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Commander Review: Shadows over Innistrad Part 2 (Red, Green, Multicolor, Colorless)


We're back with Part 2 of our Shadows over Innistrad Commander Review. Be sure to check out Part 1 if you haven't already!

Red

Avacyn's Judgment

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

In a regular deck, Avacyn's Judgment is an overpriced Forked Bolt and is in no way playable in Commander. In a Madness deck that can consistently cast it for its madness cost, it becomes an instant speed, cheaper Rolling Thunder that can snipe a problem creature or two. That's good. Not amazing, but solid enough to play.

 

Breakneck Rider

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is a sweet inclusion in Tribal Werewolves. Adding trample to your creatures is a nice boost. I'll happily add it to my deck. Sweet name, too!

 

Geier Reach Bandit

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Now that's what I'm talking about! Some of the Werewolf cards in this review get a pass because there's a limited pool to work with to make Tribal Werewolves, so my standards are lower when evaluating them. Geier Reach Bandit, however, is a great effect and is an incredibly potent addition to the deck. Getting your Werewolves to flip asap is exactly what the deck wants to do. Now all we need are additional ways to keep the Werewolves flipped, like a second Immerwolf.

 

Falkenrath Gorger

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Falkenrath Gorger is a big player in the new madness style of Tribal Vampires. He will pair wonderfully with Olivia, Mobilized for War, letting you discard Vampires with Olivia and still play them due to madness, negating the drawback completely. Definitely an auto-include in that deck.

 

Harness the Storm

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Commander is a singleton format, so this card is useless, right? Not exactly! In a vacuum, Harness the Storm does absolutely nothing for us, but when paired with certain cards it can serve as the perfect compliment to some delightfully evil lockdown cards.

There are some cards that counter spells unless you jump through hoops: Nullstone Gargoyle and Planar Chaos are examples. These cards are an absolute nightmare for everyone. With proper stacking, Harness the Storm gives you a way out. Let's say you cast a sorcery spell with Nullstone Gargoyle and Harness the Storm on the table. Both permanents trigger. Resolve Gargoyle's trigger first, letting your spell be countered. Now your spell is in the graveyard. Then you resolve Storm's trigger, which looks for a spell you cast with the same name in your graveyard, and a-ha! That's the spell you just had countered! You cast the spell!

It's sweet jank, and yes, this lockdown has a unique home ready to take it: Mishra, Artificer Prodigy. This guy runs many variations of this janky type of lockdown, and it's awesome. Expect to see a Budget Commander on him which will include Harness the Storm in the 99.

 

Sin Prodder

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

More card draw options are always welcome in Red, but I don't think Sin Prodder is a good one for Commander.

I can see this guy doing serious work in Standard, where the 3/2 body with evasion is an actual threat to your opponent with 20 life. Its triggered ability provides reach, either getting you more gas to close out the game or just burn the opponent out. It may even be a good inclusion in a Modern list, like Naya CoCo, who knows.

But in Commander, a 3/2 body is more a liability than anything else, since you have multiple opponents with 40 life each. The card draw is slow and far from guaranteed, In fact, don't expect any card you really want to be put in your hand. An opponent taking 4 damage to deny you a crucial card is an easy price to pay with these doubled life totals. 

In Commander, there are numerous cards I'd run before this Devil if I want similar effects: Wheel of Fortune, Faithless Looting, Mask of Memory, Reforge the Soul, Chandra, Flamecaller, Outpost Siege — you get the idea. They're not exactly the same, but they're all better cards that fit in the same decks.

 

Wolf of Devil's Breach

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

In a vacuum, Wolf of Devil's Breach is decent but not amazing in Commander. Red has plenty of ways to grant it haste, but the damage isn't insane nor is it the best madness enabler. However, you can't be too picky when making a Tribal Werewolves deck so I'll probably jam it in there with little hesitation.

 

Green

Briarbridge Patrol

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Briarbridge Patrol has a ton of potential. If there's enough support for Clue decks to be a real thing, she will be a key component to making the deck tick. She is a repeatable clue generator and cheating creatures into play is very powerful. How does "pay 6 mana: draw 3 cards and put Void Winnower from your hand into play" sound? Pretty good right? 

 

Clip Wings

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Clip Wings is a solid card. While Plummet may be more reliable, Clip Wings can potentially take out multiple creatures. It's probably still way too situational to sleeve up in a deck, but it's worth pointing out.

 

Crawling Sensation

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Crawling Sensation can be a very productive token generator in the right deck. I can imagine milling a land to make a token, then cracking a fetchland to make another on an opponent's turn. That said, you're only making 1/1's so it's not anything crazy. Land decks like Titania, Protector of Argoth may be interested in this card.

 

Cryptolith Rite

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Token decks just got another way to tap their army of dorky 1/1's for tons of mana. This enchantment is simlar to Earthcraft, though not as broken since you're only ever generating 1 mana per tap, not going crazy with Gaea's Cradle / Squirrel Nest or other shenanigans. Very solid.

 

Cult of the Waxing Moon

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I don't know how many flips will happen per turn in a Tribal Werewolf deck, but if this enchantment can reliably produce 2+ tokens per turn then it's worth playing. If not, pass. I'm not really impressed. It's not even a Werewolf itself! Guh.

 

Duskwatch Recruiter

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Duskwatch Recruiter is a great card no matter what side is flipped. You either get repeatable card advantage that lets you spend your mana without casting spells, thus not hindering your attempts to flip your werewolves, or you get a discount on casting creature spells, which you should have in your hand since you were drawing some with the previous ability. I love it! Auto-include in Tribal Werewolves.

 

Hermit of the Natterknolls

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The Werewolf version of Grand Abolisher: your opponents can mess with you on your turn, but you get to draw 1-2 cards for it. Your werewolves could be denied their transformation on your turn, but you get to draw cards. I like it! Another auto-include for Tribal Werewolves.

 

Howlpack Resurgence

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A sweet anthem for Tribal Werewolves. Flash lets it be used as a combat trick and also lets you pick the turn to cast it to help avoid flipping your wolves back to humans. Pretty much an auto-include for the deck.

 

Sage of Ancient Lore

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Sage of Ancient Lore is a big dumb beater, but I really like it for two reasons: 1) it draws you a card 2) it's a BIG dumb beater when flipped, with vigilance and trample to boot! In your typical commander game, I expect the flipped side to be 10/10 or larger. That's a lot of value for 5 mana! One of the best werewolves, that's for sure.

 

Seasons Past

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

If I want to get back a card from the graveyard, I'd rather play Eternal Witness, Regrowth, and Skullwinder. If I want to get back lots of cards, I'd rather play Praetor's Counsel. Seasons Past is a middle ground that I don't really care for, much like how I don't care for Restock. It's not a bad card but probably nothing I'd want to add to my deck given the alternatives.

 

Second Harvest

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Wow, this instant is a sweet addition to Tokens decks! It does require a board state before it does anything, but I think most of the time casting Second Harvest will end up swinging the game in your favor. The last end step before your turn, cast Second Harvest to make a huge army, then swing for lethal on your turn. Or just copy a few very powerful tokens for value. Seems great to me!

 

Silverfur Partisan

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card puzzles and excites me. Silverfur Partisan gives Tribal Werewolves some resiliency against your opponent's targeted removal, but it's also this weird lone card that encourages you to buff your creatures with instants/sorceries. We had Wild Defiance in original Innistrad, and now we have this. Are we going to get another card or two like this in Eldritch Moon, encouraging us to target our wolves with instants/sorceries? I need to investigate.  

If we do get a few more of these types of cards, Tribal Werewolves could have as a subtheme Silverfur Partisan, Wild Defiance, and of course, Zada, Hedron Grinder. Could be sweet!

 

Tireless Tracker

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I never liked Seer's Sundial, even in Lands deck where it was a perfect fit. The mana cost always felt too high.

Tireless Tracker is a better Sundial. The cost to draw a card is the same, but you can pay it at a later time, and clues are awesome. The fact that Tracker grows as you sacrifice clues is just a cherry on top.

Man, Bant Clues is looking really sweet for Commander! I'm shocked at how much I love this new mechanic, and there's just so much support for it in a single set!

 

Traverse the Ulvenwald

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Holy Merlin Magician, Batman!

This card is insanely good. I daresay it's a new Green staple. At worst, you paying 1 mana to cycle this card for any basic land. At best, you're paying 1 mana for your choice of Eladamri's Call and Sylvan Scrying, two Commander staples, for half the cost. In one card! This is insane!

Most playable Commander card in the entire set? Yeah, probably.

 

Ulvenwald Mysteries

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

In creature-heavy decks, especially Sacrifice decks, this card is a workhorse, pumping out clues and more sacrifice fodder. It may not be enough to see play in most decks, but in the Clue deck that I'm now obsessed with building, it will be a key player.

 

Multi-Color

Altered Ego

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is a modular Clone that can get bigger if you have extra mana laying around. It also works with +1/+1 counter themes, such as Vorel of the Hull Clade. You can also fetch it up with Green Sun's Zenith. This is a good card! It's also a bulk rare, which makes it great for budget decks. Copy your opponent's expensive creatures with your $1 card, and pay less mana to boot!

 

Anguished Unmaking

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Alright, this is crazy. I daresay I prefer this card to the grandaddy of removal spells, Vindicate. Exiling is more important in Commander than most other formats due to how popular recursion is. Instant speed is also more important in Commander due to the prevalence of insta-win combos that can only be disrupted at instant speed.

Anguished Unmaking is even better than Utter End, another ridiculously good removal spell since I'll gladly pay 3 of my 40 life to cast the spell for 1 less mana.

Every deck that can run this card should run this card. It's that good.

 

Arlinn Kord

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Arlinn Kord protects herself with Wolves, buffs your creatures, and can even snipe weaker utility creatures. That's pretty much everything you could want from a planeswalker. She obviously suffers a bit in Commander due to having a shorter expected lifespan than in 1v1, but I don't think you can play Tribal Werewolves without including her in the 99. 

Also, werewolf planeswalker. Damnit Wizards, I love you so much right now!

 

Archangel Avacyn

$ 0.00$ 0.00

I've written extensively about Angry Avacyn as a commander so I won't go into too much detail here.

Flashing in Archangel Avacyn to save your board from a spell like Wrath of God is a complete blowout. Heck, just saving a single important creature from removal is good enough to justify running her. Burning away smaller creatures when she flips is just another perk jammed into this value card. She's a great inclusion both as a commander or as part of the 99.

 

Elusive Tormentor

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

It's a shame Elusive Tormentor's flip side is Blue or else I'd jam it into Olivia Tribal Vampires. The mist is really neat, since it can hold equipments like a champ and is a pain to get rid of.

 

Fevered Visions

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

If you needed more Howling Mine / Dictate of Kruphix effects, here you go. Oddly enough, you draw the card at the end step, not the draw step. The damage only affects your opponents, which is nice, but it's low enough not to be a big deal.

 

The Gitrog Monster

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

So much goodness packed into one creature! The Gitrog Monster is a powerful ramping, card-drawing engine for Land decks and even Self-Mill decks. This Frog does the job so well that I wouldn't be surprised if most Titania, Protector of Argoth decks went to the dark side and put the Horror in the 99 instead. I love everything about this card from the flavor to the mechanics.

I bet The Gitrog Monster will be the most popular new commander to emerge from the set. It's powerful, it wants to be built around, the name is sweet, the art is sweet. I want to find the person who came up with this card and give her/him a hug. If The Gitrog Monster does become popular, expect Life from the Loam and Crucible of Worlds prices to go up even higher.

 

Nahiri, the Harbinger

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Boros gets some love with a solid new planeswalker. Cycling is a useful ability for future graveyard shenanigans or to enable madness. I don't think it would've been broken to let her draw and then discard, but oh well. Flexible exiling is always good in Commander, even if it's a bit more situational since the potential targets must be tapped first. Surprisingly, her ultimate isn't broken, which may give Superfriends decks pause, but in Boros we don't get any good creature/artifact tutors so that's nice at least.

All in all, Nahiri, the Harbinger is a good addition to Boros, but nothing game-changing. Also the art is fantastic. Have I mentioned I love Innistrad lore/art/flavor? Because I do.

 

Olivia, Mobilized for War

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Olivia, Mobilized for War is probably the best Tribal Vampire commander we've got now. I certainly like her far more than Olivia Voldaren, which is too much of a mana hog. New Olivia is a sleek 3/3 flyer for 3 that you can easily re-cast multiple times, and her triggered ability costs no mana at all. Turn your non-Vampire creatures, like Solem Simulacrum, into Vampires to benefit from your vVmpire lords, while also discarding cards to enable madness, which is what Shadows over Innistrad Vampires are all about.

New Olivia won't make Tribal Vampires a powerhouse deck, but she's great and supports the tribe exactly in the way you'd want a Vampire leader to. Expect a Budget Commander on her in the near future!

 

Ongoing Investigation

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The sweet Clue cards keep coming! Ongoing Investigation is a worse Coastal Piracy effect in a vacuum, but if Clues become a thing in Commander, then this enchantment is a powerhouse for the deck. I really hope we get one or two more cards in Eldritch Moon that incentivize building around them because the mechanic is so cool!

 

Pious Evangel

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Starts off as a worse Healer of the Pride, ends up as Zulaport Cutthroat. The fact that you have to wait a turn and spend 5 mana to turn it into a Zulaport Cutthroat makes it a worse version, but some decks may want to add Pious Evangel anyway for redundancy and flexibility. Lifedrain decks and possibly Sacrifice decks will be interested in this guy.

 

Sigarda, Heron's Grace

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Sigarda, Heron's Grace is the latest offering in rewarding you for playing Tribal Humans. Giving your creatures hexproof is great, as is creating extra Human tokens, while also protecting you from the nefarious Black players' Animate Dead attempts. She plays entirely differently than her previous version, Sigarda, Host of Herons, which almost always went a Voltron route. This card is Tribal Human support instead, and she's good at what she wants to do.

 

Ulrich's Kindred

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Ulrich's Kindred is a much weaker Werewolf version of Spearbreaker Behemoth. The 4-mana activation cost and only working when you're attacking, makes this card disappointing for Tribal Werewolves It's bad enough that I can't recommend adding it to the 99 unless you're sticking 100% to the theme.

 

Colorless

Tamiyo's Journal

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

There's only one deck that wants Tamiyo's Journal in Commander, and it's — you guessed it — the Clue deck that I won't shut up about.

Ring of Three Wishes and Planar Portal are two cards that I sometimes play in my White and/or Red decks, colors that have very poor tutoring capabilities. Even those cards aren't the greatest, simply because you're spending 10+ mana to tutor up your first card. Tamiyo's Journal costs only 5 mana for your first card, assuming you have clues laying around. Subsequent tutors are free, assuming you have the clues for it. In the Clues deck, the assumption is you'll have more clues than you know what to do with, so the second ability is amazing.

Wizards, please give us a WUG Clues legendary in Eldritch Moon! Pleeeeease! I don't think I've ever wanted a commander so much as I do this.

 

Lands

Rare Dual Lands

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

At first glance, the new Rare land cycle (Shadow lands? Have we decided on a name yet?) seem pretty good. They should come untapped more often than not early game, especially in 2-color decks. They should still work fine in 3-color decks if you're running all of the original dual lands, shock lands, and battle lands available in your colors, to maximize the chances of having the right lands type in your hand.

 

Drownyard Temple

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is a new staple in any decks that self-mill or sacrifice lands. Drownyard Temple is ramp that doesn't cost you a card when you play it from the graveyard. It doesn't even come into play tapped if you play it from you hand. This card is crazy good. The Gitrog Monster, Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, and many other decks will love this. It may even be a piece in some brutal combos that I don't know about. Definitely the best land in the set, and one of the best cards.

 

Closing Thoughts

Holy crap, that's a lot of cards that I'm excited about! A quick run through the cards to wrap things up.

Red walks away with some nice Tribal Vampire and Werewolf support, but not much for other decks. Green is a big winner with tons of amazing Tribal Werewolf / Clues / Tokens support, plus Traverse the Ulvenwald, which I'll be jamming into every Green deck I own. Instant staple. Speaking of staples, Anguished Unmaking is going into every deck that can play it as well. 

Werewolves needed the most support in this set since Innistrad is the only world we get werewolf cards from, and so far Wizards has been delivering. I have no doubt that Eldritch Moon will continue bringing more gifts, including the long-awaited legendary RG werewolf (or there might be a riot). Vampires got some good offerings, but I'm hoping for a bit more madness and less +1/+1 counter stuff. Thankfully, Vampires is a very popular tribe with years of support and certainly more to come, so it's not a big deal if we don't get too many goodies from this block. Spirits got one amazing addition with Rattleclaw and hopefully we can pick up one or two more in Eldritch Moon. Finally there's Zombies, a tribe that already has a lot of love, but gets even better now with cards like Diregraf Colossus. I've already made room for them in my Thraximundar Zombies deck!

Oddly enough, the deck I'm most looking forward to build in the near future is Bant Clues. I have no idea what the deck will end up looking like and it excites me. There has to be a way to break clue tokens. I'm guessing it will be a mish-mash of artifact synergies like Krark-Clan Ironworks and Dispatch, along with Stax elements like Smokestack. If you have any sweet ideas for it, let me know in the comments section below!

So there you have it: a lot of cards to support Tribal Werewolves, Vampires, Zombies, and Clues. Some new key cards for Spirits, Tokens, and Self-Mill. At least three sweet new commanders in The Gitrog MonsterOlivia, Mobilized for War, and Archangel Avacyn. A good haul for Commander! What cards are you most hyped about? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. You can reach me on Twitter @BudgetCommander, or email me at acommoncausemtg@gmail.com


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