Has it really been so long since we had the last Commander pre-cons for MtG? I don’t know about you, but I loved those decks; they were a great springboard for getting players into Commander (proper Commander, not my filthy variant). I personally got all five, because at the time I was in a gaming group where I was the one who cared most about MtG, and rather than browbeating my friends into building Commander decks, I thought, eh, get all five why not, and people can borrow them for the occasional Commander game.
Of course, one of the big reasons I got all five of the Commander pre-cons was simple; new cards, exclusive to those decks! Lots of new spells, with some ups (Spell Crumple, Acorn Catapult, Magmatic Force) and some downs (pretty much anything with Join Forces), and of course, new legendary creatures; fifteen of them, and all of them pretty damn awesome.
The last five Commander pre-cons were “wedge” combinations; one colour and its two “enemy” colours (such as Animar’s combination of blue-red-green). The five new Commander decks coming in November are “shard” combinations; one colour and its two “ally” colours, for example white-green-blue.
Now naturally there were going to be new Commanders in these colours to lure people into buying them, and the first five new legendary creatures have been spoiled! Let’s take a looky-look…
Aw man, that ability is just pure sex. Lock down your opponent’s side of the board, untap all your guys ready to block, or untap your lands to cast more spells… Derevi looks like an awesome control Commander. His second ability basically means you’ll never have to spend more than four mana to cast him, no matter how many times he dies. Very tasty.
I love this guy, but the blue mana in his cost makes me sad; I’d love to have him be just black-white with a drain-gain deck built around him! Constant life gain is okay, but when you attach card draw and bleeding your opponents out to it, it becomes a whole let better. Plus, he can start granting you life before he even comes in; that’s pretty awesome. This is the second time that the command zone is directly mentioned on a card. I like it. It feels like a naughty taboo has been broken.
Sweet milling Jesus! If ever there was a Commander you want to die over and over… Jelly here is pretty damn saucy, and plays like a mini Wrexial the Risen Deep. I love that her ability just requires her to attack, not to actually deal damage, so it’s easier to pull off.
PROSSH! Aaaaaaa-aaaaa! SKY RAIDER OF THE UNIVERSE! Well this guy is pretty straight-forward; cast him, poop tokens, sac tokens, swing for massive damage. If he dies, so what? Cast him again, poop MORE tokens, and swing for even MORE massive damage. Also, there’s just so much good stuff that interacts with tokens in those colours (devour being the obvious first one that springs to mind), so I’m going to take a guess that this guys deck might have something to do with tokens/sacrifice/death triggers. Also, Kobolds of Kher Keep. That’s awesome.
Marath’s pretty cool. He’s not exactly exciting, but he is very, very solid; I mean, at the least, he’s a 3/3 for 3 cmc with a handy and flexible ability; buff one of your dudes, blast a creature or player, or poop out an Elemental. Again, another Commander you really don’t mind dying so that you can cast him again and again, except unlike PROSSH (Aaaaaaaa-aaaaaaa!) he can top himself when you need him to reset. Such a shame that he’s not on colour with stuff like Gilder Bairn or Vorel, and there’s not too much proliferate support in those three colours.
So that’s a first look at what we can expect in November, and it’s a good first look! The one thing I will say though is that these five guys don’t excite me as much as the previous new Commanders from a few years ago did; maybe because with the rarely-seen “wedge” colour combination, you can get some very cool and original designs like Skullbriar and Zedruu. That said, I really like that they’re designing specifically for the Commander format, with the direct mention of command zones, and abilities tied to the mana sunk into casting your Commander. It just goes to show that even with a game 20 years old, there’s still plenty of design space left unexplored.
Now I have to try and justify to Laura why I need to pre-order all five decks… hmm…