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Commander Review: Core Set 2019 Part 2 (Red, Green, Multi-Color, Colorless)


We continue our Commander review of the new M19 cards where we left off with Part 1: Red, Green, Multi-Color, and Colorless!

 

RED

 

Apex of Power

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Apex of Power is a big dumb flashy spell that I can't help but get excited about. While borderline unplayable in most formats, Commander thankfully is the land of Battlecruiser Magic and we definitely have a few commanders that will take full advantage of this card. Two immediate options that come to mind are Jodah, Archmage Eternal, which basically lets you cast this for WUBRG and then net yourself 5 mana to help cast the spells you reveal, and Mizzix of the Izmagnus, which can cast this 10cmc spell for as low as RRR.

 

Dark-Dweller Oracle

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Dark-Dweller Oracle is a great addition for any Sacrifice / Go Wide deck as both a sac outlet and cheap card advantage. It's a Goblin, so you can jam it into Krenko, Mob Boss / Grenzo, Havoc Raiser Goblin Tribal, or a dedicated Sacrifice deck like Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper. Cheap, efficient. I like it!

 

Goblin Trashmaster

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Goblin Trashmaster is an expensive Lord, but being able to Shatter at instant speed for no mana cost is an amazing ability in Commander, where powerful Artifacts are everywhere. This is an easy include in basically any Goblin Tribal deck, which is usually Krenko, Mob Boss for more competitive / Combo or Grenzo, Havoc Raiser for more casual / less linear play, or Wort, the Raidmother if you want to toss in some Spellslinging finishers as well.

 

Lathliss, Dragon Queen

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Lathliss, Dragon Queen is a great value engine in Dragon Tribal, letting you overwhelm the table with Dragon tokens in a couple turns. The trigger happens whenever a nontoken Dragon enters the battlefield, not just when you cast a Dragon, so Lathliss gets even better if you have ways to Blink (Eerie Interlude) or Cheat (Sneak Attack) Dragons into play. Things get very nasty when you pair her with Dragon Tempest! I think Lathliss will see the most play as part of the 99 of The Ur-Dragon, or even Zirilan of the Claw, though she also does fine as a commander.

 

Sarkhan's Unsealing

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Now this has potential! Sarkhan's Unsealing is repeatable removal in Go Tall decks; it's usually just doing 4 damage to a target, which is fine for picking off utility creatures, but casting 7+ creatures can be absolutely devastating for opponents. Any Go Tall deck that runs a bunch of 7+ power creatures should seriously consider this, including Xenagos, God of Revels, The Ur-Dragon, Rakdos, Lord of Riots, etc. I think 4cmc is fine for an enchantment that does nothing on its own but has such strong potential later on.

 

Sarkhan, Fireblood

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is the best planeswalker for Dragon Tribal. Yes, better than Sarkhan Unbroken or anything else. Dragons are a high cmc tribe and they start coming down for 5+ mana; you want the early turns dedicated to ramp and setting up your big turns. Sarkhan, Fireblood is that turn 2-3 ramp card you want to be casting in Dragon Tribal, basically a superior Urza's Incubator since for most turns you'll only be casting one Dragon per turn and Sarkhan also mana-fixes and also can rummage for you if you don't have a Dragon spell to cast. Planeswalkers are a fragile permanent type, but somehow I think ol' Sarkhan will be alright, considering your board will be filled with DRAGONS! 

 

Spit Flame

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I don't like spending 3 mana for conditional removal, but the recursion aspect of Spit Flame does intrigue me. It's slow and somewhat mana-intensive, but repeatedly picking off utility creatures over the course of a longer game can be quite good. If anything it's a very flavorful option for Dragon Tribal. In a Mono Red Dragon Tribal deck like Zirilian of the Claw this is pretty great, and in the more popular 5C The Ur-Dragon you have better removal options, but in grindy games Spit Flame can shine.

 

GREEN

 

Aggressive Mammoth

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Aggressive Mammoth is a new auto-include in the mighty Elephant Tribal archetype. If you're curious about the tribe, I trumpeted about it in my Budget Elephant Tribal article, which has a trunkload of ideas that you can assemble for peanuts if you take out Elephant Graveyard (thank you, Reserved List).

Outside of Elepehant Tribal, I'm not sure how many decks would be interested in this mammoth. Perhaps Xenagos, God of Revels.

 

Colossal Majesty

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Some folks are excited about this card. Not me. It's a bad Elemental Bond.

 

Druid of Horns

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Druid of Horns is the newest variant of "casting enchantments creates creature tokens," joining the likes of Sigil of the Empty Throne and Ajani's Chosen. The Druid is certainly the weakest of the bunch, limiting you to Auras, and only Auras targeting the Druid. Still, if you are a Green Auras deck and you're not interesting in suiting up your commander with them (can't think of any), this might be a good option.

 

Dryad Greenseeker

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

With enough shuffling effects and topdeck manipulation (Sylvan Library) I can see Dryad Greenseeker as a neat source of card advantage at just 2cmc. It's no Oracle of Mul Daya but I can see it being quite good in the right shell.

 

Gigantosaurus

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Wow. Alright! Well, having a GGGGG means it's great with any Green Devotion cards (Nykthos, Shrine of Nyx), and the gigantic body means decks like Ghalta, Primal Hunger and maybe Xenagos, God of Revels will enjoy this. Boo that it doesn't have trample and all that but seriously, a 10/10 trampler for 5 mana would probably be a bit much. I know creature power creep is a thing but thankfully we're not at that level ... yet.

 

Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Boo that Goreclaw isn't a 2/2 nor does she care about Bears. C'mon, Wizards, you didn't think us Commander players would want that from our first legendary Bear? Ah well. That aside, Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma looks like a fine inclusion in just about any Stompy / Go Tall deck. I know I mention Xenagos a lot but, uh yeah, this is something I'll be testing in Xenagos, God of Revels!

 

Runic Armasaur

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

How many fetchlands does your playgroup run? A lot? If so, Runic Armasaur already becomes an excellent source of card advantage that needs to be dealt with immediately or you sort of run away with the game. Not bad for 3cmc! The Dinosaur's power really depends on your playgroup, but in the groups where it's good, it's really good. Also a staple in Dinosaur Tribal, obviously.

 

Skalla Wolf

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mediocre if you're playing it straight, but if there's ever a Mono Green Blink deck out there, Skalla Wolf would be the MVP. I don't think such a deck exists, but it might one day!

 

Vivien Reid

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

While bland flavor-wise, Vivien Reid is still a well-costed, effective Planeswalker in Commander. She's a fine inclusion in any Creature-heavy deck where all her abilities are going to be relevant.

 

MULTI-COLOR

 

Arcades, the Strategist

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Arcades, the Strategist is the first official Defender Tribal commander; Doran, the Siege Tower was the de facto leader before, but he is better suited leading Treefolk Tribal since he only enables Defenders to deal damage with their toughness, not attack or (most importantly) draw cards. Arcades is by far the strongest support card ever printed for Defender Tribal and sits in the command zone, which is important since the tribe is rather weak and desperately needed that power bump(/replacement). If you're interested in Arcades and what Defender Tribal can do, I've recently written a Budget Arcades article all about it.

 

Chromium, the Mutable

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Chromium, the Mutable has all the right features for a decent Voltron commander: a big body, evasion, and various protections against removal. That's a good base to start suiting up and go for lethal commander damage. Targeted removal does a good job slowing him down, since you shave off 6 power for the turn, but it's mana-free instant-speed protection that I'm more than happy about. You can even use him as a discard outlet for ... things! I dunno, madness maybe? Circular Logic something? Could be sweet!

Chromium can also work as part of the 99 but I'm decisively "meh" about it. Yeah, you can ambush a creature and yeah he's a good beater, but at 7cmc I want more.

 

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The newest Nicol Bolas is a solid "meh" from me. A 4/4 flyer that makes all opponents discard is a good start for 4cmc, but that flip activation is awful: 7 mana, sorcery speed, and your opponents can respond with instant speed removal? Yuck. It's way too easy to Time Stop yourself. You can alleviate that risk by equipping Lightning Greaves first or having extra mana and a Counterspell in hand but that's a lot of work and a lot of mana for a pretty mediocre flipped planeswalker side. If you really want to build a Nicol Bolas deck in Commander, I'd stick with the OG Nicol Bolas. Bolas + Dragon Tempest = delicious tears.

 

Palladia-Mors, the Ruiner

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Of the new Elder Dragons, this one is my least favorite. This bland Voltron candidate has lots of the right keywords, and even has hexproof ... until you deal any damage with her. Oof. I can't get behind such flimsy protection. If you want to do Voltron in Naya, there's no reason you'd pick her over Uril the Miststalker. I don't like her as part of the 99 either: too bland, doesn't interact with the board enough for that mana cost.

 

Poison-Tip Archer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Poison-Tip Archer isn't going to replace Blood Artist any time soon, but if you're already running Blood Artist / Falkenrath Noble / Zulaport Cutthroat and want even more, then this is a fine inclusion. 

 

Regal Bloodlord

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The cmc is too expensive to be great, but that aside Regal Bloodlord is a pretty decent token engine in a Lifegain deck. I can see this being a nice ultra-budget inclusion in a deck like Krav, the Unredeemed and Regna, the Redeemer.

 

Satyr Enchanter

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Huzzah, another Enchantress! Join your sisters, Satyr Enchanter! Auto-include in any Green Enchantress deck!

 

Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

New Vaevictis is my second favorite of the new Elder Dragons and definitely the most interesting to me from a brewing perspective. Whenever you attack with Big V, you get to remove each opponent's best permanent and upgrade your worst permanent. There's an element of randomness here, and you might not come out ahead of the exchange, but it's like being dealt a pair of aces in poker: odds are definitely in your favor that you'll end up ahead. Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire decks are going to be tuned to increase the chances of coming up ahead: you should be running less non-permanents than average and should have plenty of topdeck manipulation like Sylvan Library. Lantern of Insight is going to be a boon here as well! Big V definitely has the potential to be a fun and powerful deck.

 

COLORLESS

 

Chaos Wand

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I'm not a fan of Chaos Wand by itself: sure, it's colorless card advantage, but you're spending quite a bit of mana for a random card out of an opposing deck, which can sometimes be great but sometimes be useless for you. There are situations where I like the Wand, however:

  • Chaos decks. I hate aimless Chaos decks that cast Scrambleverse, turning a 1hr game into a convoluted 4hr game "because it's funny" -- it's not funny, Jim, and you play that deck again I'm gonna spill my Cola all over it -- but Chaos-themed decks that actually try to win and are focusing on "random" effects like Temporal Aperture and Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge are totally cool in my book.
  • Paradox Engine + Chaos Wand + mana rocks that tap for at least 4 mana = you probably win.
  • A meta call against decks that run little/no instant/sorceries. That person playing Primal Surge is two Wand activations from being milled out!

 

Desecrated Tomb

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I can imagine a few decks out there that can churn out a consistent source of tokens with Desecrated Tomb. Basically any Graveyard deck that has cheap, repeatable sources of graveyard recursion: Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker is one such deck but I'm sure there's others. I also like the idea of using Tortured Existence to make a 1/1 flying token for each B spent. Neat!

 

Dragon's Hoard

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

M19 has been very generous to Dragon Tribal! Dragon's Hoard is another sweet mana rock with upside for the tribe; it'll shine brightest in The Ur-Dragon but basically any Dragon deck will enjoy this. Note that you get a gold counter whenever a Dragon enters the battlefield, not just when cast, so it works with cheat effects (Zirilan of the Claw) and tokens (Lathliss, Dragon Queen).

 

Meteor Golem

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Spine of Ish-Sah, but can't target lands (why???), doesn't have a neat built-in recursion trigger, buuuut it's a creature so that opens up more synergies! Not being able to hit lands really sucks because there's so many annoying lands that need blowing up (Maze of Ith) but if you're a Black/Red deck and desperately need answers to enchantments then Meteor Golem might work: Rakdos, Lord of Riots is the most likely candidate.

 

Sigiled Sword of Valeron

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Not a horrible equipment for Aryel, Lord of Windgrace. It turns your non-Knight support creatures into Knights to benefit from synergies, and it makes Knight tokens, albeit slowly, so hooray; a mediocre equipment for a mediocre tribe.

 

Suspicious Bookcase

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Suspicious Bookcase isn't a good card by any stretch of the imagination, but my god do I love the flavor mixing with the mechanics here! It just makes me happy to look at. Thank you, Wizards!

 

Transmogrifying Wand

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Tranmogrifying Wand is actually good value for repeatable colorless creature removal. The 2/4 Ox token is basically irrelevant in Commander so there's no real downside here. Most colors have lots of instant speed, cheap targeted removal, but notably Green doesn't have a ton (for now), so perhaps Mono Green decks will like this!

 

That's All, Folks!

M19 isn't a Commander set nor does it bring a sheer quantity of goodies that came in Dominaria, but we still got a lot of sweet pickups: Cleansing Nova definitely is going to see the most play as it slots into any White deck, but a bunch of different archetypes got some sweet pickups, like Artifacts getting Sai, Master Thopterist and Tezzeret, Artifice Master, and Dragon Tribal gifted Dragon's Hoard, Lathliss, Dragon Queen, and Sarkhan, Fireblood. We've also seen the establishment of Defender Tribal with Arcades, the Strategist. Not a bad haul!


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