Welcome back everyone to my Commander centred review of Magic 2012. For my take on the first half of the set, check out my previous article here. As a reminder, I will not be talking about every card, just new cards that have a chance at being Commander or casual playable.
This is possibly great in Standard, and plays very closely to Hell's Thunder, but for Commander it just doesn’t hit hard enough. All Chandra’s Phoenix will do is create some enemies for you while not really affecting them all that much. I also love the art and this arcana, showing the card’s art coming to life from concept to final product.
This is our first splashable Planeswalker folks! Tom Lapille stated that they chose the splashable casting cost for Chandra to set her apart from [card Koth of the Hammer]Koth[/card]. I really respect this choice. It shows that WotC actually puts a great deal of thought into the whole card creation process. Choosing to make Chandra and easily splashable card was the right move in my opinion and will hopefully be proven over time.
I think Chandra is awesome, but that may be my affinity for spell copying. If you compare the two, Koth seems to be the better mainly due to his very awesome ultimate. However, when splashed, Chandra could become the focus of some serious decks and fill roles in decks Koth never could even come close to.
Her reverberate is the #1 reason most players are finally getting excited for Chandra 3.0 after 2 [card Chandra Nalaar]previous[/card] underplayed [card Chandra Ablaze]versions[/card]. It may be a Magical Christmas Land scenario, but doubling a Tezzeret's Gambit or Volt Charge seem like really amazing lines of play. I could see her in a new version of Mind Hammer, one of @Smi77y’s creations. The deck lost the [card Jace, the Mind Sculptor]Mind portion[/card] of its deck but I could really see [card Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas]Tezzeret[/card] working well along side Chandra. I don’t think the deck would need [card Koth of the Hammer]Koth[/card] any longer either, so pretty much the deck would basically have to be renamed at that point.
Chandra is great as a Commander card as doubling spells is one of the best things you can do in a format filled with the most powerful spells created in magic. Her ultimate is not as game winning as some of the better Planeswalkers in Commander, and her ping ability will be pointless most of the time so I would really focus on her being yet another spell copying card.
All said, I do not think she is worth more than her current price. I don’t think anything will come close to the “[card Jace, the Mind Sculptor]next Jace[card]” anytime soon. WotC is really getting the hang of creating Plansewalker, and it really shows in their design. Keep her if you want to use her but trade her now if you don't. M12 won’t be opened all that much and she will be one of the chase cards of the set.
Is this a very horrible Warp World, or [card Zedruu the Greathearted]Zedruu[/card] deck’s killing blow? The card is way too expensive and way too crazy to see any play in standard. The only place I see it is Zedruu and chaos decks that don’t look to win, they just look to do insane things like Warp World and Scrambleverse. Trade these away to anyone looking if you can. They will never be worth more than $1 and will probably be used as proxies or ripped up by people hating on the card.
A new version of Pandemonium is always welcome. A crazy bomb in limited as most effects like this are. Norin the Wary Commander decks seem to be getting popular and this card allows you to have another effect and this time it is only for your creatures. I personally have not built a Norin the Wary deck but I am looking forward to trying it out. It seems like loads of fun, but not enough to make this card worth anything more than bulk. This is basically as playable in standard as Pandemonium is at the moment. (Just a hint to anyone out there not in the know, Pandemonium is not legal in standard.) Trade these away as soon as you find a taker, although I highly doubt you will find any.
If the creature is larger than 4 power all you will have to do is continue to tap down your own spider. Flying is a big weakness to a lot of Commander decks, so I believe this spider may be the answer a lot of decks are looking for. Silklash Spider has been my go-to spider, but I think Arachnus may be a reasonable card to use. The only bad thing about Arcachnus is it’s effectively 2 cards. Even though Commander is a 100 card format, as most experienced Commander players know decklists can get pretty tight and the balance found in a tuned deck can easily be thrown off once you start changing cards around.
I don’t see any reason this would be played in a Titan-filled world, so don't worry about letting go of this spider if you don’t intend to use him in Commander. On a positive note, because of the nature of both cards I think Arachnus Web will be a great pick up as a foil.
Hexproof is a big draw for casual players. They overestimate its power and are easily blinded by it. Having a variable P/T is also another draw for casual players. With all that, Dungrove Elder is basically a huge casual hit. As for Commander, he is obviously ok in mono-green decks, with cards like Brawn and Roughshod Mentor. I can’t see Dungrove Elder defining Standard, trade these away at your leisure but don’t be scared of holding onto him either. The market should not dry up for him as there is always a new player addicted to casting green monsters.
I love Garruk. I’ve played him in decks ever since he was released. I even played him in a homebrew All in Green style of deck that actually got 5th in a premier event for me at one point in time. It had some game but really didn’t work after Overgrowth left the core set. This new Garruk is–
Aside: Actually, let's go on an aside for now as it is something I have always wanted to talk about. I pronounce it Gah-ROO-k and I don’t care if that’s wrong. It sounds more primal that way to my ears. Watch Gladiator’s opening battle to get a feel of the language and culture I picture Garruk to come from.
New Garruk is possibly better than his predecessor, yet may not see as much play. His first ability is very [card Elspeth, Knight-Errant]Elspeth-like[/card], yet better. A bunch of 3/3’s can take over a game mighty quickly, and Garruk does this while becoming more loyal to your cause. His second ability fills a gaping hole in green’s repertoire. Even as "just" a five mana Harmonize, Garruk would probably see some play but being able to build a huge army is what puts him over the top.
However, be cautious while using Garruk as his ultimate is just asking to be a blow out when your opponent [card Day of Judgment]Judges your Day[/card]. It still is pretty much game breaking in any matchup without sweepers. It’s even better with a card like [card Urabrask the Hidden]Urabrask[/card] helping along. But this brings up Garruk’s glaring weakness, his casting cost.
Triple green is not something you just over look when building a two or more color deck, but if there is any color that can pull it off it’s green. With Lotus Cobra, Overgrown Battlement, and Joraga Treespeaker in the format it shouldn’t be a problem. But once all of our amazing Zendikar block mana fixing is gone, Garruk will be limited specifically to very strong green decks based. I am sure this part of Wizards’ continued experimentation with Planeswalkers, as Chandra’s splashiness seems to be as well. I hope they continue pushing the envelope with Planeswalkers as they are a different worlds of design that are just not possible with any other card type.
Will he see play in Standard? Highly likely because he fills a void in green. Will he see wide play? Time will tell. Will he see Eternal play? Probably not.
Commander on the other hand is another story. I am very excited to get my hands on the new Garruk to shove him into my Commander deck. I do think I will play both in my deck, but he actually may beat the [card Garruk Wildspeaker]old Garruk[/card] out of a spot in time.
Garruk is one a chase mythics of the set, along with the other [card Jace, Memory Adept]new[/card] [card Chandra, the Firebrand]Plansewalkers[/card], so hold onto him if you are looking to play him. I don’t see him going up in price. Thankfully, the prerelease prices are not as insane this time around as they were in Scars of Mirrodin. I really think the days of $50, or higher, Planeswalkers is now behind us, and I don’t think anyone is upset at that.
You still have to pay for the creature so I am not in love with this guy as much as others are. He doesn’t do enough to warrant any play in Standard, so his price should stay at bulk. For Commander, I think there are several better cards out there, but I do get excited thinking about this guy and Oracle of Mul Daya in play at the same time. If you base your deck around him, and have a high concentration of creatures, he could work out very well. However, bending your deck to conform for the Horde really isn’t worth it. Green is full of so many big beaters that you really don’t need this guy, and I would trade him away any chance I find. I really don’t think he is worth his weight in Commander.
Nothing spectacular about this card for Commander, but token strategies can never really have enough good token producers. Jade Mage is at least above average for token producers. I will eventually sound like a broken record here, but look out for foils as that’s really the only way to get money out of Commander-only Uncommons and Commons.
Hunter’s Insight is a very exciting card, but I am hesitant to play it in Standard. Momentous Fall was such a huge bust, and I was one of the people who mistakenly had high hopes for the card. However, Hunter’s Insight seems like it could be the real deal this time. It opens you up for a two-for-one, but at least it forces their hand in using their removal before the ideal moment. It also has a great piece of artwork attached to it, and should look great as a foil. I am not fully sold on its Standard applications, but for Commander it should be a fine addition to any Green deck that is lacking card draw.
I am not sure what a Standard playable Hydra would look like, but I am pretty sure this one is not. Paying five for a 3/3 that becomes a 6/6, then a 12/12 with trample is probably the best case scenario, but I don’t see this being much better than a Primeval Titan or a Consecrated Sphinx. If they end up killing it by the time it becomes a real factor, two turns after it has been out, you really haven’t gained much. In contrast, after two turns with Primeval Titan would have gained you so much advantage that you should be way ahead of your opponent at that point. Taking one off the casting cost could have possibly push him over the edge into playability but no point in talking about something that didn’t actually happen. The Hydra is basically a bigger version of Scute Mob, a card that was just not good enough.
For Commander, I think this guy would probably be [/card]Wrath[/card]'d away before he is relevant as he does get out of hand pretty quickly if not kept in check. Casting him for "X=5" or more can be game breaking. Usually I don’t like plain old beatsticks in Commander, but this guy is one of the [card Hamletback Goliath]biggest[/card] [card Lord of Extinction]beatsticks[/card] [card Kresh the Bloodbraided]around[/card].
I plan on testing him out at least. I’ve been meaning to rework my Wort, the Raidmother deck into a Rosheen Meanderer deck, and I think this Hydra would be a perfect fix for the deck. As long as I am right about the Hydra not being Standard playable, it should follow the price of Quicksilver Gargantuan fairly closely. Trade accordingly.
It is great to see this card reprinted, as I like the card and what it does for green. It is a mainstay in many Commander decks, so it should be popular the second time around. Foils are what to look out for in my opinion. The regular copy will be easily found. On magicthegathering.com, Jacob Van Lunen wrote an article about a Turbo Fog brew using this card. I’d be very excited if that becomes a part of the metagame because I have an unhealthy addiction to anything with the word Turbo in front of it.
This card is somewhat like a green version of Figure of Destiny, but much worse. I know it is Quiet Speculation’s preview card, but I think this will end up being worth just above bulk. The fact that it reverts back to a 1/1 at end of turn, and can only be activated once per turn, means you constantly have to keep mana up for it to stay alive. After losing all that tempo by slowing yourself down keeping this thing alive, all it will do most of the time is fly in for two damage. Being a 2-drop is a reason to consider this card, but I just don’t think it has what it takes to make any mark. I can’t see any potential metagame where this guy would be good in Commander either. Trade them away to anyone who is still high on him.
I think this card has the possibility of making a mark in Commander, especially in decks that can either recur or clone it. As I said before, most decks have a glaring weakness to flying, and this guy can be a decent addition against the flying menace. I highly doubt we will be seeing this card show up in Standard. Get foils, and only foils, of this one.
This set has an Aura sub-theme, so it’s expected that there is at least some cards that can fit into an [card Uril, the Miststalker]Uril[/card] deck. Trollhide a decent addition to Uril’s tool belt, but nothing to get crazy over. Only foil versions should be on your trade list as it shouldn't see play in any format other than Commander.
ARTIFACTS & LAND
This is "the DIY (Do it Yourself) Lord," as one of my friend calls it, and I am very excited about this card. He’s an auto-include in any Limited deck because you should have at least a few creatures that overlap creature types. I’ve heard of it even becoming a Human Lord!
As for Standard, Elves seem to have enough lords in their arsenal (so I don’t think another one will help), and unless there is another tribe, like Vampires, that is in desperate need of another lord, I don’t think he will be seeing much play at the top tables of Standard.
When Phyrexian Metamorph was spoiled I speculated in the Quiet Speculation forums that he would be a great pick up, not only for his cloning abilities but his ability to be an extra Lord for any tribal decks that exist. Adaptive Automaton should see the same, if not more, play as Phyrexian Metamorph. He probably won’t see much play in Commander, except in tribal heavy decks like Sliver Overlord or Reaper King decks, but the DIY lord will see play and be in huge demand for the casual market as a whole. If they continue to print him in core sets he will be worth around the same amount as a Coat of Arms, slightly more until he catches up in number of printings. If he is only in the core set for one or two releases I could see him going up in value over time, possibly even close to $10. I would be hoarding these guys once the initial price drops after a set release.
This is a very interesting card, and will probably be loved by the more casual Commander crowd. Try to look for people valuing this at bulk rates. If it takes with the casual crowd it could be worth a few bucks, or at least have demand so you can move it.
To hit the broken record, this is a Commander playable so look out for foils.
This is a casual stand out and has been for years: a $4 to $5 card easily. If you can get it cheaper than that, get it. This time around it could even actually see some Standard play because creatures are so much better now than they were back in the 90’s. I won’t hold my breath for it to make it, but if it does it will obviously help the price of the card. Do not trade these away at low prices. It is a solid casual card that will always have worth, even after rotation.
This is a huge Commander staple, and it should also see play in Standard. The new art may be liked by some players, but some may prefer the more traditional Jens art. It was recently reprinted in the Commander sets, but the demand for this card is big. I would get as many of these as I can, and even at its current retail price I would always be open to picking these guys up. There are enough Commander players out there to keep his price at $5, and that is not even taking into consideration his place in Standard. Foils will be a hot item. Try and get them ASAP.
This is a very unique combo-oriented card. It should stay at a buck or two due to the casual market loving wacky cards. Currently it is very niche, but if someone breaks it it will jump up. I am not out looking for tons of these, but if I can get a playset at $1 or less each in a trade I’d be more than happy to sit on them until I find a motivated casual buyer (or until it becomes essential to a Standard or Legacy deck).
Lightning Greaves 2.0 will be the easiest card to trade away for awhile. Everyone and their mother will need at least one for their Commander deck. It could even see play in Standard, but the equip cost could stop it from reaching that point. Imagine having Greaves out while playing a Titan... I’ll let you mull that one over while I go around trading for all the foils boots out there.
This is basically another utility land that Commander decks can use. It will most certainly be part of some Mindslaver shenanigans, so watch out for anyone who plays the card. I’d actually be inclined to destroy it on sight if I have the chance to. I don’t think it will see constructed play yet, but getting a Wurmcoil Engine back seems like the first step to being this played in Standard. You know the deal, if it’s a foil blah, blah, blah.
Magic 2012 seems like a pretty fun set, with a lot of great additions to the casual card pool. I think the set was a little bland for Standard with respect to new cards, but the reprinting of Grim Lavamancer cannot be ignored.
Hope you all enjoyed the Prerelease events, and make sure you tweet @mtgaaron if you had any trouble getting into a prerelease. There were reports in some areas that there was not enough room or product at some venues. It would be just as disastrous if the same happened for the Launch Parties. If we complain enough Wizards, they will reassess and adjust Prereleases as a whole.
And as promised in my last article here is the second alter done by @derfington!