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75% Commander 2018 Set Review

Readers!

I was halfway through brewing a sick Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer deck when I realized that I needed to do a set review. You're going to have to wait until next week for me to unveil all of the spicy synergies I came up with. If you know me, and I hope you know me and have been reading this series for a while, you know I'm up to my usual shenanigans. Unfair cards like Mechanized Production and Hellkite Tyrant are going to make an appearance. If you don't know me, welcome to my set review! If you REALLY don't know what you're reading, that's perfectly fine, too. I am going to be reviewing Commander 2018 with respect to how the cards in it work in 75% decks, 75% decks being a thing I made a name for. You can quickly familiarize yourself with the concept and come back to read this and it will make more sense why I decided to talk about the cards I did.

For a set with this few new cards, I am going to review every single new card, some of them less in depth than others. I will also go through the reprints and pick out any cards that I think have special relevance to 75% deck-building. Not every card is good in a 75% deck and not every card that is good in every deck needs to be mentioned. Instead, I'll try and show you the cards in a new light and thereby add value to the conversation rather than pointing out that Commander's Sphere is a good card. With that preamble out of the way, let's get into it, shall we?

New White

Boreas Charger
Empyrial Storm
Heavenly Blademaster

Boreas ChargerBoreas Charger exemplifies the way White likes to mana ramp, which is “never miss a land drop (except the one you have to miss to be behind enough to catch up) thanks for catch-up cards like Land Tax and Knight of the White Orchid” which is a mouthful. Being able to blink this means you can do this every time someone ramps way out of control. This isn't a Boundless Realms — unless they cast Boundless Realms and then it is, ish. Ish is an important distinction, but if you're saccing land to Zuran Orb, pitching it to Seismic Assault or just behind, this is a solid card. For reference, Knight of the White Orchid is in more decks on EDHREC than Felidar Sovereign, Soul Warden, and Windborn Muse. If we're not playing a $500 mana base because we're a 75% deck, we can catch up with this plucky horsey boi.

Empyrial Storm — I think this is a pretty bad card, at least compared to some of the other options White has to do this thing. I make a lot of 4/4 angels, personally, but I do it with Sigil of the Empty Throne and Luminarch Ascension like Richard Garfield intended. I think the “Andrew Jackson Highlander” creator, Brody, summed up my feelings about this card nicely here in his White set review. There's nothing that 75% decks do differently in a way that makes this better in our builds specifically.

Heavenly Blademaster — I don't know what to make of this card. I could see it as the top end in some sort of Sramjam build — playing a pseudo-Cheerios sort of game until the board is lousy with creatures and equipment and auras and then paying six mana to turn all of that goodness into the mother of all Akroma's Memorials. I don't think those shenanigans are 75%-specific but I sort of like this card. You're dumping your eggs in one basket but some of those eggs probably protect the basket, making it hexproof or indestructible and you can opt not to attach anything that's better off on another creature. This is a fun card and I like fun, and I also like big, dumb artifact builds. This could make Boros interesting for me with Godo and Anointed Procession and Assemble the Legion . . . 

Loyal Unicorn
Magus of the Balance

Loyal Unicorn — This seems a bit pushed for uncommon. It's conditional, requiring you to keep 2 different creatures in play, but the reward for that combo is you get a creature that's also a much better Radiant Destiny in a lot of cases. This is best in a White-based combat deck, which is boring, but if you're serving with Angels or Knights, this is your unicorn.

Magus of the Balance — I have no idea how good Balance would be in EDH, where it's banned. This is a slow, unwieldy way to use it, comes in summoning sick letting people have a good long while to respond to it and needs five mana to be activated. I think this is much worse than Balance (a card that's banned) would be but I don't know if being worse than a card that's too good to allow is a real indictment. Magus of the Wheel is equal to this card in all the ways it's unwieldy, Magus of the Wheel has legal, cheaper and easier-to-cast alternatives and Magus of the Wheel is in more decks on EDHREC than Aggravated Assault, Reiterate, and Krenko, Mob Boss. I think this could be pretty good, and 75% decks could really benefit from a catch-up card sometimes.

White Reprints

Adarkar Valkyrie
Martial Coup
Soul Snare

Adarkar Valkyrie — I have always liked this card but never seem to find a deck for it. Its constant reprintings shall serve as a reminder to me to play around with what is a pretty unfair ability given all of the creatures that can sac themselves to great effect.

Martial Coup/Phyrexian Rebirth — I think Commander is slow enough that you don't need to Wrath on turn four and I encourage builders of 75% decks to pay a little more mana for their Wraths to get upside, even if it's just Fumigate or Hallowed Burial.

Soul Snare — This seems like a small effect, and it sort of is, but it's also a visual reminder to players that maybe they should attack someone else instead and cards like this that serve as a deterrent are underutilized in Commander.

New Blue

Aminatou's Augury
Echo Storm
Estrid's Invocation

Aminatou's Augury — You could live the dream and hit all 8 card types if you play something tribal! Even if you don't, eight mana for potentially a ton of value seems about correct. With any ability to order the top of the deck, this could be quite potent. However, this seems more cute than good, although time will tell.

Echo Storm — This doesn't seem “underpowered” so much as “narrow” but narrow isn't always bad. In a deck with a cheap commander you can continue to recast, or a Planeswalker like Saheeli that's easy to play, exhaust the counters from and recast, this could potentially make a mountain of copies of a card. Enough to win the game with Mechanized Production, perhaps. Anything that lets you break the rules of Commander and have a lot of copies of the same card in play is worth looking at.

Estrid's Invocation — As we covered last week, I already have an Enchantress deck and any deck with Blue and enchantments in it could benefit from this (provided you do more than just make a second Rhystic Study every game). The ability to run it out early and re-select a new target when you play a better thing to copy is excellent design and as we said above, being able to have 2 copies of something in a singleton format is always potent. This is easily my favorite card in the Estrid deck, possibly the set.

Ever-Watching Threshold
Loyal Drake
Octopus Umbra

Ever-Watching Threshold — Isn't the point of playing Enchantments to make sure you don't get attacked? I would always rather have Propaganda than this, and considering this is a nonbo with Propaganda, I don't even want both. There are easier ways to draw cards. The one exception I could see is a strategy built around cards like No Mercy and Dissipation Field where they pay a heavy price for attacking, but with the number of decks that can swarm you with a ton of expendable creatures and the fact that this draws one card whether they attack with one creature or one thousand makes me want to pass on it. This helps you beat fair decks but it doesn't help you beat unfair decks and in a 75% situation, we want help with our hard matchups, not our easy ones.

Loyal Drake — A card a turn is nothing to sneeze at, but Blue has no trouble drawing cards and this is sort of an ineffectual creature. I think this feels more like an uncommon than the White one. I'm not playing with this but I won't be upset if you do. This seems like it will benefit a lot from “the precon effect” where it feels just good enough to leave in so if you start from a precon and pare down to the deck, you'll keep it in but if you build up from 0 cards, you'll never think to include it. I think this will get overplayed for that reason.

Octopus Umbra — This is one of the better cards with Totem Armor we've seen but it almost feels like it still doesn't do enough. Bruna decks will love this but I can't imagine what other decks want it. It's a very clunky card that feels incredibly narrow, whereas Bear Umbra gives us a lot of utility not related to creature combat and gets a lot of play.

Primordial Mist
Vedalken Humiliator

Primordial Mist — It's starting to sound like I'm really down on Blue in this set, and I guess I really am. This is a clunky way to draw an extra card in essence. Stapling 2 toughness to a potentially important spell you can't afford yet makes it liable to end up dead and if it's sorcery-speed or you can't afford its cost, you can't even save it by exiling it face-up unless you have another way to bring it out of exile. All in all, I'm really not excited, but I'm happy to be proven wrong.

Vedalken Humiliator — Yikes. I know we associate attacking with creatures with “fair” Magic, but you could potentially make their whole board wipeable with something as dumb as Goblin Sharpshooter. This is a very temporary fix to the problem of them having creatures with very good abilities, but this could make it very easy for you to overrun a formidable defense in a deck with Blue, which isn't traditionally a combat powerhouse. This was made to go with Brudiclad but I really like the idea of killing their whole board with a Whipflare, too.

Blue Reprints

Yuck. The only thing that excites me here is the new art on Portent and one card we can discuss,

Aether Gale

Aether Gale — In general, I hate when you can't cast a card because there are only five targets and you need six. Hex was a notoriously clunky Limited card for that reason and I have sat with a Decimate in my hand for a long time in a draft game. This isn't Limited, it's Commander and by five mana, you'll have 6 targets. Copy this spell to really pull someone's pants down.

New Black

Bloodtracker
Entreat the Dead
Loyal Subordinate

Bloodtracker — Luckily there are more ways to put counters on this than paying life and more ways to remove it from play than by letting it die. I think you can get up to some real shenanigans with this card and I think interesting cards are worth exploring. But what do I know? I thought Thief of Blood was an absurd card and they printed Atraxa the year after and still no one cares.

Entreat the Dead — I'll be honest, I didn't think they'd print a Black Miracle and I told people who thought they would that it didn't make sense. Now that we see it, I wish it were better. It's still powerful but you can't get cards out of their yard which is a real bummer. For 9 mana, you can get 3 creatures or you can cast Rise of the Dark Realms and get everything from every yard. It's cool that they gave us a Black Miracle but the mana cost here is a little too fair.

Loyal Subordinate — I am not a huge fan of giving this a spot because it doesn't give you the life you drain (or even 3 life) and lifegain triggers are much easier to take advantage of than life loss triggers. This feels pretty uncommon as well, which isn't the worst thing in the world, but I think this is pretty cuttable.

Night Incarnate
Skull Storm
Sower of Discord

Night Incarnate — I like this as a “don't block me” sort of creature but -3/-3 gets outscaled quickly. I considered using Deadeye Navigator to flash it out and stack some triggers but you need a lot of mana to keep Deadeye from dying, also, there are a lot of cards like Massacre Wurm I'd rather do this with. This is neat and if you're a Ninja deck, this might get through more than normal.

Skull Storm — I love this card. I am jamming this in my Prossh deck right away because I'm a monster, although if I am lopping Prossh and Food Chain, winning is a foregone conclusion and it barely matters how I do it. A lot of decks can make use of the Commanderstorm mechanic and it feels like almost all of them are Black decks like Sharuum the Hegemon, which seems fine to me. Since this rounds up, it can kill them if you cast it enough times meaning this is another copy of Bitter Ordeal in decks that like to win that way. All in all, this seems like a pretty spikey card that a 75% deck won't always run but I think it's powerful enough that even if X=3 or 4 it's still worth casting.

Sower of Discord — Are you prepared to make 2 enemies? Maybe choose yourself as one of the players, then and force someone to be your ally. Or bring the two strongest players at the table in line. There are a lot of ways to use this card and all of them are amazing. I love this card.

Black Reprints

Only 7 Black cards were reprinted and none of them seem particularly noteworthy although all 7 are vaguely good.

New Red

Emissary of Grudges
Enchanter's Bane
Fury Storm

Emissary of Grudges — YES. Choosing an opponent secretly means it's unlikely that anyone will target you with a spell they don't have to if there's a chance it gets bangaranged back at them. I love this card.

Enchanter's Bane — Red finally gets a way to deal with Enchantments and it's pretty brutal and coincides with an Enchantress deck being printed at the same time as a deck that's going to struggle to deal with any of its permanents. Maybe I am biased but I don't like this card existing per se because it really violates the color pie. Commander sets are famous for that, though, so I guess this is what happens every once in a while. This is no doubt very potent and useful and I think it's a good pick-up although I hate to imagine playing against it.

Fury Storm — This is probably the best of the cycle. It's cheap enough that you can cast a decent spell and still have four up to play this, Red decks tend to have the most game-ending spells to copy and they tend to be able to get the X on this up to 3 or 4 which is all it will really need to be at, most likely. This is as good as they thought Dualcaster Mage would be.

Loyal Apprentice
Nesting Dragon
Reality Scramble

Loyal Apprentice — This seems very good in the exact deck it's printed in and a bit too narrow elsewhere, but it's the second best of the cycle and I might consider keeping it in Brudiclad.

Nesting Dragon — This seems more cute than good. I think this works better in a deck with Brudiclad than it does in a deck with Lord Windgrace and that's too bad. The “land matters” subtheme feels under-supported and shoehorned-in to me and this isn't a great consolation prize. If you wanted to try and be the only one with creatures after a Blasphemous Act or something, however, this could be fun. It's still a 5 power flying dragon and making chump blockers with upside in a deck that's going to play lands anyway isn't terrible so this might get a look.

Reality Scramble — Vaevictis decks aren't even finalized and they're already getting a fantastic toy. I love chaotic effects like this and giving it retrace is masterful. I can't wait to start slinging this.

Saheeli's Directive
Treasure Nabber
Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor

Saheeli's Directive — Is a Red Genesis Wave even good? Well, when you can tap your artifacts to help pay for X, it starts to look pretty good. You don't get to keep any non-artifacts but if you built correctly, that shouldn't be that much of a liability. I think this card is insanely fun and I run Genesis Wave a lot so I know how bonkers it can get.

Treasure Nabber — This is probably the best card in the set. It addresses Red's inherent weakness in ramping as fast as some other colors, shuts down a lot of Paradox Engine combos, pairs well with sac outlets like Krark-Clan Ironworks (hope you got your copies when they spoiled Breya, though) and is even getting nods from Vintage players. This card is the real deal and Cool Stuff wasn't charging enough for this card and I hope they restock at the right price, as someone who wants the company to do well and the wrong price as someone who wants to buy copies of this under $10 so I look like a genius later.

Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor — I think this is a pretty linear commander to build around but some of those shenanigans, like using Blasphemous Act and Repercussion, for example, are fun enough that you can ignore how obvious they are. Expect to see this and expect it to surprise you by winning out of nowhere after durdling for a while.

Red Reprints

Blasphemous Act
Chaos Warp

Blasphemous Act — This is a good card and you should get these when they get cheap because it will be at least a year, probably two, before it gets printed again and the price will go back up.

Chaos Warp — This is an EDH staple and I don't build Mono-Red often enough to rely on this card a ton but it can get you out of jams and it can also hilariously backfire and I love both of those outcomes.

New Green

Crash of Rhino Beetles
Genesis Storm
Loyal Guardian

Crash of Rhino Beetles — It's hard to know how to feel about this card. It's like a super Scute Mob and the trample really helps me not immediately dismiss it out of hand. I'm not sure what my psychographic is, but it's not 100% Timmy and this is a 100% Timmy card. Jamie Wakefield likes this card so I don't have to.

Genesis Storm — If Fury Storm isn't the best of the cycle, this certainly is. It's expensive but even if you cast this for 2 or 3, it's better value than Rishkar's Expertise, which is one of the most value-dense cards in the format. The only issue is there are a lot of cards that do what this does and some of them do it better, so your mileage may vary. I like this but I don't know if I cut Selvala's Stampede for this, for example.

Loyal Guardian — Easily the best in the cycle, which is saying a lot given how much I love the thopter maker and the Unicorn. This goes really wide and I like that. The thing about decks that put +1/+1 counters on your creatures is that this will usually get doubled which is even better value. I could be biased because this does what I like to do, but I think this is quite good and it has a not insignificant body attached as well.

Myth Unbound
Nylea's Colossus
Ravenous Slime

Myth Unbound — I like this less than a lot of people like it but I still like it. Cutting Commander Tax in half can really help you get those Commander Storm triggers and this also draws you cards. Food Chain decks will really love how much value this gives them, but do Food Chain decks even need this? It may be a win-more and I'm certainly not one of the people who thinks you need to copy this with Estrid's Invocation, but maybe that's a real play, too. All in all, this card promises to be very popular at the outset of the set so be prepared for it.

Nylea's Colossus — I run a lot of decks that trigger Constellation and I don't think any of them care about doing this. I don't know which decks want this and it's certainly a very powerful ability but I also don't know when I'd care. Watch, I say I don't like this and then some nerd Replenishes their 1/1 unblockable creature into a 256/256 and obliterates me. Maybe I should build with this in mind after all.

Ravenous Slime — Easily the best flavor text in the set, keeping them from looping creatures from play to the graveyard is very significant. This doesn't stop them milling into the yard but it's a formidable creature that puts a kink in a lot of graveyard strategies, is tough to chump block and can grow very fast. I like it!

Turntimber Sower
Whiptongue Hydra

Turntimber Sower — Two solid abilities converge here and I like this in a lot of the decks I have built lately. I think this will see some play.

Whiptongue Hydra — This is pretty bonkers. You won't have to worry about fliers for a while as this empties the skies and then sits there all enormous and reachy. I like this a ton.

Green Reprints

Avenger of Zendikar
Bear Umbra
Enchantress's Presence

Avenger of Zendikar — This is one of my favorite creatures and the price always seems to rebound, although this may be one printing too many. Stock up while you can because it's hard to think of a Green deck that can't make use of this beasty.

Bear Umbra — I mentioned this earlier because I like its utility beyond a combat shield. Untapping your lands avails you of a lot of combos like with Hellkite Charger and I think this is a solid card that is a great card to buy extra copies of for future decks.

Enchantress's Presence — Reprints like this are why the Estrid deck is so attractive right now. Honestly, every deck could have gotten 2 or 3 reprints like this one and it's puzzling that they didn't but what we do know is that this card is useful in a lot of decks and a lot of formats and now is the time to grab spare copies.

New Gold

Aminatou, the Fateshifter
Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle
Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer

Aminatou, the Fateshifter — This goes infinite with Felidar Guardian but I think that combo is a lot less game-ending in multiplayer Commander than it clearly was in Standard and should be fine. I don't like this Ultimate much but this is easy to cast, useful and will probably take a few bodies instead of you since it can't protect itself and seems vulnerable so it gains you life essentially by being an easier target than you are. I am not inclined to build an Aminatou deck but this deck will likely be very popular so be prepared to face this.

Arixmethes, Slumbering IsleThespian's Stage comes to mind right away with is cute but perhaps not game-ending the same way Dark Depths is. I think it's more cute than good, but it's about time Simic got a commander that wasn't about putting +1/+1 counters on things or drawing cards and encouraged you to play spells instead. I think this ends up in more 99s than command zones but that's pure speculation — I don't know whether this is good enough to play.

Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer — My article next week will tell you exactly how I feel about this beast but for now let's say “Mechanized Production” and leave the rest for next time. Yes, that means I like it a lot.

Estrid, the Masked
Gyrus, Waker of Corpses
Kestia, the Cultivator

Estrid, the Masked — As I mentioned last week, I'm removing Rubinia from my Enchantress deck and replacing it with this. I'm taking out one of the most 75% Commanders of all time — there would have to be a good reason to do that. I think there is. This synergizes with a lot of builds and happens to do things my deck was already doing and does them well. It also makes infinite mana with a masked rock or enchanted lands and The Chain Veil which is useful. I will use that mana to win with Helix Pinnacle, obviously. Quelle soixante-quinze pour cent. (The deck, not the horrible champagne and gin cocktail)

Gyrus, Waker of Corpses — This has a few things going for it in that it's the perfect Commander Storm Commander, it synergizes with Food Chain and it is cheap enough that Commander tax is partially negated by you getting more mana and wanting to spend more on it later in the game. I think getting a mini-Séance is cool but ultimately, I'm not more excited about this than I am a lot of the other Legends in the set.

Kestia, the Cultivator — This probably makes my Estrid deck because when I attack, it will be with creatures that have Control Magic on them. It never hurts to think of outside-the-box uses for seemingly-linear cards. That said, this isn't that exciting and there are not too many Bant Voltron decks so this card is the odd man out often.

Lord Windgrace
Saheeli, the Gifted
Tawnos, Urza's Apprentice

Lord Windgrace — This is a real “Jund Midrange” commander and if that's your bag, this could be fun to build around. This isn't really as “Lands matter” as intended, I don't think, but you can certainly build around lands. The Gitrog Monster and Angry Omnath under the same roof? Oh, my.

Saheeli, the Gifted — This is a pretty linear commander in terms of its abilities, but you can take advantage of them any number of ways. This “feels” more like what we know of Saheeli from what she has done with other cards than Saheeli Rai did, and while we can't copycat combo in this deck (but we can in Esper for some reason) we can do Saheeli stuff and a lot of that is ramp a ton. This will be a ton of fun to build.

Tawnos, Urza's Apprentice — This will take a while to figure out how to truly break, sort of like Mishra did. However, I think this will be a very versatile commander and will be fun, but probably very grindy to play.

Thantis, the Warweaver
Tuvasa the Sunlit
Varina, Lich Queen

Thantis, the Warweaver — If I were to build this 75%, I'd likely want to run No Mercy effects to punish them for choosing me, I'd run Assault Suit with a Deathtouch creature or something equally brutal and in general, I'd revel in it being a short game. People don't like being told what to do and three people won't like one person telling everyone what to do, so prepare for some heat. This is a great 75% commander in that you need to build completely around it and you'll win by pitting them against each other so get to it!

Tuvasa the Sunlit — Only triggering once per turn is disappointing and generally, this is suited to a Voltron build that I don't see a point in pursuing. Blue is cool in Voltron but I see no reason to build this over Sigarda or Uril or even Bruna who lacks access to Green. This is a little too fair. That said, I have to test this in Estrid to make sure only drawing one card extra per turn means Tuvasa isn't worth it — I run Femeref Enchantress, currently.

Varina, Lich Queen — When I try to imagine how I want a turn with this deck to go, my eyes cross. Tymna has more colors and draws more cards, Grimgrin takes advantage of the yard better . . .  this seems really slow and unwieldy. In a long, grindy matchup, you can draw a lot of cards and gain a lot of life, but relying on creatures to attack and live to untap is a losing proposition in my experience. I am going to challenge myself to build an interesting version of this but don't know how yet.

Windgrace's Judgment
Xantcha, Sleeper Agent
Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign

Windgrace's Judgment — I think this card is very interesting. You may not want to anger everyone at once so it's tricky to know whether getting full value is worth it. In general, I want to be able to do better than one-for-one with my removal and this does just that.

Xantcha, Sleeper Agent — This card is a HOOT. If the table agrees to tank the damage, you can all draw a lot of cards and really drain someone while they try to get rid of the mole. I really love this from a flavor standpoint; and, while this is a narrow deck if this is your commander, if she is in the 99, you have a lot of exciting possibilities. Forcing everyone to attack and then trying to win the war of attrition is risky but I think it's a fun strategy and it really encourages people to wrap the game up, punishing durdlers.

Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign — And now we come to a card who can't even. I can't think of an effective way to build this as anything other than a Stax commander and that's too bad. I think this is secretly one of the most powerful commanders in the set and I think people are going to build very punishing decks with this. Bribery is an odd mana cost — I'm sold.

Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow

Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow — Some people say that this card's popularity means people really want to go back to Kamigawa. Maro says data says people would quit the game in droves if we return to Kamigawa and asks if some of those abilities and characters in another setting would satisfy people. I think both are correct. We don't want to go back to that plane but we do want cool ninjas (for the record, I want a boatload more Spirit and Arcane spells to make Kirin decks viable) and other plane-specific things. What Standard-only players don't seem to realize is that while Kamigawa was full of trash at the time, Commander really made that set look like it was a decade ahead of its time rather than a bad set. It hurt to open Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper or Miren, the Moaning Well or other Commander staples at the time but now the block has shown that it was full of the kinds of cards a lot of us would want to play someday. How prescient! Yuriko has won a lot of people over and I expect to see a lot of it.

Gold Reprints

There isn't a ton of 75%-specific stuff here but it's worth noting that the Utter End reprint signals that Anguished Unmaking is likely next and they're going to keep cards like that affordable, which I have mixed feelings about.

New Artifacts

Ancient Stone Idol
Coveted Jewel
Endless Atlas

Ancient Stone Idol — I was pretty ambivalent about this card until I realized you can get it for cheap if someone else gets attacked — it doesn't have to be a surprise blocker on creatures attacking only you. If someone splits their attackers and sends four at each player to keep it fair, for example, you can surprise them with this. I like being able to subsidize a 12/12 Trample. Expect casual players to lose their minds over this so a few of these in your trade binder will go a long way.

Coveted Jewel —The problem with this card is that the person who initially summons it gets the least benefit from it and that's not a recipe for a good card. As a combo piece in some sort of Paradox Engine deck, though, this is saucy. Don't play this in a grindy deck but an explosive one could really benefit.

Endless Atlas — I am a big advocate of running a lot of basic lands so spells like Boundless Realms really get there. I also like Snow-covered lands and Extraplanar Lens. That said, while this is easy to turn on a lot of the time, I don't think I want a Jayemdae Tome in my decks, even one that's easier to use.

Geode Golem
Retrofitter Foundry

Geode Golem — You have to get in with a fragile creature and still pay Commander tax? Yuck. This is a very interesting card and the design is a lot of fun but I can't see sleeving it up, ever.

Retrofitter Foundry — People who think they want to play this actually want to play Trading Post, I think. This doesn't really do four things, it does two things four different ways. This is slow, mana-intensive and while you can retrofit stuff that was about to die, I don't think you want to spend your turns doing it.

Artifact Reprints

Duplicant
Mimic Vat
Unwinding Clock

An aside about Duplicant — this is a card in a class of cards I call “Grandfather” cards meaning they are sort of grandfathered in to the format. They're not as good as they used to be and everyone considers them format staples because for a while that was true. But we have so many cards that we want to play over Duplicant, Mind's Eye and Solemn Simulacrum. I feel like continuing to include these cards in product and making Kaladesh inventions of them makes Wizards seem slightly out of touch. I feel like the format has moved on a bit.

Mimic Vat — This card is very useful and a mite overlooked, I think. In the Brudiclad deck, the ability to make tokens of their best dead creature is solid, but in any deck, being able to “steal” their creature is very good, especially if it has an ETB trigger. You don't even have to be the one to kill it, you just have to be willing to devote your imprint slot to it. Mimic Vat is one of the most 75% cards ever devised.

Unwinding Clock — They ban cards that do things like this. OK, not really — Prophet of Kruphix was roughly 5 times better than this card but this is still really stupid and now is a great chance to stock up. 75% decks need to fight unfair to beat better decks sometimes and this is a good way to do it — if your turn isn't enough time, take every turn.

New Lands

Forge of Heroes
Isolated Watchtower

Forge of Heroes — I'm not sold on this. It's common and that's good because it feels like that power level. Late in the game, however, where lands are less useful then this is pretty good, especially if you're putting a counter on a Planeswalker and especially if you can double the counters so you can add two on top of a doubled initial loyalty. I don't see this going in every deck but maybe every deck with Planeswalkers which means even though this is in all of the Commander 2018 decks, demand still outstrips supply.

Isolated Watchtower — Too many “ifs” on this card. It's a really bad Scrying Sheets and I never play Scrying Sheets. It would be too good if you could always put the land into play and a land that can reliably scry means you can hold up mana and make use of it EOT. You can also play lands on their turn, which can matter. I'm going to at least test it out in Tatyova, a deck that I don't even like to goldfish and will probably tear apart. Lately, Simic feels like it befell the three Chinese curses. We certainly live in interesting times, people as high up as Mark Rosewater recognize Simic and lastly, we're getting what we wished for and finding out why that's a curse.

All in all, this is a great set for Commander and while there aren't a ton of really 75% specific cards, we have plenty to chew on and I think we're going to have a good time building despite some of the negativity you see about the set online. This wasn't their best effort but that's OK because it turns out even if they “fail” in the eyes of people on reddit, we still get a ton of new decks to build and it turns out that's really exciting.

Top 5 75% cards in Commander 2018

New

  1. Treasure Nabber
  2. Vedalken Humiliator
  3. Ravenous Slime
  4. Fury Storm
  5. Reality Scramble

Reprint

  1. Mimic Vat
  2. Bear Umbra
  3. Blasphemous Act
  4. Avenger of Zendikar
  5. Phyrexian Rebirth/Winds of Rath/Martial Coup (tie)

Thanks for reading. Was there a reprint you wish I'd addressed? Did I really botch it on a new card? What are you building? Leave it for me in the comments section. Thanks for reading. Until next time!