Welcome to the third part of my Commander 2015 review! While the first part dealt with white and green and can be found here, part two was all about Dimir (blue and black) in case you’re interested. Today though, we’ll be talking about red, gold, artifacts and lands.
Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!
Awaken the Sky Tyrant – And we start out with a weak one. First of all, if I read the term “Sky Tyrant”, I think about Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund, Dragonlord Kolaghan, Hellkite Overlord or even Dragon Tyrant. A 5/5 flier without any additional abilities hardly qualifies here. For four mana, it sounds okay but please consider that your opponent decides when you’ll get it. And who would trigger the sacrifice effect if they can’t handle the dragon token?
Desolation Giant – Having shown up first in Apocalypse, this guy now comes back for more. Unfortunately, he still has the same issues he had back then. Why would I pay six mana, with two of them having to be red and two white, just to have a 3/3 on the board after I killed everything else? And if someone casts Vanish into Memory on him later on when I have other creatures on the battlefield? That sounds catastrophic! Nobody seems to be playing Phyrexian Rebirth and it is far better.
Dragon Mage – I once had a red and green big mana deck that used this guy to get a lot of new expensive cards into my hand. Turned out he was a double-edged sword. One the one hand, you get seven new cards. If you have a lot of mana, that’s great! On the other hand though, EVERY OTHER PLAYER ALSO GETS SEVEN NEW CARDS! With three opponents, that’s a total of twenty-one cards that can potentially screw you over. Oops. Then again, if he connects a few times, they can throw their plans out of the window.
Dream Pillager – If a creature is a 4/4 and costs seven mana, I expect it to have at least one really powerful ability. Is flying this ability? No, so it must be the other one. And what can I say, it’s not bad. You’ll see at least four cards and should have seven mana open, so there is the high chance that you can cast something good. Still, for seven mana, I’d like a large dragon that impacts the board, not a medium-sized one that most players will be able to block at that stage of the game. He’s a great follow-up to a board wipe though.
Fiery Confluence – I’m really excited about this one! Why? Because I have a deck that centers around casting Breath of Malfegor when I have a Hostility on the battlefield. Fiery Confluence is cheaper, deals more damage, and offers so much more flexibility than Breath of Malfegor ever could. This will be an obvious swap, and for once, the red card in a cycle has impressed me the most. I love it!
Hostility – Speaking of the devil…
Hunted Dragon – Don’t let it fool you, this is not a good card. You just cast a 6/6 hasty flier for five mana. Do you really think the guy you gave the knights to won’t think you a threat? If so, think again. However, I do like combining the “Hunted” creatures with Windborn Muse or Massacre Wurm. Just saying.
Magus of the Wheel – Better than the afore-mentioned Dragon Mage because you have a lot more control over the timing of the effect, and because he is so much cheaper of course. He can actually help you out of a tough spot if you have mana problems in the early game. While Dragon Mage would be used to nail them into the coffin but might as well hand them the carpenter’s hammer to get out of it again, Magus of the Wheel can upset the other players’ plans by putting a spoke in their wheels. … Ahaha, super-awesome pun! Oh wait, it wasn’t. Whatever.
Mizzix’s Mastery – This allows you to get a serious discount on something expensive, provided you already got it into your graveyard somehow. Even getting a second Harmonize or Blasphemous Act is already okay, but overloading Mizzix’s Mastery? That must be downright epic. This is what Sins of the Past always wanted to be but never was.
Warchief Giant – As I said in my other reviews, most of the new myriad creatures suck. This one is no exception.
Anya, Merciless Angel – Whoever came up with that name deserves a medal for the “Most Uninspired Name in Commander 2015”. “Merciless Angel”? Wow, that’s so … bland. With that being said, I’m not a fan of the card either. Yes, it’s quite likely that she’ll be an indestructible 7/7 or even 10/10 flier for only five mana at one point in the game, but so what? She’s just a beater that’s even worse than Serra Angel if nobody has yet lost half of their life. I don’t like her.
Arjun, the Shifting Flame – Dragon Mage, meet Arjun. Who’s essentially a far superior version of yourself. I’ve always liked Mindmoil, and now we can even play it as our commander? Color me impressed.
Daxos the Returned – Okay, so Daxos is a very narrow card that makes sense in one deck only: ENCHANTMENTS! Unfortunately, you have to cast the enchantments to get experience counters so just activating Heliod, God of the Sun doesn’t work. Then again, it shouldn’t or Daxos would be a combo with himself. If you want to make him work, recastable enchantments (i.e. Fool’s Demise, Gossamer Chains, Mana Bloom or Mark of Eviction) are probably the best way to go.
Ezuri, Claw of Progress – For a normal elf deck, Ezuri is too slow. However, he shines in token decks that can create multiple small dudes at once. He can’t pump himself and only pumps one creature per turn, but if he doesn’t get killed, he’s a large boon to your army. Combine him with stuff like Ant Queen, Hornet Queen, Awakening Zone, Pentavus or Chasm Skulker to quickly gain a lot of experience counters.
Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas – Just like Anya, Merciless Angel, Kalemne is a boring beater. There is no question that she’s quite efficient at her job though. Double strike and vigilance is certainly a nasty combination but without additional forms of evasion, she can be blocked all day long. But please, she’s half red, half white, and those colors just so happen to have the best equipment tutors in the game: Stoneforge Mystic, Stonehewer Giant, Steelshaper’s Gift, Godo, Bandit Warlord. It shouldn’t be too difficult to make your opponents fear her.
Karlov of the Ghost Council – I’m not sure if the fat ghost is worth being a commander but as a supporter, he should be really good. I’m looking at you, annoying Oloro decks! In regular 60 cards decks though, he should be a real beast if you build them accordingly. Imagine casting him on turn 2 followed by Kitchen Finks and Loxodon Hierarch. That makes a normally survival-oriented sequence rather aggressive, don’t you think? And even though taking six +1/+1 counters off him seems a bit expensive, it has two things going for it: Firstly, it only costs you to exile a creature. Secondly, you can probably do it more than once. I like him!
Kaseto, Orochi Archmage – Whaa! Not only do the Simic get a brutal Voltron commander, this snake can also mess with combat. Just don’t forget that even though you can make any targetable creature on the board unblockable (yes, not only the ones you control), you can only pump snakes. This restricts him quite a bit but there are a few nice ones out there, and some of them work really well with Kaseto, Orochi Archmage: Hooded Hydra, Lorescale Coatl, Ohran Viper (!), Patagia Viper, Shisato, Whispering Hunter, Seshiro the Anointed etc. Might there be a deck somewhere?
Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest – Five mana for a 2/2, even if it flies, is too much. However, if you can pull off that trick only once and pump … uhm, let’s say him and three other creatures, that’s already okay. Oh, and he specifically says “permanent”, not “creature”. So whenever someone (you yourself maybe?) casts something like Sakura-Tribe Elder, Butcher of the Horde or Awakening Zone, Brion Stoutarm, Feldon of the Third Path or Greater Good, Aggressive Mining, Seal of Cleansing or Birthing Pod, you can profit from it. Heck, what about fetch lands? The panoramas? Commanders like Arcum Dagsson? Punishers like Martyr’s Bond? People sacrifice things all the time, especially in multiplayer. And even if nobody else does, the list of cards that support Mazirek is practically endless. And people, you’re playing black and green – that basically screams for sacrifice effects! Just don’t sacrifice too many of your own creatures or Mazirek has nothing left to pump. So in short: This dude can be a powerhouse in the right deck.
Melek, Izzet Paragon – I love his copy ability but he’s a very narrow and sadly also quite expensive dude. And boy, what’s going on in the “Dragon’s Maze” book? I thought he’d be badass when I saw his card. Instead, he gets offed by Ral Zarek almost the second he appears. Talk about a one-time performance.
Meren of Clan Nel Toth – Take half of the cards I mentioned when I was talking about Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest and insert them here. How about a few others? Evolutionary Leap, Disciple of Griselbrand, Eater of Hope, Attrition, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord – and so on. Lots of synergies to be discovered here. Now you only need to find suitable candidates for the sacrificial action. The cool thing about Meren is that you’ll get the creature anyway. Having enough experience counters merely allows you to put it directly onto the battlefield. Sure, that’s better than getting it returned to your hand in most cases but returning it to your hand is better than nothing. I love graveyard shenanigans, and Meren loves graveyards. Seems like a match made in heaven.
Mizzix of the Izmagnus – This little goblin scales extremely well and functions like a crazy Arcane Melee for yourself. If you can keep her on the board, she’ll grant you huge discounts even on the most expensive of spells. Time Stretch for ? Certainly possible. The only thing you’ll have to take care of is not running out of cards. So how about Tidings for ? And don’t forget the X spells!
Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts – I fell in love with this version of Teysa when she was around for the first time. Having played her a few times now, I can say that her mana cost absolutely sucks. She’s clearly a powerful package but I think six mana would have been fairer on the players.
Blade of Selves – And here it is, the card that’s already seen on the banned list by quite a few people. And to be honest, there is a lot of mischief you can make with this. It loves ETB effects as well as monsters with great power and can single-handedly take over the game. I know I want one for at least three of my Commander decks: Roon of the Hidden Realm, Karador, Ghost Chieftain and Xenagos, God of Revels.
Sandstone Oracle – If this draws you only three cards, the ratio is already good. Every additional card makes it great. However, that’s only rational thinking because in practice, this feels just too expensive. Weird, isn’t it?
Scytheclaw – Or Scy, the Claw. Hahaha, another super-funny pun! Uhm, yeah, well living weapon is back! It’s a bummer then that this equipment provides a bonus of +1/+1 only. Because to be honest, paying five mana for a puny 1/1 feels like being cheated. Yes, I also get a creature but I’d still prefer Quietus Spike for its deathtouch.
Urza’s Incubator – This, on the other hand, is highly playable in the right deck as the card itself is far cheaper. It can be the right tool for tribal decks that want to vomit creatures onto the board and trample everything underfoot.
Command Beacon – If you are playing a commander with a high mana cost or your commander bites the dust a few times too many, this can offset the commander penalty of . Combine it with something like Life from the Loam to do so repeatedly. I like the design.
High Market – Having a sacrifice outlet ready can come in handy during every game. High Market doesn’t require additional mana and can be used at instant speed, both of which are qualities a good sac outlet should have to prevent things like Phthisis or Mind Control from happening.
This concludes my Commander 2015 review, and all in all, I have to say that I’m pretty happy about how it turned out. Especially a few uncommons really made me smile when I first saw them. The legendary creatures are a mixed bag, with some of them being cool, some being uninteresting to say the least.
I know that there are people out there who think that Wizards shouldn’t be designing cards for specific formats, such as Command Tower or Command Beacon. To me, this argument makes no sense at all because if you don’t like a card, nobody forces you to play it. There are so many cards out there that you should have no problems finding alternatives. And Commander 2015 offers new and interesting stuff in spades that can really spice up your games.
With that, I wish you a good day and hope you’ll be back next time!