quarta-feira , agosto 21 2019
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Hour of Devastation on Commander

Hello ladies and gentleman!
Welcome to Command Beacon, our column on multiplayer Commander here at Eternal Magic!

This week we will pause in the series of articles on archetypes for a special reason: the full spoilers of Hour of Devastation (HoU) are finally out!

And my friends, what a beautiful edition for Commander! Full of cards that may see play in several decks in the format, from casual to more competitive. Perhaps some can become staples, that is, essential in various decks. In total, for this article, I have gathered 25 cards from the collection that have a good potential, so I haven’t listed all the rare and mythic cards that will be released, only those that I thought were relevant. For a Legacy analysis of the set, check out Ercik’s article! And also don’t forget to take a look at the article with the analysis made by Diego for Pauper!

Legendary Creatures

In Hour of Devastation there’s the return of the 3 Forgotten Gods, personified as arthropod-like monstrosities, their identities being completely erased by Nicol Bolas, and consequently, they do not even have proper names. Unlike all the gods that preceded the 3 Forgotten Gods in Theros and Amonkhet, there is no condition to restrain them from attacking and blocking, which allows them to function as normal creatures and can cause greater pressure in the game, being able to cause commander damage much more easily. To compensate for this lack of restraint, the Indestructible ability is absent, which makes them much more vulnerable and open for removals. But as good gods, their existence can not be extinguished in an ordinary way, and when they die, they always return to their owner’s hand at the next end step. As commanders, they will not actually have their cost increased by 2, as it is only worth putting them in the command zone under specific conditions (exile, discard, and shuffle). Certainly creative people will find ways to abuse it, with sacrificial mechanics, or by abusing skills that they trigger with entering the battlefield (such as [mtg_card]Warstorm Surge[/mtg_card] for example). The 3 have a triggered ability and one activated, which will be discussed in the proper topic of each one.

In addition to the Forgotten Gods, there are 4 other legendary creatures in Hour of Devastation, totaling 7 possible new commanders. I’ve assembled sample lists for 4 of them, which are the ones I believe have the greatest potential in that position. So let’s evaluate these new creatures as commanders or part of the decks.

The Scorpion God


Opening the list, we have the first of the three forgotten gods to return and cause destruction in Amonkhet in the Rakdos (Red and Black) colors. For those who follow the story, the great role of the Scorpion God is to kill all the gods of Amonkhet, and interestingly, this is reflected in his mechanics, which allows to destroy indestructible creatures through counters. Its activated ability, for , places a -1/-1 counter on another target creature, which synergizes very well with its triggered ability, where every time a creature with -1/1 die, you can draw a card. It is therefore an interesting card for a game of attrition, with a dispute of features and advantages, as it allows to control small creatures punctually and weaken the larger ones. As commander or part of the 99 cards, your natural home is the Midrange decks, such as Good Stuff, True Midrange and even Voltron Control, since 6 of power is not something to be despised. You can find space also in controls like Stax and Chaos.

Deck -- The Scorpion God
Commander
1 The Scorpion God

Creatures
1 Carnifex Demon
1 Harbinger of Night
1 Horobi, Death's Wail
1 Kulrath Knight
1 Magus of the Moon
1 Master of Cruelties
1 Merciless Javelineer
1 Midnight Banshee
1 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
1 Necroskitter
1 Reaper from the Abyss
1 Sheoldred, Whispering One
1 Soul Snuffers
1 Triskelion
1 Worldgorger Dragon

Artifacts
1 Chrome Mox
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Grim Monolith
1 Heartstone
1 Illusionist's Bracers
1 Jet Medallion
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Mox Diamond
1 Rakdos Signet
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
1 Talisman of Indulgence
1 Thought Vessel
1 Thran Dynamo

Enchantments
1 AEther Flash
1 Animate Dead
1 Black Market
1 Blood Moon
1 Blowfly Infestation
1 Braid of Fire
1 Crumbling Ashes
1 Dance of the Dead
1 Everlasting Torment
1 Necromancy
1 Necropotence
1 Nest of Scarabs
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Stranglehold
Sorceries
1 Black Sun's Zenith
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Buried Alive
1 By Force
1 Damnation
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Dreadbore
1 Exhume
1 Imperial Seal
1 Reanimate
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Vandalblast

Instants
1 Chaos Warp
1 Entomb
1 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Sudden Spoiling
1 Terminate
1 Vampiric Tutor

Lands
1 Arid Mesa
1 Badlands
1 Blood Crypt
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Cabal Coffers
1 Command Tower
1 Marsh Flats
6 Mountain
1 Polluted Delta
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Smoldering Marsh
15 Swamp
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Wooded Foothills

This list is clearly a midrange deck, which gradually gains advantages by undermining the resources of opponents, especially creatures, and increasing their own. The cards in the list have good synergy with -1/-1 counters and deaths, so our general’s ability is very well exploited to eliminate threats and draw cards. [mtg_card]Harbinger of Night[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Soul Snuffers[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Carnifex Demon[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Midnight Banshee[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Black Sun’s Zenith[/mtg_card] manage to put an indecent amount of counters on the opponent’s creatures and, consequently, to draw many cards with The Scorpion God. Punctually we can distribute counters with our commander’s activated ability, which becomes somewhat interesting and even cheap with [mtg_card]Heartstone[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Illusionist’s Bracers[/mtg_card], or abusing from it by generating a lot of mana with [mtg_card]Braid of Fire[/mtg_card] (Remember that the mana from Braid of Fire empties right after your upkeep) and [mtg_card]Black Market[/mtg_card].  There are good card interactions, like [mtg_card]Nekroskitter[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Kulrath Knight[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Blowfly Infestation[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Nest of Scarabs[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Crumbling Ashes[/mtg_card] or the sinergy with [mtg_card]Aether Flash[/mtg_card] + [mtg_card]Everlasting Torment[/mtg_card]. We still have several high quality cards, like [mtg_card]Sheoldred, Whispering One[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Reaper from the Abyss[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Master of Cruelties[/mtg_card], but the highlight goes to [mtg_card]Mikaeus, the Unhallowed[/mtg_card], which is able to become extremely annoying next to The Scorpion God, making the creatures very resilient and even having the option to end the game with infinite damage next to [mtg_card]Triskelion[/mtg_card]. In the end, the list has the combo of [mtg_card]Worldgorger Dragon[/mtg_card] + [mtg_card]Animate Dead[/mtg_card]/[mtg_card]Dance of the Dead[/mtg_card]/[mtg_card]Necromancy[/mtg_card], which creates a loop where the permanents are removed and come back in sequence, basically creating what we call blink in our permanents, infinite times. With this process, we can generate infinite mana with our lands, and having our commander in play, we can draw any number of cards by placing 1 counter on the dragon in response to his ability. It’s necessary to be careful when having another creature in some graveyard as you start the combo by reanimating [mtg_card]Worldgorger Dragon[/mtg_card], otherwise it will result in a draw because this loop won’t be broken.

The Locust God


The Locust God is an unprecedented commander of the Izzet combination (Red and Blue), because it manages to create an army of insects 1/1 with flying and haste for each card drawn. The closest one to him might be the monoblue [mtg_card]Talrand, Sky Summoner[/mtg_card], in his role of creating tokens, but it does not compare the Locust’s efficiency in this regard. In order to extract a good value from this God, it is interesting to abuse massive draws, and fortunately the type of effect we call Wheel, such as [mtg_card]Wheel of Fortune[/mtg_card], is precisely stronger in these two colors, where is very simple to create more than 8 tokens already assaulting in a single turn. Its activated ability is also interesting, as it allows a loot for , that is, draw a card and discard it. As there are no restrictions other than mana cost, it opens up the possibility for infinite mana combos and the drawing of the entire deck, finishing with a [mtg_card]Walking Ballista[/mtg_card] for example. There are several deck structures that can be created around the Locust God, but I think the ones that stand out are strategies like Swarm, Draw-Go, Combo Control, Storm and Full Combo, even hybrids between them. As part of the 99, it may be part of decks commanded by [mtg_card]Nekusar, the Mindrazer[/mtg_card] or [mtg_card]Arjun, the Shifting Flame[/mtg_card] for example, but I wouldn’t say it is one of the best choices.

Deck -- The Locust God
Commander
1 The Locust God

Creatures
1 Arjun, the Shifting Flame
1 Baral, Chief of Compliance
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Goblin Electromancer
1 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
1 Marton Stromgald
1 Purphoros, God of the Forge
1 Whirlpool Warrior

Planeswalker
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Artifacts
1 Ashnod's Altar
1 Bident of Thassa
1 Chrome Mox
1 Coat of Arms
1 Coldsteel Heart
1 Eldrazi Monument
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Grim Monolith
1 Izzet Signet
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Memory Jar
1 Mox Diamond
1 Paradox Engine
1 Phyrexian Altar
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Skullclamp
1 Sol Ring
1 Teferi's Puzzle Box
1 Thought Vessel
Enchantments
1 Goblin Bombardment
1 Impact Tremors
1 Leyline of Anticipation
1 Mana Echoes
1 Mindmoil
1 Opposition
1 Shared Animosity

Sorceries
1 Capture of Jingzhou
1 Past in Flames
1 Reforge the Soul
1 Shattered Perception
1 Temporal Manipulation
1 Time Reversal
1 Time Spiral
1 Time Warp
1 Timetwister
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Windfall
1 Winds of Change

Instants
1 Brainstorm
1 Blue Sun's Zenith
1 Counterflux
1 Counterspell
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Disallow
1 Echoing Truth
1 Force of Will
1 Increasing Vengeance
1 Into the Roil
1 Mana Drain
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Negate
1 Pull from Tomorrow
1 Swan Song
1 Tears of Rage
1 Tolarian Winds

Lands
1 Arid Mesa
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Command Tower
1 Flooded Strand
11 Island
1 Misty Rainforest
10 Mountain
1 Polluted Delta
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Volcanic Island
1 Wooded Foothills

This version of the Locust God deck is based on creating a critical mass of insects to finish the match in the best Swarm style. As the effect to create them is based on draws, one abuses a very large number of wheels: [mtg_card]Wheel of Fortune[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Timetwister[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Time Spiral[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Reforge the Soul[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Winds of Change[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Windfall[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Shattered Perception[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Tolarian Wind[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Arjun, the Shifting Flame[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Whirlpool Warrior[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Mindmoil[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Memory Jar[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Teferi’s Puzzle Box[/mtg_card]. There’s also good draw effects, like [mtg_card]Brainstorm[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Consecrated Sphinx[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Bident of Thassa[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Blue Sun’s Zenith[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Pull from Tomorrow[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Skullclamp[/mtg_card], amazing in this deck. With this variety of cards and the God in play we create true swarms of small grasshoppers from hell. From that point the deck acts as an attacker, so there are several cards that support this Swarm game plan, such as [mtg_card]Purphoros, God of Forge[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Impact Tremors[/mtg_card], which may cause a big amount of damage only by putting the tokens into play. [mtg_card]Shared Animosity[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Tears of Rage[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Marton Stromgald[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Coat of Arms[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Eldrazi Monument[/mtg_card] easily finish the game through aggression. There’s also a lot of supports to abuse from the amount of tokens created, like [mtg_card]Mana Echoes[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Goblin Bombardment[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Opposition[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Phyrexian Altar[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Ashnod’s Altar[/mtg_card], not ot mention extra turns – [mtg_card]Capture of Jingzhou[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Temporal Manipulation[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Time Warp[/mtg_card] – which make it possible to attack and create even more insects. Unfortunately, the deck plan is very dependent on The Locust God, so in the initial turns the deck behaves by speeding up with our artifacts and controlling through counterspells until we reach the point of casting the commander and start spinning wheel after wheel, especially if we have a [mtg_card]Paradox Engine[/mtg_card] in play.

The Scarab God


The last forgotten one is The Scarab God, in the Dimir colors (Blue and Black). Its triggered ability is at least exotic, but has some interesting contours. At the beginning of the upkeep, it triggers scry-X and each opponent loses X life, that being equal to the number of Zombies we control. A good deck using it as a commander can use this ability having a minimally reasonable number of Zombies in its composition. And here I want to make it clear that it does not necessarily need to be built as a tribal deck, completely geared towards this theme, though it is completely and perfectly feasible (and perhaps the new favorite for this tribe). This ability curiously brings a certain flexibility in assembling a list, as we can dig the appropriate responses into a control, combo pieces or kill conditions for more aggro versions, and of course be a very interesting tool for a construction based on Pain. In turn, the activated ability of the Scarab God is, for , to exile a target creature from a graveyard and create a 4/4 Zombie token copy. That is, we have here a reanimator that can become very abusive in Good Stuffs, Toolboxes, Combo Controls and Full Combos. One detail is that, for those who like [mtg_card]Kozilek, Butcher of Truth[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre[/mtg_card], they’ll now be able to “reanimate” them at instant speed in a smaller body and start taking advantage from the Annihilator ability. This ability also allows you to maintain graveyard-decks on check. I assure you that it is quite unpleasant for a deck pilot with the [mtg_card]Necrotic Ooze[/mtg_card] combo to have his victory stolen in response. In short, among the 3 gods, although the Scarab is not such a high power card, it is a very versatile commander, and even among the 99 you can get a slot on decks that have Dimir ( ) and make use of the graveyard.

Deck -- The Scarab God
Commander
1 The Scarab God

Creatures
1 Apprentice Necromancer
1 Carrion Feeder
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Cryptbreaker
1 Diregraf Captain
1 Diregraf Colossus
1 Fleshbag Marauder
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Graveborn Muse
1 Gravecrawler
1 Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
1 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
1 Noosegraf Mob
1 Phyrexian Delver
1 Phyrexian Devourer
1 Putrid Imp
1 Razaketh, the Foulblooded
1 Reaper from the Abyss
1 Relentless Dead
1 Rune-Scarred Demon
1 Sheoldred, Whispering One
1 Sidisi, Undead Vizier
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Triskelion
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Viscera Seer
1 Void Winnower
1 Walking Ballista
1 Zulaport Cutthroat

Artifacts
1 Ashnod's Altar
1 Chrome Mox
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Mesmeric Orb
1 Mindcrank
1 Mox Diamond
1 Phyrexian Altar
1 Sol Ring

Enchantments
1 Animate Dead
1 Dance of the Dead
1 Mystic Remora
1 Necromancy
1 Paradox Haze
1 Rhystic Study
1 Rooftop Storm
1 Training Grounds
Sorceries
1 Buried Alive
1 Capture of Jingzhou
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Imperial Seal
1 Personal Tutor
1 Reanimate
1 Temporal Manipulation
1 Temporal Mastery
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Victimize

Instants
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Entomb
1 Force of Will
1 Intuition
1 Mana Drain
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Swan Song
1 Vampiric Tutor

Lands
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Command Tower
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Flooded Strand
9 Island
1 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Polluted Delta
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Sunken Hollow
11 Swamp
1 Underground Sea
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Watery Grave

This list for the Scarab God is a Good Stuff with some very synergistic elements of a zombie tribal and good combos to finish the match. As a good deck in this archetype, you have high-quality creatures by themselves, such as [mtg_card]Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Sheoldred, Whispering One[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Reaper from the Abyss[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Void Winnower[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Venser, Shaper Savant[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Glen Elendra Archmage[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Consecrated Sphinx[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Razaketh, the Foulblooded[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Mikaeus, the Unhallowed[/mtg_card]. All are excellent candidates to hit the graveyard and be properly reanimated by the commander. However the deck support is built by dead hands: they are a total of 14 Zombies, where many have low cost and high resilience, like [mtg_card]Gravecrawler[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Relentless Dead[/mtg_card] or are good sources of sacrifice and discarding, like [mtg_card]Putrid Imp[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Carrion Feeder[/mtg_card]. Others with a higher cost, like [mtg_card]Diregraf Colossus[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Noosegraf Mob[/mtg_card], create an enourmous amount of tokens which sinergyze pretty well with the Scarab God. [mtg_card]Cryptbreaker[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Graveborn Muse[/mtg_card] can generate an expressive card advantage, especially the Muse (which preceded by Scry X can be very dangerous). there’s also classic combo options, like [mtg_card]Necrotic Ooze[/mtg_card] + [mtg_card]Triskelion[/mtg_card]/[mtg_card]Walking Ballista[/mtg_card] + [mtg_card]Phyrexian Devourer[/mtg_card], facilitated by [mtg_card]Buried Alive[/mtg_card] and any reanimation, or even [mtg_card]Mikaeus, the Unhallowed[/mtg_card] + [mtg_card]Triskelion[/mtg_card] or [mtg_card]Mikaeus, the Unhallowed[/mtg_card] + [mtg_card]Walking Ballista[/mtg_card] + any sacrifice source. Another combo is with any zombie on the battlefield, [mtg_card]Gravecrawler[/mtg_card] + [mtg_card]Phyrexian Altar[/mtg_card] + [mtg_card]Diregraf Captain[/mtg_card]/[mtg_card]Zulaport Cutthroat[/mtg_card] for infinite damage. Can also be utilized [mtg_card]Rooftop Storm[/mtg_card], which can create strong plays all by itself.  Spotlights for [mtg_card]Paradox Haze[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Training Grounds[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Mindcrank[/mtg_card], which potentialize the commander’s abilities.

Neheb, the Eternal


Leaving the Gods aside, let’s go now for the other Legendaries, and I state as early as possible: [mtg_card]Neheb, the Eternal[/mtg_card] is one of the best monored commanders ever created. Its great differential is its triggered ability, which in the main post-combat phase generates a for every life lost by your opponents that turn. Any loss. Regardless of the source. This, my friends, can generate insane amounts of mana on a commander who has a reasonable cost of 5. Basically any [mtg_card]Lightning Bolt[/mtg_card] becomes a [mtg_card]Dark Ritual[/mtg_card] that deals damage. And as this is a multiplayer format, the more opponents, the more damage. [mtg_card]Flame Rift[/mtg_card] on a table with 4 players for example, for 2 manas can generate a total of 12 manas. It sounds very, very strong. And it is also interesting to note its resistance, 6, which allows us to survive some good effects of global damage that we can use. From a mechanic that generates so much mana, your creativity is the limit, which makes it extremely versatile. I see here Aggro decks, with a lot of creatures and effects like those of [mtg_card]Purphoros, God of the Forge[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Impact Tremors[/mtg_card], passing through Midranges using Board control, as [mtg_card]Rolling Earthquake[/mtg_card], some forms of Control like Chaos and Stax, generating mana from the commander’s own combat damage, and reaching the Combos, which will use cheap damage effects like [mtg_card]Sizzle[/mtg_card] to speed up your moves. Among the 99 cards, aggressive strategies should benefit greatly from the use of Neheb, especially on Big Aggro decks and – among midrange ones – becomes a staple among the Pain.

Deck -- Neheb, the Eternal
Commander
1 Neheb, the Eternal

Creatures
1 Dragon Mage
1 Fanatic of Mogis
1 Hazoret the Fervent
1 Heartless Hidetsugu
1 Knollspine Dragon
1 Magus of the Wheel
1 Myojin of Infinite Rage
1 Reckless Fireweaver
1 Treasonous Ogre

Planeswalker
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Artifacts
1 Astral Cornucopia
1 Caged Sun
1 Chrome Mox
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Cryptolith Fragment
1 Darksteel Plate
1 Defense Grid
1 Doubling Cube
1 Extraplanar Lens
1 Gauntlet of Might
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Grim Monolith
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Mind Stone
1 Mox Diamond
1 Paradox Engine
1 Pyromancer's Goggles
1 Ruby Medallion
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
1 Strionic Resonator
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Thran Dynamo
Enchantments
1 Aggravated Assault
1 Blood Moon
1 Burning Sands
1 Dictate of the Twin Gods
1 Furnace of Rath
1 Price of Glory
1 Pyrohemia

Sorceries
1 Acidic Soil
1 Boom // Bust
1 Breath of Darigaaz
1 By Force
1 Chandra's Ignition
1 Destructive Force
1 Earthquake
1 Flame Rift
1 Molten Psyche
1 Past in Flames
1 Relentless Assault
1 Rolling Earthquake
1 Seize the Day
1 Shattering Spree
1 Sizzle
1 Tectonic Break
1 Tempt with Vengeance
1 Vandalblast
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 World at War

Instants
1 Chaos Warp
1 Comet Storm
1 Price of Progress

Lands
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
32 Snow-Covered Mountain

The list I bring here is a Pain aimed at abusing the potential of Neheb. There are a significant amount of mana rocks to put you as fast as possible in the battlefield. From the moment we have our general in the field, our focus will be to cause significant amounts of damage to generate mana, and for this function there is an infinity of cards: [mtg_card]Fanatic of Mogis[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Hazoret the Fervent[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Heartless Hidetsugu[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Reckless Fireweaver[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Chandra, Torch of Defiance[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Cryptolith Fragment[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Pyrohemia[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Acidic Soil[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Breath of Darigaaz[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Chandra’s Ignition[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Earthquake[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Flame Rift[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Rolling Earthquake[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Sizzle[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Comet Storm[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Price of Progress[/mtg_card], as well as cards that potentialize this damage, like [mtg_card]Dictate of the Twin Gods[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Furnace of Rath[/mtg_card]. Among the damage sources, I highlight [mtg_card]Heartless Hidetsugu[/mtg_card], which has a team potential with Neheb, in a standard board, of generating 60 mana in a single activation. More than enough to finish the game with [mtg_card]Comet Storm[/mtg_card] for instance. To abuse it even more, we use effects that generate extra combat phases and an extra main phase as the damage accumulates for the ability and can be triggered more than once. [mtg_card]Relentless Assault[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Seize the Day[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]World at War[/mtg_card] are excellent here, but the icing on the cake is [mtg_card]Aggravated Assault[/mtg_card], which generates infinite extra main and combat phases, all it takes is 5 damage that turn. Any damage above that also generates infinite mana. It is a desperate thing for opponents to receive so much damage, but there is something worse: getting so much damage and not being able to do anything about it. The list has global land destructions, such as [mtg_card]Myojin of Infinite Rage[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Boom // Bust[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Destructive Force[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Tectonic Break[/mtg_card] and, in a certain way, [mtg_card]Burning Sands[/mtg_card]. To keep the constant flow of cards in our hand, [mtg_card]Wheel of Fortune[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Dragon Mage[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Magus of the Wheel[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Knollspine Dragon[/mtg_card].

Razaketh, the Foulblooded


Razaketh was one of 4 demons who negotiated with Liliana Vess and the third to be defeated by her, with the help of Gatewatch. Not before turning the Luxa Amonkhet River into blood and unleashing the Hour of Devastation events. Mechanically, an 8/8 creature with flying and running for 8 mana, with an imbecile ability: pay 2 life, sacrifice a creature, and search for any card in the library and put in hand. Simple as that, without having to pay mana or even to tap. Many compared Razaketh with [mtg_card]Griselbrand[/mtg_card], banned from the format. It is important to emphasize that both are very strong, but Razaketh has a disadvantage in front of the other demon: it is necessary to have creatures in the field to be sacrificed, which requires a previous board construction, which is not required with Griselbrand. As a commander, I believe that he will hardly see play because, although he has an extremely powerful ability, he still costs a total of 8 mana, still requiring previous construction of the board. When compared to another commander who has similar function and the same color, he also comes out at a disadvantage. [mtg_card]Sidisi, Undead Vizier[/mtg_card] has a much lower cost and can be abused from reanimations, being able to search for several cards in the same turn faster than Razaketh. Even so, if you want to take a chance, use a lot of acceleration effects like mana rocks, effects similar to [mtg_card]Crypt Ghast[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Cabal Coffers[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Dark Ritual[/mtg_card]. Finally, although I do not recommend it as commander, I’m sure it will become a staple in the format and will run on any reanimator-themed deck, especially those with mechanics similar to those found in [mtg_card]Meren of Clan Nel Toth[/mtg_card] where, I believe, it will be its best home.

Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign


This card caught everyone by surprise, no exception. Who would even imagine that Wizards would make a card that could be a commander with synergy with sphinxes? Yes, it happened. For 6 manas, Unesh reduces the cost of your sphinxes by 2, and every time a creature of this type enters the field under your control, it will trigger an effect equivalent to [mtg_card]Fact or Fiction[/mtg_card] for 4 cards instead of 5. This for 6 manas, with monoblue identity, when the ideal would be Esper (). In the end, is it feasible to do something that could be called tribal sphinxes? Yes. Will it be all right? Not necessarily. More casual players are likely to risk it. Be warned that this will probably be a very slow deck to develop. For the adventurers, there are 28 sphinxes in the blue or colorless identity and the advice I give is not to just put all 28 only because they exist. There are some good sphinxes and a small number of them is no problem at all. Good examples to consider on this deck are [mtg_card]Argent Sphinx[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Prognostic Sphinx[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Consecrated Sphinx[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Sphinx of Magosi[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Sandstone Oracle[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Sphinx of the Final Word[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Sphinx of Uthuun[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Windreader Sphinx[/mtg_card]. And how could the rest of the deck be? I believe that a Control footprint, with several artifacts to accelerate your game, as well as many counterspells and bounce effects are requested. Cards that abuse a full graveyard like [mtg_card]Dig Through Time[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Treasure Cruise[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Temporal Trespass[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Snapcaster Mage[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Torrential Gearhulk[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Metallurgic Summonings[/mtg_card] might be interesting. But as I said, do at your own risk.

Djeru, With Eyes Open


Djeru is one of the Trials initiate in Amonkhet, leader of the Tah crop and great friend of [mtg_card]Samut, Voice of Dissent[/mtg_card], now the planeswalker [mtg_card]Samut, the Tested[/mtg_card] (and this is the only mention that I will make to the spoiler of this card, since I don’t think it worth noting). Djeru was a faithful devotee of the God-Pharaoh and who finally opened his eyes to everything that was wrong. For 5 manas is a creature with planeswalker’s tutor inprinted and that reduces damage taken by planeswalkers in 1. As a commander? Terrible. If some madman tries to mount a deck with him, a Good Stuff or Pillowfort with Super Friends themed should be the least bad line, using for example [mtg_card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Ajani Steadfast[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Gideon, Champion of Justice[/mtg_card]. As one of the 99 cards is also pretty simple, but it becomes feasible, especially for budget decks.

These were the legends of the set. What about the rest of the cards? What is there for our beautiful format?

Featured Cards

White

Solemnity


This card caused a rage when it was revealed, from Standard to Legacy. The amount of new interactions it will allow is still to be seen, but it will certainly impact Commander, as well as other formats. Its effect prevents players from having counters and counters being placed on artifacts, creatures, enchantments and lands. That is, almost everything. Do you know all those “bad” cards with the damn cumulative upkeep cost? Well, here the age counter will not be placed and therefore there will be no cost to be paid. Cards like [mtg_card]Glacial Chasm[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Mystic Remora[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Reality Twist[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Infernal Darkness[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Inner Sanctum[/mtg_card] become just evil. Other interactions with counters will certainly be explored, like [mtg_card]Decree of Silence[/mtg_card], where absolutely everything from opponents will be countered. Or another way for [mtg_card]Dark Depths[/mtg_card] to unleash [mtg_card]Marit Lage[/mtg_card] out of the depths, since the land will not enter with counters. Besides, with a sacrifice source, all creatures with Persist ability and Immortal will be able to creat an infinite loop. [mtg_card]Kitchen Finks[/mtg_card] for life, [mtg_card]Murderous Redcap[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Flayer of the Hatebound[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Geralf’s Messenger[/mtg_card] for damage, [mtg_card]Woodfall Primus[/mtg_card] to destroy all non-creature permanents from our little friends, counter everything that’s not a creatures with [mtg_card]Glen Elendra Archmage[/mtg_card], draw the whole deck with [mtg_card]River Kelpie[/mtg_card] or if you’re an alternative person, to use [mtg_card]Geralf’s Mindcrusher[/mtg_card] to put all the opponents deck cards in their graveyards. Curiously enough, it might work also to stop some combos, such as infinite mana + [mtg_card]Walking Ballista[/mtg_card], the combos with [mtg_card]Triskelion[/mtg_card] and even [mtg_card]Devoted Druid[/mtg_card]. Remember that deck with [mtg_card]Mizzix of the Izmagnus[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Meren of Clan Nel Toth[/mtg_card], full of experience counters? They’ll also cry. The possibilities for [mtg_card]Solemnity[/mtg_card] are plenty.

Hour of Revelation


Six-mana sorcery that destroys all nonland permanents? Good. But to do it probably for 3 manas most of the time? Devastating. I think here is a new staple for Control decks that are little dependent on permanents, such as [mtg_card]Oloro, Ageless Ascetic[/mtg_card].

Angel of Condemnation


A 4-mana angel that blinks creatures can be well-used in some decks, such as [mtg_card]Roon of the Hidden Realm[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Archangel Avacyn[/mtg_card], bringing more flexibility in these strategies. Now, his second ability allows him to exile a creature through Exhaust, until the angel leaves play, removing any threat. It’s a versatile card in the right context and it might be worthy of your attention.

Overwhelming Splendor


Some sort of [mtg_card]Humility[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Damping Matrix[/mtg_card] in a single card and with a single target. Might end a game against an opponent. This is its main problem, since we play multiplayer. The second problem is its exaggerated cost of 8 mana. If you don’t abuse effects like [mtg_card]Academy Rector[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Bitterheart Witch[/mtg_card], or [mtg_card]Show and Tell[/mtg_card] (and in this case, I don’t see why not use it for [mtg_card]Omniscience[/mtg_card] instead), it’s not worth to use [mtg_card]Overwhelming Splendor[/mtg_card]. But someone is still going to use it anyway and you’ll be the target.

Crested Sunmare


People see a card that mentions a specific type of creature and they automatically get excited by shouting “Tribal!” For all ears. Calm down. It is not today that we will have a tribal horse. However, this is a reasonable card in life-gain decks, for creating an aggressive clock, in a loosely similar way to what [mtg_card]Luminarch Ascension[/mtg_card] provides. [mtg_card]Oloro, Ageless Ascetic[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Karlov of the Ghost Council[/mtg_card] might use this horse in a good way, but it’s best will be [mtg_card]Kambal, Consul of Allocation[/mtg_card].

Blue

Swarm Intelligence


Powerful effect in blue color. Extra turns and massive draws are among the effects we want when using this card, but its possibilities certainly go a long way, as blue is one of the most powerful colors in eternal formats and it’s full of sorceries and instant spells. The bad part of this card? It costs 7. It will hardly run in more competitive environments, but casual boards will surely find some space for this enchantment.

Nimble Obstructionist


Excellent card for controls with blue base. It works similarly to [mtg_card]Stifle[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Trickbind[/mtg_card], for 3 manas and can not be countered in an ordinary way, with the advantage of renewing this card with the drawing provided by recycle. Worst case scenario and in emergencies, you can have a 3/1 creature with Flash and Flying. A careless attack and an unexpected blocker can turn matches over.

Black

Bontu’s Last Reckoning


In black color, mass removals costing 5 or more tend to be reasonable or even bad. When we enter the gallery of those costing 4 or 3 we should pay attention to its potential, since in this range, in black color, reside [mtg_card]Damnation[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Toxic Deluge[/mtg_card], the 2 best cards of this type in the color. [mtg_card]Bontu’s Last Reckoning[/mtg_card] allows us to clear a dangerous board for only 3 mana, in the initial turns, and this can save a game virtually lost. Does it fit the same level as the two cards? I doubt that. Its disadvantage can be quite complicated in some contexts where you don’t have a good amount of mana rocks or you had to tap all your lands. You will effectively lose an entire turn and that may be enough for your defeat. It is a card to be used, but in a thoughtful and strategic way.

Torment of Hailfire


It is a card from the same family of [mtg_card]Killing Wave[/mtg_card], which already tells us about its quality. Giving options to opponents usually decreases the power of a card. Might see play in some Stax that drastically limit the permanents of the opponents or, especially, in Pain decks, one can use well its benefits and devastate their permanents or their life.

Red

Wildfire Eternal


A 4-mana creature, no haste, that triggers an ability when it isn’t blocked, is not one of the best things we can find. But in this process, being able to cast any instant or sorcery spell can be extremely powerful. A well-placed attack can lead to a [mtg_card]Tooth and Nail[/mtg_card] or an [mtg_card]Expropriate[/mtg_card], effectively ending a game. This is the type of creature to never be underestimated and from which decks that have these high-cost types of cards can benefit.

Hour of Devastation


I almost didn’t put this one on this list. 5 mana to clear the board from all creatures with 5 or less toughness is a very medium effect, even removing the indestructible ability. But it ends up being an option in this color, also having the advantage of not cleaning your battlefield if you play with a Big Aggro, for example.

Green

Ramunap Excavator


Certainly a green staple. Whoever already witnessed the damage from a [mtg_card]Crucible of Worlds[/mtg_card] knows what I’m talking about. In decks that are filled with fetchlands, like [mtg_card]Wooded Foothills[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Scalding Tarn[/mtg_card], we guarantee to play a land every single turn, to filter the deck and to speed up the mana curve. With cards like [mtg_card]Lotus Cobra[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Azusa, Lost But Seeking[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Oracle of Mul Daya[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Exploration[/mtg_card] we can extract a lot of value from it. With [mtg_card]Strip Mine[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Wasteland[/mtg_card] it becomes a disloyalty. It even allows you to play mass land destructions knowing that you’ll be back in the game pretty quickly. Friend’s advice: You play green? Get your hand in one of these real soon.

Uncage the Menagerie


A new creature tutor is always welcome. Although it does not directly put them into play and is a sorcery, it allows you to bring a large amount of creatures to your hand. By paying 3 mana, we bring up to 1 creature costing 1. For 4 mana, up to 2 creatures costing 2. For 5, up to 3 creatures costing 3. And so on. It has a lot of potential, but you must know the cost and composition of the deck where it will be used to extract the best performance from this sorcery.

Multicolored

Leave // Chance


Do you know that deck of yours stuffed with artifacts that after a while have become useless on the board? Well, this card can take advantage of this situation, discarding everything that is useless and trading them for new cards. Those decks with a theme known as Eggs (very low cost artifacts that can be sacrificed to draw cards, such as [mtg_card]Chromatic Star[/mtg_card]) will certainly enjoy it.

Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh


Finally we came to one of the greatest villains of the multiverse and corrupter of Amonkhet’s plane, Nicol Bolas, the God-Pharaoh. His previous version, [mtg_card]Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker[/mtg_card] is a strong card, but on a multiplayer table it does’t have as much impact as [mtg_card]Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/mtg_card] or [mtg_card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/mtg_card]. Its pharaoh-god version, in turn, manages to influence more strongly the state of play with multiplayer. For us, your main ability will be the +1, exiling 2 cards from each opponent’s hand. At this point in the game when a Nicol Bolas falls, basically what many have in hand are their trump cards for victory and you will deprive them of those. If they do’t have the right answers, they will play from top deck while that planeswalker, who entered with 7 loyalty counters, progressively increases toward its ultimate at -12 and the total obliteration of nonland permanents from the opponents. In emergencies, you can remove creatures and even weaken players. Let’s say the hands are empty, it’s time to go for the +2 ability and cast the cards from the top of your mates library, whom will not be very happy at this point. What will restrict its use certainly is its combination of Grixis colors (), but as for power level it is a card with high impact and to be respected.

Artifacts and lands

Mirage Mirror


This is one of the most versatile cards in the set for the format. For 2 mana it is able to copy any artifact, creature, enchantment or land on the field until the end of the turn. It may be your opponent’s [mtg_card]Blightsteel Colossus[/mtg_card], your own [mtg_card]Mana Vault[/mtg_card] to generate 1 more mana, a [mtg_card]Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Consecrated Sphinx[/mtg_card], a [mtg_card]Maze of Ith[/mtg_card] that will save you from an attack, that [mtg_card]Paradox Engine[/mtg_card] the opponent had cast and did’t win the game. There are no pre-established ways to use this card, but keep in mind that this is one of the most versatile cards released in recent times. Good players will surely be able to exploit this potential to the fullest.

Endless Sands


It’s a land that enters untapped, so it already counts points, even generating only colorless mana. It’s abilities to exile a creature and return all to play later with the third ability can be well-spent by saving key creatures from removals, yours or from the opponents, or even reusing abilities that trigger upon entering the battlefield. In the meantime, be careful. If the land is destroyed without the opportunity to use the last ability, its permanents exiled with it will remain exiled forever.

Scavenger Grounds


Possible staple and a gravehate that might enter in absolutely any deck that doesn’t abuse its own graveyard. Must substitute [mtg_card]Bojuka Bog[/mtg_card] in most lists that use it.

These were my highlights from the collection, and I’d like to make it clear again that this is my personal assessment of the cards. If you disagree or believe that I have forgotten any relevant card, leave a comment! Thanks for reading and see you next week!

About Mateus Nogueira

Professor da rede pública de ensino no Distrito Federal, formado em Ciências Biológicas, nerd multiclasse, já jogou e aprecia diversos formatos de Magic: the Gathering. É especialmente apaixonado pelo Commander em sua vertente multiplayer, sendo um infeliz sem alma, apreciador de Stax e Combos.

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