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Commander Review: Ravnica Allegiance Part 2 (Red, Green, Multicolored, Colorless, Lands)


"Let's split this Guilds of Ravnica review into two even parts," I thought. "White, Blue, Black, for Part 1, and the rest for Part 2. Seems like an even split!" Oh, how young and stupid I was, forgetting how many multicolor cards I'd need to review. Oh well. Here's the monstrosity that is Part 2 of my Commander Review for Guilds of Ravnica. Buckle up 'cause it's a long one!

 

RED

 

Amplifire

$ 0.00$ 0.00

Amplifire. Great name, iffy use in Commander. You either need a deck full of giant creatures (Ghalta, Primal Hunger) or creatures with big bodies that are balanced with drawbacks (Death's Shadow). You also need lots of topdeck manipulation (Scroll Rack) to make sure you're revealing a big creature and not some random Solemn Simulacrum. Then you also need evasion for the Elemental or else your giant creature gets chump blocked all day. It's a lot of hoops to jump through, and I don't think it's worth it. Maybe in a Xenagos, God of Revels deck or something similar, but probably not recommended.

 

Electrodominance

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Electrodominance is packed with value: this versatile spell merges Volcanic Geyser with the ability to Quicken any spell, not just sorceries. But just because it's a big upgrade to similar cards doesn't mean the card is good in Commander; I never recommend running Geyser or Quicken in any Commander deck. I also don't recommend slamming Electrodominance in any random Red deck, because the card definitely needs to be built around to unlock its potential, or else it's just a bad, overcosted spell. Luckily, I can think of a few great homes for this spell!

To really abuse Electrodominance, we need lots of mana and ways to copy the spell: Rosheen Meanderer and Mizzix of the Izmagnus are great candidates for this, and if you add a bunch of Fork type cards (Reverberate, Reiterate, etc.) that turn Electrodominance into a neat "ramp" spell that leads to explosive plays! You can also run this to good effect in Wort, the Raidmother decks, a commander with a built-in Fork effect! VALUE!

 

Gates Ablaze

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Gates Ablaze looks like the perfect undercosted board wipe for the Gates deck, aka the Scapeshift into Maze's End deck. If that's your jam, then enjoy this new staple!

 

Immolation Shaman

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Immolation Shaman is basically a worse Harsh Mentor in Commander. Pinging for 1 damage is negligible on its own in Commander, but certain decks in the format such as Group Pain decks led by Mogis, God of Slaughter or Kaervek the Merciless load up on these types of cards and the damage quickly adds up: when you're running Immolation Shaman, Harsh Mentor, Furnace of Rath, Manabarbs, and similar effects ... the little ouchies turn into big ouchies real fast. In those decks, yeah a 2cmc repeatable pinger has potential.

 

Light Up the Stage

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Light Up the Stage is a fine source of card advantage for Red decks. It's pretty terrible if you hardcast it, but the spectacle cost is very reasonable. We have quite a lot of this Red draw at this point, whatever it's officially called (impulse draw because of Act on Impulse?), and the best ones all are better/worse depending on what deck you throw them into. I count Outpost Siege as your generic baseline; never bad, steady source of card advantage, with the flexibility of occasionally doubling as a win condition in Tokens decks (Purphoros, God of the Forge). Similarly there's Vance's Blasting Cannons, which is worse card advantage since it can't play lands but has the upside of turning into a land / repeatable Lightning Bolt when you don't need the card advantage anymore. Another favorite of mine is Prophetic Flamespeaker for more aggressive decks, especially if you add equipments like Sword of Fire and Ice to dig deeper and get double Sword triggers. There's also the woefully underplayed Commune with Lava which can be played the end step before you turn and digs DEEP, perfect for Gruul decks that generate tons of mana. Oh, and who can forget Grenzo, Havoc Raiser, perhaps my favorite of them all, absolutely amazing in Go Wide strategies!

Wait, what were we talking about again? Light Up the Stage? Oh. Well, it's a fine option, as long as your deck can consistently cast it for its spectacle cost. Probably works best in Group Pain decks like Mogis, God of Slaughter and Rakdos, Lord of Riots, though those decks have access to Black so you already have great card draw. Maybe an aggressive Boros / Mono Red deck.

 

Mirror March

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

People are going insane over Mirror March; the feedback makes it sound like this enchantment is the best Commander card from the entire set. Nah. First off, the best Commander card from Ravnica Allegiance is Smothering Tithe and any other answer is wrong. Second, Mirror March is a big dumb flashy 6cmc card that does nothing on its own, and Commander has a ton of those cards. Third, in most decks, Mirror March is just a worse Flameshadow Conjuring; yeah, you could be insanely lucky and make a billion tokens and win the game, but 50% of the time this enchantment does absolutely nothing for you. I don't know about you, but a 6cmc spell that does nothing by itself and has a 50% chance of doing nothing when you cast additional spells is, well, hot garbage.

People keep mentioning this as an auto-include for Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer, but I wouldn't run it there because again, the "hot garbage" problem isn't solved. The only deck I'd run Mirror March in would be the Coin Flip deck where we can dramatically increased its power level with the help of Krark's Thumb, aka Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom and Okaun, Eye of Chaos. With the help of the almighty Thumb, Mirror March is elevated from hot garbage to an exciting bomb.

 

Rix Maadi Reveler

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Oh the Wheels available in Rakdos colors, Rix Maadi Reveler ranks low: it's situational, costs 4 mana, and only draws you three cards. But hey, a bad Wheel is still a Wheel, so some decks may still like this effect. The flexibility of being a bad one-time pilferer is nice to have too. This might see play in niche decks like Olivia, Mobilized for War as a Madness enabler, maybe?

 

Spear Spewer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

You might be wondering why Spear Spewer ended up here. I could find zero chatter about this card online. But let me tell you, dear readers, this is one of the best new cards ever printed for one very specific deck: Rakdos, Lord of Riots. This innocuous gobbo is one of the very best enablers for spectacle cards and Rakdos himself, doing what Lobber Crew and Nettle Drone do at only 1cmc. Spear Spewer also enables a turn 3 Spawn of Mayhem for the deck as well. It's absolute insane value for the deck in the 1cmc slot. Sorry, Goblin Fireslinger, you've been replaced!

 

GREEN

 

Biogenic Ooze

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

While the card oozes value and will be a terror in Limited, Biogenic Ooze doesn't offer a whole lot in Commander. The body isn't considered big in this format, and most decks have better things to do with their mana than spend it on pumping out 2/2's. The only deck out there to truly benefit from Biogenic Ooze would be Ooze Tribal, a tribe about as rock-bottom jank as Illusion Tribal, so I expect Richard will try playing it in a future Commander Clash episode.

 

Biogenic Upgrade

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

In Commander, Biogenic Upgrade is just a way worse, inflexible, sorcery-speed Solidarity of Heroes, a superb card in most any +1/+1 Counter decks. Being a way worse card of an archetype staple doesn't make Upgrade unplayable, however; the card is still fine and decks desperately looking for a second Solidarity could do well to run this.

 

End-Raze Forerunners

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

End-Raze Forerunners is WOTC's second shot at making a balanced Craterhoof Behemoth after first aiming too low with Decimator of Provinces. Forerunners is significantly better than Decimator, being cheaper to cast without having to sacrifice creatures and adding a sweet bonus vigilance to the mix, which means that even if your attack doesn't win you the game you still have blockers to protect against any crackbacks. No, Forerunners isn't even close to the power level of Craterhoof Behemoth, but I think it's a good thing we don't get a functional reprint of that busted card ever, and for Commander players on a budget, End-Raze Forerunners is a fine budget alternative considering Behemoth is currently $24 USD and will only go up.

The big Boar should be a fine inclusion in any Green stompy list: Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma, Mayael the Anima, and Xenagos, God of Revels may consider running this as a top-end big hitter that lets you still have blockers.

 

Guardian Project

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Guardian Project is one of the best Green Creature-based card draw ever printed, seemingly made for Commander due to the "restriction" basically never being relevant in a singleton format. It's significantly better than a similar card I used to play a fair amount, Soul of the HarvestGuardian Project is a whopping 2cmc cheaper than Soul, and being an enchantment instead of a creature means it's far more likely to stick around and not die to a random Wrath of God. Project takes the spot of Soul in every single deck.

I see this card being a staple in any Green creature-heavy deck that isn't Tokens, especially decks with a fairly low average cmc for their creatures, so Ezuri, Renegade Leader, Edric, Spymaster of Trest, Animar, Soul of Elements, really any deck that can cast 2+ creatures a turn this card is amazing. It gets even better though: the card draw triggers off not just casting creatures (Beast Whisperer) but any time a nontoken creature enters the battlefield, so Blink decks (Roon of the Hidden Realm) will have a great time, as will any deck that can cheat creatures into play (Gishath, Sun's Avatar). I look forward to casting a big ol' Genesis Wave and then drawing 5+ cards for my troubles!

Guardian Project is right up there with Beast Whisperer in terms of best Green card draw seen in a long time. Whisperer is superior in decks that care about its creature types, namely Elf Tribal and Druid Tribal, and Project is better basically anywhere else. Honestly though, run both! They're so good!

 

Incubation Druid

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

We move from one Green staple to another: Incubation Druid is a new auto-include in any +1/+1 Counter deck. Yes, all of them. It taps for mana without any work like a Utopia Tree, but add a single counter to it and BAM, insane undercosted ramp! +1/+1 Counter decks are all about efficiently adding counters to things, so you'll rarely have to pay 5 mana to adapt it and instead can snag an easy counter off Forgotten Ancient, Master Biomancer, Kalonian Hydra, or something similar.

Every Green +1/+1 Counter deck should immediately make room for Incubation Druid: Atraxa, Praetors' Voice, Ghave, Guru of Spores, Ezuri, Claw of Progress, ooooh it curves nicely with Rishkar, Peema Renegade ... oh, and it has two incredibly relevant creature types, Elf and Druid, so all the more reason to slide this into Elfball (Ezuri) and Druid Tribal (Seton, Krosan Protector).

 

Rampage of the Clans

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Rampage of the Clans is pretty bad unless you want to give your opponents a bunch of 3/3 Centaurs. That said, if you do want to give your opponents free creatures, then this is a sweet way to downgrade their boards while furthering your goals. I'm talking Politics, folks! Decks like Gahiji, Honored One that are all about encouraging your opponents to kill each other for you are the perfect home for this card. Well, some of them at least -- you need to be running few/no artifacts/enchantments in your deck or this card ends up hurting yourself too much.

I briefly considered running Rampage of the Clans in my Clue token deck, since the deck generates so many Clues and Treasure tokens, it would be sweet to cash them in for an army of 3/3's at instant speed! But unfortunately, key cards like Anointed Procession and Parallel Lives would be destroyed in the process which just isn't worth running this.

 

Wilderness Reclamation

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Wilderness Reclamation is a bad Seedborn Muse for decks that want this effect: it only untaps your lands and it only untaps it during your end step not every upkeep. The only benefit to running Reclamation is that it's an enchantment so it's harder to remove. Still, there may be a few decks that will take even bad Seedborn Muse: perhaps Kruphix, God of Horizons or Rashmi, Eternities Crafter.

 

MULTICOLORED

Bedevil

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Take Dreadbore, add an additional B to the mana cost, and the card gets upgraded to instant speed with the flexibility of destroying artifacts too? Sounds like a reasonable upgrade! The upgrades are worth running Bedevil over Dreadbore in Rakdos decks, though you can't go wrong running both either. Neither cards are insane or what I'd consider staples, but they're very good removal options in a giant card pool of good options.

Off Topic Rarity Rant: I think it's lame that Bedevil is rare. WOTC likes to say rarity is usually determined by Limited experiences, but Bedevil is basically a clunkier Putrefy in Limited, and that card was/is fine in Limited at uncommon. I'm not a fan when rarity is determined by finances, which Bedevil seems to be.

 

Biomancer's Familiar

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

You could completely ignore the tap ability of Biomancer's Familiar and it would still be an excellent card in Commander in specific niche (read:jank) decks. It's essentially a worse Training Grounds, but even then it's still amazing and Simic decks that run the enchantment will want to make room for Familiar too. Thrasios, Triton Hero is a good commander for this, but my favorite use of Biomancer's Familiar will be a Smic version of Moonfolk Tribal; finally, all will tremble at the might of Floodbringer!

 

Captive Audience

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Captive Audience is Magic's ultimate embodiment (personification? I have no idea which word is correct, Mr. Editor — both are good) of the gentleman villain tying someone to a train track. It's simple, only costs 7 mana and a single card, personal, and deadly ... but it gives you a little hope! Maybe you'll get rid of the enchantment in time? The three upkeep triggers are the alarm clock ticking down to certain doom, and it's right on the victim's board in clear view at all times. The first upkeep happens and your opponents all get five 2/2 Zombie tokens. Do you draw an answer to the enchantment? Tick tick. The next upkeep is coming, do you go down to 4 life or discard your hand? Tick tick tick. The final upkeep trigger is coming, you're going down to 4 life with no cards in hand, and that army of Zombies are looking hungry. Maybe you can convince someone at the table to save you? It can't end like this, can it?! TICK TICK TICK! Yeah, maybe the victim gets rid of the enchantment before it does too much damage, but now they know not to mess with you because you don't mess around. All the while you giggle like a madman as this goes down!

This is the card I look forward to the most in Commander Clash. No matter what the board state is, I'm casting it on Seth.

 

Cindervines

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

NOT CREATURE SPELL? THEN SMASH! Gruul is getting a ton of noncreature hate in this set, and Cindervines might be the best of the bunch. The ping trigger is only 1 damage which ain't much when you're starting at 40 life, but it's quickly going to add up and I'd imagine Cindervines can regularly pump out 20+ damage in the span of a game. This effect isn't attached to a creature like Harsh Mentor, which actually makes it less likely to be taken out by removal. Best of all, you can always cash this in to Naturalize something, and there's always artifacts/enchantments to destroy in this format.

Cindervines doesn't look like much, but it's going to sneakily get lots of random value in Gruul decks. It's not a staple but if you can abuse consistent pinging, either by loading up on them (Manabarbs) or other ways, then Cindervines is an excellent inclusion in those decks.

 

Deputy of Detention

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Deputy of Detention is a worse Detention Sphere in most Commander decks. The effect is mostly the same, but the "same name" clause is limited to the one player, unlike Sphere which effects all players; this is a minor change but an important one if, say, multiple opponents have Zombie tokens that you'd like to get rid of (Captive Audience). But the big reason it's worse is because Deputy is a creature, and creatures have a way shorter life expectancy than enchantments in this format.

However, Deputy of Detention does get significantly better in decks that have lots of creature synergy. For example, Reveillark and Sun Titan can return it to play, and Ephara, God of the Polis draws a card off it. In decks that benefit significantly more from playing creatures over enchantments, Deputy of Detention could be a great choice.

 

Domri, Chaos Bringer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Domri, Chaos Bringer looks ridiculous in Limited and Standard, but he's a lot tamer in Commander. His +1 is amazing but kinda awkward if you cast him Turn 4 and can't use the mana for anything; his -3 is alright but drawing up to 2 creatures for 4 mana isn't amazing in this format and you need to wait two turns before you can use it twice, meh. The ultimate is really good -- not "I win the game immediately" but still powerful -- and, of course, is immediately usable with Doubling Season out blah blah. Without that enchantment though ... eh. The planeswalker is just too slow for my taste.

Domri, Chaos Bringer really wants to be in a Creature-heavy Doubling Season deck. I can't think of any decks that match that specific criteria, but if it exists then Domri is a good fit. I'd avoid running him in Superfriends or most generic Gruul Creature decks though.

Off Topic Vorthos Rant: Domri reveres Ilharg, the Raze Boar. He presumably summoned the End-Raze Forerunners, a pack of Boars (creature type Boar), considering he's giving them instructions. His artwork even depicts him surrounded by Boars. Then why does his ultimate create Beasts instead of Boars???

 

Dovin, Grand Arbiter

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I feel obligated to talk about planeswalkers because they're flashy and the faces of the set, even when most of them are garbage for Commander. Dovin, Grand Arbiter is just another garbage planeswalker. Pumping out one Thopter token per turn for 3cmc isn't good: Sai, Master Thoperist makes Dovin's -1 laughable in comparison. His +1 has gotten a lot of buzz: wow, if you have, like, 10 creatures out, then you can gain 10(!!!) loyalty! And then the turn after you have enough to activate his -7 one(!!!) whole time to draw three cards! VALUE?! No, it's not value. Just pay one extra mana and play Bident of Thassa and Coastal Piracy instead, drawing 10 cards immediately and every single turn you have that army of 10+ creatures. That's efficiency.

 

Emergency Powers

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Emergency Powers is an alright Wheel card. It's far worse than Time Spiral, because Spiral you can use the mana you get back however you want instead of being limited to casting one card, and also you can further abuse the untapped lands with mana doublers like High Tide. But not everyone is willing to pay $65 USD (or double/triple that if you're reading this a year from now) for a single card, and in that case Emergency Powers is a fine budget Wheel. Seven mana is a ton to start wheeling, but if your deck is all about wheels then you're probably interested in this. Not many Wheel decks are in White though, which makes this card more limited, but any White Wheel deck (Breya, Etherium Shaper) can live the dream with this and Smothering Tithe.

 

Frilled Mystic

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Elf. Lizard. Wizard. Yes!

Frilled Mystic is a slightly harder to cast Mystic Snake with better creature subtypes (sorry, Kaseto, Orochi Archmage Snake Tribal fans, all four of you). They're both solid inclusions in decks with lots of creature synergies. Mystic Snake ends up being a great choice in Snake Tribal and pretty good in Ezuri, Claw of Progress. Frilled Mystic ... I can't think of any good decks off the top of my head, but I'm sure there's something out there for it.

 

Growth Spiral

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Growth Spiral is easily comparable to Explore: both draw a card and let you put an additional land into play. Spiral is worse in a couple ways though: it's harder to cast and limited to Simic colors, so Azusa, Lost but Seeking decks are sad. The additional land you play has to be from your hand, so you can't play a land from your graveyard (Crucible of Worlds) or the top of your library (Courser of Kruphix). Sure, Spiral is instant speed, but this effect is usually best done during your main phase anyway.

All that said, this is a sweet new staple in any Simic Lands deck, aka Tatyova, Benthic Druid.

 

Gyre Engineer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Gyre Engineer is a step up from Weaver of Currents. It has some interesting potential in Untap decks, possibly enabling combos with Intruder Alarm and similar cards. I'm not sure what Simic decks qualify for such a strategy, but Gyre Engineer is a sweet pickup in that niche deck.

 

High Alert

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

High Alert serves one single purpose, and that's to add redundancy to Arcades, the Strategist decks.Your defenders are pretty awful if Arcades is shut down and this enchantment lets your deck continue to function. It's not exciting to add backup plans, but in a deck that relies so heavily on its commander, it's an important card to slot in.

 

Hydroid Krasis

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

While Mulldrifter and Cloudblazer are staples in Blink decks, Hydroid Krasis may end up making a splash in Big Mana decks where you can consistently make X = A LOT! I particularly like the idea of this krasis in Animar, Soul of Elements decks, since Animar can quickly load up on counters and it's not difficult to just pay UG and still cast this for X=10ish. Hydroid Krasis also has the fun creature type Jellyfish Hydra Beast: I just looked up the Jellyfish tribe while typing this and can confirm there are now 9 Jellyfish that are Commander-legal, so expect Richard to win with the tribe in a future Commander Clash.

 

Judith, the Scourge Diva

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Judith, the Scourge Diva is a neat new inclusion in various Sacrifice and Aristocrats decks. She takes a similar spot to Blood Artist-type cards, dealing damage when creatures die. I guess she's most comparable to Vindictive Vampire in that she deals damage when creatures you control die; she has a further restriction of only nontoken creatures, but her damage can be aimed at any target, which isn't that good at killing things on its own but has potential to be built upon.

As a commander, decks can build around her ping ability, turning it into consistent creature removal with deathtouch (Basilisk Collar). She also pulls off the exact same combos that Blood Artist cards are known for, like the classic Murderous Redcap + Ashnod's Altar + Nim Deathmantle to deal infinite damage, except now you have a "Blood Artist" in your command zone so some combos are easier to assemble. It's nothing I'm personally excited about but it's a fine option.

Judith also can slot into the 99 of any Sacrifice / Aristocrats deck, again mostly as Blood Artist #5ish, for example in an Alesha, Who Smiles at Death deck.

 

Kaya's Wrath

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Kaya's Wrath is a fine new board wipe for any Orzhov deck, but shines the most in Orzhov decks with a Lifegain subtheme. Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, partners Regna, the Redeemer & Krav, the Unreedemed, and (ironically) Karlov of the Ghost Council (RIP Ghost Uncle) are decks that immediately spring to mind. Orzhov decks that don't have a Lifegain theme, or decks in three or more colors are better off running Wrath of God and Damnation first.

 

Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Lavinia, Azorius Renegade is one of the nastiest hatebears we've seen printed in a long time. Her first ability stops decks loaded with fast mana rocks from ramping out noncreature spells -- at least when you can resolve Lavinia before they dump their hand. Even against slower non-Green decks though, it can definitely be a nuisance. Her second ability is even more annoying, shutting down a lot of random cards that let you cast spells "without paying their mana cost." From my own decks, Rishkar's Expertise gets a lot worse in my Xenagos, God of Revels deck, my favorite card in Tribal Zombies, Rooftop Storm, gets neutered as well, and Animar, Soul of Elements can't cast Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre for free. Poor Jodah, Archmage Eternal ceases to function!

Lavinia is a strong part of the 99 of basically any Azorius deck. Her effect on the game is largely playgroup-specific; sometimes she does absolutely nothing against Tatyova, Benthic Druid decks, and other times she'll completely lock someone out of the game.

You can also run her as a commander, where she's fairly open-ended since her abilities don't benefit you, just hurt your opponents, which doesn't encourage a specific deckbuilding direction ... except for MLD, because she's hilarious with Armageddon effects! Oh, and you can lock opponents from ever playing spells again with Knowledge Pool. Enjoy, you heartless bastard.

 

Nikya of the Old Ways

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Nikya of the Old Ways offers the huge ramp potential of Mirari's Wake at the big cost of not being able to cast noncreature spells. Any super Creature-heavy Gruul deck running less than 10 noncreature spells can make great use of her, but only a handful of decks meet that criteria, notably Ruric Thar, the Unbowed (where she's a new staple) and Animar, Soul of Elements (some builds at least).

Nikya also has great potential as a new Commander, where you can really build around her strengths and weaknesses. Obviously she still wants to be in a deck running as few noncreature spells as possible, but we can also add ways to remove Nikya from the battlefield to cast our noncreature spells, either bouncing her (Temur Sabretooth) or sacrificing her (High Market). To take advantage of her mana ramp we should run creatures that either untap lands (Arbor Elf) or put lands into play (Sakura-Tribe Elder). Then to win, just play giant creatures and smash probably (Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre).

Nikya should be a fun commander and I'm looking forward to writing about her in an upcoming Budget Commander!

 

Prime Speaker Vannifar

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Prime Speaker Vannifar has hogged the spotlight in the Commander community for the entire Ravnica Allegiance spoiler season. And for good reason: this is easily hands-down the most competitive commander from the set, and the most competitive decks usually end up being the most popular ones too. She's been talked about a bunch already, but for those seeing her for the first time, Prime Speaker Vannifar is basically a Birthing Pod that sits in your command zone. You want to build a deck where you can activate her as many times as you need to in a single turn (Thornbite Staff, Intruder Alarm), sacrificing creatures over and over as you climb the cmc ladder and eventually win the game (Craterhoof Behemoth).

I personally don't like Prime Speaker Vannifar. While on the surface it looks like she has infinite possibilites -- you can tutor for ANYTHING -- in practice, all Prime Speaker decks are going to end up the same, tutoring for the best creature target and following the same lines of play so you can combo off the same way each game. It's just a couple minutes of solitaire fetching the same pieces over and over until you win. Just to make things clear: it's fine if you like linear combo decks! It's just that I, personally, get bored of linear decks after a handful of games. And that's what Prime Speaker Vannifar always boils down to: a powerful linear combo deck.

And before you protest, yes, I know you could build Vannifar as a casual, janky deck, only using her ability as incremental value with no method or desire to combo off. But that would be a mistake in most groups: like all powerful commanders, Vannifar will quickly develop a reputation for being a cutthroat combo deck, and your casual janky deck will be hurt by that reputation as you receive more hate at the table than you deserve. If you're going for a casual jank strategy, you're better off served by a more innocent-looking Simic commander.

 

Rakdos, the Showstopper

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Rakdos, the Showstopper looks like an interesting commander for Demon / Devil / Imp Tribal. These tribes have next to no other support cards going for them and the only real "themes" involve paying life and sacrificing other creatures to appease them (Lord of the Pit). I've tried my hand at it in a Commander Clash before, though all my hard work at making a flavorful deck got upstaged by my unfortunate inclusion of Spooky Boots (Lightning Greaves). It's a janky theme deck, but it's nice to give it an official commander. You can go deep with the Demon flavor and throw spooky board wipes like Hellfire and stuff; good fun!

I don't think Rakdos, the Showstopper will show up in the 99 of many decks. You could toss him into Kaalia of the Vast Demon Tribal and just hope he doesn't kill Kaalia. Otherwise ... eh. He's not exactly an effective board wipe since it comes down to luck. A 6/6 flying trampler is always nice though, at least.

 

Ravager Wurm

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Flexible removal on a stick? Uh, yes please? Ravager Wurm is a sweet card, either killing a smaller creature or blowing up an annoying Maze of Ith. It's not a great attacker since it doesn't have any form of evasion, which makes my Xenagos, God of Revels sad, but it has Blink potential if there's any Gruul Blink decks out there to really abuse its ETB trigger. Solid card, never bad, but nothing crazy.

 

Rhythm of the Wild

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Wow, WHAT? This is like Fires of Yavimaya on steroids for any non-Token deck! This is amazing! It protects your creatures from being countered and gives them haste or +1/+1 counters, all at 3cmc? This is really good! Basically any Creature-heavy non-Token will love this! Bonus points if your deck also has +1/+1 Counter synergies to really abuse this card. Gishath, Sun's Avatar, Tana, the Bloodsower, Samut, Voice of Dissent, I could go on but basically a ton of Gruul decks can benefit from Rhythm of the Wild.

 

Seraph of the Scales

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Seraph of the Scales is probably my third favorite afterlife card for Commander, behind Tithe Taker and Ministrant of Obligation. Ministrant has the edge over Seraph because it provides the same number of sacrifice bodies while being cheaper, and even having 1 toughness is a benefit considering Skullclamp is a staple in all Sacrifice decks. I do like Seraph's slightly beefier body and its deathtouch + vigilance combo which can deter potential attackers better then that other afterlife creatures. Seraph of the Scales is a great card in all Sacrifice decks, especially Teysa, Orzhov Scion and Teysa Karlov lists.

 

Sharktocrab

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Feed the Sharktocrab a steady diet of +1/+1 Counters and it locks down the board while smashing faces? Sounds good! Pair this abomination with stuff like Hadana's Climb, Elusive Krasis, and Forgotten Ancient to have a grand ol' time. Great on-theme board control for any +1/+1 Counter deck that I'd be happy to sleeve up in Pir, Imaginative Rascal & Toothy, Imaginary Friend, Vorel of the Hull Clade, yadayada.

 

Simic Ascendancy

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The +1/+1 Counter support keeps coming, with Simic Ascendancy being the best of the bunch! This cheap alternate win condition looks trivial to pull off with cards like Chasm Skulker / Toothy, Imaginary Friend + lots of card draw, Forgotten Ancient soaking up counters just by existing, and Vorel of the Hull Clade / Pir, Imaginative Rascal / Doubling Season doubling counters. So so easy! Simic Ascendancy is basically a new staple in +1/+1 Counter decks.

 

Sunder Shaman

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Gruul just got a Trygon Predator and I dig it. It costs one more mana, has worse evasion, and is clunkier to cast, but at least it hits harder. I'd be most interested in playing it in Ruric Thar, the Unbowed and Nikya of the Old Ways, where we want to play creatures over otherwise superior noncreature removal like Nature's Claim, Hull Breach, and Decimate. Sunder Shaman is also a Giant and a Shaman so maybe it has some tribal potential too.

 

Teysa Karlov

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Teysa Karlov is an awesome new card for the Sacrifice archetype. Her first ability, nicknamed "Deatharmonicon" (Panharmonicon), doubles all your sweet death triggers, letting you create four spirits off Ministrant of Obligation, return up to four creatures with Reveillark if it dies, drain each opponent for two off Zulaport Cutthroat, draw two cards off Grim Haruspex, and so on. Lots and lots of great death triggers to double up on! Plus for the cherry on top, Teysa Karlov also provides a substantial buff to your tokens, making her a good inclusion in a Token strategy as well.

Teysa Karlov is a great and powerful value engine. She works well as a commander, and I even wrote an article about her already. She's also a fine inclusion as part of the 99 of any other Sacrifice deck, like Teysa, Orzhov Scion. Speaking of her original version: lots of people ask me whether Teysa Karlov or Teysa, Orzhov Scion is best. They both do different things so it depends on what you want your deck to do. Karlov is a straight value engine, while Scion is a sac outlet, token generator, and repeatable removal. If you just care about raw power level, then Scion has the higher ceiling and will be the more competitive deck if you go that route. I personally like Karlov more because I love a good value engine.

 

Theater of Horrors

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Theater of Horrors is a solid incremental card draw engine similar to Phyrexian Arena and Outpost Siege. Theater is worse than Arena, being the same cmc but having to jump through a hoop to get access to your cards (even though it's an easy restriction). The real drawback to Theater is that it might be destroyed before you cast all the cards exiled with it, losing those cards forever. On the other hand, Theater of Horrors is generally a better Outpost Siege, since you have more time to play your exiled cards, though Siege does have the added flexibility of being able to be played as a win condition in Purphoros, God of the Forge decks and similar Go Wide decks. They're all great cards for incremental card draw that you don't have to work hard for.

I can see Theater of Horrors popping up in a decent amount of Rakdos decks. Generally I prefer more immediate card draw like Ambition's Cost and Promise of Power, but this works fine as well.

 

Zegana, Utopian Speaker

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Poor Prime Speaker Zegana got demoted to Zegana, Utopian Speaker, going from a bonkers card to a very lackluster one. Not just lackluster, but the entire design looks entirely phoned in; Zegana, Utopian Speaker looks like a copy/paste of Trollbred Guardian, an uncommon from the same set! It's just blah. BLAH, I SAY!

If you want to give you +1/+1 Counter critters trample, run Bramblewood Paragon and Tuskguard Captain first. If you still want a third source of trample for some reason then Zegana, Utopian Speaker is fine. She's a fine (if disappointing) inclusion in the 99 and just an awful substitute to the original Zegana as your commander. Sad.

 

Incubation // Incongruity

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Both sides of these split cards are acceptable. Cash this in for a creature when you don't need removal, or play this as a slightly overcosted but still perfectly functional Rapid Hybridization / Reality Shift. It's a flexible card that will always be useful in any Creature-heavy deck. Approved!

 

Repudiate // Replicate

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Umm, this is amazing? I do like Stifle but not enough to run such a narrow card. I also like Quasiduplicate type cards, especially when paired with stuff like Doubling Season and Parallel Lives. Having the flexibility of both on one card is something I can get behind. Being Simic does limit the homes this card can go in -- I would've loved something like this for Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer -- but thankfully there's always Riku of Two Reflection as an excellent Temur Tokens candidate.

 

Revival // Revenge

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I don't like Beacon of Immortality. But a Beacon of Immortality that also halves an opponent's life total definitely grabs my attention. Adding the ability to use this card as an Unearth is a sweet bonus. I see this card being a sweet inclusion to Orzhov Lifegain lists like Karlov of the Ghost Council, Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, and Regna, the Redeemer & Krav, the Unredeemed, decks that can properly use their own life totals as a resource to exploit (hello, Aetherflux Reservoir).

 

ARTIFACTS

 

Gate Colossus

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Gate Colossus caught my interest for the Maze's End deck, where it could be a free 8/8! But then I thought about it some more, and by the time the deck can cast this for free, it would much rather find and resolve Scapeshift or something similar to just win the game. So, eh, probably not.

 

Tome of the Guildpact

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

It draws cards! It ramps! Expensive as it may be, I'm still very interested in trying out Tome of the Guildpact for the Multicolor deck, aka Ramos, Dragon Engine. It can't be bad!

 

LANDS

 

Plaza of Harmony

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Instant staple in the Maze's End deck. It doesn't help much with fixing early game so it's no strict improvement over City of Brass but after a few turns it's essentially a second Command Tower which is great.

 

 

That's All, Folks!

Holy crap we finally reached the end! This article was a long one! Sorry in advance to our dear editor who had to go through an unusually long slog through rants, rambling, and numerous misuses of semicolons and em dashes. We got there in the end, you and I.

Ravnica Allegiance has a whole bunch of goodies in store for us Commander players. We've got new powerful commanders with Prime Speaker Vannifar, Teysa Karlov, and Nikya of the Old Ways. There's a ton of goodies for Sacrifice decks such as Ministrant of Obligation and Priest of Forgotten Ways. +1/+1 Counter decks picked up a ridiculous amount of playables like Simic Ascension and Incubation Druid. We've even got some new Commander staples in Guardian Project and Smothering Tithe. Overall, this is quite a good haul and I'm excited to get my hands on these cards!

Let me know in the comments section what cards YOU are most interested in and how you plan to use them. I do read all the comments! Next up will be the continuation of Budget Commander with Nikya of the Old Ways! Should be sweet!


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