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Commander Review: Magic Origins (Part 2)


Red

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Some Zedruu the Greathearted decks may play this as a jerk gift to donate. I personally don't like cards that can backfire in my Zedruu deck because it incentivizes my playgroup to kill my fair goat lady before I can donate the jerk gift. Then I'm stuck discarding my own hand. Boo.

One day Wizards will bring back the Madness mechanic; On that day, cards like Avaricious Dragon and Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded will have their time in the sun. Until then, probably best skip over.

 

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You either need a neat trick to untap Chandra multiple times or play two Red spells on the same turn. That's not too hard in Commander.

The problem is that Chandra's flipped side doesn't translate well into multiplayer. Would it have been so bad to make her +1 hit every opponent and her -2 hit one target creature per opponent? I'd get on board with something like that. Her ultimate is super flavorful but doesn't justify running this card.

 

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Now that's what I'm talking about! There's some serious potential in Chandra's Ignition as a board wipe and a win condition wrapped in a single card. The most obvious use is jamming this card in a stompy deck like Xenagos, God of Revels: you're only playing giant creatures anyway, Xenagos doubles its size, then post-combat you blow up the world with Ignition. 

This card is GOOD and FUN!

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This card is value. Red decks packing tons of ETB creatures (Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker) big creatures (Xenagos, God of Revels), or go for a sacrifice theme (Prossh, Skyraider of Kher) may enjoy this. I've never seen Minion Reflector played, but maybe this better version will do the trick.

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A mini Ruric Thar, the Unbowed that doesn't punish you! Very aggressive, no evasion, but Haste; I think she'll flip relatively easy. The ping isn't too crazy alone but it quickly adds up in Punisher decks. Things get especially fun if you give her lifelink (Basilisk Collar, Whip of Erebos).

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, Rakdos, Lord of Riots, Mogis, God of Slaughter and other Punisher decks will love her.

 

Green

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Animist's Awakening has huge potential for huge ramp and it isn't stuck fetching puny basic lands either. If spell mastery is activated (which is easy for most decks), those lands become untapped — even the lands that usually come into play tapped. You get to have your cake and eat it too!

Most decks however, will probably pass over this card. The problem is that the payoff comes mid/lategame when you can sink 8+ mana into it. Most decks want their ramp early on turns 1-4 so they can cast their big spells sooner.

Ah, but what if your deck is all about lands? If you want your big spell to cover the table with lands, then Awakening is AMAZING! For Lands.dec, Nissa's Awakening is ambrosia, the sweet nectar of the gods: Omnath, Locus of Mana, Titania, Protector of Argoth, Borborygmos Enraged, and my favorite, Child of Alara, are all salivating right now. 

My Lands deck has been collecting dust for years and this card is bringing it out of retirement. Expect a Lands Primer article soon! All because of this one card. It's so good!

 

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Do you play Indrik Stomphowler in your deck? This is a slightly better Stomphowler.

 

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If your Green deck is really hurting for card draw then Elemental Bond isn't the worse option. It's not my top choice — I'd usually run Greater Good, Harmonize, Garruk, Primal Hunter, Life's Legacy, among others before running Bond — but it's not bad, and gets better in decks that blink. Roon of the Hidden Realm maybe?

 

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As Vince Vaughan would say, this card is money. So money!

You don't need to jump through any hoops to get crazy value: you just play it. Don't need your mana dorks anymore? Recycle them. A creature about to get hit by targeted removal? Recycle. Your board about to be wiped? Recycle! It's so easy to get value out of Evolutionary Leap since all you need to do is have one Green mana open.

Of course certain decks can get even more value out of Leap: Green decks with heavy sacrifice themes are going to jam this card in as quickly as possible since it's a cheap sacrifice outlet that fetches more sacrifice fodder in an endless loop. Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, Karador, Ghost Chieftain, and many others should make room for this card immediately.

No, this doesn't replace Survival of the Fittest. They do different things. You should run BOTH! This is great in every Green deck that has creatures!

 

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Enchantress has never been a popular thing in EDH. You'll see a couple mentions of Zur the Enchanter, Uril, the Miststalker, or Sigarda, Host of Herons, but they're few and far between. Theros didn't do much to change that, though admittedly Eidolon of Blossoms was a major addition.

Now Magic Origins arrives and says, "hey guys! You know how Theros was the enchantment block that everyone was waiting for but didn't deliver on its promises? Well, here are all those sweet enchantment cards you expected to be in Theros but weren't. Enjoy!"

We get some sweet reprints, like Sigil of the Empty Throne, but we also get this new gem. Herald of the Pantheon is a new auto-include for all of us Enchantress players! There are literally dozens of us!

On that note, it's high time I made a new Karona Enchantress article.

 

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It's a cheap creature that can get very large very fast in multiplayer, and it has trample to get damage through. That's enough to be playable but not very exciting. It's pretty much a better Taurean Mauler, a card I don't see played often.

Things get more interesting if you have additional uses for +1/+1 counters like Vorel of the Hull Clade. I'm admittedly no expert on those kinds of decks, but I assume there are fun interactions there. Zameck Guildmage n' stuff?

 

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And here we come to the best flip-walker of the set: Nissa!

Seven lands seems like asking a lot to get Nissa to flip... until you realize you're playing green, the color of ludicrously efficient land ramp. Flipping her will be trivial after turns 4-5 in your typical Green deck.

As usual, the real question is how good her planeswalker side is. The answer? Pretty good! Her +1 is relevant and plays well with good stuff cards like Sylvan Library, Sensei's Divining Top, and Scroll Rack — the type of cards you should be running anyway. With a little bit of top deck manipulation, you're drawing a card and ramping at the same time. Worst case you're "just" drawing a card as a +1. I think I hear Jace crying in a corner. She can also defend herself with her -2 and her ultimate can win games.

Sidenote: Why is Green is getting straight up card draw now, no strings attached? This is clearly a Green + Blue effect, as seen with Coiling Oracle, but Wizards has decided to cut the Blue out entirely. I really don't like this direction in design. Green is by far the most pushed color in Commander and they keep slipping in new ways for it to break the color pie like Song of the Dryads; I feel like Green's theme song is now "Anything You Can Do."

Something something "color pie" something something "makes MaRo cry."

 

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The closest comparison to be made is Cultivate / Kodama's Reach, two staples of Commander that you'll see in nearly every Green deck. In most cases, Cultivate / Reach are better because they aren't restricted to fetching forests. However, Mono Green decks and decks that care about lands in hand, like Borborygmos Enraged, will love Nissa's Pilgrimage. It's great to see new staples for niche decks.

 

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This is Green card draw done right! Yes, it costs a buttload of mana, but seven mana for a Green deck is reasonable. In your typical Stompy deck, you'll find a 6/6+ creature when you Scry 5, then you draw 6 cards and gain 6 life. That's insane.

This is going straight into my Xenagos, God of Revels deck!

 

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I... umm... hmm. This is really weird.

Well, it's a "board wipe" in Green, so that's something they can check off the ol' bucket list. It's like Green saw Timetwister and said, "me too!"

This isn't a good card. At the same time, the oddness resonates for me, and now I must break this — or at least make it not suck. 

Nine mana means this isn't something you tutor up to answer an opponent's board state. This is something that must be built around. The question is: how? The only things that pop into my head are: 1) Token decks; make a token swarm to inflate the number of cards you draw 2) Boundless Realms likewise greatly inflates your draw.

Let me know what craziness can be pulled off with this.

 

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This card is amazing value and an easy include in many of my Green decks. It's a fat body + a tutor + the tutored creature goes immediately into play. All for 6 mana. LSV would be proud.

You only need about four targets in your deck that Bellower can fetch and you're golden. Reclamation Sage, Eternal Witness, Yavimaya Elder, Scavenging Ooze, Fierce Empath — that's just in Green. Multicolor decks like Karador, Ghost Chieftain have even more options.

This is good. Really good.

 

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It's an efficient token generator when your deck is jam-packed with fetchlands to get you double tokens, but they're only 2/2's in a format of battlecruisers. This is definitely a step down from Rampaging Baloths. Still, if you want more the same effect, this is okay. Maybe Titania, Protector of Argoth will like it?

 

Artifacts

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Doubling your lifegain isn't worth a card, which is why Boon Reflection is bad. Doubling your card draw can be decent in decks jam-packed with card draw, otherwise just stick with Tidings and similar raw card draw cards instead.

The fact that Alhammarret's Archive does both these things for only 5 colorless mana makes this interesting. It could be powerful in the right deck. At the very least, Oloro, Ageless Ascetic players should take note. I predict Archive will make a fine inclusion there and possibly other decks as well.

 

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Another fine inclusion for Enchantress! All twelve of us are really excited for this! The helm itself is not an enchantment, which makes Ethereal Armor superior the first time a creature is equipped/enchanted, but Helm more than makes up for that with resiliency and flexibility. Enchantress players: play it, love it.

 

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This is certainly playable in artifact decks. Not super duper powered, but definitely fun. Artifact decks tend to run ways to untap artifacts like Voltaic Key and Clock of Omens to get around the downside. You can also use the always-fun Strionic Resonator to get more bang for your buck. Bam, repeatable colorless removal!

 

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It's incredibly niche, but this card is AWESOME if your deck is full of Red spellslinging action. My Melek, Izzet Paragon deck is EXTREMELY happy with Magic Origins!

Side note: is Wizards poking fun at themselves with the flavor text? Chandra and Jaya are pretty much the same character. Chandra is just Jaya with flaming red hair. You could switch the names when quoting flavor text and no one would ever know. How dull would their conversation be if they met? "Hi! I'm Chandra/Jaya and I love fire!" "Oh my gosh! I love fire too! I solve everything with fire!" "NO WAY! I SOLVE EVERYTHING WITH FIRE TOO!" Ugh.

 

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Nice! This is legit land ramp for non-Green decks that have a decent creature count. Mono Color decks will love this because it synergizes so well with Extraplanar Lens, Gauntlet of Power, Caged Sun, and Cabal Coffers. This is big!

 

Top Cards

White: Hallowed Moonlight is versatile removal, sort of like a white Counterspell that exiles the problem and cycles itself. A perfect inclusion in just about any white deck and pairs nicely with Sunforger.

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Runners-up:

  • Gideon's Phalanx is a hot new addition to token decks providing instant-speed tokens and resiliency removal.
  • Tragic Arrogance has the potential to be a sweet new board wipe.

 

Blue: Day's Undoing is a Timetwister that doesn't cost you a kidney, but does require you to run good cards like Leyline of Anticipation and Vedalken Orrery. Combo decks and Wheel decks love it for providing a fresh hand of spells while making reanimator decks like Karador, Ghost Chieftain cry.

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Runners-up:

 

Black: Dark Petition acts as Demonic Tutor #2 in decks that reliably activate spell mastery

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Runners-up:

  • Kothophed, Soul Hoarder is a significant board presence and source of card draw. If he isn't dealt with immediately, the demon will be drawing tons of cards for you as fetchlands are cracked and permanents are destroyed.

 

Red: Flameshadow Conjuring is sweet value for Red decks that run lots of ETB creatures or just plain ol' big stompies.

 

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Runners-up:


Green: Evolutionary Leap is a new Green staple: amazing in every Green deck that runs creatures, obnoxiously good in Sacrifice decks.

 

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Runners-up:

  • Nissa, Vastwood Seer is cheap to cast, easy to flip, and all of her abilities are great/relevant in multiplayer. One of the best Blue Green walkers in Commander — one of the best regardless of color, actually.
  • Woodland Bellower is a hyper-efficient tutor with a significant board presence, making him a solid inclusion in a multitude of Green decks.
  • Herald of the Pantheon — literally dozens of us are super excited for this new auto-include in Enchantress!
  • Nissa's Revelation is another excellent way of drawing tons of cards in Stompy decks up there with Life's Legacy (though Greater Good shall always be king).
  • Animist's Awakening makes Lands.dec's heart beat faster.

 

Artifact: Sword of the Animist is an excellent source of land ramp for non-Green decks, maybe even Green decks as well. Mono Color decks will love the Sword for its synergy with Caged Sun, Extraplanar Lens, Gauntlet of Power, and Cabal Coffers.

 

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Runners-up:

 

Closing Thoughts

Magic Origins brings a truckload of goodies to Commander; I don't think I've ever seen so many exciting Commander cards in a single set before. We've got several important cards for more neglected deck archetypes like Enchantress and Lands, and a few cards that will fit in pretty much any deck that can play them.

There's a lot of power cards here, but nothing truly broken. I think Evolutionary Leap is the strongest of the bunch and people in the coming months will learn to fear its presence on the board.

I've got a rant built up against Wizards' design policy for Green in multiplayer. I think the color is pushed way too hard in Commander and I'm not a fan of how they break the color pie, the most recent example being Nissa, Sage Animist's +1 aka Coiling Oracle.

Anyhoo, that's it for now! Hope you guys enjoyed this review. Let me know what cards you're excited for the most in Magic Origins!


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