It's hard to keep up with all the Magic releases nowadays. The time in between preview seasons has been condensed into a few weeks, and especially without paper events to mark the passage of MTG time - there's several sets I've played extensively on Arena and covered in tournaments but haven't physically seen in paper - it's easy for sets to blend into one another.
This was especially exacerbated for me with Strixhaven and Commander 2021. I don't have an issue with the shared theme, but without ever actually opening a draft booster it's hard to remember what's from what and if there's any other supplemental releases with it. With Modern Horizons 2 on the... horizon... and Commander-aimed cards appearing in every release regardless of whether it's designated a Commander product or not, you can miss a few weeks and miss a whole swath of Commander-legal cards.
With that in mind, I like to peruse the sets and their top cards over on EDHrec. Most of us use the site to fill out spots in our Commander decks by seeing other cards we may have missed when searching by your own commander, but you can also just look at the top 100 cards for each set to see what someone somewhere is playing.
So, I'm going to highlight five cards that have fallen outside the top 20 for Strixhaven, but absolutely have a home in some Commander brews - I hope some of you enjoy thinking through the possibilities of these gems as much as I do!
In case you're curious, the top five for Strixhaven looks like this:
So, what stands out from deep in the spoiler?
5. Rushed Rebirth
This one comes in at number 25 on the popularity list, but it's an effect I absolutely adore. There're so many great uses of Rushed Rebirth, from putting together combos or simply converting a value Kitchen Finks into a Sakura-Tribe Elder.
Notice that Rushed Rebirth doesn't specify that you must target a creature you control. Instead, you can pick any creature in play and, so long as it dies, you'll be searching your library. Want to piggyback on a combat between two opponents to tutor up something from your deck directly into play? Go for it!
4. Wandering Archaic
I'm actually shocked that this barely cracks the top 30. Wandering Archaic // Explore the Vastlands is an absolute all-star of a colorless card and is eligible for every Commander deck ever made. How does it fall behind cards that may be cool but in no way meet such a bar? I don't know.
What I do know is that Wandering Archaic // Explore the Vastlands warps the game around it as soon as it hits play. If an opponent wants to remove it without paying the tax, you're going to get a removal spell as well. But what's even more powerful is when your opponents choose to work with you, and you copy their Naturalize or the like to gang up on the rest of the table. And that's the baseline for the card - it can also really mess with people's expensive game-ending spells like Expropriate or Torment of Hailfire.
3. Blot Out the Sky
I'm certainly not above a Martial Coup. In fact, I happily cast that card in Commander for many years. Blot Out the Sky isn't quite Martial Coup, but it is extremely powerful in its own right. For starters, making 2/1s is obviously much more powerful than 1/1s, and these Inkling tokens fly on top of that. Even at the base rate of a big X spell to impact the board, Blot Out the Sky looks serviceable.
But it sometimes also wraths away all of the annoying planeswalkers, Rhystic Studys, Mind's Dilations, Doubling Seasons, and other shenanigans your opponents may have going on. Blot Out the Sky isn't a premier Wrath because it can't clear away your opponent's creatures, but it does find a nice little niche that could go in a lot of decks that like Debt to the Deathless.
2. Deadly Brew
This is a neat little design. It's symmetrical in nature, and yet gives you a lot of control for the upside if you want it. I've cast this card quite a bit in Strixhaven Limited, and I love the different ways it can play out.
Early, it can be used to rid your opponents of their board - an Innocent Blood with upside - and later on you can throw away something to return a permanent to your hand. In Commander, I'm sure you can find some creatures worthy of sacrificing to the Deadly Brew. Throwing away some Pests works well enough in 40-card formats, but in the 100-card realm you can set up Deadly Brew any way you like and get a lot of power out of it. It barely cracks the top 40 in the set, but is a great Golgari card.
1. Uvilda, Dean of Perfection // Nassari, Dean of Expression
This was the actual last card on the list, No. 100 itself. And while there's a lot about Uvilda, Dean of Perfection // Nassari, Dean of Expression that contributes to it not being super high in the list, there were still plenty of two-color cards in the top 20, and yet Uvilda has been almost completely ignored.
Which I totally get. It's got way too many words.
But those words actually turn out to be pretty good. While this is set up to be an option for a commander, it works quite well as a member of the 99 as well. Uvilda can function as a Jhoira of the Ghitu-esque card, which is enormously powerful early in the game, and the back side of Nassari translates perfectly into the late game.
People have been terrified of Etali, Primal Storm for a long time (and with good reason). Nassari is no Etali (because nothing is), but the Dean of Expression pretty much takes over the game immediately, demanding an answer or threatening to run away with card advantage and the unique rub-ins that come with losing to your own cards. It's a repeatable card advantage engine as a commander, and comes with enough flexibility to almost always be relevant. It deserves another look!
That's what stands out most to me - is there anything else people have been sleeping on?
Thanks for reading,