Way to get Magic Monday done on time, Szpirs. Shut up, Szpirs. I was busy. Anyways, Herein Stew teaches me about the 10 cards every Commander deck should have…and in a format where you can (generally) use each card only once, that’s saying something. Obviously, you can’t use cards outside your Commander’s colour but you should be able to get a sense of what to look for from our list. Count ’em down with us, Geeks, and let us know what we missed in the comments.
10. Gaea’s Cradle
What It’s For: Land being a key component of the game, it’s no real wonder as why I would start this list with one. Gaea’s Cradle taps for 1 green for EACH creature you control. Let that sink in. If you have this turn one it’s horrible…but it only gets more powerful as you put more creatures on the field. In the right kind of deck, this land becomes a game-changer in a hurry.
Budget Version: Sakiko, Mother of Summer ($3.00). There’s hardly any comparison….Sakiko isn’t coming out until the late game in any case…but the effect is similar and the price difference is significant.
9. Greater Gargadon
What It’s For: A 9/7 creature is all well and good, but the sack outlet is by far the best feature – it lets you sacrifice a creature and place it in your graveyard. “Stew, what’s the purpose of getting rid of my cards?” Well, what if someone drops a Wrath of God and wipes out most of your permanents? Sacrifice 8 cards on the field (they might be dying anyways) and next turn you have a giant beat stick.
Icing on the cake is that it’s a Suspend card. For 1 red mana – super cheap – it’s a turn-one kind of thing that opponents can’t remove as it’s outside of the game. Awesome.
Budget Version: Altar of Dementia ($2.50). Similar effect but without the protection of Suspend…or the massive creature on the other side of it.
8. Mirari’s Wake
What It’s For: Mana, glorious mana. Drop this bad boy and you’ve got double the resources which will let you cast many more or much larger spells. It is pricey to cast… but the end results are usually awesome…plus if you’re using mana fixing (using creatures, artifacts, and other spells to generate mana instead of your lands) you might have 2 lands open after you cast it… thats 4 mana of a colour you might need or a boost to your creatures or to stay alive.
Budget Version: Mana Flare ($3.00). Much cheaper and it shares the mana-doubling with your opponents. In a Commander game, that can work to your advantage…opponents may want to keep you around if you’re fuelling them…but that sort of alliance only lasts so long.
7. Sensei’s Divining Top
What It’s For: Seeing what’s coming up on your next turn is good; deciding what’s coming up on your next turn is better. If you’re stuck in a spot, every shuffle changes what’s on top. As an artifact, SDT is usable in any Commander deck, it isn’t dependent on a colour for its’ abilities, the ability can be used as an instant, AND it’s cheap – first-turn cheap.
Budget Version: Brainstorm ($1.50). An instant spell with a similar ability to the Top. Nowhere near the staying power and no artifact synergy…but probably as close as you can come.
6. Eternal Witness
What It’s For: 2/1 for GG1 AND return a card from your grave to your hand? BAM. As a creature, it’s good power for mana and you can play it almost any time for that cost. Honestly, this is one of my all time favourite cards. The original printing is from Fifth Dawn, has awesome art… I can’t say enough how awesome this card is!
Budget Version: Regrowth ($2.00). Slow, non-permanent but it achieves the same effect. The difference in price is only about $2.00…just get an Eternal Witness!
5. Demonic Tutor
What’s It For: Pay 2 mana to find any card in your deck? Sold. In Commander, each card (generally) occurs only once, so efficient search is a great asset. It doesn’t get much more efficient than Demonic Tutor.
Budget Version: Diabolic Tutor ($1.00). Exactly the same card for more mana and less money. If there’s space in your deck, you could run them both.
4. Goblin Welder
What It’s For: Being a goblin, for one…but I like it because of artifacts. Since they’re colourless, you can use them in any Commander deck and don’t have to worry about getting mana screwed. Welder has great synergy with any artifact. Also, it’s a 1-drop so you can play it from the first turn. 20 turn clocks begin with a 1-drop.
Budget Version: Same. Welder was out of print for a while but with the 2014 Commander reprint, you can find one for about $3.00.
3. Thirst for Knowledge
What It’s For: Draw! In the early game, it can give you that low-cost spell at the right time and in the late game, it can save you from top-decking or complete the combo you’re working on. There lots of cards that do something similar but I enjoy Thirst for Knowledge mostly due to the versatility of the card.
So great, I draw 3 cards…but the best part is now I can choose 1 artifact or 2 other spells to discard if I need stuff in my graveyard. It’s like a top choice for most decks playing blue.
Budget Version: Brainstorm ($2.00). Basically the same card but with fewer options on the discard.
2. Swords to Plowshares
What It’s For: Instant. Cheap. Removal. There’s not much in the game as satisfying as watching an opponent’s face fall when you ‘swords’ their big creature just as they attack. StP costs one mana, can be cast in response to an opponent’s actions, and takes the creature right out of the game. Indestructible? Precious (Looking at YOU, Darksteel Colossus).
Budget Version: Well…Swords to Plowshares ($2.00). With recent Commander pre-constructed reprintings, there’s no excuse.
1. Sol Ring
What It’s For: Sol Ring is one of the best mana generating cards in the game. Two mana for the price of one, it’s a permanent, and there’s no drawback – it’s hard to imagine a better card in your opening hand.
Budget Version: Sol Ring ($2.50). Like Swords to Plowshares, recent reprintings make it easy to find this must-have on the cheap.
What’s on your list, Geeks?