Saying I’ve been playing a lot of Commander lately is like saying George W. Bush has made a lot of ‘derps’. As a matter of fact I’ve begun to drift away from casual multiplayer to exclusively play this format, as without doubt much of the casual Magic community has done so too.
To cash in on this movement (because you know, capitalism is the tits) Wizards has gifted us with another Commander expansion, which the creative and gifted people in marketing decided to name ‘Commander 2013’.
A particular focus of the new Commander series is to innovate with commanders and how they interact with the command zone. This is a partial victory on Wizards’ behalf, as Prossh and Jeleva are cooler than a Blizzard cinematic. Some of the others though are bit closer to Jar-Jar Binks. Let’s see how they stack up.
Derevi, Empyrial Tactician
My mate Rony reckons Derevi is a Tier One general. This is enough to raise my eyebrows, as Rony is the guy who builds ‘Tier Three’ decks and then gets on the verge of being banned from our playgroup for playing them.
That said I’m sure there are lots of funky combinations to be done with Derevi, and the insta-flash option means she can see more deaths than the entire Saw franchise.
But everything about her just bores me. In fact Bant in general bores me. The only thing I find remotely cool about Derevi is the type line ‘Bird Wizard’, as tribal birds now have a second option (and third color) to muck around with.
I’m sure lots of people will have fun with Derevi, especially in 1-on-1, but I’m not one of them.
Roon of the Hidden Realm
Abusing ‘enters the battlefield’ triggers is the biggest problem in casual and semi-casual EDH and this dude just laser-focuses that problem. The only saving grace is you can’t play him in a deck with Rune-Scarred Demon.
Oloro, Ageless Ascetic
What else is there to write about this guy? Nothing. Instead here is an excerpt from his diary:
8:00: Wake up, hit snooze button, gain life.
8:10: Get up, gain life
8:20: Stretches, star jumps, gain life
8:30: Shower, gain life
8:40: Choose what to wear while gaining life
8:55: Leave for work, gain life
8:56: Gain life while going to work
9:25: Arrive at work. Gain life.
9:26: Make a coffee, maybe draw a card or two, gain life
9:30: Work begins. Gain life.
9:35: Gain life.
9:40: Gain life.
9:45: Toilet break! Gain life.
9:50: Gain life.
9:55: Gain life.
10:00: Gain life, perhaps draw a card too.
10:05: Gain life, draw a card, drain everyone.
10:10: Gain life.
10:15: Gain life, draw a card.
10:20: Gain life, draw a card, maybe do a bit more of that drainy thing.
10: 25: Gain life.
10:30: Gain life…
Sydri, Galvanic Genius
It seems Esper and artifacts will be forever linked, much like sorority girls and Chlamydia. It was inevitable we’d get one in this Commander offering, almost like Wizards was trying to stay away from the idea until someone finally gave in to the proverbial cookie jar.
I read somewhere Sydri was designed to ‘allow a non-broken option for Esper artifacts’, a point kind-of undermined by including serial offender Sharuum in the same deck.
That said, Sydri does not disappoint. Turning all your stuff into Wurmcoil Engines isn’t as broken as it sounds, and having Sydri as your general rewards you for playing funkier stuff like Mirrorworks, Trading Post and Prototype Portal.
Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge
The real problem is she is frustratingly inconsistent. When you cast her, you want to rip into a huge spell of some sort, like Cruel Ultimatum or Time Stretch. The problem is if you don’t, you have to find a way to get rid of her so you can flop her out again and dig some more.
Jeleva’s power increases the more you cast her, so hitting something like Inferno or Decree of Pain is a good thing.
I think the real secret power of Jeleva is the ability to exile cards from opponents’ libraries, especially as the amount of gas you deprive people of adds up over time. Expect someone somewhere to tap into this aspect and chuck her into a mill deck with things like Sadistic Sacrament and Denying Wind. In the meantime, free Cruel Ultimatums will distract many a player away from Jeleva’s true potential. Just like a pair of scantily-covered boobies on a Nobel prize winner.
Nekusar, the Mindrazer
For those who are completely blind, Nekusar is clearly King Leoric, and someone at Wizards knocked off a bit of Blizzard concept art.
Beyond the pending copyright infringement suit, I’ve seen a few Nekusar lists and they all look shit-giggly fun. If you have any doubts about this dude just think back to the last time someone played Spiteful Visions in multiplayer and how everyone other than the Consecrated Sphinx guy (there’s always one) high fived in response. Choice card selections seem to be any Wheel of Fortune effect, Forced Fruition and that new beast Price of Knowledge. I’d probably be building such a deck myself if my mate hadn’t fapped himself dry over it.
Marath, Will of the Wild
Playing with him is just one long orgasmic power trip. Playing against him is like being repeatedly ass-fucked with a large cactus.
Avoid if you value your friends.
Otherwise go to town like a motherfucker.
Gahiji, Honored One
My first initial thought of Gahiji was that for a cross between King Kong and Godzilla, this guy is awfully boring. Like he’d play third fiddle to Hazezon Tamar and Rith the Awakener for anyone building Naya tokens- or maybe not even get to play the fiddle at all and just clap along like some homeless guy. But upon reflection I feel Gahiji is the most interesting of all the new Commanders.
See it just wouldn’t be commander if there was wasn’t a political card available. In the original Commander that was Zedruu, who was more political than a four day senate hearing. Political cards- and especially generals- make for excellent gameplay, and I feel multiplayer politics is the last frontier in Magic design space. Too many multiplayer cards seem to be all ‘SMASH! BAM! KAPOW!’, so it’s really nice to see something that operates subtly.
The master plan of course encourages your opponents to smack each other up before they smack you, the incentive coming from the little power boost Gahiji gives them.
To do this, my future Gahiji deck will spur this incentive along by playing cards that give them creatures to bash with, such as Hunted Troll, Varchild’s War-Riders and the awesome new Tempt with Vengeance, all the while turtling up behind Crawlspace and Ghostly Prison effects. Players that fail to attack will be forced to by Grand Melee and Master Warcraft. After a suitably sized group thwacking has wittled down everyone else’s life totals, my coup-de-grace comes from multiple attack effects such as those seen on Hellkite Charger and Aggravated Assault, so Gahiji’s attack bonus can be stacked multiple times.
Gosh, I’m such a political genius I should run for congress!
Prossh, Skyraider of Kher
There is just so much cool stuff to do with Prossh that I can’t put it all into words. So I’ll just list some of the cards that have been stuffed in my current build of my deck:
Vicious Shadows, Verdant Force, Xenagos the Reveler, Dragon Broodmother, Dragonlair Spider, Beastmaster Ascension, Preyseizer Dragon, Grave Pact, Dragon Appeasement, Fresh Meat, Hellion Eruption, Conquering Manticore, Butcher of Malakir, Reaper from the Abyss, Victimize, Druid’s Repository, Collective Unconscious, Korozda Guildmage, Skullmulcher.
And of course Warp World.
SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW! SMASH! BAM! KAPOW!
The Shattergang Brothers are the perfect choice for a ‘House of Pain’ style general. Play dirty global effects like Cabal Conditioning, Havoc Festival and Spiteful Visions, then bring back any dorks you sacrificed with Gleancrawler and Sheoldred, Whispering One. Bonus points for including Hammer of Purphoros, whose tokens can be sacked to knock off any of the main permanent types. I would build a deck just like this if I believed I’d have any friends left after a week.
Of all the new generals I’ve got three I either have a deck or a deck-in-progress for, and there’s two more I really wouldn’t mind building.
Not bad, but some part of me just feels most of them don’t live up to the original Commander’s offerings. Part of this problem I feel comes from the fact the five ‘shards’ have had solid commander choices for a long time. The original Commander didn’t have this problem, as it moved into territory occupied only by the Planar Chaos dragons. These new ones however have to complete against timeless choices like Kresh, Rafiq and Sedris to get noticed.
But there’s something else that bothers me about the new commanders. Something I can’t quite put my finger on. Like their design was all based around some gimmick rather than ‘the world’s coolest dude.’
As much as I may like Prossh, Sydri or Jeleva I still feel none are as resonant as Kaalia or the Mimeoplasm. I mean, the Mimeoplasm has a fucking T-Rex for a fucking arm for Christ’s sake! How the fuck you are supposed to beat that!?
How do you find the new commanders? Leave your comments in the section below!