Hey everyone! This week I’m back to the basics, reviewing the Kaladesh Commanders in light of the pre-release next weekend. Kaladesh is almost here, which means soon you’ll be able to play with these sweet cards. Yay!


Padeem, Consul of Innovation


Arcum Dagsson, Memnarch, and Muzzio, Visionary Architect have another friend to potentially lead their artificial armies against the forces of nature upon which monoblue decks so commonly choke. I don’t know if you’re going to want to run Padeem, Consul of Innovation as your commander in that deck, but there’s certainly an argument to do so; Padeem is going to provoke less aggro than many of the other options, protects your game plan from spot removal, and can draw cards. Compared to Arcum and Memnarch, both of whom are scary, and to Muzzio, who is slow, Padeem might be the best commander if you’re looking to have fun in the archetype.

Gonti, Lord of Luxury


Sen Triplets get a friend, though the individual card power feels more along the lines of Toshiro Umezawa. Unlike Toshiro, though, you don’t really need to build around Gonti, Lord of Luxury. Make a “good stuff” control deck based on black’s big mana (looking at you, Cabal Coffers), include stuff like Conjurer’s Closet, and then point your effect at the blue decks to see if you can grab a counterspell. They’re a good card, and jujitsu commander decks have a long history of doing well (and adapting well to the power level of a group).


Pia Nalaar


It’s interesting, if unsurprising, that the commander most akin to Pia Nalaar is Pia and Kiran Nalaar. They’re “artifacts matter” commanders, but while Pia and Kiran Nalaar offers straight-forward damage underpinning its sacrificial effect, Pia Nalaar alone has a slightly different power. When I first saw this card I thought it was worse, and that there would be no reason to ever run it over Pia and Kiran as your commander. I think, upon further reflection, that I was wrong. There are a couple of things which make me more bullish on this card. For starters, the sacrifice effect is cheaper, and not tied to colored mana. Since most powerful artifact ramp cards make colorless mana, not needing the red mana can actually help. Also, that falter ability has the potential to do far more damage to a player, and can be used diplomatically in a way that’s much harder to do with direct damage.


I still think you might consider Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer or Daretti, Scrap Savant when building this type of deck, but Pia Nalaar has a place in those decks, and can make a legitimate argument to helm it as well.

Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter


It’s hard to talk about Oviya Pashirir, Sage Lifecrafter without mentioning Rhys the Redeemed, so I’m just going to lean into that. Rhys the Redeemed has a very similar set of abilities. He’s a one drop, you can pay three and tap him to create a token, and then you can pay six and tap him to ultra-populate, giving you a new token for every token you already have. It was cool, but it demanded token synergies.


Oviya is less powerful, sure, but she does some interesting things that Rhys can’t. For starters, she creates artifact creature tokens. While Rhys’s tokens had tribal synergies, green doesn’t have a ton of artifact-enabling monocolored commanders, so the ability for Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter to pump out artifact tokens is going to be strong in any deck that wants to play in that space. Her large ability, though, gives a potentially giant body, and getting ahead on body size is not something Rhys the Redeemed could do. If your biggest token was a 1/1, Rhys isn’t going to help you out when you need that extra toughness to hold off a threatening attacker. Oviya can, and she can do it at instant speed. That’s pretty cool.


Depala, Pilot Exemplar


So the big news on Depala, Pilot Exemplar is that she’s explicitly a commander for dwarf tribal, a play space which had been previously fairly empty. Sure, there’s Balthor the Stout, but most dwarves aren’t barbarians. (Not making a judgment call there, just saying the creature types aren’t well-correlated.) So there’s a market for it based on the dwarf text and color identity, ignoring all the rest.


But the rest is good too. I am really excited for the design space they’ve devoted to vehicles, and I actually think they’re going to be a strong permanent type going forward (while I doubt we’ll see it become an evergreen like equipment, a girl can dream). They survive Wrath of God, give your summoning sick creatures something to do, can be used on attack and defense, and generally seem pretty darn awesome. In this sense, I see Depala, Pilot Exemplar occupying a similar archetype space to Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer. Boros artifact decks tend to be focused around artifacts that improve your team, like equipment; vehicles are an excellent addition to this theme.

Kambal, Consul of Allocation


For as long as there has been Commander, even when it was still called Elder Dragon Highlander, folks have had affection for playing two types of Orzhov decks: lifegain/drain, and control. Kambal, Consul of Allocation fits into both of those roles. Like Teysa, Orzhov Scion Kambal drops early, and has enough toughness to block the occasional 1/1 or 2/2, which is nice on defense. The tithe effect is no Gray Merchant of Asphodel or Exsanguinate (though I bet you run both those cards in the deck proper), but that actually works to your benefit. An opponent can play 20 noncreature spells before dying to Kambal in Commander, assuming no other loss or gain of life. That’s negligble, and it’s an argument for letting Kambal, Consul of Allocation stay on the battlefield well past the point at which he should have been killed.


But he’s definitely going to show up in Oloro, Ageless Ascetic and some of the other Esper or Raka lifegain decks; he’s very playable in your 99, if your deck is on theme.

Rashmi, Eternities Crafter


The obvious analogues for Rashmi, Eternities Crafter are Momir Vig, Simic Visionary (just reprinted in foil in From the Vault: Lore) and Maelstrom Wanderer, so that’s a pretty good place for a card to begin. Rashmi, Eternities Crafter bests Momir Vig, though, in that she’s always going to be card advantage. Momir Vig gives you a tutor and can be triggered multiple times in a turn, but Rashmi always either draws you a card or lets you play a spell, sometimes on your opponent’s turn. She’s also not restricted to creatures in the same way; she could basically helm any Simic deck in the future, and probably will. She is Maelstrom Wanderer without the gigantic target and the extra color identity.


And her card is absolutely gorgeous.




Well, that’s it for this week’s installment of Command of Etiquette. I hope you all have a lovely time at prereleases this weekend; I for one am skipping it for a familial engagement, but it seems like Wizards has made some really need supplies for this event. Between that and getting your hands on some sweeeeet Kaladesh cards, it seems like it’s a good set to try one of those prereleases out. Have some fun for me!


Jess Stirba is hitting up her old stomping grounds this weekend.

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