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Top Ten Things I'd Like to See in a Commander Set

Hello folks! With a new slate of Commander decks (and a new slate of cards!) unleashed on us, there are a lot of great new cards and decks to consider!

What is it that Commander (the format, not the set) and us casual mages are missing? What is it that we don’t have yet?

The good thing about Commander is that you can reprint and bring out themes that are harder to make work in other reprints, and you can push those themes nicely here in a Commander deck without worrying about over-egging Standard or Modern’s pudding.

Take, as a good example, the card Arcane Lighthouse:

Arcane Lighthouse
Detection Tower

We are all glad that Arcane Lighthouse was printed, and that it exists. It helps to have an answer for junk that it getting too gross at your kitchen table, and provides a useful brake on everything from Lightning Greaves to Commanders like Uril, the Miststalker. The problem is that shroud was no longer supported. So you couldn’t print a card that answered both in a normal set, just hexproof, much Detection Tower in Core Set 2019. But that won’t answer shroud too, so it’s only half a brake, thus Commander printed Arcane Lighthouse to deal with both issues.

Commander is the perfect home to have a deck theme that works well but could not be easily transplanted elsewhere.

So what cards are we missing? What themes do you want to see? What do you most want to see printed in a Commander set?

When I started making my Commander Cube a few years ago, I realized that there just weren’t as many archetypes as you might think as first.

Take Simic as a great example. As of a few years ago, here were the only legendary options that you had:

Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Experiment Kraj
Kruphix, God of Horizons
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary
Prime Speaker Zegana
Vorel of the Hull Clade

When I started my Commander Cube in 2014,these six options were it. Clearly, after the introduction of the Simic mechanic of counters for the color, the rest of the color combination became infused with it. And today? How many more Simics are around after a big push to add more Commander options?

Ezuri, Claw of Progress
Kaseto, Orochi Archmage

Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca
Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter
Tatyova, Benthic Druid
Thrasios, Triton Hero
Tishana, Voice of Thunder

That’s not a bad slate of additions. Prior to you had basically counters or ramp. Now you can add two tribes to that with Snakes and Merfolk, as well as Rashmi and more of a traditional ug Control build. But there are still tons of options out there that we didn’t get.

So many of the things I want include archetypes that don’t currently exist.

Here are my top choices!

10. A Commander Symbol

Will Kenrith
Rowan Kenrith
Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath

I’d love to see a symbol on a card frame somewhere that could be used to designate if a card could be used as a Commander. This would give you as a player a visual cue that you could use to see a card’s legality as a Commander. Now you wouldn’t need to put it on a legendary critter those already count. I’m thinking of the planeswalkers such as the Kenriths or Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath. By having a symbol that means, “This can be your commander” then you won’t have to waste precious text space by having to print it out each time. It would open up some new options text-wise.

9. More Atogs

Atog
Atogatog
Megatog
Lithatog

One of the things that I think Wizards of the Coast has done a disservice to are these older, iconic, cards that are being recast but by removing the awesome flavor attached. How many Atogs are out there? Just 12. Atogs are in two cycles, the mono-colored ones across multiple sets that began with Atog and finished with Auratog in Tempest. Then we had the two-color cycle from Odyssey and their lord. Finally, we have the one-of Megatog in Mirrodin to go along with an Atog reprint.

Now, Atogs had established a strong flavor. Atogs would . . . 

  1. Appear in every color
  2. Require you to permanently sacrifice a resource (such as a permanent like an artifact, sacrificing your next turn, or discarding a card in your hand).
  3. Give you a temporary pump for the loss of this resource.

Now, we have had tons of cards made since Mirrodon that do those three things. And some are world specific or needed for a certain draft-archetype or Standard enabler, such as a Zombie in Black that would otherwise be an Atog. But some are generic and could be useful, such as Devouring Swarm. Can we get Atogs back again please? Maybe in a Commander set? Thanks!

8. A Multicolored Samurai Commander

The good thing about the heavy legendary identity of Kamigawa Block is that we had tons of folks that make potential leaders from the Block. Samurais are cool! But we don’t have a Samurai leader that has multiple colors. I run a mono-Red Samurai Commander as my leader, but we really do need someone to bring together all of these colors. For color, I’d go with Naya:

Iizuka the Ruthless
Takeno, Samurai General
Sensei Golden-Tail
Nagao, Bound by Honor
Isao, Enlightened Bushi
Kentaro, the Smiling Cat

I also think that adding some more Samurai support on a Commander deck would be cool. I also think we need the following in a duel series . . . 

7. A Multicolored Ninja Commander

Silent-Blade Oni
Sakashima's Student

We have almost forty Samurai out there, not counting silver-boarded cards or changeling dorks. Know how many Ninja we have with that same restriction? Ten. And that includes all of the extra Ninja that were printed for the Planeshift deck that added Ninja like Silent-Blade Oni and Sakashima’sStudent. That’s not even enough Ninja for a Super Bowl BBQ. We badly need a Ninja Commander deck with a leader as well as a new injection of Ninjas! I run a Ninja Commander deck, but I don’t have a Ninja leader, and that just feels off.

*Turns out Wizards of the Coast Delivered on this one, since they revealed this just yesterday:

And by the by, while we are talking about it, why haven’t see seen a Duel Decks: Samurai vs Ninja deck series yet? How obviously fun would that be?

6. A Rakdos Counter-Answer Commander

Vampire Hexmage
Kulrath Knight

Counters should an anathema to Red. Red is all about acting in the now. It makes short-term decisions that help it now. Of all of the colors, Red is the most impulsive. What is a permanent with counters? It’s a long-term plan. Each turn you build up that permanent until its ready. Loyalty counters? +1/+1 counters? Charge counters? Whatever you are running around planning isn’t going to work. As Red tells us, you need to live in the now, not in the future. You need to get your head out of the clouds. That’s why I think Red should be the color of counter-removal, not Black, as it fits Red’s philosophy. You could have an awesome Commander and deck that is designed to pull counters off your foe’s stuff. Stop wasting time and resources on planning for a tomorrow that might not ever get here, and start playing the game!

This would create a new archetype not dissimilar to the “Everyone Draw 7” of Nekusar, the Mindrazer in Grixis. You could have a legendary that triggered every time a counter was put on an opposing permanent, such as have their controller take a damage. Just a gentle brake on the other use of counters at the table.

5. More Partners

Tymna the Weaver
Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist
Silas Renn, Seeker Adept

Arguably, the greatest thing Commander 2016 gave us were the 15 partners that you could use to mix and match and make countless deck combinations. I like that these leaders were, for the most part, detailed enough to build around, and yet open enough to move into other directions beyond that uncomfortable “Wizards Built my Commander Deck For Me” feeling I get from some leaders. This was a great series. But it’s not really finished, to my mind. We only had one each of the two-color friendly combos, and those tended to be more shoe-horned. I can fit Ravos, Soultender or Thrasios, Triton Hero into many shells. But it’s much harder to make Silas Renn, Seeker Adept or Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa work generally to make the colors work. We need more friendly-color combos, as well as other options. I’d love to see some three-color partners to increase the color options heavily, as well as simple mono-color options. More Partners please!!!

4. A Gruul Ape Commander

Grunn, the Lonely King

We have our first Ape Legendary Commander option printed in Dominaria. And I, for one, and pretty happy to see Grunn. He’s pretty powerful. I love him. He has a big, beefy presence at the kitchen table, and a 10/10 (with kicker) that swings for 20/20 is awesome. Even if he isn’t a Commander, he can kill in two hits against someone with their starting life total of 40.

Back in the early days of the game, Apes were very common. Alliances in particular had a primate theme in Red and Green.

Gargantuan Gorilla
Gorilla Berserkers
Gorilla Shaman
Primitive Justice

We also have cards like Uktabi Orangutan, Kird Ape, and Kird Chieftain.

Uktabi Orangutan
Kird Ape
Kird Chieftain

I think the lack of a dedicated Ape tribal deck in Magic is a missed opportunity. They are an iconic creature type from fantasy and other tropes that really hasn’t been given true justice in the game yet. I would love to see Apes get the Cat treatment that recently happened with their Tribal emphasis from Amonkhet as well as the Commander deck. It’s time for a Rise of the Apes.

3. A Snow Commander

Heidar, Rimewind Master

A real Snow leader is one of the most important Commanders we need. It’s the perfect example of something you won’t see support for anytime soon. We aren’t getting another set of Snow Lands and Snow Stuff for Standard. And we need a leader that has multiple colors badly. It’s been a long time since we had Snow-Covered Basics printed, so this would help get some more of those to folks as well.

Did you know that a Snow-Covered Mountain is $3.99 mint over at Coolstuffinc.com right now? And Snow-Covered Islands are $3.49, and Swamps, Islands and Forests are anywhere from $1.49 to $0.99. I think a ur snow Commander would be ideal. You could print some more Snow cards for the deck, and then you are reprinting some needed lands and cards. You have the best Snow power on those two-colors, and it gives you a Blue/Red Commander option that isn’t “Another Take on Instants/Sorceries Matter.”

You can print these:

Mouth of Ronom
Rimescale Dragon

Rimefeather Owl
Scrying Sheets
Skred

Stalking Yeti
Tresserhorn Sinks

As well as great new cards. How about Snow version that’s Blue and Red mana of Tresserhorn Sinks? Maybe some Snow pumping? I’m sure you get the idea!

2. A Cycling Commander

I have no image to show you for this . . .  because there is no legendary creature in any color that even cycles itself, let alone one that works with cycling. How much of an oversight is that? I would love the ability to grab a cycling leader and put together the cards for a deck. What colors? If you wanted to lean into the first time around, then you could do rw based around Lightning Rift and Astral Slide. The benefits of having a deck in those colors that aren’t tied to “FAST AGGRO RAR!” are nice. (See above at #3 and below at #1 for others). You could move to other colors in the modern era, as later cards like Drake Haven that are in other support colors. I also like the idea of a five-color leader as well, as you could tap into every card that has ever had cycling, regardless of what colors it was. Cycling for the win!

Astral Slide
Lightning Rift
Drake Haven

1. A Morph Commander

Ixidor, Reality Sculptor

There are a lot of great creatures (and other cards) with morph, and it’s a fun mechanic. But other than mono-Blue’s Ixidor, Reality Sculptor, there are no leaders that use morph. Nothing multicolored at all! I’d love to see a Morph Commander. If we were doing two colors, I’d suggest Green and Blue, and that would give you an archetype other than the super common +1/+1 counter them from Simic that has since invaded the color combination that we discussed above. Much like previous entries above, you could push morph for another archetype.

And there are tons of great cards you could dip into, as well as making your own.

Weaver of Lies
Deathmist Raptor
Dermoplasm
Obscuring Aether
Root Elemental
Secret Plans
Temur War Shaman
Trail of Mystery
Unblinking Bleb

There are tons of cards out there that help a deck that wants to have a bunch of morph (and megamorph!) face-down cards. There are also tons and tons of cards to play. Everything from Nantuko Vigilante to Den Protector to Thousand Winds to bunch of tapped dorks to their owners’ hands to Sagu Mauler’s pure beat-stick. These two colors give you morphs with morph-triggers or bodies that give you countermagic and trickery like Willbender. Bounce. Recursion. Card Drawing. Removal. Evasive bodies. Beatsticks. Synergy. What’s not to love?

We need a Morph Commander!

And that’s it! With Commander 2018 almost here, what would you most want to see? What’s missing in Commander?


Magic Core Set 2019 is Now Available!