With the new year well underway, it's time to return to one of my favorite subjects: card recommendations. It's been a while since I've compiled a list of eclectic, useful, and interesting cards. This list contains cards both new and old, known and relatively unknown. As always, local games and SpellTable are to blame for sourcing these underplayed cards.
As usual, I have my own criteria when talking about why you should include a particular card in any Commander deck. This week, I have included a mix of both old and new cards that might be getting overshadowed by more popular, but not necessarily more powerful or more flavorful ones. Let's dive straight into blue!
At first, Curfew may look like a relatively innocuous variant of Unsummon. But no! As board control, it offers a complete reset early game. It also gets through hexproof, indestructible, and protection. Late-game it can give you extra enters the battlefield (ETB) triggers for your Snapcaster Mage or other value creature, essentially replacing itself. If they have a Reclamation Sage, bounce it to hurt the other players. With careful timing, you will gain more from your opponents' ETBs than they do.
I have used Interdict to kill Evolving Wilds and draw a card. That's a brutal play. In a fetch-heavy environment, a two-mana Stone Rain that draws a card is amazing. Of course, Interdict does not begin and end at land destruction. It counters a massive amount of potential abilities for only two and replaces itself. This card is effectively a cycling card without cycling. If you're considering a filler card like Deliberate or Curate but low on interaction, Interdict can be both.
Big, Green, and Mean
This has been a pet card of mine for a long time, and I wanted to share it considering Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines. A massive 6/8 body for only five mana, Gurzigost also has two abilities bolted on. Putting cards back into your library is a nice "drawback" in Commander. Of course, dealing combat damage straight to a player or planeswalker means Gurzigost cannot be chump blocked. With the many new equipment and aura cards that are devastating when you connect for combat damage, this Beast becomes a credible threat. While it "dies to removal," the fact that it is so large means not all removal works. Finally, it's a discard outlet too!
Overlooked Four Mana Enchants
Smothering Tithe gets way too much hype. Seriously! Sometimes the table gangs up on you for taxing everyone, or they pay the tax, which slows them down but doesn't accelerate you. In both cases, you have united the table against you. Compare with Loot Dispute, which grants the table the initiative mechanic for value and interaction. Meanwhile, you get a Treasure and a basic land right away. Treasure on the attack is worthwhile, and you don't even have to deal damage. Finishing a dungeon is tough but not impossible, and a free 5/5 Dragon is just the cherry on top of completing Undercity, which has a large payoff.
Meanwhile, Citadel Siege is super busted. Sure the Khans option is very "medium" and is at home in a +1/+1 counters deck, but size up the Dragons option. You can very effectively control combat for the rest of the game. For four mana, that's a heck of a bargain! You can wheel and deal, tapping down unblockable creatures, flyers, combat damage, combat trigger, or even "surprise" haste creatures. The best part? If someone doesn't like it, they won't be doing much attacking or blocking, so it's better to side with the Sieger than it is to get Sieged.
Intelligent Board Wipe
The far more intelligent and diplomatic way to clear a board. Everyone hates you a little less after using Promise of Loyalty because at least they get to keep what they want. Another point for this card is that it isn't useless in a one-versus-one situation like similar cards Tragic Arrogance or Divine Reckoning. Unlike those cards, which don't punish Voltron-style decks, Promise lets them keep their buffed-up commander, but makes it useless against you. This is far better than killing it. Keeping things in play but useless sure beats sending them back to the command zone or graveyard, only to be used against you later.
There's Always Room for Rocks
None of these cards should be a surprise, as they all see some play, but I believe it's a lot less than their potential. Moonsilver Key represents, at worst, a second Sol Ring. It can also get more powerful pieces like Mana Crypt or Jeweled Lotus. The fact that it can grab any utility artifact with a mana ability, or a basic land as well, makes it a playable card for any budget.
Meanwhile, both Springleaf Drum and Paradise Mantle are effectively one-mana rocks. In cEDH, these cards are much more common because acceleration is absolutely necessary and low-cost commanders are often part of the plan to win. With numbers of small creatures, tokens, artifacts, or extra untap synergy, Drum and Mantle both scale upwards well.
Red Card Love
An oldie and a goody, Overmaster sees cEDH play but is not on the red top 100. It's an all-star with Krark, the Thumbless and Birgi, God of Storytelling // Harnfel, Horn of Bounty. Keep in mind the absolute floor of the card is one red, draw a card, just like many blue spells. It's time to add a little more reach to your red decks while also adding that extra bit of "no thank you" when facing blue decks, and the reprint in Dominaria Remastered is easy to acquire.
Lands to Consider
A new land to add to what I call "the murder lands," Underdark Rift is a surprisingly strong addition to just about any Commander deck. It enters untapped, and removes not just creatures but also artifacts or planeswalkers.
It's also colorless, so it can go into absolutely any deck. While colorless removal like Universal Solvent, Goblin Firebomb, or Scour from Existence already exists, those can be countered and cost seven or eight. Rift is effectively just six mana and very difficult to stop because it's a land. On average, it removes something for five turns, which is more than enough time. All decks can use a little removal, and this card simply replaces a slightly worse land.
Forsaken City has tremendous synergy with Stasis and Winter Orb, but its use does not begin and end there. You can effectively trade a card for a mana during your upkeep, meaning City taps for two mana in one turn if you need it to. I consider this card vastly better than Rupture Spire for example, and that card does see a fair amount of play. There's even a little bit of bonus synergy from cards like Misthollow Griffin and Nalfeshnee. A five-color land that enters untapped, can be tapped for two, and even has some oddball synergies? Sign me up!
See You Again in Three Months!
Any surprises? Have you never seen some of these cards? Are any super common and I just didn't notice them in my games? As always let me know your favorite underplayed cards in the comments.