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Commander Review: Theros Beyond Death | Part 2 | Black, Red


The full card list for Theros: Beyond Death is out, which means it's time for the Commander Review! Here are my favorite new Commander cards from the set and which decks will want them.

We continue with Part 2: Black & Red. You can find Part 1: White & Blue over here.

 

BLACK

 

Aphemia, the Cacophony

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Wizards finally did it: we have a legendary harpy! There are a total of 11 harpies now in the game, and the best one, Cavern Harpy, isn't playable if you run Aphemia, the Cacophony as your Harpy Tribal commander. So uhhh ... good luck, Richard?

Other than Harpy Tribal, there's not much I like about Aphemia, the Cacophony. Most decks aren't running enough enchantments for her trigger to be super relevant, and Enchantress decks don't want her since the archetype has some of the best recursion around thanks to Replenish / Open the Vaults / Crystal Chimes / Dance of the Manse among others, so exiling enchantments for zombies is a waste.

Recommended For: not recommended. Unless you're Richard; in that case, I look forward to losing to Harpy Tribal somehow!

 

Drag to the Underworld

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

If your devotion to black is just 1, Drag to the Underworld is already equal to Murder. But once you have devotion to black of 2, Drag becomes a slightly harder to cast unrestrictive Doom Blade / Go for the Throat / Cast Down / etc. That's a really good spot to be in, and in black-heavy decks it should be easy to get the cost down to just BB reliably. I expect to run Drag to the Underworld in all my Mono Black decks, most notably Toshiro Umezawa which can get double value out of it being an instant! If you're interested in ol' Toshiro then check out my primer!

Recommended For: all Mono Black decks, most notably Toshiro Umezawa.

 

Eat to Extinction

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Eat to Extinction is an easier to cast Vraska's Contempt that replaces the lifegain with a bit of card selection / graveyard fill (basically surveil 1), which is an upgrade for most Commander decks. Four mana is a lot for black targeted creature removal, however, especially when Commander players have access to dirt cheap alternatives -- even free ones like Snuff Out! I don't think I've ever seen Vraska's Contempt played in Commander, and while Eat to Extinction is slightly better, I don't think it will be all that popular either. It's not a bad card, especially if your playgroup regularly runs planeswalkers, but it gets lost in a sea of great black removal spells.

Recommended For: maybe some Black Graveyard decks like Syr Konrad, the Grim, but unlikely.

 

Elspeth's Nightmare

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Elspeth's Nightmare isn't the best saga for Commander from the set (my current favorite is Elspeth Conquers Death) since all the chapter abilities are pretty situational. It is rather cheap, however, and it is still a saga, which means it synergizes with 1) enchantress effects (Mesa Enchantress) 2) blink effects (Brago, King Eternal) 3) counter manipulation (Hex Parasite) to get more value out of it. If Elspeth's Nightmare is going to see play anywhere, it'll probably be in Daxos the Returned and Aminatou, the Fateshifter, for those reasons.

Recommended For: Daxos the Returned, Aminatou, the Fateshifter.

 

Erebos, Bleak-Hearted

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Unlike the original Erebos, God of the Dead, which is a popular Mono Black Goodstuff commander, the new Erebos, Bleak-Hearted is a decidedly male Sacrifice card. In a Sacrifice deck, new Erebos is going to be stronger than the OG, since his card draw no longer costs mana and just requires your creatures to die, which is kinda the whole schtick of a Sacrifice deck so it should be triggering all the time. Erebos, Bleak-Hearted even acts as a sacrifice outlet if necessary, even though it's a pretty poor one, but a poor sac outlet is way better than no sac outlet! Add indestructible to this enchantment and you've got an amazing Sacrifice support card that is incredibly reliable / hard to remove!

Erebos, Bleak-Hearted is weird because even though it's a good card and has a higher power ceiling than the original, it's a "worse" commander option only because Black Sacrifice decks are swimming in fantastic candidates. Just in Mono Black alone I'd say Yawgmoth, Thran Physician is a better Sacrifice commander, and once you start adding additional colors there's Meren of Clan Nel Toth, Teysa Karlov, Marchesa, the Black Rose, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King ... the list goes on. So while Erebos, Bleak-Hearted is very strong, he's less enticing as a commander since he has to compare to a slew of other amazing Sacrifice commanders, while Erebos, God of the Dead isn't insane or anything but has less competition for his role of Mono Black Goodstuff commander.

This is a long rambly way of saying that Erebos, Bleak-Hearted is a very strong Sacrifice commander, but he'll end up being better in the 99 of even stronger Sacrifice commanders, of which there are a crapton at this point.

Recommended For: most Sacrifice decks, as a commander but more likely as part of the 99 of decks like Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, Teysa Karlov, Marchesa, the Black Rose, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, Meren of Clan Nel Toth, and many others.

 

Erebos's Intervention

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Erebos's Intervention has two fairly inefficient modes, with the upside of flexibility. It's decent at removing smaller utility creatures but big threatening creatures require a ton of mana when a simple Drag to the Underworld would do just fine (this does get around indestructible though). Exiling graveyards at instant speed is nice but again there's better options like Shred Memory (which doubles as a tutor) or Faerie Macabre (costs no mana, is a creature for additional synergies). Like Thassa's Intervention, I do appreciate the flexibility here, but both modes are mediocre to the point that I wouldn't recommend running this card in most decks. It's fine if you add it due to budget concerns or if you just happen to have one in your collection; it's not bad, just very mediocre and we have lots of better options.

Can it be that White is actually the winner of the Intervention cycle with Heliod's Intervention??? It's looking like it!

Recommended For: it can show up in any Black deck and do a decent job, but I wouldn't recommend it.

 

Funeral Rites

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

We now have a couple variants of the 3cmc sorcery speed draw 2, lose 2 life in Mono Black. In most decks, Read the Bones is the best, and I play it a good amount in Mono Black decks as reliable draw on a budget. Funeral Rites ain't too shabby either, especially in a Graveyard deck that wants some self-mill. Both are worse than Notion Rain but we're talking Mono Black here; once you add Blue the card draw options aren't even fair. I expect this card to remain less than a buck for a long long time, making it a perfect budget card draw option for a bunch of Mono Black lists.

Recommended For: Budget Mono Black Graveyard decks like Syr Konrad, the Grim, Chainer, Dementia Master, Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker, and not a terrible inclusion in budget multicolor Graveyard decks like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and Muldrotha, the Gravetide.

 

Gravebreaker Lamia

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Now this is an interesting card! Gravebreaker Lamia has a lot going on: its ETB trigger is Entomb, a super powerful tutor that has long been used in the more powerful Commander decks to dump a powerful card in the graveyard to use later, such as Reanimate'ing a Vilis, Broker of Blood or flashback Past in Flames. Lamia also makes spells you cast from your graveyard cost less, so a Spellslinger deck running a bunch of Flashback/Jump-Start cards (Chemister's Insight) or a Graveyard deck that regularly casts spells from the 'yard (Muldrotha, the Gravetide) can have a lot of fun with this. Casting Yawgmoth's Will / Underworld Breach / Past in Flames with Gravebreaker Lamia in play can lead to some explosive plays! Finally, the lamia is an enchantment, so it has Enchantress synergy potential like being tutored up with Idyllic Tutor. The 5cmc is the same as Sidisi, Undead Vizier, a Demonic Tutor on a stick that sees a fair amount of play; I think Gravebreaker Lamia has comparable utility and will be just as powerful as Sidisi.

Recommended For: this is the perfect new inclusion for Muldrotha, the Gravetide. I also expect to see it pop up in a fair number of Black Graveyard decks such as Kess, Dissident Mage, Chainer, Nightmare Adept, Karador, Ghost Chieftain, and others. Daxos the Returned lists may run it as well.

 

Hateful Eidolon

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Hateful Eidolon has one perfect home: Daxos the Returned. There's very few Black Enchantress decks out there that can run the Eidolon, and fewer still that regularly want enchanted creatures to die, but Daxos the Returned likes both of these things! Pick off your opponents' creatures with auras like Inevitable End and Mire's Grasp, drawing cards in the process! Hateful Eidolon is also nice insurance against opponents killing your own enchanted creatures, of course, but black's ability to proactively draw cards with aura-based creature removal makes this card real good.

Recommended For: Daxos the Returned 100%

 

Inevitable End

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Inevitable End isn't a good card. It's basically a bad Lingering Death since it costs more and your opponent has a choice on what to sacrifice. Still, for the purposes of a Daxos the Returned Auras list running cards like Hateful Eidolon, it probably makes the cut. Worst case this is a solid inclusion in a budget version of Daxos.

Recommended For: Daxos the Returned

 

Minion's Return

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I loved the concept of cards like Unholy Indenture, but being sorcery-speed meant they were always clunky to play: either you cast the aura and then immediately remove the creature, or else your opponents have time to play around it. Minion's Return turns an otherwise weak concept into a surprisingly viable one! Now you can steal a creature in response to it about to die, be it in combat, or perhaps in response to a board wipe. This is a neat trick to both protect your creatures or steal opposing creatures at instant speed!

Recommended For: it can show up in any Black deck, but most likely by far in Daxos the Returned where it's honestly very good!

 

Mire's Grasp

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Daxos. The. Returned.

Recommended For: take a guess

 

Nightmare Shepherd

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Lots of Commander players are allergic to the idea of exiling cards from their own graveyard -- even when the vast majority of cards can be safely exiled for value -- due to an irrational belief that maybe they'll need it some time in the future. This "Graveyard Hoarder" mentality is why Nightmare Shepherd is likely going to be completely overlooked and unexplored by the vast majority of Commander players, which is a shame because it's actually a great card in a few decks. Remember that it's a may effect, so if it's a creature that you really want to recur instead then you don't have to exile it!

First, the Shepherd can be very sweet in Panharmonicon decks with a sacrifice outlet, like Yarok, the Desecrated, where the value of the creatures are in their ETB triggers, not their power/toughness: for example, evoke Mulldrifter, draw 2 cards and sacrificing it, then make a token copy drawing another 2 cards. That's 4 cards drawn for 3 mana. If Yarok is out then that's 8 cards drawn for 3 mana. Replace Mulldrifter for Shriekmaw or any other sweet ETB creature plus a Viscera Seer to sac it.

Next are Sacrifice decks. Nightmare Shepherd can be a fast-paced "recursion" card for many of your non-infinite creatures. How about using Sidisi, Undead Vizier to exploit herself, then have the token exploit itself too, for a double Demonic Tutor? And while you don't usually want to exile your combo pieces, Nightmare Shepherd actually enables a new one: Eternal Scourge + Ashnod's Altar is now infinite colorless mana by sac'ing the Scourge, exiling it and sac'ing the token, then casting Scourge from exile. Toss in the usual Blood Artist / Zulaport Cutthroat for the win!

Also Nightmare Shepherd is very good with specific commanders! Teysa, Orzhov Scion gets even more mana-efficient sac fodder to machine-gun down opposing creatures! Commanders with powerful death creatures, like Elenda, the Dusk Rose, want to die, but going to the graveyard means they can't go back to the command zone; Nightmare Shepherd can send Elenda right back to the command zone while making a free commander copy! Woo!

Recommended For: Elenda, the Dusk Rose, Teysa, Orzhov Scion, Yarok, the Desecrated, and Gyrus, Waker of Corpses.

 

Pharika's Libation

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

It turns out that Mire in Misery was just the start of Black getting enchantment removal, which was officially confirmed by Mark Rosewater recently. Black will have enchantment removal, but it will be notably worse than either White or Green's options. Still, in a deck that doesn't have access to White or Green, Pharika's Libation is better than nothing. It's more expensive than Mire in Misery and doesn't affect all opponents, but it's instant and you get to choose whether the opponent sacrifices a creature or enchantment so it has better accuracy.

Is this good enough for Mono Black decks to run it as anti-enchantment hate? Well, er, probably not. I think Black is still better off running colorless options like Nevinyrral's Disk or Unstable Obelisk. But it's a nice start. Also, being an instant, it's probably good enough for Toshiro Umezawa!

Recommended For: Toshiro Umezawa, if at all.

 

Treacherous Blessing

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Drawing X cards for X mana is an amazing rate. Draw 3 for 3 mana is great. I love me some Painful Truths and run it in as many 3C decks as possible. Treacherous Blessing is similar, but a bit different. It doesn't lose you life at first, but if not gotten rid of it can make you lose a ton of life in the long run. I wouldn't recommend running Treacherous Blessing in just any deck for this reason. But any deck that can reliably get rid of the Blessing will absolutely love it. There are at least two commanders that I already know will love it: Shattergang Brothers and the extra obscure Ertai, the Corrupted. Draw 3 cards, then sacrifice it for even more value!

Recommended For: Ertai, the Corrupted, Shattergang Brothers

 

Tymaret Calls the Dead

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Tymaret Calls the Dead is a solid enabler in Self-Mill decks. After three turns you've milled yourself 6 cards, made up to 2 zombies, and then you gain some life and scry a bit. That's a good enabler for a few Graveyard decks like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and Muldrotha, the Gravetide, doing its job without any extra work on your part for 3cmc. It's not in the "absolute best" category like Stitcher's Supplier, but Self-Mill decks want a lot of graveyard fillers and Tymaret Calls the Dead should definitely make the cut a lot of times. I personally expect to include it in most Black Self-Mill brews going forward.

Recommended For: Self-Mill decks like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, Muldrotha, the Gravetide, Syr Konrad, the Grim.

 

Tymaret, Chosen from Death

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Tymaret, the Murder King is back as Tymaret, Chosen from Death! He's basically a fancy Withered Wretch: beefier butt, legendary enchantment demigod, but ultimately serves the same purpose: deny your opponents' graveyard recursion. Despite not gaining life, Withered Wretch actually does a better job of this since it's more flexible at spot removal, only requiring one colorless mana to activate, while Tymaret requires 1B each time. In a vacuum, then, I'd actually run the Wretch over Tymaret, but it's close.

However, Tymaret's extra bells and whistles allow him to get better if we take advantage of certain synergies. Since he's an enchantment he's a better fit for Enchantress decks, like -- yes, him again -- Daxos the Returned, though Agent of Erebos probably does a better job there. He's also legendary so I suppose you can use him as a silver bullet in a Legendary deck like Kethis, the Hidden Hand, even though there's probably better options than him (Anafenza, the Foremost).

Overall, Tymaret, Chosen from Death is ... fine. I really like the artwork and the border and everything, but, eh ... it's fine. I think there's better options than him at similar price points, but he's not embarassing or anything.

Recommended For: Erebos, God of the Dead, Daxos the Returned, Kethis, the Hidden Hand.

 

Woe Strider

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Viscera Seer is one of the top premium sacrifice outlets for any Sacrifice deck: 1cmc, repeatable, mana-free sac outlet, a creature so you can fetch it up / reanimate it easily, and scry is actually useful. Woe Strider is a more expensive Seer, which makes it significantly worse, but what's really cool about this one is that it's got escape! So later on in the game, be it after a board wipe or self-mill, you can just cast it straight from the graveyard and BAM, your top-tier sac outlet is back on the board. That's really good utility. It's still worse than Viscera Seer but it's an excellent backup copy.

Recommended For: any Sacrifice deck, like Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, Teysa Karlov, Marchesa, the Black Rose, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, Meren of Clan Nel Toth, and many others.

 

RED

 

The Akroan War

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The Akroan War is a pretty mediocre saga in a vacuum but, like all sagas, it has some niche applications. The first chapter alone is an overpriced Threaten and notably does not give the stolen creature haste so it can't attack the turn you steal it, but you do hold on to the creature for as long as the saga remains on the battlefield (by itself that's an extra turn). This means that if you have ways to remove lore counters -- Power Conduit, Hex Parasite, Ferropede, and so on -- you can slowly take control of all creatures on the battlefield one by one until the saga is removed.

The other chapters are okay; chapter 2 doesn't prevent your opponents from attacking you (which they probably will do unless you have blockers), but it's primarily there to set up the pseudo board wipe from chapter 3. Even for decks built around opponents attacking, like Thantis, the Warweaver, this is too slow and clunky for my liking.

The Akroan War's power lies primarily in its chapter 1 ability, and that's a good place to be in. It seems like a pretty good inclusion in Threaten decks like Yasova Dragonclaw and Shattergang Brothers, where you sacrifice the stolen creatures for value. Any deck that happens to run lore counter removal cards will enjoy this too. Saga Tribal time?

Recommended For: Threaten decks like Yasova Dragonclaw and Shattergang Brothers, Saga Tribal.

 

Anax, Hardened in the Forge

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Anax, Hardened in the Forge is probably my favorite demigod of the cycle. Any time a nontoken creature you control dies, you get a token; if it had 4 power you get two tokens! Since you're in red, you don't even need to run big beaters to reliably get two tokens per dying creature; cards like Hazoret's Favor and Ogre Battledriver can temporarily boost your creatures' powers to 4+ when you attack, and then you can sacrifice them postcombat for two tokens! This 3cmc creature is a very efficient token generator in a Sacrifice deck, comparing favorably to similar popular cards like Ogre Slumlord and Sifter of Skulls.

I see Anax, Hardened in the Forge as a commander for a sweet new Mono Red Artistocrats/Threaten deck: all you need is a sac outlet (Goblin Bombardment), creatures you want to sacrifice (Threaten), ways to pump them (Hazoret's Favor, and cards that have death triggers (Hissing Iguanar).

Anax is going to be even more powerful as part of the 99 of multicolor Sacrifice decks, since the Sacrifice archetype has its best cards locked away in black: Korvold, Fae-Cursed King and others will enjoy this cheap new token generator.

Recommended For: as a commander of Mono Red Aristocrats, but more likely in the 99 of more popular commanders like Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, Marchesa, the Black Rose, Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, Shattergang Brothers.

 

Deathbellow War Cry

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

It's kinda weird that WOTC would put such a cool and potentially strong card as a theme booster exclusive, but Deathbellow War Cry is one sleeper powerhouse that can only get better the more Minotaurs are printed. Just by itself, War Cry is one of the best Minotaur Tribal support cards, tutoring up and dropping down four Minotaur creatures with different names on to the battlefield; an incredibly strong effect for eight mana. The main thing limiting how strong Deathbellow War Cry can be is the fact that we just don't have a lot of great Minotaur creatures to tutor up -- for now. If you really want to abuse the War Cry, however, you can pair it up with a way to tutor non-Minotaur creatures, such as making all the creatures in your deck Minotaurs with Arcane Adaptation. At that point you probably just win the game assembling whatever infiite combo your deck can pull off with four creatures. 

Recommended For: Minotaur Tribal like Neheb the Worthy, Tribal Shenanigans with Arcane Adaptation.

 

Dreamshaper Shaman

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Dreamshaper Shaman is like a repeatable red Polymorph, except it broadens its targets from only creatures to any nonland permanent. It works best when you're running cards that can manipulate the top of your library -- cards like Worldly Tutor, Cream of the Crop, Hua Tuo, Honored Physician -- to ensure that what you're getting with this trigger is worth the mana and sacrifice. Using the Shaman's ability to drop down a Sheoldred, Whispering One, for example, can easily swing games in your favor. 

Polymorph decks have been done very well in Blue for a long time, most notably in the commander version of the spell, Jalira, Master Polymorphist. While Dreamshaper Shaman can't fit in a Jalira deck, there's a Jund equivalent where it's the perfect fit: Vaevictus Asmadi, the Dire.

Another archetype Dreamshaper Shaman can do work in is Aristocrats lists featuring lots of Threaten effects. Not only is the Shaman a sac outlet once you've used the stolen creature, but you get extra value in the form of a random nonland permanent!

The biggest downside to Dreamshaper Shaman, however, is its high mana cost. You have to spend six mana just to cast it, then an additional three mana to use its ability -- that's a huge investment that you may not have a chance to gain value from before it's killed off. Of course, if you can cheat it into play somehow, such as Animate Dead, it does get better.

Recommended For: Vaevictus Asmadi, the Dire 100%! Also potentially other Artistocrats decks like Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, Marchesa, the Black Rose, Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, Shattergang Brothers.

 

Escape Velocity

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Red has no shortage of fantastic haste enablers, and Escape Velocity certainly doesn't enter the realm of "goodstuff" when it comes to choosing a generic one for your Red deck. Being able to give a creature haste from your graveyard isn't even a unique ability in Red, as longterm staple Anger shows how it's done better. Even so, there are narrow applications where you'd want to run Escape Velocity, specifically Red Aura decks. There are at least two homes that come to mind: Tiana, Ship's Caretaker and Valduk, Keeper of the Flame.

If you're interested in what Tiana, Ship's Caretaker could look like, check out my primer here! I'll update it soonish with these THB goodies!

Recommended For: Tiana, Ship's Caretaker and Valduk, Keeper of the Flame.

 

Furious Rise

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I love the flavor text of this text: "GRRR, I'M SO MADE I'M GONNA KNIT THESE THREADS OF FATE INTO THE UGLIEST SWEATER! AND YOU'RE GONNA WEAR IT!!!"

Silly flavor text and amazing artwork aside, Furious Rise is a sweet budget Phyrexian Arena for Red Stompy decks. You've got at least one full turn to play the card you exiled, which is worse than just drawing the card, and you need to control a creature with power 4 or greater for the trigger to happen, but Phyrexian Arena is currently a $10 card and Furious Rise probably won't ever break $1 so let's all be happy with this nice budget card advantage engine.

This is solid incremental card advantage in Mono Red and some Boros decks too. Other colors have better card draw options, but even then it's still a fine budget option in any deck that can reliably have a 4 power creature on board.

Recommended For: Ilharg, the Raze-Boar, Etali, Primal Storm, Tajic, Blade of the Legion.

 

Iroas's Blessing

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Galvanic Arc is a solid inclusion in at least two Red Aura decks: Tiana, Ship's Navigator and Valduk, Keeper of the Flame. Both decks take a pretty bad card in Commander and make it playable through aura synergies. Iroas's Blessing is weaker than Arc; you do 1 more point of damage and pump the power/toughness a little, but at the cost of 1 more mana. You also can't enchant your opponents' creatures, which isn't a huge deal but that does sometimes come up. It's still good enough to make the cut in budget-focused brews of Tiana and definitely Valduk (smaller card pool), however.

If you're interested in what Tiana, Ship's Caretaker could look like, check out my primer here! I'll update it soonish with these THB goodies!

Recommended For: Tiana, Ship's Caretaker and Valduk, Keeper of the Flame.

 

Ox of Agonas

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Ox of Agonas draws 3(!) cards! In Red! Yes, you have to discard your hand first, but if you had no cards in hand then it's a net gain of 3 cards! This is fantastic for decks that regularly go hellbent, like Malfegor or Hazoret, the Fervent. It's also an efficient way to discard cards, especially if you're spending a mere 2 mana to escape it, making it a solid inclusion in Madness decks like Anje Falkenrath or Phoenix Tribal!

Recommended For: Hellbent decks like Hazoret the Fervent, Malfegor, and Neheb, the Worthy; Madness decks like Anje Falkenrath; Phoenix Tribal like Squee, Goblin Nabob

 

Phoenix of Ash

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Phoenix of Ash is terrible in Commander. Welcome to Phoenix Tribal.

Recommended For: Phoenix Tribal like Squee, Goblin Nabob

 

Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The original Purphoros, God of the Forge is a cutthroat Go Wide Token Burn deck, the most successful (and one of the only) Burn deck in Commander. This new Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded doesn't care about Burn, instead being the god version of Sneak Attack. Purphoros costs more than the previous enchantment, both in cmc and its activation, plus you're limited to sneaking in only red and artifact creatures (no Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger shenanigans!). But the big upsides is that Purphoros is indestructible, can be your commander, gives all your creatures haste, and is sometimes a 7/6 beatstick himself. That's a pretty good balancing act!

Purphorose, Bronze-Blooded has gotta be the new Sneak Attack commander for Mono Red. Sorry Ilharg, the Raze-Boar; while you're a fantastic commander too, you ain't indestructible, so into the 99 you go. Ilharg bounces creatures to re-use later, not sacrifice them, but honestly I don't think that's a big drawback. There's even some nasty creatures that want to be sacrificed! Imagine having a board with Purphoros, Darksteel Citadel, Darksteel Ingot, Cascading Cataracts, and sneaking in Bearer of the Heavens! Everything goes BOOM, except your indestructible stuff survives and you keep chugging along. Savage!

Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded is harder to run in multicolor decks due to its sneak restrictions, so I'd probably stick to just Mono Red. He's great as a commander or part of the 99 of Ilharg or others like Feldon of the Third Path.

Recommended For: as a commander or in Ilhard, the Raze-Boar or Feldon of the Third Path.

 

Purphoros's Intervention

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Like most of the Interventions, Purphoros's Intervention offers two mediocre modes and hopes that the flexibility of choice makes it worth it. In Commander, I'd say no. Here you've got either a big token to smack with or an overpriced removal spell. Sure, you can probably one-shot someone with a giant Elemental if you have enough mana, but Red already has plenty of better ways to do that (Comet Storm). Or maybe you can burn a Stuffy Doll for 10+ damage. Both are meh to me.

Recommended For: unlikely to see play anywhere.

 

Storm Herald

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I'd be hesitant to run Storm Herald in most Aura decks since we already have so many better mass Aura recursion cards available, like Retether, Replenish, Bruna, Light of Alabaster, etc. Mono Red is the one exception that lacks these superior options, so Storm Herald is a great pickup in at least one deck: Valduk, Keeper of the Flame.

Recommended For: Valduk, Keeper of the Flame.

 

Storm's Wrath

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

For Red board wipes, the most popular / priciest / best is Blasphemous Act. After that it gets murkier. Chain Reaction is solid but is conditional. Mizzium Mortars is asymmetrical but costs more mana. Hour of Devastation is pretty sweet but doesn't kill the biggest creatures. Magmaquake is instant and hits planeswalkers but can cost a bunch of mana.

Where does Storm's Wrath fit amongst these? Probably on the low end. I reach for Blasphemous Act and Chain Reaction first usually, and if a playgroup is planeswalker-heavy then Hour of Devastation does work (plus it kills indestructible!). Storm's Wrath is basically Hour of Devastation but a bit worse -- unless you want to kill Bolas specifically, then it's better. It's a serviceable board wipe if it's all you've got on hand, but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it.

Recommended For: Red Control decks that don't have better board wipes on hand.

 

Tectonic Giant

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Tectonic Giant is a neat little beatstick that impulse draws when you attack and when your opponent kills it with a targeted removal! It's neat and I like it!

Recommended For: Combat-focused Red decks like Aurelia, the Warleader, Grand Warlord Radha; Giant Tribal like Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas.

 

Terror of Mount Velus

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Terror of Mount Velus is another incredibly powerful card for Commander distributed through theme boosters. Giving all your creatures double strike is a surefire way to attack for lethal. Its 7cmc is very expensive, but it's trivial for a Red deck to cheat this into play for way less mana: Sneak Attack, Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded, Feldon of the Third Path, and Zirilan of the Claw can all send this 5/5 flying double strike dragon straight into combat! I expect Terror of Mount Velus to end a lot of games in Red Stompy lists that can reliably cheat the dragon into play.

Recommended For: any Sneak Attack deck like Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded, Feldon of the Third Path, Kaalia of the Vast, and Zirilan of the Claw.

 

Underworld Breach

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

WOW! Red just got a version of Yawgmoth's Will, one of the most busted cards in Commander! The escape cost does add up fast, but Underworld Breach costs one less mana than Yawgmoth's Will and most notably stuff going into the graveyard aren't exiled so you can repeatedly escape the same card over and over! Oh, and it's an enchantment so it's easier to recur than Will!

It's hard not to get tremendous value out of Underworld Breach. Use it fairly and recast two or three cards from your graveyard? That's good value! But of course, we can break this card wide open as well. One popular combo circulating is Underworld Breach + Mox Amber / Mox Opal + Grinding Station. Escape the Mox, tap it for mana, sac it to Station milling yourself 3 cards, escape the Mox again by exiling the 3 cards you just milled which untaps Station, rinse repeat for a ton of mana and exiling your entire library. Win with Thassa's Oracle or whatever. Super easy combo to pull off!

Underworld Breach is crazy good.

Recommended For: any Red deck, especially combo decks.

 

Part 3 Next: Green, Colorless, and Multicolored!

We wrap up the review with Part 3 coming soon! As always, please let me know what you think of this review. I always make updates and changes to the reviews post-publishing based on your feedback to make the review as good / accurate / comprehensive as possible. And let me know which new cards are your favorite and where you're going to play them! Thanks for reading!


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