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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
May 03 2012 10:37am
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LOTS OF FUN STUFF

Welcome back!  This week I am going to look at the cards of Invasion Block and their applications in Commander decks!  Yes, yes, Avacyn Restored just came out but I thought a blast from the past may be a little fun while we are waiting for the new set to be released online.  As some of you know I have been slowly going through each of the blocks and checking out what they offer for us Commander players.  Of course, now that I am at Invasion I was expecting a lot of playable cards, and I was right!  

There are a ton of legends in this block and each of them are pretty big story characters.  Unfortunately I don't really know anything about the story other than the fact that Gerrard is a good guy and Ertai turns bad.  But with all of those legends come lots of possible Commanders!  In addition, there are a whole mess of Gold cards in this block, limiting the decks that they can be used in while playing Commander.  But if the card is good enough that won't keep people from playing it!

As usual, I am going to go over the cards that have their first printing in this block.  So if you see a card like Obliterate and think, "Hey, that was in 8th Edition!" don't forget that it originally appeared in Invasion.  And again, this is only looking at Commander applications for the cards.  I can't wait for someone to make a comment saying something like, "But what about Modern?"  That'll be fun. 

LEGENDS

atalya, samite master

Atalya, Samite Master - Our first legend is one that I actually featured in my 25 Unloved Commanders article a while back, and I still haven't seen her used yet.  As I noted then, while there are plenty of other good life gain legends out there to use in Commander (including one in this very block) Atalya brings versatility to the table.  On top of possibly gaining you life she can protect a creature you control.  This means that if you have a creature that you particularly need for whatever reason, such as Wurmcoil Engine or whatever, you can make sure they survive combat, Earthquakes, etc.  Add Gauntlet of Power, Extraplanar Lens and Caged Sun, plus Boon Reflection and Felidar Sovereign and you are good to go!

I think that there are difficulties with using her as a regular creature in your deck.  Her casting cost is a little high for what she does, and she only really shines in a mono-White deck.  But if you are really dedicated to life gain she is probably worth thinking about, specifically because she can protect other creatures.  And she's a cleric, that has some value.

blind seer

Blind Seer - Ummmm, wow.  Well, let's see.  He's not a beat down Commander, so hopefully you could use his ability, right?  Besides turning things Red and blowing them up with Hydroblast and Blue Elemental Blast, what else do we have?  Hmmm.  What else....  Geez guy, I'm drawing a complete blank here.

Is there a "color matters" deck out there?  If so, I guess this guy could fit in it.  Somewhere.  Wow, I really have nothing.

All right, so I searched for a Blind Seer deck, and found 1(!), with suggestions to use Wash Out, Wrath of Marit Lage, Mind Harness and Inundate.  That's about it.  I know that someone has built a killer deck with this guy, someone show it can be done.

captain sisay

Captain Sisay - Now we come to a very powerful Commander.  Not only can she search up legendary creatures, she can grab artifacts, lands, and even enchantments (if there were any useful ones to grab I guess).  Sisay is pretty cheap mana-cost wise, and can come out as early as turn 2 with the right draw.   Then she searches up whatever she needs to get the job done, with Reki, the History of Kamigawa usually among the first cards found.  She is very powerful, a solid Tier 1.5 Commander when built correctly, and is typically the number 1 threat at most tables.  A really good Commander.

For her to be a good creature in a deck it should either be legend themed or have specific legendary permanents that it wants tutored up and in play.  I have seen a few 5 color legend themed decks running around and she would be great in those.   

cromat

Cromat - The original catch all 5 color Commander before Horde of Notions came out, Cromat is actually a lot of fun.  It is typically seen as a Commander in good stuff decks and that's fine.  This illusion is basically a Swiss Army knife, with multiple different abilities, all of which are pretty good.  I've only seen 1 deck use Cromat specifically to beat down opponents, but I have seen plenty of times where she can push through Commander kills when all else fails.  Unfortunately, due to its age and lack of availability, as well as the fact that it lacks haste, it isn't nearly as popular as the Horde.  But it is still pretty darn good.

5 color decks usually have so many options to play with Cromat is typically overlooked as a regular creature.  And that's too bad.  Just remember that it is an option, and if you want a difficult to deal with threat you should look no further. 

crosis, the purger

Crosis, the Purger - I rarely see this guy played as a Commander, probably due to the high amount of playable Grixis legends out there.  On top of that, Nicol Bolas essentially has a better version of Crosis's discard ability, since there is no guess work involved and the discard is guaranteed.  Even still, the color requirement isn't bad and he can still really hurt mono-colored decks.  He's not horrible, he's just not as good as other options out there.

As a regular creature in your deck, he is large and flies.  Would you rather have him or Garza Zol, who has haste and doesn't require a mana cost to get the card advantage?  Once again he just faces a lot of competition.

I just want the new version to come out online, because it looks pretty sweet.

darigaaz, the igniter

Darigaaz, the Igniter - First of all, I want to be called "The Igniter" when I'm out with my friends.  Sounds cool, right?  Although I guess there are a couple possible negative connotations, but whatever.  Anyways, Darigaaz has a similar problem to what Crosis faces, which is a plentiful amount of competitive legends in the same colors.  In addition the extra damage dealing he does many times doesn't amount to much.  You ever try playing with Planeswalker's Fury?  It's pretty freaking annoying how often you come up empty.  There is the occasional Blue deck that likes having a large hand, so if you face a ton of mono-colored decks that have large hands, go for it.

I dunno, he would probably be ok as a regular creature in a Scion of the ur-Dragon deck.  No upkeep, just a large beater.  There are just so many cool Jund creatures out there, I can't really see him being included in your deck unless you are filling up everyone's hands with draw and Winter Orb or something. 

dromar, the banisher

Dromar, the Banisher - Dromar is pretty sweet in that he (she?) acts as a partial Wash Out or Evacuation when he (I just looked it up, Dromar is a dude) hits an opponent.  This is decent board control, and works especially well with stuff like double strike.  Keep in mind that his ability doesn't work to bounce colorless stuff such as artifact creatures or Eldrazi, but it's not a bad ability and does a pretty good job of hosing token strategies.  This is actually pretty good for control strategies, and Esper is pretty good at control.  Seems like they work well together.  Unfortunately she isn't as flashy as Sharuum, as controlling as Merieke or as powerful as Zur.  Another victim of too many legends.

Dromar could be a cool beat down critter in your Esper deck, or bounce support in a Scion deck.  But he doesn't really fit into the typical control builds, and isn't small enough to be considered aggro. 

empress galina

Empress Galina - Another legend I mentioned in my Unloved Commanders article, and at least one person noted in the comments that they actually did build a deck to use her.  However, as can be expected Galina never lasted that long on the table, and for good reason.  Plenty of decks are built around their Commanders, and having to worry about someone not only stealing your Commander but your other creatures as well is a major concern.  I think that with a controlling enough build she could be really great.  Just add some additional untap effects.  You just have to be prepared to be the most hated person at the table.  Can you imagine beating someone down with their own Rafiq?  Good times.

I think she would be a pretty sweet creature in a deck that has a slight theft theme.  Especially good if you pair it up with some haste enablers.  Sure she costs a lot, but she can steal multiple permanents, like Academy Ruins and Umezawa's Jitte.  Good stuff. 

ertai, the corrupted

Ertai, the Corrupted - Hey look, another unloved Commander!  I have since heard that he is pretty good in a controlling deck with some tokens creation, but I still have yet to see him used.  I dunno, maybe I'm just not playing at the right times or something.  Anyways, there are plenty of ways to make tokens in Esper colors.  There are also plenty of enchantments with beneficial effects when they get blown up, like Perilous Research, Fool's Demise and Launch.  Don't forget your Thousand-Year Elixirs.  Good stuff.

Unfortunately you can't just shove Ertai into any Esper deck.  He's more of a "build around me" type of guy.  I can't see too many times when you would want him as a regular creature. 

gerrard capashen

Gerrard Capashen - The ultimate good guy, Gerrard helps you out on the defensive end with life gain, and on the offensive side by being able to tap down defenders.  The life gain can be pretty considerable, as there are plenty of times when people have huge hands in this game.  In addition, Gerrard is a Soldier, which is a pretty relevant creature type if built around properly.  He is likely a better life gain Commander than Atalya, without the flexibility.  But he isn't bad at all.

Gerrard is an excellent creature in soldier and life gain decks, which seem like two mutually exclusive categories.  I used him in my very first deck here, a soldier tribal deck, and he was great.  If you like some life gain, or just like tapping things down, he is worth a shot. 

hanna, ship's navigator

Hanna, Ship's Navigator - I occasionally see Hanna being used, and she is pretty straightforward.  You include lots of enchantments and artifacts, and bring them back when they get blown up.  Unfortunately for Hanna there is a new Blue/White legend in Avacyn Restored named Bruna, Light of Alabaster that is going to greatly steal her thunder, but they are essentially different in that Hanna is more control based, while Bruna is more aggressive.  But there are plenty  of defensive enchantments and artifacts out there that can go along with your Replenish to build around.

Hanna goes great in a lot of Esper decks.  Any deck that uses her colors that relies upon enchantments and artifacts would like her, even Bant based Enchantress decks.  Recursion is always useful. 

kangee, aerie keeper

Kangee, Aerie Keeper - Kangee is pretty horrible, but if you want to build around him it isn't that hard.  Just include a lot of birds, include Gravitational Shift, add Caged Sun for some additional ramp, and there you go.  If you really wanted to get tricky you could add a Proliferate theme in order to increase the counters on him.  Unfortunately it costs 7 mana before you even get 1 counter on him!  That's very far from efficient and it is almost better to use Isperia for your flying bird-like Commander.

I can't think of too many times you would want Kangee in your deck unless you are playing bird tribal.  Even in a changeling based deck he is too bad to include. 

molimo, maro-sorcerer

Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer - Molimo is awesome, and as a matter of fact he was the first mono-Green Commander I ever wrote about, which you can see HERE.  He seems pretty good.  Just play a good amount of ramp, some card draw and some ways to blow things up, and you get an extremely huge Commander who can beat the crap out of people with built-in trample.  The best part is that Green has gotten a lot better at getting rid of permanents since I wrote that article.  You can add a token sub-theme, or go with other large beaters as well.  He is pretty sweet at what he does, but people seem to like Multani more recently.  Personally I still prefer Molimo.

I think Molimo would be decent in ramp decks that like to play lots of land.  Unfortunately he really isn't anything more than a big beater, and many times he will be fighting for space with utility creatures like Woodfall Primus.  But he isn't horrible. 

nemata, grove guardian

Nemata, Grove Guardian - You say you like saprolings?  Have I got the guy for you!  Not only does Nemata like all the same ramp as Molimo, but he will also appreciated Doubling Season and Caged Sun effects.  And if you are really pushing the token theme there are plenty of ways to abuse it, whether through a Gaea's Cradle powered Genesis Wave or by pumping them with Beastmaster Ascension and Kamahl, Fist of Krosa.  And you can't forget Eldrazi Monument.

Nemata can be considered for token production in a token deck, but he isn't nearly as efficient as Avenger of Zendikar or even Ant Queen.  You can always consider him in a Rhys deck, but you can probably do better. 

reya dawnbringer

Reya Dawnbringer - Oh Reya.  At one time you were among the pinnacle of all angels.  You came from a rare set online and had a great recursion ability.  And then Akroma came along, with all her hastiness and other key words, and sort of pushed you off to the side.  And then Sheoldred was introduced, who was pretty much better in all respects and in a color where she could be ramped out even quicker than White could ever imagine.  Finally Avacyn is here, who is just better, period.  I haven't seen a Reya deck in a long, long time, and it makes me sad.  It makes me even sadder because I never see anyone play with her Invasion art, which is just better than the new version. 

If you want some additional recursion Reya isn't horrible.  Her mana cost is pretty brutal, but she can be used.  As a matter of fact I used her in my Chromium reanimation deck.  So she does have a spot in the right deck.  You just have to find it.  

rith, the awakener

Rith, the Awakener - Rith is pretty sweet.  I used her a while back and she was very effective in a token strategy.  And that was great.  But the good thing about Rith is her versatility.  See, she doesn't have to go into a dedicated token strategy.  She can just go into a solid Naya build and use the tokens as a bonus when she hits.  She is just solid.

Rith is pretty good in a Scion deck, giving you a bunch of critters when needed.  I guess she could also go into a Naya token deck.  But her mana cost means that she has a hard time with her competition at that mana cost. 

tahngarth, talruum hero

Tahngarth, Talruum Hero - Tahngarth seems like he should be good.  He comes with vigilance which isn't something you usually see in Red.  Plus, he comes with the new fight mechanic that seems to be solely in Green now.  Finally, he's a freaking minotaur!  How awesome is that?  I don't want to hear about Zedruu, she's a goat.  Anyways, Tahngarth seems like he should be cool but he just isn't all that great.  You can go the equipment route with him, but that's really what Godo is all about.  I guess you could go with a control version of mono-Red, but Red Akroma seems like she would just be a better beater and finisher.  Despite being fairly costed and having relevant abilities, people just don't think he gives them enough.

I've thought about adding Tahngarth to several decks, but he is usually among the last cuts I make.  Generally it's because he doesn't fit the theme of the deck, and his utility is limited, given that Red has plenty of other ways to deal with creatures.  Tahngarth is such an oddball creature that he just doesn't fit in most decks.

treva, the renewer

Treva, the Renewer - Do you want some life gain to go along with your beat down?  Treva should work well for you then.  The amount of life gain you get is variable, but she is certainly more offensive minded than Gerrard.  Plus, going into Bant colors gives you some additional options.  I actually see her used a lot as a Commander, even if her life gain ability isn't the focus of the deck.  It's just nice knowing that you can get some life gain going with your Commander, rather than having to rely on Basilisk Collar or Loxodon Warhammer.

Treva isn't a horrible creature in Bant colors, but with competition such as Titans at the same mana cost, she has lots of competition.  I feel like I am repeating myself here a lot guys, sorry. 

tsabo tavoc

Tsabo Tavoc - Tsabo would bring a lot of hate if you tried to use her as a Commander, just like Empress Galina.  People want to be able to play with their Commanders and she essentially negates this ability.  Her mana cost is pretty excessive, but you get 7 power in first striking goodness.  She is basically a 3 hit wonder.  Add some untapping abilities, and you have a powerful control Commander in Rakdos colors that should be fun to play with.  If people don't beat you down before you are able to play her, that is.

Tsabo is an excellent creature to play in any deck that can support her.  I used her in my Tariel deck, and her protection ability, as well as her ability to kill off legends, made her pretty much awesome.  If you haven't tried playing with her, I highly suggest using her in a deck.  

verdeloth the ancient

Verdeloth the Ancient - Hey, another token producer!  Verdeloth is pretty similar to Nemata, except that the tokens come at the same time you play him.  Parallel Lives, Vernal Bloom, Caged Sun, etc. are all required when playing these types of decks.  As a matter of fact I see Verdeloth used way more often than Nemata, and I think it's due to the immediate pay-off you get with the Ancient.

However, the thing that makes Verdeloth good as a Commander hurts him as a creature in your deck.  Whereas Nemata can pump out a mass of tokens over time, you really only get one shot with Verdeloth.  Does that mean he doesn't warrant inclusion?   Of course not.  He just has a much harder time competing against Avenger of Zendikar and Hornet Queen

CREATURES

Nightscape Battlemage Stormscape Battlemage Sunscape Battlemage Thornscape Battlemage Thunderscape Battlemage
Nightscape Battlemage, Stormscape Battlemage, Sunscape Battlemage, Thornscape Battlemage, Thunderscape Battlemage

All right, first off we have the Battlemage cycle.  Each of these has multiple kickers that can come in handy, especially if you have a way to bounce them and replay them.  If I had to rank them I think that Sunscape Battlemage would be the best.  The ability to draw cards as well as blow up a flier (very common in this format) is just great utility, and since you are playing with Blue I assume that it would be easy to bounce.  Thornscape Battlemage and Thunderscape Battlemage are probably about equal, being able to get rid of problem cards with a side bonus.  Nightscape and Stormscape bring up the rear but aren't bad at all.  The main problem with them is that they require you to play at least three colors, and the body they leave behind isn't all that great.  But if you like having a lot of utility and options these guys aren't horrible.

Nightscape Master Stormscape Master Sunscape Master Thornscape Master Thunderscape Master
Nightscape MasterStormscape Master, Sunscape Master, Thornscape Master, Thunderscape Master

The Masters seem like they should be good.  You have options and repeatable effects with these guys.  Unfortunately, they just don't do enough.  Each of the effects are underwhelming and don't seem that great.  I think that the best effect provided is the Blue one that can bounce creatures, so Nightscape Master might be worth playing.  He's probably the only one though.

Anavolver Cetavolver Degavolver Necravolver Rakavolver
Anavolver, Cetavolver, Degavolver, Necravolver, Rakavolver

Oh yeah, the Volvers.  Playing with these guys will definitely give you style points.  I think most players have fond memories of seeing these guys for the first time and being excited about essentially having a voltron package all in one card.  Unfortunately they don't really stand up to snuff.  Sure, Anavolver can be a 6/6 regenerating flier for 7 mana, and Rakavolver is essentially a 5/5 flying lifelinker for 6, but the color requirement is kind of tough.  On top of that, recursion through spells like Living Death or Animate Dead leaves you with nothing more than 2/2 chump blockers for the most part.  Modern creatures are pretty much better than these guys all the time.

Enlistment Officer Goblin Ringleader Grave Defiler Kavu Howler Sylvan Messenger Tidal Courier
Enlistment Officer, Goblin Ringleader, Grave Defiler, Kavu Howler, Sylvan Messenger, Tidal Courier

The Officer cycle is pretty sweet and should definitely be considered if you plan on playing tribal with the big name tribes.  Of course, I don't think I've ever seen Tidal Courier played, but that doesn't mean it isn't good.  And for the love of God please don't try to play Kavu tribal.  They are just horrible.  Sorry Mr. Howler.

armored guardian Armored Guardian - Not very good on offense, the ability to give your creatures protection is pretty good and can be used on both offense and defense.  If only the activated abilities didn't cost so much I bet we would see a lot more of this guy.

blazing specter Blazing Specter - Built in haste on a specter is good.  This discard isn't random but still should hurt a little.

bloodfire colossus Bloodfire Colossus - Inferno on a stick, this colossus is good at wiping the board and hurting opponents.  Great for when you are playing with a bunch of huge dudes or have some guys with protection.  I always thought he would be great in a Kresh deck, especially if it packed Sword of Fire and Ice or Darksteel Plate.  Even better if you can recur him.

brass herald Brass Herald - The officer for tribes that don't have officers, this guy does double duty as creature pump as well.  He costs a lot but he does allow you to dig into your library. Combine with Adaptive Automaton to give all your hydras a power boost!

cavern harpy Cavern Harpy - There are a crap ton of gating creatures in this set (creatures that make you bounce other creatures when they come into play), but the Harpy is probably the best.  That's because you can bounce the Harpy at just about any time without paying mana for a minimal investment.  This means that you can cast your Grave Defiler or Venser, Shaper Savant over and over if you wish.

capashen unicorn Capashen Unicorn - Unicorns get no love in Commander, so I thought I would point out the most playable one.  This unicorn is essentially a slow Disenchant, but can be re-used with some reanimation.  Plus he has a pointy stick on his head!  Who doesn't like that?

crusading knight Crusading Knight - The big combo with this guy is to combine him with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to make all your opponents' lands into Swamps.  Since Urborg doesn't have a Black mana symbol on it, it can be played in any deck, including mono-White ones.  Of course sometimes you can get lucky and play against someone who is running mono-Black but you can't depend on that.  Combine with Karma to be extra mean.

crypt angel Crypt Angel - I have never seen this angel played and that's a shame.  I know that her body isn't as big as it could be, but for the price you pay you are getting a flier with a relevant protection ability that provides recursion as well.  If you have a creature centric Grixis deck, at least consider her.

desolation angel Desolation Angel - Yes, I have seen her played.  No, I did not like it.  An Armageddon that leaves a big flier behind is pretty powerful.  The social contract sort of frowns upon her though so she doesn't come out to play too often.  Just keep in mind that she is good at what she does and that there are people out there that like to play Ravages of War effects.

desolation giant Desolation Giant - Not as popular as he was after his reprint in Time Spiral, this guy is still not bad.  Wrath on a stick doesn't leave as big a body behind as a certain angel, but that is easily corrected with some equipment.  Plus if you have a way to return creatures to your hand you can do it again if necessary.

devouring strossus Devouring Strossus - Oh Mr. Strossus, how I love you.  A 9/9 flying trampler for 8 mana that can regenerate is a good deal, and feeding him is no longer all that difficult with the likes of Bloodghast and Reassembling Skeleton.  As a matter of fact I tried to put him in my Endrek Sahr deck where he was just too big for my purposes.  He should be played more, but with guys like Griselbrand running around his competition is just too fierce.  Poor guy, he deserves some time in the sun.

doomsday specter Doomsday Specter - This guy doesn't have haste, and requires that you bounce something, but the pay off is much better.  You actually get to choose the card your opponent discards.  That's pretty good value right there.  And there are plenty of Blue and Black creatures that don't mind getting bounced.

Dralnu's Pet Dralnu's Pet - The Pet seems like it would be good in a reanimator deck.  Unfortunately it just costs too much to get a creature into the graveyard with this guy.  I tried to make him work, but he was poop.  Sorry Pet.

elvish champion Elvish Champion - The Elvish Champ likes elf decks.  Who would have thought?

flametongue kavu Flametongue Kavu - Mr. Flametongue is another former popular creature.  Unfortunately he has 2 problems:  He can only hit creatures with his damage and he has a really low toughness.  This means that there are plenty of times when he is pretty useless and can't even be cast.  I still see him occasionally but I think that he's just outclassed now. 

fleetfoot panther Fleetfoot Panther - I know that when I talked about Cavern Harpy I said that would be the only gating creature I mentioned, but the Panther here deserves special mention.  Just like Dust Elemental, this guy has flash which can come in very handy.  And unlike old Dusty his bounce requirement isn't horrible at all.

fungal shambler Fungal Shambler - Originally the only creature to have colors in the Vorosh wedge, this guy is a large Dimir Cutpurse that has trample to make sure that damage gets through.  So he's actually better than the Cutpurse.  Just ignore the huge casting cost and shove him in your deck.  Another creature that gets you style points for sure.

gaea's herald Gaea's Herald - So I have to say that there weren't that many times where I was really worried about my creatures getting countered.  Even in my Arcades deck that was really creature heavy it didn't seem like that much of a problem.  But if creatures are really central to your theme and you want to make sure that they get through, throw the Herald in there.  Just make sure to use the Tenth Edition art, because the Invasion art is horrible.

lightning angel Lightning Angel - This angel used to be a Standard staple.  She can do just about everything, with haste and vigilance.  The original Numot wedge creature she is great with equipment.  Not huge, but that means she can come out early.

lord of the undead Lord of the Undead - He likes zombies.  Enough said.

meddling mage Meddling Mage - Like Voidstone Gargoyle and Nevermore, this mage can keep Commanders from being played.  It's also good at naming cards that were tutored for and revealed but couldn't be cast.  You can try and play it from a strong position, naming something like Damnation if you have a strong board position, but that's tough since there are so many cards that fulfill similar functions.  Unfortunately due to the small size it is pretty fragile.  This is a card that should probably be played more but people don't like to be so defensive.

mystic snake Mystic Snake - The original Draining Whelk, this a great creature based counterspell that goes well in Momir and Bant decks.  Great to use while Gaddock Teeg is in play as well.

penumbra wurm Penumbra Wurm - Another old favorite that has gone by the wayside.  This wurm is pretty good, netting you another large trampler when someone Wrath's and providing 2 bodies for the price of one.  Great in Kresh decks and for anything packing Greater Good.

phyrexian delver Phyrexian Delver - Recursion with a body.  This is also a zombie, so remember that for when you create your zombie themed decks.  Sort of like a bad Karmic Guide, but still good.

phyrexian infiltrator Phyrexian Infiltrator - This guy seems pretty fun.  If you have a sac outlet, you can sacrifice him with the trigger on the stack to not give him up but still get the creature.  With some recursion you can do this again and again.  Is this better than Control Magic?  That's a question only you can decide.

questing phelddagrif Questing Phelddagrif - The only other Phelddagrif besides the original, this one isn't legendary.  But it should be included in group hug decks since it serves the same function.  You might also like this non-hippo if you like playing with cards like Avatar of Might or Arbiter of Knollridge.

sabertooth nishoba Sabertooth Nishoba - Sort of the original Oversoul of Dusk without the heinous casting cost, this guy trades of Protection from Black for trample.  I'm not really sure that's a great trade, but trample certainly has its purposes.

shivan wurm Shivan Wurm - I used this guy in my Stonebrow deck a long, long time ago.  He was good not just because he was a large, cheap trampler, but also because I had a bunch of creatures with "enters the battlefield" abilities.  If you like those kind of creatures this guy deserves consideration.

spiritmonger Spiritmonger - A long time ago this guy used to be amazing.  A 6/6 for 5 mana that regenerates, gets larger after combat and can block creatures with protection abilities, this guy has it all.  And yet, for some reason he has fallen to the wayside.  I think there should be a committee made to bring back Spiritmonger!  If someone will step up to lead it, I will be the treasurer and handle all the money.  Seriously, he's still good. 

thicket elemental Thicket Elemental - When I first found Sheldon Menery's articles a couple years ago he used to play this creature all the time, but now I never see it in his decks.  There would be a certain amount of excitement to casting this with kicker as it's essentially 2 creatures for the slightly overcosted price of 1.  If you play with Blue, and even if you don't, it should be fairly to stack the top of your library and make sure that you get value out of this.

voracious cobra Voracious Cobra - This snake essentially has first strike and deathtouch.  Who else do we know that has these 2 abilities?  Oh yeah, Glissa, the Traitor!  And she's pretty tough to deal with in combat.  I'm sure this cobra would be as well. 

whirlpool warrior Whirlpool Warrior - The best of the Whirlpool creatures that shuffle your hand and make you draw when you cast them, this guy give you a second shot of doing the same thing as well as making your opponents do it.  Typically seen in Niv-Mizzet decks, it also goes well in decks that like Psychosis Crawler.

ARTIFACTS, ENCHANTMENTS AND LANDS

armadillo cloak Armadillo Cloak - Basically like a Warhammer that you can't equip to other creatures, this also give a toughness boost which is nice.  Almost always seen in Uril builds, I also used it in my enchantment based Rafiq deck a while back.

aura shards Aura Shards - If you have an artifact or enchantment based deck you never want to see this card.  Typically seen in decks that make tokens, the Shards is just a brutal way to keep the board cleared of non-creature related permanents.  Although I never see the card in decks that don't create tokens, it is good enough to probably warrant inclusion in a creature heavy deck that can support it.  Extremely good card.

cloud cover Cloud Cover - I used to see this card played every once in a while and now it has fallen off the map.  If you have Reliquary Tower or Venser's Journal, or if you just like playing with Maro's, this will help make sure that your cards don't get exiled while making your hand size bigger.  If you are running creatures with "enters the battlefield" effects you will notice that no one will target them when the Cover is in play.

collective restraint Collective Restraint - If you thought Ghostly Prison was annoying, the Restraint is even worse.  A great way to hose token decks and slow down any creature based deck.  If you see an opponent playing this they are obviously trying to buy time to set up their big play, and it usually works.  Really not sure why the card is so expensive though.

dark suspicions Dark Suspicions - If you like playing with Hellbent cards, this card is for you.  Malfegor players should always consider this card, since there are plenty of players that love their extremely large hand sizes. 

destructive flow Destructive Flow - I've been seeing a lot of non-basic land hate recently, but I have yet to see this card played.  Seems like it would be good.  Of course, your opponents will hate you, but if you are already playing Back to Basics and/or Ruination then you probably don't care.

dragon arch Dragon Arch - Cheaper to activate than Quicksilver Amulet, this card is actually pretty sweet.  You guys realize that you can easily make a deck based around large multi-colored creatures, right?  As a matter of fact I did that in my third ever article, which you can find HERE.  (Go ahead and marvel at how much the column has changed.  Or don't.)  That was 2 years ago, and there have been a bunch more fatties printed since then.  Give it a try, you may like it!

dueling grounds Dueling Grounds - Let's say you have a voltron Commander and you want to make sure that he survives combat, while making sure that you don't get hit for too much damage during opponents' turns.  Dueling Grounds does the trick, as does Silent Arbiter.  If you are running Uril or Rafiq this should definitely be considered.

fires of yavimaya Fires of Yavimaya - Good old Fires. Giving your creatures haste is pretty nice, and usually well worth it.  The pump  is just a bonus.  If you live in the red zone this card is great.

kavu lair Kavu Lair - Just like Garruk's Packleader, but in less fragile form.  I haven't seen anyone play either card but it seems like they would be good in the right deck, especially if you can make large tokens.  People like Primordial Sage, why don't they like these cards?

legacy weapon Legacy Weapon - It used to be I saw this played every once in a while, but not anymore.  Of course, it takes 10 mana before you remove anything from play, but at least it exiles stuff.  Definitely wants Rings of Brighthearth.  Unfortunately it's tough to justify inclusion in your deck.  But if there was a format to play this card, Commander is it.

overabundance Overabundance - Sort of a weird combination of Manabarbs and Heartbeat of Spring, I'm sort of surprised I've never seen this card played.  It's just worth knowing that this card exists, in case you want another mana doubling effect.

pernicious deed Pernicious Deed - I heard this card is good.  Have no idea why though.

phyrexian altar Phyrexian Altar - Free sacrifice outlets are always good, and this one can give you mana as the benefit.  If you want to trigger Grave Pact, or make sure that Morbid works, or if you like to use Threaten effects, this will help you out.  There are plenty more uses for this card so keep it in mind if you have lots of creatures and reason for them to die.

phyrexian arena Phyrexian Arena - Slow, incremental card draw that hurts you isn't very threatening, but this is obviously a solid card.  The fact that it comes in the form of an enchantment means that it's harder to destroy than Graveborn Muse or Bloodgift Demon.  Pretty much a staple.

phyrexian tyranny Phyrexian Tyranny - This is a great way to punish people who like to draw a ton of cards.  Of course, you can always use it as an offensive weapon like I did in my Nicol Bolas deck that I featured recently.  People won't like you for it though.

planar portal Planar Portal - Sort of suffers from the same problem as Legacy Weapon in that it takes 12 mana before you can tutor for your first card.  Of course, with something like Seedborn Muse you can tutor like crazy, but Seedborn makes just about everything better so that's not really a good standard to use.  If you really need to tutor for specific cards but don't have access to Black it might be worth considering.

shivan harvest Shivan Harvest - Another sacrifice outlet, this can really cripple people with some token creation.  More worthwhile as specialty land destruction, similar to the role that Dust Bowl takes.

skyship weatherlight Skyship Weatherlight - This is an interesting tutor effect.  It can act as an 8 mana tutor for a single card, a version of Endless Horizons if you want to stick a bunch of land under it, or you can put all your answers such as artifact destruction under it.  The problem is that you can loose all the cards under it if it gets destroyed, which is super annoying.

soul link Soul Link - This is a creature enchantment that should probably receive more play.  It is almost like double lifelink, in that you gain life not only for the damage the enchanted creature doles out, but also for any damage it receives.  So if you have a Pestilence effect it basically doesn't damage you at all.  That's pretty nice.

spirit of resistance Spirit of Resistance - This is a card that I thought I would have seen more of also.  With a 5 color Commander like Horde of Notions, it's all you need to make it so you don't take any damage.  Great defensive enchantment if you can get it online.

sterling grove Sterling Grove - An auto-include in enchantress and enchantment based decks such as Uril, this card does double duty.  Combining Greater Auramancy with something like Enlightened Tutor, this card will do it all for you in the right type of deck.

sunken hope Sunken Hope - Another controlling way to keep creatures off the table, it can really set back decks that are solely based on their Commanders.  Unfortunately, it suffers from the problem as Dissipation Field, in that 187 creatures can have a field day with this card.  But if you feel like taking a little bit of a chance this can be very good.

tectonic instability Tectonic Instability - Ever wanted to hose Azusa decks or Blue decks in general?  This will do the trick.  Of course it can hurt you too, but it doesn't take a whole lot of deck construction to work around it.  Combine with City of Solitude and War's Toll to really annoy the table.

teferi's moat Teferi's Moat - So you like Moat, but you still want to be able to attack with your own groundpounders?  This should do the trick.  Works especially well against multi-colored Commanders.  Of course, much better in a creature light deck.

tsabo's web Tsabo's Web - You really hate Maze of Ith?  Or Academy Ruins?  Cabal Coffers?  This card can hose a whole ton of lands that a lot of people rely on in Commander games.  There are still a few lands with static effects that are fine with the Web such as The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, but for the most part people will be stuck tapping their lands for mana, and that's it.  Very nice.

wild research Wild Research - If you like to play with Gamble, then you will like this card.  Of course it works better the more cards you have in your hand, but that shouldn't be a problem if you are playing with Blue.  Even still, more often than not you are going to get the card you tutored up, and that's a pretty sweet deal.  Of course, you have to have to right cards to tutor, but my guess is that Blue Sun's Zenith and Stroke of Genius should be among them.

INSTANTS AND SORCERIES

Crosis's Charm Darigaaz's Charm Dromar's Charm Rith's Charm Treva's Charm
Crosis's Charm, Darigaaz's Charm, Dromar's Charm, Rith's Charm, Treva's Charm

I think people sort of forgot about the original set of multi-colored charms, and that's too bad.  They do a good job of giving an option relative to each color and choices are always nice to have.  I think my favorite it Treva's Charm due to the ability to exile an attacker, but you could make a legitimate argument for any of them being the best.  Crosis's Charm probably has the most versatility, as all 3 of its modes are essentially removal.  They may not be quite as powerful as the Shards charms, but still worth considering.

allied strategies Allied Strategies - A favorite of 5 color players everywhere, 5 cards for 5 mana is a pretty good deal.

artifact mutation Artifact Mutation - Blow up an artifact and get some tokens?  Sign me up!

aura mutation Aura Mutation - Less seen than its brother Artifact Mutation, this is still a good card.  There are plenty of artifacts out there to blow up.  I guess the issue is that there are more artifacts than enchantments.  But when you blow up a Debtors' Knell, you'll feel good.

backlash Backlash - There are a lot of huge creatures running around in Commander where this could really hurt someone.  I've seen some pretty big Hamletback Goliaths and Vulturous Zombies running around.  The funny thing is that I haven't seen a truly huge creature in quite a while.  Unfortunately it doesn't act as removal, more like a Fog effect.  But it could get rid of problem opponents in the right situation.

cauldron dance Cauldron Dance - If you have a reanimator deck and get a huge fattie into your graveyard, as well as in your hand, this is a pretty good way to get some damage in.  I used it in my old Bladewing deck and it was a lot of fun.  Works well with "enters the battlefield" guys too.  Another card that works with Sundial of the Infinite shenanigans.

death or glory Death or Glory - I have wanted to play this for a while, but just couldn't fit it into any of my decks.  With a creature heavy deck you have the benefit of putting anywhere around 5 or so creatures from your graveyard directly into play!  Of course, not everyone is going to want to see your Primeval Titan or Consecrated Sphinx come back so you will have to make some choices, but that seems pretty fun to me.  And with the right creatures and right choice of opponent, you can take care of problem permanents on the board as well.  The only downside is that a bunch of your creatures may get exiled.  But that seems like a small price to pay.

diabolic intent Diabolic Intent - Sometimes you have a lot of stuff that likes to be sacrificed, or that you really want to get into the graveyard.  Tutors are good, and tutors that are cheap to cast like this one are even better than most.  I probably could have used it in my Chromium deck, but I forgot about it.  Good with tokens, like an Endrek Sahr deck.

dismantling blow Dismantling Blow - Destruction with optional card draw?  At instant speed?  Sign me up!

distorting wake Distorting Wake - Mass bounce is nice, and it doesn't hit lands, which makes it more than fair.  With enough mana you can bounce all your opponents' stuff while keeping your stuff out there and attack unimpeded.

dominaria's judgment Dominaria's Judgment - Another card for 5 color decks, it almost says "Your creatures have protection from everything."  Save your team from damage based sweepers, or just punch through for an alpha strike. 

eladamri's call Eladamri's Call - Creature tutor that goes right to your hand, pretty much like the most used portion of Primal Command for a much cheaper cost.  Instant speed as well.

fact or fiction Fact or Fiction - A nice bit of card draw that can turn into a boon with the right bit of politics.  I know that there have been times where there is an overwhelming opponent and another player picks me to choose how to split the cards, I have given everything to the player in hopes that they can do something.  Most of the time, though, it's just a good value card. Not like that's a bad thing though.

global ruin Global Ruin - 5 color decks can use this to hose people, especially mono-colored decks, while still retaining a healthy mana base.

guided passage Guided Passage - This used to occasionally see play in Intet decks since it was the only card to share Intet's colors.  3 cards for the price of 1 doesn't sound bad, right?  But with Riku and Animar running around decks have become a lot more focused.  As such goofy cards like this don't quite make the cut anymore.  That's too bad.

hull breach Hull Breach - Options are always nice, as this basically gives you the ability to use both modes of Naturalize in one card.  Good stuff.

life/death Life/Death - Another card that provides options.  You can either get reanimation or lots of creatures that can provide a pretty good alpha strike in the late game.  Either way, generally a good card in a Golgari deck.

march of souls March of Souls - A specialized Wrath effect.  I used it in my old (Radiant deck).  I can't think of too many other times when it would be valuable though.

obliterate Obliterate - Boom goes the dynamite!  Uncounterable, just like a cycled Decree of Annihilation!  The general way to play this is in a planeswalker heavy deck with some enchantments thrown in, and go to town.  Also used in Jhoira decks, suspended to resolve before a fat Eldrazi or something.

orim's thunder Orim's Thunder - Destruction with creature removal!  At instant speed!  I'll buy that for a dollar!

reckless spite Reckless Spite - Creature removal is nice, and 2 for 1 is even better.  The life loss is pretty negligible in this format.

restock Restock - Poor Restock.  Now that Regrowth is online, and Praetor's Counsel is available, Restock isn't really cutting it anymore.  It costs way more than Regrowth, and isn't nearly as flashy as the Counsel.  But if you need additional Regrowth effects feel free to use it.

rout Rout - Instant speed Wrath of God!  This used to be much more popular, but for some reason I haven't seen it around all that much recently.  That is an outrage!  This card is pretty much the definition of a staple in the format.  Sure, it costs a little more, but being able to blow people out as they are attacking you is awesome.

spinal embrace Spinal Embrace - A more expensive Threaten effect, but destroys the creature and has the built in life gain to go along with it.  I admit it costs a lot of mana, but it is still interesting.

tangle Tangle - There are a couple of decks out there that like using Fog effects, and this is one of the better ones.  Although it doesn't have buyback like Constant Mists, it does keep an opponent's creatures tapped down for another turn.  This oftentimes leaves them open to the entire table which is pretty nice.

terminate Terminate - Good old fashioned creature kill.  It is important that you do not rely entirely upon Wrath effects in your deck.  Sometimes you need to kill a single creature at instant speed before it gets out of control, like Vorinclex or Jin-Gitaxias.  Sure, this card is generally not as good as Swords to Plowshares since it can't get rid of indestructible guys and there are plenty of creatures with protection from these colors, but it is still a very handy card to have available.

twilight's call Twilight's Call - Another mass reanimation spell similar to Living Death, except it can be cast at instant speed and doesn't wipe the board before reanimating.  I used this card in my Chromium deck also and it worked great.  Can also work well in Dredge decks, or decks that use Survival of the Fittest to fill the graveyard so you come out better than your opponents.

vindicate Vindicate - The 3 mana Desert Twister, this card is obviously great.  Only its price online keeps it from being played more often.  My only problem with the card is that I always forget it is a sorcery, and not an instant.

void Void - Great at hitting specific cards on the board, can sometimes wipe out multiple permanents.  If you get something out of someone's hand that's just gravy.  Remember that this does not hit enchantments!  Should always be considered in Rakdos builds.

wash out Wash Out - Great at hosing tokens and mono-colored decks.  People forget about this card, but it works well.

CONCLUSION

All right, let's take a look at the staples from this block.  I admit that I am including some land destruction in here.  I'm not saying that you guys should play these cards, what I am saying is that these cards are too good to ignore.

After those here are the useful cards that aren't considered staples, but you should still think about playing in your decks where appropriate.  Some of them require specific themes, but they are good or provide unusual effects.

So there you have it.  There are a ton of playable cards in this block and I'm guessing that I may have missed a couple.  If there is a favorite of yours that I missed, feel free to point them out in the comments.  And yes, Volvers are cool, it's just that they aren't as powerful and don't work well with reanimation.

There are a couple of brutal cards that are difficult to play around and won't make you any friends (I'm looking at you, Obliterate).  But there are also plenty of goofy cards that just seem unusual, like Wild Research.  Feel free to look at these older and forgotten cards to mix things up a bit.  You might be surprised at what you may like!

I hope you guys enjoyed this overview.  The next block is Odyssey Block, but I have Avacyn Restored to go through before that.  Yay, new cards!  Come back next week when I'll have my final Elder Dragon deck using Palladia-mors!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com

CONQUEROR & COMMANDER ARCHIVE

5 Comments

I tried out Atalya in a by KaraZorEl at Thu, 05/03/2012 - 11:03
KaraZorEl's picture

I tried out Atalya in a Cleric-themed Commander deck and she is extraordinarily good. If you can stop general damage and infect, Atalya will keep your life total high while you beat down for the win. She's so good I'm thinking of trying her out with Rings of Brighthearth.

great stuff, I have always by JustSin at Thu, 05/03/2012 - 15:34
JustSin's picture
5

great stuff, I have always thought this block had some of the most playable cards and used to take a lot from it for commander, prism, and even tribal

Thanks for the comments guys! by Leviathan at Thu, 05/03/2012 - 17:09
Leviathan's picture

Thanks for the comments guys! Just a note, I forgot to include Void in the list of staples. It's really good!

What a fun block for by themonkey at Thu, 05/03/2012 - 21:44
themonkey's picture

What a fun block for commander. I think it's telling how many of these cards were reprinted in the preconstructed decks. That's how I got my aura shards. The only downfall is lots of these aren't budget cards. Maybe invasion will be the prize for cube and we'll be able to get more of these cards online.

Yeah, there are a more than by bogtrog at Fri, 05/04/2012 - 10:33
bogtrog's picture

Yeah, there are a more than an handful of invasion cards I would love to play with but they are just so pricey. Unless a card is unique, or just amazing I try and find something similar that I can pick up at a much lower price. I would love to play with the mutation cards, eldamri's call, sterling grove, spirit monger, phyrexian altar, rout etc. I just can't bring myself to shell out the tix for them though.