Commander 2013 hits in less than two weeks, and Team GDC has a quite a bit in store surrounding the release. Since the full decklists were spoiled last week, we decided to pull together to drop some opinions on what we’re looking forward to from the new cards, what we can do without at first glance, and what reprints caught out eyes.
(Hit up your favorite spoiler site for the cards until they get the official Gatherer nod and the links work from here – I suggest MagicSpoiler.com.)
Hit up the Comments below to let us know what you’re looking forward to – or not so much – from this awesome set of decks.
Mr. P says:
New Card I Dig: Ophiomancer
As a big fan of Free Snake Day, I love this guy. Free Snake Day!
(I should also add that I’m extremely excited about the new Curses, as I am a fan of them creatively continuing themes that can’t necessarily be continued in Regular sets for thematic reasons. I can only hope that C15 contains Legendary Enchantment-Shrine cards, and/or more Land-Locus.)
New Card I DON’T Dig: Diviner Spirit
There’s a couple things going on here. The first is that I have a tendency to get very very annoyed by cards that look like they fly, but don’t. Oh hey.
The second thing is that I wish that this dude’s card draw ability/drawback might have made him seem like something they could print at less than five mana. At three mana this guy would be slightly ahead of the curve in terms of size, but his ability/drawback would probably mitigate that. At four mana he’s pretty average (he’s ‘betterworse’ Amphin Cutthroat!). At five mana he is just over-costed and not very good. This is the sort of card I want them to take slightly bigger risks with.
Reprint I love: Baleful Strix
This is the sort of card that it was easy to surprise people with; people would look at it, and say, “oh hey, value creature”, and then you would show them the price on it and their head would asplode. Good times. I’m currently on a kick of trying to experiment with substantially lowering the mana curves on some of my decks, and this is the type of guy I am excited to play more of. Also, I like that they are trying to acknowledge that cards that are only in pre-cons are worth reprinting in as many pre-cons as possible. (Honestly, I’m kinda surprised that they did not reprint Shardless Agent in the Bant precon, but whatevs.)
Other cards that could just as well fit into this slot are Strategic Planning or Spoils of Victory. Honestly, if WOTC wants to go ahead and just reprint Portal: Three Kingdoms as the third set of Theros block, I’m cool with that.
The New Hotness: Illusionist’s Gambit
What I love about this card is that it, like Reins of Power, is a Fog with a plan. If someone drops Craterhoof Behemoth, or otherwise goes and empties the guns reaching for victory, you need not save all your other opponents at the table like would from a Fog effect. Rather, everyone else can still die, but you get another turn to fight it out. Also, rather interestingly, sometimes people will try to make ‘safe’ attacks for value, and this can cause players to lose critters, or waste tricks they might have otherwise used. Like Reins of Power, there will be situations where it’s earth-shattering, and many where it’s mere cancellation of combat. This is one to watch for, to be sure.
Old And Busted: Price of Knowledge
I’ll be honest, I read this card and I thought it was garbage from the get-go. It’s obviously meant to go with Nekusar, the Mindrazer, but the mana cost doesn’t justify the effect. I’ve played this kind of deck before, with Seizan, Perverter of Truth, where you force players to draw more cards with Howling Mine effects, and you artificially limit their capability to play them by playing Contamination, Winter Orb, and many other cards. I’ve seen this deck played in Grixis, with Phyrexian Tyranny, Forced Fruition, Underworld Dreams, Runeflare Trap, and perhaps most recently, Toil.
So, why is this card so dreadful, and so immediately deserving of scorn? Because cards like Megrim, Liliana’s Caress, and Bloodchief Ascension exist. And they don’t cost seven mana. Make no mistake, I’d love for the Viseling effects to be more powerful (along with Iron Maiden, and others), but at seven mana, it just doesn’t really present an option to an already incredibly narrow archetype with cards that cost far less.
Better With Age, Like A Fine Wine: Strategic Planning
I won’t lie, I’ve looked at this card and considered buying it before. However, it’s a tremendously expensive uncommon with a wildly fluctuating price range of $25-$60 at the time of this writing. Rather than hash out the boring functionality this card provides (hint: it’s good in casual reanimator, but has no functional duplicate anywhere), I am more happy with what this symbolizes: reprinting cards that create a perceived barrier to entry. This, and many of the other Portal: Three Kingdoms reprints are what I’ve always hoped for from Wizards for eternal formats. Stores that were hoarding their Strategic Plannings are going to take a big hit, and that sucks. It sucks for people who traded for a Hua Tuo, Honored Physician last week, and are now cursing their luck. But, I’d rather this than to face Legacy prices all over again for Modern and Commander (well, for new stuff for Commander anyway).
New Card I Dig: Unexpectedly Absent
I honestly believe this is the best new card to be printed of the entire set. In Commander and even in Legacy using this in response to a fetch land is absolutely devastating. This would have been an ok card at sorcery speed. Being an instant makes this something that blows me away. This is this set’s Spell Crumple.
Reprint I Love: Borrowing 100,000 Arrows
Go see ‘Red Cliff’ that came out about five years back from John Woo. Really cool reference, and the card can draw you a lot of cards for just three mana. You probably haven’t seen it before because the original has a terrible white border and is a $5 uncommon. I’m happy to see this looking pretty and affordable.
New Paper That Is The Sauce: Fell Shepherd
It has weird P/T stats for its cost, it has a unique damage trigger (Part Grim Return, part Liliana ultimate), and it’s a cool sac outlet a la Phyrexian Plaguelord. I may never even get to cast it, but I love sacrificing for value and then getting everything back. Yes, it’s kinda dumb with Grave Pact and after doing that once I’ll probably feel a little unimpressed with myself. But a guy can dream of teh awesomezors, right?
It Makes Me Say Bleh: Primal Vigor
I almost complained about Wilderness Elemental– The Suckier (Terra Ravager). But seriously, when will they stop trying to “fix” Doubling Season? How many Black Lotus fixes have there been? (Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, and Lotus Bloom come to mind, although there were others, as ban-worthy or otherwise busted pieces of degenerate Magic.)
Guess what? Fixing DS has worked out the same. It’s either easy to break (Parallel Lives and every token maker say barf) or the lamest. Primal Vigor sucks so hard it’s both. It does stupid things with Rhys and other soporifics because it’s still part Doubling Season, and yet it also lets everyone else do it so the lone non-token player just has to shrug at homogeneity. (Fair caveat – I loved resolving DS the first time I did. I haven’t cast it a second time yet.)
To be honest, I like a number of the reprinted cards, but very few of them excite me and several are head scratchers (cough, Plague Boiler, cough cough). So Goblin Sharpshooter – and by utter coincidence, I was trying to track one down! (But that in no way influences my opinion).
More importantly, Hua Tuo is a weird, super vulnerable and restricted Volrath’s Stronghold that costs about $70 for a white border. The interaction with sacrificing is neat, especially if you can put a draw trigger on the stack (Fecundity and the general being the perfect example), but mainly it’s just exciting to play with these P3K cards that are expensive because supply and demand are stupid.
New And Shiny: Angel of Finality
This format needs more graveyard hate, and I’m glad to see that we’re seeing more quality options in this area. Maybe I’m just a big sucker for utility too. Sure, a 3/4 flyer for four mana isn’t anything special, but this should still see decent play, right?
…Okay, so there are far better options than this, but I’ll be honest: my mono-white angels deck was hurting for a good on-theme Bojuka Bog. So there.
New (And I Wish It Wasn’t): True-Name Nemesis
Okay…first off, the name sucks. Once we’ve gotten past that, we have a pretty inconsequential (for EDH) creature that will likely have Edric players super-excited, but will mostly just be overlooked by everyone not playing “When this creature deals combat damage to a player…” effects.
Past that, this thing dies to board wipes as easily as any other creatures out there, so I’m not impressed on that front.
So why’s it here? I suppose there has to be a Legacy plant somewhere in this release. Get ready to see the “Mind Seize” deck be the first to really jump over MSRP as a result.
Old And Exciting: New Arts and Old Board Wipes
I couldn’t really decide here, so this whole category is getting a ton of honorable mentions. I’m really into a lot of the new art on some of the reprints – Phyrexian Delver is a great reimagining, and Lim-Dul’s Vault is a nice upgrade over the original. Leading the pack is Rubinia Soulsinger; she’s one of my favorite legends from back in the day, and I remember playing her heavily back when we first saw Legends on shelves.
(It begs to be mentioned, though, that as cool as the new art is, it’s really annoying not to have a foil option here. But I digress…)
The other half goes to the decision to toss in some awesome board sweepers from years past. Wrath of God is still the gold standard, and with all the wanna-be versions that keep seeing print in recent years, it’s nice to see the O.G. board wipe get some love. Ditto for Decree of Pain, which is decidedly a format staple, but nonetheless a fantastic and flexible utility card that I’m never afraid to slide into a deck.
Finally, Starstorm is an old favorite of mine as well. It wasn’t always an easy thing for red to handle a bunch of things without an Earthquake or a really convoluted and expensive Fireball, and Starstorm made it really easy and instant-speed to boot.