Friday, November 4, 2016

Commander 2016 Set Review: Black & Red

Welcome back, ladies and gents. Today we’re going to do a quick review of the black and red cards of Commander 2016 (new stuff only). Let’s dispense with the long preamble and just jump right into it, shall we?


Cruel Entertainment

Dance puppets, dance! Delightfully evil and, appropriately, extremely likely to just blow up in your face, like all great movie villain plots do. It’s not likely to be a good card, in most cases, but it is downright hilariously evil. Also, I do have a friend who may or may not be planning to use this with Eye of the Storm and try to break the game by making sure no one ever actually gets to play their own deck for the rest of the game. I really don’t know if I want him to succeed or not. Anywho, if you’re going to cast this card you better have some DAMN good defenses up, or be able to just RUIN your targets’ lives. Because this WILL make you some enemies.

Curse of Vengeance

HA! I just like the idea of casting this on Turn 1 in a 4-way game. It’s so grandiose, arrogant and hubristic to just declare one person  “Most Likely to Loose” right off the bat. Like, dick move, man, just pointing out who you think is the worst player or has the worst deck. It just reminds me of all the cocky swagger DBZ villains display in those pre-fight monologues. It’s hard not to feel like Vegeta or Freeza casting this saying, “Hmm, you have the lowest power level so I think I’ll kill you first! Mwa ha ha ha!”.
Another way to look at it is, you can cast this on the person you think is most likely to become the archenemy and get dog-piled, if there is such a person (and they’re not you!). You’re marking them as if to say “this is the #1 threat, folks. Kill them first!”. Whether anyone cooperates with you or not, that’s another question entirely.

Curtain’s Call

Three mana on average to double-Murder? Uh, seems really good, actually. The first of these Undaunted spells I actually like even in the standard 4-player arrangement. Reckless Spite and Ashes to Ashes are both cards that are already under-played, probably because they have that hefty life-payment thing going on. Ashes has the advantage of being Exile removal in Black which is a bit rare, but has the disadvantage of being a Sorcery. I still think Ashes to Ashes deserves a lot more play than it gets, but now that this exists I don’t see any reason we shouldn’t all be playing the crap outta this. At its, worst it’s Murder X2 for five mana, which if pretty acceptable antway. But getting a Buy One Get One Free sale on Murders is just incredible value. Yet I still think this is somehow going to be severely underplayed. Well, more for me!

Magus of the Will

Nice! Yawg’s Win on a stick. Will is already legal in EDH though and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it played outside of dedicated combo lists. Not sure how much the casual tables are going to gravitate toward this. Personally I hate exiling my own stuff, but I can’t deny the cards potential. Loving that callback in the art, too!
Quick aside: Does it bug anyone else that we have Magus of the WHEEL and Magus of the WILL now? I kinda want to play them together for S’s and G’s.

Parting Thoughts

At its worst, it’s a Sorcery-speed Muder, which is… not that good. But with the upside that sometimes it’s a Murder that also draws you some cards, it seems fine. I like that it draws cards for any time of counter its victim might have. So you don’t necessarily have to rely on your opponents’ playing creatures with +1/+1 counters or whatever. You can put -1/-1 counters on things with, say, Black Sun Zenith, and mop up whatever survives with this, and refuel your hand at the same time. I like it, but it still feels a tad too situational to be universally good.


Charging Cinderhorn

Hmm, I like it. On the one hand it’s a way to encourage attacking without forcing it outright. On the other hand, a 4/2 is very unlikely to attack and survive past turn 4, if even then. That seems like a bug, but may well be a feature – if it gets too annoying, it should be trivially easy to find at least one opponent willing to block and kill it if you attack them. I’ll definitely be trying it out in Marchesa, as it fits the themes of that deck well enough, but I will also have to find some room for a bit of lifegain – this does hit all players, not just opponents!

Divergent Transformations

Okay, cool, I like this. In a pinch it can just be used as risky Exile-based removal for scary things like Consecrated Sphinx or Avacyn (hey, it’s a way for mono-Red to deal with Avacyn, so that alone should be noteworthy), where you’re pretty sure that no matter what those things turn into, it can’t be as bad as what you’re getting rid of.  It can also be a janky double-Polymorph on your own dudes (usually tokens so the Exile part doesn’t hurt you). Best of all, it’s an Instant so there are possibly some other tricks I’m missing. Oh, right, it’s another card where we can all dream about casting Gather Specimens in response to it but it’ll never actually happen. Anyway, I’m a fan if for no other reason that it’s Exile removal in mono-Red.

Frenzied Fugue

So I get to just keep threatening the same permanent every turn? I am sure we can think of some uses for this. You still get to have your thing on your turn, but when it’s my turn, that means it’s my turn to use the thing! Cute design, could be decently powerful without being too offensive (after all I’m only borrowing it!). Still, probably this just gets relegated to the occasional use in wacky/fun/random decks.

Golbin Spymaster

Pretty close to being a perfect card for my Marchesa deck, it’s hard not to get a little over-excited about this Goblin. But I suppose if you don’t have any decks in that style, this little bugger won’t hold much appeal to you. That said, even if you aren’t going full-on pillowfort/politics, it’s worth noting that messing up people’s combat tactics can be pretty effective. Typically, though, it just makes them attack you out of annoyance. One thing I dislike is that he makes the token at the END STEP of each opponent’s turn, so they have a full turn cycle to go before they get forced into combat. I have a feeling that this will often lead to the tokens being used to chump block before that “must attack” clause can kick in.

Runehorn Hellkite

I have a longstanding love of Wheel effects and good value creatures. But this one… I’m not very keen on it. Given that we just got Magus of the Wheel last year, getting this clunkier version doesn’t hold much appeal. It’s fine, I suppose, but I think I pretty much draw the line at paying 5 mana for my Wheels (Magus’s CMC + Activation, or hardcast Reforge the Soul). Six is just too much to ask, unless of course we’re talking about Time Spiral. Plus, I have a tendency to avoid self-exiling creatures like this because they’re much harder to exploit for fun and profit. I mean, it makes sense – he’d be a bit stupid if you could just activate him over and over, but still… Anyway, not a big fan this one, despite it being ostensibly within my wheelhouse (ba dum, pssh!).

1 comment:

  1. I see curse of vengeance as a don't attack this guy card. After all they wont get anything from killing him, only you do. I think it will be fun to play on someone so you can try to keep them alive long enough to pile up a few counters. Kinda sounds perfect for a political deck.