Welcome back to Switcheroo. If you have been following the competitive Magic circuit for the past couple of months, Eldrazi decks have been dominating the format. Now, Eldrazis are not new to the Commander format; when a player slams down an Eldrazi here, it’s still an impressive feat in size and scope. It draws attention from your fellow players due to the sheer massive qualities that the Eldrazis exhibit.

If you are not familiar with my Switcheroo column, I am here to to help with your deckbuilding dilemmas. Here’s the game plan: I will highlight a particular card from Magic’s history, and then see how a newer card either replicates (or often supersedes) the original.  Accessibility is the name of the game for this article. Most of the cards highlighted on Switcheroo are friendly on the wallet, and can easily found at your local gaming store or online retailer.

Today, we’re taking a look at the Battle for Zendikar block and the numerous cards available for your next Commander decks.


Breaker of Armies: The Biggest Lure Yet

It wouldn’t be an Eldrazi article without mentioning an Eldrazi. Let’s examine the design of  Breaker of Armies to see why this is an impressive monstrosity:

  1. It’s big in scope – Ten power and eight toughness and the fact that it is referred to as “Breaker of Armies” is no small feat.
  2. Slight downside – Costs a lot of generic mana.
  3. It has an ability rarely seen in Magic’s history on a creature that large.

Big creatures with unique abilities in combat are something I enjoy playing in Commander, and being colorless means you can slot this guy into any Commander deck. Breaker of Armies can act as a repeatable removal source for your opponent’s blocking creatures just by attacking, a boon to color combinations lacking in creature removal  This Eldrazi is both a creature threat and removal in one package.

If your Commander deck priorities are big creatures brawling, Breaker of Armies will find a good home.

Also – it takes eight squirrels to take down a Breaker of Armies using squirrel math.


Turn Against – No, Back to You

I have a special place in my heart for using my opponent’s resources against them, and Turn Against is a Eldrazi twist. Threaten effects have long been a staple in red’s color identity, but Turn Against does have its advantages over other Threaten effects printed before it. First, it is instant-speed, giving you the versatility to cast it on your opponent’s turns; having the option of using your opponent’s creatures as a blocker, as a pseudo-Maze of Ith to remove an attacker from combat, or straight removal by sacrifice it if you have an outlet handy. Second, the cool twist is that the spell is colorless via the Devoid keyword, so it can target creatures with Protection from Red.

Do Threaten effects have a viable place in Commander? I think so – they can drastically turn momentum into your favor when you are winning or losing; however, they do require a higher degree of setup cost. You have to rely on your opponents to have powerful creatures on the battlefield. They are also less effective as removal than a dedicated single-target removal spell if you are in need of that effect.

As a result, Threaten effects are intended more as a momentum swing in your favor, and are not removal spells except under certain circumstances.  To maximize your advantage with Turn Against, have a way to kill the stolen creature before giving it back to opponent – because the Eldrazis would do the same thing.

Also: Turn Against Stealing an Iona, Shield of Emeria naming red should be an achievement somewhere.


Vile Redeemer – How Many of My Creatures Died?

Very rarely do your creatures survive an entire game of Commander due to the ubiquity of creature removal and Wrath of God effects. As a result, both Vile Redeemer and Caller of the Claw provide well-timed value for non-token creatures dying. I actually like Caller of the Claw a bit more because I like bears more than Eldrazi Scion spawn creatures, but the mana resource makes the difference reasonable.

I like the adaptiveness of these two cards; proactively, you get value for creatures going into the graveyard when you sacrifice your own creatures.  Reactively, you get creature tokens when your opponent kills off your creatures through normal means.  That flexibility is the key to synergy in this format.

The next time your opponents kills your entire army of creatures, give them a surprise army of Bear-drazis.

(Pro tip, don’t cast this in response to the wrath effect – you want to wait until the end of the turn.)


Kazuul’s Toll Collector – Can I Wear Three Pairs of Boots and Wield Five Swords at Once, Please?

Kazuul’s Toll Collector wins the “Why isn’t this card a legendary creature?!?!?” award in the Battle of Zendikar block hands-down. Accepting the award in its place is Vulshok Battlemaster.

Mono-red Voltron equipment theme decks are typically defined by Godo, Bandit Warlord.  Now, I love our buffalo-riding warlord friend, but six mana is a lot of mana to demand for a Voltron general, and its mana cost skyrockets to a ridiculous height after several castings from the command zone. Kazuul’s Toll Collector is nowhere near the power level of Godo – or Vulshok Battlemaster – even if it were a legendary creature; however, Toll Collector would be a unique and different commander option in mono red, so this is a missed opportunity.

Where will Kazuul’s Toll Collector see play? Perhaps in a tribal warrior- themed Lovisa Coldeyes deck, or with some other equipment theme – or maybe just as a basic utility role-player. The ability to attach equipment for zero is saving you mana, and it bypasses shroud equipment like Lightning Greaves or Whispersilk Cloak.

This toll collector can be a scary creature once you have a board position filled with powerful equipment cards.

(I wish this card was a troll instead of an ogre, for the hilarious “You gotta pay the troll toll” reference.

Let’s Bring Things to a Screeching Halt

I am listening – What are your favorite gems from the Battle for Zendikar block? What creatures do you wish it were legendary? I would love to hear your comments and feedback below or via Twitter – or find GDC via Facebook.

Until next time, lets chat magic – @AlexckSzeto

(Special thanks to @RyanSainio for creating all the awesome graphics for my articles and ruining my Commander gameplans.)