I’m still a bit down on Commander Legends: Baldur’s Gate, but it’s the summer and my brain is roasting like a chestnut in the oven of my skull. So let’s switch out of critic mode, grab a giant Icee, check out a megablockbuster, and rank the top eight cards from Baldur’s Gate I’m most excited about.

Why eight picks? Because it rhymes with Gate.

Alright, let’s get started.

I’ve tried to run Trickbind, Bind, and Stifle in Commander; and I always bump up against the fact, that while it’s fun to snipe someone’s ability at a critical time, most of the time it’s hard to justify spending a deck slot on a niche card. It’s a lot easier to justify Green Slime, which can be recurred, set up early and paid for in stages, and potentially destroy the permanent in question.

Where does it belong? As a utility card, Green Slime fits into Green decks that need an answer to troublesome artifacts and enchantments. It’s cheap and potent enough for higher-powered tables. I’ve found cause to get cards out of my hand, where they’re vulnerable, and into less interactable zones, so Foretell is a nice bonus. Graveyard decks—Meren of Clan Nel Toth, Karador, Ghost Chieftain, Muldrotha, the Gravetide—and Anafenza Stax especially appreciate this card.

Ignore that Haunted One is a Background, as most of the “Choose a Background” Commanders don’t synergize with it. This is one hell of an anthem for aggressive decks (or one hell of a bullseye planted on your Commander precombat). Giving your opponent the choice between taking a lot more damage off of your suddenly-buffed and Undying creatures is a real Scylla/Charybdis situation—especially if your creatures have threatening enters-the-battlefield abilities, which is a safe assumption.

Where does it belong? Vampires, Zombies, Faeries, and Ninjas: so Teysa Karlov, Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver, etc. Yuriko, of course, but it’s not like Yuriko needs the help. I would also note that Stronghold Assassin has been updated to be a “Phyrexian Zombie Assassin,” and the Carrier cycle from Urza’s Legacy is much better when they have Undying. There are nineteen Legendary Phyrexians, of which the most synergistic are Ertai, the Corrupted and Greven, Predator Captain. Ertai especially is interesting, as you’ll get back any Phyrexians/Humans/Wizards you sacrifice to counter a spell.

While Tasha, the Witch Queen doesn’t protect herself like the best Planeswalkers, and she makes you an immediate target, she can get out of control in the right shell. Nashi, Moon Sage’s Scion, Sage of the Beyond, Hostage Taker—you know what the deck looks like. The opportunity with Tasha is that, while I doubt she’ll last long on first cast, and thus is not dependable as an engine in the early game; with a deck that supports her, you’ll be able to cast a flurry of opponents’ spells from exile on a later cast, creating a whole host of Demon tokens.

Personally, I intend to run her with Mari, the Killing Quill and Dauthi Voidwalker, just to see how many cards I can exile from my opponents’ decks with different counters on them. This is because I like attention, and negative attention is still attention.

Where does it belong? Tasha supplants Xanathar or Dragonlord Silumgar as the Commander of your now-standard U/B Mr. Steal Your Deck archetype. You know the deck: Thief of Sanity, Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Opposition Agent, Xander’s Pact, etc. etc. etc. I love running this style of deck at a new table: while it can be obnoxious, it certainly helps regulate the flow of the game and gives you insight into what your opponents are running.

An unassuming common, sure, but Prized Statute can produce up to three artifacts in the right circumstances, with “right circumstances” being something so simple as “a sacrifice outlet of any kind.” I discounted Ichor Wellspring, Mortarpod, and Mycosynth Wellspring initially, and this has the same potency as a cheap card that produces multiple permanents. Krark-Clan Ironworks makes six mana off of this alone, and Pauper has a new toy for Atogs and Affinity cards. Add Treasure synergy to that, and you have a crucial cog for several different decks.

Where does it belong? Daretti, Saheeli, Osgir, the Reconstructor, Pia and Kiran Nalar, and Breya, Etherium Shaper all love this. Note as well that Lurrus of the Dream-Den can buy this back if, like me, you miss casting the Nightmare Cat in other formats.

Speaking of nightmare Cats, I’m less enthused about Displacer Kitten than some, but I respect its potential. I think, outside of dedicated combo decks, you’ll have a difficult time perfectly nailing the ratio of non-creature spells to flicker targets, but it does go infinite with something as simple as Eternal Witness and Lotus Petal if that’s your style of play.

Where does it belong? Brago, King Eternal and other blink decks, competitive U/G decks with Eternal Witness loops, or Nevinyrral, Urborg Tyrant if you’re feeling creative.

I can’t believe they didn’t limit Ingenious Artillerist to once per turn, but here we are. Genesis Chamber, Treasures, Oni-Cult Anvil Construct tokens: everything triggers this, and can do so multiple times per turn. Also note that if you can make him a Pirate (Maskwood Nexus, Wings of Velis Vel, Blades of Velis Vel), he goes potentially infinite with Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator, contingent upon combat damage from Malcolm.

Where does it belong? Roghrak, Son of Rograhh and Norin the Wary love this as a possible combo piece, but Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter is obviously a huge fan. See also the generals for Prized Statue.

The White Hullbreacher/Opposition Agent, Archivist of Oghma is much less brutal than her compatriots. That’s alright; there’s a lot to be said for flying more under the radar. Your opponents will be searching their libraries of their own volition, of course, but you can help them along with Settle the Wreckage, Winds of Abandon, Path to Exile, etc. and draw a card and gain a life for each time they do.

Where does it belong? Any White deck that faces off against your average “search your library” Commanders—so Sisay, Weatherlight Captain, Sliver Overlord, Scion of the Ur-Dragon, Zur the Enchanter, etc. This is very much the sort of generically good card Wizards prints into Commander, so if you’ve been enjoying Opposition Agent (or the hate it brings you) or you miss Hullbreacher, here’s another easy addition.

Phyrexian Arena is a bit outclassed these days. But as a more flexible Phyrexian Arena that can ramp you or put pressure on a delayed opponent, Black Market Connections is a whole new level.

Where does it belong? Can you make Black mana? Those decks. A little ping for Lotus Petal, a free Greed activation, or a mana-free Serpent Warrior, all determined by whatever you need most in the moment, is absolutely huge. Meren decks get free sacrifice fodder, artifact decks get a Treasure, and everyone in between gets a slightly more damaging Phyrexian Arena. Wizards has gotten pretty good at giving us Commander cards that initially look more threatening than they end up being, but I think this is much closer to the Smothering Tithe side of things than the Monologue Tax end of the spectrum.

There’s been some angst about Battle for Baldur’s Gate’s reliance on Goad and Treasure, which has come to define the Commander metagame recently. While I get the frustration, there’s always going to be a boogeyman. At least Treasures have cards that prey on them (Pernicious Deed, Magnetic Mine, Null Rod). I view Goad as a less subtle Monarch–it’s designed to accelerate the game and break stalemates, which I frankly always appreciate. Wizards picks pet themes periodically, and it’s Goad’s turn in the spotlight. While I do think it could have been used more sparingly—and certainly think that for Treasure, which is now less a quirky subtheme than a Sol Ring-level requirement—I don’t begrudge Goad conceptually.

I may not have much connection to the world of Baldur’s Gate, although I have been enjoying Mages and Murderdads as a deep and thoughtful dive into a fandom that left me completely behind. The fact is that, despite my caviling and kvetching, I truly love Magic. It’s one of my oldest hobbies, and has been a way to connect with friends and my own creative side for over two decades. Even this, a set I didn’t expect to enjoy, has enough cards to get excited about that I had to trim down to hit our target of eight cards.

I’ve already started turning my Queen Marchesa deck into a Jan Jansen deck, which is high praise for a deck I’ve had since 2018. The original Commander Legends had bad luck, dropping during a time when Covid was running rampant through America and most games stores weren’t running tournaments, so Battle for Baldur’s Gate is a chance to cement the concept of Limited-focused Commander sets. I may not be invested in its setting, but I’m certainly invested in its success.

A lifelong resident of the Carolinas and a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Rob has played Magic since he picked a Darkling Stalker up off the soccer field at summer camp. He works for nonprofits as an educational strategies developer and, in his off-hours, enjoys writing fiction, playing games, and exploring new beers.

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