Hello all! I hope that you are having a great day today!
Have you had a chance to check out the Jumpstart spoiler yet? I was surprised by how playable these cards are going to be at the kitchen table, and some are due to entire classic territory! I figured a starter draft like this would have less powerful cards like those that are newly created for planeswalker decks.
But here we have a bunch of great cards! Ready to see what my take is on the best new talent in the set? Sure thing!
Honorable Mention - Corsair Captain
Back during Ixalan block, when we were getting a load of Pirates we had some that worked together quite nicely. But we never got much in the way of a traditional Lord that pumps a team of Pirates. We do now! Fans of Pirates are going to be happy. It also brings a Treasure to the table for those decks that care about Treasure or artifacts.
All right, now let's look at the Top Ten proper!
10. Sethron, Hurloon General
Most Minotaur leaders don't push a Minotaur tribal theme. Zedruu the Greathearted? Either version of Tahngarth? Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion? Basically Neheb, the Worthy was it. Rakdos Minotaurs for the win. However, Sethron has a few dials on it. As (nontoken) Minotaurs arrive to the party, they'll make a Minotaur token that's Hurloon Minotaur sized. You can activate him to pump an entire Minotaur team and give them 2 powerful abilities for the swing. Neheb, the Worthy only gives first strike to the Minotaur team, a pretty weak ability in modern Commander. Sethron is instantly the better leader for Minotaurs in Commander.
9. The Thriving Land Cycle
Lands matter. They matter a lot! In any two-color deck these are better than Guildgates of the same color. Why? You can tap them for another color should you need to. Your foe could have a Norn's Annex out and you don't want to spend life for the Phyrexian mana needed. You may steal a green dork that requires a green activation cost in your Izzet deck. Play Thriving Isle and name green and make mana needed. You may Clone a foe's activation cost or your foe may give you something of theirs like the aforementioned Zedruu and you want to use it. In a three-color deck it's better than a Guildgate by giving you the flexibility to choose one half of its mana. If you have access to two colors then any of the three colors of the Thriving Land will ensure you get the color needed, but without it you may draw a blank and get the Guildgate of the colors that you already make. This is much better!
8. Trusty Retriever
This is much more flexible than previous options for White. Normally you had a dork that could fetch either an artifact or an enchantment, such as Sanctum Gargoyle. But not here! Here you can have the Dog play fetch whichever one is the best for the time. Lots of decks run both, particularly the 100-card deck in Commander. You may not want to run this effect normally in those builds as you may have 5 enchantments and 7 artifacts, but now you have 12 potential targets.
There is another factor to love here as well! That counter-age. How many times have you had an effect like this or Gravedigger or Izzet Chronarch without any potential targets in the graveyard? But since you needed the body you cast it anyways. Happens all the time. Here if you need the body, no worries, as now it's a bigger 3/4. That additional level of flexibility increases as you have two potential targets or a bigger body as the board state needs!
7. Kels, Fight Fixer
Kels: bringing Golgari goodness to Dimir since 2020. Golgari is all about sacrificing for the cause, and Kels feels very Golgari to me. Sacrifice for indestructible and she has menace as well, and is a beefy 4/3 for 4 mana, and you can turn sacrifices into cards. That's very Golgari, but now you trade green for blue, and in doing so you open yourself up to mass card draw, filtering, counters, bounce, stealing, copying, and many more effects! Now you'll lose mana making, destroying artifacts and enchantments and cards like Eternal Witness. Black can still recur creatures, and blue's counter and steal are the ultimate answers. You can kill lands, planeswalkers and dorks with black. You can add sacrifice synergies. This is a fun and different take on a classic ability.
6. Muxus, Goblin Grandee
Is it the best Goblin Commander ever? Maybe not, but it's in the conversation. The probable best Goblin leader is Krenko, Mob Boss. His ability to tap and essentially double your Goblins each time is nasty and scaleable. However, there are limitations to his ability. It requires a tap, so you must wait a turn. It's bad when you have a Goblin-light board or after a mass sweeping effect has reset the board. On the other hand, Muxus provides powerful Goblin card advantage. It's good after a reset button was pushed. It's good when you have a Goblin-light board. It's also good when you have a good board. And you net card advantage and value over time. It's also good on the turn you drop it; if Muxus dies immediately it still did its thing. The only disadvantage that Muxus has is that he costs 6 mana to Krenko's four. That's it. I'd argue that Muxus's value is more immediately and flexibly useful. What do you think?
All right, top five time!
5. Branching Evolution
Cheaper than Doubling Season and better than Hardened Scales. Have a seat fans of +1/+1 counters! Make sure you are social distancing as you listen. If you are using Doubling Season in one of the many decks built around +1/+1 counters then this is better as it does everything the Season will do in that build only for a cheaper cost. Now if you have other counters too like loyalty counters of planeswalkers, then Doubling Season has additional value. It's also better if you are making token creatures too. Otherwise this is better than Doubling Season, a champion card for casual tables. It's also a good supplement for many decks out there. Enjoy it!
4. Zurzoth, Chaos Rider
While this is not the highest-ranking potential Commander, it's my personal favorite. The massive chaotic fun and little points of damage over time should build up to create a fun board state that slowly tings your foes. Lots of people are going to draw cards on other turns, and you can combine this with Mono-Red effects like Wheel of Fortune to make sure that people are getting their draw on. Then you make Devils that can swing, block, and ting for a little bit of damage here and there directed to any source. When this guy or one of those cool Devils attacks then you'll force them to draw and discard at random which will trigger Zurzoth for another Devil if they haven't already drawn a card this turn. And you'll draw/discard as well. It's not as good as Impulsive card drawing, it's chaotic, and thus won't trigger a lot of "Kill Now" radars like others. Also note that if you wanted to build a Mono-Red Devil deck you could do so although it's not needed. Zurzoth for the win-zoth!
3. Tinybones, Trinket Thief
Until now, discard has not had a key leader. But this card drawing machine loves it! You don't have to worry about weakening your discard deck with Elves or Green like others. You can focus on Black, and drop this cute little guy as early as turn two! I wanna do this:
Turn two - Drop Tinybones.
Turn three - Drop Liliana's Specter. Is this a four-way game? I draw three cards and lose three life at the end of my turn.
Note that Tinybones also draws you cards on each turn, and when they discard to each other as well. For example, if one of your foe's doesn't like their draw and cycles it away, you draw a card at the end of the turn. And lose a life.
Tinybones is also a winning condition with its activation cost. I suspect that after #2 below, this is going to be the most played leader in the set for Commander.
2. Bruvac the Grandiloquent
This is the Doubling Season for mill decks. This is arguably the best Commander ever printed to lead a mill deck. What else would you want? Ambassador Laquatus? Having a Doubling Season on a stick that's also a legendary stick opens so many options that the mind is boggled. This is one of the decks I built last week, and I suspect this is going to be the most popular card from this set for Commander. We all know how much people love their milling decks! A year from now, at the very least, Bruvac should be leading the most Commander decks from the ten legendaries in Jumpstart.
1. Release the Dogs
Hello fans of the curve, tokens, and Dogs! I hope your day is well. When I saw this card, I was surprised at how good it is. Four dorks, 4 mana, 4 power. I used it last week in my article on decks from Jumpstart. No other card from this set has as much potential as this thing does.
Here let me give you five archetypes that are common at the kitchen table this is a valuable addition to:
Archetype #1 - Azorius Control
Many control decks have a small number of actual bodies and use a spell like Decree of Justice or Ordered Migration to make many creatures in mass to attack, to jump in front of attacks. For a deck that seeks to enhance its spells for various effects and doesn't want to sacrifice boardplay in the form of creatures, this is a powerful tool!
Archetype #2 - Selesnya Tokens
The Selesnya guild loves tokens! It really has a love affair with them and has many cards and dorks that really help out tokens or go wide. Many of these are running two dorks for 2 mana or something smaller, but this will really help!
Archetype #3 - Orzhov Sacrifice
The Orzhov Sacrifice build seeks to have a big number of self-sacrificing engines like Attrition that they can feed bodies too, and then wants to make a lot of bodies. It often runs dorks like Sengir Autocrat, but this is better giving you four bodies that have 4 power on the fourth turn. You can swing. You can draw it later. Unlike Sengir Autocrat's Serf Tokens, they'll still do things even if your engines are destroyed. It's much better!
Archetype #4 - Orzhov Tokens
Archetype #5 - Boros Aggro
Many of Boros's best abilities like battalion, mentor and battle cry want you to swing with as many creatures as possible. Nothing plays into that idea more than Release the Dogs! You can get four 2/1s for eight damage with a single Battle Cry trigger. Imagine a battalion mass pump! You've got this!
And there you are! I included one of each color combination. As you can see, it doesn't mater if you are going aggro or control, sacrifice or tokens, Release the Dogs is a powerful tool!
There we go! I hope that you enjoyed my deep dive into these cards! Anything in here that I missed or that you are inspired to run? What are you most excited to use? Just let me know!