Today we’re going to take a look at some of the new Ikoria spoilers through the lens of Commander. Some of the cards we cover will be from the new Commander 2020 decks and some others will come from the Ikoria set itself. We’ll talk about the full Commander 2020 decks and some budget upgrades for them in a later post. With that out of the way, let’s do this!
Right off the start, let’s talk about those new “free” spells. There’s one in each color and man are these great. I anticipate that these cards will be highly sought-after and should be valuable going forward. These are auto-includes in Commander moving, and they’re free to cast so long as you control your commander (or one of your commanders).
Fierce Guardianship - Without your commander in play, this spell costs two colorless and a blue to counter a non-creature spell. This is essentially force of negation without the card disadvantage. We’ve already talked about why you should be running negate in blue builds so it goes without saying you should be running this. Fierce Guardianship is going to catch a lot of people off guard and will keep a lot of people second guessing before playing their big, splashy spells.
Deadly Rollick - Without your commander in play, this spell costs three colorless and a black to exile target creature. I’m not usually high on including a lot of targeted removal in your decks but, this one has the upside of being free and at instant speed. I’d like this spell a lot more if it also hit planeswalkers (similar to Eat to Extinction ) but, I’m certainly not going to complain, or not run it. This card will also help you gain favor with your opponents when you deal with a pesky, annoying creature that's causing problems for everyone at the table.
Flawless Maneuver - Without your commander in play, this spell costs two colorless and a white. At instant speed, creatures you control gain indestructible until end of turn. I love this card. In most cases I’d see myself casting this defensively in response to a wrath effect but, in some cases if you’re an aggressive deck this could allow you to cast your own wrath (say, Wrath of God) while giving all your own creatures indestructible. Now the path is clear to your victory! This is 100% going into my Lin Sivvi deck.
Deflecting Swat - Without your commander this spell costs two colorless and a red. You can choose new targets for a spell or ability. This is as close to a counterspell as red is ever gonna get. Think of how satisfying it would be to have an opponent try and cast a removal spell on your commander, only to turn it around and destroy their commander. I love this card so much and all the potential situations it could be good have my mind racing. I can’t wait to hear your stories of making this card work.
Obscuring Haze - Without your commander this spell costs two colorless and a green. In exchange for that, you get to prevent all combat damage that would be dealt by creatures your opponents control this turn. Fog. This is a fog. For three mana. Even when it’s free the best case scenario is that you save yourself (or an opponent that you’re allied with if you’re feeling generous) from a lethal attack. That said, I’m still running this card. It’s about time green had the least powerful card in a cycle, don’t ya think?
If you buy any of the Commander 2020 decks (and you absolutely should, because they are awesome! Email the shop to get on the preorder list!), you want to hold onto these cards and play them. They are going to be Commander staples for quite a long time, Alright, with the free spell cycle out of the way, I want to hit on a few more cards I think could be very impactful for the Commander format moving forward.
Twinning Staff - For three colorless mana you get an artifact that says “If you would copy a spell one or more times, instead copy it that many times plus an additional time. You may choose new targets for the additional copy.” Additionally, you can pay seven colorless mana and tap it to copy and instant or sorcery spell you control and choose new copies for it (effectively copying it twice because of the previous line of text). This card is going to be incredibly powerful in Izzet, Temur, and Jeskai spell slinging decks, and probably overpowered in a deck like Mizzix of the Izmagnus that already loves to sling spells and copy them. Be sure to have some artifact removal handy for this card if you see it at the shop.
Netherborn Altar - For one colorless and a black, you get an artifact that taps to activate the ability “Put a soul counter on Netherborn Altar: Put your commander into your hand from the command zone. Then you lose 3 life for each soul counter on Netherborn Altar.” This is a great way to get around the commander tax at the expense of your life total and I expect it to be a staple in most black decks moving forward. Netherborn Altar will allow you to play your big, high mana cost Commanders and not feel as badly when it immediately gets destroyed and you don't have enough mana to recast it. For all you Phage, the Untouchable players out there, this one’s for you!
General Kudro of Drannith - For one colorless, white, and black, Modern humans players get a 3/3 that gives other humans +1/+1. That’s not all though, whenever the General or another human enters the battlefield under your control, exile target card from an opponent’s graveyard. BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! For 2 mana, you can sacrifice two humans to destroy a creature with power four or greater. Now, I don’t play humans in Modern but, I’ve seen this card generating some buzz online. I think the deck will run a couple copies in the sideboard at the very least but, it may be powerful enough to run in the main deck. Another tool, for another already great archetype. From a Commander perspective, he will immediately go right into his daughter - Jirina Kudro's ("Ruthless Regiment") Commander 2020 deck.
Zenith Flare - Alright, this is the last card I’m going to cover for this blog so I wanted to make it the card I’m most excited about from the main Ikoria set. For two colorless, red, and white, Zenith Flare is an instant that deals X damage to to any target, and you gain X life, where X is the number of cards with cycling in your graveyard. This will immediately go into the Gavi ("Timeless Wisdom") deck, and at uncommon rarity - this is a budget upgrade, our favorite! Zenith Flare could be four mana, one-shot an opponent. Now let’s say you’ve got an Aetherflux Reservoir in play, you just gained a whole bunch of life and took out an opponent, you can now pay the life to one-shot another opponent. That’s how it works out in my mind anyway - let me dream.
Alright, that’s all for today folks but, I’ll be back on Sunday with another blog taking a look at mono red commander cards on a budget so keep your eyes open for that. Once we have the full lists for the pre-constructed decks, we’ll take a look at budget upgrades for each of them as well!
Take it easy, and stay safe. See you soon!