Hello folks! I hope that you are having a wonderful Tuesday today, after Commander 2017 spoilers have hit full force. In most sets with new cards, those cards are designed for a variety of circumstances, formats, and more. Some are limited only, like Charging Griffin. Some have a high value in older formats with cheaper costs but are weak elsewhere, such as Mental Misstep. Some are clearly designed for the synergies and power of Standard, but aren’t really likely to hit later, such as (potentially) Adorned Pouncer, and then fun cards for the kitchen table or multiplayer that aren’t a threat elsewhere.
However, in a Commander series, things are different. Every single card printed isn’t legal for Modern or Standard. And while we’ve had a few cards clearly marked for constructed audiences (like Containment Priest) they still have obvious value in multiplayer generally and Commander specifically. That makes these cards and sets very different, and this is the format they are specially designed for. You can take virtually any card initially printed in a Commander set and then unleash it on Magic night with a strong chance for success.
Given that, there are still cards that rise to the top. As a long time aficionado of all things casual, multiplayer, and Commander, what ten cards are really hitting my Abe-dar? What are my Top Ten Cards from Commander 2017?
Well let’s take a look!
10. Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist
I like where Mirri, Take Three, wound up. You can add her to a lot of decks, and I want to immediately make her a part of a few builds of mine. Her cheap body, and first strike-ness really match the “You can only block with one creature this turn.” It removes the ability to double or triple block. Now do you notice where Mirri’s synergy on this card is broken? I’m sure you have! Take a look . . .
When you attack with Mirri, no opponent can block with more than one dork. But no where does Mirri read, “When you attack with Mirri alone . . . ” So you can swing with the entire team of 7 or 8 creatures, and then only one can block . . . Not much of a duelist is she? She’s tougher in reality than you might think. Also note that she does not read, “When you attack with Mirri, the defending player . . . ” So I can attack Jane with Mirri and a few creatures, and then attack Paul with the rest, and Paul still can only block with one creature, just like Jane. Mirri is tough on top leading a group of creatures in an all-out assault. And of course, once you have swung, no one alpha strike you back! If you swing with a team of 8 creatures led by Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist, then only one creature per player is attacking you back, and a simple Wall of Blossoms, Maze of Ith, or just not worrying about the counter attack will be fine. I have 40 life I can take the one or two creatures that hit back to swing with impunity and only see one block a turn.
People will likely be forced to block and kill Mirri. So you can ensure that doesn’t happen with something like Whispersilk Cloak, Unquestioned Authority , or Shield of the Oversoul in order to stay ahead.
9. Mathas, Fiend Seeker
This has a strong amount of cleverness at any multiplayer table, akin to a Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist, Edric, Spymaster of Trest, or Gahiji, Honored One. You are setting up an opponent’s creature for death, and then you can let someone else kill it to get cards and life, in a nice flurry of card advantage akin to a Veteran Explorer or somesuch.
Now don’ t misread what Mathas’s bounty counters do. The creature has the “each opponent” effect, so you will draw cards and gain life as well. Just the controller won’t. So, if you use Mathas, Fiend Seeker to counter up Lori’s Wall of Tears, then when that Wall of Tears bites it, everyone other than Lori will draw a card and gain two life. That’s a potent level card drawing, and it’s free. You get one bounty counter each end step (unless you combine it with a few triggered ability duplication effects like Strionic Resonator). The beauty is that you will often lead people to kill each other’s creatures for everyone’s benefit, including your own. Mathas brings a lot of clever fun to the table, and is my personal favorite of the new legendary creatures as a Commander. Only the color combination will tend to keep it down in other decks.
Note that this has a surprisingly strong amount of synergy with Bounty Hunter:
You are welcome, Magic-dom!
8. Alms Collector
People draw cards. They use any number of cards to draw cards in larger and larger numbers. Commander is an environment that is very sensitive to card advantage, in which a critical mass of card draw is extremely important. And that is why Alms Collector is so valuable. First, it’ll shut down anyone trying to draw too many cards. You can flash out this kitty to get a card and force someone just to draw one. And then the Collector of Alms remains on the battlefield as an effective presence at reducing an overabundance of card drawing. It also works well with stuff like Font of Mythos or Prosperity. Here, take a look:
Each player draws X cards? Even if you just play this for four cards, then you will draw 7 and each opponent 1. That’s good math!
7. Kindred Dominance
This card can be played in a few major situations. The most obvious, and best, is in a deck where most, or all, of its creatures share a type. In those decks, this is akin to casting Mass Calcify in a Mono-White deck. You’ll blow up a bunch of stuff, never anything of yours, and a few things may wind up being left behind here or there, as you leave behind some Elves, Dragons, or Zombies. Another way to play this is just to sweep the entire board. Choose a creature type that no one has, and use this as an expensive Day of Judgement. Huh, no one controls a Starfish? I guess everything goes then! A third, and more subtle way, is to run some creature types that are a bit less common that the normal “Tribal Deck” concept, so you aren’t leaving behind as many creatures for your foes, but you may not leave behind all of your stuff too. As one example, you could run maybe 7 or 8 Djinn in your Commander deck. They have been replaced by Sphinxes as the big flying Blue creature in most sets, so most players today are unlikely to have many Djinns running around. So you could leave behind a coupleof Djinns for your side, and then mostly rely on nothing much surviving elsewhere. That’s more reliable than the likelihood of running into a bunch of Zombies or Goblins just randomly because people are running them in a lot of decks, and your own Zombie deck could leave behind 5 or 6 Zombies when your Kindred Dominance goes off, so that is a third option. But the fact this has so many options, as opposed to a Mass Calcify, makes it play more cleverly than it appears at first.
6. Kindred Boon
In a similar way to Kindred Dominance above, if all Kindred Boon does is put a divinity counters on your Commander to give it indestructible and make it stick, then you are in a good place moving forward. Lots of Commanders get sick with a level of indestructibility added. And again, if you have some tribal synergies, it is solid. In a Tribal deck, get ready for indestructible overload. You can also use it to reload a Myojin like Myojin of Seeing Winds. This is strong in many builds.
5. Herald’s Horn
Don’t ignore subtlety. Don’t sleep on a card because it’s not this sexy big Gearhulk or Titan. One of the most commonly played enablers for any Tribal deck in Commander is Urza's Incubator. It drops all creatures of one type by mana. But it helps your enemies as well, and many an Incubator naming Elf or Solider has come back to bite the caster. While Herald's Horn halves the cost reduction (you can play them both in the same deck too), you are the only one to benefit from the cost reduction. But what really makes this amazing is the built-in card advantage. It will help in top decking, in finding a creature, in building up your hand, and so much more. Tethering card advantage to a cost reduction like this is rare and it should prove to be a major, quiet player for a lot of Commander builds. Don’t ignore it.
4. Traverse the Outlands
Is it just me or has Wizards been pushing Green ramp spells hard recently? Hour of Promise? Harvest Season? You get the idea. And yet, here it is, all rocking the block. Remember that this is Commander, so you will always be able to rely on the power of one of your creatures. It will reliably be in play, so unless it’s a small dude or way too expensive, then this is great. Even a simple four power creature will break this in half, and if you don’t have your Yeva, Nature's Herald out, then you can still get three lands from your Troll Ascetic or something. It’s still useful. Such a good card!
3. Disrupt Decorum
I adore this card. I’ve talked before about just how good goad is at a multiplayer kitchen table. It’s better than Sleep, helps get things killed, life totals dropped, and tapping all of the stuff without vigilance (or that couldn’t attack for some reason like Dueling Grounds or having defender.) This is a very strong card with a very strong effect, given that all of the creatures out there will swing, leaving their players open for counterswings. If your turns are going clockwise, then the person hurt the most by this is on your immediate left. This person untaps, plays, swings all out at people that still have shields raised, and then passes. Now when the next person has to attack, where are they going? Probably the now-open player that just attacked all out, right? And the same continues until you go, and you can attack with impunity if you want, but you can keep your own defenses up and ready as well if you prefer. It’s a great card!
2. Hammer of Nazahn
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1. Kindred Discovery
Ignore playing this in a tribal deck with a creature type theme. Imagine you have a creatureless Commander deck that only has your Commander and nothing else. Choose a creature type your Commander has. Now every time you cast that creature, you get a card on arrival. Every time you attack with your leader, you draw a card. Every time you use a Blink or reanimation effect to get it into the battlefield, you draw a card. Doesn’t that seem like a lot of cards to you? You could easily draw 10 or 12 cards over the course of the game where you cast your Commander 4 or 5 times, and then swing 5 or 7 times. Now, imagine you have some tribal synergy in your deck. Maybe 8 or 10 creatures that share a type with your leader. How many more cards will you draw from those ETB triggers and those attacks over the course of a game? And now imagine this card with an actual, proper, tribal deck. Note that this does not read, “nontoken creature” so you can just abuse a token making deck where most or all of the creatures are of the same type, like Drakes for a Talrand, Sky Summoner deck, as one example. This is a powerful tool for drawing huge numbers of cards for any deck out there, tribal or not.
Alright, and there we have it. What do you think of the new cards? Like the decks? Do you agree with my list? What are you most looking forward to play? Are you ready for a new injection of quality for Commander?