As many people may know, the full spoiler for Fate Reforged has dropped, and it’s an interesting one. Personally, I feel the reduced mystique around Ugin, the Spirit Dragon has undercut a bit of what made that character interesting, but I respect that they’ve been teasing this character for a long time and they’re only just now doing the big reveal.


I’ll admit… I kinda enjoyed that weird little border experiment.

I also think it’s interesting that the first set in which Ugin was mentioned was Future Sight. And while they’ve never figured out how to reprint Ghostfire in a real set, it’s fascinating that Fate Reforged has taken the status quo established in Future Sight, namely that time travel is no longer kosher within the multiverse, and completely disregarded it. I mean, the last time we played around with time the whole multiverse started to fall apart, but Sarkhan’s never been a character particularly concerned with the consequences of his choices. He’s a crazy zealot, but at least now he’s targeted his zealotry at a reasonable target: the only planeswalker who has a shot in hell of standing up to Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker.


Seriously, how does Ugin beat this?

It’s a snowball’s chance, since Bolas always wins that matchup, but comparing it to some of Sarkhan’s other decisions, it seems downright reasonable. I wonder what the long-term consequences of this decision will be.


My guess is this is the long-term consequence of Fate Reforged. Eldrazi 2.0.

But that’s not what has piqued the interest of the Commander player in me. We’ve now seen the full cycle of cards with wedge color identities, and as a whole they’re a powerful lot. And the first thing that comes to my mind when I look at them is… wasted potential.


Like, this guy is going to have enough barriers to keep him from Commander play, why add more?

Let’s face it, even with the new support from Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged, the wedges have less support than the shards in Commander. Wedges are made of two enemy pairs and a single allied pair, while shards are the inverse; even if Khans made a valiant effort to make up for the disparity created during Shards of Alara block, there have still been more good allied cards printed than enemy cards. Not that Khans did manage to even the scales! Shards block had three full sets devoted to the shards, including an all-gold block, while Fate Reforged has largely abandoned the wedge theme.


There’s no Fate Reforged Thopter Foundry, for example. Wedges have less support!

And yet Fate Reforged gives us two solid cycles of role-players that are restricted by their wedge color identity. Soulfire Grand Master is a good example of this. The first half of the card feels pure Boros. Azorius decks don’t usually have a lot of need for their spells to have lifelink! But the activated ability, what ties the card into its wedge identity, could be equally beneficial in an Azorius deck.


It’s just a cool set of abilities! I want to be able to play with it.

But instead of being able to fit into Azorius, Boros, and Jeskai decks, Soulfire Grand Master is only going to see play in Jeskai and Rainbow decks. This super-interesting card is going to see a fraction of the play it would otherwise see, and all because we’re still using the same color identity rules from the last major revamp of the format. And perhaps it’s time for that to change.

This guy would be so good in a mono green deck! Those decks need creature removal.


For years I’ve been bothered by Garruk Relentless. At any given point in time, I usually have between two and five decks capable of running cards with a Golgari color identity. Given the nature of those colors, though, most of them don’t have a ton of use for planeswalkers, which can be difficult cards to recur. But some of my monogreen decks could benefit greatly from access to Garruk, the Veil-Cursed, with his deathtouch wolves and his tutoring ability. Unfortunately, for flavor reasons Garruk’s fell side is green and black, meaning Garruk is unplayable in most decks.

This is the side that causes all the problems… it’s just that stupid little dot!


Does this make sense? I don’t think so. In that I’m not alone. As far back as 2011 MaRo was advocating for a change in the color identity rules. He points to hybrid cards like Mirrorweave, cards with extraneous abilities like Obelisk of Alara, and lands like City of Brass as being all points where the color identity logic breaks down. And he’s right! But for a long time that wasn’t particularly relevant. Hybrid cards haven’t been a major part of Magic since Shadowmoor/Eventide, and those cards were only tied into two color identities. While there were two cycles of three-color-identity gold/hybrid cards in Alara Reborn, none of them were strong enough for Commander, and as a result the issue of playability faded to the background. I mean, you still can play Mirrorweave in a bunch of decks, and if people have forgotten about Obelisk of Alara it’s only because they’ve been given cooler toys in the interim.


Coolest. Toys. The slots in Temur are tight enough as is!

But now the coolest toys from Fate Reforged have the most demanding color identities short of a full-on rainbow card, despite being only one color by every non-Commander metric. I think that gives us an opportunity to push for a change in the rules.


I looooove the strategic interaction between his ability and his delve.

The change I’d support would be a rule allowing Commander decks to be built such that, while they could only make mana according to their color identity, they could include hybrid cards so long as they’re castable or useable by at least one of the colors in the Commander’s identity. This would side-step the issue of black decks running monogreen cards to reanimate, or whatever similar thing people are worried about, while still allowing Obelisk of Alara and these new mythics and legends to see wider play than they’re currently allowed. It would lead to a weird situation where, for example, Tasigur, the Golden Fang would have a Sultai color identity as a commander, but would be playable in any Dimir, Golgari, Grixis, Jund, or Abzan deck… but doesn’t that seem cool to you?

Imagine her in a Boros deck! I’d love that.


It seems cool to me!


This feels like an Orzhov tokens card, or a suicide Rakdos card. But to require full Mardu?

One of the things that people brought up when I was tossing this idea around was the idea of house rules. I don’t hate house rules, and my playgroup has long adopted the “scry 2 when resolving mulligans” rule, but there’s a difference between the rules that modify the way you play the game and rules that modify the way you build your decks. If I am playing against people who don’t like the scry 2 house rule, all I have to do is not use that rule. Which is fine! But if I’m playing against someone who dislikes a house rule that modifies deck construction (like, say, the banned list or color identity rules), I have to use a different deck.


This guy can be played in a Dimir deck. Does it really make sense that he can but Torrent Elemental can’t?

That doesn’t seem like a good solution.


This is not an auto-include in all Sultai decks.

But changing the color identity rules would be a good way to handle this issue, and it has one final benefit: it would shake up Commander. In the last year or so a lot of Commander players I know have begun to bemoan the somewhat calcified nature of the format. The gods of the format haven’t made any meaningful changes to the format in the last couple of years, short of banning some green creatures that ramped. Just like an occasional banning or change shakes up Modern and Legacy, Commander is a format that could use a jolt, and this seems like a good way to do that.

After all, I’d play Mirrorweave in my monowhite decks given the opportunity. Imagine what you’d do given that freedom.


Jess Stirba is curious as to the demographic breakdown of the Commander rules board.

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