Commander 2014 is on the horizon, and some of the spoilers are leaking out. And while I still take issue with Teferi’s design, I’ll admit that the newly spoiled Ob Nixilis has set me somewhat at ease. But first, let’s take a minor diversion to talk about flavor.


Flavor seems to be important to Commander 2014. It’s a strong decision, and so far every spoiled card has been a flavor goldmine. For example, this sucker seems to be one of the most flavorful cards I’ve ever seen printed:


i guess she'll die?

“I don’t know why she swallowed that fly…”


Matsya Nyaya, my friends! And that this time around they’re actually making the tokens for all these cards, and making them two-faced at that… I’m thrilled. So let’s look at some of the other cards that have been spoiled so far.


I am totally slamming this into one of my colorless decks, where it will sit and be amusingly useless.


While I wish it wasn’t restricted to basic land types, I’m not sad to see a more readily playable Krosan Verge. Being able to ramp with your land has always been a powerful ability, and I imagine this is going to be an auto-include in any Commander deck, including the colorless Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre ones. Which is a reasonable response to such a cool land! And the timing could not have been better. With fetches in Standard again, and the Treasure Cruise decks abusing the heck out of delve, I think people are going to be relying a bit more on fetch for the foreseeable future. Fetch is happening, and between the Rocky Tarpit cycle, the allied and enemy fetchlands, Evolving Wilds, Terramorphic Expanse, and Myriad Landscape… well, I can see Life from the Loam getting better. And it makes me look back again at Tilling Treefolk, an old friend.


Now this is a green planeswalker for Commander. New Nissa, you’ve been outshone.


But let’s talk planeswalkers, since they seem to be the defining cards of this set. Look at that planeswalker, isn’t she great? While Freyalise does instantly ultimate when Doubling Season is in play, what you get for that (a bunch of cards) isn’t as broken as Teferi’s ultimate. Sure, it’s powerful, and since she’s in the Doubling Season color there’s the danger of facing an opponent who just casts and recasts Freya to draw all the cards, but unlike Teferi she requires a board presence to take full advantage of her ultimate. And that’s before we even get to her +2 ability, which also plays well with Doubling Season by giving us a Llanowar Elf and a Fyndhorn Elf friend every time we activate it; the only ability that doesn’t cry out for the Doubling Season effect is her -2 ability, and that’s a repeatable Naturalize! Pretty solid in Commander!


the questions!

So… he’s a fallen paladin now? Why does he look so much like Sorin, could there be a connection there?


And this brings me around to Ob Nixilis, who has the grim distinction of being one of the many decisions they made during Zendikar block they have since regretted and rolled back. See, back in the days leading up to Zendikar, Wizards released a series of web comics about their planeswalker properties. These were serious and story driven, and unlike the Funco Doll Comics they were supposedly in continuity. That was where Liliana used the Chain Veil to taint Garruk’s connection to the land, and as he grew more bestial a sigil started to burn on his forehead. A hedron-looking sigil. Anyway, Garruk chased her to Zendikar, and then Ob Nixilis popped up with the same sigil, a character design that looked like an evolution of Garruk’s demonic transformation, and flavor text talking about his lost spark.


It was reasonable at that point to think Ob Nixilis and Garruk were one and the same. But they never confirmed it.


They mulled over their decision over for a bit and then Garruk ended up showing up again in Innistrad, where he had the good taste to show up on the rapey-ist card to ever grace the game, aka Triumph of Ferocity. And since that wasn’t confused enough, they went back to Zendikar in Magic 2015, ostensibly for the purpose of salvaging Ob Nixilis, and presumably occurring before the Eldrazi devoured the plane. I guess that’s how Nissa made it out too?


Anyway, that’s the story of Ob Nixilis, as understood by a person who’s been playing the game consistently since his Nixxy’s introduction. Considering the only other mono-black walker I could have pictured them running in this slot was Yawgmoth, who is more definitively dead, I get the decision. And with the sweet suite of abilities, I’m glad they included old Nixxy. It is interesting, though, that this will be the third card naming Ob Nixilis they’ve printed, and two of them have been in the last year.


Also interesting: he’s a planeswalker – Nixilis. So I guess Ob is a title? The more we know.


so good in swarm

This card was not spoiled in english. Relevant part is (basically) 3WW: attacking creatures all get +1/+1 for each attacking creature.


It’s not just the planeswalkers that are fleshing out the world; I’m curious to know how many people knew the name Jazal Goldmane coming into this set. While I knew Ajani had a brother whose tragic death caused him to go all Vengeant, I had forgotten the exact name. But Jazal seems well designed, and beastly in combat. I think it’s a strong mono-white card, even if it doesn’t have the flash of some of those other abilities.


I’m sure they meant for this to be sweet, and not creepy. Do we know this dude’s story?


Like Feldon, of Feldon’s Cane! This is a great bit of flavor, tied to a moderately interesting general. A couple of weeks ago I discussed mono-red deck archetypes in one of my articles, and I pointed out that the best Machine Red general was Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer. Now Slobad has some legitimate competition in that regard, and I think it will be interesting to see if people find a way to break him. So far all I can think of involves Cathodion, Ashnod’s Altar, Dross Scorpion, and Mycosynth Lattice, but that seems a bit convoluted. Still, each of those pieces is an artifact, so if one of them dies Feldon helps you set up the combo again. Mostly, though, I look forward to running him for value. Even if his art seems a little too invocative of Galatea for my tastes.


Galatea is creepy.


A 5/5 angel for four is a pretty solid body in Commander. Kinda surprised it’s not a 2/2 Voice of All that turns into a Serra Angel with lieu active.


This lovely lady is the opposite of creepy, though. I love the lieutenant mechanic, it’s super flavorful while simultaneously being mechanically interesting. I can picture a lot of situations where the outcome of a game comes down to whether or not a player top-decks the land needed to recast their commander, immediately triggering lieutenant abilities. I initially thought this was a global +2/+2 bonus, but vigilance is almost as powerful, and this is tied to a reasonable body to boot.


Love the card, really looking forward to what other lieutenant cards time may bring.


“When Gravesifter enters the battlefield, each player chooses a creature type and returns any number of cards of the chosen type from their gravexard to its owner’s hand.”


I find it interesting to compare this card to Patriarch’s Bidding. It’s different in three, very relevant, ways. First, it’s on a stick, which means you can recur this card more easily than Patriarch’s Bidding. For better or worse, getting a creature back out of the graveyard is fairly easy; getting a spell back from the graveyard is moderately harder. Second, your opponents don’t get the benefit of the creature type you choose, and vice-versa. If you choose beasts and your opponent chooses unicorns, you don’t get your unicorns back and they don’t get their beasts. On the whole, this seems positive, since the naming order tended to disadvantage the one casting the card. Finally, Gravesifter brings the cards back to your hand, while Patriarch’s Bidding returned them to play. While this is generally a sign that Gravesifter is weaker, there are still decks where you’d rather get the card back in hand. Primordial Sage, for example, is going to trigger exactly zero times off Patriarch’s Bidding, whereas it might get you a card or two off Gravesifter.


It’s not a better card, but it’s not necessarily a worse one either. I’m glad it was printed, and I’ll probably run this in some of my tribal decks.


he saved every one of us

Flash! Aa-aah! Savior of the Universe!


So let’s end with this creature. I’m shocked it’s taken them so long to print Fork on a guy. It’s one of those “obvious once you think about it” cards that could have been printed in any set after the introduction of flash, and potentially in a couple of sets before that.


But… is it good? I don’t know. Some people love playing Fork effects in Commander, but I’m generally not playing enough spells to make it inherently good. Add in the creature thing, and I feel like most of the decks I would want to play it in wouldn’t want a creature in the first place. It is a good counter-counterspell, and can get you a lot of value off other peoples’ draw spells, but is that reason enough to run a Gray Ogre?


If his starting loyalty had been four and he +2’d I would hate him less. And that’s still busted!


Only time will tell. Still, so far there haven’t been any duds. Even Teferi, as awful as that card is, is clearly a neat design. Of course, I have a problem with him auto-ultimating with Doubling Season and the very idea of instant speed planeswalker abilities, and that’s not going to change… but I see why people are into him. And the twisted siblings of Innistrad block are great to see too. This set reminds me a lot of Time Spiral Block: a ton of cool callouts, and weird mechanical complexity that may turn off newer players.


Luckily, Time Spiral-complex is Commander-easy, so I think the barrier of that block won’t affect this product at all. Anyway, enjoy the… twins? I want to say they’re twins.


Wednesday Adams…



…which I guess makes him Pugsley? Does that work? I feel like it might actually work.



I wait with bated breath for new spoilers, and plan to buy each one of the decks when it comes out on November 5th. I am hoping the minor dip in quality between the first Commander product and the second was sequelitis, and they’ve taken some steps, like the planeswalkers and the tokens, to suggest they’re going to make a strong showing as they end this cycle of color identities.


Jess Stirba has social anxiety and Commander fever.

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