Greetings Commander fans! It's time for another round of some under-appreciated cards. Many cards can escape a first glance, but then prove themselves game after game.
When do you know a card is left-field enough to qualify as off the radar? If an entire table has to read your card, that's a good sign. So without further ado, let's take a look at some game-changing head-turners!
Life, the Universal Resource
Want to obliterate a lot of creatures for only three mana? How about at instant speed? Fire Covenant does all that at the cost of some life. We know that cards like Toxic Deluge are good enough for the EDREC top 100, and Covenant is not that much worse. Yes, it's a bit harder to cast, but at the same time it's an instant, it doesn't wipe your own board, and combos with damage effects like Stuffy Doll and Death Pits of Rath. While it can be decent in a lot of decks on its own, it is criminally powerful with additional synergy.
When Banned Cards Are Allowed
Four mana for a three-for-one. Nowadays, there are so many different kinds of artifact tokens that there are bound to be enough targets. If you have any recursion or flicker effects, this card can definitely start to do some hefty damage.
While it is a "may" clause, it's extremely unlikely that opponents will not bother to blow something up if they can for free, especially if they themselves are losing something. Sylvan Primordial is banned, and this card is essentially half the mana to do half of the effect. For one more mana than Reclamation Sage, the Druid is a very solid card with a massive upside.
How Can I Add Removal Without Removing Value?
Release is a perfect example. You get the flexibility of a Flicker effect when you need it, but can also remove virtually anything in response. Sure, they get their permanent back. Maybe they get another cast or ETB trigger because of that.
But you get more! Release can let you survive a lethal attack or blank an aura or equipment and generally stall another turn in virtually any circumstance. It's also essential for Chun-Li, Countless Kicks to get more kick counters. It "saves" your own stuff as well. While three mana is not generally a bargain price, what you can do with the effect is near limitless. For that level of flexibility, three mana is a bargain.
An Article Without a Theft Effect? Nope!
A kicker of one steals Sol Ring and also artifact lands, but a kicker of two steals piles of common Equipment cards and signets. This is a very solid card when you consider it alongside the EDREC top 100, of which it nabs 21. And within the top 100 artifacts, 58 cost two mana or less. You can even combo it with Liquimetal Torque to steal anything. Top all of that off with the fact that it has two good creature types and flying, and Skydiver makes for a solid include any virtually any deck.
Another Charming Card
As a huge fan of many of the charms, let me just say that Emerald Charm is very underplayed. All three modes are useful. At one mana, what is the best mode? Surprisingly enough, removing flying from a creature is extremely close to killing it, and untapping a blocker works as well. Lots of permanents tap for more than one mana, thus netting mana. If you like tap-to-activate abilities, this gives you a second. Finally, it can destroy a "global enchantment," which means any non-aura. So this card is removal, removal, ramp, and more removal. Five stars, try it!
Would You Play Two Sol Rings?
Ever want to try a more fair version of Sol Ring? Turbine is your answer. It's right at home in artifact decks, and there is always a use for extra colorless mana for activated abilities. If you're already running Mana Vault, Basalt Monolith, and Grim Monolith, Turbine helps untap them easily. It also activates many abilities from very commonly-played cards like Mind Stone, Sensei's Divining Top, and Wayfarer's Bauble. In the right deck, it is a second copy of Sol Ring. In many other decks, its potential is close to that of a second Sol Ring. And it's only one mana!
Is It Infinite Or Not?
A huge boon for storm-style decks, Strip can act as a colorless Yawgmoth's Will or Past in Flames. Even on the least powerful end, just recasting a good spell like Swords to Plowshares a second time is value, and gives white some extra casting that it normally lacks.
The Solution to "Win More"
Relentless Assault and cards like it can be game-ending, but they only work if you already have a board state, which makes them dead in the early-game and therefore liabilities to actually run.
If you can't manage to create a board, at least Response is waiting to remove something for only two mana. Yes, the removal is not top notch, but it's good enough most of the time and is far better than a dead card sitting in your hand. Resurgence costs just one more mana than Assault but gives you two nice buffs for it.
Known But Not Notorious
Snuff Out is free removal, but it's not in the top 100 cards or even top 100 black cards. It does find popularity among top black instants, but is only half way up the list. Black has always had great sorceries but has generally lacked in instants. Much like any free spell, Snuff can be a game-winning card, and is easier to splash than ever with triomes. Of course, paying four life is always worth it, and this even beats regeneration. Decks are lacking removal; add more removal; try Snuff.
Everyone Else Is Playing It
I'm been experimenting with Peer Pressure, and it's busted. With creatures that have the changeling ability, this is effectively Insurrection except it costs half the mana and lasts forever instead of until end of turn. Talk about compelling!
However, I am looking at this from another angle, because I have noticed in many games my opponents have at least one changeling if not more. I'm going to keep looking for ways to weaponize copycat deck design against other players. Tokens do a pretty good job of getting the critical mass necessary to pressure the table out, so UG and UW make excellent use of this card.
Power AND Flexibility
As always, the local meta is the single largest factor when determining just how powerful and useful any given card will be. Personally, I play in a few different locations, and suspect I prepare for a wider variety of situations than the average player. Even still, having more flexible cards tends to work better than having generically powerful cards because of the singleton nature of Commander. You may not draw your silver bullet. This matters even more when your best bullet is your only one. In multiplayer especially, you may need to take more than one shot to solve a difficult board state.
What are some of your underappreciated Commander cards? Let me know in the comments or the QS Discord!