I try to give space for cheap rares and their more common brethren when I am building my EDH decks. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Born of the Gods has given us some fodder in that category; while there is a steep drop-off between the high-value mythics and the rest of the set, there’s still plenty of interesting stuff to seed through one’s collection. So, here are some intriguing cards from BNG that you should consider using in your Commander creations, giving you some serious value without busting the bank.

The uncommon news of the set is that Monoblack Devotion got some serious tools this go-around. Specifically, the deck got Bile Blight and Drown in Sorrow, and both of those cards are good enough to make it into your 99. Bile Blight (as was mentioned by a commenter last week), is a very solid anti-token removal spell. While you might not be able to get more than one card out of it in Commander, there’s a good shot you’ll get at least two cards worth of value from it if you time it well. Tokens decks are everywhere, and this takes out a bunch of them for a more reasonable cost than Homing Lightning and a less restrictive color identity than Maelstrom Pulse. Sure, you’re going to have some problems against a racked Luminarch Ascension, but there aren’t a lot of cards that can handle that one well. And Drown in Sorrow is notable for being another Infest, a sweeper that’s cheap and lethal. Only now it scrys for you as well. Toshiro Umezawa, eat your heart out.

Gild also joins the black party, although I am a little more hesitant to embrace this one after we get past the idea of Gold tokens. Because, let me tell you … Gold tokens are hella cool, and I’m worried that it’s an idea that is going to prevent this mechanic from returning. Sure, it’s just another Corpsehatch, with less mobile (but more resistant) mana-token-spawn. But this one isn’t colorless mana, and you don’t lose it to Wrath effects, and it helps with Affinity and Metalcraft. Is that going to be enough for it to see widespread play? I don’t know. But I do know that I’m going to put Sever the Bloodline into a black deck before Gild unless there’s a thematic reason to do otherwise. And I don’t see that being the case all too often.

Plea for Guidance is another interesting one—in some ways, that is. In many ways the idea of another white enchantment tutor is old hat. It’s not exactly under-utilized design space: Enlightened Tutor, Idyllic Tutor, Three Dreams, and Academy Rector all see play, and that’s before adding in the other colors as seen in Zur the Enchanter and Sterling Grove. Still, the enchantments in EDH tend to be quite powerful, and since many of the best ones cost three or less, it’s almost certain you’ll be able to cast what you find over the next turn or two. Of course, I would be remiss to talk about Plea for Guidance without mentioning the slightly more common white enchantment-themed card I like for Commander: Dawn to Dusk. Cheesy name aside, four mana to kill an opposing permanent and rescue one of your own seems solid, and the 2WW casting cost is in line with many of the other value options white has for dealing with problem permanents like these.

Perplexing Chimera seems like a good time. Of course I’m going to put a copy into Roon of the Hidden Realms and any deck with Homeward Path in it. The bigger question is whether or not it’s worth playing in a deck that can’t straight-up abuse the effect. I think the answer is yes, though. In a Sedris, the Traitor King deck it could be fun to unearth this buddy in order to provide protection for a key spell or permanent, although you can get a similar effect outside of Grixis with Whip of Erebos or Mimic Vat. Even completely alone, though, I am interested in seeing how this effect plays out across a table; I underestimated how much fun it is to play with Act of Authority, and in multiplayer this card gives off a very similar vibe.

The prerelease cards were all interesting, in their own way. I put some notes in the group spoiler about them, but it’s worth examining them again in the proper context. Silent Sentinel is good, but unexciting in many ways. It’s an attack trigger, not the modified Mulldrifter that we saw in the Titan cycle, so we have to wait a turn until we get any value from it. And it’s vulnerable to graveyard hate. But a 4/6 flier is nothing to sneeze about, and Zur the Enchanter tells us that putting an enchantment into play is often a powerful ability. Add in an Auratog and an Oblivion Ring, and we start getting the ingredients for something nasty.

Arbiter of the Ideal is similarly strong. It seems weak at first, because again it has to survive past the initial turn (and often it’ll need to survive two turns, thanks to inspired). But in a deck that can abuse the effect, like Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, you start the party earlier and can potentially even machine-gun the effect. Even if it takes two Derevi triggers to get value, you’re usually going to be getting a permanent in response, and trading two triggers for a random permanent seems a good rate of return to me.

Eater of Hope excited me for all my tokens decks. The second ability should allow you to sacrifice the Eater of Hope, but in a deck like Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder, where casting this dude is going to net you a host of token friends, you should end up with enough fodder to make up for the two-for-one aspect of the repeatable spot removal. But I should say that again: repeatable spot removal. And unlike Attrition and friends, it’s not restricted. It’s just powerful. So this should make it into a couple of EDH decks at least.

Forgestoker Dragon really filled a hole in Scion of the Ur-Dragon that I had not even realized was there. While the pinging effect is something I can find in other dragons, like Shivan Hellkite or Vampiric Dragon, the Falter effect is much more powerful. It’s not quite a Thundermaw Hellkite, and it’s going to make it hard to punch through a wave of Spirit tokens, but if you need to get through a Wall of Shards or a Will o’ the Wisp, this is the dragon for you. Plus, the dragon looks ridiculous in these images, which for some reason makes me like it more.

Finally there’s the Nessian Wilds Ravager. Initially I thought that I wanted nothing to do with this one for EDH, since tribute is such a weak mechanic, but when I put it into my Marath, Will of the Wild deck I think I found a niche. That’s a deck where the choice is going to be between me getting a 6/6 and knocking some other creature out, or me getting an 18/18 or worse. Those numbers are getting to be high enough to make the risk of a vanilla monster worth taking, and since the offer is usually going to be “hey, don’t give me tribute X so I can kill the annoying permanent from player Y,” you might get more buy-in on this one than you’d otherwise think. Still, I wish the choice was between something other than a French vanilla creature and an effect; there aren’t a lot of cards (or any, maybe) that give you interesting effects on both sides of the equation, and in a high-life format like Commander the right choice for your opponent to make is very often just going to be beef.

I feel obligated to talk about Heroes’ Podium. It’s a Coat of Arms, but for legends! Captain Sisay is going to love it; I can’t wait to use her to dig this out so I can start double-tutoring each turn. Of course, I took apart Captain Sisay because it turns out tutoring each turn is a pain in the ass and most of the GW legends are straight-up boring. And I don’t see a lot of cause to play it outside that type of deck; who else wants a nerfed Citanul Flute tied to an underpowered Coat of Arms? Anyone? Bueller?

Whims of the Fates needs to be mentioned, because I think playing this card reflects poorly on a person’s character. I do not think it needs to be mentioned for any other reason. I mean, seriously, why play this card? Just to screw the person over who bet on a single pile and lost? If you’ve that much of a gambling problem, I think there are some pros out there who would be interested in playing the Credit Card Game with you over dinner. Fancy dinner.

The Archetypes are all pretty decent, although the Archetype of Endurance is a bit costly, even for EDH. But! The Archetype of Courage and the Archetype of Aggression are both sweet low-drops with abilities that really help combat. Archetype of Courage is particularly good in white weenie decks, since they’re generally weak to first strike, and no matter how many Archetypes hit the board, you’re still nullifying everyone else’s first strike. I like Archetype of Aggression in decks like Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, because it both makes Prossh more certain to beat through, but it also makes it impossible for your opponents to get through your Kobold army, even if you sac them for value after the block! That just leaves the two six-drop Archetypes: Archetype of Imagination and Archetype of Finality. I like them both, but in different decks. Archetype of Imagination strikes me as a more affordable ($) version of Sun Quan, Lord of Wu, since they’re both pretty bonkers overrun effects tied to creatures without particularly impressive bodies. And Archetype of Finality is another potential all-star for tokens decks, since they usually have a problem with being eaten by bigger creatures when they swing or block. This way, they’re almost always going to trade, the occasional Dawn Elemental aside.

Peregrination is just another Cultivate or Kodama’s Reach, albeit at a worse point in the curve. That’s usually fine, though, since all the decks I tend to play that want to take advantage of those types of two-for-one ramp spells are currently running some one-for-ones as well, so the slightly slower speed doesn’t matter as much. Plus, while it’s not Explosive Vegetation, the addition of Scry 1 doesn’t seem like it’s a bad thing!

Meletis Astronomer brings up an interesting question about Commander-playable heroic cards. I had initially dismissed the entire mechanic as being ill-equipped for EDH, but I came around recently and have been trying to make it work in an enchantress shell. The problem I’ve run into is that basically all the interesting heroic cards are in black, and black isn’t a good enchantress color. In blue/white, the color scheme I decided to go with (since Bruna, Light of Alabaster negates some of the card-disadvantage inherent to auras), I basically only like Meletis Astronomer, Artisan of Forms, Hero of Iroas, Phalanx Leader, and Triton Fortune Hunter. And even some of those feel like a stretch. It’s a shame; heroic is a fun Limited mechanic, but they just don’t seem to be interested in making it EDH-playable at all. That having been said, the Bruna deck is also looking to enjoy Ephara’s Enlightenment, which seems to provide a repeatable source of value, which Bruna can help recur should it ever end up in the graveyard.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the uncommon bestow creature cycle in BNG: Everflame Eidolon, Flitterstep Eidolon, Ghostblade Eidolon, Noble Quarry, and Spiteful Returned. The Everflame Eidolon and Spiteful Returned seem like primarily Limited cards, but the other three are offering up powerful enough abilities to make their weak bodies and six-mana bestow costs all seem worth it. In many decks (say, Edric, Spymaster of Trest), a 1/1 unblockable is going to do some work, even if you’re primarily casting it as a way to get a particularly valuable or powerful creature through a blocked passage. Similarly, double strike is usually a fairly abusable mechanic, and in a white deck with a bunch of Crusade effects the 1/1 it leaves behind can prove to remain relevant. But my favorite of the lot for EDH is the Noble Quarry. Lure creatures really could care less about power and toughness, usually, since they tend to be one-shot effects. In this case, you get a mass removal spell when you put the Noble Quarry on any powerful or deathtouch-y creature, and then you follow it up with a second overrun effect when you swing with the 1/1 body that got left behind. That’s two turns of strong advantage; I’m a fan.

And, finally, we’re left with the random rest. I like Oracle’s Insight for hexproof decks and blue enchantress decks, because in both of those situations you’re getting a solid personal Howling Mine that your opponent is going to find difficult to remove or keep in the graveyard (since blue enchantress decks are usually running Open the Vaults and Bruna, Light of Alabaster). Stormcaller of Keranos is a solid card in blue-red decks since they tend to be somewhat interested in what’s on top of your library, and it lets you leave up instant-speed effects without feeling obligated to cast them prematurely for the sake of mana conservation. Vortex Elemental is a solid rattler that turns into a particularly slow tuck effect in the end game, which is still pretty good since most rattlers become dead draws late in the game when you have control.

So that brings us to the end of this discussion of the main cards that interest me from Born of the Gods. Join me again next week, when I plan to do some talking about preparing your decks for play, or something similarly oblique.

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