It's new set time, a great time for Commander enthusiasts! There are a few spicy cards coming out of Phyrexia: All Will Be One, so let's take a look at some interesting and maybe overlooked cards. But first, we'll look to some past cards that are definitely going to see a resurgence in play... and potentially, price.
What's Old Is Good Again
These are splashable, high-impact cards will see a ton of additional play right away. Obliviously the overwhelming crux of play is going to be about poison counters, infect, toxic, and of course proliferate. With these cards in the back of our mind, let's look forward to ONE.
Also, Every Dominus is Busted (Except Black's)
This is my ranking for most powerful (blue) to least (black). Double proliferate is definitely better than double non-creature damage and double death triggers. Double tokens and double combat stats are both very powerful; however, the green Dominus is seven mana and the white Dominus has the second-hardest indestructible activation above only the red Dominus.
Meanwhile, blue has the second-easiest indestructible behind black, and also flies. A top-tier triggered ability, easy-to-activate indestructibility and also flying on top for four mana makes Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus just a bit better than the rest. Mondrak, Glory Dominus is an Anointed Procession with some upside, so it's yet another auto-include in many decks. Green and red are both credible threats.
White Is Alright
Norn's Choirmaster is reasonable at five mana, but the hidden power of this card is combining it with partnered Commanders. To wit, Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh. The ability to get potentially four proliferate triggers in the same turn is certainly something to consider. With several low-cost partnered commanders to consider and abundant amounts of haste enablers, RW looks like the best combination to make this happen. Certainly I am going to try this card in my deck Dog and Pony Show, which features Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful andKeleth, Sunmane Familiar. The Choirmaster is unlikely to be a game ender, but is definitely a solid value engine.
What is it with white and game-defining enchantments? Norn's Decree is a very interesting card. It's a modern take on a "rattlesnake." First, getting attacked gives your opponent poison. Then, it encourages the entire table to attack them back to get card draw. Talk about a no-win situation for everyone else. At one less mana than Smothering Tithe, this looks like the most promising new white enchantment that can go in any deck.
I think my outlook for Decree is far more positive than other cards like Smuggler's Share for a new hyped white enchantment. Additionally, having two or more of these in play is far more interesting than multiple Tithes, and looks like a great diplomacy card.
Obviously, Clever Concealment is a must-discuss card. A potential replacement for Teferi's Protection, the fact that Concealment has convoke cannot be overlooked. Everyone knows that free spells are powerful, and the fact that you can phase out tokens and have them come back is another reason Concealment may end up seeing a lot of play.
Blue Is, Once More, Big
They missed the mark when printing Ichormoon Gauntlet. This could have easily been an equipment card with the ability to equip to planeswalkers, and it would have had far more interesting synergy than just being an artifact. Maybe they were afraid of power concerns? This is the same set as Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines. Now that you have stopped laughing, Gauntlet easily goes into many different decks with or without planeswalkers. I think it has what it takes to see a bit more play after the ONE hype dies down as decks like Superfriends will love this card forever more.
I've played Jace's Sanctum in a couple of decks and that card is only barely good enough to consider. Mindsplice Apparatus is Sanctum on steroids. It effectively gives you extra mana each turn and turns proliferate cards into mana ramp. Flash is the best addition to a card like this, and I'm not sure it needed to continue to scale upwards to be playable, but scaling definitely takes it to the next level. It's not overpowered but is certainly powerful enough to play!
Absolutely, hands-down, this is my number-one pick for best twilight (sorry red!): Blue Sun's Twilight solves a huge number of situations. Pesky Esper Sentinel being a nuance? Now it serves you for only three mana, and your opponent has to deal with it. Late-game threats starting to get scary? Well, now it's your threat, and here's a bonus copy for you as well! I think a lot of decks are going to slot this card into a removal slot, and it also provides an additional wincon for free. Talk about win-win.
Black is Back... to No Good
Is Vat of Rebirth just Recurring Nightmare with more steps? Yes, absolutely. Is Recurring Nightmare banned in Commander? Yes it is, and for good reason. A more fair card, Vat gives you an easy proliferate target. It cannot win the game by itself, but this card generates far more value than it costs, monetarily or mana wise.
Donate, Harmless Offering, The Beamtown Bullies, and Fateful Handoff... there are simply so many cards that would love to interact with Archfiend of the Dross. Not only that, but it's a pretty large beater with flying for only four mana, so it's not entirely impossible for it to just kill someone in the air before you lose. Of course, its triggered ability can deal some major damage, so this card also can see play in group hug decks. This card will surprise groups, but not as much as the next one.
While it's not on the same level of table-clearing card as Torment of Hailfire or Exsanguinate, Monumental Corruption looks like it can easily delete one opponent for just five mana. You know that Sheoldred, the Apocalypse card we like to complain about here? It combos really well with Monumental Corruption, effectively turning every artifact you have in play into a Lightning Bolt to their face. That happens with any Sheoldred in play, even if it's not your copy. Of course, if you need to draw a ton of cards, you have the flexibility to do that as well. Think of it as the grown up version of Sign in Blood.
Is Red On Fire or Not?
Dragon Tempest sees plenty of play. Roar of Resistance is a very different take on that card, but one with a much easier to access upside. Most tokens are, of course, 1/1s, so tripling their damage for only two mana is an incredible bargain. But do not overlook the fact that you can use this card on the behalf of other players! A very interesting diplomacy card for red because you can bargain on either side of the equation. I look forward to playing this card in several decks.
Who remembers "K-Red?" Gleeful Demolition is a strictly better version of Kuldotha Rebirth. It's at home in Goblins with Krenko, Mob Boss or is just an accelerant for any token deck. But it can always be used as a Hoard-Smelter Dragon. We like to destroy artifacts in this column!
Is Green the Color of Envy, or Disappointment?
First, I have to applaud Wizards for continuing to add to Dinosaur tribal. This is a good idea that I think will displease absolutely no one. Tyrranax Rex is the latest crazy-powerful green super-monster and it does not disappoint. It really pushes the envelope for seven mana, but ultimately, it's just a big monster. Ward 4 makes it hard to kill, but not completely unfair. This card plus Tainted Strike can be a game-ender and I'm sure you'll run into that interaction.
There is a long list of one-mana "save my creature" spells. Tamiyo's Safekeeping and Snakeskin Veil are just a couple of recent examples among many. But I much prefer Tyvar's Stand. While all of those cards tend to save a creature for one mana, only Tyvar's can go over the top and win combat or even a game. Sometimes you get to a point where you are throwing haymakers back and forth and dumping all your mana into a spell or effect can be game-winning. Meanwhile, if it's early, Tyvar's is still good at only one.
Thirsting Roots needs little explanation. It's clearly the best Lay of the Land-style card ever made, and gives you the flexibility of fixing your lands or the huge value of proliferate for just a single mana. This is an acceptable level of power creep and a nice addition to Magic.
Everyone has wanted three-color Insects, and now you get it with a side of poison! Vishgraz, the Doomhive will definitely will see lots of casual play. The three Mites generated on ETB ensure that any time someone is open, they eat three poison counters to activate the new corrupt condition. This well-designed card has obvious synergies with many existing ones, but does not completely force you into only one build. I'm looking forward to seeing the variations this deck will no doubt undergo.
Not to push more graveyard-based decks in Golgari, but wow, Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler sure pushes BGx graveyard decks. His Thousand-Year Elixir effect works perfectly with the -2 to immediately use anything you reanimate. Of course, there's always simply getting double value from a mana dork. Tyvar is essentially a mana rock with a much bigger upside, and at only three mana, can hit the board easily on turn two to start giving up double tapping value.
Talk about a much more interesting mana rock than usual. Glistening Sphere has a lot going on. Three mana and entering tapped seems medium. However, you get a proliferate trigger out of the deal. Any kind of flicker or copy effect gives you more value. Of course, if you do achieve corrupted, this suddenly becomes three times as good! While I think this card will be over-hyped at first, and then fall off in play shortly thereafter, I think it's good enough to continue to see play over time. It's just another piece in a variety of decks that many players will try.
Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut seems like such a fun card. You know, you have a bunch of tokens or mana dorks and then, suddenly, they all turn into copies of the one, the only... Darksteel Juggernaut, because they must attack and can't be blocked by Walls. This is an awesome effect which shows that someone at Wizards understands how to make cards that reach across the history of Magic. If they use that as a strength in card design, not a weakness, it bodes well for the future of the game. However, it's almost like there are two people in charge of card design...
One. Every. Single. Set.
Thrun, Breaker of Silence is a new take on Thrun, the Last Troll. "The other guy" at Wizards got a hold of it, though. Here's the start of what removing "old rules" like regeneration and protection looks like. Are they now trying to "remove" hexproof, instead making up a new ability? This new ability is four lines of text long. Four lines. Or...
"Hexproof from nongreen?" See how easy that was, Wizards? I used a keyword to describe your new ability that lacks a keyword. Three words versus four lines of text. They boggle my mind. Glaring Spotlight and cards like it interact with keywords. Not putting keywords on cards keeps more obscure cards from seeing play, which is less fun for everyone. If this Thrun gets errata just like the old one, and this is somehow supposed to be a "next level throwback" to cards like Ascetic Troll... I'm not feeling it.
So How Is ONE for Commander?
Not bad! I think it's going to be quite a bit more deck- and format-defining in the short-term than many others believe. I would be shocked if there is not at least one poison or proliferate deck at each table this month. What about for the entire year? There will definitely be a drop-off in those decks once One is no longer the "new hotness," but I do believe a good amount of these cards will stay in pods for the future.
Are there destined to be One cards in the EDREC top 100? Probably not, and if they do get there, they may end up banned. Overall set quality, excellent? No. Good? Hmmm. Decent? Pretty much. And hey... we made it the entire article by mentioning Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines only once!
Is my Dominus ranking correct? How good will toxic be in your Commander games? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments!