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Commander Review: Core Set 2021 | Part 3 | Green, Multicolor, Lands

The full card list for Core Set 2021 is out, which means it's time for the Commander Review! Here are my favorite new Commander cards from the set and which decks will want them. In Part 1 we covered the Shrine cycle, White, and Blue cards. In Part 2 we covered Black and Red cards. Now in Part 3 we complete the review by covering Green, Multicolor, and Land cards! Let's begin!




Elder Gargaroth

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Elder Gargaroth is a super pushed creature that undoubtedly will be dumb in Limited and possibly make it in Standard, but its lack of focus makes it less appealing in Commander. It's certainly not a bad card -- drawing a card every turn while smashing with a 6/6 keyword soup creature for just 5 mana is a good deal in just about any deck -- but it doesn't advance any specific strategy to really take advantage of it. In most cases it's just a goodstuff creature that you're never unhappy to see, but it's never insane.

The only deck that I'm particularly excited to run Elder Gargaroth is Beast Tribal, a tribe that still waits to be fully fleshed out. We got our first taste long ago in Onslaught block with cards like Contested Cliffs but not much ever since. Once Beast Tribal is a thing, Elder Gargaroth is certainly an auto-include there.

Recommended For: Beast Tribal; goodstuff in Green


Feline Sovereign

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Not too long ago, Cat Tribal was a casual meme deck that didn't have a lot going on. That all changed in Commander 2017 when Cat Tribal was given its own precon led by Arahbo, Roar of the World. Ever since then it's been a legit deck that keeps getting more legit as more and more tribal support cards get printed. Feline Sovereign is another tribal staple: Cat Tribal is a Go Wide deck that likes attacking and Sovereign rewards both those things, turning all your kitties into Trygon Predators to clear away opposing artifacts and enchantments. That's a ridiculous amount of value at just 3cmc!

Recommended For: Cat Tribal (Arahbo, Roar of the World)


Garruk, Unleashed

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Garruk, Unleashed is a fine inclusion in Stompy decks but nothing crazy. The +1 is solid in a deck like Xenagos, God of Revels, which takes advantage of both the pump and the trample. The -2 is okay, protects the 'walker, has synergy in Beast Tribal, and Populate decks. The -7 is solid too but doesn't outright win you the game. Overall it's a good planeswalker but I wouldn't scramble to make room for it in most decks.

Recommended For: Stompy (Xenagos, God of Revels); Populate (Ghired, Conclave Exile)


Garruk's Harbinger

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Garruk's Harbinger is incredibly potent card advantage in Creature-heavy decks aka most Green decks. If it's not blocked then you get to Impulse for a creature card or Garruk planeswalker. It's begging for a boost to its power (Garruk, Unleashed), trample (Brawn), and obviously double strike (Temur Battle Rage) to really get things done. That's a silly amount of value for a 3-drop. Dodging Doom Blades as well is just the cherry on top. I'd run Garruk's Harbinger in just about any Creature-heavy deck.

Recommended For: All Creature-heavy decks (Ruric Thar, the Unbowed); Garruk Tribal


Garruk's Uprising

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Garruk's Uprising is basically Elemental Bond that is more restrictive but far stronger in Stompy decks that have tons of 4-power creatures, giving all your creatures trample and sometimes drawing you an extra card when it enters the battlefield. It weirdly doesn't work with all the 3/3's that Garruk cards traditionally create (Garruk, Unleashed) which is a bit of a flavor-fail but whatever. If your deck regularly churns out 4-power creatures then this card is a fantastic engine.

The strongest home for Garruk's Uprising that I can think of is Ghired, Conclave Exile, which quickly and consistently pops out an army of 4/4's. Ghired decks are going to draw a ton of cards off Uprising!

Recommended For: Stompy decks (Xenagos, God of Revels); Populate decks (Ghired, Conclave Exile)


Invigorating Surge

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Who's a good boy?? Mowu, Loyal Companion is! And he deserves a treat, like surprising his opponent with a lethal attack thanks to Invigorating Surge! Yes, he does!

I think Invigorating Surge is a powerful inclusion in Voltron +1/+1 decks, so Mowu and Skullbriar, the Walking Grave.

Recommended For: +1/+1 Voltron (Mowu, Loyal Companion)


Jolreal, Mwonvuli Recluse

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Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse can be an incredibly potent token generator in the right deck, though finding the right shell will be hard. Any self-respecting deck can consistently draw an extra card on their own turn, but drawing 2+ cards consistently on opposing turns is much harder. Being able to do so turns Jolrael from a "meh" card to a fantastic one.

So how do we draw 2+ cards on opposing turns? In Green, probably by playing Flash: a flash enabler like Yeva, Nature's Herald / Vedalken Orrery + a card draw engine like Beast Whisperer / Guardian Project + cheap creatures to cast like Llanowar Elves. Toss in a Seedborne Muse and you can easily chain together creatures each turn. That's a lot of hoops to go through though. There are probably a ton of 2-card combos that can accomplish this too, but you probably move into bad jank territory pretty quick.

Personally, I'm immediately jamming Jolreal into my Budget Gargos, Vicious Watcher deck, which is just a pile of instant speed cantrips (Viridescent Wisps) and targeted support cards (Season of Growth) to trigger Gargos. In that deck, Jolreal is pretty much guaranteed to make at least one or more tokens per turn cycle. If you're interested in this deck then check out my Budget Gargos article!

Recommended For: As a commander; Gargos, Vicious Watcher; Yeva, Nature's Herald


Primal Might

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Oh wow! Primal Might is the super shiny version of Prey Upon, a perfectly fine if vanilla card. Primal Might can be cast as literally a Prey Upon clone, but with the option to dump additional mana to pump up the creature first, letting you fight bigger creatures and then swing in for more damage. This is a great upgrade!

Any creature-heavy deck that needs more removal can run this to good effect. It's best in Fight Tribal decks, most notably the brand new Neyith of the Dire Hunt.

Recommended For: Fight Tribal (Neyith of the Dire Hunt); any Creature-heavy Green deck looking for more removal


Sporeweb Weaver

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By itself, Sporeweb Weaver doesn't do a much: it's too small for Commander and its abilities are hardly interesting on their own. It'll probably find a slot in Spider Tribal decks simply for being on-theme.

There's combo potential with this card, but I doubt they're strong enough to be worth running over better combos. One such combo is giving Sporeweb Weaver indestructible (Shield of Kaldra), having a Warstorm Surge or similar ability out, and then pinging the Weaver. Weaver then makes a token, which pings the Weaver with Surge, which makes infinite tokens and gains infinite life. There are probably better variants of this combo out there. Either way, not terribly exciting, though I could be wrong.

Recommended For: Spider Tribal (Ishkanah, Grafwidow)




Alpine Houndmaster

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Alpine Houndmaster is card advantage, snagging Alpine Watchdog and Igneous Cur if they're still in your library. The only problem is all these cards are, well, bad in Commander. If you're set on building a flavorful Dog Tribal, however, you're probably running these cards due to a lack of options.

Recommended For: Dog Tribal (Rin Seri, Inseperable)


Conclave Mentor

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Conclave Mentor is another Winding Constrictor for +1/+1 Counter decks, a super-efficient counter engine. Selesnya isn't known for supporting +1/+1 Counters, with most commander options being Mono Green or Simic, but thankfully Atraxa, Praetors' Voice is the most popular and can play all of the cards. This pairs really well with Cathars' Crusade!

Recommended For: +1/+1 Counter decks (Atraxa, Praetors' Voice)


Experimental Overload

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Power-wise, Experimental Overload isn't close to the degeneracy of Archaeomancer, which enables all sorts of silly nonsense like Engulf the Shore loops or just taking infinite turns with Time Warp + Deadeye Navigator. But for people who like keeping their friends, Experimental Overload is a neat way to add a bit of recursion to your Spellslinger deck while also dropping a threat on to the table. Yeah, you can't loop it, but I consider that a good thing as it gives "fair" Spellslinger decks something new to play. It's also a sorcery itself so more inherent synergy in Spellslinger.

Recommended For: "fair" Spellslinger decks (Niv-Mizzet, Parun)


Leafkin Avenger

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Leafkin Avenger takes a lot to get going but the fact that it can tap for A LOT of mana in the right deck is at least interesting. I generally am against 4cmc ramp options but the ceiling on this one is high. At the very least I can see it being a nice budget inclusion in Omnath, Locus of Rage, as it still ramps into your commander, it's an Elemental, and Omnath can churn out a turn of 5/5 tokens so the Avenger can tap for lots of mana quickly.

Recommended For: Go Wide Stompy? Omnath, Locus of Rage


Niambi, Esteemed Speaker

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Niambi, Esteemed Speaker is a neat inclusion in Legendary Tribal. If this wasn't Blue then it'd be a slam-dunk in Kethis, the Hidden Hand, but despite that, I can see it being a solid engine in certain Legendary shells. Niambi comes in, rescues a creature from removal, then starts (slowly) setting up future reanimation like a big ol' Primevals' Glorious Rebirth. For that reason I think Niambi is fine as a commander but better in a deck that has access to Black, such as Sisay, Weatherlight Captain.

Recommended For: Legendary Tribal (Sisay, Weatherlight Captain)


Obsessive Stitcher

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Obsessive Stitcher is basically a second Doomed Necromancer in certain Reanimator decks. Costing 3 more mana to Reanimate -- the main draw to the card -- makes it a worse version in my opinion, even though the looting to set up your reanimation is a great inclusion to the card. It's still a powerful card at its budget, however, and I'm more than happy to jam Obsessive Stitcher in a Budget Dimir Reanimator list.

Recommended For: Budget Dimir Reanimator (Gisa and Geralf)


Radha, Heart of Keld

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Two months ago, WOTC revealed Verge Rangers, and the Commander community were tripping over themselves about how WOTC finally listened and are fixing White's fundamental problems in Commander.

Right after that, WOTC reveals Radha, Heart of Keld. It's just a better Verge Rangers with the restriction removed and an extra mana sink ability on top. Because WOTC wanted to make sure we understand that White is supposed to suck in Commander. Yay.

I'm getting really tired of this. Card draw and ramp are necessary in Commander. They are fundamental pillars of the format. Yet WOTC stubbornly refuses to allow White to have good options in those categories, so the color suffers. It's taken years for them to finally admit that this is a problem, but they're still giving us lukewarm "solutions" while simultaneously making sure other colors keep doing things better.

I'm tired of repeating this simple design philosophy: if a color has to jump through special hoops to do something, they should be rewarded by doing that thing very well. Blue's undisputedly the best at card draw, and if Green wants to draw cards they have to jump through a hoop, like dealing combat damage with a creature. But when they use options like Hunter's Insight on a 10/10 unblocked creature they just drew 10 cards for 3 mana. Jump through hoops, get rewarded. That's how it should be. That's how it works for pretty much any color except White.

When White jumps through hoops to get something they're not "supposed" to be the best at, they get a Happy Meal at McDonalds. When Green jumps through hoops, they get a 5-course meal at a Michelin 3-star restaurant. And it's just predictable and maddening. How does such an obvious problem not get identified and fixed by WOTC? How long must we wait?


Oh, uh, you wanted a review on Radha, Heart of Keld? She's pretty deece. Better than Verge Rangers.

Recommended For: As a commander; Lands deck (Mina and Denn, Wildborn)


Rin and Seri, Inseperable

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Rin and Seri, Inseperable is the perfect new commander for both Cat and Dog Tribal. For Dogs, well we don't have any other commander that supports Dog Tribal, so this fills a much-needed demand now that Dog Tribal is an officially supported thing. For Cats, we already have Arahbo, Roar of the World, and while it's a great commander, Arahbo more supports a Go Tall strategy whereas a lot of the best Cat Tribal cards promote Go Wide (Feline Sovereign), which Rin and Seri support better. So for both Cat Tribal, Dog Tribal, or both, Rin and Seri are the ideal commander.

Rin and Seri are aggressively costed for a commander, jam-packed with value, passively generating you a large tribal army just for playing your deck. They also provide some much-needed interaction as repeatable removal. It doesn't matter if you're a Cat deck, a Dog deck, or both, Rin and Seri are going to give you a lot of value. This is great because Dog Tribal, and to a lesser extent Cat Tribal, are a bit underpowered compared to some of the more supported tribes like Zombies. It's great to see a pushed commander that props up tribes that need the help.

Also yes they seem pretty good in some versions of Everything Tribal!

Recommended For: as commander for Cat Tribal, Dog Tribal, or both; part of Everything Tribal (Morophon, the Boundless)


Watcher of the Spheres

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Watcher of the Spheres is only notable because it's not a terrible Bird, which is a good enough excuse to jam it into the ultra janky Bird Tribal deck. Yes, there's dozens of us!

Recommended For: Bird Tribal (Kangee, Aerie Keeper -- if you're running Derevi, Empyrial Tactician then you need to turn in your Bird Law license)




Chromatic Orrery

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If you're hardcasting Chromatic Orrery then you're doing it wrong. This is a card you cheat into play and then use to combo off with. It's an artifact so you can use Goblin Welder or Daretti, Scrap Savant to snatch it from the graveyard. It's legendary so you can dump it into play with Sisay, Weatherlight Captain. It taps for five. Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter is an easy one (infinite mana + draw). Just don't make the mistake of looking at this card and thinking "oh this is just a ramp card like Rampant Growth!" It fulfills a very different role.

It's probably best suited in Breya, Etherium Shaper decks.

Recommended For: Breya, Etherium Shaper




Animal Sanctuary

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I'm pretty disappointed in the power level of Animal Sanctuary. It's specifically targeting underpowered tribes, so I think pushing it a little would've been fun. Either lower the activation cost (no additional mana needed) or let it put a counter on each of those creatures. I look at other niche tribal lands like Swarmyard and this one pales in comparison. Ah well.

Animal Sanctuary has cute art and will undoubtedly see a lot of play in casual tribal decks. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. I just think this would've been a good opportunity to be both casual fun and also decently powerful.

Recommended For: Casual Bird, Cat, Dog, Goat, Ox, or Snake Tribal.



M21 comes with a bunch of notable reprints for us Commander players. Here are the ones I'm most excited for:

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That's All, Folks!

Commander 2020 isn't even out yet and we're already deep into spoiling the next set, Jumpstart! I'm off to review those cards and then I'll be back with more Budget Commander! What are your favorite cards from the set? Disagree with any of the reviews? Let me know in the comments section!

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