So Commander 2013 is almost upon us, and I for one am excited! While there are a few Legacy bullets taking up slots (for example, True-Name Nemesis is absurd), it seems like this time around they’re trying to dodge the pricing issue that plagued the last round of these decks. Which is good! I like being able to pick a spare copy at Target every now and again, especially when some of the Commander-specific cards are fun.

As my editor pointed out, the new commanders in these decks make a mockery of the new world order on complexity. Admittedly, that design approach has primarily been used to deflate commons and uncommons, but this new flock of mythic commanders are so far outside of the normal realms that it makes me happy they’re experimenting.

I do wish a couple of things were different. For one, I wish that these decks had come with secondary, two-color, enemy commanders, like in the last set. Enemy color pairings are still a little light on legendaries, particularly ones with interesting abilities, and throwing, say, a black/white one into the Esper deck would have been both easy and cool. To continue with the example, black/white could use a lifegain general, and the last couple of options haven’t really hit that sweet spot.

But! My major concern is that the signs point to these decks again not coming with token sets. This really grinds my gears, since many of these decks come with reprints that don’t have tokens printed elsewhere. The Duel Decks usually come with tokens for their reprints, but for some reason these products have not in the past, and no art has been spoiled (to the best of my knowledge) suggesting this round will be different. Specifically, I am looking at Tooth and Claw. 3/1 red tokens are not unheard of (see elementals), but I’ve never seen a carnivore token before. I am fairly certain they don’t exist! And trying to play these things out of the box without having tokens, particularly for the Naya tokens deck, seems like a pretty quick way to frustrate a casual player. I mean, it’s not at all intuitive that you need dice to play Magic, and even the best players can get confused from time to time when a token army is being represented without tokens.

I may be wrong about this exclusion. I hope I am! But in the meantime, I am fairly disappointed in the apparent omission. I love me some tokens, and it would have been a great opportunity.


Anyway, without further ado, here’s a rundown of the new commanders and my kneejerk reaction to them:



Oloro, Ageless Ascetic

While I am loving the flavor of the card (the whole “ancient king in a cliff-side throne” trope is a classic), I don’t wholly get how it ties into the abilities. The abilities are pretty cool though! It’s got a bit of the Firemane Angel in that it triggers from the places you can reasonably expect it to be, and while the two life each upkeep might not seem powerful alone, when you add in the card draw and the “each opponent” lifeloss, the package, as a whole, seems both awesome and fairly fun to build around. Definitely a good card.

Sydri, Galvanic Genius

On the other hand, Sydri is kinda a dick card. It seems like either you’re running her to give you access to all your tutors while you assemble your Mycosynth Lattice land-destruction lock (lands have a CMC of zero, so if you make one an artifact she can blow up that land for one blue mana), or you’re using her in place of Sharuum the Hegemon to dodge some of her ridiculous aggro. Either way, I am not a huge fan.



Marath, Will of the Wild

An affordable Naya tokens general, huzzah! Sandy McSanderson has gotten a bit pricey, and it’s not like he ever had tokens made—although again this is a missed opportunity to both reprint the pricey-but-fun general and give him some tokens—but the big joy in this general is in the natural way in which they integrated this new view of the Commander tax. The wizard lady and the dragon god both seem a little clunkier in the relationship between the mana spent on them and the effect granted, but a creature that scales the more mana you spend on it? That seems pretty intuitive. Add in the three different abilities, including a removal one and one that works well with populate, and you’ve got the recipe for a bonkers general. Good design, team!

Gahiji, Honored One

But this? Not a fan. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love me some Edric, Spymaster of Trest, when it comes to driving aggro in other directions, but I don’t know that a power boost is going to be enough on its own to change player behavior patterns. I mean, sure, this has less potential to screw you (Eddie is kinda dangerous that way, what with him being an insider threat), but it also seems less likely to help you in a significant factor. I can see him making the 99; I don’t see him as a starting commander.



Prossh, Skyraider of Kher

Prossh is a stupid name, but then again he was probably named by Kobolds, and they’re a notoriously stupid race in the Wizards of the Coast multiverse. Now, the most obvious way to abuse this card is to go infinite with Food Chain and then finish your opponent off with Maga, Traitor to Mortals, conveniently in the color identity of the general. Assuming that this gets banned fairly quickly, should it spiral out of control, I am more interested in the idea of using Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, in a way similar to how I use Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder: as an epic token fodder mechanic for Ashnod’s Altar or Phyrexian Altar. Still fairly degenerate with a card like Prossh, but not so obviously broken. Still, since there are a bunch of ways to convert creatures into mana, this seems like a potentially dangerous one.

Shattergang Brothers

They slice, they dice, they can even take out problem permanent types! Now, my goal is to use these buddies to add some color to my tribal goblins deck, but the good thing is they offer a lot of synergies. Plus, with their ability to turn every permanent type into a mass edict, it seems an argument for a diversified decklist. My hope is to use these guys in a deck with cards like Nighthowler and Bonehoard, allowing me options to kill a bunch of different permanents while simultaneously powering up, but I can see these fellows merely leading a good-stuff deck. They’re useful in a lot of situations, and that’s a pretty good trait for a commander.



Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge

Again, the obvious thing to do with this general might not be the most fun. The obvious play is to use her in some sort of spells deck, with plenty of ways to protect her and plenty of degenerate things to steal from the top of your library. A deck like that would probably run a bunch of Time Walk effects, although for obvious reasons not Time Walk itself. No, I find it compelling as a potential vampire lord. There are a couple of decent blue vampires, and plenty of red ones; Garza Zol, Plague Queen, never really offered much in the way of synergy for such a strategy. Jeleva, however, offers you some jujitsu options, which is going to be necessary since your average tribal vampire isn’t nearly as powerful as your opponents’ stuff is going to be. Jeleva may exile some goodies off the top of your own deck, but it gives you many more ways to play with your food.

Nekusar, the Mindrazer

Congratulations, Wizards, you made the Griefer in… Chief-er. I’ve never been a fan of playing with or against Spiteful Visions, and making it easier to access and giving it fewer downsides seems like a combination that will make this card see a fair bit of play. And, don’t get me wrong, I expect I’ll end up playing with him a little; the deck seems fairly obvious to build, and I’ve always been a fan of turbo-fog/mill in EDH, as hard as it is to make that work. But this guy is a dick general, not because it’s particularly powerful, but because the primary reason to play him is to grief.



Derevi, Empyrial Tactitian

And we’ve reached my least favorite of the lot. Basically, Derevi has flash and never increases her commander tax. This is annoying, not just because her ability seems like it would be irritating in the best of times, but because it breaks a fundamental aspect of the Commander format. There is supposed to be a drawback to prevent you from just spamming your general. One question about the deck, though: is it just me, or is the exclusion of Simic Growth Chamber super weird? She’s clearly good at giving you some mana back when she triggers, so why no complete that cycle of lands that tap for two mana? It seems like an odd choice, especially given the presence of Temple of the False God.

Roon of the Hidden Realm

We’re ending with Roon not just because that’s how Wizards ordered them on their spoiler article (although, let’s face it, that’s a consideration), but because this dude seems like he’s going to be a good time. Bant has been given a bunch of generals that do combat things, but this is the first one I know of that screams “play me with a bunch of mulldrifters for incremental card advantage,” which sounds great to me. I particularly love that it’s not an ability restricted to your creatures. This way, Roon can be used politically (to give a friendly opponent some cards), defensively (to blank an attack against you), or beneficially (to reset any decent mulldrifters you might have). And by the nature of his activated ability, it’s not a decision you have to make until it’s beneficial for you to do so. I’m a fan of Roon, and he makes me consider bring white back into Edric, Spymaster of Trest.


Well, that’s it for my initial rundown! Next week I’ll be musing some more on these decks, specifically interesting reprints and new cards, and the following week I should be able to give you my thoughts having actually gotten to play with these beauties. In the meantime, I must go recuperate from my exciting life. Today, no joke, I got smacked in the face with a shovel, largely through my own klutziness. So, while this is fun, I think I am going to go… lie… down…

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