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Commander Review: War of the Spark Part 3 (Green, Colorless, Multi-Color, Lands)


War of the Spark has been fully spoiled and that means it's time for the Commander Review! We covered White/Blue in Part 1 and Black/Red in Part 2 so check those out if you haven't. Now it's time for Part 3 where we cover Green, Colorless, Multi-Color, and Lands!

Before we talk about individual cards, I wanted to give some general thoughts about the cards that define this set. This is a copy/pasta at the front of every article so if you've already read it then feel free to skip:

When You Should Play Planeswalkers

There's a ton of planeswalkers in War of the Spark that we'll have to review. They all do very different things and fit into very different decks. However, all planeswalkers have similar attributes that you should be aware of when deciding whether or not to run them in your deck. So instead of repeating myself endlessly in this review, here are some tips to maximize the effectiveness of your planeswalkers.

You should play planeswalkers if ...

  • You are okay with them being targeted and hated no matter what. Your opponents will be gunning for your planeswalkers the moment you cast them. Planeswalkers are long-term value engines and provide clear, visible threats to your opponents, especially the ones with powerful ultimate abilities. Even the lowly Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded will draw hate at the table for fear of his Insurrection ultimate ability. Since killing planeswalkers is as easy as attacking them with creatures, if your opponents can safely do that, they will. You have to acknowledge this and be okay with it. If you tilt easily or feel it's "unfair" that people are killing your planeswalkers instead of attacking Jimmy who is clearly ahead, then save yourself the headache and don't play them.
  • You can protect them from attacks. Casting an unprotected planeswalker while your opponents have creatures means that 'walker is all but guaranteed to be dead before your next turn. Creature-heavy decks with lots of potential blockers, Pillowfort decks that can prevent attacks (Sphere of Safety), decks loaded with creature hate (Wrath of God), and Stax decks (Jokulhaups) are your best bet for keeping your planeswalkers around.
  • You can use their abilities more than once per turn. Cards like Oath of Teferi and The Chain Veil activate loyalty abilities more than once. Rings of Brighthearth doubles your ability. Extra turn spells like Savor the Moment let you activate them an extra time before going to an opponent's turn.
  • You can add counters to them. Proliferate cards (Atraxa, Praetors' Voice), cards that double the counters on permanents (Doubling Season) let you use planeswalker's minus abilities more often, most notably the game-winning "ultimate" abilities (Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God).

The more of the listed attributes you can check off, the more powerful the planeswalker becomes in your deck. That's not saying your deck must have all these attributes for planeswalker cards to be good. I'll run Tezzeret the Seeker in decks for the sole purpose of using his minus ability a single time. But if your deck offers zero support for walkers and/or you get upset at opponents hating out your walkers no matter what, then planeswalkers cards might end up being worse in your deck than a non-'walker card with a similar function.

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

 

GREEN

 

Arlinn, Voice of the Pack

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This is the first time ever that we've seen direct Werewolf support outside of the Innistrad blocks! Arlinn, Voice of the Pack is here reppin' her home plane and I love it. She does stuff that the Werewolf/Wolf tribes love -- getting bigger and making Wolf tokens -- but unfortunately, her whopping 6 cmc means even in her ideal deck, she can never be more than decent. Still, I appreciate that Wizards tossed us Werewolf players a bone here.

While Arlinn is the only card from War of the Spark that directly supports Werewolves, the dual tribe actually got quite a few powerful inclusions that indirectly support them from this set, enough that I finally got around to write about them! If you're interested, check out my Budget Werewolves article!

 

Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi

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Yet another reason to be bitter than Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper isn't Bant.

Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi looks sweet in "awaken" decks that turn your lands into creatures. It's a risky play since if they die to removal you're down a creature and a land, but stuff like Sacred Ground and Terra Eternal helps with that. Maybe a Tatyova, Benthic Druid deck. Or maybe a Reyhan, Last of the Abzan deck partnered with Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker with a +1/+1 Counter theme. Or even Lord Windgrace.

Two of the best lands to awaken would definitely be Inkmoth Nexus for easy infect kills or Darksteel Citadel for indestructible beats.

Poor Noyan.

 

Evolution Sage

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Oh ... oh my.

Evolution Sage is kinda nuts. Any time you play+crack a fetchland, you proliferate two times. A Lord Windgrace deck can use his -3 ability to return two fetchlands, crack them, and be up one loyalty counter in the process. Instant staple there. Fun with Fertilid too.

I'd toss Evolution Sage in pretty much all Green decks with a heavy counter theme, like Pir, Imaginative Rascal + Toothy, Imaginary Friend +1/+1 Counter decks and obviously Atraxa, Praetors' Voice Superfriends. And Windgrace. Good card, yup yup.

 

Finale of Devastation

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Compared to Green Sun's Zenith, you have to pay one extra G, but you lose the Green restriction and can snag something from your graveyard. And then, of course, if X=10+ you smash face for huge damage. I like this. I like this a lot.

The most competitive decks are going to prefer GSZ because cheaper is always better, but any slower deck will auto-run both. They're both fantastic. Me, all I want to do is cast Finale of Devastation for X=10+, grab a Pathbreaker Ibex, turn it into a 13/13 hastey goat, and attack with my +13/+13 trampling creatures! Oh man, the dream! This card is great in ... basically any creature-heavy Green deck that generates lots of mana, so, uh, nearly all of them? I guess Rosheen Meanderer players are extra happy about this.

 

God-Eternal Rhonas

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God-Eternal Rhonas is an auto-include in pretty much all Go Tall Stompy decks out there. The damage potential on his ETB is just ridiculous. Any deck that revolves around Big Dumb Beaters is the perfect fit for new Rhonas; bonus points if the deck also includes ways to abuse his ETB with stuff like blink/bounce (Conjurer's Closet) and/or other doubling (Strionic Resonator). I'm personally excited to add him into my Xenagos, God of Revels deck, but he's also great in Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma, Ghalta, Primal Hunger, Rhonas the Indomitable and Arahbo, Roar of the World

 

Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter

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Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter is the planeswalker version of Rishkar, Peema Renegade. While Jiang allows your creatures to tap for any color, not just G, and he can eventually distribute more counters than Rishkar (especially if you can add loyalty counters), I think Rishkar will usually be the better card for +1/+1 Counter decks largely because he himself is a creature and thus benefits from more creature synergies in the deck, including being able to himself tap for mana. But really, any +1/+1 Counter deck is going to be running both these cards as auto-includes.

Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter is going into any Green +1/+1 Counter deck I build. I can't think of a deck that wouldn't want him. Vorel of the Hull Clade, Atraxa, Praetors' Voice, Pir & Toothy, they all want to run this new 'walker.

 

Nissa, Who Shakes the World

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Can you hear that? It's the sound of Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper crying over all these Green goodies they can't play.

Nissa, Who Shakes the World is actually 100% worth playing just for her static ability alone, which is a one-sided Vernal Bloom just for you. That's superb for any Mono Green deck, or even a multicolor deck that only has minor non-Green splashes and uses Forest dual lands (Stomping Ground) for the splash. Her activated abilities are just gravy on top. The +1 ability is a bit risky, allowing your lands to be destroyed by Wrath of God and such, unless it's a Darksteel Citadel or similar. Her ultimate is very sick though and then awakening your lands is no longer that risky.

New Nissa looks fantastic for a Lands Awakening deck, perhaps under Lord Windgrace. I love the concept of a Sylvan Awakening archetype. It's a shame that poor Noyan can't be a part of that though.

 

Paradise Druid

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A 2cmc mana dork that taps for one mana of any color without any restrictions is basically the baseline in Magic: Sylvan Caryatid, Utopia Tree, Channeler Initiate, there's lots to choose from. They're not the best mana dorks around (see Birds of Paradise and Lotus Cobra among others), but they're often quite cheap to buy and fulfill their role well. Most Green decks prefer running land ramp like Rampant Growth and Farseek over these dorks because lands are far less likely to be destroyed in a typical Commander game, but if your deck features lots of noncreature hate (Thalia, Guardian of Thraben), super duper cares about creatures (Beast Whisperer), or just hates lands (Armageddon), then mana dorks are preferable.

Paradise Druid is a good dork. She's usually a worse Sylvan Caryatid, but being an Elf and a Druid means she has added value in those two tribal decks as well.

 

Planewide Celebration

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I expect Planewide Celebration to be strongest in a Superfriends deck, when you choose to proliferate four times and immediately ultimate several planeswalkers. I don't see it being worthwhile anywhere else. Making a couple tokens, returning a couple cards to hand, adding extra +1/+1 counters, or gaining a bit of life, isn't that great for a 7cmc spell; we have spells that do those things way better. Even in a Superfriends deck, I think Planewide Celebration simply costs too much mana to be worth a slot. It's never a bad spell -- the flexibility makes that impossible -- but the overall effect is just too low to justify a top-end slot in a deck.

 

Storm the Citadel

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I want to like Storm the Citadel: in a Go Wide deck, you can pump your army while turning them all into Trygon Predators. It's half of an Overrun effect, half a Disenchant effect, which together is a sweet card ... right? Well, there's a few problems here. First, the Disenchant part is conditional: you need creatures, and you need to get past blockers. Storm the Citadel doesn't offer any evasion. Trygon Predator would be a far worse card if it didn't have flying. Giving your creatures +2/+2 may deter potential blockers, but if the thing you want to blow up is very important then your opponent can simply chump block your creatures. So the scenario where this card is effective against taking out multiple artifacts/enchantments is harder to pull off than you'd think. Second, Storm the Citadel buffs your army, but not very well. I mean yeah, giving your creatures +2/+2 is nice, but it lacks evasion like trample, and we have simply better army buffs for Go Wide strategies like Overrun, Beastmaster Ascension, Craterhoof Behemoth, Triumph of the Hordes, etc. 

If I really want to blow up artifacts/enchantments I'm fine doing it with targeted removal like Nature's Claim. If I want it attached to a creature I'll run Trygon Predator or Reclamation Sage. If I want all the stuff blown up I'll run Bane of Progress. All of these options are far less situational and easier to pull off.

Storm the Citadel ends up being mediocre at both things it's doing, and the combined result is just mediocre.

 

Vivien's Arkbow

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Vivien's Arkbow is an interesting card: by discarding a card and paying mana, you can look at the top cards of your library and put a creature directly into play. This lets you put it onto the battlefield at instant speed and since you aren't casting, it can't be countered by Counterspells. However, you can whiff and discard a card + pay mana to get nothing.

Obviously Arkbow works best in decks with very high creature counts. It's also good in playgroups with high amounts of countermagic and sorcery-speed removal, which the Arkbow helps you play around. However, activating it blind is a gamble. Even in the right deck, you either want library manipulation cards like Sylvan Library and Worldly Tutor to make sure you're hitting a creature you want each activation, or else you need to spend 5+ mana each activation to increase the likelihood you get a creature each time. Even with all this, if you just want to tutor up creatures and don't really care about Arkbows ability to flash them in and ignoring casting, you have much better options like Fauna Shaman (and Survival of the Fittest if you've got the $$$) to do so.

I personally like Vivien's Arkbow in Werewolf Tribal, increasing the likelihood you can flip your creatures by putting them on the battlefield at instant speed and not needing to cast them. I wrote about Werewolf Tribal recently here so check it out!

 

Vivien, Champion of the Wilds

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I love Vivien, Champion of the Wilds. While I don't have the same levels of adoration for Vedalken Orrery as Josh Lee Kwai does, I do agree that being able to cast stuff at instant speed is very powerful in Commander because it robs your opponents of information when they're making decisions on their turn and it dodges sorcery-speed removal. However, is giving all your stuff flash enough to justify a card slot in most decks? I would say no, not for most, unless your deck has additional benefits for doing so (Rashmi, Eternities Crafter, for example). 

Vivien is basically an Orrery for creature-heavy decks, but on top of that she also provides some card advantage with her -2. That alone makes her far better than Orrery and makes her worth running in lots of creature-heavy decks. Her +1 is less impressive, but it allows your creatures to attack while still defending her. Plus, she's only 3cmc while Orrery is 4cmc!

I'm going to try out Vivien, Champion of the Wilds in most creature-heavy decks going forward. Even better if those decks have library manipulation like Sylvan Library and Wordly Tutor. I expect that she'll be great.

 

COLORLESS

 

Firemind Vessel

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Firemind Vessel is an excellent new budget mana rock for 4C and 5C decks. In Mono Color or 2C decks, there's enough better mana rocks that I'd probably never run it, like Mind Stone, Thought Vessel, Worn Powerstone, Hedron Archive, Thran Dynamo, etc. But in 4C and 5C decks -- heck even 3C sometimes -- where you really want your mana rocks to tap for colored mana, Firemind Vessel is the perfect inclusion, far better than a Hedron Archive.

 

God-Pharaoh's Statue

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A key attribute of all the best Stax pieces is that they come out early before your opponents have had a chance to establish a board state: Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Gaddock Teeg, and Aura of Silence all come to mind. Then there's God-Pharaoh's Statue, one of the strongest Stax effects I've seen, taxing all spells your opponents cast but leaving you alone entirely, but costs a whopping six mana. This is far more painful than a Thalia, but it comes out many turns later at a time when your opponents are likely to be more capable of playing around/through it.

I still think it's a good piece of hate and you'll get value out of it even if cast late, but the decks where God-Pharaoh's Statue stands tallest is if you can cheat it into play asap. A deck like Daretti, Scrap Savant can really abuse this by cheating it into play from the graveyard. Imagine turn 1 Goblin Welder, turn 2 cast Faithless Looting to discard Statue, cast a random 1cmc artifact (Expedition Map), and use Welder to sac the artifact and return God-Pharaoh's Statue into play. OUCH!

 

Karn, the Great Creator

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Null Rod is a very powerful hate piece in Magic. It only costs 2 mana so it can regularly show up on turn 2 and slow decks to a crawl as suddenly all their Sol Rings and other mana rocks get shut down. The only catch is that Null Rod hurts affects everyone, even its controller, so you usually only see this card run in decks with few (if any) artifacts.

Karn, the Great Creator takes the goodness of the Rod and cranks it up a notch. He costs 4 mana instead of 2 so he's a good deal slower to arrive, but he doesn't affect you at all so you're free to run all the artifacts you want. His -2 doesn't allow you to fetch cards outside of the game, by the way, since Commander doesn't officially allow sideboards, but you can still snag stuff that was exiled.

His +1 is fun for either turning a big artifact you own into a beater/blocker or turning an opponents' into a creature so you can kill it with creature removal (Damnation), but you're mostly running him for his static ability. It's effective all on its own but also kinda sorta instantly wins you the game if you resolve Mycosynth Lattice and suddenly all permanents are artifacts and your opponents can't activate their lands / mana rocks for mana so they can't cast any spells and then they sit there sadly until you finish them at your leisure.

MTGFinance folks found out about this interaction too, so Lattice is now an absurd price. Yay.

 

Mana Geode

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There are a ton of Manaliths to choose from in Commander, each coming with its own perk: Darksteel Ingot is indestructible, Coalition Relic can be charged up to give you 2+ mana in a turn, Chromatic Lantern mana-fixes all your lands, and Commander's Sphere can be easily cashed in for a card. Mana Geode is the latest option and it's a pretty good one. Relic and Lantern are the two best for most decks, Ingot is probably the worst unless your meta has tons of artifact destruction, but somewhere in the middle is Mana Geode and Commander's Sphere. I actually think I like Geode more than Sphere because you immediately get the benefit of scry 1 whereas Sphere only draws a card when you cash it in.

I expect to run Mana Geode in a lot of budget decks in the future. It's a fine middle-of-the-road mana rock that should stay affordable for a long time.

 

 Ugin, the Ineffable

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Ugin, the Ineffable's static ability is incredibly powerful ramp that makes it a slam-dunk in any deck that is loaded with colorless spells, like any Colorless deck (Kozilek, the Great Distortion), Artifact decks focused primarily on colorless artifacts (Sai, Master Thopterist), and Morph Tribal decks that aren't being led by Animar, Soul of Elements (Ixidor, Reality Shaper).

Ugin's two activated abilities are also great: his +1 is both a chump blocker and card advantage, while his -3 is very flexible removal. You can't go wrong using either of them each turn.

I wouldn't recommend running him in any deck that isn't running 15+ colorless spells, but in Colorless-heavy decks he's a new staple.

 

MULTI-COLOR

 

Ajani, the Greathearted

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Ajani, the Greathearted is a slightly tweaked Ajani Steadfast. Comparing new Ajani to old, new is Selesnya, gives your creatures vigilance all the time, has an extra starting loyalty so he can use the -2 twice in a row without dying, but he has a worse +1 and lacks a powerful ultimate.

I think Ajani, the Greathearted is best suited in a Tokens deck. Vigilance works very well with the convoke mechanic, allowing your creatures to attack and still contribute to cards like March of the Multitudes. Tokens can provide blockers to protect Ajani, and when they go wide enough then his -2 can help turn them into more powerful attackers. I don't think he's great there, but he's pretty good. I don't think he's good enough to be worth adding to Superfriends or +1/+1 Counter decks.

 

Angrath's Rampage

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I'm not sure how I feel about Angrath's Rampage. I like cheap, flexible removal, which this is, but I'm always wary about Diabolic Edicts. If they only have one artifact/creature/planeswalker then yeah this is amazing, but if they have even two options then you won't be removing the thing you wanted. Still, it's cheap and flexible so I can't imagine it'll be that bad, but I'm not sure how often I'll slot it into my decks. I'll have to test this one out and see.

 

Casualties of War

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Casualties of War is a great card. A powerful card. It's basically guaranteed to get value whenever you cast it. 

However ...

Six mana is a lot for this kind of effect. A lot. Compare that to Decimate: sure, Decimate's main drawback is that you need to destroy an artifact / creature / enchantment / land for it to work, and if you're missing one of those targets then you simply can't cast the spell. But in Commander, how many times have you not had enough targets to cast it? I can't think of any. Casualties of War doesn't need all possible targets, and it can snipe an extra planeswalker in the process, but it's six mana for a big targeted removal spell at sorcery speed. I dunno.

For a Golgari player it's basically between this and Windgrace's Judgment, which is only five mana, instant speed, and can hit multiple permanents of the same type, but it can't hit lands and it can't hit the same opponent multiple times. I think I like Judgment more. But note that both of these cards are a bit awkward to slot into decks because they have the same cmc as a board wipe but aren't really the same thing, nor do they fill the role of cheap targeted removal. I think they're both good cards, and I've personally played with and liked Judgment, but Casualties will require testing. I'm sure it won't be bad but the 6cmc will mean it won't show up too often in Golgari deck, I think.

 

Deathsprout

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I put Deathsprout in this article to explain why you shouldn't run it in Commander. At first it looks like you just combined Terminate with Rampant Growth and gave it instant speed, so it's doing double duty which is great, right? But, well, not really. You need to pay four mana to cast this card, as opposed to just two for half of the effect. And the thing about Rampant Growth -- and all ramp really -- is that you want to cast it in your very first few turns. You ideally want to spend turn 1, 2, and 3 casting ramp spells. There's very few other cards that are worth casting in your first few turns (exceptions being stuff like Sylvan Library and Survival of the Fittest). That's why Rampant Growth is vastly superior than Explosive Vegetation despite Vegetation being essentially two Growths in one: speed and curving out is so very important. A 4cmc Rampant Growth is just bleh.

It gets worse though. Deathsprout's ramp is tied to you killing a creature. The card is at odds with itself, because you want to ramp early and often, but you want to be selective with your removal spells. What if there's no worthwhile creatures to kill on the board when you want to cast this spell? Do you target an opponent's Solemn Simulacrum just so you can ramp? If you do, what happens when your opponent drops a real threat like Rafiq of the Many and now you don't have removal? Feels pretty bad. 

Don't run Deathsprout. It's not good. And remember: faster ramp is better ramp.

 

Despark

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Despark is actually pretty solid removal. It's instant speed, 2cmc, pretty darn flexible, exiles instead of letting it go to the graveyard and be recurred. Most things you'll want to kill are 4+ cmc. There's certainly stuff that this spell will miss, but I'm confident in saying there's always going to be enough good targets to justify running this blind. I still prefer Anguished Unmaking over this just to be safe, but I think I like Despark more than Utter End (which I run quite a bit) and can see running this as part of an Orzhov removal package alongside Unmaking, Swords to Plowshares, and one or two other things like Utter End and Snuff Out. Great little pickup for Commander!

 

Domri, Anarch of Bolas

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Domri, Anarch of Bolas is a fantastic new inclusion in pretty much all creature-heavy decks. His static ability is pretty tame, but both loyalty abilities are excellent, ramping + protecting from countermagic or acting as repeatable removal. I'm replacing Rhythm of the Wild with this Domri in my Xenagos, God of Revels deck and recommend trying him out in any creature-heavy Gruul deck.

 

Dovin's Veto

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I run Negate a good amount in my Blue decks, right after Counterspell and Swan Song (I'm too poor for Mana Drain or Force of Will). So I already know Dovin's Veto is going to be a solid option for Azorius decks. In 3C+ decks I'll still prefer Negate over it since it's easier to cast, but if you're in a countermagic-heavy playgroup then Veto becomes more desirable.

 

Feather, the Redeemed

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I should love Feather, the Redeemed. I'm always loudly yelling about more Boros commanders whose power isn't directly tied to attacking or Going Wide like the guild traditionally does. I praised Wizards for doing something different with Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas, Archangel Avacyn, Tiana, Ship's Caretaker, Firesong and Sunspeaker, and poopoo'd them when they came out with uninspired schlock like Adriana, Captain of the Guard. Now we get another Boros commander that breaks the mold! And it's a durdly card advantage engine stuck on a low cmc commander that is perfect to build around: just run all the random 1cmc instant/sorceries that cantrip, like Expedite and Defiant Strike, and draw all the cards. AND IT'S AN ANGEL! WHO DOESN'T LOVE ANGELS???

I should love Feather, which is everything I've always wanted. But my problem is I'm such a goddamn hipster, and Feather is BY FAR the most popular Commander card out of the entire set, EVERYONE is talking about her, and MTGFinance is just dogpiling on whatever specs they feel like and they can't be punished for it because supply lags behind a minimum of 2+ years and the system is borked and the result is that me doing a Budget Commander article on her would be such a frickin' headache blaaaaaaah!

The truth is that Feather, the Redeemed is way too overhyped. She's not some utterly unique Boros commander that came out of nowhere. The concept of jamming all the 1cmc cantripping spells has already been done before: Zada, Hedron Grinder and Shu Yun, Silent Tempest has been doing that for years now but far better, because unlike Feather, who grants you value in a grindy sort of way, Shu Yun and Zada just outright win the game the turn you start going off. So if you're looking for the most powerful commander with this playstyle, Zada and Shu should be where you're looking.

Again, that's not to say Feather is bad. She's very, very good. And I actually much prefer her playstyle over Zada or Shu Yun! The problem with the latter two is that they just end games too quick. They're Combo/Voltron. You sweep the table once and then you're archenemy forever. Feather isn't like that. She's a card advantage engine; the longer the game goes, the better she becomes. She's also much harder to shut down than Zada because you're in White (like Shu Yun), which means you have access to protection like Shelter and Gods Willing. So even if you're archenemy at the table, you can realistically "counterspell" every targeted removal your opponents throw at Feather and keep chugging.

I don't know where I'm going with this rant. Feather is good. A lot of people have been commenting on how much they love her, and how I should write about it, and that's great. Build her and enjoy her. I totally would've done an article on her if she wasn't overhyped to such a ridiculous degree, but she is, and that kinda deflated me on her. Maybe I'll come back to her once things have settled down a bit. Buy my pile of Sunforgers please so I can use that money to buy more Bonus Rounds.

 

Heartwarming Redemption

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Instant speed self-Wheel that puts you up a card? Not bad. I can't think of any Boros deck that would want to run this over better card advantage like an actual Wheel (Reforge the Soul) or incremental draw (Outpost Siege) but I appreciate the option. I guess it's a mediocre Sunforger target so please buy my copies now.

 

Mayhem Devil

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I'm betting that Mayhem Devil is going to be low-key a real card in Commander but overlooked by tons of people. Any Red Aristocrats deck, like Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper, Judith, the Scourge Diva, and Marchesa, the Black Rose can use the Devil both to gun down small utility creatures and also fulfill the same ping role at the end of infinite combos like Zulaport Cutthroat does. Keep in mind the trigger happens whenever any player sacrifices a permanent, not just you, so notably it will ping whenever an opponent cracks a fetchland (Windswept Heath). Add some deathtouch (Basilisk Collar) and have fun!

 

Neoform

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Neoform is a cheaper but more restrictive Eldritch Evolution, a card I always like the look of but rarely play (I ran it once in Meren of Clan Nel Toth but never drew it). I think Neoform is a fine card too but will probably be eclipsed by the better Green tutors like Fauna Shaman, Birthing Pod, Prime Speaker Yannifar, Green Sun's Zenith, etc. If anything it will be a budget-friendly alternative to more expensive options. Gosh, if only it was instant speed! That would be insane.

 

Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God

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Atraxa, Praetors' Voice players are sad that they can't play this card. Sad Atraxa players make me happy.

Without any other planeswalker on the battlefield, Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God is still a great card. His +1 is always good, though it's going to be less effective against opponents with tokens out (Smothering Tithe, why are you so good?). His -3 is unconditional removal, huzzah. And his -8? Oof! That's an easy win! Overall, great loyalty abilities stapled on to a 5cmc 'walker with a fair 4 starting loyalty.

Of course, once you start adding other planeswalkers to the battlefield, new Bolas gets a lot more interesting. There's a lot of 'walkers out there and being able to use any of them on the battlefield is great flexibility. Because of this, Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God is going to work best in his own, non-Atraxa(!) Superfriends deck, which is exciting to me. He's also great in metas with other Superfriend decks as he can just copy whatever good abilities opposing 'walkers got.

 

Niv-Mizzet Reborn

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Niv-Mizzet Reborn is probably a decent inclusion in the 99 of a Ramos, Dragon Engine deck, but he seems far more suited as the commander of his own deck, jam-packed with sweet 2C cards to snag with his powerful ETB. New Niv is rather open-ended in how you build around him, but here's some ideas I've came up with:

Whatever way you build him, Niv Mizzet Reborn is going to be a fun and versatile value engine.

 

Oath of Kaya

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Oath of Kaya's ETB bolt is decent at picking off some random utility creatures, but it's not exciting for a 3cmc sorcery-speed card. It also fails at stopping your opponents from attacking your planeswalkers: draining 2 life is barely anything in Commander, and it doesn't even trigger off every attacking creature, it's just a flat 2 damage. Meh. Pass on this Oath.

 

Ral, Storm Conduit

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Played fairly, Ral, Storm Conduit is a decent inclusion in any Spellslinger deck, but specifically, Spellslingers that care about the top of your library, like Melek, Izzet Paragon. You scry a bit, you Fork a bit, you ping a bit. Nothing spectacular but pretty deece.

New Ral doesn't have to play fair, however. Any time you can cast an infinite number of instants/sorceries, Ral suddenly becomes a finisher for your deck. You can do this a number of ways. One way is the ol' Dramatic Scepter combo: Dramatic Reversal imprinted on Isochron Scepter, plus any nonland permanent that can collectively generate 1U (Firemind Vessel) means infinite casts of Reversal, which means infinite ping with Ral. Or you can do something like -2 Ral, cast Doublecast, before they resolve cast Twincast, copy the copies infinite times for infinite pings. Lots of silliness here.

 

Roalesk, Apex Hybrid

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Roalesk, Apex Hybrid is undoubtedly a powerful card with a lot of value, but the value is spread in so many spots that I'm not sure what to do with it. Do you want to swing at people with him, or are you looking to sac him early and often to proliferate? What decks want him? Is he the commander or part of the 99? I don't know. He's not fantastic for any one archetype, so it's tough. I think he's probably best as the 99 of a +1/+1 Counter deck like Pir, Imaginative Rascal & Toothy, Imaginary Friend. Let me know what you think!

 

Role Reversal

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Role Reversal is a new staple in a single deck: Zedruu the Greathearted. That is all.

 

Solar Blaze

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I've run Wave of Reckoning in high toughness decks, specifically Doran, the Siege Tower and Arcades, the Strategist, though usually I prefer Retribution of the Meek, Dusk // Dawn, and Elspeth, Sun's Champion as my board wipes. Solar Blaze is a cheaper Wave, which is good, but it's in Red, which neither the two mentioned decks can play. It's a solid card but the question becomes where you can play it. I think it can make a fine inclusion in low power / high toughness decks like some versions of Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis, perhaps.

 

Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord is alright. Giving your creatures lifelink on your turn is cool. His +2 is rather terrible. His -X got me excited until I realized it's restricted to only your graveyard. So basically he's a poor man's Whip of Erebos. I was going to say he's a budget version, but his presale price is currently higher than the Whip's price. Blehblehbleh!

 

Storrev, Devkarin Lich

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I think Storrev, Devkarin Lich is a solid card. He hits decently hard, has trample to get through chump blockers, and is repeatable graveyard recursion. Things get extra spicy if you add ways to double up on his combat trigger like double strike (Fireshrieker), extra combat steps (Seize the Day), or Strionic Resonator.

Unfortunately, I don't expect Storrev to see much play because another Golgari legendary creature fulfills a similar role except way better: Meren of Clan Nel Toth. Meren sets such a high bar for a Golgari graveyard recursion commander that it's hard to get excited about any card that is weaker than her -- and honestly, I'd be terrified if they end up topping Meren, so it feels like a lose-lose situation for Wizards. 

Ironically, the fact that Storrev is a weaker Meren ends up being his greatest strength. Meren of Clan Nel Toth is so strong that the pilot automatically becomes the archenemy as soon as the game begins. If you love your Golgari Sacrifice deck but you're tired of getting hated out each game, you could swap Meren out for Storrev with basically no other changes needed for the deck. What you lose out in raw commander you gain in not being auto-targeted by your playgroup!

"Storrev can bring back planeswalkers too! Why haven't you mentioned that?" Because I don't think it'll be relevant the vast majority of the time. I can't think of any Superfriends lists that will want to run Storrev as they're not really about attacking with creatures. You may end up running some 'walkers in the 99 of a Storrev list but even then, most times you'll want to get back a creature instead.

 

Tamiyo, Collector of Tales

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Tamiyo, Collector of Tales seems best suited as a meta call in playgroups that feature a lot of discard/wheels (Wheel of Fortune) or sacrifice (Grave Pact) to take advantage of her powerful static ability. Her +1 ability is solid if you can see the top cards of your library (Oracle of Mul Daya) and her -3 is always good, but unless you're getting value out of her static ability I think there's better options than her. Dropping down Tamiyo against a Nekusar, the Mindrazer Wheel deck or a Meren of Clan Nel Toth recurring Fleshbag Marauders is just too good though.

 

Teferi, Time Raveler

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Teferi, Time Raveler is playable just for his static ability alone. Cards like Dosan, the Falling Leaf and Grand Abolisher are played often in this format as protection from instant-speed answers such as countermagic, and new Teferi does the same thing. Granted, some of the appeal of Dosan and Abolisher is that they're in colors that don't have access to countermagic, but nonetheless it's still useful in Blue decks. His +1 ability is fine, letting you do things like Wrath of God at instant speed. His -3 is also alright.

But really, you're running new Teferi to do the same nonsense as you do with Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir: to lock people out of the game with Knowledge Pool.

I'd run new Teferi in any deck that runs Pool. Or Possibility Storm. Stuff that denies your opponents the ability to cast spells they otherwise could.

 

Tenth District Legionnaire

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Battlewise Hoplite is back and hastier than ever! I think the guild swap to Boros actually makes Tenth District Legionnaire playable in certain niche decks, specifically Feather, the Redeemed (goodbye forever, Anax and Cymede).

 

Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Holy moly Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge is the real deal! Any Artifact deck should seriously consider running this if they can, as it's insane ramp you for creatures/planeswalkers and all of his abilities are really sweet. His +2 is a legit finisher in decks that can flood the board with artifact tokens like Smothering Tithe can. His -3 and -8 abilities are fine too, but his +2 and his static ability are enough to justify his 6cmc.

Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge is going to shine brightest in Breya, Etherium Shaper decks, where you have access to all the best artifact token generators -- Smothering Tithe, Curse of Opulence, Breya herself, etc. -- but any Artifact that can run him should do so. I also like new Tezz in Superfriends decks that are Artifact-heavy. If only someone had an article coming out on that exact topic! HMMMM....

 

Time Wipe

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Time Warp is an excellent new board wipe for Blink decks. Wiping the board while bouncing Archaeomancer / Eternal Witness back to hand is groan-worthy in the best way. I'll happily run this in Brago, King Eternal and especially Ephara, God of the Polis, bouncing a creature while Ephara herself survives. Certain Voltron-y decks with useful ETBs like Azor, the Lawbringer will like this board wipe too.

 

Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves is a new powerhouse for a Wolf Tribal deck, either as the commander of one or as part of a Naya Werewolf/Wolf list. There's a lot of good Wolf token generators (Wolfcaller's Howl) for more fighting and plenty of ways to pump those wolves up to fight bigger prey (Mayor of Avabruck). If you want ideas on how to run Tolsimir in a deck, check out the Budget Commander Werewolf Tribal article I wrote recently!

Offtopic, but I'm willing to bet anything that the next new plane we go to is going to be Nordic themed. I called this a year ago back when Guilds of Ravnica was announced, and the inclusion of Wolf support in this set with Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves and Arlinn, Voice of the Pack makes me certain that this Nordic set is going to support Wolf tribal. I'm aware that new Tolsimir is a reference to Tolsimir Wolfblood but I'm convinced that the inclusion of both these cards is foreshadowing a Wolf theme being expanded in this upcoming Standard format.

 

Ashiok, Dream Render

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I like Stranglehold. I play it in a decent amount of Red decks. Pretty much every deck has tutors to some degree, and it shuts off all of it: Demonic Tutor, Rampant Growth, even fetchlands like Windswept Heath!

Ashiok, Dream Render is a 3cmc Stranglehold. Yes, Stranglehold stops extra turn spells, but that rarely comes up (meta-dependant). On top of that, Ashiok can repeatedly Bojuka Bog all your opponents?! In a format where every deck has some amount of graveyard recursion, and Graveyard decks are one of the most popular archetypes (Meren of Clan Nel Toth) this is HUGE!

In most formats, Ashiok, Dream Render would be a sideboard card. In Commander, Ashiok is ALWAYS relevant. This is huge. HUGE! Ashiok is an amazing hate card that should be seriously considered in any deck that can consistently protect planeswalkers. I'm going to run this card a ton. Wow!

 

Dovin, Hand of Control

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Dovin, Hand of Control is another ridiculously effective uncommon planeswalker. Dovin comes out relatively fast and significantly slows down Artifact / Spellslinger decks, while annoying most other decks too. His -1 is a decent way to prolong his life as creatures will undoubtedly want to swing at him. He's going to shine best in full-out Hatebear / Stax decks, like Lavinia, Azorius Renegade decks. I can also imagine that he's pretty good in decks that can blink him too since he has no way to increase his loyalty (Brago, King Eternal). Solid card.

 

Huatli, the Sun's Heart

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Huatli, the Sun's Heart is an alright backup card to Arcades, the Strategist and Doran, the Siege Tower. She's way worse than the best backup card, Assault Formation, and also worse than High Alert, but ... if you need a third version then yeah, I guess? Her -3 is bleh. Blehblehbleh.

 

Kaya, Bane of the Dead

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Kaya, Bane of the Dead is another meta-dependant card. She shines brightest getting killing creatures wearing Swiftfoot Boots and naturally hexproof threats like Uril, the Miststalker, so if your playgroup runs a lot of those and your Orzhov deck doesn't want to run lots of board wipes (Wrath of God) then she'll do the trick. Unfortunately, she doesn't get around shroud (Lightning Greaves). She's a lot of mana though, so unless your meta has lots of hexproof I'd recommend just sticking to Arcane Lighthouse.

 

Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner is one part worse-Elemental Bond and one part Kiora's Follower. She has 7 starting loyalty and is just 3cmc. Yep, this is a good card. I imagine new Kiora will end up slotting into Simic Stompy decks like a better Bond. She also has potential to do silly things with Prime Speaker Vannifar. Oh, and she untaps The Chain Veil, which isn't an infinite on its own but is sweet extra value for Superfriends decks. Solid card.

 

Nahiri, Storm of Stone

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Nahiri, Storm of Stone is going to be played for her static ability. It's kinda ramp for Equipment decks, plus first strike ain't bad either. Her -X is okay too, but not great, and she has no way to tick up so I doubt you'll be able to use it more than once. Overall she's fine for an Equipment deck but nothing special, considering we have much better versions of her static ability (Puresteel Paladin).

 

Saheeli, Sublime Artificer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Sai, Master Thopterist is an absurd card. You play Sai, and next thing your opponents know there's dozens of 1/1 flying Thopter on the table and you're doing your best Magnitude impression, THOPTHOP! Saheeli, Sublime Artificer is pretty much the same thing except it triggers on all noncreature spells, not just artifacts. Servos aren't as cool as Thopters but they're almost as good. And the cherry on top is that -2, which sometimes can be absurd ("I'll just turn this Servo into another Blightsteel Colossus") but most likely is just gonna turn a 1/1 token into a Gilded Lotus for value. You're playing this for the static ability though, which is absurd. Great card. Slot it into basically any Artifact deck, possibly other noncreature-heavy decks too.

 

Samut, Tyrant Smasher

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Gruul has so many ways to give creatures haste: Rhythm of the Wild, Fires of Yavimaya, Ogre Battledriver, Domri, Chaso Bringer ... I don't think I'd run Samut, Tyrant Smasher often. Maybe in a super budget list, but even then, stuff like Fires of Yavimaya is super cheap too.

 

Vraska, Swarm's Eminence

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I don't think Vraska, Swarm's Eminence is very good, but I like the flavor here. Maybe a jank inclusion in Gorm the Great / Virtus the Veiled? Maybe janky Assassin Tribal? Who knows. Neat card though.

 

LANDS

 

Blast Zone

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A board wipe on a land that enters play untapped and generates mana? What?? Yeah, that's a staple right there. I can see why Blast Zone commands an $8 presale price at the time of writing this. Woweee. It's funny that it would actually be more powerful if it didn't enter with a charge counter since you could then pop it immediately to get rid of tokens. In mono color decks, or 2C decks, or even 3C decks, I don't see why you wouldn't run Blast Zone. The downside is so minimal and the upside is so high. It's like Strip Mine: just run it.

 

Emergence Zone

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Alchemist's Refuge is a great card. Being able to flash in cards is amazing in Commander. Emergence Zone is a great deal worse than Refuge, but you don't need to be in Simic for it. I can see running this sometimes, but not often. Definitely in a Colorless deck like Kozilek, the Great Distortion.

 

Interplanar Beacon

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Interplanar Beacon is a great inclusion in Superfriends, provided that you're heavily committed to planeswalkers. It's easy mana-fixing and a free source of lifegain. Not bad at all.

 

Karn's Bastion

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Helloooo new staple! I was wondering how much mana it would cost for a land to proliferate, and the answer appears to be: 5. Seems fair! Karn's Bastion is an auto-include in any deck that wants to add counters of any kind, be it +1/+1, loyalty, even poison! Run it, love it.

 

We're Done!

We reached the end! Hooray! I hope you enjoyed my analysis of War of the Spark for us Commander players. Do you agree with my assessments? Disagree? Did I miss out on a card you liked, or have a sweet interaction I didn't mention? Let me know in the comments section below!


More on MTGGoldfish ...

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Commander Review: War of the Spark Part 2 (Black, Red)

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Instant Deck Tech: Warp World Combo (Modern)

against the odds

Against the Odds: Irencrag Stompy (Standard, Magic Arena)

instant deck tech

Instant Deck Tech: Wish Fit (Legacy)


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