Hey friends, Steve here! Can you feel that? That’s the hype for the five new Commanders WOTC spoiled today as part of the Ikoria preview stream. I’m so excited about these that I just couldn’t wait to bring you my initial thoughts on these. So let’s jump right in, shall we?
Disclaimer: We don’t yet know the full deck lists for these Commander decks so suggested adds might end up being included in the product. (Which would great!)
Kathril, Aspect Warper - For 2 colorless and white, green, black (known as the Sultai colors), Kathril is a 3/3 that says: “When Katril, Aspect Weaver enters the battlefield, put a flying counter on any creature you control if a creature card in your graveyard has flying. Repeat this process for first strike, double strike, deathtouch, hexproof, indestructible, lifelink, menace, reach, trample, and vigilance. Then put a +1+1 counter on Kathril for each counter put on a creature this way.” Wow. That’s a lot to take in so let’s break it down. Essentially you’re looking to put a lot of creatures with as many key words on them as you can into your graveyard. Then make a strong, keyword-ed out Kathril and start attacking. Kathril can max out as a 14/14 the turn it comes in and be ready to one shot any opponent on the very next turn. This reminds me of the Soulflayer Surprise deck in modern. If you’re not familiar, the strategy is the same. You’re looking to mill things like Zetalpa, Primal Dawn ($0.67) into the yard and then delve them away to get a really powerful Soulflayer. There are plenty of creatures with key words in Abzan, but Zetalpa is clearly the first add to this deck. To get creatures in the yard, you can either focus on self mill or discard. Creatures like Stinkweed Imp ($0.40) and Lotleth Troll (0.66) will help you get there. Buried Alive at $1.15 could be the best non-creature card you could add. We might as well give all our creatures on the battlefield some keyword soup as well with a card like Concerted Effort ($2.60).
Jirina Kudro - For 1 colorless and red, white, black, Jirina is a 3/3 that says “When Jirina Kudro enters the battlefield, create a 1/1 white Human Solider creature token for each time you’ve cast a commander from the command zone this game. Other Humans you control get +2+0”. This is an aggro deck. Plain and simple. You’re looking to turn creatures sideways without fear of them dying - especially Jirina, because she just brings more friends when she comes back. Mardu (the name for the color wedge of red, white and black) has no shortage of ways to make your creatures bigger but let’s talk about a few we could add. Modern all-star Thalia’s Lieutenant ($1.64) immediately puts a +1+1 on all your Humans, and then gets bigger whenever another human enters the battlefield under your control. Judith, the Scourge Diva ($0.30) also gives all your creatures +1+0 and rewards your creatures dying by dealing one damage to any target whenever a non-token creature you control dies. Alesha, Who Smiles at Death ($0.23) helps you recur them as long as they have a power of 2 or less. Let's keep the heat on our opponents with a card like Harsh Mentor ($0.25) which is sure to keep dealing damage to our opponents turn after turn and let's keep ourselves protected from board wipes with Xathrid Necromancer ($0.35) turning our humans into zombies. You want to go fast and furious with this deck and you’re sure to make a lot of enemies along the way.
Kalamax, the Stormsire - for 1 colorless and red, blue, green, Kalamax is a 4/4 that says “Whenever you cast your first instant spell each turn, if Kalamax, the Stormsire is tapped, copy that spell. You may choose new targets for the copy. Whenever you copy an instant spell, put a +1+1 counter on Kalamax”. A spell-slinger dinosaur? Not gonna lie, I love it. This deck is really going to incentivize playing on your opponent’s turns and then attacking with a giant Kalamax on each of your turns to ensure he’s tapped for the ability to copy spells. To make our spells cheaper we can run things like Goblin Electromancer ($0.12) and Baral, Chief of Compliance ($4.36). To ensure our spells are achieving maximum value we can run Guttersnipe ($0.12) and Young Pyromancer ($0.45). From there, it’s really your personal preference on what kind of spells you decide to run. The first thing I’m going for is the card draw and let's tack on some ramp too shall we? Growth Spiral (this promo card is one of my favorites and it's only $1.34, you deserve it!) is a great early play to get us up and going, and it's a great later play once Kalamax is on the board. You’re going to want a Reliquary Tower ($2.69) for this deck and I’ll leave it at that.
Otrimi, the Ever-Playful - for 3 colorless and black, green, blue, Otrimi is a 6/6 that has trample and says “Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, return target creature with Mutate from your graveyard from your hand.” Otrimi also has a mutate cost of 1 colorless and black, green, blue. Mutate is a new mechanic in Ikoria that gives a creature an alternate casting cost, allowing it to be put over or under a non-human creature you control. They mutate into the creature on top and also get any abilities the creature on the bottom had, such as Trample. On the preview stream, Mutate was hyped up as “build your own monster” - this sounds awesome and I can’t wait to see all the crazy combos people brew up. We don’t know how powerful this mechanic can get but, the strategy for Otrimi is clear. Find a way to get Otrimi to deal damage - Rogue’s Passage ($0.52) should help with this, and mutate Otrimi or another creature to become more powerful than your opponents can imagine. Cards like Buried Alive ($1.15) and Grisly Salvage ($0.40) should help get your best creatures with mutate into the graveyard. Underrealm Lich ($1.87) provides excellent card filtering and filling the graveyard. A card like Whispering Madness ($0.37) encoded onto Otrimi should keep both your hand and graveyard filled with cards! Sultai is always very good at mill and recursion so I imagine the deck will be very effective.
Gavi, Nest Warden - for 2 colorless and blue, red, white, Gavi is a 2/5 that says “You may pay 0 rather than pay the cycling cost of the first card you cycle each turn. Whenever you draw your second card each turn, create a 2/2 red and white Dinosaur Cat creature token. Okay, I saved this one for last because I’m so excited to build it. I love cycling as a mechanic and Gavi gives a home to a lot of cards from the Amonkhet block, as well as Throne of Eldraine. The Amonkhet block was the last time we saw cycling featured and it gave us cards like Drake Haven ($0.26) and Abandoned Sarcophagus ($0.20) that are my first auto-includes. Drake Haven pumps out tokens for us (which is the strategy I’m going for) and Abandoned Sarcophagus lets us cycle away cards without fear because we can just cast them later. A card like Astral Drift ($0.23) will let us make effective use of any and all creatures with enter the battlefield effects by letting us flicker (the card leaves and returns to the battlefield as a new card) one every time we cycle a card. Throne of Eldraine brought us a lot of cards that care about drawing your second card each turn. To go along with the token strategy I’m going for, we have cards like Mad Ratter ($0.01) and Improbable Alliance ($0.10). I’m so excited to build and play this deck!
So those are the five new commanders! Which one are you most excited for, and what cards are you adding to it? Join me on discord to Discuss! If you want to lock in your Commander deck now, be sure to email the shop at firstname.lastname@example.org to pre-order yours. Thanks for reading and stay safe!