Commander 2015 follow-up: losers!

city of shakar

A couple of days ago, I elaborated on the first months of the new world of Commanders with experience counters, what cards tend to hold up these days, and what the break-out performances of the set were. So we know who the cool kids are, but who gets to sit alone in the cafeteria? Who is left shuffling in the dark corner of homecoming? Keep reading to find out!

The losers:daxosthereturned
Daxos the Returned is the box commander that got shafted hardest by his own people. While all the commanders on the box covers face competition from their second-in-command, save maybe Mizzix, only Daxos is actually overshadowed by Karlov, in pure numbers at least. Daxos supports an entirely different strategy than Karlov, however, meaning that one of the first cards to go if one looks to improve the Daxos preconstructed deck is likely ghost granddad himself.

Daxos’ issue isn’t that he is that bad – I’d argue he is quite good, but that he is linear like many of the other commanders, and he’s an enchantment-themed general who isn’t green, which means he misses out on many of the enchantress effects.

kalemnediscipleofiroasKalemne, Disciple of Iroas was probably the least hyped of the commanders from Commander 2015. Boros is well-known for struggling in the format, since neither of the colours do either ramp or card-draw very well, two very important aspects of EDH. That said, Kalemne hits very hard for a four-mana commander. Her problem is that decks built around her easily get schizophrenic. While Kalemne seems to support a Voltron strategy, one thing most people don’t do in Voltron is play a bunch of big creatures, a necessity to generate experience counter from her. A mixed strategy, perhaps going for a Giant tribal type deck, is probably the best way to go, but as far as Boros commanders go, Kalemne is likely not even a front runner. It’s a shame, but she is really cool, which is the most important aspect.

To Kalemne’s credit, she did what Daxos couldn’t and outpaced her second-in-command in both schizophrenia and playability (yes, really). While Kalemne is at least powerful once she hits the board, Anya is powerful when more opponents are at below half life, but will shrink again once players are eliminated. I’d rather she gets a bonus either for each eliminated opponent or under the condition that at least one opponent is eliminated – which means she’d get more powerful as the game goes along. There is some design space here that can’t be explored in normal non-multiplayer formats, and Anya is a missed opportunity.

One might be forgiven to think that Wade into Battle, the Boros deck bladeofselvesof Commander 2015, is the “worst” one of the bunch, but let’s not forget about Blade of Selves, arguably the most powerful of the new cards in the set. The ability to abuse any enters-the-battlefield-effect to such a degree is well worth the high mana cost. Mystic Confluence is up there as well, but I’d say the sword is better overall.

Despite the good things in the deck, the Boros colour pair wasn’t helped much by Commander 2015, which is a shame considering it’s in quite dire need of some assistance. Orzhov is already a pretty powerful colour pair, but wasn’t helped much by the box commander either. As such, these are the losers of the set, in my opinion.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

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Commander 2015 follow-up: winners!

city of shakar

Commander 2015 was released in November of last year, meaning we’re a few months into a format which now features commanders with experience counters and all the other goodness. I thought I’d take a look back at the cards and see which have held up so far, and which hasn’t. Today I’ll go over the winners.

The winners:
By far, there are two proper break-out commanders from the set. The first is the one that captured my merenofclanneltothheart right from the get-go, Meren of Clan Nel-Toth. She’s been on the top of the stats at EDHrec.com for most of the months since her release – if not all – and it’s easy to see why. Meren is stupid good, to put it frankly. Initially, I was afraid she’d be overshadowed by Karador as the go-to graveyard general, and while Karador is still making numbers on EDHrec, they’re not as good as Meren’s right now. Time will tell if she holds up and stays on top of the list, but I think she will quite soon take over as the most popular Golgari commander.

mizzixoftheizmagnusThe other break-out commander is, in my opinion, Mizzix of the Izmagnus. While she is actually not doing quite as well as say Ezuri, Claw of Progress in the raw data Mizzix differs from Ezuri in the way it plays compared to other commanders of the same colours. Ezuri took something that was already present in Simic, weenie spam, and put another spin on it. While Edric, Spymaster of Trest was already doing that well enough, Ezuri does it differently, which is great. Mizzix’s thing, casting lots of spells, was already a thing in Izzet decks like Melek, Izzet Paragon, but Mizzix does it so much better that it’s ridiculous. Mizzix is a force to be reckoned with, as anyone who has played against her can testify to, a force that seems simply unreachable for the likes of Melek.

Both of these commanders are struggling with the same thing but on different level: linearity. Meren is a graveyard-centric commander, which will be telegraphed a mile away when you reveal her. Mizzix seems to exist in two different builds right now: Storm, or cast lots of X-spells (which always generate experience counters). Both of these can be countered in the same way: kill Mizzix each time she its the board. In my local metagame, Grim_Lavamancer laments my successful #plowMizzix campaign, which has led to an elevated level of aversion towards the goblin genius.

Lastly, I have to mention Karlov of the Ghost Council. He is the only karlovoftheghostcouncil.fullone of the new “secondary” commanders that’s more popular than the box-cover one (poor Daxos). Though powerful, he’s now facing stiff competition from Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim as an Orzhov life gain general, time will tell if he stands up to the competition and actually makes for a more popular (and arguably more powerful) commander than undead Daxos. Karlov’s only flaw, one could argue, is that he is basically looking like the ghost of Eric Cartman.

These three are the proper “winners” in my opinion, i.e. they have had the most impact on the commander scene since last November. What do you think of these three? Do you have a favourite from C15 that I didn’t mention? Leave a comment!

Wednesday nights with Roon

roon bannerLast night we had a gathering at my place for a few beers and some EDH, as has become custom for the last few weeks. I was trying to break in a new deck which I have been collecting cards for over the past few months – Roon of the Hidden Realm. I had a more blinky deck in mind when I picked him up this summer, but in the end I went for a more goodstuffy deck, but I liked how it played yesterday.

The list can be found here: Roon’s Boon, on TappedOut.net.

We played a four-player game, and while I was playing a new deck and I would like to talk about it, it is overshadowed by something rather out of the left field. Facing down Roon yesterday were:

Ezuri, Claw of Progress (more or less a re-made precon)
Lord of Tresserhorn (grixis griefing)
Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas (out-of-the-box precon)

kalemne,discipleofiroas.fullI was pleasently surprised by the Kalemne deck. She gets very big quite fast and can hit really hard. The scariest parts of the evening were when Kalemne had Sunrise Sovereign out, along with the commander herself, to make her an 8/8 Double Strike trampler. I think she can be really scary with a few modifications to her deck, and a Giants tribal theme is probably the way to go.

Roon was the first out from the game, I was an expert at drawing lands over the course of the game, and the hate combined from Ezuri and Lord of Griefing meant I couldn’t get anything off the ground. Kalemne was the one who finally ended it all, by commander damage slaughter on both Ezuri and Lord of Griefing.

Hats off to Kalemne for taking it all down in style!

[C15] After the first game

city of shakarWe played a game of free-for-all with some of the new commander decks this Friday, and I wanted to expand upon my initial thoughts. Neither Kalemne nor Ezuri were represented in the room, but around the table were:

Meren (me)
Melek (UR precon)Mizzix (Grim Lavamancer)
Daxos (psykopatmullvad)

Mizzix was quickest out of the gates with land into Sol Ring into Signet (so wallofblossoms.fullbroken) and he was the first one to get an experience counter. Melek followed afterwards, but didn’t do much for the first few turns of the game. I followed and got some sacrificing going, making some good card advantage through Wall of Blossoms and Daxos was last out, not doing much aside from playing Daxos himself and casting a couple of enchantments on him.

Eventually, Daxos cast a Necromancer’s Covenant targeting me exiling all of my sweet stuff, and getting him 12 Zombies. How rude! I followed suit with a pair of Lightning Greaves followed by a 29/29 Centaur Vinecrasher, but Melek tapped him down, along with my 8/8 Mycoloth in response to the equip. He then untapped and killed me with my own dudes through Reins of Power.

Daxos eventually won the game, despite being the last out of the gate. It had something to do with his infinite lifelinking Zombies, but I wasn’t paying attention, since I was re-building my deck into the list I wrote about yesterday.

Overall, I was impressed by all the decks and especially by Mizzix – the mizzixoftheizmagnus.fulldeck list is quite fierce out of the box and Mizzix has the potential to do lots of sweet stuff. Overall, I’d say he is a straight up-grade to Melek in UR, though Izzet has few really good generals at their disposal. Meren was also very nice, and I think she will play really well in the future. I do get all anxious when thinking about all the cuts I have to make in order to make room for the obvious things I don’t have yet though.

We played a few more games with our regular decks, and when we were joined by Grim Lavamancer’s younger brother, we decided to rev up a game of Kingdoms.

I looked down on a Mountain. Here are the table with each respecitve role, from my seat. Obviously, I knew none of them aside the King beforehand:

Meren (me) – Bandit
Lord of Tresserhorn (same guy as Melek) – Assassin
Ezuri 1 (Grim Lavamancer’s brother) – King
Mizzix (Grim Lavamancer) – Bandit
Grimgrin – Usurper
Zurgo 1 (psykopatmullvad) – Knight

lordoftresserhorn.hq

Lord of Griefing

I declared myself Knight and held to that position over the entire game, even when I was obviously Bandit. Lord of Tresserhorn kept griefing Mizzix and myself, somehow he seemed to know we were Bandits, Strip Mining away Mizzix’ red mana sources and removing my graveyard as well as destroying my sacrifice outlets (Ashnod’s Altar) leading to a huge festive sacrifice party, since both he and I had Grave Pacts in play and Savra and Fecundity in play as well. Good times were had by all, despite the King who lost his whole team of elves (though he did draw a lot of cards thanks to my Enchantment!).

The King eventually decided to try and kill me, despite me not having done anything to especially him and my Grave Pact was long-gone, but Mizzix decided to save my by bouncing the entire team of angry green women and men, who were around 20/20 with trample thanks to Ezuri and a Door of Destinies with 12 charge counters. I destroyed the Door and attacked back for a symbolic amount of damage, but it turned the entire table against me. Mizzix outed himself as the other Bandit.

Eventually, I got my revenge on Lord of Griefing, and emptied his hand sadistichypnotist.hqwith Sadistic Hypnotist. Despite the fact that he had been destroying lands all evening, suddenly I was the asshole. I’ve since cut the Hypnotist from the deck, by the way.

In the end, we got the King to single-digit life (6 or 7) before the rest of the table killed Mizzix and me. In the end, the King was usurped by Grimgrin easily, so Grimgrin and Zurgo were the eventual winners of a very exciting and close two-hour game.

We played some more games and I did actually manage to win a five-player free-for-all through Chainer + Jarad + a 20/20 Golgari Grave-Troll.

So a win in the books is great for a first-time deck, coupled with the moral victory of screwing over Lord of Griefing. All’s well that end’s well.

What are your experiences with the new Commander 2015 set? Leave a comment!

[C15] Mystic Confluence

city of shakarThis is, by far, the card that wins “most likely to be bought in singles by me” award for this year’s Commander product:

mysticconfluenceThe confluence cycle’s flexibility is undeniable, and this doozy is a straight three-for-one in many cases, i.e. if you choose to return a creature twice and draw a card, that’s a three-for-one, if you choose to simply draw three cards, that’s a three-for-one, if you return a creature three times, that’s a three-for-one.

Only in cases when an opponent casts a spell and has 3+ mana up to pay for Mystic Confluence does it get any worse than a three-for-one.

And it’s easier to cast than Cryptic Command in many decks. I am so on in this card.

What do you think of Mystic Confluence? Leave a comment!

[C15] Arjun, the Shifting Flame

city of shakarThe last new legendary creature (likely) from the new set is finally revealed, it is the back-up UR General, and his name is Arjun, the Shifting Flame:

arjuntheshiftingflameFlying

Whenever you cast a spell, put the cards in your hand on the bottom of your library, then draw that many cards.

I have to say it’s a resounding “meh” from me. The fact that you can’t control this is what sinks it for me personally, and mizzixoftheizmagnuseven though the art is baller, I’d say that even Izzet has better generals to offer. Mizzix, by comparison, is a much more interesting spell-based commander. Arjun can be used in tricky ways, and the ability can be chained together to look at many new cards in a single turn, but I doubt he will be played at all in the format. In fact, I bet that if someone were to build an Arjun deck, someone at the table will be holding a Notion Thief for that very first trigger.

Am I wrong? What do you think of Arjun? Leave a comment!

[C15] Meren of Clan Nel Toth

city of shakarSo we finally have our BG general spoiled – and indeed I was right about my prediction from yesterday’s post – she was the focus of today’s Uncharted Realms. Though I haven’t had time to read it yet, I have looked at her card, but before looking at it, let’s see what my predictions were about it:

Cardname 1GB
Legendary Creature – Human Shaman

Whenever a player sacrifices a creature, you get an experience counter.

T: Return target creature card with converted mana cost less than the number of experience counters you have from a graveyard to play.

1/2 (or whatever)

 

And here’s the real deal:

merenofclanneltothOkay, so I was off about most things – she is more expensive and bigger than I thought, and her ability to return something from a graveyard is a trigger, not a tap activation. That said, I was pretty spot on about how she interacts with experience counters, it is indeed on creatures dying (but only your own, though not just through sacrifice effects), and the number of expereince counters needed is more generous than I thought. She does only reanimate from the owner’s graveyard, but thinking she could pick freely was probably being overly optimistic. I’d say I’d give myself a passing grade in my future sight ability, though just barely.

Overall, I like her a lot! She is pretty similar to Savra, Queen of the Golgari in that she benefits from a deck that has a good number of sacrifice outlets, she has the same cost and she’s an obvious build-around. I can’t wait for my deck to show up in the mail box so I can get tinkering. I’m envisioning a green-black deck with around 30 creatures, lots of sacrifice outlets and some spot removal, Phyrexian Reclamation, Grave Pact, and other sweet things.

What do you think of Meren? Good? Bad? Leave a comment!

[C15] Anya, Merciless Angel

city of shakarSome new spoilers so far today, the most prominent one being the non-Kalemne RW legend – Anya, Merciless Angel:

anyamercilessangelNot really sure how good she is, a 4/4 flier for 5 is certainly acceptable in most other formats, but her two abilities, while unique, won’t do anything until later in the game. As a Voltron general, she is interesting because she comes with built-in indestructible if he requirement is met, but she is probably worse than Tajic, Blade of the Legion. Her art is pretty good though, if a little too high fantasy, and I think it’s interesting that she has a similar ability to the Zendikar Vampires, i.e. Guul Draz Vampire and friends.

[C15] Commander Beacon and Meren prediction

city of shakarI was off to bed, but I caught this on mythicspoiler and it interested me enough to write a quick post:

commandbeaconCommand Beacon is not the new Command Tower for sure, but it will definitely be handy for most any EDH deck. The opportunity cost of adding a colourless land to your deck is low, and the second ability might be very useful in a long and grindy game – I think we can all remember one of those games where our commanders costed fifteen mana by the end. The flavour text also Riku of Two Reflections, from the very first Commander product released in 2011. I think that’s neat.

C15-Spoiler-Coming-SoonI also want to make a prediction about the young lady above. According to the Commander 2015 product page, her name is Meren of Clan Nel Toth and she is the experience counter commander from the BG deck (called it), which is known as Plunder the Graves. Apparently, even though she does bear some resemblence to Deathrite Shaman, she is not from Ravnica, she is from Jund. This also explains the huge dragon she is reanimating in the art.

In any case, hers is the only card we’ve yet to see from the “main” commanders of this year’s product – and I think I’ve figured out why. I think she will be the main focus of tomorrow’s Uncharted Realms story and her card will be revealed in that article.

Calling it now.

See y’all tomorrow for some black-green goodness!

[C15] Vine Centaur (holy moly!)

city of shakarJust found this guy haning out at Mythic Spoiler:

Vine CentaurIn English it reads:

Vine Centaur 3G
Creature – Centaur Plant

Trample

Vine Centaur enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter for each land in all graveyards.

Whenever a land is put into a graveyard from anywhere you may pay GG. If you do, return Vine Centaur from the graveyard to your hand.

1/1

 

GG, indeed, good Centaur sir. I just hope it’s in the BG deck.