Over the course of my Magic: The Gathering writing career I’ve probably looked at tens-of-thousands of cards via Gatherer, Scryfall, and other databases. One of the skills I’ve cultivated is the ability to notice when a card is far too inexpensive or underplayed compared to its power level. Today, my goal is to present some of those cards to you. Welcome back to the Commander Corner!

The very nature of this discussion lends itself to mentioning more recent card releases, since most older sets have had years or even decades to find their way to the spotlight, but I’m still going to try and bring up at least a few older cards. Just as well, I should outline the things I’m looking for in an “underrated” card. All of the cards I’m going to discuss can be obtained for less than $5, most can fit well into multiple archetypes, and  most are featured in fewer decks than comparable cards registered on EDHREC. Without any further discussion, let’s get right into the cards.

Bloated Contaminator does a lot of things at the same time. It’s an undercosted beater with trample, a Thrummingbird effect, and a reliable way to get the ball rolling on poisoning your opponents. The proliferation is the real meat and potatoes of this card, boosting your +1/+1 counters and enabling a lot of other shenanigans.

Call of the Ring is a card that’s been on my radar since it was released, and I’m happy to say it definitely impresses. Costing one less than Phyrexian Arena makes it much easier to cast another spell that same turn, and it turns out having a ring-bearer is actually very good. Looting away extra lands, pitching reanimation targets, and getting extra attacks in where you otherwise couldn’t has made this a very potent card.

Hoarding Broodlord really has everything going for it. Convoke, a relevant creature type, a busted ability, and a huge stat line. What confuses me is why Rune-Scarred Demon manages to be more popular and expensive when the Broodlord is just better in almost every conceivable way. All I can say is that it’s up to us to make the Broodlord a household name.

Valakut Exploration does require you to play lands in order to work, but that’s a small price to pay for a three-mana draw engine in a format littered with four-mana cards like Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Outpost Siege, and more. The card gets even better if you’re one of those folks that can’t help but play fetchlands or dump extra lands into play.

Stolen Identity might be a somewhat expensive Phyrexian Metamorph, but after you’ve made two copies of the best permanent on the board in one turn, you’ll know that the extra mana was worth it. Even one evasive or hexproof creature turns this into a real hassle for your opponents, to say nothing of double strike.

The Celestus offers you at least one loot (draw a card, then discard a card) while also offering you mana. The longer that games go, the more likely you’ll get even more value from it. Compared to a lot of the other three-mana rocks in the format, a self-fueling loot engine is pretty good.

Visions of Dread put an Ancient Copper Dragon onto the battlefield for me the first time I cast it. While I’m not expecting that level of value every time, you usually have three opponents to choose from, and you can usually find a pretty decent creature to put into play. Bonus points if you put the creature there to begin with.

Bladegriff Prototype is the pinnacle of Commander politics. Sure, you have to invest some mana and probably wait a turn, but you can make some sweet deals to get rid of problematic permanents. Best of all, it can’t target your stuff. Pro-tip: This card is pretty unreasonable in multiples. Did someone say Rite of Replication?

Compost offers you a very consistent draw engine against any black decks at the table. You don’t even have to lean into it with mill or anything. If your opponents are playing black, you’ll get cards, it’s just a matter of when and how many. This might be a bit of a meta pick depending on your playgroup, but it’s hardly any less situational than cards like Carpet of Flowers at casual tables.

Overmaster might not shine outside of spellslinger builds, but it’s a sincerely powerful silver bullet against any deck looking to counter your spells. As a bonus, you don’t need to have a target like Burnout does, and you can always cash this in for a card for the low price of one mana.

Tomb of Horrors Adventurer does a lot for you. First, it takes the initiative, which is actually a strong ability, then it copies spells with a bit of work. If you’re a deck which makes lots of mana, you can easily play this as your first spell and follow it up with something powerful to immediately cash in. As a bonus, it doesn’t specify card types, so feel free to copy creatures, artifacts, and more.

Fall from Favor is a great removal spell which also makes you the monarch. To untap their creature your opponent has to remain the monarch for an entire turn cycle, which has usually resulted in the creature staying tapped for the entire game due to every player clamoring to get that sweet, sweet crown.

Crescendo of War starts to really make life totals move after only a couple of end steps in play, and the toughness bonus only applies to your blocking creatures. Couple this with any kind of prison effect and you’re almost casting an overloaded Spectacular Showdown. It’s almost like a super-sized Duelist’s Heritage.

Planar Atlas is a rising star from Jumpstart 2022 that excels in any deck with a four-mana commander. This slotted right into my Saheeli, the Gifted deck as a fine turn-two mana rock which all but ensures I’ll hit four mana on turn three. Considering this only has one printing right now, I think this card will only get more expensive until we see a reprint.

Those are my top picks this time around. I’m sure as the weeks and months drag on that I’ll find a lot of other sweet hidden or forgotten cards to highlight for players going deep. I like playing cards nobody else does, and although you may have heard of some of these, I’d bet you hadn’t seen them all until today. Either way that’s all I’ve got for you today, so I’ll see you next time. I’ve been Luka “Robot” Sharaska, and this has been the Commander Corner.

Luka V. Sharaska (they/them) earned the nickname “Robot” by having a monotone voice, a talent for calculating odds, and a perfect poker face. Robot has been playing Magic for more than a decade, starting during the days of New Phyrexia in 2011.

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