Guilds of Ravnica is upon us, and with thirty- odd cards revealed I wanted to talk about some of the early highlights for commander.


As the only legendary creature revealed as of when I’m writing this, I’d be remiss not to talk about the new Emmara. And if I’m being honest, this is a design that I like a lot. Since her token-making ability triggers regardless of why she becomes tapped, anything from attacking to paying for a convoke spell to activating Glare of Subdual is valid. While a deck helmed by Emmara could go in dozens of directions, from generic token swarm to combo (I happen to think she might even make G/W stax viable), the true insanity comes when you add blue and gain access to the likes of Intruder Alarm and Freed from the Real.

The Greatwurm holds the distinction of being the biggest creature card printed in black-bordered Magic. As impressive as that is, 16/16 isn’t a dominant size in this format of Lord of Extinction and Voltron commanders. To be fair, indestructible is arguably the most important keyword this could have and any green deck that can’t consistently give the wurm trample is doing it wrong. But as much as this card was probably designed for Commander, I don’t think it has much of a place.

It’s Oblivion Ring. With convoke. Not the best removal, but certainly serviceable.


Unconditional removal spell for three card types or a deadly combat trick no one will ever see coming, and both at instant speed. That’s a very good package. As an aside, I love the idea of hybrid//multicolor split cards, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of this cycle looks like.

Tomorrow, Azami’s Familiar is one of my brother’s all-time favorite cards (even if it does make turns take a long time). Underrealm Lich costs one less, gives you the exact same card selection while also stocking your graveyard, and is in the colors best suited to gain value out of the graveyard. It also has relevant combat stats and can protect itself from removal.  The one strike against it is that it shuts off dredge cards, but I fully expect it to be a commander staple anyway, particuarly in The Gitrog Monster.

As an aside, I’m excited for the undergrowth mechanic. Moodmark Painter and Necrotic Wound are very clearly balanced for other formats; but the mechanic itself is inherently scalable, which makes any card with an interesting effect something that can be cranked up to Commander. Since the effects scale around a metric that many Commander decks already aim to maximize, doing this won’t even be particularly hard.


I don’t have much to say about the Dimir since we’ve only gotten a handful of generic cards with Surveil tacked on. Surveil itself is fine if completely unexciting, but what’s the most interested so far is the flavor text of Sinister Sabotage. “We have intel that some guilds have fallen under an invader’s influence. Until we’re sure, no venture succeeds.” So says Lazav. Are the Dimir the good guys this time around?


Token-cloning is an effect that’s far more breakable than most people think. While Quasiduplicate might not be a format staple or an obvious powerhouse, the people who like this card are going to absolutely adore it. I know it’s going right into my friend’s Rubinia Soulsinger deck, where it’s probably going to wind up copying a Tendershoot Dryad that then gets populated several dozen times.

I’ll admit, if you’re playing the game normally Firemind’s Research does not give you a good rate. That’s actually what I like about it, because if you want it to do much of anything you have to go full mad scientist. I’m talking Eye of the Storm, Mind’s Desire, Mizzix’s Mastery. I NEED MORE POWER CAPTAIN!


I’ve been pretty open about my dislike of planeswalkers in Commander. I know a lot of people disagree with me, but I really think there needs to be something special about them to justify including what is essentially a slow value engine in a format of massive haymakers. And Ral is fine. Just fine. The emblem is fantastic, but you’re not getting there without Doubling Season, and odds are any deck that runs Doubling Season can’t really use the emblem all that well. He might be an okay leader for Brawl?


It’s going in my Krenko, Mob Boss deck. I can’t really give a higher accolade than that. It’s a very narrow card, but it’s hard to argue with goblin tribal nonsense.

The other Boros cards we’ve gotten a look at have all been midsized aggro creatures with mentor. It’s pretty clear that the likes of Blade Instructor, Hammer Dropper, and Barging Sergeant exist solely for Limited, though it’s possible some of them show up in Iroas or other hyper-aggressive decks.


Let’s finish off with a couple blurry previews. Hot off the presses!

It’s no Talrand, Sky Summoner, but turning every spell into a token is a good payoff for a spellspinger-style deck, and five toughness means someone will probably have to spend hard removal to get rid of it.

This is a sorcery that reanimates a one, two, and three-drop. Somewhere, somehow, someone is going to find a way to make Macabre Hatchery great, and it’s probably going to involve Eternal Witness. I don’t think you should play this card unless you’ve got a very low curve and something very specific you want to do with it, but it’s hard to argue with 3-for-1 reanimation.

Levi Byrne has been with the game since Worldwake and has a rabid love for fantasy writing that goes back decades. Despite some forays into Legacy he plays Commander almost exclusively, and has a love for the crazy plays and huge games that make Magic what it is. He was the go-to advisor of his playgroup on deck construction for more than five years before joining Dear Azami.

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