Last week, I talked about a number of cool and interesting commanders that you can use in PreDH, the latest Commander variant utilizing cards from New Phyrexia backwards. I covered roughly ten (with a couple slots doubled up thanks to similar playstyle legends) but, frankly, my original list was way bigger! I pulled down something much closer to 35 legends and could easily talk about them at length. For as old as the cards are, it's sometimes surprising just how much variety there is in play styles you might not get in an environment like modern day Commander.
As such, we're once again talking about another ten (plus some) cards that are great PreDH options if you want to check out what the format has to offer. I tried to focus on legends that are reasonably accessible (so no Angus Mackenzie or Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed here) and are likely to provide you with either an enjoyable experience or an interesting deck-building puzzle. There're plenty of great options, so let's dive straight in!
Oh, Arcum. You do so love doing absolutely broken things in games of Magic don't you? I've seen a number of games where players utilize Arcum to do the dumbest things in the game. This includes spitting out cards like Spine of Ish Sah or Possessed Portal to slow games down to a crawl in the most painful way imaginable. However, you don't need to play it that way. While there were less variety of arguably decent-to-good artifacts in the mix in these earlier years of the game, there's enough you can run a fun toolbox that doesn't cause the game to spiral into the realm of Stax misery. Or, you know, you can do that if you really feel like it also. Toolbox decks offer great variety, and Arcum Dagsson is no exception. Just be prepared for opponents to hate you out fairly fast for fear of this commander's power.
If you've been following my PreDH articles for a while, you might recall that Brion Stoutarm was actually one of the first lists I discussed in my original piece on this alternate take on Commander. There I took an approach of building an alternate win condition deck, which definitely remains one of the more interesting decks I've put together over the years. This is far from the average take when it comes to this commander, however. It's far more common you build something of a Boros Aggro list or find more ways to utilize and take advantage of his activated ability. He's very much the sort of card that makes a very cheap and very accessible deck, while simultaneously having a decent amount of range in the ways you can play with him for a Boros legend. Ever a favorite, he's a great one to try out if you're looking for an easy way to jump into PreDH.
Circu, Dimir Lobotomist and Szadek, Lord of Secrets
If there's one thing you can always bet a wide swath of Magic players will enjoy, it's mill. Sure, it can be painful to be on the receiving end of the milling, but there's something truly fun in the allure of finding that alternate win condition that isn't dealing lethal damage. Szadek, Lord of Secrets and Circu, Dimir Lobotomist both offer very differing methods for doing this. One utilizes attacking while the other slowly chips away at opponents' libraries. Circu can even sometimes shut out other opponents from playing cards if there's overlapping staples between lists, like Swords to Plowshares or Sol Ring. Mill is hard enough in 1v1 to achieve successfully and it's that much more difficult in a full multiplayer setting. Both of these show enough cards across all players that they're among the best mill options out there - even today - and are well worth your time if you're up for a challenge.
Between both this week's list and last week's, Dakkon Blackblade is the oldest legendary creature. Dating all the way back to Legends, he's one of the oldest in the game. Unlike many of the legends from that set, however, he's quite accessible thanks to his printing in Chronicles soon after. He also happens to be one of the ones they managed to get right and still feels great to play today. As time has gone on, cards like Sol'kanar the Swamp King and the original Elder Dragon cycle that gives the format its original namesake have gone way down in playability. They're just not quite up to snuff, and while they can be fun in PreDH where the average power is lower, you're likely going to gravitate toward other options. What makes Dakkon so fun is you can play him and he keeps getting bigger just by playing lands, allowing for a fun puzzle to focus on getting lands in a non-Green deck or else building a control deck with him as the endgame. It provides a great variety of ways to play thanks to the card's elegant simplicity and that makes Dakkon a great choice to check out - especially if you're playing on a budget.
Experiment Kraj is another legend that provides an interesting deck puzzle. That puzzle is how can you make +1/+1 counters and activated abilities work together well? This is obviously meant to work effectively with the Simic cards from Dissension. Many such as Cytoplast Manipulator and Novijen Sages are obvious examples, utilizing these counters and activated abilities based off of them at the same time. In this way, Kraj puts counters on other creatures to gain the abilities and then onto itself to use them. In the greater PreDH pool, however, there are many ways to dish out counters and countless possibilities for activated abilities to utilize. This gives Kraj a lot of ways to be retooled to personal preference and makes for a unique experience every time. If you like a good deck-building challenge, this is absolutely one you should try out sometime.
Intet, the Dreamer
In my article last week, I talked a bit about Darigaaz, the Igniter - one of the five primeval dragons of Invasion. This week I'm talking about one of the Planar Chaos wedge color throwbacks in Intet, the Dreamer. Intet is a fairly straightforward commander: beat face, pay mana, get spells. There's not a ton to say here, but stealing cards is just a delight. Intet is extremely easy to acquire and it's not hard to get a ton of value with various thievery effects as well as mana ramp and countermagic to protect your commander. In truth, while I covered only these two primeval dragons, I really do want to shout out all of them. With the sole exception of maybe Dromar, the Banisher (which 60% of the time will bounce itself with its own ability), every one of these provides a rock solid strategy to work off of and it's absolutely worth exploring each and every one if you have the means to do so.
Maraxus of Keld
Maraxas is interesting because of how he asks you to play as many things as you can but find ways to not tap them. This could include taking advantage of artifacts with continual static abilities or the rare Red creature with vigilance like Windseeker Centaur or Tahngarth, Talruum Hero. This creates a very interesting balancing act to make Maraxus as big as possible. He may seem fairly underwhelming and boring, but he's one of the more playable and unique options as far as old Mono-Red legends go. Best of all is that despite being on the reserved list, he's quite affordable and easy to access. Definitely something worth checking out specifically for a format like PreDH.
Mayael the Anima
It honestly feels a little weird to include Mayael in a list like this, but here we are. Mayael has always been a decently popular commander, being a very cheap mythic with a very potent ability to cheat giant creatures into play. Who doesn't love getting giant creatures into play with ease? In recent years, though, it feels like her play has waned substantially. She's only the 13th most played Naya commander on EDHREC and 294th overall - a stark contrast to where she would frequently show up at tables once upon a time back in the old PreDH days. She's about as classic as you can get in a format like this and is definitely one you should dust off, give a whirl, and spin the wheel.
Nemata, Grove Guardian and Thelon of Havenwood
Token decks are always hot, and back in Magic's early days, saprolings were one of the main go-to token types in the game. Well, that's true today, but it's even more true back in a time when token decks were far less common. Here, saprolings were king, and arguably the best way to utilize them were these two commanders. One focuses on just the actual saprolings themselves in Nemata, while the other instead focuses on the various types of Thallids - most of which spit out saprolings in exchange for spore counters. There're lots of overlap and many of the cards in both are quite cheap, so if you're looking for a fun and easy to build token PreDH deck, look no further than these two cards.
Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker
Shirei is yet another legend who provides a very unique deck-building challenge: how many 1-power creatures can you put in here and how can you best utilize them? Cards like Abyssal Gatekeeper, Bone Shredder, and Big Game Hunter can take out several creatures and keep the board tipped in your favor. Perilous Myr can chip away at life totals, Thoughtpicker Witch can mess with decks, and you can use Apprentice Necromancer to repeatedly gain life. Slipping in a Deathgreeter will gain you tons of life or - as this format predates the likes of Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat - you can use Disciple of the Vault with a lot of small artifact creatures to wipe out life totals. Most cards this sort of deck wants are also incredibly cheap, making this a strong budget deck that can be expanded into something stronger with time.
That wraps things up for this week, but there's so much more the format has to offer than what I've laid out in these last couple of weeks. In truth, there are well over 400 options to choose from. Some are outstanding, some much less so, but in many cases the restriction breeding creativity is what makes the format so much fun. I recommend checking out the full list for yourself and seeing if anything stands out to you besides just the ones I've covered this week and last. Remember that PreDH is always 100% compatible with modern day Commander, so even if your decks might be a little lighter on power than your opponents' decks, you're almost certainly still in for a good time during your Commander nights. Check it out and have fun!