Welcome back, readers!
Last week I covered the uncommon gold commanders from Dominaria. As I mentioned in that article, there are plenty of gold commanders left to go. So without further ado, let's dig in.
There was one last uncommon commander that I didn't cover last week.
Garna, the Bloodflame
Garna is another build-around commander I really like from this set. This card seems like an interesting variant of Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker. While it doesn't return your creatures to the battlefield, Garna has no restriction on the creature's power, and is in two colors. Granting all your creatures haste is also a very relevant ability to have tacked on.
Unlike Shirei, Garna will let you recast the creatures you get back immediately. The downside is that, given Garna's casting cost of five mana, recasting creatures after triggering the ability will require a significant amount of mana.
Note that the ability refers to creatures put into the graveyard from anywhere, which includes discarded or milled. While black and red are limited somewhat in what can be milled, the discard loophole seems ripe for abuse.
- Apocalypse - As much as I loathe this card in Commander (since it serves as mass land destruction), it's a very powerful combo in a Garna deck. You could cast it, float a bunch of mana, then cast Garna to return all creatures you discard to Apocalypse.
- Mindslicer - This card briefly broke into Modern (hence why it's not actually a bulk rare anymore). Its ability is a double-edged sword, but if you can cast it and Garna in the same turn you get to recoup all creatures you discarded and be the only player with a hand.
- Knollspine Invocation - Typically we see this played in a deck with very large creatures that you "throw" at your opponent. However, thanks to Garna, one could double up on a big creature and do a whole lot of damage for just six mana.
- Insidious Dreams - A ramped up Vampiric Tutor that requires card disadvantage to stack your deck. When you can recoup all the cards you discarded (if they are creatures) it seems like a pretty solid play. The fact that Garna has flash means you could do this at the end of an opponent's turn for maximum value.
- Thought Gorger - Again, this requires nine mana to pull off, but being able to discard your hand to make Thought Gorger big, recouping all the creatures, and then getting to draw a bunch of cards when it dies, seems pretty powerful.
- Volrath's Dungeon - This seems like an interesting option. It's a single-print bulk rare from Exodus. You could really wreck an opponent (by discarding a bunch of cards and forcing them to stack the top of their deck awkwardly). However, it's most likely only good versus a single player, and they'll likely pay the five life during their turn. Still, this seems extremely powerful and conveniently fits in the curve the turn before casting Garna (so hopefully it sticks around one turn cycle).
Aryel, Knight of Windgrace
Aryel is the "Knight commander" we've been waiting for. While we actually have a fair number of legendary Knights in Magic's history, it isn't until Ixalan block that we got any black-white combinations. The Ixalan block options are also Vampires and have cool abilities, but none of them actually care about the Knight creature type in any meaningful way.
- Champion Lancer - I'll admit that despite playing since 1997, I didn't know this card existed and have never seen anyone play it. However, what is interesting is that it's been on a pretty steady decline the last few years, falling from around $4.50 all the way down to $2 despite never being reprinted.
So many good creatures have come along since then that I imagine it simply gets pushed out of most decks. However, it is a Starter 1999 rare (with no other printings) and a pretty useful ability. This is one of those cards I could see spiking pretty easily, though the real question is whether there will be enough people who want to play a Knight-themed Commander deck to sustain its value. I like it as a short-term pick-up, but other than being a unique and rare Knight, you don't get a whole lot for the six-mana investment.
- Haakon, Stromgald Scourge - This has always been one of those cards begging to be broken. I've seen players try it out in Modern (to repeatedly cast Nameless Inversion), but it's never really found a home. It does seem like an auto-include in an Aryel deck, though getting it into the graveyard will likely require some effort.
- Sidar Jabari - This is a rare from Mirage on the Reserved List. The ability is useful, though not game-breaking (good for an aggro style deck to push through damage).
For other options, I suggest reading Adam's article on Knight tribal in Dominaria.
Grand Warlord Radha
Radha looks extremely powerful. Commanders that generate large amounts of mana have tended to be pretty broken (Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary, Selvala, Heart of the Wilds). You get a 3/4 with haste for four mana which is already playable on its own, and the mana ability means you can very quickly get way ahead on mana, especially if you have a lot of attackers.
Some of the good spec targets with this card are:
- Aggravated Assault - It seems we have yet another possible infinite combo with this card (we already had a few), but the fact that you only need to attack with five creatures total to go infinite seems like a no-brainer. Interestingly enough, the Invocation of this card has dropped back down to its pre-spike price, after hype surrounding Neheb, the Eternal subsided. There was a recent printing in the Explorers of Ixalan product, so copies can be picked up in the sub-$8 range—and it's a pretty easy double-up at that price.
- Bedlam - With only two printings (7th Edition and Urza's Saga) there aren't a ton of these floating around in trade binders, yet the card is pretty much a bulk rare. It seems perfect for a deck that wants to be aggressive (likely with small creatures) and would help make sure you didn't suicide them into bad attacks just for mana. It also plays extremely well with the aforementioned Aggravated Assault.
Jodah, Archmage Eternal
This seems like an extremely powerful commander that likely just plays a bunch of ridiculous spells and mana fixing. I think the key speculation targets here will be centered around mana fixing. The goal of a Jodah deck will likely be to cast your ridiculously expensive spells as fast as possible, which requires extremely good mana.
- Chromatic Lantern - I realize this one is already expensive and honestly a bit of a gamble. The fact that WotC only included it in one of the four-color Commander 2016 decks was extremely surprising to me (I unloaded ten of them at a GP shortly after they announced they were doing four-color decks because I assumed it was an obvious inclusion for each deck). That being said, it's already sitting at $14-plus and is unlikely to drop, barring a reprint (though arguably it could easily be included in just about any Standard set).
- Prismatic Geoscope - This card has only two printings, as a one-of in the "Stalwart Unity" deck and as a judge promo (which is currently sitting in the $5-$6 range). I like the judge promos as a spec, simply because the multiplier is so low compared to regular versions.
- Crystalline Crawler - Another of our Commander 2016 cards only included in one deck ("Breed Lethality"). This is essentially free when cast off Jodah, as it comes in with five +1/+1 counters on it and you could remove them immediately to re-use Jodah's ability. Then in future turns you could add counters and remove them for one of any color needed.
Firesong and Sunspeaker
Here we have our "promo only" card from the set with cool and powerful abilities. It also happens to be a Minotaur, though sadly it doesn't include black, which means that a lot of Minotaurs from Theros block can't fit in the deck. Luckily, it's not really designed to go in a Minotaur-deck and instead screams red-white burn.
- Sunforger - This seems like the most obvious inclusion for this style of deck, as it tutors out and casts instants and sorceries to trigger Firesong and Sunspeaker. It's practically a bulk rare (thanks to two reprints), but it would almost assuredly be an auto-include in this style of deck.
- Aurelia's Fury - An X-mana burn spell that happens to be both white and red seems extremely powerful. Its only printing is as a mythic from Gatecrash. When it was originally released the price tag was $30-plus thanks to a lot of hype from well-known pros. It never got its day in the sun and quickly plummeted, and now sits as a bulk mythic. It also serves as a powered-up A-Buy Your Silence that you can cast to stop all your opponents from interfering with your plans for the turn.
- Brightflame - This card gets pretty silly with this commander as you would gain a metric ton of life if even a small number of creatures that share a color are on the battlefield. It only has a single printing (Ravnica: City of Guilds) and foils have dried up for the most part.
- Energy Bolt - A Reserved List rare from Mirage, this honestly doesn't seem amazing; but the fact that it's Reserved List and the static ability of Firesong and Sunspeaker does mean you get both options makes this worth a look.
Muldrotha, the Gravetide
While I covered the card I was most excited for last week (Tatyova, Benthic Druid) this one is a close second. This general screams "value town." It allows you to re-use fetchlands every single turn, making sure you always hit your land drop and thinning your deck. It also seems fantastic with evoke creatures and any permanent with a built-in sacrifice ability.
This seems like a deck that will have a hard time figuring out what to cut, but these cards seem like they are always likely to make the cut:
- Pernicious Deed - Thanks to a recent reprinting at rare in Masters 25 (a downgrade from its previous reprinting in Conspiracy at mythic), this card is very cheap. Being able to recast Deed over and over seems extremely powerful, and I can't imagine building this deck without including it. Best of all, the recent printing retained the original artwork (which I'm a fan of, as I loved playing this card back when it was Standard-legal). As copies are currently sitting in the $1 range, I'm a buyer at $0.5 and will be happy to trade for them at their current price.
- Birthing Pod - After its ban in Modern this card took a huge hit, but it has slowly climbed its way back up to a reasonable $9 price tag. This provides a constant supply of creatures in the graveyard that can be recast with Muldrotha, and enter-the-battlefield abilities on creatures play well with both Pod and Muldrotha.
- Voidmage Prodigy - This card might be less of an auto-include, but the ability to always have a counterspell available (that itself can't be countered easily) seems like a powerful inclusion for this type of deck. It can also provide a sacrifice outlet for other Wizards you might be playing. It already spiked once thanks to the "Arcane Wizardry" deck, but there's still some room to grow as the price has dipped back down a bit.
Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain
The catch with historic is that all artifacts trigger it. So new Jhoira decks are likely to play a lot of cheap artifacts and will play a lot like Modern Puresteel Storm decks. The good news is that most cheap artifacts are common or uncommon (so the deck's price ceiling is somewhat limited). That being said, I do think there are a few good options for speculation targets:
- Helm of Awakening - It has only a single uncommon printing from Visions and is often a key card in a lot of combos in Commander. The current price is sitting around $3-$3.50, and this could easily double up should the Jhoira deck become a favorite of competitive players (and repeated "draw a card" triggers tend to be attractive to them).
- Kuldotha Forgemaster - Scars of Mirrodin really isn't that old, but it certainly seems like forever ago, and thanks to the massive growth in the playerbase, rares from older sets can be extremely hard to find. This one is sitting very cheap (with copies as low as $1.50-$2) and it tutors up any artifact and puts it directly into play. This is the type of deck that really loves that option, as it will likely have plenty of cheap artifacts to sacrifice.
This is the most vanilla of the new commanders. A 7/7 with flying, trample, and haste is alright, but its second ability is pretty redundant when Darigaaz is your commander. Basically you have the option to trade the increased mana cost (from replaying your commander) for three turns of not having access to it—unexciting to say the least.
I don't see this option replacing Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund as the Jund Dragon commander of choice, and as such I don't see any good speculation targets Darigaaz.
Dominaria is looking to be a fantastic set for us Commander diehards, and this week we covered some more great options. I think there's definitely some excellent speculation opportunities on the table (and I've had a lot of recent success the past two years specing on these types of cards).
Did I miss any obvious ones? Disagree with any of my picks? Comment below.