Welcome back to Switcheroo. For many new players entering Commander, finding cards can be exhilarating and daunting. With the massive catalog of cards available to our format, it can be difficult for even experienced players to choose which specific cards will fill the ninety nine slots in their Commander decks. Switcheroo is here to help with deckbuilding dilemmas just like this.
Editor’s Note: Apologies for the Tuesday-Thursday content slowdown the past two weeks. We’re all feverishly tuning decks and saving up overtime with work and family to get ready for GenCon at the end of the month. We’ll get back to normal in August after the photostravaganza in Indy.
I highlight a particular card from Magic’s history and then evaluate how the a recently printed card replicates or often supersedes the original. The point is to identify new options; Accessibility is the name of the game. Most of the cards highlighted on Switcheroo are wallet- friendly and can easily found at your local gaming store. Let’s take a look at the soon-to-be-released Magic Origins and the numerous cards available for your Commander decks.
Jace’s Sanctum: A rockin basement of asskickery!
Let’s take a closer look at Jace’s kickass basement. First, that table on the art looks awesome for a Dungeons and Dragons adventure or some Warhammer miniatures action. That’s good enough to make your instant or sorcery spells cost one less mana. Jace’s basement also better have great access to a speedy Wi-Fi connection so looking up facts online or checking out Reddit is much faster; hence the Scry 1 when you cast an instant or sorcery spell.
Jace’s basement is reminiscent of Arcane Melee, from Avacyn Restored. Arcane Melee was a card that I was never happy to see in a draft and I have the feeling it will be the same for Jace’s basement. Both of these cards are awkward in a limited setting, because they no value impact when cast, and they require you to fill your deck, which is usually a weaker approach to the creature-dominated draft format.
However, in Commander Jace’s Sanctum is the kind of build-around card that I enjoy playing. Cost-reduction enchantments let you play more spells in a turn. Getting to scry just for playing a spell, setting up your next moves or finding the right card, is quite powerful. Jace’s basement will find a nice home decks heavy in cantrips (low costed instants and sorcery spells that draw cards) spells, in decks as Dralnu, Lich Lord, Talrand, Sky Summoner, and Tibor and Lumia. Yes, it’s going to feel bad when you draft Jace’s basement, but the opportunity to find a nice home for this card in it your Commander deck is well worth it.
Elemental Bond: More ways for green to more draw cards.
This Twitter conversation I had sums up my thoughts about Elemental Bond in Commander.
The predominant strategy for green in Commander is to play lands followed by more lands than your opponents, followed by creatures—creatures and more creatures. In between playing creatures, creatures, and more creatures, you need a way to draw more lands and creatures than your opponents can withstand. Elemental Bond, Kavu Lair, and Garruk’s Packleader essentially do the same thing: drawing cards for playing high-powered creatures.
With the potential to turn every creature with power the or greater that enters the battlefield under your control into a draw spell, these cards can be a smashing success for your creature-heavy commander decks. Even beast tokens from Garruk Five (the third Garruk, costs 2GGG) and elemental tokens made from Titania, Protector of Argoth will snuggle nicely with this addition.
Ghirapur Aether Grid: You don’t need haste to ping it!
I must confess, I loved Kyren Negotiations back when it printed in 1999, because it gives your creatures additional value. Every creature becomes a Prodigal Sorcerer , and your creatures can become death a by thousand cuts. 16 years later, we get a similar effect in Ghirapur Aether Grid, but for artifacts rather than creatures. The Aether Grid is more limiting because creatures are more common in Commander, but I see it as a great build-around-me for an artifact deck, dealing with opponents’ creatures or whittling down life totals.
Unwinding Clock has awesome synergy, untapping your artifacts during your opponents’ turns so you ping with your artifacts every untap step. I call that a winning with value.
Shadows of the Past: Looking into the future
Is it me or has Wizards’ development team attached scry to everything in the past year or two? We have scry on lands, creatures, instants, sorceries, and artifacts. The only things missing are planeswalkers (Get on that Wizards). Scrying is a fun and robust mechanic, and it’s fairly uncommon in terms of the play it sees for such a powerful effect.
Shadows of the Past and Reaper of the Wilds strength comes from how they often fly under your opponents’ threat perception radar. Card draw effects and tutoring can quickly draw the entire table’s attention turning against you. Scrying and sculpting cards that you want in your hand, one turn at a time, is fairly devious and won’t make your opponents worry as much as drawing tons and tutoring. The advantage of Shadows of the Past is its resilience as enchantment. It is exposed to removal than creatures. As an added bonus, syphoning your opponent’s life away could change the outcome of a game.
Magic Origins has ushered a number of new generals and creative cards into this format. I am very excited to see what cards from Magic Origins will find a home in my Commander decks. Now it’s your turn. What cards from Magic Origins are you planning to put into your Commander decks? Are there any Switcheroo cards that I missed from Magic Origins?
Until next time, lets chat magic @AlexckSzeto