Commander is a really weird format.

I wouldn’t say I’m the most adept or in tune with, but it’s definitely a format I’ve always paid attention to. Here in New York City, the Commander community is vast and diverse, with so many different decks and “metagames” that it’s impossible to tell what you’re going to get at the table in a given week, even amongst the same players! It’s pretty great to see, but there are a lot of tendencies in our community. Commander decks are always worth iterating and reiterating on. Despite this, and despite how incredibly large the format is, there are still underrepresented cards which would shine a lot more in certain decks. 

Lightning Bolt: I’m a firm believer that one mana removal spells in general are underplayed, aside from the perceived staples, but Lighting Bolt in particular is a head scratcher for me. It kills quite a number of the most common creatures (and some planeswalkers) in the format, in cheap fashion. If your deck is able to sift easily, (e.g. blue decks), this card gains a bit more value, as you’re able to afford to play more and more narrow or specific cards. Think about how many cheaper commanders there are in your field. Better yet, think about how many powerful threats have three or less toughness. Now, think about how many planeswalkers wind up randomly going down to three loyalty, or if three damage or less is what you’d need to take out a planeswalker. This is the versatility of Lightning Bolt, and I can’t believe I kind of have to explain the fundamental purpose of the card in order to sell its viability in commander.

Render Silent: I’m not the biggest fan of counterspells. The opportunity cost is pretty average, and often times you’ll miss said opportunity in hopes of getting a bigger fish that’ll never pop up. If I’m going to play a counterspell, I either can’t think of a better card, or it has to do something else incredibly good. Render Silent fits the latter. While I believe this card is more narrow than Lightning Bolt in application, having the ability to potentially shut off an opponent completely gives this card the nod on my short list. It’ll help ward off players having a backup plan for a combo, or spending infinite mana to beat the table via a spell. WUU is definitely an ask, but an ask I wouldn’t mind fulfilling.

Chain of Smog: This one is totally not because it was one of the first cards I’ve ever pulled in a pack. Chain of Smog is one of the perennial early political cards in my mind. Sometimes you’ll play against the one reanimator deck that may have early targets, and you just enabled that on turn two. Now the whole table is going after the reanimator player. Sometimes you’ll be the reanimator player but you get got by a random Tormod’s Crypt. Sometimes you’ll get into a game of chicken with someone that thinks they can handle losing four of their seven cards, but your remaining three are all you need to get ahead in the game. The possibilities are pretty great. For only two mana, you can cause some real enabling, or mayhem.

Or enabling mayhem.

It’s really tough to pick just three cards in a format of tens of thousands of choices. Whether you’re looking for an effective, cheap answer to many threats, a hard but narrow answer to any threat, or a chaotic answer to what might be a dull or boring table, then I definitely recommend taking a gander at one of these three cards!

Anthony Lowry (they/he) is a seasoned TCG, MMORPG, and FPS veteran. They are extensively knowledgeable on the intricacies of many competitive outlets, and are always looking for a new challenge in the gaming sphere.

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