Commander 2017 and You

Feature Article from Bruce Richard
Bruce Richard
8/15/2017 11:01:00 AM
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All these cool new cards from Commander 2017 were released to the public last week, and you have to know I want to talk about some of them!

Rather than go through each of them, giving you one sentence summaries that you likely don't need me to provide, I prefer to go a little more in depth. Today I'm not going to look at the legendary creatures. I'm sure you'll read plenty of articles, or listen to podcasts or watch content telling you which ones are the best or most interesting (you are going to learn to hate Mairsil, the Pretender and Kess, Dissident Mage), so I thought I'd skip those this time around. I'm also going to skip all the cards that belong in creature theme decks. I have an idea for a deck but I'd like to get it built first, so I'll be talking about those cards soon enough.

This time around I'm looking at the other cards. These are the ones that could go into the decks you have built right now. These cards don't rely on other cats to be good, they just rock all on their own.

Alms Collector

Mid
Low
 Alms Collector
$3.08
$1.89
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The first time I saw this card I figured it was another attempt at Leovold. Both cards hose your opponent when they are on the battlefield and a Windfall effect hits. Everyone discards their hands, then only gets to draw one card, except you are drawing seven. With Alms Collector everyone draws the single card and you draw seven, then one more for every opponent. Both cards claim to try and limit opposing decks from drawing tons of cards every turn, but in reality, they just create imbalanced draws between you and your opponents.

So Alms Collector looked like Leovold except it is a single color so it will be easier to cast and has flash, so your opponents won't even know it is coming until it hits them. So this is even worse than Leovold? How did they not learn?!

Then I noticed Alms Collector is not legendary. Part of the problem with Leovold was that it could just come back again and again. It was your commander so you always had access to it. It was very difficult to kill because it generally wiped your opponents' hands as soon as it hit the battlefield, leaving them to topdeck removal. Alms Collector means that the combo to wipe all your opponents' cards is now a two-card combo, so it will happen less often.

It should also be noted that Leovold shuts down Consecrated Sphinx while Alms Collector leaves you susceptible to Consecrated Sphinx milling you out.

In spite of the drawbacks, Alms Collector is going to show up in plenty of white and Boros decks that have trouble drawing extra cards. The ability to flash it in is going to make the card worth the risk. And if you think Boros decks are going to pass on the opportunity to hose all the card draw their opponents get with a Wheel of Fortune, even if it is only a one-time hand reduction, think again.

Fortunate Few

Mid
Low
 Fortunate Few
$0.94
$0.40
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A political Wrath of God effect? Bring it on! I'm sure some groups will just each pick the worst non-land permanent an opponent controls and Fortunate Few will feel like a regular mass removal spell that missed a card that no one cares about. Most of us though, will look at Fortunate Few as a comeback card. When two or three players are trying to take down the big threat at the table, each of them chooses the most powerful permanent one of the others controls and watches the Threat's defenses crumble into dust.

Obviously this has limited value if you're the Threat, but if you're the Threat, why would you play any mass removal spell? In games where there isn't really a threat, but the caster is feeling outgunned, it is likely that everyone will be getting only their best non-threatening permanent.

Players will barter with others to save a permanent in return for saving one of theirs. This will encourage all kinds of shenanigans, something I love to see.

The interesting part for me with this card lies being the guy sitting to the right of the controller. Everyone has made their choices but you. Will you follow the script you promised to, or laugh gleefully and leave an opponent with only a Goat Token?

Curse of …

The Curses let you enchant a player. Whenever the enchanted player is attacked by one of your opponents, you and the player get something. Curse of Vitality (white) is garbage. Two life is almost no incentive at all. Disturbance (black) gives a Zombie Token, which can be useful. Opulence (red) gives you a Gold Token to sacrifice for one mana of any color. Bounty (green) lets you untap all nonland permanents you control. Verbosity (blue) draws a card.

Mid
Low
 Curse of Verbosity
$0.56
$0.20
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We can argue over the rankings of these cards, but Verbosity is definitely the best for you as the one who played the curse. Drawing a card is almost always a good thing. The others are all good in different situations, but Curse of Verbosity is clearly the best. Whenever you or an opponent attacks the enchanted player, you draw a card is great.

Think about The Monarch and how it incentivizes your group to attack whoever is the Monarch. This curse doesn't even demand you do damage, just attack that player. Given what the Monarch has done, players should be sending something that player's way every single turn just to draw an extra card.

But what happens when people start to notice the size of your hand and how many cards you are drawing? The card draw is slow and insidious, just the way I like it to be, but the other players are going to notice and start to wonder if you're getting a card every time they get a card for attacking is a good deal for them. I suspect they won't stop, since players are greedy, but there is nothing saying that they can't use the benefits they Reap to take you down. Expect to hear, “send one at Cursed Carol and the rest at you.”

Disrupt Decorum

Mid
Low
 Disrupt Decorum
$2.77
$1.60
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I saw someone refer to this card as the “Red Wedding,” and I think it fits perfectly! I have enjoyed the goad mechanic in Conspiracy. It hasn't been overpowering, but it is a useful way to keep a particular creature from attacking you or being around to block you, or anyone else. So what happens when everything attacks?

Well, I happen to have been involved in several games involving Grand Melee. There are plenty of ways around being able to attack, so not every creature is going to be involved. If you are hoping that every creature will be tapped on your next turn, expect to be disappointed. There will be far fewer creatures on the battlefield though, and your options for attack will be much improved.

Disrupt Decorum is also a way to avoid what looks to be an ugly attack coming in the next turn. I wouldn't suggest that is the optimal use, but the flexibility of treating it as a quasi-Fog is there if you need it.

Vindictive Lich

Mid
Low
 Vindictive Lich
$2.92
$2.34
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There are so many things I love about this card!

1. Multiplayer card to the core. This is solid in one-on-one. You get to pick one of the modes when the Lich dies. In multiplayer games, you'll likely get them all! The power of this card ramps through the roof in multiplayer.

2. Political. You choose which player suffers which fate. The woman with 10 cards in her hand couldn't care less about discarding two of them. In fact, the reanimation player would love you for helping them out that way if you could. The player with only their commander left on the battlefield may not feel so delighted if you force him to sacrifice a creature. You can also use the Lich as a threat, discouraging the player with one creature from blocking your attack or warning someone away from attacking you, or they will suffer a harsh fate when you block with your Lich.

3. Flexible. You can inflict the pain however you wish, choosing the harshest mode for certain players, while for others you could choose nothing at all. The card doesn't demand that all three opponents in your game each suffer a mode. The Lich only demands that no player be smacked more than once.

4. Recursion machine. You aren't really going to put this one-toughness creature in a black deck that can't kill it again and again are you?

Crimson Honor Guard

Mid
Low
 Crimson Honor Guard
$0.60
$0.36
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If your metagame is loaded with players who never use their commander, or choose commanders that are mana-prohibitive, then this card looks like an all-star! Four damage is not enough that players will completely freak out, but it is enough that it hurts, especially the second time it hits you.

I kept thinking of this card in a Commander deck loaded with direct damage and removal spells, so even if Progenitus isn't a big part of your meta this card could still be good, but it just seemed like opponents would likely be targeting my commander just as much. Sure, Lightning Greaves et al. will help, but I'm not sure just how valuable this card is. That was when my friend Jesse laid it out perfectly.

“Picture four of these in a red burn deck?”

Sixty-card casual means multiple copies and no one will have a commander, so everyone will be taking the four damage. When you realize we are talking about a 20-life format, suddenly things happen very fast.

Getting the Honor Guard out on opponents' turns seems like a good idea, along with low-cost creatures and plenty of burn!

Path of Ancestry

Mid
Low
 Path of Ancestry
$3.47
$2.93
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People are looking at this card and saying it will be great in three or more color decks with a creature theme. I think they are right, but what if the card said this instead:

Path of Ancestry enters the battlefield tapped.

T: Add to your mana pool one mana of any color in your commander's color identity. When the mana is spent to cast your commander, scry 1.

I think there are some decks where I wouldn't use the card. Perhaps the commander costs six or more mana and is only one color. This card is probably not going to make it into my Krond deck. I am probably only going to get to scry twice, and for that it comes into play tapped and has all the downsides of a nonbasic land. Other than that deck though, I'm going to run this in every Commander deck. It fixes mana and lets me scry every time I play my commander? Sign me up! The fact that it enters the battlefield tapped is a downside, but in a game with as many turns as most Commander games, that is a minimal downside.

Okay, so you'd play that card in most of your decks. Now, read the actual card. It is straight-up better! Is your commander a human? Goblin? Elf? Soldier? Without even trying, Path of Ancestry is going to let you scry at least six times in a game, assuming you cast and recast your commander a few times and you happen to have a few creatures in your deck that share a creature type with the commander.

Add in the obvious benefits to the three or more color decks, and the decks that are making an effort to make it even better by running a creature theme or finding a way to make your commander a Changeling, and Path of Ancestry starts looking like one of those cards that you have to convince yourself doesn't belong in whatever deck you are building.

Commander 2017 is a great set and I'm not finished talking about it yet. Just because a card didn't show up this week, doesn't mean you won't see it in the weeks to come!

Finally, Gencon is this week! If you find yourself there and looking for a game, tweet at me or follow #MTGencon for updates from players looking to set up games across the site!

Bruce Richard

@manaburned




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