Commander 2016 has been fully spoiled, and it has Commander players talking about new mechanics like undaunted, which makes spells cheaper for each player in the game, and the new partner mechanic that allows players to use two generals. Commander 2016 contains 56 new cards in all, and its release next week means these cards are added to the Eternal cardpool, which could impact Legacy and even Vintage. Today I'll go over the Commander 2016 spoiler with an Eternal perspective to make sure there aren't any hidden gems among them, and I'll discuss how to best use the cards that do have potential.
Duelist's Heritage functions like Blood Mist for a mana cheaper, but the effect is not good enough for Vintage or Legacy.
Making the opponent sacrifice a creature and getting creatures of your own is a nice source of card advantage, but Entrapment Maneuver is too expensive for competitive constructed.
Cards that benefit the opponent aren't playable unless they have a huge upside somewhere else, and Orzhov Advokist doesn't have one.
Selfless Squire would be a fantastic Limited card but doesn't make sense in spell-centric Eternal formats.
Undaunted cards are designed for multiplayer games, so in Legacy and Vintage Sublime Exhalation is nothing more than Day of Judgment for twice the cost.
Coastal Breach is another undaunted card without Eternal applications.
Deepglow Skate has an ability that is potentially very powerful, so it's at least worth a second look. It's great with planeswalkers of course, but that's the sort of synergy that's more suited for Standard than Legacy. Using Deepglow Skate in Legacy or Vintage would require that it more or less wins the game with some sort of combo, but there is nothing obvious.
Faerie Artisans seems like an extremely fun and creative card, but it's unreliable and doesn't have any practical Eternal applications.
Legacy is full of powerful equipment, and in the past the battle over them has been central to the metagame thanks to Stoneforge Mystic, which currently thrives in Death and Taxes-style White Weenie deck with an equipment toolbox. Eldrazi Aggro also features maindeck Umezawa's Jitte. Stealing cards in Magic is a powerful tempo swing that generates card advantage, and stealing equipment from an opposing creatures is as powerful as it seems. It's narrow, but it's game winning, and that makes Grip of Phyresis worth of consideration in blue decks looking to spice up their sideboard in an equipment-heavy metagame.
Cruel Entertainment looks like a ton of fun in multiplayer, but in one-on-one it will force you to give up control of your own turn.
Curse of Vengeance does exactly nothing but poorly enable Hex Parasite in single player games.
Curtains' Call is another an undaunted card that will never see competitive constructed play.
Magus of the Will comes with the ability of Yawgmoth's Will, a card banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage. The effect is so profoundly powerful that Magus of the Will might be playable, even costing twice as much mana and being delayed by a turn. As a backup to Yawgmoth's Will it's a possible Gifts Ungiven selection in Vintage, but it could also be played as a four-of to enable a more consistent strategy playing from the graveyard. The fact that Magus of the Will is a creature might be a benefit, because it can be tutored for by cards like Birthing Pod in Legacy.
Parting Thoughts is a great way to destroy Endless One, but this three-mana removal spell is too inefficient to see play.
Charging Cinderhorn is at its best in multiplayer formats, and even though its ability will trigger reliably against many Eternal formats, it's still underpowered compared to better options like Giant Solifuge.
Divergent Transformations is very powerful, but the cost of this undaunted card is prohibitively expensive in one-on-one games.
Frenzied Fugue is too reactive and unreliable for competitive formats.
Goblin Spymaster has incredible flavor, and it's too weak for Eternal formats, but I suppose it could be used in Legacy Goblin decks as a Goblin Matron target to help break board stalls against other creature decks.
Runehorn Hellkite comes with the ability to cast Wheel of Fortune from the graveyard, so it's worth checking out, even if its normal cost as a dragon is a bit inefficient. It makes sense in any deck that uses the graveyard, so it's fantastic in a Reanimator deck as an Entomb target, for example. It would also be excellent in Dredge when combined with a card like Lion's Eye Diamond, which could discard it and pay for half the cost.
Cards that relate to blocking aren't what come to mind when thinking about competitive Eternal formats, so Benefactor's Draught isn't promising, but anything that draws a card could be playable, and untapping all creatures is a pretty strong ability combined with mana creatures, so it's not out of the question that it could be used in something like Elves.
Evolutionary Escalation is designed for multiplayer and has no obvious Eternal uses.
Primeval Protector could be cheap in multiplayer games, but the only way to realistically use it in Eternal is to cheat it into play, and there are far better options.
Seeds of Renewal is an expensive Regrowth that won't cut it in one-on-one games where undaunted isn't effective.
Large indestructible creatures are reasonable reanimation targets, but Stonehoof Chieftain doesn't make any compelling case for Eternal play.
Akiri, Line-Slinger is alluring because it offers unlimited upside, but the fact that it has no power by itself is troubling. It would be possible to build a deck around it using artifact lands and other cheap artifacts in an Affinity-style decks, but there is not enough incentive to do so because other two-drops like Arcbound Ravager or Steel Overseer would likely be more effective.
The ability to draw and discard cards is available in cards more efficient than Ancient Excavation, and landcycling is too slow for Eternal formats.
Atraxa, Praetors' Voice could have applications as a Baneslayer Angel-style card in sideboards of controlling decks, or it could be part of a toolbox. Proliferate is a bit unexciting but would be strong with the planeswalkers that these decks might include.
Breya, Etherium Shaper offers a lot of board presence of the mana cost, and its versatile activated ability is the sort that could take over the game against a variety of decks. It reminds me of a bit of Huntmaster of the Fells but with more power and resilience, so I could see it as something like a sideboard card in four-color Delver or Stoneblade decks, but it would be at its best in a dedicated artifact deck like Affinity.
Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder is too slow for competitive play.
Grave Upheaval offers the versatility of reanimation and landcycling, but it pays for it in efficiency, which is the key attribute of competitive cards.
Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper is robust and will gain a lot of life, but it's too slow against the aggressive decks where that ability would be desirable.
Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker is slated for multiplayer games where its ability will be most effective.
Kraum, Ludevic's Opus is a large hasty flyer with upside, and it might work in Standard, but it's too slow for eternal formats.
Four-mana mana acceleration creatures don't make sense for competitive play, and neither does Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix.
Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis benefits both players equally, and its body is not impressive, so the card doesn't have any competitive applications.
Allowing the opponent to draw cards from their fetch lands is a bad idea, so don't play Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist in one-on-one formats.
Making four Bird Tokens is strong, but five mana cards need to be much more powerful than Migratory Route to see competitive play.
Ravos, Soultender offers a lot in one package, but at five mana it's not cut out for competitive Eternal formats.
Reyhan, Last of the Abzan is better than it looks, because when it dies it will put its counters on another creature, so could have been strong in a format like Standard, but it misses the mark in Legacy.
Saskia the Unyielding offers quite a powerful effect, doubling the damage all of your creatures will deal to the opponent, but at four mana it's not going to be fast enough in Eternal formats.
A legend with flanking and mentioning reach, Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa is not a competitive Eternal card.
Silas Renn, Seeker Adept is excellent combined with Black Lotus, but it is too narrow and slow to use reliably.
Sylvan Reclamation is a five-mana card that is on the whole worse than the four-mana Return to Dust.
Tana, the Bloodsower is very powerful when combined with pump effects, but those are best with cheap cards like Infect creatures, not four-mana legends.
Thrasios, Triton Hero is a great mana sink with a lot of value, but it's low-impact, and the 1/1 body itself is nearly useless.
Tymna the Weaver will at most draw you one card a turn, but there are better card advantage creatures at less mana.
Eight-mana sorceries are not cut out for competitive play, and Treacherous Terrain is not good enough to try to cast for free.
Vial Smasher the Fierce will be a consistent source of extra damage in a deck like burn, but it's too slow in a format where there are more efficient sources of damage. That said, it's particularly fun and powerful with Fireblast and delve cards, so it could be viable in a deck trying to "break" its ability.
Yidris, Maelstrom Wanderer will generate value if it hits the opponent, but it is too slow for formats where the game might be over before this hits play
The most exciting thing about Armory Automaton is that it can be found by Imperial Recruiter or Recruiter of the Guard, so it could be used in a toolbox to help break Stoneforge Mystic mirror matches in Legacy if flashed in end of turn with Aether Vial, but it's a bit weak overall.
Boompile offers more destructive power than Nevinyrral's Disk, and because on average it will take two turns to destroy things, it's on average just as fast, but it will sometimes offer the upside of immediate destruction. There's no real cost to failing besides taking another turn, so it's not like the typical coin flip card that can have catastrophic failure. I wouldn't be too embarrassed to put it into play with Mishra's Workshop.
Conqueror's Flail could theoretically offer a huge boost in stats in a multicolor deck, especially with hybrid creatures like Deathrite Shaman, and the passive ability seems pretty strong in blue-centric Eternal formats. This could definitely be worthwhile in a deck like four-color Stoneforge Mystic decks.
Crystalline Crawler can't be effectively cheated into play with something like Mishra's Workshop because it requires colored mana, and thought its ability is interesting the creature isn't impressive. It would be best for enabling a big play on turn five, but that's too slow for competitive eternal formats.
Prismatic Geoscope compares to Gilded Lotus and could offer a replacement, but because that card is best cheated into play and domain requires land drops, it's going to be too slow.
Ash Barrens is better than Wastes in an Eldrazi deck, but it's worse than most other options. The only time it would be useful is if an Eldrazi deck wanted to splash three or more colors of noncreature spells, which might make it better than two-color pain lands or creature-only Corrupted Crossroads, or if an Eldrazi deck wanted some help against nonbasic land hate Blood Moon or Back to Basics.
What Eternal format applications do you see for new Commander 2016 cards?