Often, when you get together with friends or with strangers in various game rooms to play Magic, specifically Commander, you often come across the same legendary creatures that are used as leaders in this system. Urza, Lord High Artificer, Edgar Markov, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy or Krenko, Mob Boss can be mentioned as examples.
In this article, I want to introduce you to two overrated and two underrated Commanders who, in my opinion, are used far too frequently, or unfortunately too rarely.
Why is nobody playing these Commanders?
A samurai should always be prepared for death –
whether his own or someone else’s
Toshiro Umezawa offers a good destructive power for 1BB. With a mono-black deck, you can tend to different strategies (e.g., sacrifice, creature destruction or lifedrain) depending on your own preference. If an opponent’s creature dies, a spontaneous spell from your own graveyard can be played.
In my experience, in multiplayer games, the decks that are attacked first and kept down are the ones that have already won a victory or two, so they are the ones that are seen as a threat. Often you only need to take a look at the opponent’s command zone to know what to expect and whom to attack first. Toshiro himself doesn’t appear there often, and thus offers a pleasant advantage.
The low mana cost allows him to be brought into play quickly and recast as soon as he moves back into the command zone. In terms of strategy, it can be played both flexibly and linearly, although the two buzzwords indestructible and hexproof can present mono-black with a challenge every now and then if you rely on regular destruction spells. Exile spells like Vraska’s Contempt, Baleful Mastery, Oblivion Strike or Silence the Believers should definitely be in the deck.
Enchantments like Lethal Vapors or Black Market quickly take the air out of some opponents’ sails, whereas you get a boost of some rounds.
Many cheap Instants in the deck can unleash their destructive power thanks to Toshiro from the graveyard once more. The cards exiled in this way can be reactivated with Mirror of Fate, for example, and resolved in a win combo.
If you combine the whole thing with Tormod’s Crypt, Bojuka Bog, Mimic Vat or the Nightmare Shepherd, your own creatures also end up in exile.
The nice thing about it is that every player can experiment at his own will to find a strategy that is pleasant to play for the respective person and can also react flexibly to different opponents.
Let’s talk about tokens, baby
Let’s talk about you and myr
Myr had often only served as an additional manabase in my decks, but with Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer a new utility of the mechanical artifact creatures created by Memnarch came up. For 4UR, he’s not a commander of the cheap variety, but the passive ability gives us a good base for various combos.
At the beginning of each combat phase, we get a 2/1 Myr artifact token, after which another token controlled by ourselves may be selected, from which all other tokens become copies. If you think for example of Dark Depths, which generates us a 20/20 black flying and indestructible token, the potential is obvious.
Whether you want to attack or use the tokens to mill with Altar of Dementia, for example, is up to the player. Sacrifice can be combined with Dross Scorpion to use other artifacts a second time. Or you can use Coat of Arms for reinforcement.
Another advantage, from my subjective point of view, is that the effect has no end, so the tokens can remain copies forever. If you are looking for the destruction that red offers us, you can generate mana with Ashnod’s Altar and Crackle with Power, which unfold in a wave of destruction.
Since Strixhaven with the Prismari School, the blue-red color combination has taken on even greater potential for me than was previously available through the Izzet Guild. If you use Galazeth Prismari, every Myr token, since it is an artifact, is a mana generator.
If one wants to lean a bit more towards a Myr artifact tribal deck, the Genesis Chamber, Myr Turbine, Myr Battlesphere and Mirrorworks cannot be missed to create additional tokens.
A big problem will probably be that the opponent(s) will strive to keep Brudiclad off the board. Here, the Clone Legion is a good way to copy your own tokens and use the Mechanized Production to win the game in your own combat phase if you play Brudiclad in the first main phase.
If you’re leaning more towards red, the Siege-Gang Commander or the Kiki-Jiki & Conspicuous Snoop combo are useful for generating tokens and dealing damage.
The most “Basic” Commanders
Some decks that have their Commander solely for coloring in the Commandzone also exist, with the legendary creature never being played. These creature cards can also be considered overrated, but since no legendary creature can be immune to such a fate, the field here is too broad to use examples.
On the other hand, many cards from older editions are not really relevant, even though they are legendary, because they do not have good synergy abilities in their repertoire.
At this point, however, I would like to talk about two creatures that I have come across time and again as an opponent’s commander, which I feel are absolutely overused and sometimes A-rated. What bothers me about such creatures is that the decks are always played the same way, the strategy and the cards included are often taken over 1 to 1 from EDHREC.com.
This one will not be mizzet
Niv-Mizzet, Parun is a (relatively) young card that I often stumble across when it is used in spellslinger decks. I have it myself as a “non-commander card” in a Locust God deck, as its synergy to draw cards is pretty awesome. The blue-red colour combination is very popular, and may do massive damage. The problem I see with Niv-Mizzet, Parun is that it is always played with the same strategy and a relatively static decklist.
The mana cost RRRUUU plays into the higher end, while Dragon Wizard cannot be countered, he is not immune to destruction spells. So, he can quickly increase immeasurably in the later game if the opponent(s) decide he is a major threat.
If you play in a multiplayer game, you are guaranteed a good damage output per player turn, so that either the board or the life points of another player are severely diminished.
Some players I have talked to use it because it is seen as a “high power” card.
In the Commander format, I see its weakness mainly in that it can best shine against mono-blue decks that have little creature destruction and because of its no-counter ability. Decks that push aggro, such as red, white or black cards, will send him back to the command zone time and time again.
Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and you’re just a reflection of him?
Riku of Two Reflections is a card I would never play as a commander, but one I have encountered time and time again. For 2GRU it offers a solid color combination, but the actual passive effects are mediocre in my eyes.
The bottom line is that every spell in your deck, whether instant, sorcery or creature, becomes two mana more costly, which you can have with other cards as well. If the mana base is not there, the Commander is largely useless.
Not only is the cost of the card high, but it is also color heavy, requiring early ramps. Since many of these cards are green, the manabase should be geared accordingly so that they are more likely to be cast from the starting hand. The only color that can draw on a variety of board wipes through Riku is red. Both black and white are denied.
Besides, the weak stats, 2/2, catch the eye of the beholder. This makes it very easy to remove him from the board, which pushes its already high cost even higher. A possible wincombo can be achieved with Biovisionary and other copy spells contained in blue and green. Otherwise, you have to push aggro with haste and big creatures, which you can copy with one of your Commanders’ abilities.