As War of the Spark cards are now hitting the public, my attention turns to how I will be using these cards in my Commander decks. For most set releases there are maybe three cards that really grab my attention; but with War of the Spark, I have been very receptive to the options we’ve been given. It’s probably because the power level is off the charts.

This week I will discuss some of my top picks for specific decks that should be affected by this Planeswalker-matters set. These will likely not be the only cards I end up using from War of the Spark, but they are the ones that I am currently testing in each of my established decks.

Jodah, Eccentric Binder Mage

One of the defining characteristics of my Jodah, Archmage Eternal deck is that the deck is made up of a lot of cards that make for good stories, but not necessarily obvious wins. It’s the deck I give to players who have been out of the game for awhile or who have no Commander of their own, because it has the Myojin from Kamigawa block and the cards like Simic Sky Swallower that were often all stars of lunch table Magic.

Because my main method for casting spells is through Jodah or Fist of Suns, the easiest way to scout for new cards is to open Scryfall and search a set for cards with a converted mana cost of six or more. While Casualties of War and Parhelion II are certainly options, looking through this set I realized that there are actually some roleplayers I could make use of.

Clones happen to be very good in this deck to copy giant creatures. Historically my use of Clone effects has been limited to Clever Imposter and Stunt Double. Spark Double could be an upgrade to Stunt Double, as I don’t care about flash as often as I initially thought I would.

Firemind Vessel did not impress me when it was previewed. Then as I was sorting a stack of cards last weekend, I stumbled upon my copies of Sisay’s Ring that I used to include in decks before Hedron Archive was printed. I realized that in this deck, producing two different colors of mana made it a great pick for a mana rock.

One of the big drawbacks to the creatures I have selected for the deck is that many of them come from a time when creatures were pretty bad compared to the other card times of their era. As such, any kind of evasion could be critical to making some of my huge creatures more formidable. Enter Angrath, Captain of Chaos. I’ve played Goblin War Drums in this deck in the past. Menace is far stronger than most people realize; and when it’s attached to every creature you control, it makes combat more strategic without being impossible to understand. At such a low mana cost (for this deck) Angrath can be snuck in just before a critical attack step to mess with opponents.

Mairsil’s Pretender Syndrome

One of the hardest things to balance in my Mairsil, the Pretender deck is the long list of abilities my general could have on a moment to moment basis. For any given activated ability I might want, I need to find a creature or artifact in the Grixis color identity that has it. I have been slowly trying to figure out the best ratio of economical uses of flickering or self bouncing as protective measures—see Aetherling or Skywing Aven. But my newest endeavor has been to grant Mairsil haste. This is where Shriekdiver hit my radar almost immediately during preview season. While I certainly value Skyship Stalker, the ability to gain haste with generic mana is far more valuable than it might seem on the surface.

As I looked over the rest of the set, I was surprised that there wasn’t something more that I wanted to use. Some little interaction to make me feel clever. But in truth, that’s Commander in a nutshell: a lot of the time, your pet deck will get almost nothing new from a Standard-legal expansion.

Goblin Science Fair

I love my Shattergang Brothers Eldrazi deck; it’s all I talk about at parties. The deep love also means that I have a pretty good read on cards that could go well in the deck. One of my first qualifiers is whether the card is colorless, but I’m also on the lookout for ways to give my creatures evasion or more recently, flash. As such Vivien, Champion of the Wilds captured my attention pretty quickly. While not a replacement for Vivien Reid, the ability to find creatures while also providing flash has been tempting as I’ve tested the deck with a proxy Champion of the Wilds.

One card I am undecided about is Angrath, Captain of Chaos. I really like giving my Eldrazi menace, but I’m not sold on using a four-mana planeswalker when I don’t currently use Goblin War Drums for the same purpose. If I was lacking in creatures to commit to the board, I would strongly consider Angrath as a way to also sneak 2/2s into play when the moment strikes. Jodah sometimes needs an extra creature if I’m stumbling on good draws. By contrast, here I am skeptical.

There is no question that Ugin, the Ineffable will have a place in this deck. With as many Eldrazi as I play, I’m constantly looking for ways to manipulate my mana curve to make my spells far cheaper than they have any right being. When I’m not removing the biggest threat to my board, I’m committing colorless creatures to my battlefield as a form of pseudo-card draw. After doing some testing, I can see myself using Ugin over The Immortal Sun or Herald’s Horn within the next few weeks.

Yasova, Friend to Wolves

My Yasova Dragonclaw deck built around wolves hasn’t seen any updates since Shadows Over Innistrad, which coincidentally was the last time Wizards gave us a wide selection of wolves. While my card card selections aren’t exclusive to the wolf creature type, at this point I need to see either synergy with the tribe or a reasonable replacement for something I’m already trying to do.

Arlinn, Voice of the Pack was the first card we saw from War of the Spark that got my ears burning. While six is on the higher end of my mana curve, the ability to upgrade all my wolf tokens coming off Wolfbriar Elemental or Master of the Wild Hunt is very tempting. I wasn’t crazy about Arlinn’s Wolf before the prerelease, but it might be good enough. While Sealed and Commander are two entirely different formats, I can see how the ability to dodge most tokens and also survive combat better than Wandering Wolf makes them a reasonable replacement.

Replacing Sylvan Caryatid with Paradise Druid might seem like a minor change, especially since I don’t plan to be attacking with the Druid. But in this case, the change is only because Paradise Druid is an elf; that will given me more targets when I need to champion an elf for Wren’s Run Packmaster. It’s possible that Wizards gives up a Naya-colored legend in the near future that cares about wolves, opening this deck up to cards like Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves. Until then, I will take my small edges.

Finally, there is a tentative pick: Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner. Presently, I only have twelve creatures that would naturally draw me a card, but with static upgrades from +1/+1 counters or lord effects, that number gets much higher. Either way, I currently view the static ability as a bonus to getting to untap a land or creature for several turns in a row.

I’m really liking the direction that Magic set design took with War of the Spark, and I’ve been impressed that they keep giving us more and more highly playable cards for Commander. While not all of them are my own personal taste I’ve seen a lot of people really excited by cards coming out since Dominaria. What cards will you be playing from the set? And what legendary creatures do you want to build around as generals? Thanks for your time, I’ll see you next week.

Ryan Sainio is a Graphic Designer who writes about EDH and the EDH community. He has been playing Magic: The Gathering since 7th Edition in 2002 and values flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks.

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