Hello Folks! I hope you are having an awesome-tastic day today and keeping yourself safe in our modern COVID-19 World! Moreover, I hope that those are not mutually exclusive and that you are able to enjoy yourself while keeping yourself safe.
Last week for this column I wrote up what my choices were for the best cards from Commander Legends. (You can check it out here). This is a big set with a lot of hitters spread throughout. This week I wanted to play into that and give you another group of (new) cards that are almost as good as those checked off last week!
Want to take a looksee at my article? Sure thing!
Honorable Mention #1 - Triumphant Reckoning
Take a look under the hood of Triumphant Reckoning. It plays nicely into three styles of decks - pro-enchantments, pro-artifacts and pro-planeswalkers and this can fit in all of them. The latter is most likely to need recursion en-masse like this as they are minus-ing abilities and getting attacked to death. This is a fun recursion tool for three decks but there is a fourth deck that likes this. Decks that like permanents but not really in love with creatures, like my Five Color Friends deck that only runs 12 dorks but tons of artifacts, enchantments and 'walkers. The power is here. The mana drops it back to the Honorable Mention of my second list, but don't let that cause you to sleep on its power.
Honorable Mention #2 - Forceful Denial
Remember this key about cascade - the more expensive the card, the more chaotic the effect, the more powerful it can be if guided. A five-mana hard counter with cascade brings another free spell to the party. Blue is already the color of deck manipulation with cards like Soothsaying so you can set up a four casting cost spell in order to net nine mana from your five mana investment. That's pretty good! (Imagine the power of a Fact or Fiction...) The card advantage with this counter is pretty strong and it's not a card in theory, but one in practice. Even if you only cascade into something like Ponder, it was better than Dismiss. Note that the card is cast from cascade so it also can give you another trigger for your things. The result is a powerful counter for your arsenal.
10. Mnemonic Deluge
Another massively powerful nine-mana spell is this nasty Deluge. It nets you three copies of a sorcery or an instant in any graveyard, not just your own. If your foe has a card like the aforementioned Fact or Fiction in their graveyard you are about to rain cards down from on high. Even the worst-case scenario is something like Opt or Brainstorm which isn't that bad at all! Again, it's not higher on my list to due it's cost, but this is the format of ramp and you have mana rocks and things like Ancient Tomb that can help to ensure you can cast this. There are also some free casting options in Blue or Red you can combine this with to get a free nine-mana spell of power and love and game winning shenanigans.
9. Aurora Phoenix
Phoenixes are an iconic part of Red that are pretty powerful in Commander as their recursion offers a sort of card advantage for a color starving for it. I like them. In this case we have a six-mana flying Phoenix that brings a free spell to the party and it'll cascade for you all day and night. Even if you don't set up your library to know what it'll be, the extra value of cascade is solid here. And then did you cascade while the Phoenix was in your graveyard? Awesome! It comes back to your hand, ready for another casting and yet another cascade. There's a lot of card grinding power in the Aurora Phoenix!
8. Sakashima of a Thousand Faces
There are two major things that Sakashima brings that get our fun Kamigawan Leader into my list and they aren't what you might think. It's not the self Clone! That's fun in a Commander but it's not keeping me up all night. That next ability? It is. Mirror Gallery was a great card because you could run more than one of any legendary card you controlled. However, the problem is that you'd have to find it if you built your deck around it. Here? You can ensure it and build around it, which is a lot of fun to dig into. Moreover, you can add another legendary dork with partner that will let you dig into more colors, more copying, and more legendary permanents to add in for the copying. Nasty stuff will ensue!
7. Rootweaver Druid
Are you a fan of cards like Veteran Explorer? I hope so! It ramps everyone! As does this bad boy. On arrival your foes get three lands and you net one of those. That means in a four-player game each of your foes will be up two lands and you'll be up three. That's good math for you. The bigger the game, the more reward you get. In a six-player game you are getting five lands to their two and it increases from there. If you blink it? If you recur it after it dies? If you self-bounce and replay it? That is an apocalyptic amount of land!
6. Magus of the Order
Natural Order is a card that was made famous in a deck called Secret Forces piloted to success by one Jamie Wakefield. This spell would let you sacrifice a Green dork for another Green dork for your library and toss it onto the battlefield for free with no extra cost. This was the cheap cost of four mana, which meant you could easily go, 1st Turn Forest, Llanowar Elves, 2nd Turn Forest, 3rd Turn Forest, Natural Order, sacrifices the Elves, fetch out Verdant Force. That would be a rough ask! Magus of the Order respects that historical card and gives you a 3/3 body for four mana that you can sacrifice for a Natural Order. Please note that the fact this is a dork is easier to stop than a Natural Order which could only be countered or discarded. Every color can handle a 3/3 dork - countering, burn, destruction, exiling, stealing, you have several options. It also telegraphs itself and requires a go around the bin (barring haste) for folks to answer. That's why it's on my second list. But it's awesome in Gruul that has the bodies to sacrifice, the beef to grab and the haste to proffer. It's also strong in other places as well. I like it!
5. Jeska, Thrice Reborn
Hello fans of tripling effects! Boy, do I have a fun 3-drop for your consideration! We already know two things about Jeska before we begin looking at her abilities. First, we know how good planeswalkers are as Commanders! You have less fear of the minus abilities since you can get it back next turn (or that one if you have enough mana and use it again). They are nasty. We also know how good a 3-drop planeswalker can be as well! They come down quickly and begin the smashery! Jeska is both a 3-drop and a Commander. And if that's not enough, she has partner so you can choose the most powerful adjunct colors and concepts! Remember she arrives with extra counters for her loyalty so that would benefit from a cheap Commander partner that can be played early and often. Her -X to three targets is nasty along with effects in her color like Jaya, Venerated Firemage and Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. Her 0 ability to triple combat damage is nasty with an early drop high power partner and will speed up Commander kills quickly. She is nasty!
4. Tormod, the Desecrator
Why is Tormod here? Great question! What makes Tormod work here is simple. He will make a Black 2/2 Zombie any time a card leaves your graveyard. If you used a Bloodghast's landfall to come out, here's a token. If you put a card onto the bottom of your library with Soldevi Digger, then you get a dork. If you Raise Dead a card to your hand, you get a dork. If you exile something from your graveyard? Here's a dork! You get a ton of Zombies. It also has partner so you can combine it with a nasty option. Now, do note, that Tormod only gives you one trigger. If someone exiles your whole graveyard, you'll only get one Zombie. If someone brings back a bunch of cards at once, just one Zombie token will follow. That limits Tormod's power, hence its position away from my top spot. But don't sleep on our Zombie Wizard!
3. Wrong Turn
What makes Wrong Turn so powerful in my mind is that it plays into a new space that Donate and Harmless Offering didn't. Sure, those cards have a lot of value, and you can use this as a creature-only Donate that gives away one of your dorks to a foe all day long. But what makes Wrong Turn good to my mind is that it's an enhanced Donate at the kitchen table in multiplayer play. First of all, it's an instant so you can do it at the end of a turn or in the middle of combat. For example, suppose you swing with your Commmander with trample at someone who is tapped out, and then they cast a spell that untaps their team and they block your Commander with a dork that'll kill it. Insert sad face here. But then you give that blocker away to another foe and with the trample the damage will still be dealt. Insert happy face here! If someone dares to attack you, send that attacker over to a mutual foe. It plays havoc with battlefields. It's also good as a way to gang up on a more powerful foe. You and an enemy can grab the most powerful dork (or their Commander) from the best positioned deck to win and beat them with it! Good stuff!
2. The Will Cycle
Given how likely you are to have (at least one) of your Commanders when you cast a Will, you are usually going to net both halves. Since you are likely to have two Commanders in most new decks coming out of Commander Legends, this cycle is even more likely to land both halves. Plus, remember we are in the format that is all about protecting your Commanders from removal with things like Darksteel Plate, Heroic Intervention, and Lightning Greaves. That dedication to protecting your leader(s) makes the Wills much more likely to hit. My favorite is probably Tzat's Will that provides card advantage with the sacrifices of opposing dorks and the exiling of opposing graveyards which is key in this format loaded with graveyard abuse. Although don't sleep on Sakashima's Will either since you can steal a few dorks in one four mana spell. And these won't head back at the end of the turn. This cycle is very reliablel!
1. Ghen, Arcanum Weaver
Hello enchantment fans! Boy do I have the card for you! As you can see, our good Human Wizard is the Goblin Welder of enchantments. You can swap an enchantment that you control on the battlefield with one in your graveyard. All it takes is a tap and some mana. I built a deck around Ghen last week you can check out here. What keeps Ghen from making last week's list is that it requires mana to use, which I think was an intentional way to break his powers and keep him from going off more brokenly. After building a deck with him, he's pretty powerful. He's in Black for cards like Entomb that can put the most powerful enchantments in your graveyard to recur. He's in White which loves enchantments and has a ton of pro-enchantment tools. Don't sleep on the power of Ghen!
And there you go! What did you think of my list? Anything in here that grabbed you? Anything I missed (again)? Just let me know! Have an awesome day!