It’s the most wonderful time of the year – Commander Season!  New products mean new players and new friends.  It also means new opportunities and new cards. I don’t want to distract you too much which my unaccustomed giddiness so, let’s talk about the new stuff.

I was tasked with reviewing Evasive Maneuvers.  This was my deck of choice as I believe it is the best constructed deck for what Wizards wants to accomplish with these Commander decks.  It gives just enough of a taste of what you can do with Commander while leaving you wanting to do more with the deck.  It has a halfway-usable manabase and plenty of cards I am happy to see reprinted.  More than anything, it contains two new Commanders that exactly represent what people want to do in Bant.

New Cards

As with many reviewers, I have my own personal rating system for cards from a Commander perspective.  On a 1-5 scale cards rate as follows;

5 – These are what people call staples.  It’s a card that if it is on theme you 100% should be playing it and if it’s off theme but in your color identity you should consider it.  These are usually utility cards like Sol Ring, Wheel of Fortune, Demonic Tutor, Swords to Plowshares, Krosan Grip, and Hinder.

4 – These are cards that primarily see play in themed decks, but often work their way into familiar goodstuff type decks as well.  You need a reason to play these, but not much of one.  These are usually either type specific tutors or alternative win conditions. Examples: Sunforger, Kiki-Jiki Mirror Breaker, Mikaeus the Unhallowed, Stonehewer Giant, Green Sun’s Zenith, and Palinchron.

3 – These cards are theme-specific role players.  They are always considerations when on-theme, but won’t see play in decks that aren’t specifically built to utilize the card.  Examples: Mycosynth Lattice, Skirk Prospector, Corpse Connoisseur, Armageddon, Elvish Archdruid, and Patron Wizard.

2 – These are cards that won’t see play outside of very specific combo and synergy applications.  Even when they do have applications they aren’t usually strong enough to build around.  These are cards that appear useless in a vacuum but may find some purpose in the future.  Examples: Coretapper, Mogg Fanatic, Executioner’s Capsule, Auriok Salvagers, Quillspike, and Tunnel Vision.

1 – These are cards I can’t imagine myself ever using.

A. Opal Palace

a. I am really not sure why this card would be good. It’s just not an effect I see being useful. Maybe in the rare case of Skullbriar you can have him come out pumped and actually use artifacts to help accelerate into him. Outside that, there is so much good mana fixing that bad mana fixing (fixing without adding mana) is just not worth a slot.
b. Rating: 1

B. Angel of Finality

a. This is something a bit new. There aren’t many creatures that have the ability to blow apart a graveyard. Those few all see play. The fact that it’s an angel and that it is an ETB (enters the battlefield) trigger mean that Angel themed decks and blink decks will both be considering. All in all a very effective card.
b. Rating: 4

C. Bane of Progress

a. This card was built on the ‘staple a good utility card to a fattie’ principle. This principle has worked time and time again to give us cards that are so good we have to use them and then we all get bored of seeing them. Bane of Progress is ridiculous just for being a Creeping Corrosion (or Fracturing Gust) that mono green can tutor. You will be hard pressed to find a reason to exclude this from your Gx decks.
b. Rating: 5

D. Diviner Spirit

a. The card lets you draw two cards a turn. Since you are only hitting one player a turn its downside is a full 100% downside. Consecrated Sphinx can turn this into a draw-six spell. Not terrible all around and fits nicely into a spirit themed deck.
b. Rating: 3

E. Djinn of Infinite Secrets

a. Stealing is generally better than switching control of creatures. However, in the last expansion Zedruu the Greathearted showed us that there is a place for swap cards. Outside of Zedruu, I don’t think this card will see much play. The swap is permanent so that blink decks can abuse this by swapping control and then blinking the creature they gift away to keep control of both. Inside Zedruu, this feels like a solid contributor, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few shenanigans from this Djinn.
b. Rating: 3

F. Curse of Inertia

a. This has some potential, but I’ll have to think on it for a while. Maybe you could do something with Stonehewer Giant. The only real is that Wizards will be printing more curses. That could end up making some of the better curses playable over time.
b. Rating: 2

 G. Curse of Predation

a. This curse actually paints quite the bullseye on an opponent. I think a few Edric, Spymaster of Trest decks in particular are going to give this curse a shot. The Andrew Magrini enchantress Edric in particular may benefit.
b. Rating: 3

H. Curse of the Forsaken

a. Wow…white doesn’t really understand the concepts of a curse, I guess. I honestly can’t think of a good reason to put this card in a deck.
b. Rating: 1

I. Darksteel Mutation

a. As I mentioned during the short Commander set review, I think this is a waste of a new card. People will mostly use it for removal with the occasional person using it to have a card survive an Akroma’s Memorial. There are just better things you can be playing.
b. Rating: 1

J. Restore

a. This is another card that looks like it could have been good if there weren’t better options out there. Maybe someone will figure out some sort of niche use. Until then, I’ll be leaving it out of my deck lists.
b. Rating: 2

K. Surveyor’s Scope

a. I guess this is a card for decks that plan on being mana screwed? Maybe five-color bounce land/lair mana bases? Ooh, oooh I know. You play this with all the fetches and then crack two fetches and break this in response. Value!
b. Rating: 2

L. Tempt with Glory

a. Um, I’m not tempted. Why would they be tempted? This is a great example of how giving your opponent the choice doesn’t usually work out for you. I mean why would they choose to do what is bad for them.
b. Rating: 1

M. Unexpectedly Absent

a. I’ve already written a bit about this card. Let me reemphasize how utterly amazing it is. This won’t directly win you games, but it’s such an incredible utility that you need a really good excuse not to be running this. If I had limited room for removal and the choice was between this and Path to Exile, I would choose this. It is removal with zero downside. Crazy.
b. Rating: 5

N. Roon of the Hidden Realm

a. I look at legendary creatures in a slightly different light than other new cards because they can perform very differently as a role player in a deck than as a Commander. In the case of Roon, he should be instantly popular as a Commander. Many people already love UWx blink decks so a dedicated blink commander was a real gift from Wizards. As a roleplayer in a deck, he is overcosted and less effective than other blink effects.
b. Rating: 2
c. Commander Rating: 4

O. Derevi, Empyrial Tactician

a. Bird Wizard in bant colors. Can I get a Hallelejuh?!? Anyone who has ever gone through the effort to put together a bird deck knows this is exactly what we were missing. The card does some cool stuff with flocks of creatures that have evasion as well. The tapping and untapping ability works effectively with the Wizard theme. His second ability also makes him uncounterable by all conventional means and he can be put into play at instant speed. This can be used as a fog if you’re worried about being one-shot by something like a Blightsteel Colossus.
b. Rating: 3
c. Commander Rating: 5

Playing the deck

New cards aside, players will most likely want to take their newly purchased deck for a test drive. I highly recommend giving the deck a shot, as long as you are ok with losing a few games. I don’t mean that in a snarky or degrading way. The deck gives a valuable sampling of some of the better tactics you can use in a Bant deck. However, because it is made up of a bunch of micro tactics and don’t revolve around a strong central theme, the deck will fall short of victory against most independently built Commander decks. I still recommend playing it however, because you will be able to get a good feel for what you want to do with the deck in the future.

The land base is solid enough that it won’t need much tweaking, and land bases are nearly half the battle when building a Commander deck. Regardless of the tactic you take, you should be able to use about a dozen or more non-land cards from the deck in your final build. Needing to get 30-50 cards for a usable Commander deck may seem like a large chore. Think of it this way, you are getting 50-70% of a deck completed for only $30. If you could finish the rest of the deck for the same cost, that would be a legitimately budget deck.

The deck looks like it should have a favorable match up against the other preconstructed decks.  This is mostly because they seem to have bloated land bases lack card draw. This deck has just enough of both land and card draw to keep you going throughout games. I don’t concern myself too much with playing with the precons, so it’s more of a guess than anything else.

Upgrading the deck will take an entire article in itself, because of all the different directions you can take this. I recommend picking it up and giving it a try.