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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Jun 09 2010 2:31am
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I.  Introduction

Before we get to the overview I wanted to mention something.  In going over my past articles I noticed that I hadn't duplicated any of the color combinations in my decks.  Let's just break it down real quick, shall we?  Clicking on the name of the General will take you to the article about it.

Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer
Ravnica Guilds
Isperia the Inscrutable
Oros, the Avenger
Coalition:  Fatties! 
After looking at this list I figured I might as well do a deck for each of the remaining slots.  If you have a specific General in mind or want me to build around that can fit into one of the blank spots above, please let me know in the comments and I will see what I can do.  Obviously the wedge Generals don't leave much choice as to who I pick, but the Guilds and Shards have lots of options.  If you don't speak up you are going to be stuck with the random stuff I come up with.  Hopefully I can complete the list before overlapping color combinations.  User feedback is always appreciated!
II.  ROE Overview

Now back to the matter at hand.  I haven't seen anyone take on a review of ROE for Commander on this website so I thought that I'd give it a shot.  I'm pretty sure that Tarmotog did a review for 100 Card Singleton, but hopefully this will be a little different.  I've played a few games of Commander since the new set has come out and have a few opinions regarding the effectiveness of many of these cards.  I also think that waiting until a little while after the set has come out gives us the opportunity to see the cards in action, and if we like them, buy them after their prices have dropped down to a reasonable amount.  Almost all of the rares and many of the mythics have made a significant drop in price since the set first came out online.  So if you're thinking "Why are we getting an overview now?" this is the opportunity to look at cards that are useful and cheap.  I'm only planning on hitting the highlights here so if I passed up your new favorite card from the set, feel free to mention it in the comments and discuss it there.

III.  New Generals

There are a couple new legendary creatures that came out with ROE who can be Generals in your Commander decks.  Let's take a look:

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn Emrakul, the Aeons Torn:  This is the Eldrazi that I've seen used as a general the most, and in my opinion it probably shouldn't be.  It was the pre-release promo, which means that it is far more common than the other two, so people are going to want to play with it.  It has a great Annihilator number, it flys, it has an awesome protection ability, and it gives you a time walk.  What's not to like?  Well, it costs a ton to get out.  It can take a long time to come up with the 15 mana required to cast this monster especially since having a colorless deck means that you miss out on a lot of the ramping ability of green decks, and you will get beat up while trying to get enough mana to cast this guy.  While people with focused strategies to mana ramp can sometimes do it sooner, it's still very tough.  The few times I've seen it cast from the Command zone the player was already so far down when Emrakul came out it didn't matter.

However, as a large beater in a deck that uses Omnath, Locus of Mana or Maga, Traitor to Mortals, or any other way to cheat out huge fatties such as Intet, the Dreamer, Lurking Predators and Elvish Piper it's obviously pretty sweet.  The protection ability is very nice, so even if you don't get the extra turn from hardcasting this bad boy, it is almost always worth it.
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth Kozilek, Butcher of Truth:  Now this is a much more reasonably priced Eldrazi.  The super Ancestral Recall is nice as well.  I can see this guy being much more effective as a General than Emrakul.  There is a huge difference between paying 15 mana and paying 10.  Plus, his power is greater than his casting cost, which is very nice.  Although 10 mana is tough, it is certainly doable.  The Annihilator is obviously the icing on the cake.

This is an Eldrazi that I would want in my deck only if I can hardcast it.  Sure, it's a big fattie, but the main reason to play it versus something like, say Pathrazer of Ulamog, is that it can draw you cards.  Cheating it out doesn't really do much for me.  But if you can make huge amounts of mana, definitely use it in your deck.

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre:  The poor bastard stepchild of the Eldrazi, his "comes into play" ability isn't nearly as splashy as the other two big guys.  It just seems a little underwhelming.  However, the fact that he is indestructible is often forgotten by players.  He is probably the best Eldrazi Commander, mainly due to his ability to deal with an annoying permanent and the fact that it's very hard to remove him.  His casting cost is only a little higher than Kozilek, but I think he's worth it.

However, being able to Vindicate something and leave behind a 10/10 indestructible creature with Annihilator 4 is a pretty good deal for big mana decks.  Cheating him out isn't bad either as you still get an extremely large indestructible creature.  Again, Omnath and Maga decks can easily fit this guy in and do well with him.  He's probably even worth playing in decks that aren't focused on big mana, as his casting cost isn't that out of control. He is a smaller, cuddlier version of Emrakul.

Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief

Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief:This is a Commander that I'm surprised that I haven't seen more of.  She has evasion, the ability to kill multiple creatures in the same turn, and the ability to hit extremely hard.  She is a reasonable replacement for Maga, Traitor to Mortals as a Commander, or can just slip into a Maga based deck to provide extra firepower as well.  She needs the same type of mana producers that Maga likes so they seem like they would work very well together.  Don't forget that she's a vampire, meaning that Anowon, the Ruin Sage goes well with her.  A pretty solid Commander, and definitely recommended.  

If you are playing black and can make large amounts of mana Drana is worth having in your deck.  Plus, she's cheap, so pick her up now.  And I've always had a soft spot for goth girls.

Linvala, Keeper of Silence Linvala, Keeper of Silence:  Think of how many creatures in your decks play activated abilities.  Now think about how unhappy you would be if you weren't able to use those abilities.  Starting on turn 4 Linvala can come out and wreck your game plan.  If you have a deck based around Mayael the Anima or Azami, Lady of Scrolls or heck, even Nebuchadnezzar, you're going to have a tough time playing if you see Linvala across the table.  This is just a mean, mean Commander, and one that I'm surprised isn't seeing more play.

As a regular creature in your deck, she is really good as well.  I used her in my Isperia the Inscrutable deck that I showed everyone last week, and she generally held herself up well enough that removal was always pointed her way.  That's usually a sign of a good card.  Plus, who doesn't like Angels?
Tuktuk the Explorer Tuktuk the Explorer:I don't really have anything to say about this guy.  I'm guessing that his ability works online but I've never seen anyone attempt to use him as a Commander.  There are plenty of better legends to use in this color and I don't think he's worth the effort.  Even as a random Goblin that you put in your Goblin deck, I just don't see him bringing the pain too much.  Maybe I'm missing something. 

IV.  Instants & Sorceries

All is Dust All is Dust:  A Wrath variant for Green and Blue players, as well as another way for Red and Black players to get rid of enchantments, this is a great card.  Making people sacrifice things is even better than destroying them.  Essentially this is another version of Oblivion Stone for those decks that need something else to blow up the world.  However, keep in mind that colorless decks are more prevalent now that the Eldrazi and Karn, Silver Golem are around, so sometimes this is a dead card.  But the times that it is useful outweigh the times that it isn't.

Consuming Vapors Consuming Vapors:  I haven't seen this played yet.  But I think it would be too situational to be that great a card.  There are going to be too many times when you are facing up against players that have more than one little guy they can sacrifice for this to really worry them.  But it occasionally can be a blowout.  I think I would probably rather have something consistently good than something that is good 50% of the time.

Gelatinous Genesis Gelatinous Genesis:  I was playing against a Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant deck were the player managed to bust out 36 36/36 ooze tokens with this.  Needless to say, if your deck can fairly easily generate over 20 mana, you may want to squeeze this card in it.  The more mana you pump into it the better it gets.

Hellion Eruption Hellion Eruption:  Great with token decks, and probably most goblin decks.  I'm guessing something like a deck based around Homura, Human Ascendant or Marton Stromgald.  Actually, I vaguely remember someone on this site using Marton in a deck...  ah yes, here it is, by our own Dr. Cat.   A fun read about a cool deck and worth checking out. 

Momentous Fall Momentous Fall:  So much better than Soul's Majesty it isn't even funny.  The ability to sacrifice a large creature in response to something like Wrath of God or targeted removal without any drawbacks is great.  This can also save your General from tuck effects.  Should probably go in any creature based deck that includes green in it.  This is a good fall, not a bad fall.

Nomads' Assembly Nomads' Assembly:  Another token creator.  Good with Darien, King of Kjeldor or Crovax, Ascendant Hero or Rhys the Redeemed decks.  Can spit out a metric ton of little dudes.  I like this better than Parallel Evolution as you basically get the flashback for free.  Unfortunately, you can get hosed with Wrath effects while you are waiting for the Rebound, but what's life without taking a few chances?

Realms Uncharted Realms Uncharted:  This is just silly with Crucible of Worlds, and even worth playing without the Crucible.  You are obviously going to want Life from the Loam in your deck as well.  This can be used not only to do mean things like get 4 lands that destroy other lands, such as Strip Mine, Wasteland, Ghost Quarter, and Tectonic Edge, but it can also help you get mana you need.  An all around good card.  But I still think she looks like a dude.

Recurring Insight Recurring Insight:  I added this to my Isperia the Inscrutable deck, and was never disappointed when I cast it.  There are plenty of people out there that run Reliquary Tower and have huge hand sizes, so you can draw a ton of cards with this.  Great for decks using Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind or any other blue based deck.

Repay in Kind Repay in Kind:  Haven't seen this one used yet, but it seems like it could be pretty brutal.  Dunno what the best deck to fit it in would be, but I have a feeling you will probably see it in the future.

V.  Enchantments & Artifacts

Awakening Zone Awakening Zone:  Great as a token producer and mana ramp.  There are plenty of green token decks out there that can use something like this.  I actually think this would be great for a deck using Asmira, Holy Avenger.  Hmmm.....

Baneful Omen Baneful Omen:  I did see this used in a game where people took about 15 damage from it, but that was the only time it was useful.  Needs some method of library manipulation, other than that you are sometimes paying 7 mana and praying to the gods that you hit something big.  However, if you have a deck with a lot of stuff that has huge casting costs, is probably worth a shot.

Bear Umbra Bear Umbra:  Kamahl, Fist of Krosa called, and he wants this Umbra right now.  Any general that likes using its activated ability multiple times without tapping is going to love this card, like Nemata, Grove Guardian.  As it essentially doubles your mana, it goes well with Omnath, Locus of Mana also.  This isn't just for green decks, as it can be used for things like pumping out dragons with Dragon Roost and pinging players and creatures with Kumano, Master Yamabushi.  You can also get unlimited attacks with Hellkite Charger and Aggravated Assault.  The fact that it provides protection is just a bonus.  Keep in mind that you don't have to hit with the enchanted creature, you just have to attack.  Just imagine a bear riding into battle...

Cast Through Time Cast Through Time:  So you are a blue mage, and you like playing Blatant Thievery and Capture of Jingzhou, but you don't want to dig them out of the graveyard to cast them again?  Have I got the deal for you!  This card falls into that Maelstrom Nexus category, which means that it's hard to cast but can pay off handsomely.  Rebounding everything from Time Stretch to Mind Spring makes blue mages happy.  However, it'll make the rest of us sad.

Eldrazi Conscription Eldrazi Conscription:  Uril, meet your newest aura.  Have fun storming the castle!

Keening Stone Keening Stone:  Mill is boring.  But if you are the type of sadist that likes to mill people in EDH games, I guess you can add this to your Szadek, Lord of Secrets of Ambassador Laquatus deck.  You sicko.

Splinter Twin Splinter Twin:  This is a card that I haven't seen used yet, but it should be.  Basically, this is the enchantment form of Kiki-jiki, Mirror Breaker.  Put it on a creature with a good "enters the battlefield ability" or "leaves the battlefield" ability, and enjoy your multiple activations.  Stick it on Duplicant to remove creatures from the game.  Put it on Deadwood Treefolk to return a bunch of your creatures to your hand.  Splinter Twin your Sundering Titan to be really, really mean.  Even better with Seedborn Muse.  A good card in the right deck. And who doesn't like twins?

VI.  Creatures & Planeswalkers

Deathless Angel Deathless Angel:  I like this card.  It gives another way for your creatures to become indestructible.  Unfortunately, it is much more mana intensive than Spearbreaker Behemoth, and as such, won't see nearly as much play. The bonus is that it doesn't have the power requirement of the Behemoth.  And who couldn't use another angel?

Echo Mage Echo Mage:  We come to our first level up creature.  I have to say, I'm not really a fan of these.  I'm usually using my mana to it's fullest on every turn, or at least trying to.  Putting down a vulnerable creature early that you have to put mana into at sorcery speed before it does something useful just doesn't seem like the best spot in my deck.  In order to really use them, you have to be able to play the creature, then fully level up on the same turn.  That makes most of these guys have an effective casting cost of 12.  With that said, however, Echo Mage is on the borderline of being worth it.  You don't get to Swerve the spell, you only get a copy.  If you like Wild Ricochet, you will like Echo Mage.  Plus, he looks like a wimpier version of DMX.

Gideon Jura Gideon Jura:  The Fog ability and the Vengeance ability are ok, but you usually want a little more out of your planeswalkers.  Liliana Vess tutors, Sorin Markov hits people hard, even Elspeth, Knight-Errant has the possibility of making your board indestructible.  I'm sure there's a planeswalker based deck out there that could use another guy, but in general, he doesn't impress me in this format.

It that Betrays It that Betrays:  Obviously fits right in with Savra, Queen of the Golgari decks, as well as any deck that uses Grave Pact and Butcher of Malakir.  Essentially any black deck with sacrifice effects, whether they are Death Cloud or Pox.  Don't forget the combo with All is Dust.

Kor Spiritdancer Kor Spiritdancer:  Besides the interesting artwork (she reminds me of a white version of one of the slave girls Captain Kirk would bang in the old Star Trek series), she brings card draw to the table.  Obviously goes into Uril decks, as well as other Enchantress based decks.

Lighthouse Chronologist Lighthouse Chronologist:  I haven't actually seen anyone pull this off yet, but I'm sure it's been done somewhere out there.  If you pull this off, you probably going to win, because I don't see how you wouldn't be able to while having all these extra turns.  Plus, if you draw this late game and are playing mono-blue, you have a shot of leveling him up all the way before you end the turn.  Another annoying card for blue decks to win with.

Lord of Shatterskull Pass Lord of Shatterskull Pass:  I really want to like this guy.  His fully leveled ability seems pretty cool.  The problem is I just don't see too many occasions when he will actually get there.  In the meantime, you basically have a vanilla creature and you are hoping he doesn't die to the many Wrath effects in the game.  Then, when he is finally about to go on his rampage, he likely gets hit with spot removal.  Sorry Mr. Minotaur, you just don't do it for me.

Mul Daya Channelers Mul Daya Channelers:  I'm not sold on these ladies.  Sure, it has the potential to be a 5/5 or tap for two mana.  But a vanilla 5/5 isn't all that awesome in this format.  Being able to mana ramp is good, but you aren't always sure what you are going to get out of the twins.  Sure, you can set up the top card of your library with SDT, but that's kind of pain in the butt.  I guess I'm just too lazy to jump through the hoops for these girls. But who doesn't like twins?

Nirkana Revenant Nirkana Revenant:  Obviously goes into any mono-black deck as Magus of the Coffers number 2.  Actually, she is even better than the Magus since she doesn't tap to use her ability.  Plus, she has the ability to be a huge beater on her own.  Definitely worth the purchase price, and has nice artwork to boot.

Pestilence Demon Pestilence Demon:  So someone just cast Nomads' Assembly.  What do you do?  You bring a big, mean, flying beatstick to the table, and pay one extra mana to wipe all those little critters out.  This is another card that can fit into the Maga/Drana deck, and is probably well worth it.  Also, those of you that like demons?  This is another play toy.

Sarkhan the Mad Sarkhan the Mad:  I can only imagine that this may go into a Wort, Boggart Auntie type of deck.  The card draw isn't really worth it without some form of library manipulation, because most of the time people like to play big, bomby high cost spells in this format.  I guess you could put him into a dragon based deck like the Bladewing the Risen one I wrote about to try to take advantage of his "ultimate," but that requires some serious over-extending.  I would pass on poor Sarkhan.  But not because he's crazy.  We've all done some crazy things in the past.

Sphinx of Magosi Sphinx of Magosi:  A huge blue flyer with built in card draw that can make itself larger.  What's not to like?  Obviously the casting cost is a little steep, but it is well worth it.

Transcendent Master Transcendent Master:  Another leveler that is worth the wait.  Although it's first level isn't that great, it doesn't require colored mana to level up.  This is huge, and means that it doesn't just have to go into a mono-white deck.  An indestructible lifelinker in the late game is nothing to sneeze at.

Finally, some uncommons that are worth mentioning.  Artisan of Kozilek is fun reanimation that leaves behind a large body with Annihilator.  Rapacious One is another card that can be useful in red token based decks, as the trample usually means that at least some damage will probably get through.  And Suffer the Past is good for dealing with recursion.  Just keep in mind that you can only do as much damage as the number of cards you remove, and not the amount of mana you put into the spell.  Joraga Treespeaker will make all those elf fans out there happy as well. 

VII.  Conclusion

So there's my wrap up.  In terms of overall utility, here are my top 5:

1.  All is Dust
2.  Recurring Insight
3.  Momentous Fall
4.  Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
5.  Realms Uncharted

Three of the 5 cards above go for less than a ticket at mtgotraders, so I would get them if you have a spare ticket.  Obviously many of the cards in ROW are more powerful in certain decks but I think you will probably get the most use out of these 5 cards.  Unless you hate green I guess.  Finally, these are the cards that cost .5 tix or less at mtgotraders and are worth purchasing:  

1.  Bear Umbra
2.  Baneful Omen
3.  Cast Through Time
4.  Deathless Angel
5.  Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
6.  Eldrazi Conscription
7.  It that Betrays
8.  Momentous Fall
9.  Pestilence Demon
10.  Realms Uncharted
11.  Recurring Insight
12.  Sphinx of Magosi
13.  Splinter Twin  

Well, Cast Through Time is .6, but still worth getting.  That's a good amount of cheap cards.  If you had multiple tickets to spend, I would purchase All is Dust.  It just works well in a lot of decks that don't have access to White, and is worth the cost.

Hope you liked the overview.  Urza's Legacy is coming out real soon, so if you guys like this, I will do one for that set soon as well.  Remember to let me know about Generals you want me to build around.  Until next week, when I look at Asmira, Holy Avenger!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO


Expanded knowledge by TheBizzar at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 08:33
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This is a format I know absolutely nothing about. However, after reading this I feel like I have gained some valuable insight into this format.

The cards in the top 5 are great picks. Most of all Realms Uncharted. Very solid card that has made a showing in Legacy.

Awakening Zone is really solid for its price. Last night in the STD DE I really had to target that card to keep from loosing to the RG Token/Overrun deck in the final round of that event as I fought for a 3-1 finish. I was surprised at the power of the deck list being able to overrun turn 4 for the kill. It took me back to last STD season and the GW decks of the time.

BTW I have to get you to tell me the way you pop up the card pictures like that. It really does add a lot to the overall look of your articles.

enjoyed your article by Adam_the_Mentat at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 09:20
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I pretty much love to dissect new sets in a similar vein in order to try and come up with new decks for all sorts of formats. Did you read my last article? I showcased Maeyel the Anima as a Commander that can help slap out big eldrazi fatties.
During the prerelease I opened a pack and got me a Linvala, Keeper of Silence, which I can't over-appreciate enough. It locks down so many creatures. I've made an all white commander deck before, but now she's my default mono-white commander.

Finally I gotta Say TukTuk is underrated, and certainly isn't general material, but he can be abused in weird ways, and he's got such a unique ability that I love to fiddle around with decks that can use and abuse him, so I find a lot of fun-value in him, but the only commander deck he's made it into thus far has been my Kresh, the Bloodbraided.

I agree that Drana is by JustSin at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 10:36
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I agree that Drana is underrated, but hardly ignored... the only deck im playing this day is Drana and its pretty sweet

Thanks guys! The Bizzar - by Leviathan at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 12:07
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Thanks guys!

The Bizzar - Yeah, I like Awakening Zone. It actually made me dust off and update my old Asmira deck I'm writing about next article. As for the links and pics:
(CARDNAME) creates the hyperlink to the card on mtgotraders.
(pic=CARDNAME) creates the full sized card picture.
(tmb=CARDNAME) creates the smaller thumbnail picture.

Adam - I liked the Mayael deck. I would suggest adding Warp World though. It has been a beating when I used it in my Mayael deck. As for Tuktuk, I guess he can go in random gobbo decks. But I'm not a huge gobbo guy, so what do I know?

JustSin - I'm glad someone is championing Drana. Like I told you in game the other day, you're the only person I've seen using her as a General. But she's awesome! Goth girls FTW!

Also, there's (at least) one error in the article. If you rebound an X spell with Cast Through Time, X=0. So no rebounding Mind Spring or Mind Shatter for you!

in celebration of Drana I by JustSin at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 16:47
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in celebration of Drana I went out right after reading this and won a Commander game with her :P forget Maga you shoulda used Drana lol

Nice Work by laughinman at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 15:02
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I'd love to see an article about a GWB Deck, just because i love those colors.

Thinking of Goth girls, im still missing a copy of Dakmor Sorceress. :(

Cool. I'll get a Teneb list by Leviathan at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 16:39
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Cool. I'll get a Teneb list going.

Teneb Deck list by Adam_the_Mentat at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 18:15
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May I suggest a Re-animator theme?
perhaps absurdly redunkulous re-animation combos
like enduring renewal & alluren? or mortuary and call of the wild/lurking predators?

thanks for the warp world include idea :D

Well, there'll definitely be by Leviathan at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 19:16
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Well, there'll definitely be a recursion theme. I have a Teneb list that I haven't updated in a while, so I have to break that guy out of retirement. The Morturary combo sounds interesting though.

Did you guys like the hyperlinks? Was I the only one that thought the old twins were scary?