Hello happy people! Happiest of days to you and yours! Today we are taking a looksee at the ten best cards from the Commander Decks that debuted with Battle for Baldur's Gate. To make this list, you need to be good in kitchen table play like Commander, multiplayer, Type Four, Cube, Pauper, Five Color and Highlander. My normal Top Tens have two Honorable Mentions, but this is the only Top Ten I am doing for this set, so let's add in three more, okay? Okay!
Let's do it to it!
Honorable Mention #1 - From the Catacombs
Hitting at basically number 15 on my list and kicking things off is this five-cost sorcery. This will return a creature from any graveyard (not just your own) and when it dies you exile it. It costs one more than Zombify, but can target your foe's stuff, a nice upgrade in power level. You take the Initiative. Venture into the Undercity.
If this is your only Initiative card, you do the Secret Entrance and then search your library for a basic land and put it into your hand, and that's a ramp spell as well. Good stuff for the cost, and you can recast it by exiling five cards from your graveyard and another 5 mana and another taking of the Initiative, and remember in your upkeep, if you have the Initiative, you can venture further into the Undercity for free. You can force someone else to lose life, scry 2, goad an opposing dork, you get the idea. It's all upside. If I control my Commander and it's in the range of a Commander Damage threat, I would do Forge after Secret Entrance to speed up my Commander kill by a few turns. Then Trap if someone is low in life or Arena to goad and then draw that card. Enjoy!
Honorable Mention #2 - Astral Dragon
This is my favorite card in the set for Type Four, which has infinite mana but just one spell per turn (unless you cast a spell with an alternate cost like Force of Will). This is an 8-mana 4/4 with flying, a bit behind the curve, for modern Commander always trimming the fat, but with a sweet ETB trigger - make two token copies of a target non-creature permanent that are now 3/3 flying Dragons. At a base level, that's two 3/3 basic lands that tap for mana and 10/10 flying across three bodies for 8 mana, not bad. That's the worst-case scenario, best case is you are copying Commander powerhouses such as artifacts like Mind's Eye and Skullclamp, enchantments like Rhystic Study and Smothering Tithe, planeswalkers like Elspeth, Sun's Champion and newer ones like Ob Nixilis, the Adversary, and non-basics like Bojuka Bog and Maze of Ith. Nasty right? Note that you can copy your stuff or your opposing things. I love it with Azorius and Bant blink brews that want to use and reuse it's trigger as well as Dimir and Sultai reanimation brews that can slip past the 8 cost. It's also a nice game ender in control. Good stuff!
Honorable Mention #3 - Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald
This Gruul Commander that leads a deck, is an on-curve 3/3 for three mana that can spend 1 mana and tap to discard and exile a card from your library and play it. Nice card flow, and you can play lands or cast spells, and this really likes red stuff. It also works well with the next card on the list... Then you can create a free 2/2 Wolf as you cast spells or drop lands from exile, so it adds Gruul to the growing "Exile matters" decks frumping around. Faldorn should prove to be pretty strong in the 99 given their love of Wolves in the Gruul colors for the Werewolf/Wolf tribe, combined with the ability to discard to impulsively draw a card each turn.
Honorable Mention #4 - Nalfeshnee
This mono-Red Beast Demon is a 6-drop 4/6 with flying, a bit pricey. When you cast a spell from exile, you get, for free, no mana down, a copy! If the copy was of a permanent, it's only around for a turn and it has haste. Nice. There are a lot of leaders that exile and then cast, like Rakdos's favorite leader Prosper, Tome-Bound or the Izzet leader Uvilda, Dean of Perfection // Nassari, Dean of Expression or Grixis's Evelyn, the Covetous. Don't forget the classic Narset, Enlightened Master. Red loves its exile then cast card flow and it's all over the color and thus the format. It's also nice with suspend, cascade's free spell, Adventure spells that exile, and then forecast that exiles and then casts from exile. It breaks cards like Etali, Primal Storm. Pretty nice, right? See also the next card...
Honorable Mention #5 - Brainstealer Dragon
This 7-drop 6/6 flying Dragon Horror has a big punch at the kitchen table, but it's on curve while a bit pricey, so it might get more play in your reanimation brews. Or Type Four as well. In your end step, you exile the top card of each foe's library and you can play them as long as they are exiled for any color of mana. Trigger for the previous card! When a non-land permanent arrives to the battlefield under you control that you don't own, the owner loses life equal to its casting cost. Good stuff, win-tuff.
This 4-drop Crab and Ooze and Horror is pretty cool from where I am sitting! It's got X power equal to your Crab, Ooze and Horror count so it goes into all those tribes. Your end step lets you make a copy of this guy if you exile a creature from an opposing graveyard. By the by, that is a great emergency brake on creature related graveyard use and abuse. It's powerful mid and late game as you have loads of things to eat up, and grows over time on a naked board. I think this is very strong with Kindred Boon which can give them all indestructible and then any Wrath effect like Day of Judgment or Damnation or Mizzium Mortars.
#9. Bothersome Quasit
I always keep an eye out for key Izzet or other color Spellslinger brews that cast a bunch of instants and sorceries and then have triggers. This 3/2 with menace will goad a targeted dork when you cast non-dorks, so that slides right on in and they cannot block as well. The menace also means you might occasionally nip in for three damage on an open or one dork back to block board. But it's no Guttersnipe, but it does work on more things and is bigger and goading can end a game pretty quicky, so there is value in that traditional popular kitchen table shell. I really like this in planeswalker decks where you can send potential attackers elsewhere to keep your 'walkers alive for another turn to build up to a lethal level of ultimate-ing. It's also a Demon for that tribe in Rakdos, although I think that Imp would have been a better tribal choice. What do you think?
#8. Zellix, Sanity Flayer
This 3-drop 2/3 Horror is my 8th overall choice, since its legendary and can choose a background. Milling has always been a popular archetype at the kitchen table, ever since Millstone was printed and here you can have creatures milled turned into 1/1 Horrors, which can help the milling. Note that this does trigger multiple times per turn, but once per instance, so if your foe milled two dorks from a Millstone, then you you'd only get one token, but if you had a mill effect hit everyone at the table, and two milled creatures, you'd get two. Nice synergy and win-con in the milling brews, both self-milling and elsewhere, this will do more work in the 99 than leading a brew.
#7. Aboleth Spawn
Flash, three mana, 2/3, ward 2, nice stats. This then lets you copy an ETB ability of an opposing creature like Solemn Simulacrum, Eternal Witness, Reclamation Sage, Mulldrifter, Karmic Guide or Ravenous Chupacabra. Kill? Recursion? Card draw? Discard? All the options are frumph-ing around. Given how massively common ETB dorks are played this is quite the cute little Fish Horror. This is very strong in most metagames, but I can see a few metagames where everyone has moved from Flametongue Kavu and Grave Titan to instants/sorceries that provide less card advantage but are cheaper. That's why it this at #7 overall.
#6. Green Slime
For three mana you get a flash, 2/2 body that counters an activated or triggered ability by an artifact or enchantment. Solemn Simulacrum's ramp? Staff of Nin drawing a card? Sylvan Library drawing two extra cards? Smothering Tithe? Rhystic Study on your casting of a card? Oblivion Stone trying to sweep the board? Good stuff! And then the source of the trigger is destroyed, so this will answer, at instant speed, any activated or triggered artifact or enchantment. That makes this, usually, better than Reclamation Sage which lacks 1 toughness, the ability to counter, although it has the added tribal synergies of being an Elf. The only advantage is that it's proactive, not reactive. You don't have to wait until they use it to take it out and it's more abusable in blink builds, but I think most folks that are running the Sage would prefer this, like your typical Simic deck. Don't sleep on that foretell either.
Top Five Time!
#5. Mocking Doppelganger
Clones are always popular at the kitchen table, and we even have a Clone tribal. There already was a flash Clone that is one of the most powerful ones out there - Stunt Double, which can Clone any creature for four mana. This has the same cost, and flash, but can only copy opposing dorks, but they will be goaded, which is pretty strong from where I am sitting. I want to force them to attack after dropping this in the pre-combat phase which seems pretty strong from where I am sitting and then attacking them with their now open defenses is awesome. Good for Clone Tribal, goading fun times, and other brews.
#4. Captain N'ghathrod
I don't know how to pronounce it, but I do know that it's pretty powerful. Five mana for a 3/6 Horror Pirate that gives himself and other Horrors menace. When your Horrors smash face, mill that many cards, and then you can grab an artifact or creature that was milled this turn and put it under your control on the battlefield. That makes this tribal leader in an underplayed tribe the ability to win in the red zone with Horrors that have menace, win with milling as an alternate win con, or winning with the powerful things you made like that Consecrated Sphinx or Inferno Titan you just brought over. It's a very strong trio if abilities and a newly supported tribe. It's quite good in my neighborhood.
#3. Black Market Connections
This 3-drop enchantment has three options to trigger in your first main phase. You can spend a life for a Treasure. You can spend two life for a card. You can spend three life for a 3/2 Shapeshifter with changeling. All three of those have value in different shells like ramping in a 5 Color deck, Treasure matters in those builds, changelings in a Tribal deck, life loss builds that love three options in one card, token matters brews like Orzhov Tokens. And then they also work quite nicely together, you can make dorks on a naked board, draw cards when you need the right topdeck, or just make a Treasure to speed up your Commander with Tax by a turn. It's so flexible that it doesn't need a shell to work in, it's just good in most builds, hence it hits my top three proper.
#2. Artificer Class
This should prove to be a "class"ic. Sorry. A cheap two drop and level 1 lets you get a one mana discount each turn for an artifact, which should pay for itself pretty quickly. Level up for another two mana, and you get the top artifact on your library into your hand, so guaranteed card draw of an artifact kind, which this is obviously going into and it's better than "Draw a card." Then you can spend a whopping six more mana to make a token that's a copy of any artifact you control at each of your end turns moving forward, which is also pretty strong with things like Mind's Eye, Sensei's Divining Top and such. It's quite powerful in any artifact centric build that includes Blue, and that keeps it from hitting my #1 spot, but it's really strong anyways despite that.
#1. Deep Gnome Terramancer
Hitting at our top spot is this 2-mana flash 2/2 Bear. Whenever a foe drops a land onto the battlefield without playing it normally, then you can ramp out a Plains tapped. Note a few things here. First, this works on a ton of things like traditional Cultivate or Rampant Growth. Secondly, it is not an ETB ability that only works once, but instead keeps on working turn after turn (although just once/ramp no matter how many lands arrived and once/turn). Also note that it gets any Plains, not just a basic unlike most White ramp, you can grab a dual land like Temple Garden. At its worst, this ramps once, and then gets overwhelmed by the bigger things arriving and dies pretty quickly to mass removal. At its best this acts as a Hate Bear staying around for turns and folks don't use their fetches to keep you away from more and more ramping or they do keep on casting Cultivates and Farseeks and you get a ton of lands from them. Either way will work quite nicely, and this is the best card in the set from where I am sitting!
And there we go! Anything in here that missed? Just let me know!