As we get closer and closer to the launch date of Commander 2013, my patience is beginning to get strained. These decks are straight up amazing, and I am looking forward to giving them all a spin. I even liberated five sets of EDH sleeves from my collection (I’m down from a high-water point at the moment) and the first thing I plan to do is to sleeve them all up and smash them into each other. Because really, that’s the heart of EDH for me. I’m a full on “Johnny” from the player psychographics (the irony of which is not lost on me, Dana, or several other close friends), and I like creating and controlling weird board states.


Suffice it to say, some of these new cards (and notable reprints) make it easier to do these things. I’m not going to touch on every new card or reprint, but here’s part one of a two part highlighting of the cards that make me want to tear these babies asunder and integrate them into my stable.



Act of Authority

I like me some enchantment removal, and I particularly like that the first exile is free from consequence. So if you’re currently running a straight Disenchant variant, and you don’t need it to be at instant speed, probably upgrade it with this enchantment. Plus, the card gets really degenerate if your artifacts and enchantments are of the unthreatening variety. Sure, the person whose Blightsteel Colossus got exiled is going to be a little pissed, but only the most spiteful of people is going to turn around and exile your mana rock if there’s a Grave Pact or Martyr’s Bond out on the table as well.

Angel of Finality

I find this card fascinating because of its relationship to Restoration Angel. First off, the comparison is obvious and inevitable being as they’re both 3/4 Angels for 3W with relevant come into play effects.  So it’s not unreasonable to think of them in the same context while building for EDH. What gets me, though, is how much more powerful (and perhaps less fun) the Angel of Finality would be if it had flash. If there’s one thing better than nuking a graveyard, it’s doing it in response to a spell. And, while I get that might be above the curve, were this an Archon of Finality, the Restoration Angel would be able to give you the same effect. I mean, it’s still going to be a great card, and Winding Canyons or Alchemist’s Refuge can give you the same effect… but it’s not the same.

Curse of the Forsaken, et al.

I’m just going to talk about all five curses here, since otherwise this is going to take up a fair bit more space than I had intended. These curses are neat, and a fun addition to what seemed like it was going to be an unsupported subtype. I hope they continue to support curses in future casual products, particularly those geared for multiplayer environments, because that’s when they’re at their most fun. As for the different curses themselves, well, the white one seems underpowered unless you’re in a swarm deck, the blue one seems like it might actually incentivize attacks, particularly if an opponent controls any permanent that says “tap: draw a card”, the black one gives people an ever-doubling swarm, which is cool and doesn’t give the aggro players a defense when they go for their big swings, the red one is cute but sorta meh unless you’re a graveyard deck, and the green one offers the most incentive to swing away (particularly if you pair it with Curse of the Pierced Heart). They’re all kinda fun, and it might make Curse of Misfortunes and Curse of Thirst suddenly more playable than they otherwise were.

Darksteel Mutation

Aka the card with the most relevant errata in this set. See, Darksteel Mutation actually changes the permanent type associated with the card, something that “is an artifact creature” doesn’t technically do alone, for some stupid complicated reason. So if you manage to cast this with flash onto an opposing animated Gideon Jura (or the other one), Gideon just isn’t a planeswalker anymore. Anyway, it’s not a terrible removal spell and it’s a lot less dick of a way to nerf an opposing Commander than tucking it, so this seems like a card with potential.

Eternal Dragon

This is a reprint, and a good one. I’m a fan of this card in EDH, since the early plainscycling helps white get some mana consistency, and you can recur it a lot in the late game. Plus, if you’re totally stalled out, you can just spend seven mana a turn to draw an additional land each turn… and that’s not even mentioning that you can theoretically get this back into your hand more than once an upkeep. Anyway, it’s a fun (if slow) card, but now with better artwork!

Karmic Guide

It’s another classic reprint, again with better art and clearer template. Now, the typical use of this card is with Reveilark and a sac outlet, like Altar of Dementia or Ashnod’s Altar. Since each creature brings the other back, it’s either infinite mana or just “good game,” and realistically infinite mana should spell doom for your opponents as well. It’s a good choice in reprints, and they’ve finally cleared up the echo wording for those who are primarily familiar with the mechanic from Time Spiral block.

Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon”

Yet another reprint, although this one is more interesting for ancillary reasons, being as it’s not the most impressive card. First off, Portal Three Kingdom (P3K) English language cards have been ridiculously expensive for a while now. In the past several products like this they’ve been showing a desire to somewhat ameliorate that pricing issue, since it’s basically a mistake; I think they assumed that the Portal product aimed at the Asian markets wouldn’t have appeal stateside, but then eternal formats happened and the few cards that were good made the whole set spiral out of control. But because this is a portal set, there were a lot of crazy templates primarily based on there not being a second main phase (I think), and there were some weird naming issues with cards for which the primary printing was not in English. It’s a long way to go to point out that in the decklist spoiler on the MTG homeship, this card (and a few others) weren’t linkable because they forgot to put in the quotation marks… a punctuation mark present on precious few cards.

Mystic Barrier

If you like politics and control, this is a card for you. If you don’t, or if you like playing one on one, your mileage will likely vary. Significantly. Because this card is useless outside of its political implications. I might put it in a Zedruu the Greathearted deck… but even that’s far from certain.

Serene Master

I kind of love this dude. He’s a super-effective rattler since it seems unlikely that he’d ever lose combat, and most of the time he’s going to be taking out the creature he blocks (since there aren’t exactly a ton of asymmetrical toughness creatures played in the format). It’s not an aggressive card, for sure, but that doesn’t change his effectiveness as a blocker for decks that need some breathing room… and he laughs at your general’s trample damage.

Tempt with Glory

I read somewhere that the Tempting Offer cards should be evaluated primarily on the basis of the underlying effect, because people won’t give in to temptation. I don’t think that’s the right way to evaluate these things. I think tempting offer is a mechanism that’s as powerful as your ability to persuade other people, and as one with a relatively silver tongue, I am excited to try them out. Sure, this isn’t the best of them (and in fact, it’s probably the worst), but it’s definitely a white effect, and it shouldn’t be too hard to get an opponent to say yes to buffing their army.

Unexpectedly Absent

A lot has been said about this card, on the mothership and elsewhere. I’m a little less excited about it, but I respect the underlying power of the card. My only true complaint is that it’s a rare, which in sets like these means it only shows up in one of the decks. There’s no reason that every white deck couldn’t have gotten a copy of this removal spell, kinda like how all the green decks got a copy of Restore.



Borrowing 100,000 Arrows & Brilliant Plan

Another pair of P3K reprints, these aren’t all that powerful. Why they hadn’t just been reprinted in an earlier set, like how Ambition’s Cost was in 8th Edition, is beyond me, but c’est la vie. As draw spells go they’re not terrible, but Brilliant Plan shouldn’t be a sorcery and Borrowing 100,000 Arrows should be “each opponent.” But these are quibbles, and it’s always good to see more of that set make its way into normal price ranges.

Control Magic

Does this count as a notable reprint? I can’t even tell. It’s a good card, though, and Mind Control effects are traditionally fairly powerful in the format, so I’m probably not being too weird by mentioning this one without stopping to point out that Wrath of God is also back.

Diviner Spirit

Love the idea, hate the card. It seems unnecessarily nerfed, given that many would argue its drawback is inherent to the whole “we both draw” aspect of the card. At four mana and with flying I might consider it, but for five I’d expect at least another point of power and toughness.

Djinn of Infinite Deceits

Do you know how much this dude lies? A lot. He is never not lying. His lies are INFINITE. Sigh, Deep Breath. Okay, the terrible naming scheme of this card aside, it’s right up my alley. Sure, it sucks that they nerfed him to not work during combat, which could lead to some sweet situations, but this is definitely a political card and one that can work to your advantage. For example, I usually have frustrations dealing with Spearbreaker Behemoth, since my exile removal tends to be in short supply. Give the Behemoth to the white weenie player, though, and problem solved!

Illusionist’s Gambit

Love it. Love everything about it. Obviously it’s not a one-on-one card, but the political ramifications are wonderful. Plus, how many times have you been attacked by the second biggest threat on the table, as they crow about how dangerous you are and how they need to take you down. Gambit them into attacking your neighbors, and all of a sudden you’re getting a threat level downgrade and your opponent is wishing they had held back a better defense now that the wrath of the whole table will be focused on them.

Lu Xun, Scholar General

An obvious reprint, Lu Xun, Scholar General gives me a chance to remind you about how annoying Horsemanship can be. Basically, Horsemanship is the flying of P3K, which was trying to be a more realistic set tied to the Three Kingdoms Saga. It worked perfectly well within the confines of that one set, but since then basically every creature with Horsemanship now reads “unblockable.” Or, perhaps more precisely, “can’t be blocked” ever since they demoted unblockable from keyword status. Anyway, this is basically just Thieving Magpie, only harder to block and up until recently disgustingly more expensive. So… yay?

Order of Succession

Now this is a direction-based card I can get behind. Two things I love about it: 1) unlike white elephant, no one gets to snag the gift you first picked, and 2) if you cast it with no creatures out, the next-door-neighbor with the less interesting creatures basically gets screwed (as does anyone else forced to pick from someone without a link in their chain).

Strategic Planning

Another P3K draw spell that compares unfavorably to a bunch of similar cards. Personally, I’d rather have Telling Time in that slot, but I guess this is better at dumping cards in your graveyard at sorcery speed? Blergh.

Tempt with Reflections

In the right deck, this isn’t just a tempting offer… it’s an offer you can’t refuse. Cast it on Mulldrifter and see how many people say no to free cards, especially if it means you have to discard at the end of the turn. Or cast it on something like True-Name Nemesis, and see how many of your opponents want to be left out of the mini-Progenitus party. Sure, it’s at its best if you can Plague Wind your opponents after it resolves, but it seems more than likely that you can get at least one extra copy if you choose your targets wisely.

Tidal Force

Terrible. Pass.  …  Okay, let me go a little further into this analysis. I think the _______ Force cards are pretty universally awful. They’re too expensive, and until they made the black one their triggering on every upkeep drew a disproportionate amount of aggro compared to the effect. The only one that made it even somewhat worth it was the red one, Magmatic Force, but a lightning bolt every upkeep isn’t even that good when your average EDH creature survives the hit. Still, this is a new low. Alone the ability seems practically useless, and if you’re combining it with something like Underworld Connections you may as well just use Seedborne Muse, since it’s cheaper. But the black one… well I am going to reserve that for the next section.

True-Name Nemesis

This card just seems kinda dumb. Like, sure in multiplayer it’s not broken, like it is in a proper dual duel, but short of “because we can” why did they print a card like this? It’s both overpowered for 75 card magic and underpowered for 99 card magic, and that puts it in a seriously weird place. If you have to face it down, just hope you have a wrath handy. Yeesh.



Baleful Force

Okay, now we’re cooking. The first one of these cards I would almost unrestrictedly play in any deck that can support an eight drop, my reasoning is largely due to the way in which drawing cards is worth risking it not surviving a turn cycle, and it’s low enough impact to maybe not draw the eyes of every player at the table. All the other ones you’re either targeting something or making it harder to kill you. With this dude, sure, you’re drawing cards, but it doesn’t advance your board position, it doesn’t draw the ire of people who are having their permanents blown up or their life totals knocked down, and it in fact makes you easier to kill. So, here’s hoping it’s worth trying out. I think the theory is solid, but my opponents have this bad habit of overreacting to me drawing cards.

Fell Shepherd

I am a little torn on this card. If I play with it, I imagine it will be in a GB deck, maybe Savra, Queen of the Golgari, and I’ll pair it with Gleancrawler and Nylea, God of the Hunt. Basically, the dude is bonkers with trample and a little less enthusatic without it. Also, I am not thrilled with the “sacrifice another creature” limitation, since there are often times with cards like this that I want to pop it without having much in the way of a support team. Also, this is one expensive avatar. Still, the 8/6 stats are something to talk about, even if it seems weird to see that right after WotC made such a big deal about giving big butts to the black cards. Which, when you say it out loud, seems pretty fucking shady.


As a character motivation, greed is fucking awful. Seriously, there’s a reason why the story of Midas has stayed with us for over two thousand years, or why Crassus’ death by molten gold was such effective propaganda. Greed is gross, but goddamn is this card good. I would advise playing with it, because it’s super powerful and the life is usually worth the payoff.

Hooded Horror

If this card did something interesting when it hit, it might be playable. Say, if whenever it dealt combat damage to a player, they had to sacrifice a creature. Flavorful, and it basically works! But just as an underpowered beater? Pass.


Needs moar snakes. Seriously, it’s a little weird that a card with two snakes in its artwork can only ever make one. Sure, it’s a great rattle…snake, and it’s probably useful if you can turn creatures into cards or some other valuable resource (Ooze Garden, maybe?), but as it stands it seems a little underpowered… and you know they’re not including the relevant tokens with this brand new card! Which is frustrating.

Phyrexians: Delver, Gargantua, and Reclamation

Normally, I’d only consider Phyrexian Reclamation to be the interesting reprint, but since the other two got new art it’s probably worth examining all three. Having played with Phyrexian Delver, I can honestly say it’s a fun and powerful reanimatior card. Since it’s easy to reanimate itself, you can usually turn your tools into two for ones, although it’s pricey on the life side and a 3/2 isn’t alone super powerful. Still, it’s one of a few cards that combos with Conjurer’s Closet to give you a reliable stream of reanimation, and that’s pretty swell. Similarly, the Phyrexian Gargantua is fun to play with in the Conjurer’s Closet. It’s basically the black Mulldrifter, slightly less powerful due to the different nature of the two colors. And Phyrexian Reclamation seems pretty powerful too, since it’s almost as strong as Greed, but for a lot less initial mana. I’m a fan of all three, and I like the new Igor Kieryluk art on the first two.

Price of Knowledge

It’s a griefer card with an upside for your opponents, which might let it live for longer than it should. Two points: that it’s damage is a mixed bag, because while it can be prevented it can also be redirected to planeswalkers, and that you get the upside while everyone else gets the upside and the downside seems risky. This is not my type of card, but I know people who would play a card like this. They’re the ones who play Vicious Shadows, and they’re monsters.

Tempt with Immortality

I’ve played five mana reanimation spells before, and in that way this card seems worth slotting into a reanimator deck. BUT! Unlike most of the other tempting offers, this seems like the one easiest to bite you when you cast it. If some other player responds to the casting by exiling some or all of your graveyard targets for a spell like this, the offer becomes a lot more tempting for your opponents. Of all the tempting ones, this is the one that seems most likely to lead to interesting discussions about the best plays. I think it should be exciting.

Toxic Deluge

Love it. Love everything about it. I think this card might even be Legacy playable, but even if it isn’t it’s the perfect Commander wrath, and should effortlessly slot into every EDH deck that runs that color. Solid design, great art, and no “swamps matter” drawback clause like Mutilate.


So that’s it for this week’s examination of all these new Commander 2013 newprints and reprints. There’s plenty of new art I neglected to mention, and while I have no idea what was their driving ideology behind deciding which cards really needed to keep their original art and which ones should end up with something shiny and new, there’s not much to complain about; the new art is of uniformly high quality, and I’m generally a fan. Some specific callouts? Arcane Denial, Archangel, Control Magic, Propaganda, Raven Familiar, Skyscribing, Wash Out, Decree of Pain, Famine, Greed, Phyrexian Delver, Phyrexian Gargantua, Quagmire Druid, Reckless Spite, Stronghold Assassin, and Vile Requiem. I can’t wait until we finish this out next week!

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