I really enjoy Commander. While my trips through tech and testing are more Doc Brown than Jimmy and Josh, the years under my belt have left me with a knack for finding cards that fly under the radar. It's easy to look up Commander staples and get a great deck in a hurry. But beyond the go-to options there are plenty more opportunities to find value and have fun.
In no particular order, these are the eight cards that you should give a try.
Sakura-Tribe Elder is a classic staple in Commander. Quick, easy mana fixing with a body that can block or extra card for the graveyard, STE is the best Rampant Growth ever printed. Not too far behind that is Yavimaya Granger.
It may look odd, but it's so similar to Sakura-Tribe Elder it's silly. It gets a basic land onto the battlefield tapped. Check. It can block for a full turn cycle. Check. It adds a card to the graveyard for delve action. Check. But, even better, it turns on revolt during your next turn and can be cleverly stacked with other upkeep triggers.
Perhaps best of all it's at an amazing budget price despite being printed once versus STE's multiple trips through reprints.
Temur, Jund and Naya are popular sets of colors that can toolbox answers. Where these colors shine brightest is finding ways to iterate towards value, piling up resources and turning the corner on powerful removal and creatures. Kessig Wolf Run fits right into the narrative.
It's a political Fireball that's both repeatable and inevitable given enough mana and creatures that can attack. The fact it can pump any creature means jumping into other players' combat moments to ensure something dies or pushes damage though means you can get multiple spell effects over a game. As a bonus, like many other spell-lands in Commander, it can help pay colorless mana costs too. What a helpful land!
While Atraxa, Praetors' Voice made +1/+1 counters and incremental advantage popular again, Collective Effort is more than worthwhile standing alone. The ability to slot a pseudo Mortify into any white deck is great. Sometimes you want to add some +1/+1 counters if your persist creatures need a refresher.
But it's the fact you can can do two or all three for effectively no additional mana cost that matters. Cards that can deliver value, such as nailing a big creature or destroying a problematic enchantment, in any situation are worth looking at closely.
And it works with Atraxa. So there. Go nuts.
It's no secret I'm a fan of graveyard shenanigans and recursion. There are many ways to grotesquely abuse a pile of dead things in Commander, but one that gets overlooked is Foul Renewal. Getting back a creature to your hand for four mana isn't exciting, as nobody plays Raise Dead, so it has a removal effect stapled onto it. Still not that exciting.
Most importantly, however, it's an instant. This means you can wait until the control player taps out at the end of a turn. You can fire it in response to a graveyard exile effect. You can use it as a mundane combat trick with a bonus Raise Dead effect. Any way to slice it, it's another flexible card that deserved more credit.
Moonlight Bargain is the second black card on the list today, and this one happens to draw cards. I understand that's pretty good in Commander.
Great for Jund and Mardu decks, the main benefit to Moonlight Bargain is that it's an instant and gives you a ton of decisions (sound familiar?) Need a removal spell in those top five cards? Just pay 2 life. Want a full draw five to set up a massive turn once you untap? It's only 10 life. Anything in between can just stock a graveyard and sculpt a great hand.
Unlike most black card draw, it's an instant and can wait until the right moment. I can leave my mana up for other things and use this only on the end of the turn before mine. It's neat.
One problem I have with Windfall and Wheel of Fortune effects are the upfront costs: You have to spend mana to get new cards (which may not be what you need or want anyway), and it sinks a card outright to do it.
Forgotten Creation solves both of those problems: You get to Windfall yourself on each of your upkeeps, only if you want, while getting a fair body attached to it. Oh, and the body has weak evasion attached just because. While graveyard and Zombie decks might like this more, it's still an excellent option to grease the wheels of a deck that needs to find specific cards in a hurry.
There are so many lands that can produce colorless mana it's absurd. Most lands with spell-like effects, such as Wasteland, Ghost Quarter, pain lands of many stripes, Kessig Wolf Run and more can produce colorless mana. Slipping Warping Wail into a deck isn't hard if you have enough great lands, and for that effort you access a toolkit of effects. Sometimes you get to pinch a Mother of Runes or Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. Other times a quiet blocker or mana for the following turn appears.
But then you counter Damnation using only an untapped Forest and Wasteland and your opponent just gapes in awe. It's a neat trick.
When my coworkers Ryan and Jon looked at the recent Standard bannings, a few in the audience took umbrage with the idea that banned cards often have value in other formats.
The fact is that, yes, we run and produce content for a site that helps find you the best prices on Magic: The Gathering cards, but we're also just as passionate about the game as players ourselves. Emrakul, the Promised End made a splash in Bruce Richard's article around Planechase yesterday, and Reflector Mage makes an appearance here today.
It turns out cards that get banned are often good.
Reflector Mage is bad juju for opponents' commanders. While "the tuck rule" update a couple years back finally made a blanket replacement effect that allows the Commander to go back to the command zone anytime it changes zones means our banned Mage still just puts it back where the commander started, the second half of the bounce effect still happens.
No immediately replaying your commander for you.