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Kelsien, the Plague & Shiny Impetus | Exclusive Commander 2020 Preview

Previews for both Ikoria and Commander 2020 are in full swing, and I'm delighted to reveal not one, but two sweet new cards from Commander 2020! Big thanks to Wizards of the Coast for providing these official preview cards! Now let's dive right into the cards and initial thoughts:

Shiny Impetus

The first card is Shiny Impetus. A creature enchanted by this aura gets +2/+2 and is goaded, meaning it attacks each combat if able and attacks a player other than you if able. And whenever the enchanted creature attacks, you create a Treasure token. While not the flashiest card, Shiny Impetus packs a lot of subtle power for just three mana. The aura looks like a mashup of two older cards: Vow of Lightning from the original Commander set, and one of my favorite cards in the entire format, Curse of Opulence.

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Like Shiny Impetus, Vow of Lightning is a three mana aura that gives the enchanted creature +2/+2 and prevents it from attacking you. Vow of Lightning gives the creature first strike, which Shiny Impetus does not do, but the new card instead forces the enchanted creature to attack and gives you a treasure token each time it does. This makes Shiny Impetus not just a great choice to enchant your own creatures with, but your opponents' creatures as well, forcing them to smash your other opponents' faces with the enchanted creature or die to opposing blockers. No matter what the outcome, you come out ahead, and with sweet treasure tokens as well! I see Shiny Impetus as a significant upgrade to Vow of Lightning: goading opposing creatures can act either as easy extra damage against opponents or as a cheap indirect to kill a creature, and getting a treasure token each time the enchanted creature attacks is a nice source of ramp in Red, a color not usually known for great ramp.

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I'm sincerely very excited to try out Shiny Impetus in a bunch of decks. I think lots of player will sleep on this card until seeing it in action, similar to Curse of Opulence. I don't think it's an auto-include in all Red decks, but it definitely has a home in some of them. My favorite two options include Karona, False God and Gahiji, Honored One, political combat-focused decks that encourage your opponents to do the dirty work of killing each other for you. This certainly won't be the last time I'll be talking about Shiny Impetus, but for now let's move on to our next preview card!

Keslien, the Plague

Kelsien, the Plague is a legendary creature, so it can be your commander. It's a human assassin with vigilance and haste that can tap to deal 1 damage to target creature you don't control. When that creature dies this turn, you get an experience counter, and Kelsien gets +1/+1 for each experience counter you have. Kelsien is an aggressive creature: haste means it can come out the gates swinging, and vigilance means it can attack and while still use its activated ability to ping a creature. Since experience counters stick on the player, even if Kelsien is removed from the battlefield, it remains the same size once it shows up again. As your commander, the basic idea with Kelsien then is to attack with it, then pick off creatures with its ability after attacking, growing Kelsien to hit even harder next attack. 

While that's a simple plan, there's a few neat tricks we can add to make Kelsien's plan deadlier. The first is making Kelsien's ping ability more lethal. Kelsien's ability won't be able to kill a lot of creatures by itself: most creatures in Commander have more than one toughness. Without buffing up Kelsien, your best bet to score experience counters is pinging creatures that are about to die, either due to combat or from a kill spell (Doom Blade). An easy way to turn Kelsien into a lethal sniper is to give it deathtouch with cards like Basilisk Collar and Gorgon's Head.

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There are other ways to beef up Kelsien's pinging ability, such as Torbran, Thane of Red Fell to increase its damage by 2, or Thornbite Staff, which lets you untap Kelsien each time a creature dies so it can ping multiple times per turn. We can also beef up Kelsien itself by getting more experience counters, such as with cards that proliferate, like Contagion Engine. With the right deck supporting it, Kelsien can be a terror on the battlefield, sniping opposing creatures and relentlessly attacking for ever-increasing amounts of damage. Again, it's not the flashiest card, but at just 3 mana Kelsien, the Plague packs a lot of subtle power that is easy to underestimate until it's too late.

More Previews Coming!

This, of course, is only the tip of the preview iceberg. The rest of the Commander 2020 cards will be revealed this weekend, and then we're back to previewing the rest of Ikoria! Be sure to check back here on MTG Goldfish as we keep updating with all the new cards and latest developments! Thanks for reading!

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