Hey everyone, Syggz here, but you can call me Ronald, Second Last of the Abzan.
Today I will be telling you my picks for the five best new cards in the Commander 2016 set.
I didn’t want to include any of the 4-colour commanders in the list, however I wanted to briefly touch on the two commanders that I feel were the best designed 4-colour commanders of the set.
Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder
Wizards has finally created a cascade commander that isn’t completely broken. Unlike Maelstrom Wanderer, Yidris only allows you to cascade after the combat step as he must deal combat damage in order for your spells to gain cascade. This means no more explosive turns where players can cascade into a hasty Avenger of Zendikar and his army of plant tokens on turn 5 to shut a player out of the game. Instead, Yidris allows us to build a different style of cascade deck that isn’t just goodstuff.dek or cascade-into-mass-land-destruction such as a wheel-based mill deck (like the precon suggests) or perhaps building around cascading into Hypergenesis or Living End using 1-mana spells.
Breya, Etherium Shaper
After five years since the original commander set, Wizards has finally given us a good artifact commander for red and blue. Artifact aficionados need not be disappointed in Kaladesh for not delivering a good artifact commander because Breya covers every colour an artifact player could want. As mentioned before, the most important part about Breya is that players can finally combine blue’s love for artifacts (Fabricate, Reshape) with red’s abilities to salvage artifacts into play (Goblin Welder, Scrap Mastery) with a commander who has abilities relevant for an artifact deck. My only complaint about Breya is that she seems fairly unbalanced if you were to play all five preconstructed decks against each other, as she is able to kill three of the other four commanders with a single activation of her -4/-4 ability.
Now, without further adieu, here are my picks for the top 5 new cards in C16.
5 – Runehorn Hellkite
This is not a creature, it is actually an instant-speed flashback spell that cannot be countered by most normal counterspells. This card is a must-have for any deck that wants to run multiple Wheel of Fortune effects, namely Nekusar decks. Now this card doesn’t have to be used exclusively in mill-based strategies, it can be used in whatever red decks you want. Here are some examples on how you can use Runehorn Hellkite:
- Using Entomb to put Hellkite in your graveyard for an instant-speed wheel effect to refill your hand or disrupt your opponent’s hand.
- Similarly, entombing Hellkite using Scion of the Ur-Dragon to draw cards.
- Discarding Hellkite with other red draw spells such as Tormenting Voice or Cathartic Reunion so you can use the effect later in the game when you need to draw more cards.
4 – Selfless Squire
Selfless Squire is a card that has been flying under the radar for a lot of players, but recurring damage prevention is a big deal. The first thing to note is that Squire prevents ALL damage that would be done to you this turn, the second thing to note is that it is an enter-the-battlefield (ETB) ability. Being an ETB effect, Selfless Squire’s effect can be used again and again if your deck can support it. Cards like Restoration Angel, Deadeye Navigator and Cloudstone Curio can be used to recur Selfless Squire’s ability multiple times to save you from your opponents’ attacks turn after turn.
3 – Deepglow Skate
It seems as though creatures with spell-like effects is the theme for a lot of creatures in this set, and this is one of the best around. This card is unbelievably powerful in a deck that can take full advantage of its effect, specifically decks that use a lot of +1/+1 counters like Experiment Kraj or any blue-based superfriends deck (*cough*Atraxa). Like I mentioned above, this effect can be used over and over again using cards like Deadeye Navigator and will probably see play in any Brago, King Eternal decks. Skate can also be combined with Doubling Season to triple the number of counters on permanents you control. Thankfully Skate can only double counters on permanents so we don’t have to worry about doubling poison counters or experience counters. The only reason this card isn’t at the number 1 spot is simple; I do not play a deck that would want this card, but I can still see that it is an amazing card for commander and is sure to become a staple in the format.
2 – Magus of the Will
Speaking of creatures with spell-like effects, here is a 3-mana 3/3 that has Yawgmoth’s Will stapled to it. My excitement for this card comes from the possibility of seeing legacy play, considering the original card is currently banned. Could we see new decks in legacy with Magus? Will we see existing storm decks try to fit Magus into their list? The fact that you have to wait until next turn use Magus of the Will’s effect makes me think this card will see fringe in a storm list at best, but I will be more than happy to be proven wrong.
As far as commander goes, Magus is a lot less exciting. This effect already exists as Yawgmoth’s Will is legal in commander so it is reasonable to assume decks already using Yawgmoth’s Will are going to use Magus as well. Perhaps reanimator-based decks will use it as they can easily tutor for and cheat Magus into play early so that they can use it to combo off. At the very least, Magus of the Will offers a cheaper (price wise) alternative to a powerful effect, just like the other Magi have been doing since Time Spiral.
1 – Ravos, Soultender
Keep in mind this list is subjective, I am aware that Ravos is clearly not the most powerful card in the set, but he is a card I would have used as a commander (even without partner) had I not already built Karador, Ghost Chieftain. Ravos is also one of the first a black-white legendary creatures in a while that isn’t combo-oriented (Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter, Teysa, Orzhov Scion), lifegain-oriented (Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim), or just straight-up bad (Triad of Fates).
Ravos has everything you could want in a creature-based deck, his anthem effect improves all of your creatures and helps with go-wide strategies, and getting a free Raise Dead at the beginning of your turn helps you get back key combo pieces or creatures who died attacking. The inclusion of partner opens Ravos up to a wide selection of creatures and effects like Paradox Haze to further capitalize on his upkeep trigger. As far as partner goes, I think Ravos works best with Tymna the Weaver for a white-black aggro strategy or Silas Renn, Seeker Adept for an esper value-based deck allowing you to cast artifacts and return creatures from your graveyard.
My only issue with Ravos is that, like other partner commanders, he feels powered-down to accommodate having two commanders. I would have preferred it if he was stronger at the cost of not having partner. Perhaps make him a 3/3 as to not die from Elesh Norn, maybe increase his anthem effect to +2/+2, or add the ability to give creatures you don’t control -1/-1. Additionally, like Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis, the art doesn’t transition to the card frame very well and a lot of the detail is lost when scaled down to card size.
Regardless, I am excited for C16’s release so I can add Ravos to my deck. I believe he will stand out as a staple card for any casual commander decks for a long time.
See you guys next time where I will talk about the best way to create a mono-colour manabase in the Frontier format.
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