Commander 2016 is being spoiled this week, and golly doesn’t it look to be swell?

Look at the opportunities provided by the partner mechanic, a new use of design space to rival past changes. The partner mechanic, as spoiled, allows a player to have two commanders, with a combined color identity. It’s rather brilliant, if you ask me… it’s a change to a fundamental aspect of Commander, but in a way that makes sense and seems fun. This is in many ways a more radical departure than the change in Commander permanent type of the Teferi, Temporal Archmage cohort, the change in mana effects provided by the Prossh, Skyraider of Kher cycle, the experience counters of Daxos, the Returned and friends, or the command abilities of the Oloro, Ageless Ascetic duders. This time around they’re modifing the numeracy of your commander, allowing you to have two of these “partner keyword-having” commanders. It’s a clever way to offer more four color combinations without having to print a large number of cards that are themselves four color, something which they’ve previously expressed a reticence to do.

(The flavor of Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice being non-red is kinda wonderful, btws… between this and that sweet Phyrexian Arena reprint flavor of Koth of the Hammer fighting to survive, I am jazzed to return to New Phyrexia again, something that seems likely in the not-so-distant future.)

Today I have something new to offer Command of Etiquette readers, and something new to Hipsters as well: my very own preview card. While I don’t have anything as snazzy as Silas Renn, Seeker Adept to spoil, the reprint I’d like to share with you comes from the same deck, one can assume. All the Esper players are in luck; Commander 2016 includes a reprint of Sydri, Galvanic Genius, a beautiful piece of work by Terese Nielsen, tied to a card that deserves a second glance.


For starters, it’s possible that Sydri, Galvanic Genius gets reprinted in Atraza, Praetors’ Voice, but my bet is for the as-of-yet-unnamed nongreen spread. Between Sydri and Silas Renn, there’s clearly a deck built around the full potential of artifact synergies, including from one’s own graveyard. While green has some artifact synergies, mostly around blowing them all up (looking at you, Bane of Progress), red is the monocolor most associated with artifacts and yet it’s always been excluded from Esper decks, the shard that’s the most associated with artifacts. If there’s a commander to rectify that exclusion, my hope is that it’s the nongreen spread, with a second Boros commander partner focused around blowing up artifacts.

Edited to add: between writing this column and it being posted, Breya, Etherium Shaper was spoiled. So, called it!

Of course, that would probably mean there would be twenty partner commanders in total, something which would be awesome but may not be a reasonable expectation (no matter how great it would be for them to expand the mechanic so broadly in its first offering).

Edited to add: between writing this column and it being posted spoilers confirmed that this great thing has come to pass, with Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist and Kraum, Ludevic’s Opus sharing billing in the Izzet identity, among other duplications. What a wonderful decision, Wizards!

There’s always a chance that we see partner return in future Commander sets, though you never know with these mechanics. But I could see room for it to return… in the allied two-color deck set (my guess would be Commander 2017) we could get monocolored partner commanders, and in the rainbow deck set (my guess would be Commander 2018) we could get the shard and or wedge partner commanders.

Side note: if they do end up doing a cycle of Rainbow decks, I think they should only do four rainbow and one colorless. I really want to see a colorless Commander precon, and I can’t for the life of me see them doing it anywhere else than as part of a rainbow deck cycle, the only one which doesn’t need to be done as a set of five decks to cover all the bases.

No matter what deck she ends up being in, Sydri is going to be a strong addition to that team. While I was a bit skeptical of her merits the first time around, people have largely moved away from the land-bombing I had feared. When you put Sydri, Galvanic Genius in the same deck as Mycosynth Lattice, for example, every blue mana turns into a Sinkhole, and that’s not a lot of fun. Lately, though, I’ve seen less of those locks (Enchanted Evening/Opalescence being its more enchanting version), and when she’s not threatening a Stone Rain Sydri’s a lot more fun. The ability to give your artifact creatures the Vault of the Archangel treatment makes combat a nightmare for your opponents, and her animation abilities mean that you don’t have to leave as many creatures back for defense. In fact, you can often get away without using her abilities at all, just holding them up as a threat that you’ll trade a spellbomb for their best attacker.

Then you flash in Shimmer Myr when you don’t have to pay the mana, and before you know it you’re playing in your opponents’ turns, threatening all those who swing at you with the prospect of sudden death at metal hands. Good times!

Sydri, Galvanic Genius gives a deck a lot of play, and I am excited to see the full scope of her setting when these decks become totally spoiled. I had been a little burned out on spoiler season, given the rapid pace of releases this past year, but seeing the shape of these decks coalescing through the aether has been exciting, and I am awaiting the full spoiler, and then getting my hands on these decks, with bated breath.

And now that I’ve dethroned a bunch of my old decks, I have the room to make a whole new set of magical Commander weapons. Enemies beware, the future is four color, and I will be playing on that field for a good long time. Having this much new play space open all at once is a rarity, and it will give me hours and hours of fun build time, guaranteed.


I’d like to end this column with an honest plea, unrelated to Magic. Commander 2016 comes out on November 11th, 2016. The American presidential election is on November 8th, 2016. If you’re reading this column, chances are you’re Gen X or later, and that means that you’ve spent a lot of time being tarred by others (mostly Boomers) as being an insufficient stewards of democracy because we don’t show up at the polls. Now, there are a lot of reasons for this… for example, elections should be national holidays, and since they’re not it’s the lower-level staff more likely to be stuck at work on a voting day, and those lower-level positions skew young. Add in voter ID requirements that exclude school IDs, urban polling lines, and cultural stigma against youth voting, and the structure of our democracy is skewed against active electoral participation by younger voters.

This election, let’s prove them wrong. Whether you’re voting Clinton or Trump this election, make the effort to get out and vote. We can see a brighter tomorrow, and voting in this presidential election is a step on that journey. If we want the olds, who make up a disproportionate percentage of our elected officials, to take our vision of a better world seriously, we have to be willing to put in the work to cast our vote.

So November 8th, make it to the polls. And then that Friday reward yourself for your participation in democracy with one (or more) of these new decks.

Jess Stirba knows where to vote; do you?

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