It was announced that, despite expectations of allied-color commanders in Commander 2016, this year’s supplemental Commander product would focus instead on four-color Legendary creatures. For years they have held off on creating these things, worried about the degree of identity which could be assigned to a four-color clump. What do you even call them in a world of shards and wedges? The closest they ever came were the Nephilim, but those weren’t Legendary, and also weren’t particularly good. And after that, there were no more four-color anything for a very long time.

Side note: there’s a 100% chance of the Nephilim showing up in the precons, right? They’re the only four-color cards in existence, of course they get reprinted in there.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this turns out, basically. Since we know nothing but the bare words of the announcement, that means it’s speculation time! Instead of making predictions, I’m going to talk through some of the more interesting possibilities.

The only connection here seems to be Vorthosian; no blue means no water means dust or sand. I hope they print some counters on it! And maybe include Hazezon Tamar in the deck as well, just like Rubina Soulsinger.

Color Identities

We live in a culture where femininity is largely defined in opposition to masculinity. If a something is not masculine it gets pegged as feminine, whether or not that makes sense. As such, if there’s no commonality to be found between such broad clumps of color identity, there’s an argument to define each clump in opposition to the theme of their missing color. For example, maybe the Boros plus Simic clump doesn’t mess around with graveyard shenanigans. Maybe the Orzhov plus Izzet clump is weak when it comes to creatures. Maybe the nonblue clump can’t cast spells well, maybe the nonwhite clump runs a suicide strategy, maybe the nonred clump can’t close out the game with any burn. Or maybe it’s just slow.

But the interesting thing is the possibility that they go a different way with it, and someone on the internet suggested it be something like allied color commanders with off-color abilities. If anything, I think that’s a little timid; General Tazri suggests a willingness to use an ability’s influence on color identity in an aggressive fashion. We could even end up seeing single-color commanders with a wedge or shard of activated abilities. And what is most interesting about this idea is how the multiple-commander aspect of the precons would allow for different combinations within the same deck.

For example, a blue legend with a suite of Abzan abilities could coexist in the same precon as a white legend with a suite of Sultai abilities. Neither has red in their ability, and it allows for a depth that seems to be missing in their typical products, and that’s more important given the fact that these will be the ONLY four-color Legends printed in the foreseeable future.

I mean, I guess that’s technically a prediction, but I just don’t see them taking another bite at this weird apple for a while, just like I don’t anticipate Planeswalkers with the commander clause getting printed outside of a commander precon. Which is not to say I expect these commanders to be four-color gold planeswalkers, just to be clear!

But I could see them reprinting Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath and friends in one of the Commander precons, as just one of the 99. Probably won’t, because it might be confusing, but it’s totally possible.

This card is super gross with any trample enabler, obviously. It’s also strong in madness; I wonder if that will be a major theme of this clump…


The second thing that pops to mind for me is how the manabases will be composed. Will we see cards like City of Brass and Mana Confluence in every deck, blessedly cratering their already low prices? Will they make new lands that make four colors? Will they include all the relevant trilands? In the best of times precon manabases can be difficult to get right.

I think there’s only two things we can assume about the composition of the manabases: that Transguild Promenade/Rupture Spire will be in there, and that Command Tower will be. Will we see more copies of Command Beacon and Opal Palace make it out into the wild as well? Could be! I certainly hope so.

Note to self: use Opal Palace to cast a Planeswalker commander with a confusing number of counters on it. Teferi, Temporal Archmage seems particularly appropriate for this type of trolling, because of Contagion Engine. And yes, I am aware of how that works.

Personally, four-color commanders excite me vis-a-vis manabases for a reason that absolutely will not be reflected in the product as preconstructed: Maze’s End. It’s a weird card in most Commander decks, where you could either play it as a victory condition in a five-color deck, or run it with three Gates in a tri-colored deck. In the former, what is basically a more versatile Thawing Glaciers becomes a significant threat. In the latter, its limited number of targets make it a less versatile Thawing Glaciers. Four-color commanders split the difference; Maze’s End can search up six different Gates, without representing a terrifying victory condition that turns it into a reasonable target for any land hate.

But it’s definitely not going to be in the precons. It’s a little too confusing for what should be an entry-level product to have a card in the deck that speaks to an impossible victory condition.

This ability recently got a reprint in Zada, Hedron Grinder, and black was the weakest color of heroic. Might we see the anti-black clump hew to some sort of heroic theme?


Fun fact! There are no Vampires in green. Vampires are a tribe primarily in black, with a (not particularly close) second in red (mostly due to Innistrad). It splashes into blue (for Dimir cards) and into white (for Orzhov and Zendikar vamps). But vamps have no presence in green unless you count Chameleon Colossus and friends, and I don’t.

What this means is that whenever I make a tribal Vampires deck, I have to either go five-color or lose access to some of the more interesting members of the tribe. But now I might have an option! Considering the proximity of the second bite at the Innistrad planar apple, it is not unthinkable that Wizards might make a tribal Vampire lord in the four colors with vamps in them.

And they can’t be the only tribe with this type of distribution. If they wanted, they could make one or more of these commanders into all sorts of tribal lords. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

They should totally, absolutely, completely reprint Doubling Season in one of these things. That card should be $5, and it’s gone back up to $20 after a second printing. Crash it. And this would be the best deck to do that in, I think. This or the clump that’s not blue.


My final point is a quick one. I am fascinated to see the way in which the colors in these precons are balanced. Do a couple of colors anchor the deck while the others splash in? Is one of the decks green/x, where x is an entire shard or wedge? There are a lot of different ways to play this, and a strict 25/25/25/25 split seems both difficult and undesirable. Because wouldn’t that be boring?

This is a card hindered by its vintage. In retrospect, this should absolutely be an ability in a deck with green in it, since green is tertiary on resurrection and secondary on general graveyard shenanigans.

They have so much room to play in this unexplored design space. I hope they stretch their legs.

Jess Stirba is cautiously optimistic about these new precons, and will absolutely purchase at least one copy of each.

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