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Commander Review: Jumpstart


The full card list for Jumpstart is out, which means it's time for the Commander Review! While most of the cards are reprints, many of the new cards are insanely good in Commander, so let's go over the best of the bunch:

 

WHITE

 

Blessed Sanctuary

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Blessed Sanctuary combines the noncombat damage prevention of cards like Mark of Asylum / The Wanderer and the token creation of Genesis Chamber (kinda). It's not the most mana-efficient option at doing either thing, but it can be the best option in a deck that can make good use of both effects.

The first ability, preventing noncombat damage is great in Red decks that are filled with mass damage spells like Earthquake, which turn into one-sided board wipes that burn away your opponents while leaving you and your board untouched.

The second ability, making additional token creatures is good in some versions of Blink decks like Brago, King Eternal, where you make more and more tokens while blinking your creatures for value. It may also be worthwhile in some Token decks, but usually those decks don't run enough nontoken creatures for this to be worth it. It can also be used to enable some combos like Any Creature + Blessed Sanctuary + Ashnod's Altar + Nim Deathmantle for an infinite sacrifice loop. Finally, the tokens are Unicorns, which initially got me excited for Unicorn Tribal until I realized there's only a single support card for the tribe (so far).

Recommended For: Boros Burn (Firesong and Sunspeaker); a future Unicorn Tribal (Emiel the Blessed)

 

Emiel the Blessed

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Emiel the Blessed is the first Unicorn Tribal support card ever printed. There's only a handful of Unicorns in Magic and while it's not enough to turn the tribe into a powerhouse by itself, it's cool of WOTC to give us a flavorful Unicorn Tribal commander for those looking to build that casual deck.

While Emiel may not be the savior that the dozens of Unicorn Tribal players hoped for, it is a super easy combo enabler for infinite blink shenanigans. One popular combo that quickly emerged was Emiel the Blessed + Workhorse, which lets you remove three +1/+1 counters on the horse to generate three colorless mana, spend that mana on Emiel's ability to blink the horde, which comes back with four counters and letting you repeat it infinite times. Add a third cards like Impact Tremors for infinite damage. Speculators immediately jumped on this janky combo to skyrocket Workhorse's price (as if this combo will be in high demand?) but you can perform similar stuff by replacing the horse with Brood Monitor, Palinchron, Great Whale, a whole bunch of creatures.

Recommended For: Unicorn Tribal; Blink Combo

 

Release the Dogs

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

One mana per token is a great rate; see Hordeling Outburst. The question is: what deck wants a mana-efficient Dog token generator? Rin and Seri, Inseparable Dog Tribal, of course! Release the Dogs might see play in other Token decks as well, but Dog Tribal is certainly the most obvious home for it!

Recommended For: Dog Tribal (Rin and Seri, Inseparable)

 

Steel-Plume Marshal

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Steel-Plume Marshal is a pretty decent anthem for Flying decks. It's nothing crazy, but it's solid. However, this decent card is a Bird, which automatically makes it one of the best cards for the wonderfully janky Bird Tribal deck that dozens of us players are excited to make a slot for!

Recommended For: Bird Tribal (Kangee, Aerie Keeper; if you sully the jank name of Bird Tribal with Derevi, Empyrial Tactician then you deserve to be pooped on from high above)

 

Supply Runners / Trusty Retriever

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Are these powerful cards in Commander? Who cares! They're 10/10 good boys who deserve a home in Dog Tribal.

Recommended For: Dog Tribal (Rin and Seri, Inseparable)

 

BLUE

 

Bruvac the Grandiloquent

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

With the release of M21 and Jumpstart, "mill" is an official keyword and older cards that referred to putting X cards from the top of the library into the graveyard will now be errata'd as milling. So yes, Bruvac doubles the effect of Traumatize, Fleetswallower, Persistent Petitioners, etc. Yes, casting Traumatize with Bruvac the Grandiloquent out will make your opponent mill all but one of the cards from their library.

People who love Mill will love Bruvac. It's the most straightforward Mill commander ever printed. I'm not sure Bruvac is the strongest Mill commander -- it could very well be -- but in any case it's certainly more direct than Phenax, God of Deception. It's not my cup of tea, but I know that Mill is very popular, perhaps the most popular casual archetype of them all, so Bruvac is going to make a lot of people happy and I'm happy for them.

Recommended For: Mill!

 

Corsair Captain

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Corsair Captain is a pretty basic Pirate lord: pump your tribe, make a teasure token, yup yup. Nothing exciting here, but it's a welcome inclusion in Pirate Tribal, which has a pretty shallow card pool.

Recommended For: Pirate Tribal (Admiral Beckett Bras)

 

Inniaz, the Gale Force

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

As a long-time Zedruu the Greathearted player, boy oh boy do I love Inniaz, the Gale Force! Being able to trade in your worst permanent for one of your opponent's best permanents while also messing with all your opponents' boards is such a powerful ability. Azorius is great at pumping out flyers, be it mana dumps like Sacred Mesa or more mana-efficient ways like Battle Screech. The general idea would be flood the board with disposable 1/1 flying tokens, attack with at least three of them, then trade a 1/1 for one of your neighbor's best permanents while messing around with all opponents.

Things get better if you're trading away permanents that are actively punishing for your opponents. One of the hot new Zedruu cards is Nine Lives, which does little for its controller and comes with a giant risk of losing you the game. But if you pass the enchantment to an opponent then they're the one that will be losing! Similar thought process with "gifting" Illusions of Grandeur and other "mean" presents.

I think Inniaz is a great new commander. It combines Azorius Flyers with Donate Shenanigans. However, I'm personally most excited to slot it up in my Zedruu deck! I just gotta tweak the deck a little to make sure I have enough flyers.

Recommended For: Azorius Flyers; Zedruu the Greathearted

 

Ormos, Archive Keeper

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Ormos, Archive Keeper is a pretty nuts card draw engine. Commander is a singleton format with the only exception being basic lands, so activating Ormos' card draw ability should be very easy. It fills your graveyard with stuff to recur later or just set up graveyard payoff cards (Rise from the Tides). You can also get extra value from the ability with ways to double its output, like Rings of Brighthearth or Teferi's Ageless Insight. Most of the card's value comes from this card draw ability.

Ormos also comes with another triggered ability, letting you grow the sphinx when you don't have any cards in your library. This is an okay way to start one-shotting opponents with an arbitrarily large flyer, but it's risky and honestly you're much better off to just outright win the game with Thassa's Oracle or Laboratory Maniac.

Overall, I think Ormos, Archive Keeper is a cool casual card. It does neat things but it's not overly powerful, though I do think most people will undervalue its activated ability.

Recommended For: Sphinx Tribal (Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign); As Commander

 

Scholar of the Lost Trove

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Compared to Torrential Gearhulk, Scholar of the Lost Trove costs one more mana and doesn't have flash, but can also recur sorceries and artifacts. This gives you far more flexibility, but the lack of flash does hurt its playability a bit. Also the Gearhulk is much easier to cheat into play since it's an artifact (Goblin Welder). Still, I'm quite fond of the Scholar; it's a powerful ETB ability, a great Reanimate target, and should get lots of value in a Blink deck.

Recommended For: Blink (Brago, King Eternal); Sphinx Tribal (Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign)

 

BLACK

 

Kels, Fight Fixer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Kels, Fight Fixer is just the latest iteration of the laziest way WOTC designs guaranteed good commanders. It's this core formula:

  • 1-4 cmc, or up to 5cmc if the commander is Green
  • "Whenever you do (insert very easy to do thing), draw a card."

That's it. That's the formula. The commander is allowed to have a couple extra bells and whistles attached to it, but it's all about that easy card draw, baby! Not all powerful commanders fit this formula, but if you're a lazy WOTC designer who doesn't want to spend much time cooking up a new commander that is guaranteed to be good and sell packs, this is what you vomit out. It's bland. It's boring. And it's been happening way, WAY too much lately. Probably because WOTC has to design a thousand new commanders per year these days. Who has time to innovate when you have to make so many new Commander cards each year?

Where was I? Ah yes: Kels, Fight Fixer. It's a neat Sacrifice commander, sweet art, and honestly being in Dimir is something unique at least. And thankfully Kels is actually held back from complete absurdity by actually requiring mana to use its abilities, so you have to make some effort to break the card. It's not very hard to break it, of course -- just add in Phyrexian Arena and/or Pitiless Plunderer and that pesky mana requirement is resolved -- but at least Kels completely broken all by itself like Korvold, Fae-Cursed King.

So yeah. Good card. Boring, but good.

Recommended For: Sacrifice

 

Tinybones, Trinket Thief

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Tinybones, Trinket Thief is probably the most popular card in the entire set, and a big part of that reason is its flavor: it's the "cute" reanimated skeleton of a dead child-sized humanoid! YAY! CUTE!

But another reason for its popularity is that Tinybones is actually a very powerful Commander. This is a 2cmc creature that can draw you a card on each end step, which in a 4-Player FFA games means up to four cards drawn per turn -- no mana needed! You need your opponents to be discarding cards each turn, sure, but Black has plenty of efficient ways to do that with cards like Bottomless Pit. And if your opponents are empty-handed, then Tinybones comes with a built-in finisher!

So yeah, Tinybones, Trinket Thief is very powerful. Black Discard is a well-supported archetype but was lacking a Commander to lead it -- until now. Combine that with its cute appeal and yeah, you got one popular commander!

One quick warning to would-be brewers, however: you will be archenemey at the table. People want to play the cards in their hand. They don't like discarding their cards. If your deck is built around discarding, then your opponents will target you. It doesn't matter if John has a scarier board state or you're "not doing anything." You will be targeted. And if you don't like that, then save yourself the money and don't build this deck, because that's what's going to happen. But if don't mind being archenemy, or if you love being archenemy, then assemble those bones and have a heckin' good time!

Recommended For: Discard decks as Commander; Nath of the Gilt-Leaf

 

Witch of the Moors

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Witch of the Moors is a sweet addition to any Orzhov Lifegain deck. In a deck that can consistently gain life each turn, you're making all your opponents sacrifice a creature and getting back a creature from the graveyard? Each turn cycle? For 5cmc? Yeah, that's a solid rate in my opinion!

Recommended For: Orzhov Lifegain (Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim)

 

 

RED

 

Immolating Gyre

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Immolating Gyre reminds me of a less flexible/reliable Mizzium Mortars: you don't have the cheap targeted mode and you're not guaranteed 4 damage like Mortars, but in a Spellslinger deck that can quickly and consistently fill the graveyard with instants/sorceries, Gyre can start taking out even the biggest opposing creatures / walkers. 

Honestly in most cases I'd prefer Mizzium Mortars in playgroups where Superfriends isn't common, but in a Spellslinger deck that wants a third asymmetrical board wipe (the first being Cyclonic Rift if you can afford it), then Immolating Gyre gets the job done.

Recommended For: Spellslinger (Niv-Mizzet, Parun)

 

Muxus, Goblin Grandee

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Have we finally found a Goblin commander that can challenge the long undisputed reign of Krenko, Mob Boss? It may have finally happened: Muxus, Goblin Grandee has a higher cmc, but comes with a powerful ETB trigger that can dump Goblins from the top of your library straight on to the battlefield. This, combined with some topdeck manipulation like Goblin Recruiter, can lead to some absurd turns. 

Is Muxus better than Krenko? I'm skeptical, but I haven't brewed with Muxus yet to have a definitive answer. I'm very familiar with how busted Krenko is though, so we'll see! Either way, Muxus is definitely a staple in just about any Goblin deck, either in the command zone or as part of the 99.

Recommended For: Any Goblin deck

 

Sethron, Hurloon General

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Minotaurs are a pretty weak, unfocused tribe. The tribe's gotten little bits of support in Theros (Ragemonger) and Amonkhet (Neheb, the Worthy) but nothing that gives the tribe a distinct personality.

Neheb, the Worthy was the first Minotaur Tribal commander and tried to give the tribe some personality by adding a discard/heckbent theme, but the problem is that Minotaurs as a whole don't really support that theme. They don't really support ... anything, really. Their lords just make them a bit bigger and hit a bit harder.

Enter Sethroon, Hurloon General, the second Minotaur Tribal commander. This is a nostalgia gift to oldschool players, referencing the original Hurloon Minotaur card both in name and in the tokens Sethroon creates, which is very cool. You make more tribal tokens, you spend some mana to make them hit harder. It's nothing super powerful, it doesn't take Minotaur Tribal in a new direction -- there's very little to work with -- but it's a significant upgrade to Neheb and should make Minotaur Tribal players happy. At least I'm happy with it.

Recommended For: Minotaur Tribal

 

Spiteful Prankster

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I see Spiteful Prankster is a worse but still playable Blood Artist with the upside that it can snipe planeswalkers. It's a Red card, so if you happen to be in a non-Black deck with a sacrifice combo loop then Prankster takes the role of Artist just fine. Plus it's a Devil so it fits in Devil Tribal. Overall good card.

Recommended For: Sacrifice decks; Devil Tribal (Zurzoth, Chaos Rider)

 

Zurzoth, Chaos Rider

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

WOTC checks off another obscure tribal Commander from their list with Zurzoth, Chaos Rider, the Devil Tribal commander! 

Is Zurzoth a good commander that will make Mono Red Devils a powerhouse? Well, no. There aren't a lot of Devils to work with, and even less that care about Zurzoth's abilities. So going full Devil Tribal will be flavorful but not very powerful.

However, Zurzoth, Chaos Rider is pretty strong all by itself: Zurzoth is a powerful token generator, able to produce one Devil token per opponent on your turn, assuming you have enough Devils to attack with. That's interesting enough to build around! You can make sure Zurzoth and your Devils attack safely with Bedlam or Break Through the Line. You can boost the deadliness of your Devils with Torbran, Thane of Red Fell or pinging Silverclad Ferocidons and turn them into mana with Ashnod's Altar. You can force them to draw extra cards on other turns with [[Temple Bell], generating multiple Devils that way too!

Are any of these deck concepts super competitive? Well, no, but it can definitely be a unique and solid deck. Or you can slot Zurzoth into the 99 of Nekusar, the Mindrazer or similar.

Recommended For: Devil Tribal; Group Hug + Slug; Nekusar, the Mindrazer

 

GREEN

 

Allosaurus Shepherd

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Um excuse me? One mana, can't be countered, and all your green spells can't be countered? No restrictions whatsoever? Allosaurus Shepherd is incredibly pushed and feels like it was made for the Legacy format or something. I think Mono Green decks may want to run it as a silver bullet, especially in playgroups that run lots of countermagic. It's really easy for green to tutor it up since it's a 1cmc creature. Perhaps CEDH will enjoy it more too.

Recommended For: Anti-Blue tech for Mono Green Decks

 

Branching Evolution

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Branching Evolution is the counter doubling half of Doubling Season, which considering the token doubling half, Parralel Lives, costs 4cmc, you'd think Evolution would be 4cmc too but nope, 3cmc! Okay then. This card is uhhhh very strong and a staple in *checks notes* every single +1/+1 Counter deck that can run it!

Considering how popular +1/+1 Counter decks are, expect Branching Evolution to be one of the most sought-after cards in the entire set.

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

 

Neyith of the Dire Hunt

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Despite ranting about Kels, Fight Fixer, I actually like Neyith of the Dire Hunt a lot more despite the uninspired " do the thing, draw a card" slapped on it. There hasn't been any official "Fight Tribal" commander, even though some decks incorporate the archetype like Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves or my Budget Werewolves deck. Neyith fills that gap in the format, does it well, and comes with a cool and powerful activated ability to boot.

I'm personally excited to build a focused Fight Tribal deck around Neyith. Cards like Foe-Razer Regent and Vigor will provide the bulk of the fight payoff, and you can also take advantage of the block trigger with cards like Infiltration Lens.

Recommended For: As Commander

 

Towering Titan

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Towering Titan seems like it's meant to be a payoff of Wall Tribal but the payoff is ... bad? I'm not sure why I'd run this in an Arcades, the Strategist deck instead of just another wall? Does the trample effect really matter?

I dunno. Maybe Towering Titan is better than I give it credit for. At first glance I'm not impressed.

Recommended For: Defender Tribal, maybe

 

LANDS

 

Thriving Cycle

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

The thrive lands are nice land cycle for budget decks. In 2C decks they're generally worse than the gain lands (Sejiri Refuge) by a smidgen and equal to most other dual lands that enter tapped (Selesnya Guildgate). In 3C decks however they're better than all those tapped dual lands; assuming these thrive lands remain cheap, I'll be happy to run the appropriate triland (Crumbling Necropolis) and then the three thrive lands available to the deck.

Recommended For: Budget 2C and 3C decks

 

REPRINTS!

While there aren't a whole lot of new cards in Jumpstart, there's a bunch of sweet reprints to keep an eye on! Many of these Commander staples have held high prices in the past due to low supply and are about to take a significant price hit. Here are some of my favorites:

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

 

That's All, Folks!

We've covered all the new cards from M21 and Jumpstart, and now it's time to start brewing! New Budget Commanders coming soon!


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