Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Apr 24 2023 7:11pm


 Spring update to the Brawl series! March of the Machine adds to the existing pool of legendaries from Innistrad: Midnight HuntInnistrad: Crimson VowKamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Streets of New CapennaDominaria UnitedThe Brothers' War, and Phyrexia: All Will Be One

 The 33 new commanders come in all combinations of up to three colors, except for allied shards. No colorless commander are in the set (the only colorless legendary card is Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree), while the final incarnation of Omnath represents the one five-color commander. Due to March of the Machine's unique nature of Endgame-like event set, several legendary creatures are sharing one card, as they teamed up in sometimes unexpected pairs that emerged from the chaos of the be-all, end-all battle to preserve the Multiverse against the overwhelming Phyrexian forces.

 The total number of available commanders is brought up to 237. Pithing Needle is still the only banned card in Brawl.

 The count by color becomes as follows.

  • Monowhite: 21 commanders (+2)
  • Monoblue: 17 commanders (+1)
  • Monoblack: 21 commanders (+1)
  • Monored: 18 commanders (+3)
  • Monogreen: 15 commanders (+3)
  • Azorius: 13 commanders (+2)
  • Dimir: 13 commanders (+2)
  • Rakdos: 13 commanders (+2)
  • Gruul: 11 commanders (+2)
  • Selesnya: 11 commanders (+2)
  • Orzhov: 11 commanders (+1)
  • Izzet: 8 commanders (+1)
  • Golgari: 9 commanders (+2)
  • Boros: 12 commanders (+2)
  • Simic: 9 commanders (+1)
  • Esper: 4 commanders
  • Grixis: 4 commanders
  • Jund: 4 commanders
  • Naya: 4 commanders
  • Bant: 5 commanders
  • Abzan: 1 commander (+1)
  • Jeskai: 2 commanders (+1)
  • Sultai: 2 commanders (+1)
  • Mardu: 2 commanders (+1)
  • Temur: 1 commander (+1)
  • Quadricolor: 1 commander
  • Pentacolor: 3 commanders (+1)
  • Colorless: 3 commanders

 Now let's see what the climax to the New Phyrexian Invasion brings to Brawl!

 Jump to: Monowhite, Monoblue, Monoblack, Monored, Monogreen, AzoriusDimir, Rakdos, Gruul, Selesnya, Orzhov, Izzet, Golgari, Boros, Simic, Abzan, Jeskai, Sultai, Mardu, Temur, Pentacolor.



 Archangel Elspeth: Elspeth has lived many lives. Possibly a child refugee from Serra's Realm, ignited as a planeswalker while prisoner of the Phyrexians on Capenna, knighted on Alara, Elspeth became a hero of the Resistance on Mirrodin, slew gods and monsters on Theros, was betrayed and killed, escaped from the Underworld, joined the fight against the New Phyrexian Invasion, sacrificed herself and ascended to the Archangel form she contained all along. Her new, triumphant stature deserved an adequate card, and the straightforwardly named Archangel Elspeth didn't disappoint. Her cost, abilities and starting loyalty all call back to the original Elspeth, Knight-Errant, the very first time we met her on Alara. Only, now the Soldier tokens she summons come equipped with lifelink, and her flying boost is permanent, although it's a minus ability rather than a plus. The ultimate is more situational, even if mana value 3 is much more inclusive than the typical white-weenie-friendly mana value 2. But Monowhite Aggro is still the deck Archangel Elspeth will find herself leading from the command zone anyway, and it's hard to find a better candidate for that job in any version of Brawl. The only comparable commander of this Standard era is the other invincible monowhite warrior lady, The Wandering Emperor – the latter is slightly more suited for control builds, while angelic Elspeth takes a more aggressive stance.

 Elesh Norn: The Mother of Machines ultimately brought to fruition her plan of unifying the Phyrexian armies under her own Machine Orthodoxy and then sending them in a rampage through the Multiverse. Problem is, the Multiverse didn't take it lying down, and the Phyrexians were eventually defeated everywhere, with Norn herself executed by her archnemesis Karn, the purported Father of Machines. Her last card incarnation shows the layout of this conclusive Praetor cycle, where each of the five Phyrexian bosses is referred to simply by their given name without any epithet, enhancing a sense of finality. For their swan song, the Praetors don't feature the usual couple of mirrored abilities; instead, they have a single trigger and then a condition to transform them, as they're all double-faced cards with a Saga on the back. Notably, the Saga's third chapter transforms them back to the creature side, so the pattern restarts. In the case of Elesh Norn, she brings to the table a sort of Ghostly Prison-like anti-aggro hoser, where the opponent must spend one mana or two life to have a source deal damage to us or to our permanents. It can be punishing against go-wide strategies, but it can also be barely a nuisance if the opponent doesn't plan to use multiple sources of damage to win the game – or any damage at all. It's particularly effective the moment Elesh Norn is part of an aggro build herself, since her main ability can really mess up the combat phase. That also seems to be her intended shell, because the transformation clause requires a triple creature sacrifice, which is not something we may casually be able to make happen if we didn't set it up in deckbuilding. The process immediately gives us five creatures back, which later attacks for up to 30 damage, before pulverizing everything else on the board. The Argent Etchings Saga looks close to a surefire gamewinning sequnce, which it'd better be, since repeating the sacrifice again might not easy if things went wrong. At four mana, this is also the cheaper incarnation Norn ever had, if also the smaller body; it all concurs to make her a brilliant commander for a creature-heavy deck, as she can just chill in the command zone and then unleash the pain when everything is ready for her advent – perhaps not coincidentally costing a grand total of seven mana, i.e. the original Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite's cost, if we want to transform her right away.



 Jin-Gitaxias: The mad scientist Jin-Gitaxias shares a defining trait with most of his fellow Praetors in their final cycle, as the majority of them get to have their lowest mana cost of all their previous incarnations. So now his 5/5 body only costs five mana, and comes with ward 2 enhancement to boot. On the other hand, transforming this Jin-Gitaxias appears to be the hardest proposition: keeping a full grip by the time we're deploying a five-mana permanent isn't really the same as doing it to the benefit of a certain land with a similar mechanic. If we do, we end up with a whopping 14-card hand (or more!), and all the spells among them are cast for free in a couple turns, after The Great Synthesis conveniently clear the board with a Phyrexian-based Whelming Wave. Rebuilding a hand of seven cards isn't impossible, and the reward is clearly seductive. Truth be told, though, Jin-Gitaxias's passive ability is likely the main reason why we'll want to put him in our deck, as a commander or otherwise. It requires some degree of build-around, because it only affects noncreature spells, but it essentially turns all of those that cost more than two mana into cantrips. It's important to note that this ability doesn't help transforming our Praetor, as it doesn't lead to card advantage, only to card parity. But that's probably more appealing than the difficult quest for some larger-than-life Saga. We just drop Jin-Gitaxias in the mid-game, enjoy a formidable attacker and blocker that's somewhat resilient to removal, and keep pursuing our spellslinging goals without fear of running out of gas.



 Sheoldred: Sheoldred is the one "endgame Praetor" whose mana value is not its lowest ever. She's currently still a very influential element of the Standard meta thanks to Dominaria United's Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. In comparison, the front face of her single-name incarnation feels little more than an overcosted Gatekeeper of Malakir, even if the nontoken clause helps making the edict effect more frequently relevant, and the four-powered menace body is not without its merits. But where the definitive Sheoldred shines is in having the easiest transformation requirement of the whole bunch. In fact, the second transformation essentially just amounts to paying her mana cost again; the first merely asks us to wait a bit for the opponent's graveyard to populate (of course we're encouraged to speed up the process to some extent, but we're in black, so we'll probably already naturally do that). The wait could mean Sheoldred would be dealt with by the time she's ready to transform, but then that's a perfect reason to field her as a commander, so once again she can stay safely out of reach to be deployed at the right time. If we do, we get to The True Scriptures, which kills or otherwise sends some more cards to the opponent's graveyard, in time for the third chapter's mass reanimation. And that's the same text from Magic 2014's Rise of the Dark Realms, which was a nine-mana spell at the time, although it would probably be toned down a notch or two nowadays. Still, it seems the harbinger of yet another game-winning board state, at least in formats where creatures matter. Maybe these Preators are still too casual-like and won't take Standard or any other meta by storm (very few members of their tribe ever did, historically). But they sure make for awfully enticing Brawl commanders with not a lot of contenders at their mana value range.



 Chandra, Hope's Beacon: No battle for survival at the edge of annihilation can be complete without a Chandra fighting in it. The planeswalker who wears her flaming heart on her sleeve was rewarded for her efforts by finally getting to kiss a de-Phyrexianized Nissa. Meanwhile, her Hope's Beacon form is the latest of her many six-mana incarnations (eight if we count those from the Planeswalker Decks, four otherwise). It's not as good as a control card as Chandra, Awakened Inferno, since it can't sweep the board, but it can still kill two very big creatures, especially one turn after deployment. And if the plus one has too much of a fail state to work as universal card advantage, the static Fork is amazing, leading to a simple pattern of plussing Chandra for mana right away, casting and copying a two-mana removal spell to protect her, and ending up with a seven-loyalty planeswalker the next turn. She's the most expensive monored commander at the moment, which is always a concern, but she certainly doesn't lack in raw power, particularly when paired with a burn deck or any "instants and sorceries matter" build.

 Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink: If you're trying to remember who this guy is and come up blank, it's because this is one of the two Jumpstart exclusive legendaries that are still nonetheless part of March of the Machine. Orthion is a valiant fighter who proved himself during the Phyrexian attack on Ikoria, and was previously only quoted in the flavor text of a couple of red cards (Blisterspit Gremlin and Clash of Titans). And his card is actually quite strong, sporting a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker activation for a reasonable two-mana cost, plus a larger-than-life quintupled version for a whopping nine. The latter is probably only going to matter in Commander, as even Historic Brawl doesn't usually have the time or the means to get to a board state where such an activation cost is viable. And missing on Kiki-Jiki's haste is obviously a big deal, as is the sorcery-speed he operates at. But Orthion's one mana cheaper than the notorious Goblin, and his body is at least Shock-proof. Plus, he can even target legendary creatures – the copy won't last enough to do anything, but any ETB ability will still triggers. The effect is unique enough to warrant serious consideration as a Brawl commander (he probably still won't stand a chance in formats where his mirror-breaking predecessor is legal), even if being limited to monored reduces Orthion's general appeal a little bit.

 Urabrask: The red Preator might be the only one of his kind to survive the end of the Invasion (Elesh Norn was killed by Karn; Jin-Gitaxias devoured by his own larvae; Sheoldred decapitated by Ajani; and Vorinclex by a Zhalfirin Knight). In any case, he got to the end times under the cheaper and most battleworthy guise, with his 4/4 first striking body for four already a pretty good deal. He also gets to ping the opponent like a Thermo-Alchemist and generate mana in almost Birgi-like fashion. The good news end here, though. The cost to transform him might be just one mana, but the condition is quite prohibitive, and could only be attained through really dedicated spellslinging builds. The reward isn't too crazy, either. Sure, a free Slagstorm is nice, but three Treasures might not mean much, and the final chapter is a Past in Flames that also taps into the opponents' graveyards – a powerful effect, but one that's only game-changer if we're fully prepared to take advantage of it. All in all, the last (?) of the Urabrasks could lend himself to be the commander of a storm deck of sorts. It remains to be seen if such a list is possible in Brawl (it could be on Historic side of things), and Urabrask's "ritual" mana production not being available while he's in Saga form is terribly awkward, as it would help fueling the Past in Flames routine.



 Surrak and Goreclaw: This is another Jumpstart exclusive, but it feels less out of place than Orthion, because at least in this case we know who the two legends in the team up are: they're both old acquaintances from Tarkir, Surrak first printed as Surrak Dragonclaw in Khans of Tarkir, and Goreclaw as Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma in Core Set 2019. The pair leans towards the Bear, as Surrak's previous version also used to grant trample, but for the rest was about flashing in and opposing countermagic (he was also three colors, not just green). The new card's most impactul mechanic is the automatic boost of all subsequent creatures, which very crucially gain haste. It's a terrific board advantage for green, but six mana is a lot, both for a Constructed card and even more for a commander that doesn't immediately add much to the battlefield except a big blocker. It doesn't seem like Surrak and Goreclaw matches up too well with the other, more intimate duo of Halana and Alena.

 Vorinclex: Big Boy Praetor has kept becoming better and better, from the first, cumbersome, clearly Commander-only incarnation of Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger, through the great "lord of counters" that was Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. His final form lacks haste, but for five mana we get a 6/6 with trample and reach plus two Forest cards (which include nonbasic), bringing us close to the eight mana required to achieve The Grand Evolution, thus slamming two more creatures onto the battlefield, then seven +1/+1 counters, then total board dominance and likely the victory. It's arguably the most efficient of the five MOM Praetors, and the one that most undeniably says "I'm the new midrange Brawl commander for monogreen. Nothing else compares."

 Wrenn and Realmbreaker: Story-wise, Wrenn emerged as the ultimate heroine of the March of the Machine narrative, single-handedly averting the Phyrexian Invasion through her noble sacrifice. It's a shame we lost such an awesome character design (a Dryad that pilots a Treefolk like an exoskeleton!), and while they might still pull a Groot with her, for the time being we're left with her final, monogreen incarnation, in which she bonded with the "Invasion Tree" itself, Realmbreaker, after the death of Seven. In this form, she's back to a low mana cost, though not as low as the original Wrenn and Six. For three mana, we get to temporarily animate a land into a "Nissa land", but with hexproof; or dig for a permanent among the top three cards of our library. Wrenn's starting loyalty is enough for her to minus twice in a row if we need cards, and the ultimate emblem is nothing to sneeze at. We also get a Chromatic Lantern passive, which is pointless if we're planning to use Wrenn as a Brawl commander, but a potentially critical piece of deckbuilding otherwise. Her biggest flaw is not untapping the transformed land right awy, which means she can't really protect herself on turn three, being actually more of a turn-four play. She also doesn't particularly invite any type of synergy if not "deck with a lot of permanents". But she's a well-rounded little walker overall.



 Errant and Giada: The Capenna team up of the graffiti artist Errant and her (literal) guardian angel Giada is very transparent about what kind of list they want to be a commander of. Do we aim to run a lot of creatures with flying and/or flash? Then Errant and Giada make for the perfect leaders, applying a pivotal Future Sight value to the relevant parts of our deck. If not, they won't do much for us.

 Heliod, the Radiant Dawn: Always the mad experimenter, before his demise Jin-Gitaxias even found a way to compleat the Gods of Theros, by compleating the worshipers that are the source of the gods' very existence. This ultimately lead to Heliod becoming a Phyrexian, as shown in the back face of his double-faced card, and then to be killed by Kaya, who can now add "godslayer" to her impressive hit list. This is also the first Heliod with a dual-color identity, as he uses blue mana to transform – although it's Phyrexian mana, so it's actually easy to ignore the blue requirement entirely. Transforming Heliod is key, because otherwise he's just a very narrow Gravedigger with a better body. On the other side, the Warped Eclipse form gets more toughness, a discount for spells that we cast during the opponent's turn, and universal flash. It's kind of a weird card with a bunch of unrelated and not too impactful abilities; it's particularly difficult to understand what kind of Brawl deck it would even fit.



 Hidetsugu and Kairi: The invasion of Kamigawa saw the unexpected team up between the villainous Hidetsugu and the noble but pragmatical Spirit Dragon Kairi, in a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" kind of deal. Their composite card takes flying and the presence of a death trigger from Kairi, the Swirling Sky and the damage-dealing topdeck reveal from Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos. The ETB Brainstorm and the potential free instant or sorcery casting upon death (that the Brainstorm ideally sets up) don't particularly call back to any of their previous incarnations, although Kairi had some degree of affinity to those two card types. The result is a serviceable midrange flyer for Dimir decks, one that comes with extra value beside the evasive beating, but also some awkwardness. Do we really want for our five-mana commander to die right after we've dropped it, just to ensure a free spell and some face damage? Occasionally, it might be a winning maneuver, but more often than not, it'll just be a random occurrence.

 Rona, Herald of Invasion: Rona remained loyal to her Phyrexian masters until the end (she served Gix, then Sheoldred, the Elesh Norn), and she could actually still be alive on New Phyrexia, after the whole plane was exiled into the Blind Eternities. Her latest card is mostly a looter on the front side, and a tamer variant of Phyrexian Obliterator on the back. The grand total isn't super-exciting, considering the Obliterator form takes a minimum of seven mana and two life to attain. And then it's just a trampler until damaged, and even when that happens, it's not guaranteed to hit anything relevant – or anything at all, since the ability literally does nothing against an empty-handed opponent. The looting face is technically improved by the presence of legendary spells in the deck, but extra looting is not exactly a huge benefit, and both that and the "legendaries matter" angle have no synergy whatsoever with the back face. There are better Dimir commanders in Standard right now – though the other Rona isn't one of them. Girl doesn't seem to ever be enough, if we consider that the original Rona, Disciple of Gix wasn't all that jazz either.



 Ayara, Widow of the Realm: Queen Ayara of Eldraine is one of the most illustrious victims of the New Phyrexian Invasion (Eldraine as a whole suffered severe losses, which will be probably explored next fall in the upcoming Wilds of Eldraine). She was compleated alongside her entire realm and then unceremoniously killed by Rankle, of all people. As all the Phyrexianized legends from March of the Machine, she's represented by a double-faced card. On the front, a three-mana version that strictly resembles the original Ayara, First of Locthwain, except her power is one point higher and the sacrifice ability results in lifedrain rather than card draw. The sacrifice range is also wider, targeting any color of creature and also artifacts (which is obviously meant to be used with the Incubator tokens). The transformed side is a 4/4 that requires five more mana and keeps unearthing creatures and artifacts from our graveyard; the idea is that those are the permanents that were sacrificed by the Widow of the Realm (so in this case it doesn't really synergize with the Incubators). Strangely enough, Ayara's front appears stronger than then back, as sooner or later the Furnace Queen is bound to exhaust her, well, fuel, and at that point we can't count on the sacrifice outlet anymore, so we're just left with a vanilla 4/4. Rakdos decks always enjoy a commander that can perform sacrifices, but this new Ayara's not providing much incidental gain other than some damage (hitting battles might easily not be a factor at all), whereas the original Ayara was able to turn all the creatures in her deck into fresh cards. For three mana, we can still run Florian, Voldaren Scion or Ob Nixilis, the Adversary, both of which do more work than the fallen queen.

 Rankle and Torbran: We remain on Eldraine, but this time from the side of the good guys. The unpredictable Faerie Rankle ended up being the surprising savior of the plane when he managed to defeat the Phyrexians via a hare-brained scheme of his, much to the chagrin of his unlikely companion, the Dwarf King Torbran. Funnily, their combination card is more or less another Rankle, Master of Pranks but with a reworking of the ability of Torbran, Thane of Red Fell as one of the modes (plus Treasure-making, because Dwarf). It's a neat card, if possibly inferior to either of the originals. It's on the expensive side for a commander, and the third mode is only going to do something if we're also attacking with non-first-strike creatures, or if we have burn spells to cast afterwards. In fact, first strike shows up explicitly to make that mode better, since none of the two characters had it before, nor looks like they should have it. Granted, there are worse commanders for five mana, but there are also better ones – although Rakdos at the moment is awfully underserved as a color pair for Brawl, so Rankle and Torbran have a small window of opportunity to do some damage in the format.



 Etali, Primal Conqueror: Gruul Ramp, meet your new commander. The Phyrexianized Etali is monstrously expensive: seven mana to drop him onto the battlefield, another whopping nine (or ten!) to transform him. However, the prizes for such mana committment are as massive as the Elder Dinosaur's body. First we obtain a 7/7 trampler plus two free spells, one of which is stolen from the opponent's library. And then, if we ever manage to get there, the Primal Sickness most likely just wins the game in one swing, and is otherwise as sticky as a commander can be. If flashy is the Gruul flavor you seek, Etali is the thunderous answer.

 Kogla and Yidaro: Even more than Ixalan, Ikoria is the plane of the giant monsters. So it only makes sense that their team up card is, for all intents and purposes, a "Godzilla vs. Kong" homage, except already at that point in the film where the two colossi have stopped fighting each other and have decided to collaborate against a common enemy – in this case, the Phyrexian. In the role of Kong, we have the ginormous simian Kogla; as a stand-in for the King of Monsters, Yidaro makes for a compelling case, because at face value, he's actually Gamera, but he was also reskinned as a Godzilla card. Their shared form combines some of the best traits of their original incarnations. Kogla and Yidaro has essentially three modes: we can drop it and swing for seven trample damage; drop it and fight a creature; or cycle it back into the library and get a Naturalize effect as a bonus. The cycling cost is not especially cheap, but if we field the two monsters as a commander, and then somehow bounce them to our hand, they'll return to the command zone when cycled. A little byzantine, maybe, and probably not worth the pain of being a six-mana commander, even with all the removal options the Ape Turtle brings to the table.



 Ghalta and Mavren: The number of potential Dinosaur commanders isn't limited to Gruul; Selesnya boasts a new Ghalta, with the white supplied by the Elder Dino's peculiar association with the Vampire Mavren, who in the story didn't actually ride on Ghalta's back, he just followed it at a distance along with his legionnaires while Ghalta was wreaking havoc on the Phyrexians. The resulting card is, alas, a bit of a dork – too expensive to work reliably as a commander, and without any immediate impact on the board that could offset the high risk of just eating removal right away.

 Polukranos Reborn: To recap, the mighty Polukranos was first slain by Elspeth in his World Eater form (as part of her own, Heliod-mandated "Labour of Heracles"). Being dead, he went to the Underworld of Theros, but then escaped and became an "unchained" undead Hydra. Later he was reborn as a living being, only to end up Phyrexianized, and then finally killed again? That's a truly mythological saga of lives and deaths! The only constant in all of this is that Polukranos is always, always a terrific creature. In this latest version, he's a 4/5 reach for three mana that transforms into a 6/6 lifelinker with Wurmcoil Engine's death trigger and initial cost of six generic. The triple green on the front side can be an obstacle, but it's easy to circumvent by just limiting the white component to single-white support spells – or even ignoring it altogether, since Polukranos, much like all the other Phyrexian DFCs in the set, doesn't actually need the off-color mana to function. Slightly more problematic is the fact that our fabled Hydra doesn't contribute much in the way of strategy and tactics from the command zone. At the end of the day, he's just bodies. There's something to be said about this level of sheer efficiency, though, and a commander might well be one of the main beaters, if the rest of the deck supports it.



 Drana and Linvala: Vampire and Angel, fighting side by side? Stranger things have happened on Zendikar, and let's not forget Drana was already hailed as a war hero during the Eldrazi apocalypse (yeah, the Phyrexian Invasion was the scourge of the Multiverse, but just another Tuesday on Zendikar). The story goes that Drana and Linvala happened to find themselves demolishing Phyrexians in the same area, discovered that blood magic and angelic powers actually complement each other quite nicely, and became friends along the way to smashing the invaders to smithereens. Their combo card sports the exact same ability of Linvala, Keeper of Silence plus some stealing to represent the vampiric side. It's a cool one but, to be fair, it doesn't look like proper commander material, not even in Brawl. Hosing an element that the opponent's deck might not even include is not really a strategy, which is why the original Linvala has always been more of a sideboard card. And the Drana side of the deal has some tragically high odds of not doing anything at all in most games. Still, such a shippable couple!



 Baral and Kari Zev: Another odd couple, this time from Kaladesh. The former government officer Baral is a ruthless villain, the murderer of Chandra's father. In the chaos of the invasion, he managed to escape from prison, and was then rescued by anti-establishment pirate Kari Zev. They agreed to work together in view of the emergency, and their card makes a solid spellslinging critter. Basically, every time we cast an instant or sorcery, we can cast another one of the same type for free, provided it costs less; otherwise we create a 2/1 hasty Ragavan. The lattern's stats encourage precombat casting, but even if we runs out of spells to trigger the ability, a three-drop 2/4 with first strike and menace is annoyingly hard to block. Perhaps not the most accomplished commander, and far from delivering as much advantage as something like Eruth, Tormented Prophet, but everything with Ragavan in it has to be given attention.



 Glissa, Herald of Predation: Vorinclex's second-in-command Glissa has arrived at her fourth incarnation, and since the moment she's become a black-green villain, she's always had the lethal combo of first strike and deathtouch in her arsenal. This time she even extends it to all the Phyrexians on her side of the battlefield. Otherwise, she can create two 2/2 Incubators or transform all the Incubators. Her casting cost errs on the expensive side, but the value is there and is immediately available in the form of three separate bodies, seven power total. Another one in a fair number of current Golgari commanders that don't disappoint, on par with cards like Old Rutstein, Nemata, Primeval Warden, and the recent Glissa Sunslayer, released just one set ago.

 Yargle and Multani: Yargle has always been a joke of a card, by design. Multani didn't, but he has always had large bodies, so it makes sense that the record for largest power ever printed on a creature now belongs to this joint alliance, surpassing Impervious Greatwurm by two. Both cards are practically useless, if not for casual combos probably involving Fling effects that don't even exist in Golgari colors, so, yeah, this is not a commander you want to run. Like, not even as a gag.



 Djeru and Hazoret: Not a surprise pairing the one coming from Amonkhet: the unwavering Hazoret is now the plane's protector goddess and Djeru is her champion. Together, they massacred Phyrexians as a big five-drop, using Hazoret's "almost empty hand" mechanic to enchance their effectiveness. The card advantage trigger comes from Djeru, With Eyes Open, only now it seeks legendary creatures rather than planeswalkers, only looks at the top six, has an impulsive stipulation, and is based on attack instead of ETB. This is not exactly a bad card, but to make it really pop we'd need a deck filled with legendaries to the brim, but also one that's at the same time capable of unloading our hand quickly enough so that the divine duo can descend from the command zone and strike with haste, pronto. Combining the two mechanics is not the easiest thing in the world, but one can try.

 Quintorius, Loremaster: The Strixhaven student Quintorius is the only non-Phyrexian legendary that's not part of a team up card, possibly because his efforts were instrumental in saving Arcavios, and resulted in his planeswalker spark igniting. His card in March of the Machine doesn't reference the latter event, though. Our little loxodon is still working with 3/2 Spirits here, just as he did as Quintorius, Field Historian. Indeed, he turns nonland noncreature cards into Spirits, then the Spirits into the very nonland noncreature cards they were created with, which get recycled into the deck as part of the process. It's a high-value routine that only requires a small amount of mana, while Quintorius's defensive body is still able to deter attackers. He could be a solid commander for a Boros build that, for once, doesn't revolve around artifacts, Equipment, or generic aggro strategies.



 Inga and Esika: Many thought the goddess Esika (of the catmobile fame) had been killed by Vorinclex during the events of Kaldheim. It turns out she wasn't, and in fact she later joined forces with the seeker Inga Rune-Eyes to face the Phyrexians invading their plane. Similarly to Esika, God of the Tree, this new Esika card grants vigilance and mana dork-ness, this time to all creatures, not just the legendary ones, although the extra mana can only be used to cast more creatures. But when we employ three dorks to cast a spell this way, we draw a card (that's Inga's contribute to the team up). In the right build, this could easily happen every turn or so. A 4/4 vigilant body, card advantage, ramp, immediate board impact, and all for a reasonable price: Inga and Esika effortlessly gain the lead among the Simic commanders of this Standard era.



 Thalia and The Gitrog Monster: The team up cards generated quite a few extremely weird pairings, but arguably none as odd as this one from Innistrad, which sees the saintly paladin Thalia ride the infamous Gitrog Monster. Together, these strange bedfellows give birth to the first Abzan commander of this Standard cycle, combining The Gitrog Monster's additional land drop with the hosing from Thalia, Heretic Cathar. The two improbable allies also contribute each their defining keyword, resulting in the always awe-inspiring combination of first strike and deathtouch. And we didn't even get to their most alluring ability yet, which is the card-drawing via land-saccing, a move that belongs to the fearsome amphibian's book of tricks but this time also encompasses the sacrifice of creatures – and it's trigger by attacking, perhaps as a reference to Thalia's superior martial skills. In summation, we have a four-drop 4/4 that's almost impossible to block, not least because the opponent will struggle deploying untapped blockers. At every combat cycle, we'll get to repeat the tried and tested Gitrog routine of exchanging a land for a fresh card, with the prospect of never falling behind on mana resources because of the extra land drop. It sounds like Abzan Brawl is finally a go: the amazing adventures of a girl and her giant frog.



 Zurgo and Ojutai: Moving to Tarkir, of course we couldn't have a team up that didn't involve a Dragon. The wise Ojutai agreed to set an example of cooperation for the entire plan by fighting alongside the former khan (from the erased timeline) and current bell-ringer Zurgo. Their card has tribal elements written over it, albeit it works perfectly even as the only Dragon in our deck. The pattern is: drop Zurgo and Ojutai, swing with haste, connect and Anticipate, then return our heroes to hand so that they can enjoy hexproof permanently, at the cost of recasting them again and again, like they had dash (which, not coincidentally, was a Tarkir mechanic). Of course, the deckbuilding becomes more satisfying if we include more Dragons in Zurgo and Ojutai's deck, even if connecting with one of them and connecting with several bear the same results, and bouncing other Dragons might not do much. As far as Jeskai commanders go, Hinata, Dawn-Crowned has still more potential for broken plays, but Zurgo and Ojutai proudly stand their ground. At the very least, they're a five-mana hasty Dragon that can't be answered right away.



 Zimone and Dina: Strixhaven's own Velma and Daphne have a high body/cost ratio and a well-designed blend of Zimone's eighth land concern and Dina's sacrificial tendencies that ends up being more than the sum of its parts. The role of this card is entirely as a sacrifice outlet, something Sultai players have experience with; the reward is an Explore per sacrifice, possibly two, plus a double lifedrain. A strong dedicated commander, even if Tatsunari, Toad Rider is stiff competition.



 Kroxa and Kunoros: The Theros Underworld is definitely well-guarded. The titan Kroxa and the cerberus Kunoros band together by adding the latter's keyword to the former's body, as well as essentially "escaping" other creatures from the graveyard – something Kunoros should be opposed to, but desperate times call for desperate measures. As a commander, the toothy duo has the issue of a high cost, but at least the ETB trigger can immediately reanimate something. Not that a six-mana, three-color reanimate spell with a delve requirement is any good on its own, but hopefully the two Ks can stick around for a few turns – which is probably already enough for them to decide the game, since they can't be easily blocked and produce a potential 12-life swing per attack, while still being able to play defense.



 Borborygmos and Fblthp: Temur had no Brawl commander in this cycle, and now this omission has been rectified through one of the most absurd pairings of all the team up cards. Ravnica (which after being the main focus during the Bolas Arc has played a more low-key role in the Phyrexian Invasion) gives us the extraordinary alliance of the Cyclops and the Homunculus, the ill-tempered Borborygmos and the cowardly Fblthp: both single-eyed, both saddled with unpronounceable names. It's outright comical how the union of these two translates into a creature that throws lands at its enemies, a la Borborygmos Enraged, but at the same time it's always ready to flee into the library, like Fblthp, the Lost. It's an appropriately strange card, suggesting a land-based combo build (Wrenn and Seven has got to be their dearest friend) that might not even be there. Or if it is, it might not do enough to justify its existence, since the first ability can't even go face.



 Omnath, Locus of All: Omnath is compleat, while the Omnath cycle is complete, 13 years after the monogreen Omnath, Locus of Mana from Worldwake. Ironically, the Locus of All can still be played as a four-color card, because the missing black mana is Phyrexian, so it can be replaced by life. Even more ironically, this Omnath filters unspent mana into black, i.e. into the color that's most likely not to have any use in its deck. For the rest, it's a very no-nonsense creature. The second ability seemingly reads as complicated, but it can just be taken as "at the beginning of your precombat main phase, draw a card". Now, if that card happened to have at least three colored mana symbols (which is far from common), we also get three free mana. But it's not even that important to try and build in that direction. This is basically a Coercive Portal on legs that sits on the command zone and allows the use of cards of any color. Not super-exciting, but very robust, and undoubtedly the new go-to five-color commander for this era.

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