Picks of the Week: November 8, 2015
Blade of Selves
There's a type of creature I prefer above all others in Commander that I affectionately call "spell creatures." These are things like Conclave Naturalists, Fleshbag Marauder and Sun Titan. They enter the battlefield and give you the effect of some utility spell. Since it's stapled to a body you (often) get to keep something for doing what you wanted to do anyway which was answer something with a spell.
Blade of Selves turns these creatures into value engines.
Conclave Naturalists every turn? Make everyone sacrifice a creature or two each of your combat steps - which you handily pay for with your own transient copies of Fleshbag Marauder? Triple Sun Titan is as gross as it gets if your deck is built for it.
Blade of Selves is exactly the type of equipment that's strong, but becomes so much more paired with the right creatures. (And, yes, I'm aware it's yet another thing that's bananas with Kokusho, the Evening Star.)
Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest
Value engines are easy to find in Commander. Ways to build up value by converting resources like life or mana into something else are a dime a dozen, but the one method I love use is sacrificing things. Thanks to buckets of token makers, as well as legendary creatures like Prossh, Skyraider of Kher and Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder, it's easy to churn out a pile of otherwise weak bodies to pay for things.
Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest turns those value exchanges into yet another angle of awesome.
If you're a black-green or Jund flavor of tokens, Mazirek makes things like Smothering Abomination even better then they are, making Prossh, Skyraider of Kher absolutely bonkers to try and calculate combat math with. While you need an outlet to dump tokens into, those are relatively easy to find and keep in play. Once opponents see what's coming when Mazirek comes down though all bets will be off.
If you like value engines that can be used for burst wins when the time to act arrives, Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest will deliver in spades.
Modal effects are amazing in Commander. While it's possible to sculpt a deck that somehow has the exact mix of things to answer and things to threaten with, spells that give you the choice for things you might need at different points in different games are well worth their weight in decks.
- De facto hard counter by being triple Mana Leak
- Bounce a trifecta of annoying creatures
- Draw down three cards
- Mix and match all of that at smaller scale
While it's easy to compare it to Cryptic Command and believe Mystic Confluence isn't a strong, the fact that you can choose the same mode repeatedly means Confluence gets the nod in my decks over Command. I don't know if I need to bounce things or counter one crazy spells before I sit down. I can always use extra cards but I might need to jump in the way mid-combat to stymie a trick too. The choices Mystic Confluence gives you makes it worth so much more to me - the fact it's always an instant "Draw 3" effect means it's literally never dead, and only gets better from there.
Commander 2015 is a product I’ve been looking forward to all year, and I can’t tell you how excited I am now that we’re in preview season. Each of the last few Commander products has brought with it a handful of cards that have had a huge impact on my collection of decks. From Nahiri, the Lithomancer and Teferi, Temporal Archamge to Myriad Landscapes and Titania, Protector of Argoth, there are all kinds of cards that have helped make my deck just a little more consistent.
This week I wanted to quickly run down just a few of the Commander 2015 previews that I can’t wait to get my hands on. Here are the three cards I’m most excited about this week:
I don’t know about you, but I love me a Cryptic Command, and Cyclonic Rift is another card that I’m enormously excited about. Mystic Confluence may not be either one of those cards, but it does a pretty good job at splitting the difference. Sure, the card is less efficient than Cryptic Command and doesn’t have the same potential to just end games as Cyclonic Rift, but it doesn’t have to. It provides awesome flexibility, which I place a huge value on. Any deck of mine that was already running Cryptic Command will absolutely be picking up a copy of Mystic Confluence, and I just can’t wait.
Arjun, the Shifting Flame
My second pick is Arjun, the Shifting Flame. What kind of monster am I that the first thing I thought of when I saw this card was the Sphinx's Tutelage mill deck with Alhamaret's Archive that we saw at the end of the last standard season? Between Jace's Erasure, Sphinx's Tutelage, and Copy Enchantment, along with Arjun's ability to help you cycle through your deck to find key pieces, I have to imagine you could build a deck that can regularly mill out multiple opponents. I don't know that I would want to play with that deck very much, but I'm certainly interested in the exercise of building it.
Meren of Clan Nel Toth
Someday soon, Alex and I are going to team up and do something crazy with Meren of Clan Nel Toth. My favorite card in Commander, bar none, is Emeria, the Sky Ruin. The amount of free value that you get every turn for the low cost of putting 7 Plains into play is astonishing, and too few players are willing to jump through the hoops it takes to get an active Emeria. It’s important to note that Meren doesn’t care if you’re sacrificing tokens or actual creatures, and that Meren triggers on your end step rather than your upkeep. The cards that stand out to me most for this style of deck are Sakura-Tribe Elder and Yavimaya Granger. These guy do double duty, functioning as a way to ramp up Experience counters while also developing your mana base for when Meren of Clan Nel Toth is inevitably killed.