Thassa’s Oracle has been a problem, in pretty much any format it’s legal in.

In Commander, the precedent it sets is…well…rather annoying.

When people talk about oppressive cards, a lot of the time it’s in reference to how impactful it is in a given game or format. While that is an important factor, it doesn’t paint the whole picture. The card existing in the format, regardless of if it’s in decks or not, is a very heavy influence on deckbuilding across the board. Hell, even decks which can’t play the card are affected. Think about how many times you’ve built a more optimized Commander deck, and you have to reserve a couple of cards specifically for Thoracle. The cards aren’t even good, but you need them so you don’t die on the spot. 

It’s annoying.

This isn’t a new phenomenon or anything. I’m not a proponent of knee-jerk reactions to powerful cards being powerful. Commander is chock full of incredibly strong cards. That’s what makes the format great to me. You don’t even have to be competitive to make decks strong. The issue is the warping factor. When you’re faced with a decision of either ignoring it, playing narrow answers, or a playing a whole ‘nother deck, it’s a problem. The first two don’t feel great, and the last is not feasible for many. 

Again, it’s the precedent. 

Of course, this isn’t the first time this has happened. Ad Nauseam is still one of the best cards in the format. There are so many incidental ways of either dealing with it or getting ahead of it, while also being effective in a general game of commander which may not involve the card. Underworld Breach needs the graveyard, and there’s so much graveyard hate that it’s often a check or a distraction from the real win condition. Many of the other powerhouses in the format are the usual mana rocks and lotus style effects, and some flavor of generic commander which isn’t really bad anywhere. These cards are typically fine because, again, they’re generic.

Tymna the Weaver isn’t breaking any metas despite being one of the most popular commanders in cEDH. It’ll never warp the format because what it does is only good stuff. These are the kinds of cards I’m into. 

I don’t think this calls for a ban or anything. In fact, there are far more egregious things going on in the format right now. Perception is everything though, and the player who wanted to get away from the nonsense in their casual game might have a rude awakening (I know Rule Zero exists, but it’s another topic for another day). 

So this begs the next question; what do we do about it? Well, traditional removal and counterspells are always good, but counterplay exists for that, like Pact of Negation and Cavern of Souls. We can delve deeper into the sub-metagame of it, but I think you get my point. 

If they’re drawing or milling their entire deck, an instant speed way of making them draw cards will make them lose on the spot. Mikokoro, Center of the Sea immediately comes to mind. Taxing and staxing is my go-to strategy against it, because it’s the one strategy I’ve found lets me be good against “unfair” combo decks, and grindy spell-based decks. Slowing the game down to a crawl, then attacking and politicking your way into victory is my plan.

I think commander is in a relatively good spot right now, especially with how quickly we’re getting new cards and how fast things need to be updated. While I can’t speak for the best of the best in cEDH, I firmly believe there are so many ways to jam whatever strategy you’re thinking of and have a blast. Thassa’s Oracle is but another in a long line of “answer this now or lose the game” cards, and I don’t think it’ll take long for the format to correct things. There are way too many legal cards in the format to let some measly merfolk run the show!

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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