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By: Doctor Anime, Tomer Abramovici
Jul 11 2014 11:00am
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We get a surprising amount of Commander additions from this core set. Nothing that screams instant staple for an entire color, but many cards that can be very powerful in the right archetype. To me, that's the best way to design cards -- less Prophet of Kruphix, more Ophiomancer, things that actually take some work to truly shine. M15's lineup is incredibly satisfying to me for this reason.




Ajani Steadfast

I think this new version of Ajani will be a good inclusion in swarm decks, but his true calling will be in the planeswalker theme deck, aka Superfriends. His -2 is amazing if you have 3+ planeswalkers out, or if you can accelerate into a powerful planeswalker ultimate faster than your opponents expected. The ultimate is perfect for protecting both you and your planeswalkers. The only downside is that this Ajani does nothing if you don't have any creatures or planeswalkers out.

A definite auto-include in Superfriends.


Avacyn, Guardian Angel


While not as strong as her classic Avacyn, Angel of Hope incarnation, this guardian angel still is formidable as a beater with nice utility at a good casting cost. She reminds me of Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, keeping you and your creatures safe as long as you're willing to keep mana open. It's a shame she can't protect herself though.

I expect new Avacyn to see a little bit of play, perhaps joining the ranks of fatties in a Mayael the Anima deck.


First Response


It requires some work for First Response to be worth running in Commander, but if you have a deck that can consistently deal damage to yourself each upkeep, you've got a very powerful token generator on your hands. Group Pain decks that run cards like Manabarbs will love this card. In fact, two upcoming Budget Commander decks that I'm writing up, Suicide Darien and Group Pain Zedruu, will love running this.


Hushwing Gryff


Torpor Orb on a fragile 2/1 body is a downgrade from the previous artifact, but more Orb cards available in Commander is never a bad thing. While this card seems to have been made for competitive eternal formats such as Modern, I'm hoping Wizards prints more Torpor Orb variations that would fit better in Commander as well.


Resolute Archangel


Used in the most straightforward way, Resolute Archangel is going to gain you a significant chunk of life when you cast her in the mid/lategame while giving you a 4/4 flyer. The beauty of her lifegain as an ETB is that you can keep blinking/reanimating her to keep resetting your life total.

Resolute Archangel will probably be at her strongest when you pair this white angel with black's suicide cards. Use life as a resources by spending it with cards like Necropotence, Toxic Deluge, Promise of Power, etc. Be greedy with your life spending and then get it all back when you cast the angel. Blink and reanimate her as necessary to keep spending more life on powerful effects. I can see her doing tons of work in Suicide Orzhov decks. Definitely one of my favorite Commander cards from M15.


Return to the Ranks


I currently have no intention of running this card but it's interesting enough that I have to mention it here. I think it can be a powerhouse in the right deck, much like the underutilized card Immortal Servitude. What deck will make this card work is the question. Maybe a Shadowborn Apostle deck? I don't know. All I know is it's a cool card.


Soul of Theros


I would definitely like to try this out for white swarm decks. It costs a bunch of mana to activate, but all things considered it's well-budgeted for Commander since it brings so much to the table.


Spectra Ward


Certain Voltron generals may like this pro-everything aura. (Bruna, Light Alabaster) or Sigarda, Host of Herons maybe?


Spirit Bonds


Great value engine at a reasonable cost. It makes tokens and protects your dudes from removal, even Wrath of God. I think it's great, but the question is which deck will it find a home in?  I'll be trying it out in my Zedruu deck since it cheaply produces tokens to donate away while also making my magical card drawing goat lady resilient to all those mean removal spells people keep killing her with.






A possible inclusion for mono-blue decks that lack more potent removal spells. It's a step up from Aetherize, denying your opponent card advantage by (likely) putting some things on top of his/her library instead of back to hand. It's still just as conditional as Aetherize, which I never saw play anyway, so who knows if this will be good enough.


Chasm Stalker


I actually like this beater / token generator quite a bit. Islandwalk is usually relevant since Blue is probably the most popular color, up there with Green. Blue loves drawing cards so I doubt it will be difficult to grow this guy or finding good uses for the tokens. In particular, I think Edric, Spymaster of Trest could have good fun with this squid, growing it quickly by drawing cards and then using the subsequent token army to draw even MORE cards. Wheel decks like Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind or Nekusar, the Mindrazer may like this guy as well.


Chief Engineer


More potentially broken things for the blue artifact decks! There are plenty of ways to generate artifact armies, such as Genesis Chamber or Myr Battlesphere, so getting a massive casting discount will be pretty easy to do. Expect to see some fun/nasty things with Chief Engineer in the future.


Diffusion Sliver


Not quite Crystalline Sliver but nonetheless a decent way of protecting your dudes from targeted removal. A solid inclusion for the tribal sliver deck.


Jace, the Living Guildpact


Jace, the nerfed Mindsculptor. He's actually alright in Commander. The pseudo-scry +1 is rather nice and also fills the graveyard for future shenanigans. Bouncing a nonland permanent can be useful, though much worse at sorcery speed instead of instant. The ultimate won't win you games but puts you in a significant lead, and it can be done immediately with Doubling Season out.

I think most blue decks will avoid this Jace for better options, but he is a solid inclusion in superfriends, especially if you can't afford Jace, the Mind Sculptor


Jalira, Master Polymorphist


I've noticed people already brewing sweet new decks around this Jalira. Most builds focus on sacrificing legendary creatures or tokens, such as Talrand, Sky Summoner, for big non-legendary threats like Blightsteel Colossus or eldrazi. I'm worried that she may be a one-trick pony but she looks fun enough that I'd consider making a budget brew for her in the future.


Polymorphist's Jest


This is fantastic, easily one of the best blue removal spells for Commander. A comparison can be made with Sudden Spoiling, one of Black's best tricks. While Spoiling is a little better due to the split second mechanic, Polymorphist's Jest is still incredibly powerful. Not only are you turning massive creatures into easily blocked 1/1's, you're getting around powerful keywords like hexproof, indestructible, protection from X, etc. Creatures that do something special when they die are denied their ability, so no card draw from Solemn Simulacrum and Skullbriar, the Walking Grave doesn't keep any +1/+1 counters.

This is up there with Curse of the Swine, Rapid Hybridization, and Pongify for best blue creature removal. Cyclonic Rift remains the king though.




In Garruk's Wake


I love Plague Wind more than most people do, and In Garruk's Wake is probably a better version of it. If you like Wind and there are more planeswalkers than regenerating creatures in your meta, consider making the switch -- or run both!


Necromancer's Stockpile


There is one true use for Stockpile, and that's tribal zombie EDH. So if you're like me running that archetype, Stockpile is exactly the type of card zombie decks want -- a discard outlet for creatures while drawing into Zombie Apocalypse for the big win!


Ob Nixilis, Unshackled


YES! YES!!!!!!!!!

This is without a doubt my favorite card out of M15. I've previously talked about how I hope Wizards will print more answers for the most powerful and popular strategies in Commander, with land ramp and tutoring being the biggest offenders. Ob Nixilis addresses all those things, while being a big flying trampler to bash people's faces in.

This is the perfect Commander card, better than anything I could've envisioned. He very effectively hates on popular tactics that are lacking on good hate, but does so in a less unfun/oppressive manner than Stranglehold. He's also big enough to fight on Commander's battlefield, but can be answered with removal rather easily so he's not too annoying. This is the perfect balance.

I love new Ob. I love him so much. He's going into every black deck that I've got. Hell, he's going to be my new mono-B commander as well. Thank you, Wizards!


Soul of Innistrad


Probably the best of the Soul cycle. The activated abilities are fairly priced for what they do. I don't really understand why a 6/6 wants deathtouch instead of intimidate or lifelink, but value is value. I can see this as a good inclusion for some Black decks.


Waste Not


Probably the single most powerful card to come out for M15, at least for very specific decks. This is a new staple for discard/wheel decks. Every Nekusar, the Mindrazer and Nath of the Gilt-Leaf will run this for tremendous value. I expect Nekusar to be the most whined about general in the months to come when he plays this card and then uses Wheel of Fortune. So many triggers!




Act on Impulse


Commander is the format of huge mana and Red is no exception to this, which makes Act on Impulse far more viable here than in other formats. Red decks will appreciate what is essentially a mid/lategame "draw 3." The more big mana your deck can generate, the better this card gets.


Aggressive Mining


While the drawback hurts, this is still an excellent source of card draw in the right deck. In particular, I'm thinking of Red/Green decks that are filled with land ramp cards. Once you've went well over the amount of lands you need, maybe after casting Boundless Realms or just a bunch of Explosive Vegetation effects, you can start sacrificing excess lands to draw 3+ cards a turn.

Alternatively, this is another jerk card for Zedruu the Greathearted to donate to some poor fellow if you're into that.


Goblin Rabblemaster


Goblin Assault on a stick that can attack for massive damage. Goblin decks and token decks will love this guy.


Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient


A fun new card for Red Artifact decks. You can generate infinite mana with this, Voltaic Key, and Gilded Lotus, but assembling this 3-card combo in Red -- the worst tutoring color in the format -- ain't gonna happen often. But you don't need to break things for Kurkesh to be an incredibly powerful inclusion. Crystal Ball, Mimic Vat, Trading Post, Steel Hellkite, Temporal Aperture, Brittle Effigy, there's so many ways to get value out of Kurkesh.

One of the best commanders for Red Artifacts, or a solid lieutenant in Slobad (my personal favorite).


Soul of Shandalar


People forget that there are tons of small creatures played in Commander that you'll want to kill. Oracle of Mul Daya, Azami, Lady of Scrolls, Crypt Ghast, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, and many more all die to this repeatable bolt. 6/6 first strike is no slouch in combat either. I think this is a worthy inclusion for some decks.




Genesis Hydra


Yuuuup, this card is amazing value. Obviously not as broken as Genesis Wave, the card this hydra is inspired from, but still so powerful that you will no doubt see it popping up in most Green decks in the near future.


Life's Legacy


A solid "sacrifice creature to draw" card, probably better than Momentous Fall. My favorites are still Greater Good or Disciple of Bolas (if in Black, which is a common pairing when sacrifice cards), though you'll probably want multiple options if you're running a sacrifice-themed deck. It's not a bad option in generic Green decks either as a card draw source.


Nissa, Worldwaker


Green players rejoice, this one's a whammy! Nissa is one sweet ramp card. In most cases, she's generating 4 mana each turn. When you don't need to ramp out big spells, she can turn those extra lands into 4/4 tramplers permanently. Yes, that means your animated lands are susceptible to creature removal, but the versatility of being able to make fatties when you need them (for example, to protect Nissa) is most welcome. And that ultimate finisher! Note that you land army of 4/4's come into play untapped, so if you have a way to give your creatures haste then it's a quick win for you.

Nissa is a bit restrictive in that you need to play her in a deck that runs a lot of Forests to get full value from her. Other than that, I think her potent combination of mana ramp and finisher that can protect herself makes her a strong option for most green decks.




Expensive to cast but afterwards it comes back on each of your turns for no further mana investment. Phytotitan won't go infinite like other reanimating cards like Reassembling Skeleton, Gravecrawler, or Nether Traitor, but it has its own strengths, such as playing very well with Warstorm Surge, Flayer of the Hatebound, and Stalking Vengeance if you have a method of sacrificing it. I think it's a great inclusion for Jund sacrifice decks.


Reclamation Sage


This is the most aggressively costed version of Disenchant on a stick to date. That means "creatures matter" decks will want it, such as Sacrifice decks and (Animar, Soul of the Elements).




Garruk, Apex Predator


7cmc ain't cheap but this Garruk is worth the mana cost. Repeatable creature removal is great, especially when it gains you life as bonus. Adding deathtouch to the 3/3 beasts is a significant step up from Garruk, Primal Hunter, turning chump blocks into trades. It makes him much more likely to uptick all the way to his ultimate, which is devastating to the unlucky opponent that receives the emblem.

Also, consider the delicious political factor to his ultimate: since it targets only one opponent, you can potentially convince people to leave Garruk alone so you can ultimate the perceived "archenemy" at the table and take him/her out. Politics and deathtouch tokens make it likely that this Garruk will live a longer life than most other planeswalkers, which generally have short and unfulfilling lives on the battlefield.

Every once in a while he'll destroy other planeswalkers, which is nice too.

All things considered, I think this Garruk is a strong inclusion in most decks that can run him.


Sliver Hivelord


A new staple for Slivers that will soon terrorize EDH playgroups as the flavor of the month Sliver decks roll in. Sliver Hivelord truly is the best modern sliver to come from the last two core sets, giving the tribe a huge boost in viability by helping to shore up slivers' largest weakness, board wipes.

For the commander slot, Sliver Overlord remains the strongest choice competitively speaking. A cheap tutoring engine leads to devastating combos, flexibility, the best kind of card advantage, etc. Plus, Overlord can simply tutor up Hivelord when needed.

But for which commander I'd prefer, it would definitely be this new Hivelord. Yes, it's a bit weaker, but I had two problems playing with Overlord: 1) It draws way too much hate. People know what Overlord can do and are forced to hate you out of the table before you can do anything or else you'll run away with the game. 2) It gets boring fast. I always found myself tutoring for the same slivers each game because that was the most optimized way to win -- and with the entire table targeting me from the start, it's either try for the most optimal method of winning or die horribly. So that got dull fast. I had the same problem trying to play with Zur the Enchanter.

Hopefully things will be different with Hivelord. He's still a strong commander, but not as degenerate as Overlord, so probably won't generate as much hate. Less hate means more breathing room to durdle, and not being a tutor on a stick will mean seeing more different cards each game and trying to win in different ways, which keeps things fresh for me as the pilot.

Aside from being a great commander for sliver decks, Sliver Hivelord is an excellent candidate for 5-Color Goodstuff decks, or 5-color Superfriends. A 5/5 indestructible is probably better than Sliver Queen or Cromat.


Avarice Amulet


Zedruu the Greathearted decks might want if they're feeling grouphuggy. That's the only reason why I mentioned this card.


Perilous Vault


This card is amazing, for the same reason that Oblivion Stone is amazing. So let's compare the two:

Perilous Vault costs 1 more to exile instead of destroy, which is both good and bad depending on your deck. If you have ways to make your stuff indestructible or want to recur things from your graveyard later then Stone is better. If those things don't interest you or you'd rather get around your opponent's indestructible stuff / graveyard shenanigans, Vault is better. Oblivion Stone also has the ability to exclude some of your stuff but that option is used so rarely that it's hardly a factor.

Or you can just run both!


Soul of New Phyrexia


This might have a spot in artifact decks that can produce tons of mana (which is most artifact decks). I'd say Darksteel Forge is better since it doesn't demand you to have 5 mana up all the time, but having a 6/6 trampler is nice.


The Chain Veil


The only deck that cares about this card is, you guessed it, Superfriends. It's a win-more card that really needs 3+ planeswalkers out to justify the mana sink, but hey, it's super flavorful and if you're playing Superfriends you'll probably jam a foil version of this card into your deck at the mere mention of the word "planeswalker."




Sliver Hive

Not as exciting as I'd hope for a tribal land. Looks like Wizards was overly cautious with the development of this one and made the activated ability cost too much. Still, it mana-fixes well enough, and it's flavorful with cool art, so sliver decks should like it.


That's all of them. I hope you guys enjoy and I look forward to the Nekusar whining in the upcoming months!




Very nice, I think you're by Leviathan at Fri, 07/11/2014 - 11:35
Leviathan's picture

Very nice, I think you're pretty much spot on for the most part. I'm not going to get around to a review so I'm just going to add some quick thoughts here.

Avatar Cycle: They seem good at first, but they are supreme mana hogs. And a lot of decks can't afford the 5 mana required to activate them. That being said, while the White one is probably the best, I really like the Phyrexian one.

Slivers: Ugh. But at least they aren't humanoid anymore.

Ob Nixilis: At first I wasn't as excited about him as you are, but after seeing just how often people tutor it is going to be pretty powerful. He effectively crushes ramp decks. But decks that like to tutor for non-ramp cards will sometimes just go for an answer. Still, 10 life is not insignificant even in a format where you start at 40. He's going to make some people cry, so if you use him as your commander expect to have a huge target on your head.

Other new legends: None of them really excite me. But that's just me.

Planeswalkers: They're good. Except Jace. Can we get a new Blue planeswalker please? I'm tired of this guy.

Favorite card: Chasm Skulker. Just lots of cool flavor, and great with card draw decks. I like Genesis Hydra also. Master of Predicaments is my favorite "fun" card.

I'm tired of Jace too. What by Doctor Anime at Fri, 07/11/2014 - 13:45
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I'm tired of Jace too. What about Tamiyo? I wouldn't mind some more moonfolk.

I second the hate for Jace by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 07/12/2014 - 04:21
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I second the hate for Jace and love for Tamiyo.

I found this interesting article on the motherboard that explains what every planeswalker is doing right now. Basically, Jace is ruling Ravnica while Tamiyo is durdling around and ogling Avacyn or something. There's some sexist rant to be made here.

I'm sort of tired of Ajani and Garruk, too. We already had an Ajani literally TWO MONTHS AGO. Did we really need another one? Especially one that just reassembles some of his previous abilities?

And Garruk is cool, sure. I'm a green player, go Garruk, kill all those other buffoons and everything. But he's had seven incarnations now, if you count the Veil-Cursed and the Slayer. SEVEN. I get that the Lorwyn Five will always have an edge over everyone else. But how come that Liliana, who's also one of the original five, only had three versions, and only one of them is really powerful? (Speaking of which, M15 is a great core set, probably the best since M11, but if they wanted to make it *perfect* they would have reprinted Liliana of the Veil for the same reason they reprinted Chord of Calling. Maybe they didn't want her in the next Standard, but I feel like she can't be much more dangerous than Chord in a restricted environment).

This is why what they've done with Nissa is amazing. Nobody even remembered Nissa existed, and now she's one of the best green walkers even printed. More things like this, less Jace 15.0 and Ajani 12.0 please.

Completely agree on by Doctor Anime at Sat, 07/12/2014 - 21:21
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Completely agree on everything. Also from an EDH standpoint, having Jace / Garruk / Ajani over and over hurts because of how the legend rule applies to planeswalkers.

I think that's part of the by Paul Leicht at Sat, 07/12/2014 - 22:10
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I think that's part of the reason why it has been done this way. Branding + keeping the strongest versions in check. It is supposed to hurt.

I'm pretty sure they didn't by MarcosPMA at Mon, 07/14/2014 - 20:59
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I'm pretty sure they didn't reprint Liliana of the Veil in M15 because Mono Black Devotion in Standard would just be the best deck. A lot of Standard players would be miserable for a few months. I don't play a lot of Standard, but if I knew I'd be playing against Mono Black every time I go to FNM, I'd just stop until Khans came out.

While I agree with the basic by Paul Leicht at Mon, 07/14/2014 - 21:30
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While I agree with the basic premise of your argument (and it jibes with what I said above) M15 was probably in final design long before MBD was a deck. That said it is possible that the design/development team for m15 considered future future league results as they contemplated which versions of each pw to include.

I was thinking about your by Doctor Anime at Fri, 07/11/2014 - 16:37
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I was thinking about your recent Suicide Black deck when I reviewed Resolute Archangel. Might be sweet to go Suicide Orzhov with it.

Can't believe I missed Master of Predicaments. That's going straight into my super casual Zedruu fun deck.

Mike, the Slivers are still by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 07/12/2014 - 07:00
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Mike, the Slivers are still very much humanoid. Only the one on the land and the lord aren't. Just look at the uncommon cycle. The blue one is a sexy girl who wears freaking CLOTHES! (I suppose they're being pictured as turning into stuff. Like, the white one is partially a boa, the red one a lion, the green one a scorpion. But they all have human faces, unfortunately.) At this point, the land one is the anomaly. We may see it as, that's the way they look in their natural state at their lair, and then they evolve into different beings.

I think you underestimate by Reaper9889 at Fri, 07/11/2014 - 14:10
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I think you underestimate Avarice amulate. It is very nice on your commander, at least for colors without too much card draw.

You lose control of the by Doctor Anime at Fri, 07/11/2014 - 16:27
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You lose control of the amulet when the equipped creature dies. Otherwise I'd agree.

There's an idea. Karn deck, by AJ_Impy at Sat, 07/12/2014 - 04:53
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There's an idea. Karn deck, avarice amulet, homeward path. Make it a creature and it'll come running home.

Yes, hence put it on your by Reaper9889 at Sat, 07/12/2014 - 06:38
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Yes, hence put it on your commander! Commanders rarely dies (in related news they often get moved to the command zone though - this is why child of alara ISNT moved to cmd zone geneally speaking).