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Commander 2019 Commanders: Sweet Synergies and Spicy Lists


We're super early into Commander 2019 spoiler season. In fact, as I'm writing this on Friday, we only have one day's worth of previews from Gen Con. Thankfully, the first day of previews was designed to not only show off the theme of each deck but the primary commander designed to support the theme. On one level, all of these cards a pretty straightforward: Sevinne, the Chronoclasm is a great leader for a flashback-themed deck, Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer clearly wants a deck full of morph creatures, Anje Falkenrath likes madness cards, and Ghired, Conclave Exile needs tokens to perform optimally. However, beneath the obvious mechanics and interactions, each of these new legends has some sweet synergies and tricks lurking beneath the surface. 

So today, we're going to take some time to talk about the cool tricks and synergies supported by our new Commander 2019 legends, along with a couple of the lists I'm most excited to try out featuring these new generals. As I mentioned before, we're at the very beginning of preview season, so today, we're getting a very early look at the potential of these cards. It's very likely that as the rest of Commander 2019 rolls out over the next week, we'll stumble across some other cool things to do with Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer, Sevinne, the Chronoclasm, Anje Falkenrath, and Ghired, Conclave Exile. And even if we don't for some reason, each deck will have multiple legends, so we'll have more new commanders to talk about soon, at the very least. 

Before getting to the cards, I should quickly mention my thoughts on the Commander format. Unlike Standard, Modern, Legacy, and other tournament-focused formats, for me, Commander is about the entire table having fun; getting a chance to play sweet cards that I like; and doing crazy, flashy things that are hard to pull off in other formats, where Teferi, Time Raveler and Turn 2 Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis tend to play fun police. As such, today's discussion is more "hey, here are some sweet things I want to do with our new commanders" rather than being a comprehensive or competitive-focused list. I'm sure there are a ton of other sweet cards and synergies still to be discovered, so if you have some cool things you can't wait to do with these new legends that I missed, make sure to let me know in the comments!

Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer

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  • Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer is our new morph legend, and I'm happy to say it's far less broken than Animar, Soul of Elements. While Animar, Soul of Elements is a very strong morph commander, in many ways, it's actually too strong to lead to a fun game of Commander. It seems like in most of the games I've played against Animar, Soul of Elements, one of two things happen: either people focus on killing Animar, Soul of Elements every time it comes into play or the Animar player combos off, eventually being able to play all of their morphs for free and winning the game with one big combo turn. The all-or-nothing play style gets boring pretty quickly. Thankfully, Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer is more of a value-morph commander. It actually does more than Animar, Soul of Elements immediately (since you can play it and immediately play any morph in your hand for free), but it's never going to enable a massive combo turn where the Kadena player goes through their entire deck and kills the table since its morph discount is limited to the first morph each turn.

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  • One of the easiest ways to take advantage of Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer is by giving all of your morph creatures flash. Since Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer is worded in a way that it makes your first face-down creature each turn cost three less (which makes morph creatures free since it costs exactly three to cast any morph face down) rather than just the first face-down creature you cast on your turn, this means that if you have something like Leyline of Anticipation, Vedalken Orrery, or Vivien, Champion of the Wilds on the battlefield, you get to cast a morph for free not just on your turn but on each of your opponent's turns as well. In a typical four-player Commander game, this means that Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer generates a massive 12 morph mana each turn cycle, assuming you have enough face-down creatures in hand to cast one on each player's turn. While perhaps not as combo-centric as Animar, Soul of Elements, when Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer is giving you 12 free morph mana a turn starting as early as Turn 3 or 4, that's still a ton of value and power attached to a four-mana commander.

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  • As for Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer's secondary card-draw ability, it's important to recognize that this works with any face-down creature entering the battlefield, not just morphs. While morphs are the most common way to get creatures on the battlefield face down, there are other options. Cards like Primordial Mist allows you to put a card on the battlefield as a face-down creature each turn, which turns them into personal Howling Mines with Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer, while Ghastly Conscription potentially allows you to not just flood the board with 2/2s but also to refill your hand if you have Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer on the battlefield.

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  • Illusionary Mask is probably great in a Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer deck, but I honestly still don't really understand what it does or how it works. If you've got it figured out, make sure to let me know in the comments.

Anje Falkenrath

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  • Anje Falkenrath is the perfect madness commander. In the past, madness players have had to make do with cards like Olivia, Mobilized for War in the command zone, and while Olivia is fine, it doesn't offer anywhere near as much consistent value as Anje Falkenrath's repeatable discard ability. While both legends are only three mana, Anje Falkenrath coming down with haste and not needing another creature to come into play to start discarding cards for value is key. I expect that Anje Falkenrath will be the default madness commander moving forward. 

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  • Assuming we're sticking to the madness plan, the most important combo piece for Anje Falkenrath is Falkenrath Gorger, which gives all of our Vampires madness. While being able to discard and cast random Vampires is nice, essentially giving each Vampire in our deck a kicker of "draw a card," the true power of Anje Falkenrath is that it doesn't actually care if we cast the madness cards that we discard to it. All Anje Falkenrath needs to untap is a card with madness being discarded. This opens up some interesting combo potential. If our deck is all madness cards (either naturally or with Falkenrath Gorger making a bunch of Vampires into madness cards), we can rummage through a huge chunk of our deck on Turn 2 or 3, which sets us up for a huge, potentially game-ending Living End or Patriarch's Bidding early in the game. 

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Sevinne, the Chronoclasm

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  • Sevinne, the Chronoclasm is our new flashback-based commander, but compared to the other commanders we've talked about today, it sort of feels like a disappointment. Not only is Sevinne, the Chronoclasm tied for the most expensive commander that we've seen from Commander 2019 so far, but unlike Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer (which lets you morph immediately), Anje Falkenrath (which lets you rummage immediately), and Ghired, Conclave Exile (which makes a token immediately), if you cast Sevinne, the Chronoclasm on Turn 5 while you are tapped out, it doesn't really do anything (except block pretty well thanks to the damage-prevention ability) since you'll need mana to cast spells from our graveyard to trigger [[Sevinne, the Chronoclasm]'s ability and start copying spells. This doesn't make Sevinne, the Chronoclasm a bad card, but it's much more of a late-game commander than the others. Probably the optimal way to play Sevinne, the Chronoclasm will be to wait until you have enough mana to cast it and immediately cast a card from your graveyard, so even if an opponent immediately kills your Sevinne, the Chronoclasm (and they will since copying spells for free is scary), you will get some value out of your five-mana investment. 

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Ghired, Conclave Exile

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  • Ghired, Conclave Exile is a pretty interesting commander. While populate has been around (and popular) in Commander for a while now, unlike Trostani, Selesnya's Voice (the only popular commander pre-Commander 2019), which is more defensive, Ghired, Conclave Exile is essentially an aggro-populate commander. It immediately adds six power and nine toughness to the battlefield, which is a fine deal for five mana, and can quickly grow a powerful army of tokens, which have the additional upside of coming into play attacking.

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Conclusion

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts and plans for the first batch of new commanders from Commander 2019. What else can we do with these sweet new legends? What combos and synergies did I miss? Which one are you most excited for? Let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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