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Top Ten Commander 2016 Cards


Well that was a fast spoiler week. In one week we went from knowing none of the cards to having the full spoiler. And I think this set has more winners for non-limited multiplayer action than Conspiracy: Take the Crown.

And I’m sure that you are looking at these cards like I am with a daze and just zoning out. What makes the cut? There are so many potential partner combos. What would work? And how can I best exploit the new hotness? Where is this going?

No Commander product prior to today had this many new legendary creatures to lead. We just got twenty.In fact some color combinations just got serious. Take blue and green as a good example. Prior to now, you only had legendary choices that were part of a cycle — the four from the two Ravnica Blocks, the god, and the three from the two Commander products that featured enemy colors. The only extra card you had was Rashmi, Eternities Crafter so up until now, you had nine choices, and now we have two more. Getting some that are not tied together thematically, like the +1/+1 counter themes of many of the Simic leaders (three out of four) means we have two new fresh ways to build that color combination.

And partners?

We have 15 partners. Do you know that that means? That’s right. There are 105 possible combinations of partners we could play. You could built one Commander deck a week with each possible pair, and be able to have two full years of decks before you finished that project. That’s a lot of partner pairings.

And my sincere hope is that this is not the last we see of partners. While I do feel some of the partners aren’t very strong, there are a ton of partners that are very strong on their own, three of which made my Top Ten list below!

Before I move to the list, I want to let you know that one of the factors I consider in a most powerful list is not to ignore that the more colors a card has, the more powerful is has to be to make this list. So a three color card has to punch hard to make my list. Imagine how much more a four color card needs to be, right? So you aren’t seeing all five of the legendary choices here that rock the four color block. They have to do more.

So what is about to hit the tables? What is the cream of the crop?

Honorable Mention to Cruel Entertainment. It’s a fun card. I definitely want to drop it on someone to see what happens when they each take another’s turn! That should prove to be a blast, and definitely qualifies as both cruel and entertainment.

10. Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist

Let’s begin that Top Ten Countdown Thing! So why do I like Ludevic? Well, there are a few reasons. First, as a 1/4 for three mana, Ludevic is can hold the ground for a while and help to keep things healthy and sane. Secondly, at the end of everyone’s turn, they can get a sweet card! All they have to do is damage someone else. Shoot, they can draw a card with their normal stuff. There are a lot of life loss effects in the 40 life starting zone of Commander. Black is a good example, as everything from Phyrexian Arena to casting something like Bitter Revelation will cause you to lose some life while drawing a card, and then Ludevic will reward that player with another life loss. So it’s very friendly as card drawing,and yet it encourages folks to head and swing elsewhere. Hit me and get past this 1/4 to do it, or hit Steve and draw a card! We all know how good Edric, Spymaster of Trest is at quietly pushing a table away from you when you want it too. No, Ludevic won’t be Edric, but it will be good.

9. Treacherous Terrain / Sylvan Reclamation

The full cycle of gold basic landcycling spells is great. One of the ways you win is with flexibility and card advantage. You don’t know what your foe is dropping, so having options is important. The basic landcycling works early to fix your mana. Cycle away! Get that land, and drop it. It’s basically a colorless two mana Lay of the Land. Any deck, any need, go get that basic. And Wastes count too, don’t forget. But the bonus is that you can use these later for powerful effects, and these are the two in the cycle that really stand out to me. Exiling two problems at instant speed is a great answer, and allows for card advantage, so I consider Sylvan Reclamation the best. And right behind it is the player killer of Treacherous Terrain. It hates on ramp folks, smashes people for their land greed, and doesn’t do anything to you. Convenient, I know. No, it doesn’t destroy or exile permanents. It does take out players though! (And perhaps a Planeswalker instead)Here’s to flexibility.

8. Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix

Kydele is one of the strongest of the new breed. In fact, I’d put her up there with a lot of threats, as she’s got some power. It’s very simple. On your turn, after your draw step, she is guaranteed to tap for a mana. That’s the lowest level of help. Now, if you have drawn more cards, then she gets better and better. She doesn’t care what you did after drawing them. Take a card like Merfolk Looter. Tap to draw and discard a card. You drew another, so now Kydele gets you two mana. And she plays very well with this color combination. Take Commander. Are you running a Leovold, Emissary of Trest deck with a bunch of card drawing for everyone like Howling Mine that Leo cuts off? And that’s one of many examples. Since the mana she makes scales with the cards you’ve drawn, you have more gas to play that stuff. Pop a Memory Jar. Tap her for 8 mana. I’m sure you can find a use for that mana to play two or three cards you would have been forced to have discarded. Draw extra lands? Play them with Exploration or Oracle of Mul Daya. You’ll find some serious power here.

7. Ash Barrens

At spot #9 above, I mentioned above how useful having options can be. This is even better. Why? Well, the basic landcycling here is just one generic mana. The Barrens immediately outclasses virtually every green land fetcher for one mana, like Lay of the Land, Attune with Aether or even usually Caravan Vigil. There is little reason not to cycle this on your first turn for your 2nd turn play. It’s perfect. And that is a guaranteed help for a lot of things. Get a land into your graveyard for delirium. Bring it back with land-based recursion like Cartographer. Replay it with Crucible of Worlds. Draw a card from The Gitrog Monster when you cycle it. It’s a nice player that makes a variety of different cards and concepts work.

6. Orzhov Advokist

I think this is a great, subtly strong card. So let’s unpack what I like about it. First of all, people are usually going to pump their stuff, thereby preventing them from coming your way later. Now they can certainly build up a beater over a few turns, and then start swinging your way, so this is a temporary measure. But what it does is force people to pump their creatures in order to keep up with the other players doing the same. And note that your Planeswalkers are safe and you can layer counters on your own stuff as well. In order to attack you, someone has to forgo this bonus, so you will know ahead and you can plan appropriately. A tap effect like Icy Manipulator can tap the best creature they might swing. You can save that Kor Haven or Maze of Ith. Oh, and this card is downright sick with Spike Weaver. I add counters to my Weaver while getting more Fogs to keep you from me? That’s good stuff.

5. Armory Automaton

I really like that we are getting some powerful answers to equipment at the kitchen table here. I do run cards like Manriki-Gusari that will pop an equipment and keep them down over time. But as a general rule, it’s harder to handle equipment out there. But this is a nice colorless solution that fits into many decks. Do you have an issue with equipment at your kitchen table? This is one answer. Play this, and move all opposing equipment to it. That will free up creatures that have annoying “You can’t touch me” signs. I hate that Sword of Fire and Ice against my Mono-Red Commander decks. Well now there’s a window to move that and burn down that nasty dork. They have to invest the mana to reequip, so you are spending less than they are. And when you swing, you may again smash outwith the equipment, to create a powerful force for good. Shoot, you might even move some of your own to enhance your Armory Automaton even more! This is a useful brake on the overuse of equipment.

4. Silas Renn, Seeker Adept

Artifacts are all the rage right now. As is getting some quality card advantage from your Commander or adjunct. And whether Silas Renn features as the key third turn play in an artifact friendly Commander deck or as an adjunct to your latest Kaladesh inspired brew, there’s a lot to consider here. Smash. And then play any dead artifact. Now you are casting it, so can get any cast triggers. Note there are no major cost reductions here though. All Silas Renn lets you to is replay the artifact, by paying its mana cost. That’s still a huge swing in card advantage and quality. Bring back that dead equipment or vehicle. Cast that Solemn Simulacrum for another land. And you can easily see way to use and abuse this guy with regularity.

3. Grip of Phyresis

And while #5 is a good brake, this is a great trick. In fact, I love this as a bizarre combat trick. Grab an equipment off a creature that’s attacking you. Block with your now en-Germ-ed equipment. You might actually win, if the equipment is nice, and bigger stuff like Batterskull can really punch. One of my favorite tricks to release with this is to steal a piece of equipment that grants hexproof or shroud, like the classic Lightning Greaves or Swiftfoot Boots. Someone hiding behind that is about to get a big surprise when their equipment gets pilfered and the creature they believed was protected gets axed! Virtually every deck runs equipment. And there is always something good the steal, right? Plus, if you can’t afford a Sword of Fire and Ice, at least you can steal your friend’s! Note that unlike many steal-at-instant-speed-effects, this one is permanent, and doesn’t conclude at the end of the turn.

2. Ydris, Maelstrom Wielder

Of the five four-color-drops, this is the most powerful either in a vacuum or in a deck built around it. You get a big ol’ 5/4 beater for your trouble. It has the biggest size for smashing of them all. And it gets trample as well, so you get a fast, smash-tastic treat for everyone. But there’s more! If you hit a player for damage (which is a considerably easier hoop to jump through with that trample already stapled on) then you can get a free cascade off every spell you play for the rest of the turn. Let’s say it’s turn five, and you just smashed a foe. A powerful five drop like Sarkhan Unbroken follows and the free card you get is just nasty bonus. Even a simple tool like Solemn Simulacrum, Flametongue Kavu, or Shriekmaw are just at another level of power. Zang!

1. Magus of the Will

I have always had a fondness for the Magus creatures. Magus of the Disk. Magus of the Jar. Magus of the Library. Magus of the Moon. The 15-set uber-cycle from the Time Spiral Block was virtually all class. And that’s not all, because Magus of the Wheel was released in a previous Commander product as well (Commander 2015 for those keeping track). And this is certainly class. Yawgmoth's Will has always been a potent card, and getting one on the stick that you can use instantly is going to be something good. Something serious. And you get a3/3 for three mana, on curve and swinging away. There’s nothing not to like here.

And there we have it. Ten great cards that are all going to rock hard at your next casual night. So what did you think? What new Commanders do you want? What four color leader are you most looking forward to crack? Commander await!

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