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Commander Sleepers: Alliances


Lately, I've been trying to sort and catalog all of my old cards, and along the way, I keep running into things that seem like they could be sweet in Commander, so I decided to make a series showing off some of my favorites on a set-by-set basis. Today, we're looking at some of my favorite sleepers from Alliances. According to EHDRec, all of these cards show up in one percent or less of Commander decks, which means there's a decent chance that you've never even seen them on a Commander table, but for various reasons they might have more potential than they are given credit for. As such, here are my five Commander Sleepers from Alliances

Do you have some ideas for where these cards could fit in Commander? Do you have another favorite underplayed Alliances card for Commander? Let us know in the comments!

Based on feedback from last week, some people really appreciate a written version of the content. While I can't promise a 2,500-word article for every YouTube video, I'll do my best to add a written version when possible.

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Cards like Thassa's Oracle, Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, and Laboratory Maniac are popular win conditions in Commander, and Thought Lash offers a very easy way to exile your entire library for zero mana once it is on the battlefield. While there are other cards that can pull off the same trick, like Leveler and Paradigm Shift, the upside of Thought Lash is that it offers a higher level of control, so the risk of accidentally killing yourself is much lower. For example, you can cast Thassa's Oracle, put its "win the game" trigger on the stack, and then activate Thought Lash enough times to exile your entire library, which makes it almost impossible (outside of something like Stifle) for things to go wrong. 

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While you can certainly play Storm Cauldron as a griefer card to force your opponent to either do nothing or be punished by having to pick up all of their lands should they choose to tap them for mana to cast spells (probably in some sort of shell with a lot of mana rocks to help get around the drawback of Storm Cauldron itself), a more exciting use for Storm Cauldron is to play it with lands that tap for multiple mana. Let's say you have something like Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Serra's Sanctum, or Gaea's Cradle on the battlefield. Being able to tap your Serra's Sanctum for a bunch of mana, pick it up, replay it, tap it again for a bunch of mana, pick it up, and replay it again thanks to the extra land drop that Storm Cauldron grants seems quite powerful. Essentially, in the right build with the right lands, being able to pick up your land after you tap it can be an upside rather than a drawback, with the end result being very similar to untapping your key land. Plus, if your focus is on using one land that taps for a bunch of mana rather than a whole bunch of lands that tap for one mana, you naturally get around the drawback of having to pick up most of your mana base when you cast your spells. 

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If there's one thing we know in Commander, it's that doubling your mana is powerful, and Winter's Night is one of the cheapest mana doublers in Magic, assuming you play mostly snow-covered lands (which is probably the right thing to do anyway, thanks to Modern Horizons) and build around the drawback of your lands not untapping the following turn. While there is some risk that you'll help your opponents by doubling their mana, this isn't much different from Extraplanar Lens, which sees a lot of play in the Commander format. And if you build around Winter's Night (by using green ramp spells like Cultivate and Rampant Growth to fetch out snow-covered basics), it's pretty easy to break the synergy. Plus, even if you do double your opponent's snow-covered mana, at least your opponent gets punished by not being able to untap their snow lands during their next turn. 

As far as your lands not untapping, this is a pretty easy problem to fix with some very playable Commander cards. Wilderness Reclamation and Seedborn Muse both allow you to have your cake of double mana and eat it every turn by untapping your lands to negate Winter's Night's downside, while Sword of Feast and Famine and Nature's Will could also have a home in a creature-heavy Winter's Night deck.

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Inheritance looks like a bad card-draw spell, and in reality, it is a bad card draw spell, but it's a white card-draw spell, which means it's probably deserving of play, just because white is so bad at drawing cards. If you are in a multi-color deck, you'll likely have better card-advantage options, but in a mono-white deck, Inheritance might be good enough to make the cut. When you consider that Dawn of Hope costs two mana to draw you a card when you gain life, paying three to draw when a creature dies doesn't seem that much worse, especially in a world where Smothering Tithe is the best white card in Commander and often leaves mono-white decks with tons of mana but not much to do with it. The other upside of Inheritance is that it looks underpowered enough that opponents are unlikely to kill it, so it should sit on the battlefield for a while. And even if you end up drawing just three or four cards from it over the course of the game, it will likely be worth including in your mono-white deck.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. What can we do with these Alliances sleepers in Commander? Which other cards from Alliances deserve another look in the format? Let us know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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