The Top 10 Designed Commander Cards

Dinosaur Arm! RAWR!

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I am a huge fan of the new Commander products (Obviously, since I run a Commander/EDH blog, you know). I love what they’ve done with the decks and they look very fun and interesting to play make it a huge bonus.

Everyone loves the new cards; well everyone but Legacy players. This is a huge experiment for Wizards to print new non-booster cards, one that I think is turning out well. But I wanted to take a look at the cards and their design. There are some that are a complete hit with design that could only be published in a set like this. As for others, this might not be the only time we’ll see them printed.

Here are my top 10 new cards in terms of design, not play ability. I leaned a little bit harder on cards that fit better in the Commander format than one on one play. You’ll also get the chances of the card getting reprinted again in a different set (Like a Core Set or even an expansion). While there was a ton of new and interesting design concepts (Skullbriar is awesome), I’m just looking at the best of the best.

Honorable Mentions:

Archangel of Strife
Deck: Heavenly Inferno
Chance of Reprint: Only in similar style sets

One of the “Fab Five” cards (the first previewed of this set), this gave players an idea of what Wizards was trying to do with this set. I love the War/Peace set up (only can be done in a set like this), and how it plays on White’s combat mentality; can be the great warrior (White Weenie style), or the great protector (Stall for as long as possible). This is multi-player greatness and only missed out on the top 10.

Nin, the Pain Artist
Deck: Political Puppets
Chance of Reprint: Mid to High

Blue/Red cards are loved by a certain population of players (MaRo for one) but are so hard to design. There is some, but not much, crossover between the colors and usually the colors have to resort in the Chinese Menu design (take aspect from one color and another aspect from the other). Nin does just that, but does it in an elegant way that can open up deck design for the varied of Izzet players.

Death by Dragons
Decks: Heavenly Inferno, Mirror Mastery, Political Puppets
Chance of Reprint: Only in similar style sets

This is an Oprah card. “You get a dragon! You get a dragon! Everyone gets a dragon! Well, except you, jerk.” It’s like the Doomsday Machine in Dr. Strangelove, it works best when everyone knows you have it. But this is completely Red: ignoring the future and trying to kill a single player now. Who cares if another opponent now has a Dragon 3 turns in the future? Go after that player right away.

Now, the Top 10:

10 – Trench Gorger
Deck: Mirror Mastery
Chance of Reprint: High

Yes, I am giving this card a little love since it was my Commander preview card over on GatheringMagic.com, but everything I said over there makes sense for the color. We’ve seen this effect before (Mana Severance) but not on a creature. It fits for Blue because of the Leviathan flavor: eating lands to do something; in this case to get larger. It could see reprinting in a Core Set, or similar casual oriented product like Commander was.

9 – The Mimeoplasm
Deck: Devour for Power
Chance of Reprint: Small (FtV: Legends?)

So much of this card is filled with awesomeness, and while some of that is with the art, the effect is real cute. Blue is known for Clone effects, especially with the graveyard (Body Double), Black is known for exiling cards in a graveyard for an effect (Sutured Ghoul), and Green loves +1/+1 counters (You really don’t need examples of this, do you?). This is quite possibly the most fun and varied card of the whole set and I know a ton of players who are looking to use it as a Commander.

8 – Mana-Charged Dragon
Deck: Heavenly Inferno
Chance of Reprint: Slim to none

This is the only one card that has Join Forces, so I’ll talk about the mechanic here. It’s a very multi-player friendly mechanic but this could’ve gone two ways. First, it’s the way that was printed: everyone can pay into it and everyone gets the bonus. Or, everyone can pay into it and only those that did get the bonus. I’m sure both ways were tested (Something I haven’t asked yet, but should), but the wording was chosen for a reason. This dragon is the best of the cycle because you can still play political games and not get the backlash if you don’t pay into it. Red loves firebreathing, and allowing everyone to pay into it to kill a player is chaotic and aggressive, both Red traits. But it’s a really horrible name.

7 – Ghave, Guru of Spores
Deck: Counterpunch
Chance of Reprint: Small

Again, you’ve got Green’s love of +1/+1 tokens, and Black’s love of sacrificing things. The real issue here is the White in the mana cost. If there wasn’t a reason for the White, it would be simple enough to just print this as the B/G legend. White has a long history of tokens, especially recently, but it’s not like these colors were devoid of them either. I would direct your attention to Twilight Drover and see how that’s pretty similar to Ghave’s third line. While one card doesn’t mean it’s tradition for that color, it does make this card more in expectations.

6 – Syphon Flesh
Decks: Counterpunch, Devour for Power, Heavenly Inferno
Chance of Reprint: Count on it

An obvious cycle with Syphon Mind and Syphon Soul/Life. It’s such a simple card idea I’m surprised that I haven’t seen it printed before this. Printed in a multi-player focused set, it completely shines here. Listen, it’s not bad to have such an obvious card design; sometimes the expected is a nice place to hang out. I love the art on this one; not something I would hand on my wall, but hauntingly beautiful.

5 – Martyr’s Bond
Deck: Political Puppets
Chance of Reprint: Likely

At first glance, it looks like a White Grave Pact. Just like the Black enchantment it can be game breaking, but the real key here is that it’s symmetrical. Just like Balance, it treats everyone “fairly.” but it’s also acts as a retaliation. A combination of Karmic Justice and World Queller, this is acceptable destruction in a color that completely believes in the “Eye for an eye” belief.

4 – Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Deck: Mirror Mastery
Chance of Reprint: Medium to High

Finally, a Green/Blue Legend that isn’t a combo oriented card. Both of these colors have histories of drawing cards when dealing damage to opponents. The key is the subtle tweak which makes sense. Green doesn’t mind if other players take advantage of it (Vernal Equinox) as long as it’s natural. Blue on the other hand, wants to play the political game and “suggest” to avoid attacking themselves. By diverting your attention elsewhere, Blue is playing a Jedi mind trick and taking advantage of it.

3 – Acorn Catapult
Deck: Counterpunch
Chance of Reprint: Whenever squirrels return

This card tells a story: I launch an acorn across the battlefield and hit a Goblin on the head. If it’s a small Goblin and it was a direct head shot that nut could kill it. But most likely it’s only a flesh wound. Then, a Squirrel comes out of the forest and starts to eat the acorn. You wave your hand and suddenly that squirrel is fighting on your side. It’s cute and not many cards today make full stories like this card.

2 – Chaos Warp
Deck: Political Puppets
Chance of Reprint: Only a matter of time

The Red Vindicate. This is one of the best Red spells ever printed. Red has messed with bouncing permanents before (It fits with the “Only the now matters, screw the future” attitude). But never before has a spell given the color what it’s been missing: complete random chance. Sure, you get rid of the problem now, but you could be given something much worse. Red is willing to take that chance. Mark my words, this won’t be the only time you see this card printed.

1 – Command Tower
Decks: All of them
Chance of Reprint: In the next Commander product

Hands down, the best designed new card in the set. This is so outside the box it’s insane. While I was expecting tri-colored lands like in Shards of Alara, this is much better. By tying the land to your Commander, it allows the card to be played in almost every deck and only the six that the other lands would’ve been able to have been in. It’s not fetchable, but it’s a painless City of Brass; find me a casual player who doesn’t like this. Players want to play their cards, not jump through hoops to be able to cast spells. Some might complain that this is useless outside of Commander, but this is a Commander product. This is the one card that if there ever was a Commander promo, it would be this most likely printed as a promo.

There were plenty of cards that were great designs, but these were the ones I felt to be the best. I intend to do something a bit like this with the Scars block, only more intensive. Join me next time when there will be more words on the blog; hopefully related to Magic.

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5 thoughts on “The Top 10 Designed Commander Cards

  1. Blue is known for cloning, definitely. But “especially with the graveyard”? I wouldn’t say so. The thing about Body Double was its uniqueness. The Mimeoplasm is cool in that it’s a mashup between Quicksilver Gargantuan and Body Double. It’s only the second clone-from-a-graveyard card ever. In fact, it’s more like a Rise from the Grave effect than an actual clone; it’s Vigor Mortis++.

    (It’s an impressive design, sure. I just felt let down in MaRo’s preview article when he’d been talking about all the attempts to make a “Clone two cards at once” card, which haven’t really succeeded so far, yielding things like Dracoplasm, Quicksilver Elemental, and Myr Welder, which are very cool, but not an actual clone-two-things-at-once. Nor is Mimeoplasm. It’s probably an impossible goal due to CDAs, but when MaRo was talking it up, I was hoping they’d found a way.)

    “But never before has a spell given [red] what it’s been missing: complete random chance.” Er…? Did you really mean to claim that red has been missing cards of complete random chance? This is the colour of Planar Chaos, Warp World (which is basically Chaos Warp + Radiate), Confusion in the Ranks, Grip of Chaos, and Chance Encounter. Now Chaos Warp is a fantastic card, although it’s a bit dubious colour-pie-wise – it’s a far better answer to enchantments than red normally gets. I only disagree with your claim that red never gets random chance :)

  2. About The Mimieoplasm reprint chances, I agree the marquee headliners of the set are less likely to Ne reprinted, but one thing that gives me hope:

    The flavor on the insert says he comes from Murugana, the primitive world we have yet to visit that was hinted at in Future Sight. (and possibly a plane as well in plansechase).

  3. Pingback: Windborn Musings – The Problem with Command Tower | Muse Vessel

  4. Agree about Mimeoplasm. Also- you’re criterion for ‘reprintable’ seems way off, except for Command Tower. That will or will not be be reprinted, either way for exactly the reasons you saw. Fine.

    But Chaos Warp? There’s this thing called the Color Pie. On the one hand, they let this slide cuz it’s Chaotic, and won’t even legally see play outside Vintage, Legacy, and Casual, so it PROBABLY won’t cause too much harm. But it is Red Vindicate. It’s Red Enchantment killing. It’s Red ‘destroy target Walker’.

    This is messing with what MaRo calls the ‘crust’ of the Color Pie. Planar Chaos, and only Planar Chaos out of all of Time Sprial Block, was allowed to do that. Commander is allowed to do that, I guess. But there is no way in the nine hells this will, for example, be seen in some future Core Set. It’s flat-out NOT in Red by Core Set standards, When I think ‘what are the odds they’ll reprint this?’, I think ‘Can I justify seeing this in a Core Set?’

    Syphon Flesh is a more reasonable guess.
    the Gravepact + Balance is…meh-y. It’s got a cost that’s nearly prohibitive…except for Commander.
    Assuming you get it into play…it’s stupid powerful. That kind of swingy high-risk high-reward card is more Red, or sometimes Blue (think Hive Mind, Time Reversal) than White.

    A lot of these are VERY good fits for the Commander Format, but don’t expect to see most of them in Standard anytime soon.

    IFF (if and only if) they hammer out some non-broken Storm cards, so that maybe they could actually highlight Storm as a returning mechanic in a future Core Set, I would actually be less surprised by far to see the Storm Counterspell see a reprint.

    But when you think about reprints, thinking about Core Sets is generally a good guide. In expert sets, they almost NEVER reprint gold cards. And the ones they do are sort of Core Set-y, like Terminate. Legends never, period. Except the one time they did, and people got mad, and then they stopped doing it. Time Shifted or FTV only bar none.

    However, the one card which I just plain am not sure of yet, which would be interesting to see again, and you think is likely, is Trench Gorger. That could be reprinted. If they decide to trust us with Leviathans that don’t suck. Possibly upgraded to a Mythic.

  5. I DO hope Command Tower is printed again. I want to collect it, so I can have playsets to lend to people for Casual, and just use them as painless Cities of Brass. It would be Mythic and Legendary in Constructed, but if you have people who know what the word ‘Casual’ means, its perfectly fine, and makes everyone have more fun because it lets your deck, you know, actually work.

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