability and its nod to ancient tech that is Opalescence, I see this as more of a hinderance. For those of you that want animated enchantments, then the Starfield of Nyx is no doubt your favorite card in the set. However, I don’t want my enchantments walking about on their own, and here’s why. I feel I can speak for most metas when I declare that creature removal is much more prominent than enchantment removal. My enchantments are usually key pieces to my game plan and I don’t want to increase their vulnerability when I’m trying to do my thing.
So, here’s what I’ve decided. Starfield of Nyx WILL BE as good as I know it can be. We need to be cautious when it is deployed and monitor our non-aura enchantment count to ensure that we don’t allow our 3/3 Rhystic Study to get swept away by a Terminus. As long as we play smart, we should be able to harness the full power of Nyx.
Don’t let my cautiousness take away from the power and potential of this card. The Starfield is going to create some happy spellcasters when they get to bring an enchantment from their graveyard to the battlefield at the beginning of their upkeep. Aura decks in particular should have no qualms about its usefulness in their strategy. I should also mention the juicy synergy it has with cards like Aura of Silence. I am definitely anxious to see the Starfield and the value it will bring to the table.
FOR ME… I’ll be giving the Starfield a test run in my Sigarda Aura Enchantress deck. With no real ways to retrieve lost auras, Starfield will be a powerhouse as I rebuild after a boardwipe. Unfortunately, it is too slow and clunky to make the cut in my Uril 1v1 voltron deck.
#9 – Jace’s Sanctum
Honestly, the rest of this article will turn out to be quite long and detailed so let’s keep our evaluation of Jace’s Sanctum short and to the point. The main ability of this four mana enchantment allows us to cut costs of sorcery and instant spells by . While this may seem like a mediocre effect, I can assure you that control decks are going to put this “coupon” to good use and save some mana on every turn. Being able to turn a Dissipate into a Counterspell that exiles or being able to hard counter for one blue mana with an Arcane Denial will increase effectiveness of a control player’s poker face. The deciding factor on putting this into the top 10 is that after every sorcery or instant spell we cast, we get to scry 1. While there are quite a few Commanders that can take advantage of Jace’s safe place, I’m sure that Talrand, Melek, Azami and Grand Arbiter will be a few of the first seeking refuge in the sanctum.
FOR ME… I have not ventured too far into the realm of control, so I have no immediate plans for the Sanctum de Jace. Although, cracking one in a booster may prod me to test the waters.
Let’s face it, even if the new flippy Lili was a bad card I would probably still include it in my top 10 list. Why? Because it’s Liliana and I have a soft spot for the malicious beauty. Infatuation aside, the Magic Origins young Liliana is a really good card and I expect to see several tappedout.net decklists and a plethora of inclusions in the other 99.
Liliana, Heretical Healer will be an absolute blast to play with as the commander of a Zombie Tribal EDH Deck. Liliana could also lend herself to other deck building themes such as discard or a vorthos build using cards with her in the title, the art or part of her backstory. Let’s face it though, while she is a solid 2/3 legendary creature with lifelink her true power comes after her spark is ignited. Decks including or built around her will be wanting to turn her to the dark side.
Liliana, Defiant Necromancer immediately arrives with a 2/2 Zombie token to protect her. Having some sort of protection is one of the measures used to define good planeswalkers. Her +2 ability has the entire table discarding a card. While discarding usually impairs other players, we can make good use of the discard to set up graveyard shenanigans. Since Liliana is a necromancer, I imagine most decks will be using the discard ability to set up recursion and card advantage. Speaking of recursion, in a pinch, Lili has a -X that can bring back a small creature.
The sheer power of Liliana’s necromancy can be found in her ultimate. Lili’s -8 ability gives us an emblem that says whenever a creature dies, return them to the battlefield under our control at the next endstep. Oh sweet shenanigans this is good!
FOR ME… It’s no secret that Liliana is my favorite planeswalker in the game. Opening a Liliana, Heretical Healer in my Magic Origins Fat Pack was a sure sign that I am supposed to use her. Like most folks, I started looking at her being the commander of a mono black Zombie Tribal. However, I could really use her in the new Steal and Sac Rakdos deck I’m building. She’s a perfect fit. Either way, I will be looking forward to using Liliana for my own bidding.
#7 – Sword of the Animist
Ramping like a champ is vital to keep pace with the Commander bombs of today’s world, but unfortunately there are quite a few deck archetypes that seem to suffer from this crucial element. While anyone playing green can and should be casting Cultivate & Company all day long, what about the other colors? Sure we have mana rocks and a few posers such as Wayfarer’s Bauble, but in my perfect world I want to be putting land from my library onto the battlefield. As always Land Ramp > Mana Rocks > Mana Dorks. Well, most of the time.
There are quite a few of us that still like to swing and attack with creatures, how archaic, I know. What Sword of the Animist allows us to do is equip a creature, swing and get a Rampant Growth effect on attack. Let’s face it, the decks that will benefit most from the sword will always have a Solemn Simulacrum, Indestructible creature or an extra 1/1 token to send into battle. Heck, the sword even applies a modest +1/+1 bonus that can turn dorks into bears!
The fact that the ability works without having to deal damage to a player is what supercharges the Sword into my Magic Origins top 10 list. I also dig the fact that if the sword is not dealt with in terms of removal, we get to rampant growth every turn. Value. Cha-ching! I would highly recommend the Sword of the Animist for Voltron, Equipment, Token, or any deck that loves to send creatures into battle. Heck, I would go so far as to say why not put it in Green too? I’ll send a Plant Token on a suicide run so I can get an extra forest, you betcha. Sorry plant token. Final thought, Land destruction in your meta? Get that Sword in position for fast mana recovery!
FOR ME… I’m practicing what I preach folks. The Sword of the Animist will be an auto include for my Indestructible Tajic deck. Extra copies may even find themselves in a few of my other decks that are petitioning for help to get mana flowing. Just got a call from Aurelia, the Warleader, she wants one too!
#6 – The Great Aurora
I had to read this card a few times, just to make sure I was understanding this correctly. Each player shuffles all cards from his or hand and all permanents he or she owns into his or her library, then draws that many cards. Each player may put any number of land cards from his or her hand onto the battlefield. Exile The Great Aurora.
Are you kidding me? Holy reset buttons! Game out of hand? Play the Aurora? Can’t deal with a hexproof or indestructible? Cast the Aurora. Is the game just not leaning in your favor? Cast it! While this gigantic effect can be played by anyone toting the green mana, it is evident that it rewards the player with the most permanents. The big winners with this spell will most definitely be the decks that can produce a lot of tokens. The ruling for Great Aurora has been clarified that tokens are theoretically shuffled back into the library and count towards the drawing of cards.
Haters gonna Hate, so where to begin? Okay, first, lets address the 9 mana casting cost. Big whoop. In this format, and in green, the casting cost should not hinder our ability for this fat sorcery.
Yeah, but everyone else gets to draw cards and shuffle their permanents too. Correct, but, the absolute best thing about this behemoth reset button is the fact that after all lands are put into play (untapped), we get to start slinging spells first.
Is The Great Aurora going to win us the game when we cast it. Maybe, maybe not. It is not designed to win the game, but rather to reset the board when things get out of hand. I think EDH Podcaster Josh Lee Kwai said it best on his guest appearance of The Commanderin’ podcast when he said:
“It doesn’t always have to be like you play this card and you’re in a position to win. Sometimes its fine to play this card and be in a position where you’re not gonna lose.”
FOR ME… Wow, where to start. Well. I am really debating on throwing this into Prossh. With the ample amount of token generation this could easily be a game winner!
#5 – Tragic Arrogance
In my original draft, Tragic Arrogance was riding high in the #1 spot. After further meditation and deep-thought I brought this down a few notches. No, I didn’t decrease it in value because it didn’t touch lands like Uncle Cataclysm. On the contrary, I’m glad it doesn’t provide land destruction, that is a bump up in my book. No, the reason I moved it down a tad was there are times that this spell is going to whiff. Whether its because I don’t wanna blow my own stuff up or my opponent only has one planeswalker, or one creature, and this spell will fail at removing them.
Balancing out the occasional whiff is the fact that the caster gets to decide what each player keeps. Unlike Cataclysm where each player decides the fate of their own cards. Allowing a player to keep a 1/1 token and a mana rock while making them sacrifice their army and the swords they were carrying will turn the tides of any battle.
FOR ME… Honestly, I can’t wait to give this new board wipe a whirl. It should be good times playing judge and jury over what stays and what goes.
#4 – Chandra’s Ignition
You know I want to break out in the style of R. Kelly and sing a little bit of the Ignition Remix, right? That song goes through my head everytime I see this card. Makes we wanna be sippin’ on coke and rum, rum. Ah, good tune. But seriously folks Chandra’s Ignition is the real deal and I am here to tell you that this little ditty needs to be tucked into your red removal suite. Did I say removal? Well, sure, this is removal, but it can also be a win condition.
Removal. Eazy-Cheezy. Target one of your big beefy threats to ignite Chandra’s spark and burn up the rest of the board. Some-good right there. The targeted creature doesn’t have to be a big power guy though either. Blasting a deathtouch creature like Acidic Slime or an infect dude will also scorch the board. For extra synergetic hotness try targeting a Dread Slaver or a creature equipped with a Scythe of the Wretched and I guarantee you will earn the title of Expert Pyromancer in your playgroup. Well done.
Win Condition. Aside from blasting creatures, Chandra’s Ignition will put a roman candle to the face of each of your opponents. In the latter stages of the game, igniting a 7 power fatty could seal the deal. How about infect for the win? Blast a Blightsteel Colossus and GG Folks.
FOR ME… Chandra’s Ignition is going to blow some stuff up and I cannot wait for her to detonate in my Tajic Indestructible deck. I’m sure my favorite target in Tajic will be a Colossus of Akros, but if I also so-happen to have Purity and Repercussion on the board? Oh my. I will also play this as a win condition in my Prossh deck. Sacrifice kobolds and tokens to juice Prossh’s power and then blast the board and my opponents for 11 or more points of damage. Mwhahaha!
#3 – Archangel of Tithes
An “Archangel” is a high ranking and powerful angel, a definition that Archangel of Tithes fits perfectly. A vanilla 3/5 flier is worth the 4 mana cost all on its own, but this beauty comes with two abilities that will protect and/or lead others into battle.
Her first ability shows her defensive skills in the form of a mini-Propaganda effect, similar, but less effective than a Windborn Muse. None-the-less, I’ll take all the help I can get when staring down a battalion led by Craterhoof Behemoth. What sets this Angelic tax keeper apart is her ability to play offense. While she is attacking, opponents cannot block her or any other attacking creature unless they pay for each creature they want to block with. That, my friends, is how she earned her halo and title of Archangel.
I realize there are still some nay-sayers about the overall effectiveness of her second ability in offense mode. If you’re playgroup is like mine you well know that the aggro players love to tap out and the control players love to hold mana up for counterspells and tricks. Forcing opponents to tap for each creature they want to block or get smacked in the face will alter their gameplan and make them constantly rethink their usage of available mana.
Ready for cake? Yeah? Okay, let’s put some icing on it. It’s called vigilance. Cards like Heliod, God of the Sun, Angelic Field Marshal, and Angelic Skirmisher put the Archangel of Tithes in beast mode. Can an angel go into beast mode? In her case, yes, yes they can.
Want to get Vorthos-y for a second? Sure, Archangel of Tithes lost her distinctive headdress and got her ass kicked by Liliana, Defiant Necromancer and her horde of zombies. But who wouldn’t get their ass kicked by Lilli? So don’t let her loss to the one of the most powerful planeswalkers in the multiverse fool ya, Archangel of Tithes will be an angelic force on your side of the battlefield. For the full story on Lilliana vs Archangel of Tithes look no further than Unholy Hunger.
FOR ME… Needless to say, I’m oober excited about the next addition to my Aurelia Angel Tribal deck. To Quote manager Lou Brown “It’s startin’ to come together, Pepper, It’s startin to come together!” (Major League movie reference, in case you missed it.). Outside of a foiled Archangel for Aurelia, I’ll be needing another to slot into Eight-and-a-Half-Tails who loves the ability to switch back and forth from offense to defense. She is also a consideration for Kaalia. She fits the inexpensive casting cost I like for my Kaalia deck but that triple white is worrisome . For those of you wondering, if Archangel of Tithes is cheated into play with Kaalia of the Vast, yes, opponents DO have to pay for blockers. This is a static ability to look for her “attacking” as opposed to a triggered ability during the declare attackers step.
#2 – Evolutionary Leap
Do not be afraid to jump on the northbound train to Value Town, because that is the best place to pick up your copy of Evolutionary Leap. If you have been following online discussions you will recognize this two mana green enchantment has been drawing a lot of comparison to EDH powerhouse Survival of the Fittest. While I fully recognize that Survial is a card that radiates nuclear power when used and regulated correctly, I believe that Evolutionary Leap can provide a different, but efficient, windmill of energy once it is on the battlefield. If used and regulated correctly.
For those of you not familiar, Survival of the Fittest allows us to discard a creature card and then search our library for any creature card in our library. Being able to perform a one for one trade to have the right creature at the right time can be game changing. While discarding may seem like a drawback, there are decks that want cards in their graveyard for reanimate effects or other shenanigans.
Evolutionary Leap, on the other hand, allows us to sacrifice a creature on the battlefield and then take the next creature card that is “next in line” in our library. Okay, so the creature card we get might be “randomly” determined, but lets look at what we will be sacrificing. Let’s start with the empty shotgun shells, shall we? I’m referring to cards like Eternal Witness or Reclamation Sage, you know, cards that shoot off an Enter the Battlefield trigger and then take on the chump blocker persona. Or, how about creatures that benefit from going to the graveyard? Solemn Simulacrum and Academy Rector trigger my thoughts. Not satisfied with sacrifice opportunities yet? Well, there is always tokens. Lots and lots of tokens. Every color has them whether it’s Avenger of Zendikar‘s garden of plants, red-shirt soldiers protecting Elsepeth, Sun’s Champion or the 2/2 zombie from a Grave Titan, tokens are everywhere and they are expendable. Looking at the Avenger of Zendikar as an example, we could pay sacrificing three plants and get three creature cards in hand. Our Evolutionary Leap just gave us a 3 to 1 card advantage! Boo-yah, now the pieces are coming together! Karador players, especially, should be ecstatic.
Survival and “E-Leap” are two totally different cards needed in different situations. I can understand why someone may want to compare the two. They are both enchantments with an ability that costs to activate and get a creature card. But a closer comparison would be Greater Good, a card that is not so environmentally friendly for a sacrificed token, nope, Greater Good wants your big dudes.
Still not sold on Evolutionary Leap? Let me leave you with this. It is a relatively cheap sacrifice outlet. Sometimes we gotta axe our own dudes to keep effects like Treachery or Path to Exile from taking our guys. I’ll pay the one green and get another card in hand. You bet.
FOR ME… As if the Kobolds didn’t have enough to worry about with Prossh gobbling them up at dinner time, now they are fodder for this new enchantment too? Ah, poor kobolds. I will definitely have this in Prossh, but this may find its way into my Sliver Queen deck too.
Most games of Commander seem to twist and turn thanks to the power of a creature’s Enter the Battlefield Effects. When a card comes along and says “That cool thing that just happened, do it again”, you’re damn right it is going to catch my attention. Red mages get some oober goodness in Magic Origins’ Flameshadow Conjuring. For the bargain price of one red mana , Flameshadow Conjuring allows us to copy any non-token creature that enters the battlefield under our control. This token copy will have haste and then be exiled at the beginning of the next end step.
Let’s start with the obvious choices, token producers. Making an extra copy of cards like Siege-Gang Commander, Myr Battlesphere and Avenger of Zendikar creates a pseudo-Doubling Season effect. The token copy will be gone after the next endstep, sure, but the tokens are ours to keep! This would make a fantastic Double Mint gum commercial, double-double your enjoyment Magic the Gathering™ style.
The fact that the token copy has haste is a legitimate thumbs up to our next group of targets, the big fatties. Paying one extra red mana to receive a hasty It That Betrays or Blightsteel Colossus can end the game out of nowhere. Double the beats, double the fun. For a fun exercise in arithmetic, we could pull out our calulators, pay one red and see wheat happens after we Tooth and Nail for a Craterhoof Beheamoth. This, my fellow EDH players, is a level beyond overkill located in a land called Win-More. Result? Total pod annihilation at it’s best!
Extra value. My good friend Kuchisama pointed out in his article review of Red Magic Origins Cards that Flameshadow can be activated when a creature enters the battlefield under our control, not just being cast. Oh, the possibilities. He focused on abusing Flameshadow Conjuring with flicker effects. Cast Ghostway and pay one red mana for any or all creatures coming back from coffee break. At end of turn, Conjurer’s Closet, flicker this dude, make a copy. Flicker-me-timbers this is good stuff.
How about some reanimation? Reanimate for black with essentially a red kicker cost for an extra copy. Wanna go nuts? How about Sheoldred, Whispering One bringing back Kokusho, the Evening Star? Copy, Sac Outlet, Life Draining Machine!
What about Cloudstone Curio? Does this work with Flameshadow Conjuring? Yes, I think it does! While I didn’t save the best for last, there is always a Solemn Simulacrum or Reclamation Sage sage to play around with.
I am quite certain that I am just scratching the surface on the full potential of this card. What are your plans with Flameshadow Conjuring? Will you use it for good or evil? Let me know in the comments below!
FOR ME… My good friend Rude Dog has already traded me his foil copy to go into my Purphoros Tokens deck. Yes, I fully intend on blasting the board with Myr Battlesphere and friends. I’m going to find some extra, non-foil versions to play in Prossh and in my new Black/Red sac/steel deck to take full advantage of cards like Avenger of Zendikar, Hornet Queen, and Zealous Conscripts.
So there you have it folks, my Top 10 MagicOrigins Cards for EDH/Commander. What do you agree with? What didn’t you like? Please comment in the section below!
Ah, Before I go, here are a few other cards that I will be playtesting/adding to my existing EDH decks. These cards did not make the Top 10, but I thought I would note that I may give them a try.
OTHER CARDS I MAY PLAYTEST
Talent of the Telepath: Good times for mill and grill in my Lazav deck.
Dark Petition: Finds a spot in my Rakdos deck, if only because Demonic Tutor is so damn expensive now-a-days.
Displacement Wave: May have a spot in Hanna, but that decklist is pretty tight.
Priest of the Blood Rite: Going into my black/red deck since recursion and sacrifice outlets will be a thing.
Sphinx’s Tutelage: Slotted it into Lazav for testing.
Alhammarret’s Archive: is on the auto-include doctrine for Oloro
On to the next!