Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Commander 2014 Set Review (cont'd)

Alright folks, I'm back as promised to finish up our set review of the new cards in Commander 2014 edition. We had quite a few exciting new cards to look at last time, along with a few not-so-hot-looking ones as well, and there are even more cards to come that I'm pretty pumped about, so let's dive right in.


Daretti is like Nahiri in that he trades flexibility for power. He doesn't do much outside of his niche, but within that niche he seems really good. It's not often Red gets the best card in a cycle, but I think that might be the case here.

Daretti has a lot of potential and I'm pretty excited to see how he plays. It's nice to see something besides Blue or Esper getting some artifact stuff. I can see this guy being the one new 'walker people are still playing a ton a couple years from now.

Wow, that's twice in a row that Red may have gotten the best card in a cycle (though I'd pick Titania as the other possible contender here). He's cheap to cast, cheap to activate, and is a sort of card advantage engine for Red, a color which usually needs a lot of help in that department.

This guy plus a Wurmcoil in your graveyard just seems absurdly good, and I'm sure there are even more exploitable things you can do with him. I feel like I'm going to wind up needing quite a few copies of this dude.

Absolutely love it! WotC seems to be getting better at designing political cards for casual multi-player games. Their earlier attempts in previous Commander sets have been, mostly, failures. At least in my experience. But the cards in this set look like they MIGHT actually play out the way their designer intended.

This one might end up working a little too good. I can see this causing some actual bitter feuds between the two players you pick - especially when you choose two players who were, up until that moment, allied against you!

Yet another Red card that just made my jaw drop. This one just seems insane to me. Sure, it's circumstantial and at times could hurt you more than anyone else. Sometimes you'll really need to sweep the board but your opponent only has four 5/5's... no bueno. But then other times an opponent will just gain like 100 life and then cast Storm Herd... Bang! They're dead!

Most of the time, though, it'll just sweep the board and throw in a moderate amount of direct damage to the face in for extra value. Seems legit.
Yep. That's a card. A lot of folks are grumbling about the interaction between this and something like Rite of Replication. I get that. It's annoying when it happens. When it happens T4 and no one has a sweeper and the game just ends before it even got started that will really suck. But usually this guy is just a good ol' Fork on a stick, which is both perfectly fair, and totally awesome.
The more I think about this one the less I like it. It certainly has it's applications, no doubt. Casting this after you fling a giant Kresh... Killing a 100/100 Serra Avatar that just killed the player next to you and is likely headed your way next... lots of potential, but those windows of opportunity seem very, very small to me.

I'm afraid this one has "Dud" written all over it, but I can see it working out in a few corner cases.

I usually avoid cards with "all creatures must attack"-type effects, and this one is no different. However, it is a perfect fit for the deck I've been scheming on for a while, so I'm happy to see this, even if it's only ever going to see play in that one deck. 
Much better! Flying and Haste, shoot things for 7, Dragon creature type, and badass art. What's not to love?
It's Living Death for artifacts.
Living Death.
For artifacts. 
How is Red winning everything? Red usually sucks, but there it is just lookin' all amazing and getting the best cards in at least two cycles, maybe three.

To me, this is the most boring of the Offering cycle. It's the only one that doesn't give YOU, the caster, any sort of resource. I like cards that let me do things more than I like cards that take away things from opponents... but at the same time I recognize that destroying FOUR things at Instant-speed for five mana is simply incredible, especially for Red. And it's worded so that, in a vacuum at least, it can't possibly be turned against you.

So it's definitely the best of the cycle, even if it doesn't excite me much. Lots of staple potential here.


It seems telling, to me, that the two "worst" colors in the format got the two best Planeswalkers, while Green, the best color in the format got the worst of the 'walkers.

That's not to say Freyalise sucks. She's definitely good, but very underwhelming at the same time. I mean, drawing cards is literally my favorite thing ever, and I still can't muster up enthusiasm for that Ultimate, not when Garruk Caller of Beasts did it so much better.

That said, I suspect she'll prove to play at least a fair amount better than she looks on paper. It's just that she feels distinctly like a support card, not a "commander", if you will...

Well, if nothing else, that is some incredibly unique, new design space for Green mages to explore. Wait, Explore has no synergy... Harrow. That's what I meant!

Joking aside, I have to say, I'm intrigued by this card. As I mentioned above, if anyone from this cycle of new Legends is going to challenge Feldon as the best of the bunch I think it'd be Titania.

That said, Feldon seems like he'd be great in a lot of decks, not just as a commander, but also in the 99... Titania is definitely more build-around and would likely be best used as the commander. Can't see throwing her into just any old deck with Green in the CI... still, though, just thinking about casting Scapeshift with her out gives me a semi...

I really want to like this card. It does things that I really, really want to be doing. I'm just not sure it's cost-effective enough. Sure, with crazy Nykthos mana, for example, it could be pretty sick. But, overall, I'm skeptical of this one. Very much an "hope for the best, expect the worst" scenario, in my mind.

Outside of Hyrda Tribal and the odd uber-ramp deck, I don't expect to see this being played much 6 months to a year from now.
Nicol Bolas? Tree.
Ulamog? Tree.
Jace the Mind Sculptor? Tree.

It's cute. It's effective. And it fits the "flavorful removal done Green style" mold very well.

But at the end of the day, it's basically a Green Oblivion Ring and, outside of Enchantress decks, that is a card I avoid. I like my removal to be removal-proof, usually. 
Now that's a removal spell. Gets rid of pretty much everything. Except creatures. And Planeswalkers. Which, after you cast this, are probably all going to be heading your way, so have that Fog ready!

Very strong card. I expect it to see play for a long time to come. Build accordingly, three-color fans!

Meh. It's fine in decks heavy on one tribe, but bad in a meta with lots of tribal decks. 
 Not going to make the cut in too many decks, even if this is working full-steam, giving you three wolves per turn, that just isn't a huge impact in a lot of cases... that said, I love this for Edric, since you're already likely to be giving people extra cards via the Spymaster, and just having a few extra dudes to get through or block is great.

Anything that supports the oddly under-represented Wolf Tribal archetype is gold in my book.
It's okay I guess. Hexproof helps, but that 4 toughness is just... ouch. Supertrample to the team is cool and all, but this feels like a one trick pony. especially since he's not likely to survive the first attack, thanks to that tiny backside.

Don't see this one becoming a staple anytime soon.
This guy, on the other hand, seems immensely more playable. He's still on the jankier side of things, but man that is one hell of a Lieutenant ability. Also, just wanna point out how amazingly perfect a Lieutenant this guy is for Stonebrow. Been a while since a single card made me so excited to bust out the Stonebrow deck, but boy does this guy ever do it!
Seems likely this is probably one of the weakest of the Offering cycle, though the White one is probably worse overall. Still, I can think of a few applications for this one. As always, there are ways to either negate or exploit the symmetry. The question is, is it worth doing?

I imagine if you have Doubling Season or Parallel Lives out and a ton of mana, you'd be perfectly happy just going to town with this thing and coming out far enough ahead it just doesn't matter what your opponents got out of the deal.
Definitely not staple material. Most decks would just be better off running Overrun or something along those lines, but this is not without merit. I personally like it for my Edric deck, since A) most of the creatures in that deck are small and have trouble ending games on their own, and B) this is janky enough to fly under the radar and not be killed on sight the way good creatures usually are.

I mean, sure, someone might recognize that this technically is a threat, but are they gonna kill this when there's a Consecrated Sphinx or a Thraximundar out? Not likely. Anyway, it's mostly a bad card, but sometimes a bad card is the right one for the job!


Such a weird card I can't tell yet if it's good or not. I mean, obviously Zedruu decks will want to consider it. Seems like possible tech for Rakdos as well. It's also a bit expensive. Yeah, I just don't know. There are obviously some decks where this thing's gimmick will have some synergy, but is it good enough even there?  
Another one I can't quite commit to an opinion on. It's expensive and clunky, but some colors and combinations of colors will take bad card draw over NO card draw all day. I just usually avoid those colors.

Anyway, we all probably made the same mistake at first, right? Assumed it sac'ed to draw the way Dreamstone Hedron does? Once you realize it's repeatable, it does start to look sexier...

I'd almost definitely play it in mono-White, and MAYBE some mono-Red decks, but Blue, Black and Green mages should all scoff at this.
I'm not sure this is quite going to win over long-time Darksteel Ingot fans, but damn if this doesn't make a hell of an argument. The fact that it doesn't tap on that second ability... genius. You can safely tap it for mana all day long and still sac in response to an Austere Command or what have you.
That's one heck of a saucy Trinket Mage target. Copy those Equips all day, every day. Love it. 
Meh. Seven mana Vindicates are just not my bag. I mean, sure I'll give Spine a go in decks that can properly exploit it, but this just doesn't have the same appeal. It's fine, I guess, but not exciting.
This basically costs five - you don't want to be stuck with it for even a turn! But I absolutely love that they can't give it back to you, no matter how much they might want to. Seems really fun. Encourages attacking, but makes sure you aren't the most tempting target. Can't wait to see it in action.


Cute. They finally went back to Lorwyn and gave the Flamekin a land. And, wow, it's actually pretty good. About a thousand times better than that Reinforce land... sure, a lot of decks won't have too many elementals to reveal (though pretty much every deck with Red should have Spitebellows), but R and a tap to give a dude Haste is pretty sweet.
Wizards loves Hexproof. Or they hate it. One of the two.
Basically Command Tower for monocolor decks. This should pretty much go into every monocolor deck ever, even most Green ones, and even a few two-color decks (I like it for Savra where I just want lands in the 'yard for Worm Harvest and/or lots of Swamps for Cabal Coffers).

Also of note - usable outside of EDH! Casual players are going to want a TON of these on hand for their mono-color 60-card decks that aren't Green, too.

The inevitable foil promo of this should be worth a small fortune.  Can't wait!

Well, folks, that's it! We've reviewed all the new cards in the set, and frankly I'm quite impressed. Time will tell, as always, but right now it looks like, on a card-by-card basis, this set has a higher quality than previous sets. C11 and C13 each only had a handful of new cards - not counting the new Legends - that continued to see play once the new and shiny factor wore off. In short, for every Scavenging Ooze, there were like ten Trench Gorgers or Dread Cacodemons.

Wizards is finally starting to show signs that they understand this format and are capable of designing cards for us that aren't stupidly OP like Prime Time or Consecrated Spinx, and if the Offering cycle and other political-oriented cards like Bitter Feud are any indicator they might be on the right track there as well.

I never thought I'd be excited about mono-color EDH decks, and I'm still not sure these will offer quite the gameplay experience I typically look for, but the fact that I'm excited about this release at all is a great sign that they did something right.


  1. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think Myriad Landscape could be very good also in many-color decks, if you're putting at least a basic snow land of each type!

    1. Nah, even then you still have to get the same COLOR of land - i.e. a snow-covered forst and a regular forest. Usually you want things that get different colors.