Hello folks! I hope that you are having your best day ever! And if not? I hope you will by the end of the day. And I then I hope that your tomorrow is even better than today was!
I have something really special for you this year for the next spoiler of the year. I have spent days poring over the spoilers for Strixhaven. I have pulled out my favorite 55 cards from the set. What I will be doing is giving you FIVE top ten articles from the set with each article having one Honorable Mention and to get us to 55. I'll number them with my actual number in the set! That way you can see the numbers as they go from one article to the next in order.
Today we'll kick off my list with my top ten cards in the set as well as an Honorable Mention that will hit #11. I also have something fun to proffer. What it is?
My top card is a common. That's the first time I've had a common at the top of my list in years! Why? What is this powerful common? (I also have a color pie maybe breaking uncommon at #2). Check it out!
Please note that these lists are based around kitchen table play and formats like Commander not Standard or other tournament formats.
Honorable Mention: 11. Tanazir Quandrix
Hello fans of Elder Dragons! This bad lizard is pretty nifty and keen and cool! Check it out! As you can see, it's a five-mana 4/4 with double evasion in flying and trample a cool way to make sure you'll punch face when needed. As it arrives to the battlefield you double the +1/+1 counters on a single dork you control. This is great in decks that go up rather than go wide and plays into the in-set theme of making a big, fat token. It also plays nicely with X creatures that arrive with X counters like the Hydra tribe. Then when you swing with Tanazir you can have the base power and toughness of everything that you control become your Elder Dragon's power and toughness, so without any additions to the guy you'll get 4/4 base and power to your team. That plays quite well in a Voltron-style build where you make your Tanazir bigger and also makes your Hydra and similar X creatures bigger as their base is normally 0/0 so you get a +4/+4 effect to them without shifting the power of the founder of the Quandrix School. Enjoy it!
10. Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios
Do you want to know what keeps this powerful card from hitting higher in my top ten overall cards from Strixhaven? The mana cost. Let's take a deep dive into the power of this legendary dork. It's 8 mana for a nasty 5/5 Human Wizard who is Blue on the legendary side but Simic for Commander as a leader. You can discard a card and return it to your hand in order to avoid removal both targeted and mass.
And it's worth it as this magecraft is nasty! Reveal the top card of your library as you cast that instant, sorcery, or a copy thereof. Did you reveal a land? Great you ramp it out right now. Did you reveal another card (likely)? You get to cast it for free for just a generic mana no matter it's cost. That is a massive gift of power. You can cast the largest creatures like Elzdrazi Titans and Blightsteel Colossus for just a single mana each. The biggest spells like Expropriate and other Time Walk variants. The biggest planeswalkers like Karn Liberated and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. The biggest artifacts and enchantments like Omniscience. Nasty! And you can use Journey to the Oracle to drop a big fat number of lands from your hand to the battlefield for decks that care about things like landfall. Jadzi is nasty!
9. Beledros Witherbloom
Are you a fan of Verdant Force? Do you wish that the Saprolings you got every turn were better Pests that have an ability? Do you wish that your Verdant Force was a flyer that can swing over others? Do you wish you added in black and a legendary dork so it could lead a Commander deck? Are you sad that's it's -3/-3 in size? Do you wish that that the card had a mega powerful ability that would be broken in Commander to make up for that drop in size? Do you like converting life into massive amounts of mana? Wow, do I have the Elder Dragon for you; enter Beledros Witherbloom!
8. Body of Research
There are creatures out there that I have named as "Player Killers" or PKs as they will typically kill in one-hit. In Commander there are fewer, but Blightsteel Colossus, Serra Avatar and Phage the Untouchable exist. Examples of PKs in 20-life formats include Mortivore and Guiltfeeder. Getting a PK that can kill in one or at the most two hits is a great way to end games.
Enter Body of Research, which will KO a player in one hit if their life total is less the the cards in your library. This is very likely in Commander with a 99-card starting deck. Sure, it has no evasion or protection, but you can kill in a single hit. What keeps this sorcery from hitting higher is that casting cost. It cannot be easily splashed in two colors that aren't Blue and Green, and you cannot easily afford it in more colors like a five-color Commander deck. That keeps its play down. But it's pretty saucy and can enable some wins. It also has sorcery synergies not creatures so that's better in builds that want you to cast instants and sorceries but worse in builds that care about casting creatures.
7. Velomachus Lorehold
What is my highest-scoring Elder Dragon? This 7-drop is! I adore him! Seven mana and easy to cast. He brings flying, haste, and vigilance, which is pretty good for the conversation. I love vigilance on a flyer as you can block everything that might come your way after swinging over a team for some damage. It's been a classic in the game since Serra Angel!
I also love the haste here as it can nip in for five damage before sorcery speed removal comes online. Did you attack with your hasted flyer? (Likely). Great! Now dig seven cards deep in your library. You can cast a sorcery or instant you fine with a casting cost of five or less (barring some power pumping to it) and cast it for free! That's a big ramping of up to five free mana and a free card. Card advantage? Check! Tempo? Check! Powerful source of ramping of a free spell? Check! You can dig deep enough to make sure that you found your best option. It's so good!
6. Quandrix Command
Look at our second highest charting Command! It's just three mana! It's an instant! It can counter an artifact or enchantment! It can bounce a dork or 'walker! It can put two +1/+1 counter on a dork as a combat trick that permanently stays! It can be used to restock three of your best gone spells and lands back to your library which shuffles it for those with a Sensei's Divining Top or Sylvan Library. It's in a powerful slate of colors to take advantage of its four awesome abilities. It's mad flexible and powerful. I like it lots!
All right. Top five time!!!!!
5. Reconstruct History
Know what powerful 5 mana self-exiling sorcery came to my mind when I first read this card? All Suns' Dawn. That card was amazing in a five-color deck that could easily net you four or five cards of Regrowth madness from your graveyard of the correct colors. The History here is 1 mana cheaper than the Dawn but two colors, thus it may be both easier and harder to cast. When you cast it, you can recur up to one artifact, one enchantment, one instant, one sorcery, and one planeswalker, giving you the same potential 5-for-1 trade that Dawn did. In a format like Commander, outside of builds that are built around one card type, you tend to run quite a few cards of each. Notice the two missing? Creatures and lands, the most common in kitchen table brews. If this were instant/sorcery as one card and creature as another it would crack my #2 spot. If it added lands and you could get up to six, then it'd make my #1 spot over the powerful common. As is? It's a nasty tool of recursion and reuse that hits at #5!
4. Prismari Command
Our highest-charting Command is this bad boy! Of the various Commands in this set, this is the best set up for card advantage. It can Shock something and kill any creature with two or fewer toughness or a planeswalker with two or fewer loyalty. It can Shatter something. Do both and you traded one answer for two problems. Don't have something to Shock and your foe's life is too high to shoot? Just draw and discard instead and Shatter. Card flow matters. Then if you are in an artifact-matters brew or if you need to ramp to 5 mana next turn then you can create a Treasure token for your needs. This thing has a lot of value! It's 3 mana instant-ness works well with the flow.
3. The Mastery Cycle
Hello, fans of cheaper cards! Each of these five cards has a reduced cost if you give an opponent a benefit. These are amazing deals in multiplayer formats like Commander and general chaos alike. You can use them to make allies against the dominant player or to give out favors. I also like the idea of tossing a die and randomly choosing who gets the benefit. I love this cycle a lot a lot. A lot a lot.
My favorite is Devastating Mastery as a four-mana Planar Cleansing that sweeps all dorks, planeswalkers, artifacts, and enchantments. Most of the mass effects that sweep more than creatures cost at least six mana, so you get a nice bonus. It's free cost also drops White mana from the cost.
Verdant Mastery is my next favorite as you can net four lands for six mana, which is one more than Nissa's Renewal. Want to cast it for four mana instead? Great! You get two ramps and one in hand and a foe gets a free land for ramping. Do this for someone who is mana-screwed to get them some mana!
Ingenious Mastery is my next favorite. It's a sorcery-speed Stroke of Genius that cannot target a foe to draw out. It's a good swap as this one can be cast for 3 mana earlier in the game and you'll draw three cards for three mana but a foe nets some Treasures and gets' a big ol' scry. Again, choose the player with the mana screw as they'll get temporary ramping and they can scry for lands. Be nice!
Fervent Mastery is next as it's a triple Gamble, which works wonders in a deck that likes cards in the graveyard. You can triple Gamble for five base mana, but you can shave off a mana to let a foe discard and draw cards in a reverse looting effect (rummaging). Again, grab the mana-screwed foe and they can discard three or four expensive things they cannot cast for lands or hit the mana-flooded person who can discard lands for good stuff and can thus play the game.
My final card is the targeted removal of Baleful Mastery. Answering a creature or planeswalker costs around three mana so this exiles for one more mana - good at the kitchen table or Commander where you seek permanent answers in graveyard centric metagames. You can shave two mana off and let a foe draw a card! It doesn't have to be the same person whose card you exiled although you can keep things from getting angry. I exiled your Akroma, Angel of Fury, but here's a card to replace it so you didn't lose out!
I love this cycle so much! These are our highest-charting rares.
2. Secret Rendezvous
You said that White needed card draw, right? Here you go! Draw three cards for three mana as a sorcery! Awesome, right? The only downside is that someone else is drawing cards as well (and this time you are targeting said opponent). Just like the above cycle, this thing sings in multiplayer formats where you can horse-trade who gets the cards, gang up against a powerful foe, or let those dice determine who also draws. Here's my question... are we going to start seeing Howling Mine effects moved to White from Blue? That would really make sense.
By the way, similar cards already existed with Truce and Temporary Truce, which got a lot of multiplayer play during their heyday - although there you could trade cards drawn for life gain if you were about to die and needed to come back. There everyone was drawing two cards. This is the better class of card as you can sculpt who else draws those cards, and it should play more like a fixed Trade Secrets than Truce.
1. Environmental Sciences
Here is my top card! Is this the Solemn Simulacrum of this set? It's a colorless way of getting any basic land and putting it into your hand. It's just one more than Green's Lay of the Land that costs one mana for a basic land to the hand. That's pretty good in any deck that runs multiple colors without Green. Just like Solemn Simulacrum is heavily played in Commander to ramp, this could be making the cut in the same decks to exchange a colorless spell for a land.
According to EDHREC.com, a full 18% of Commander decks registered there run it (88,947 as of the writing of this article, which actually seems underplayed to me...) which is a big chunk! How many will Environmental Sciences net? Colorless tools get a lot of play. Take fellow common colorless spell Scour from Existence. It's run in 6,132 decks and it's basically a colorless Desert Twister for one more mana that exiles. This shouldn't get Simulacrum numbers as the Sad Robot is a creature that plays into the benefits of doing do in decks like blink shells or that sacrifice it to draw a card with its death trigger in decks that sacrifice. Although this does have synergies with sorceries like Izzet Spellslinger decks. But this should outshine Scour as well. This colorless common is the best card in the set! Mana matters! It may not be the sexy card, but it's the best one, I'm confident.
And there you are! What did you think of my choices! Ready to see my next ten next week to see if any that missed here make it? I hope you will let me know what your thoughts are so I can respond in the comments section!!!!! See you next week!