Recently I was listening to the Brother’s War Podcast. They are primarily a Commander podcast that I’ve enjoyed for quite a while now. The guys have a Commander league and enjoy all things Commander related. I recommend giving them a listen. I always enjoy the cast on my commute to work.
The point of this is a recent podcast they did where they talked about the Top Eight cards they should be playing. It was a nice reminder about some fun cards (and less fun cards. Stasis. Really Zach? Stasis?) that I should be playing in my decks. They ended the podcast asking the listeners for their Top Eight cards, so I thought I would oblige. Ryan and Zach, here is my Top Eight!
8. Form of the Dinosaur
I’m not saying that this is a good card; I’m saying that this is a fun card! If you are trying to take out serious threats, you are likely going after bigger creatures, which means you are taking six damage on your upkeep. Anyone who has played Commander knows that surviving around the table at less than ten life is a precarious thing and opponents don’t take kindly to their creatures getting blown out of the sky be someone at such a precarious life total.
For me though, this just means you need to be inventive! Phyrexian Unlife and other ways to reset your life total a little higher. Running ways to get your life total up each turn, or giving yourself protection. Cards that prevent your life total from changing. It is a card like Form of the Dinosaur that make deck-building challenges fun and push you to play cards you wouldn’t consider.
I particularly want to try this in my 60-card casual format! This looks like it could be a ton of fun in a format where the starting life total is only 20. Resetting to 15 each turn, then choosing to kill a 1/1 creature would turn Form of the Dinosaur into a valuable way to reset your life every round.
7. Council’s Judgment
If your opponents are working hard to minimize the card against you, they will all agree to vote for a single 1/1 counter. However, I’ve never seen that happen. More often, you are playing this and you get two permanents you want gone destroyed. Sometimes it is only one, but when you realize you are only paying three mana, this is well worth it.
I enjoy political cards that encourage you to try and alter your opponents’ assessment of the table. Will of the Council cards can also seed rivalries amongst your opponents as they vote for each others’ permanents. It is amazing how quickly they forget that you cast the card, but remember that your opponent cast the vote that cost them their most valuable creature!
For those of you who are reluctant to run cards like these because of the unpredictability of the target, keep in mind when you are going to play this card. When you are already in front, you aren’t likely to play the card. You are leading and are going to be less likely to want to change the board state. When you are behind, there are two other players that are also behind. If you can get even one of them to vote your way, you’ll get rid of the permanent you wanted gone. When the game has come down to three people, you only need one of them to vote your way to guarantee a particular permanent gone. And when there are just two of you, you are going to take out the permanent you want and that player will be forced to choose another of their own permanents to destroy! This card is a winner far more often than you think.
6. Regal Behemoth
This card has so many things going for it. First off, it makes you the monarch. I love having the monarch in my games. Extra card draw and players are encouraged to attack each other for the card draw. It gives you double your usual mana if you’re the monarch, and that is never something I will turn down. Finally, a 5/5 trampler is a great way to get the monarch back from someone who has dared to play the game of thrones with you!
If this card is so amazing, why are more people not playing it? Six mana is a lot for a mana doubler. You tend to want cards that do that to land earlier in the game. Add to that the fact that you probably aren’t going to be able to take advantage of that the turn it comes into play, since you’ll likely have tapped out to put it into play.
The way I see the Behemoth is less as a mana doubler and more as card draw. The monarch gives you cards on your end step. A 5/5 body is difficult to attack through and a 5/5 trampler is even more difficult to stop. As your players get more used to the monarch, you’ll find many of them simply won’t try to take it from you unless they can handle the repeated attacks from opponents to take it from them. Taking one from a flying creature and losing the monarch is one thing. Taking ten or more from an eldrazi or horde of tokens is quite another!
Either way, once it is in play, the Behemoth encourages you to attack first, and play spells later, as there is a chance that you’ll get the monarch back and suddenly your lands become twice as valuable! I’ll run that fun option any time!
5. Generous Patron
For a counter, you get to draw a card. Are you willing to give counters to your opponents’ creatures to draw a card? If you have an opponent who is inclined to attack someone else, you have a win-win scenario. If you have an opponent with a wall that can’t hurt you, giving the wall a counter sounds great. If you have a way to endlessly block one creature, you can keep giving that one creature counters and drawing cards. This is all great!
Of course, Generous Patron doesn’t say the counters have to be +1/+1 counters. You can use -1/-1 counters too! Destroy an opponent’s creature with a counter… and draw a card! Put a useless fate counter on a creature and draw a card. Put another fate counter on the same creature and draw another card. In cases like this you are more of a “Generous” Patron than a Generous Patron, but you play the card how you want to play it!
This is a fun way for a Green player to draw cards at instant speed and I’m all for that!
4. Growing Rites of Itlimoc
I have one copy of this card and I need a copy for everyone one of my decks that run Green. My Green decks are all creature-heavy, and Growing Rites of Itlimoc is just outstanding in those decks.
One of the things I like best about the card is that it flips on your end step. This means you now have a land that taps for at least four mana (probably much more than that) during your opponents’ turns. Suddenly you aren’t tapped out and vulnerable anymore, but poised and ready to activate abilities or play spells to mess with the status quo. All of this is in addition to the obvious mass bump in mana production that this version of Gaea's Cradle naturally provides!
3. Revel in Riches
Generally I’m not a fan of the “oops I win” cards, so Revel in Riches just seemed a little cheesy. Play the card and a mass removal card on an opponent’s turn, then win seemed lame. Then I watched how it warps the game and I’m all in.
With Revel out, your opponents will not Wrath the table. It is one thing to take out a troublesome creature and give you a single Treasure token, but to bring you to nine tokens is a risk your opponents just won’t take. Knowing the table will not be wiped out means that you can commit heavily to the board, and use the tokens you are getting here and there to make it happen.
Revel also acts as a beacon for removal. Your opponents simply can’t afford to let it sit on the battlefield for any length of time. This means your other permanents are safe, at least in the short term while the focus lands on Revel in Riches!
2. Divine Visitation
If you are following my Twitter account, you’ll be shocked to discover that this card isn’t in a single deck I own yet. So many of my decks use an abundance of token creatures and Divine Visitation makes most of those better. Soldiers, saprolings, and most 1/1 token creatures get a huge benefit from Divine Visitation. There are literally hundreds of cards that get better with Divine Visitation.
It isn’t just getting a bigger creature that makes Divine Visitation so good. The angels have vigilance, so they can attack and still be there to block. Vigilance is a spectacular ability for multiplayer games that just doesn’t get the respect it deserves. If my deck only produced 4/4 angels, I would happily run the five mana enchantment just to give vigilance to the angels.
1. Smothering Tithes
I’m guessing many of you watched Josh Lee Kwai on Game Knights get a huge advantage from this card. Even ignoring the Wheel of Fortune that gave him 21 Treasure tokens, it is obvious just how valuable Smothering Tithes is. I have been singing this card’s praises since it was first spoiled and nothing has changed. Players will not pay mana to stop you from getting mana, so it just keeps churning. In the early game it is worth three mana every round of the table, and that is assuming no one is drawing any extra cards.
The other benefit of Tithes right now is that players haven’t figured out how valuable it is yet. Give it another couple of months and players will understand that they need to remove it. Giving a player access to that much extra mana every turn just means they can pour their threats onto the battlefield. You have to eliminate their ability to do that, rather than burning up every removal spell dealing with all the extra threats they are putting into play. However right now, players aren’t doing that, so make hay while you can!
I hope you were reminded of a card or two that would work in your decks! Let’s ramp up the fun cards in the format!