It’s almost time for another set release. I know it seems like just yesterday that Tales of Middle-Earth was released, but here we are with Commander Masters. The name is fairly self-explanatory – it’s focused on Commander, and as a Masters set it will be all reprints... or will it? For the first time a Masters set will have new cards premiering with it, as the Commander Masters Commander pre-constructed decks will each have 10 new cards.
In this article we’ll be looking at each of the decks in brief, and then the best new Commander Masters cards in each.
Slivers are one of Magic: The Gathering’s most beloved creature types, and Sliver Swarm brings them back in style. The deck, and its ten new Commander Masters cards promise to be a joy for fans of the creature type, bring it to a whole new generation of players.
Taking a quick look at Sliver Swarm, we see that the list has given sliver players another present: a reprint of some of the M14 slivers in the traditional sliver form instead of that weird humanoid shape that was used in the M14 release. Sadly its not all sun and roses here, as the reprint value of the deck isn’t particularly high, and it lacks reprints of a number of expensive sliver cards like Sliver Hive, Sliver Overlord, and The First Sliver. Also lacking is the mana base, which is slow as molasses with a lot of tap lands and cheaper options to cover the five colors needed.
Those flaws though don’t change the fact that it’s slivers! One of Magic’s breakout creature types, that swarms in its own indelitable way and can instantly make you a commander table’s archenemy because of its ability to get completely out of hand. And now there are ten new cards that Sliver players can look forward to playing.
The Best New Commander Masters Cards in Sliver Swarm
This little sliver stands out by letting you swarm the board with tons of copies of slivers by granting the replicate ability to all your slivers. Granting replicate equal to their cost is a huge advantage and it lets you take advantage of the large amounts of mana slivers can make. It particularly synergizes well with this deck’s commander, the Sliver Gravemother, as once she is around you can copy legendary slivers and not lose them to the legend rule.
Of course, not all the cards are only useful to sliver decks. Titan of Littjara is a card that any typal deck might want, as it becomes any creature type when it enters the battlefield and can then draw a card for each card of the chosen creature type you control when it attacks or when it entered the battlefield. A 6/6 card advantage monster, Titan of Littjara promises to be a mainstay of any creature type focused decks that have blue in Commander.
The secondary commander for Sliver Swarm is perhaps a bit less blatant in its power than Sliver Gravemother but is highly interesting. Rukarumel is able to head up any typal deck you may want, much like Morophon, especially for creature types that lack a good commander option. By providing an effect that makes anything that type, you can run various cards to fit in and feed the deck.
She also invites a different type of Sliver deck, one that combines a secondary creature type with them, and the idea of them being turned into slivers due to a mad scientist wizard’s lack of care.
Led by Commodore Guff this white/blue/red deck aims to get planeswalkers on the field, protect them, and extract value from them.
The deck has a solid manabase, especially for a higher cost deck without green. Good mana artifacts, and lands help the deck get its mana and cast its spells on time. While that seems boring, it does really help the deck be playable out of the box and compete.
The planeswalker support cards in the deck are pretty good, as we see some solid reprints in The Chain Veil, and Spark Double that work well with Planeswalkers, though the overall value is only okay given the increased price of these decks. The deck relies on control, and pillow fort elements (effects that discourage opponents attacking you such as taxes), to help get to the later game where it can take advantage of the value it accrues. The planeswalkers themselves are all newer characters, which is a bit disappointing due to Commodore Guff being from the novels around Invasion that feature the 9 Titans. Bo Levar would have been a particular joy to see as he is the one that prompts Guff into some needed action near the end of the Invasion-era Phyrexian invasion of Dominaria.
The Best New Commander Masters Cards in Planeswalker Party
While appearing unassuming on the surface, Gatewatch Beacon is a really good 3 mana rock for this deck, and one that all planeswalker heavy decks will want to run. It’s ability to grant three planeswalkers an extra loyalty counter when they enter the battlefield is significant on ramping up to ultimates or survivability. Additionally, many of these decks, including this one, will have proliferate effects which can let Gatewatch Beacon have extra loyalty counters to give away giving even more bang for your buck.
One weakness of many effects like Propaganda and Ghostly Prison is that they don’t stop opponents from attacking your planeswalkers. Enter Onakke Oathkeeper who makes an opponent pay a mana for each creature they want to send at a planeswalker you control, making it tougher to attack you, especially by going wide around your blockers. Onakke Oathkeeper serves as one of those blockers as a 0/4 for 2 mana, styming some attacks early on. Later on, as the Oathkeeper may get less useful due to opponents having more mana, he can be traded in to resurrect a planeswalker to the battlefield.
While a lot of Chandra’s abilities are similar to Commodore Guff, I prefer the execution in Chandra, Legacy of Fire overall – though being monored makes her a worse commander. Her ability to deal damage is passive at the end of turn so it’s not eating up a valuable activation, while her mana ramp is much more explosive, especially if you have an ability copier. With something like The Chain Veil down, you can use the mana and the impulse draw ability together to get an explosive surge of power and cards, making her perfect for a superfriends deck like this.
An Abzan-colored Enchantress deck, Enduring Enchantments includes many of the cards you would want for an enchantress deck in these colors. Enchantress decks are typically WG, but this deck adds black, for a few wrinkles, though not as many as you might hope for.
The manabase here is okay, but the deck is missing a couple of obvious enchantments that would have fed into the game plan and helped with the mana like Utopia Sprawl. The deck eschews the pillow fort strategy that enchantment decks sometimes do (no Ghostly Prison or the like here), or the combo draw everything approach including lots of 1 mana enchantments for a tap out control style of play, with extra value coming from your enchantment synergies.
The reprint value here is okay at best, as it’s lacking expensive ones that would have been nice to see like Greater Auramancy, and Argothian Enchantress. With the large increase in price for Commander Masters, it would have been nice if they were more aggressive with the reprints in there, for both the mana base and other cards.
The Best New Commander Masters Cards in Enduring Enchantments
For the second time, I’m a bit more interested in the secondary commander than the primary one here. Narci doesn’t necessarily synergize great with the actual deck, but as an abzan saga commander she is very very interesting. Her draw on sacrifice is a twist on the general enchantress draw on play that invites you to run some different cards, and works particularly with sagas, which her second ability really wants you to play. That second ability’s life drain is huge, and if you wanted to do a saga deck without going 5 colors (see: Tom Bombadil for that) Narci is now the primere commander option.
What’s better than one enchantment? Two enchantments of course! Doubling up on a lot of effects is a really big bonus, and Ondu Spiritdancer offers a unique effect for enchantments in doing that doubling. If you want to triple it you just need to add in something like Anointed Procession or Doubling Season... or both. Having those two down will give you 4 tokens of whatever enchantment you play, like say Ghostly Prison. Making your opponent’s have to pay 10 mana (4 tokens + original) per creature to attack you sure sounds good to me.
One of the most powerful things you can do in Magic is play cards for free, and Demon of Fate’s Design lets you do that with enchantments. Once during your turn you can pay life rather than mana to cast an enchantment and get it into play. This is a huge bonus, especially in Commander where you have 40 life to start with. The demon is also a 6/6 flying, trample for 6, and can be pumped by sacrificing enchantments based on their mana value – because getting your cards onto the battlefield without paying mana just wasn’t enough.
When a deck calls itself after a creature type, you would generally expect that to be a dominant part of the deck. One can see Sliver Swarming for an example of that, but Eldrazi Unbound is not such a deck with only 10 eldrazi in the deck. It is perhaps more fair to just call it a colorless commander deck, that by nature of eldrazi being colorless, contains some of them.
Being a fully colorless deck, the manabase works in a lot of utility lands alongside a bunch of Wastes, and should be good. There is one very notable missing land here though, and it is Eye of Ugin, which brings us back to our recurring point on reprint value here being a bit low. We see only one of the big three eldrazi titans with Kozilek, which is very odd for an allegedly eldrazi specific deck, especially given the eldrazi lore.
There is also an issue of anti-synergy here between the primary commander, and the secondary commander. While the other decks secondary commanders aren’t always on for the same plan, they generally don’t actively work against it. The XX mana cost of Omarthis, Ghostfire Initiate doesn’t work with the cascade focused Zhulodok, Void Gorger, and its inclusion brought in other X mana cards as well, creating anti-synergy confusion in the deck.
The Best New Commander Masters Cards in Eldrazi Unbound
Named after the set the eldrazi originally appeared in, this 12 mana spell recreates the original cast effects of the three eldrazi titans. From Ulamog comes destroy target permanent, from Kozilek comes the draw 4 cards, and Emrakul grants you taking an extra turn. The spell exiles itself, it is likely to become a goto card for decks that want to cheat or copy spells from the graveyard, especially as it can’t be countered.
Of the two new eldrazi, this is the one that stands out more to me, as it feels more like one of the classic eldrazi cards with its on cast trigger. Flayer here threatens a creature and turns it into a monster to beat down upon your opponent for 10 mana, and leaves behind a 10/10 annilhator 2, wtih trample. If we had seen some more cards like this, I think we wouldn’t be hearing jokes like the deck being nicknamed ‘Eldrazi Unfound’.
On the surface Darksteel Monolith seems a bit underwhelming, as an 8 mana card that lets you play a free colorless spell once a turn. That’s a lot of mana for a card that essentially grants you mana with limitations, and for only a couple more mana one can get that without any limitations from blue. With Liberator, Urza’s Thopter and the new Skittering Cicada you can play cards on other players turns to get the most out of the Monolith. Given how expensive a lot of colorless cards can be, this can provide those decks 6 to 15 mana a turn easily, and over 40 mana a round potentially.
The Commander Masters decks have filled in a couple of longstanding fan requests, and brought some fun new cards. While the increased price, and lack of added reprint value is very disappointing, I hope this article helped you find out a bit more about the product either for buying singles, or buying the whole deck.