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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Dec 20 2013 1:48pm
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So there's a bunch of new stuff that's offered in this new Commander set of cards.  For a multiplayer Commander player, that's always exciting.  Just to hit some of the highlights, we have legendary creatures that specifically mention the Command zone, cards that provide your opponents with offers (that will work out for you if they accept), and some new stuff that messes with combat, both as a surprise and as a constant effect.

I'm just going to jump right into the cards.  Remember, this is a review for multiplayer Commander only.  I don't care about 1v1 or Legacy or Standard of whatever.


Derevi, Empyrial Tactician - Derevi is about as "good stuff" as a Commander can get.  First, he (she?) never has to deal with the ever increasing cost that is associated with Commanders that get killed often.  He also effectively has flash, which shouldn't be underestimated.  The Twiddle ability is a little goofy.  You can't really use a lot of creatures with tapping abilities, because they need to do combat damage.  But I guess they can have pseudo-vigilance, and just untap themselves.  You can use a lot of tapping artifacts, like Icy Manipulator and Gilded Lotus as well.  If you want you can also make him the head of a bird tribal deck, but there aren't a ton of Green birds.  Still, he's generally useful.  Like a said, good stuff guy for sure.

As a regular guy in your deck, he loses his flash ability.  That's annoying, and it's one of the main reasons to play him.  I don't see him really being used other than as a Commander. 

Gahiji, Honored One - Gahiji is essentially a living Curse on your opponents.  Luckily he's not nearly as annoying as Edric, who basically provides massive card advantage for your opponents.  Instead, he just makes your opponents die to combat damage quicker.  He is basically the perfect version of a political Commander, in that the advantage you are giving to your opponents won't hurt you at all.  On top of that, your own creatures will always get the attacking bonus.  And the more creatures you are playing with (meaning tokens), the better.  He can also work as the head of a beast tribal deck, something that usually goes to legends like Mayael.

Gahiji can go into any combat based Naya deck.  As noted, he really likes tokens, so Hazezon Tamar will really like him.  If he was slightly bigger I could see him going into Mayael decks as well.  Heck, I can even see him going into Progenitus decks just to make sure that the big hydra is a 2 hit Commander kill.

Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge - There's a little bit of randomness when it comes to Jeleva.  Every once in a while you'll hit nothing good.  She really scales well, in that with more opponents you get more options.  In addition she provides even more options the more times she dies.  But then sometimes you're going to hit something nutty like Time Stretch and just go crazy.  However, most often you're going to get a Kodama's Reach and a Blasphemous Act or something.  She obviously gets better with haste, so if you can add Lightning Greaves you'll be happy.  Just make sure not to go overboard with the fat spells in your own deck since you're going to want to actually, you know, play them without cheating them out every once in a while.  She could probably use a couple of sac outlets just so you get new stuff to cast with her.

She's not nearly as powerful when she's not a Commander.  Still, she can be fun just for the random factor.

Marath, Will of the Wild - Marath is nice due to his versatility.  He can do a lot of different things, but again, he gets better the more he dies.  He obviously enjoys Doubling Season and similar effects, especially as he can make more dudes.  They obviously had to add his errata, otherwise with a Mirari's Wake out he would be able to make infinite dudes.  Still, he comes with a built in sacrifice outlet, which is nice.  He loves tokens, and tokens love him.

He's not good in a regular deck, because without external forces at work he basically can only ever get 3 counters on him.  That's just not good enough to cut it in most decks.

Nekusar, the Mindrazer - Nekusar is pretty clear cut in what he wants to do:  Make everyone draw cards.  He's especially good because he doesn't hurt you when you draw.  Over a year ago I actually made a deck that would have been able to use him really well, which you can find HERE.  I used Nicol Bolas to head up that deck, but Nekusar would have been way better at the helm.  Tons of Wheel effects and Underworld Dreams stuff, and you should have a lot of fun!

Nekusar could actually be good in the right Grixis deck.  I've seen plenty of people use Seizan, Perverter of Truth to Underworld Dreams to really hurt people, and this guy can do the same.  Just think of him as another Spiteful Visions.  Tons of fun.

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic - Oloro is one of those guys that doesn't appear to threatening, but does something for you from the very start of the game.  As a matter of fact, he's another guy that I actually already built a deck for, which you can find HERE.  As you can see, the deck basically uses life as a resource to take advantage of.  There are some new goodies you can use for the deck, like Rhox Faithmender and all the Extort cards.  I had to use Lady Evangela to helm that deck, but obviously Oloro is better in every respect.  You can also make a pillowfort control deck using him if you want.

Obviously Oloro loses some of his allure when he's not a Commander.  You won't get the free life gain from being in the Command zone.  But you'll still get the card draw with life gain, so you'll be able to get something good out of him.

Prossh, Skyraider of Kher - Prossh is the card that I'm most afraid of, mainly due to Food Chain.  Even without Food Chain, the fact that he comes into play with his own minor army is nothing to ignore.  As I already mentioned in our Dragon Week article, he fits in well with any deck that can use the ability to sacrifice dudes.  Grave Pact and friends are going to be great with him.  There's tons of ways to use him and even if you use him fairly he's still going to be difficult to deal with.  I'm sure he will be extremely popular because free sacrifice outlets are made to be abused.

Every Jund deck can use a token maker that doubles as a free sacrifice outlet.  Plus he's a big flying dragon.  He's just gonna be a real popular dude.

Roon of the Hidden Realm - Ok, people seem to really, really like blink decks.  In the month or so that we've been waiting for Commander 2013 to come to MTGO, I think I've seen more articles and decks written about this guy than any other of the new Commanders.  And that's fine.  Previously the best "blink" Commander was probably Rasputin Dreamweaver who I actually wrote about HERE, but Roon here actually, you know, blinks stuff.  Plus he adds Green.  He does take a little mana to get going, and he has vigilance to beat down, but you still are going to want to add Thousand-Year Elixir variants to your deck to get multiple uses out of him.  And you don't have to look all that hard to find stuff to blink.  He's good at what he does.

I've seen Rubinia Soulsinger and Jenara, Asura of War used as Commanders for blink decks, and Roon would be fine as one of the 99 for them.  But really, if you're going for a blink deck, why wouldn't you just use Roon?  Unless you're going 5 color blink, which seems goofy enough to be interesting.

Shattergang Brothers - Interestingly both of the Jund Commanders really lend themselves to controlling decks.  However, the Shattergangs are obviously much more controlling.  Being able to get everyone to sacrifice a creature, artifact or enchantment on command is a very powerful ability.  Luckily, they're limited by the mana that's required (but shouldn't be that much of a problem with Green) and the resources to kill off.  Creature fodder is handled by tokens, but artifacts and enchantments are tougher.  Still, I think the main thing holding the Brothers back is that when people play Jund they want to beat down, and not be controlling.  Just be careful when you see them.

There are various 5 color decks these guys can slide into and do well in.  Heck, even most Jund decks would be able to use them.  But again, in an aggressive Jund deck, would you rather have the Brothers or Madrush Cyclops?  Maybe it's just me that feels this way.

Sydri, Galvanic Genius - At first glance, Sydri seems pretty cool.  She is really cheap to cast which is nice.  You just load up your deck with a bunch of non-creature artifacts and Wrath variants and have a great time.  But keep in mind, if you go overboard on the non-creature artifacts, you will have to constantly use or keep up Blue mana to make sure that you can make your artifacts into creatures when necessary.  Personally I don't really like doing that, but I think that others won't mind playing that sort of controlling game.  Her second ability seems much more spicy, making your artifact creatures very difficult to deal with.  I'm sure that there's some combo of cards out there that would make this ability nutty but I just can't think of them off the top of my head right now.  So she's a lot more controlling than she looks at first glance.  Don't forget to run Vault of the Archangel for redundancy!

If you're running an artifact heavy Esper deck Sydri can be a pretty good addition.  Essentially she can use her Karn ability to make a bunch of dudes for an alpha strike.  Don't forget that she can target artifacts that are not your own in response to Wraths!


 Angel of Finality - Sometimes you just need that creature that has that extra ability.  The cool thing is that this angel has decent stats, and doesn't hose all graveyards.  Which means that you can continue with your own graveyard shenanigans unimpeded.

 Baleful Force - Big elemental is big, and you're going to be drawing a ton of cards with this guy.  Just like the older Force cards though, he has no form of evasion.  Still, he's beefy enough to consider in mono-Black decks.  If you like playing with card draw that hurts you, you'll like this guy.

 Bane of Progress - Fracturing Gust is a card that gets played, and this Bane is no different.  He lacks evasion like the other big guys in this release, but his ability is so strong you likely won't care.

 Diviner Spirit - This is a supremely political card.  Unfortunately, when playing online you can't really tell just how well people will take being attacked by this thing.  I'm sure you can ask around, but that doesn't mean people will appreciate getting hit.  There are tons of players who hold grudges when you hit them with a Llanowar Elves on turn 1.  They will likely just end up using the card they draw against you.  Of course, if you can hurt people for drawing that's another matter.  But then they'll just block it.  I can't see myself playing with this online.

 Djinn of Infinite Deceits - First thing to remember: You don't have to control either of the creatures you exchange.  Which means that you can mess up things pretty hard core.  The restriction that you can't use it during combat is reasonable I guess, because otherwise no one would attack.  So again, it's a pretty political card.

 Fell Shepherd - First, this guy is big.  He sort of has a Gleancrawler ability, but it's based on combat damage.  Plus he has a sacrifice ability.  It shouldn't be that hard to give him evasion or trample.  The only problem I see with this guy is that you have to have stuff to sac to him, and how much mana he costs.  Good in Savra and Sek'Kuar decks.

 Hooded Horror - He looks cool, but his evasion ability is so strange.  I think I would pass on him.

 Naya Soulbeast - He's 8 mana.  That's a lot.  He may only come in with a couple counters.  My experience playing with Daxos in the past has found that you're going to hit land on the top A LOT.  Too much randomness for my taste.

 Ophiomancer - If you like sacrificing stuff for profit this card will help you out.  The good thing is that it costs no life to create the token (unlike Bitterblossom).  The bad thing is that you can't create a token army of snakes (without jumping through some massive hoops).  He's pretty narrow, but you might like him.

 Serene Master - This card took me a while to parse, but essentially any creature he blocks ends up having a power of 0, while the Master gets an appropriate power pump.  Without getting complicated, he can basically kill off any creature whose toughness is less than or equal to its power.  Unfortunately that's an extremely defensive card.  If you want people not attack you while you hide behind your pillow fort, he's not horrible.

 Terra Ravager - So this is meant to hose those Green ramp decks that are running around.  However without another keyword ability you're forced to clear the way for this guy.  At least Wilderness Elemental had trample.

 Tidal Force - Tapping and untapping is sort of a theme in this release.  It's value is often underestimated but I'm not sure people will play with this anyways.

 True-Name Nemesis - This is a very interesting ability, that unfortunately loses a lot of value at the multiplayer table.  It's sort of like a Curse, in that once the named player is gone you lose the value of your dude.  Still, if you have a merfolk deck it's worth playing.


Curse of Chaos, Curse of the Forsaken, Curse of Intertia, Curse of Predation, Curse of Shallow Graves

Curses are ok.  In my initial version of my Aurelia deck I ran Curse of Stalked Prey and was surprised at how it actually affected who would get attacked.  The main problem with the Curse though is that once the Cursed player is gone, the Curse is essentially a dead card.  That's really the problem with these.  None of them really stand out, although Curse of Predation isn't bad at all, and giving your opponents dudes with Curse of Shallow Graves is something that will tempt them.  Still, I don't really see these guys getting a bunch of play. 

Tempt with Discovery, Tempt with Glory, Tempt with Immortality, Tempt with Reflections, Tempt with Vengeance

I really don't know what to make of these cards. I guess really what it comes down to is whether the card is worth while if no one takes your offer.  To that end, I would say the Green and Blue ones are decent.  The Green one is good because you can grab any land, and it comes into play untapped.  But keep in mind that your opponents can grab their Bojuka Bogs and Maze of Iths.  The Blue one is good for dudes that have "enters the battlefield" effects, or just big beats.  I also think that if bad things can happen as a result of people taking the offer, then bad things will happen to the person casting the spell.  Meaning if you use the Blue one to copy a Woodfall Primus expect to get hosed.  The Red one isn't horrible especially because you should end up with a bunch more little dudes than your opponents no matter what.  It should really be added to any token deck with Red.  The White and Black ones require more set up to really get going though so I think they aren't nearly as playable.

 Act of Authority - So you automatically get to exile and artifact or enchantment, which is nice.  You also get to exile another one, but it is only during your upkeep, and you lose possession.  I dunno, it seems like Aura of Silence is better, but if you want a back up you can run this.

 Darksteel Mutation - Great at dealing with bit problematic creatures or Commanders.  Don't forget, though, that the creature can still have counters on it, and can still attack and block.  Plus, it can be removed with a simple Disenchant.  You've been warned.

 Eye of Doom - Each player gets to pick a permanent to put a doom counter on, so don't forget, you can all target one guy if you want.  This is good when one player is seriously killing the table.  But if it's you that is doing the butt kicking, expect to be hosed.  It's too random for my tastes though as it may backfire.

 From the Ashes - A very fair card, however it will completely hose most 5 color decks, and many 3 color decks as well.  Remains to be seen how often it is played, but it's still more fair than Ruination.

 Illusionist's Gambit - Ok, people don't have to be attacking you to use this card, but obviously that's the best time to do it.  This great, as it can force people into uncomfortable attacking situations.  I like this card, but again, it's pretty situational.  Still, at worst it's a Fog effect, and at best it can kill an opponent.

 Mystic Barrier - This one confused me at first, but basically people will have to attack in a circle based on the direction of your choosing.  This can be pretty cool when you're the #1 threat at the table, because people can't gang up on you. However, if someone else is a huge threat and you need to pull everyone's resources together to take them out, it doesn't work quite as well.  Keep in mind it only effects how people attack, and not the range of their spells.  In addition you can change the way that people attack at the beginning of each of your turns.

 Opal Palace - The good news is that it's cool with Commanders that are 6/6, turning them into 7/7's that can kill in 3 turns, and provides benefits later in the game after your Commander has died a couple times.  It also helps Commanders that use a bunch of counters, like Ghave and Exava I guess.  The bad news is that it effectively is like a Shimmering Grotto, which never gets played, and also increases your Commander's casting cost by 1 to use it.  It looks cool, but I'm not really sure the good outweighs the bad. 

 Order of Succession - Obviously cool if you have no creatures and the person to the side of you has something cool you want to grab.  Very situational.

 Price of Knowledge - Everyone knows that Vicious Shadows is powerful.  This version only hits your opponents.  However, it only hits them once per turn.  Still, if you can fill a player's hand to overflowing this can really hurt.  Even though it costs 7 mana(!).  My old Nicol Bolas deck, and of course, Nekusar, will love it.

 Primal Vigor - A symmetrical Doubling Season effect, my guess is that if you're using this, you will likely be able to better exploit it than your opponents.  Even if they do make the occasional token.  Of course, if you go up against another token or +1/+1 counter deck craziness will ensue.

 Restore - Enough people play fetch lands that there is often one in the graveyard by turn 2 or 3.  This will usually end up ramping you a little bit.  You can also hit the jack pot and get someone's Maze of Ith or Cabal Coffers too.

 Spawning Grounds - It's a lot of mana to make your first beast (9 mana if you want to make one the same turn you cast this). but if you get it out with Seedborn Muse, Patron of the Orochi or Prophet of Kruphix, that'll end up being a nice little horde you have.

 Sudden Demise - I guess making this an instant would have been too much.  Typically you're going to name a color you aren't playing.  Can hurt mono-colored decks a decent amount.  Other times, you're likely just going to want (Startstorm).

 Surveyor's Scope - This is so situational.  It's been a long time since I've played a game that had more than 4 players, and obviously this gets better with more opponents.  I think in 4 player games most of the time you're only going to get 1 land, and that's not worth it.

 Toxic Deluge - Now this is a board sweeper that will get played for sure.  It only costs 3 mana, and usually you can get rid of every creature on the board for 6 life, and many times less than that.  Plus, it kills indestructible dudes.  Yes, occasionally you will want this to be Damnation instead, especially if you're low on life.  But most of the time it will be a very effective way to clear the creatures from the board.

 Unexpectedly Absent - First, this is an instant.  So if someone has a fetch land, when they go to crack it you can tuck their Commander.  All you gotta do is have X be 1.  This works for any shuffling effect.  And even if there isn't a shuffling effect or you just can't wait, keeping something off the table for a couple turns will often swing the tide of the game.  Another very good card.

 Widespread Panic - In the first Commander set, Red got Stranglehold, which is a pretty decent way to hose tutors.  Now Panic comes along, and makes it so that you don't even have to search your deck, all you have to do is shuffle, and you have to effectively discard a card!  (Onto the top of your library of course, but still.)  I really have to keep track of how often people shuffler to get a sense of how good this card is.  I think that Stranglehold is probably still better.

 Witch Hunt - Not only does it prevent life gain, but it also doles out damage!  Of course, you should expect that you'll get this right back after it goes to an opponent, but it still seems like fun.

There's also some new art coming out that I'd like to pick up, like Karmic Guide, Greed, Phyrexian Delver, Reincarnation, Lim-Duls VaultRubinia Soulsinger, Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper and Night Soil.

So which of these are you going to see a ton of?  My guess is that all of the Commanders are going to be pretty popular in the beginning, but the ones with real staying power are going to be Prossh, Oloro and Drevi, with Jeleva, Marath and Roon coming up slightly behind.  As for the remainder of the cards, Unexpectedly Absent, Toxic Deluge, From the Ashes and Angel of Finality will all see significant play.  Plus Opal Palace I guess.  Interestingly, there's not card like Spell Crumple or Chaos Warp that is an absolute "must have" in this set.  Still, it's fun to play with new stuff.

Anyways, I haven't actually played with any of these cards yet.  But I know you paper players have had them for a while so sound off in the comments and let me know what I missed and how I screwed up! 

Also, I've set up a Google+ page, which you can find HERE, and a Facebook page, which you can find HERE.  Feel free to join up!  I'll be honest, the Google+ page is working out better for me right now because Facebook isn't working on my phone and that makes it difficult.  But it should be easy to contact me through either.  Until next time!  

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com



Endless Cockroaches! by Adam_the_Mentat at Sun, 12/22/2013 - 20:53
Adam_the_Mentat's picture

so great job as always. You seem to focus on multiplayer whereas I focus on commander 1v1. I just wanted to shout out Endless Cockroaches, which is a Portal/Starter card that has now found an incarnation online. It is not game winning, nor a True-Name Nemesis, but I think it has waaaay more potential than Brood of Cockroaches, which I actually use sometimes. Think about the combo possibility with a 3 charge counter aethervial and some sac outlet. or an Aluren.. that's an infino loop. Say, Aluren, Endless, and Altar of Dementia, or Phyrexian Altar. Not to mention insect tribal, which I do have (Xira Airen for a jund insect tribal, where all the best insects are found anyway). This would be killer with a door of destinies or a cryptic gateway.
I just wanted to roaches to get their due.

Yeah, I completely missed the by Leviathan at Mon, 12/23/2013 - 11:57
Leviathan's picture

Yeah, I completely missed the "previously printed, but newly online" cards. Actually is Endless Cockroaches the only one? Looks like most of the other stuff was printed in MED sets.

The one thing WotC did that by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 12/26/2013 - 16:39
Kumagoro42's picture

The one thing WotC did that made me most happy recently is writing on the home of the client, in reference to the release of Commander 2013: "...this unique MULTIPLAYER Magic format".

Commander is multiplayer. It was born as multiplayer, got famous as multiplayer, is designed as multiplayer. It's multiplayer.
Then they created the possibility to play it 1v1, because why not, and some people corrupted it! :P
But really, it's a 1v1 format as much as Legacy is a solitaire format.