Commander Review: Amonkhet Part 2 (Red, Green, Colorless, Multi-Color, Lands)
by Tomer Abramovici // Apr 20, 2017
Welcome to the Commander Review of Amonkhet: Part 2! Click here to check out Part 1 if you missed it. Alright, onward toward the cards!
I love extra combat steps like Aggravated Assault, and Combat Celebrant is certainly one of the better ones. At only 3-cmc, he is a repeatable extra combat which is a boon for any creature-focused deck. Add a way to give him haste (e.g. Fervor) and a way to untap him (e.g. Samut, Voice of Dissent) and you've got a sweet engine going!
Glorybringer is a fine mini-sweeper. While it won't kill the biggest creatures by itself, 4 damage is enough to pick off most utility creatures from Crypt Ghast to Oracle of Mul Daya. Not bad at all, considering it's only 5-cmc and already comes with haste. This is a good alternative to Balefire Dragon if you want to pay less mana for a similar effect and don't have consistent ways to give your creatures haste. Most Tribal Dragon decks, from Kaalia of the Vast to Zirilan of the Claw, are going to prefer Balefire Dragon because the higher cmc and lack of haste don't matter in those decks, but a generic Red deck looking for a mini-fireball will want Glorybringer.
People are hyping up Harsh Mentor for constructive formats like Legacy, and I think he's also a fine inclusion in Commander too! Decks in this format usually run lots of fetchlands and other activated abilities to the point that I'd expect Harsh Mentor to do 6+ damage each turn that it's alive, which is good value for a 2-drop! Group Slug decks that want to dish out damage tons of damage to everyone indiscriminately, like Kaervek the Merciless and Mogis, God of Slaughter, will put Harsh Mentor to good use.
Hazoret the Fervent
I feel obligated to mention Hazoret the Fervent because it's a god and gods are obviously going to catch the eyes of Commander players. To put it simply: she's not good.
If you have 1 or less cards in hand in Commander and the game isn't ending on your turn, chances are you're losing and a 5/4 indestructible with no evasion won't change that. Hazoret isn't a good discard outlet because her ability costs too much mana. If you want to ping all your opponents, Purphoros, God of the Forge is a far superior option.
You'll want to avoid Hazoret's Favor in a generic Red deck. Giving a creature haste and +2/+0 is nice, but sacrificing it at end of turn is a serious cost. You're better off running Fervor or Hammer of Purphoros for a haste anthem, or Ogre Battledriver if you want haste plus a power boost.
However! In decks that want to sacrifice creatures, Hazoret's Favor becomes quite interesting! Imagine a Threaten deck led by Brion Stoutarm or Yasova Dragonclaw. Now you have a free repeatable sac outlet after you temporarily steal your opponent's creature! In Zirilan of the Claw decks, you have an additional way to avoid exiling the creatures you cheat into play. In Sacrifice decks like Shattergang Brothers, this is a cute extra sac outlet as well.
Heart-Piercer Manticore is Fling on a creature! Cool! Very reasonable cost, extra fun with bounce/blink effects (e.g. Conjuror's Closet), Strionic Resonator, and obviously great if you can Threaten your opponent's creature and sacrifice that instead. I love this for Brion Stoutarm and Yasova Dragonclaw. Embalm is a nice bonus!
Insult to Injury
I'm quite fond of Insult in Commander. Double damage can lead to explosive plays, and getting around damage prevention is a nice bonus. The aftermath part, Injury, is less interesting in Commander, but it can still pick off utility creatures.
Champion of Rhonas
Champion of Rhonas is an aggressive version of Elvish Piper that wants you to attack to cheat stuff into play. Elvish Piper is superior because you can cheat your creatures out at instant speed and not just during your attack phase, plus it doesn't become exerted, but at least the champ saves you the mana cost to activate. Both are good inclusions in Big Stompy decks, such as Xenagos, God of Revels. Champion of Rhonas also benefits from haste and untap effects, so she's a good inclusion in Samut, Voice of Dissent decks.
Side rant: Jackal creature type? Really, Wizards of the Coast? Jackal Pup is a Hound, but Champion of Rhonas is a Jackal? Would it really hurt to lump all these dogs / wolves / jackals / foxes under one creature type, Canine? Are you guys afraid of these crappy tribes being halfway decent? Are leonin now going to be their own thing instead of Cats? I don't understand these inconsistencies.
Channeler Initiate is a sweet mana dork that turns into a decent beater once you no longer need ramp. We have a ton of mana dorks in Green already, so this one isn't anything special unless you're doing something neat with -1/-1 counters. I'm not sure what that something is, but if it exists, then Channeler Initiate might be a nice niche addition!
Harvest Season is one of the most explosive ramp cards we've seen in a long time! Creature-heavy decks, especially ones with a good deal of 1-2 drops, are going to have an amazing time with this card. If you fetch one land with it, it's a bad Cultivate, two lands and it's a better Explosive Vegetation, three+ lands and you're heading straight into valuetown! Tap some mana dorks like Llanowar Elves, swing with random creatures, cast Harvest Season for 5+ lands ... yes, this will be fun. Follow up with Boundless Realms and Nissa, Vastwood Seer! Turn all your lands into creatures and smash! Whee!
Decks that run all the mana dorks like Derevi, Empyrial Tactician and decks that run other sorts of 1-2 drops like evasive beaters in Edric, Spymaster of Trest will get maximum value out of Harvest Season. The card is bonkers good in the right deck!
Reclamation Sage is a beloved staple in Commander decks that are looking for Diesenchant on a creature for additional "creatures matter" synergies. At the same cmc, Manglehorn only destroys artifacts, but the beast really messes up your opponent's artifacts. All artifacts enter play tapped? Painful! Forcing your opponent's Sol Ring to enter tapped, or Mimic Vat, or whatever else they're casting is a huge tempo loss for them.
While Reclamation Sage is more versatile, Manglehorn is some bonafide artifact hate. In Tribal Elf decks, or unknown playgroups where you have no idea what you'll be up against, or you reeeeally want to get maximum value out of your Skullclamp, Reclamation Sage is better. In competitive settings where everyone is jamming Mana Crypt and other unfair artifacts as the norm, or your playgroup features Artifact decks like Breya, Etherium Shaper, Manglehorn is an MVP.
In creature-focused decks, honestly I'd run both! Why wouldn't you? They're both premium removal.
Mouth to Feed
Mouth is okay; I'm sure proliferate decks like Trostani, Selesnya's Voice will appreciate tokens that are bigger than 1/1's. But Feed is where the true value lies in Commander! I love drawing cards, and Feed does just that. Yeah, it depends on having 3+ power creatures, but that's not a big deal for Green. As long as you can consistently draw 3+ cards off this, it's Harmonize #2 for your deck. Creature-heavy decks like Xenagos, God of Revels will appreciate more card draw.
Prowling Serpopard is a meta call, but if you know that your playgroup is heavy on countermagic, then this cat snake can save you a lot of headache. It's similar to Gaea's Herald for protection against countermagic, but it doesn't help your opponents, which is nice especially if you yourself run countermagic. If you're a Combo deck looking to just stop your opponents from disrupting your combo, Dosan the Falling Leaf is still your best bet. If you're a Tribal deck, Cavern of Souls is still you best answer, but Prowling Serpopard is still a solid inclusion.
Thankfully the serpopard is a cat snake so it can be added to Tribal Snake decks, unlike the crappy new Naga subtype, which is dumb and unnecessary and WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO US, WIZARDS?!
Rhonas the Indomitable
Rhonas the Indomitable is very similar to the Theros Mono Green god, Nylea, God of the Hunt, so let's compare the two. Rhonas costs 1 mana less and has deathtouch, while Nylea is a little bigger (and despite having a bow she does not have reach). Both have easy conditions to start attacking/blocking. Rhonas' activated ability costs 1 less mana, but Nylea's boosts toughness to help avoid potential trades and her trample is an always-on anthem effect for all your creatures.
Which is better? I think they're close in power level but I'd personally go with Nylea because she gives all your creatures trample without any mana investment.
Green gets a sweet pillow fort card! Sandwurm Convergence has a whopping 8-cmc, but it fills a general weakness Green has against flyers and also protects you from ground assaults by giving you a steady stream of 5/5 wurm tokens. This enchantment is a fine top-end for just about any Green deck looking to take advantage of the political aspect of multiplayer by encouraging your opponents to attack each other instead of you.
The archetype that will likely benefit the most from Sandwurm Convergence is the Tokens deck, such as Rhys the Redeemed, as 5/5 tokens are great candidates to be doubled with cards like Anointed Procession and proliferate cards like Rootborn Defenses.
Shefet Monitor is an upgraded Krosan Tusker: by paying an extra mana to cycle, you put the land directly into play instead of into your hand. That's almost a great spell by itself. At 3 mana it would've arguably been better than Cultivate, a format staple -- plus you're putting a 6/5 creature in the graveyard for shenanigans. If you plan on doing something with the creature in your graveyard, then Shefet Monitor is a neat ramp card!
Vizier of the Menagerie
Vizier of the Menagerie is erroneously being compared to Oracle of Mul Daya even though the vizier's ability has already been done on Garruk's Horde, which most people don't know about because the Horde kinda sucks. Vizier is significantly better than Horde due to being a much lower cmc, but still worse than Oracle.
Oracle is the best of the bunch in any deck because playing lands from the top of your library never costs mana, and she lets you play two of them. You can always get maximum value off Oracle as long as there's a land on top. You can play Oracle and then immediately get maximum value out of her on the same turn. Vizier of the Menagerie, however, is restricted not just by what's on top of your library but how much mana you have available to cast your top creature. You can't play a turn 4 Vizier of the Menagerie and then have the mana to play 2 creatures off the top of your library like you can with Oracle. On the other hand, if it's late in the game and you're oozing mana with a Zendikar Resurgent in play, you might be able to cast 3+ creatures a turn with Vizier, and you'll be drowning in card advantage.
Vizier of the Menagerie will be a great addition to Green creature-heavy decks with ~35 creatures. The lower the average cmc of your creatures the better. Library manipulation, such as fetchlands and Sylvan Library, will also be a great help to make sure creatures are on top of your deck. Animar, Soul of Elements, Elfball decks, Edric, Spymaster of Trest, and other decks full of low-cmc creatures will like Vizier.
All the monuments are actually pretty sweet in creature-heavy decks! They all give you a discount if you play a specific colored creature spell, but they also have a useful triggered ability when you cast any creature spell regardless of color. They work best in Mono Color decks that are creature-heavy but also in multicolor decks that favor a certain color.
As the name suggests, Embalmer's Tools goes well with the set's embalm mechanic, so decks heavy on embalm creatures will love this. It's also delicious in self-mill decks! Sidisi, Brood Tyrant can tap her zombies to mill herself to make more zombies to tap them to mill herself – you get the idea. Sedris, the Traitor King gets full value out of these tools, since he gives your graveyard creatures an activated ability that now costs less, and he too loves self-mill.
If you want to get more crazy, add Undead Alchemist! Mill your opponents to make more zombies to keep milling. You really want to mill your opponents out? On top of the Tools and Alchemist, throw in Altar of the Brood and Altar of Dementia; your opponents will all be milled out in no time.
Oracle's Vault is sweet value. Like all the artifacts with the "brick" mechanic, the Vault requires a heavy mana investment for a big payoff, in this case casting the top card of your library for free. Also like all the other "brick" cards, it gets significantly better if you have ways of untapping the Vault for maximum value (HELLO, Paradox Engine!!!) and having ways of adding extra brick counters is always nice too (Atraxa, Praetors' Voice).
Pyramid of the Pantheon
I've heard Pyramid of the Pantheon called the Black Lotus for Commander. I assure you, that is not the case. We already have a poor man's Black Lotus and it's called Gilded Lotus. If I was playing a generic deck, I would pick Gilded Lotus over Pyramid of the Pantheon.
However, in a deck that is running ways to consistently untap the pyramid (Paradox Engine) and/or ways to add extra counters (Atraxa, Praetors' Voice), then Pyramid of the Pantheon becomes much better and I'd happily run it.
Throne of the God-Pharaoh
In Weenie decks, Throne of the God-Pharaoh is a solid way to dish out a lot of extra pain against your opponents for just 2 mana. Tokens decks, Go Wide strategies (Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer), or even decks filled to the brim with mana dorks (Seton, Krosan Protector) will enjoy this super mana-efficient finisher.
Aven Wind Guide
Aven Wind Guide is a neat anthem for Tokens decks. The embalm is a nice plus.
Bounty of the Luxa
Bounty of the Luxa does nothing on the first turn you play it (unless you played it before your first main phase with flash). The second turn it draws you a card, then on the third turn it ramps you and then it swaps between draw and ramp.
I'm personally not a fan. It's slow, and while both things it does is useful, they're both overshadowed by similarly cost cards, For example, Frontier Siege provides more mana each turn, and starts doing so immediately.
Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons
Sweet, a -1/-1 counter commander, and a very good one at that! Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons is only 2 cmc but is a huge engine for a deck built around -1/-1 counters and is also a sweet launching point for BG Tribal Snakes! I love everything she does and I'm excited to brew around her!
Her triggered ability is literally the Battlecry keyword without the name. In decks that like running Accorder Paladin, she is an extra copy. Go Wide Token strategies such as Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer and Aurelia, the Warleader may enjoy her.
Neheb, the Worthy
Tribal Minotaurs finally get their own commander! Neheb, the Worthy actually doesn't suck. He has a pretty good anthem and is even an excellent (no mana cost) discard outlet for madness cards (Dark Withering) and setting up reanimation (Reanimate)! I'm not a fan of having no cards in hand in Commander, but if you really want to run Sire of Insanity, this is your best opportunity to do so.
Neheb is certainly worthy of being a commander of an okayish Tribal Minotaur deck. Play the best madness cards, ruin your opponent's hands with the minotaur / Sire of Insanity / Mindslicer, and profit from the discard with Waste Not and similar cards.
Nissa, Steward of Elements
It makes sense that Nissa would finally move into Blue; she's been drawing cards better than actual Blue planeswalkers for a few years now! I was getting tired of her beating up the poor abused color pie with stuff like Nissa, Vastwood Seer's unconditional +1 draw a card.
As for playability, Nissa, Steward of Elements is okay. She's sweet, flexible card advantage that does a bunch of different things, all of which I like. She is a planeswalker, however, which are inherently weaker in a multiplayer format because you have to defend her from not just 1 but 3+ possible attackers, so I'd avoid running her in most decks. I think she's a solid inclusion in Superfriends, however, since the deck is designed to protect and abuse planeswalkers.
Prepare to Fight
Neither spell on Prepare // Fight is appealing on its own, but together on one card gets me excited! Part combat trick, part removal, both relevant and both on one card. I'm excited to try it out!
Samut, Voice of Dissent
Holy keyword soup, Batman! Samut, Voice of Dissent does a ton of things to enable aggressive strategies in Naya colors. Double strike makes her a powerful attacker and makes her an excellent candidate for combat damage triggers such as Sword of Light and Shadow. Giving all your creatures haste is always appreciated. She has vigilance and can untap creatures, making her a powerful unofficial lord for exert creatures (Combat Celebrant).
Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun
If Azorius Tokens becomes a thing, Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun is an excellent commander for it. Pump and evasion is always welcome in any token deck. Embalm is a nice plus. Any Tokens deck in these colors can at least run him as part of the 99.
Dual lands are always very powerful in Commander because we have a ton of great cards that care about basic land types. You can grab your Scattered Groves with Arid Mesa or Farseek, use Canyon Slough to fuel your Crypt Ghast while still tapping for red when you need it, and Irrigated Farmland helps turn on your Emeria, the Sky Ruin while still tapping for blue.
In decks running cards that care about land types, these new bicycle lands are amazing. They're a step down from the original ABUR duals (Taiga) and shocklands (Stomping Grounds), but they're still great and I'll definitely be running them.
Wrapping It Up
Whee! That's a lot of new cards to be excited about! We've got a brand new archetype, Cycling, new archetype staples with cards like Anointed Procession, great new dual lands, and interesting new commanders such as Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons! A very good haul for us Commander folks.
I hope you enjoyed the review! Let me know what you think of my card choices; is there anything you disagree with? Any cool applications of cards that I may have missed? Leave a comment down below or tweet me @BudgetCommander and I'll try to get back to you!
This is just the beginning of Amonkhet Commander content on the site: expect to see these new cards featured soon in upcoming Commander Clash and Budget Commander articles!