Magic’s newest expansion has us traveling to Battle for Baldur’s Gate. A new set means new cards to examine, and in this article we’ll talk about the multicolored and colorless cards, what they mean for the game and how they’ll play.
Last time we covered the monocolored cards, and this time as usual we won’t be looking at everything, and we’ll be doing this mostly with an eye for Commander play.
BPhillipYork: UGH. UGHHHHHHHH. UGH. Fine.
FromTheShire: I mean the cost reduction is no joke but I feel like I want more out of one of the most iconic Forgotten Realms characters.
TheChirurgeon: Yeah he just feels so… blah for one of the most powerful wizards in teh setting. I’m sure he’ll be fine in games.
BPhillipYork: 5 mana is so much, but a fun commander that is a group hug beneficiary, really plays nicely with a ton of the recently printed white cards.
FromTheShire: Solid value piece for the 99.
BPhillipYork: That’s the guy from the pirate movies right? Right? I mean, right? To me this is less interesting than Umbris, and less really horrifying, but a fine include in a Dimir horror deck, certainly you can include if you want to go mill horror.
FromTheShire: I really like all the Horror support we’re getting, and this is a banger. Menace is super useful, mill equal to damage is great, and stealing their stuff is even better. Chris Perkins definitely knew what he was doing when he created this guy in the lore though.
BPhillipYork: If this guy was Esper identity this would actually be a really fun commander because you could play nasty enchantments like Lich and then animate and donate them. This is fine because you donate stuff like Lord of the Pit or other big huge creatures that require sacrifices or do tons of damage, which you’ll want to cheat out. Really kind of dangerous though because your opponents probably don’t want a Lord of the Pit. Really who does.
FromTheShire: I mean I want one but sometimes I’m sick with nostalgia like that. There’s a couple of ways you could build this, either Zedru the Greathearted style where you’re donating things like Steel Golem, or you can just play good stuff and let your creatures beat people to death by extension, and I think either way will be fun.
BPhillipYork: This just feels like a boring filler card with no use case whatsoever. Deathtouch and first strike and menace and +5/0 is like nothing.
FromTheShire: Disagree. I love introducing the initiative, and first strike and deathtouch is very potent, even more so if they’re having to choose between losing two creatures for nothing or taking regular damage +5, which adds up a lot faster than you’d think.
BPhillipYork: Blue and Black now have a lot of exile things and then cast them later, and this is a really neat triggered ability to go along with it. The way her page counters interact is nice, but you’re really looking at getting her out, +1, then having to recast her most likely to then get 1 free cast, which is a long way to go for a 3/3 demon. Throwing her down as part of the 99 feels more interesting to me, but then do you really need a bunch of 3/3 demons? I feel like the demons should do something like also exile things with page counters on them. Or get +1/+1 for each page counter. Or something more interesting.
FromTheShire: Somewhat of a twist on the classic way planeswalkers protect themselves which I kind of like, this seems like a fun and thematic Commander to helm a Dimir steal everyone’s stuff deck. It is still a walker though, with all the problems that brings.
BPhillipYork: This is a meme card right. Khajit has wares or something. I like the ability, again feels more like a lieutenant than a commander, but a really neato trigger, and there are ways to win the game by simply having a ton of treasures. It’s also notably not non-token, and not only your creatures, which are the usual limiters put on something like this.
FromTheShire: I mean I can’t say for sure if that influenced the guy at Wizards that wrote the adventure but he’s a Rakshasa lifted from official material who has a whole thing with coins so this is pretty on point for me. The ability is very powerful as long as you have ways to survive to get the trigger.
BPhillipYork: I like devil creatures, I think they are neat, these 1/1s with a triggered deal 1 are really toolboxy, and a lot of the little devils work really well. It’s really unfortunate that it’s creature cards and not creatures, since that would be much easier to generate, but at least it’s every end step, so if you have ways to sacrifice creatures on other players turns you can generate a lot of devils.
FromTheShire: Very cool Lord for some tribes that could use the support, this promises to be a very fun deck with lots of mayhem and sacrificing and being annoying with all of your tokens.
BPhillipYork: You can build around this, but she lacks haste and you’re really talking about, if you focus on her ability, discard/draw for 1 mana which nets you a wolf, and that’s just not that good. But combined with other red (or non-red) play from exile abilities, it can just be a huge source of tokens, which is potentially quite valuable.
FromTheShire: Seems like the value you get is a little underwhelming as a Commander, but it definitely is a fairly unique direction to build in, and we are seeing an ever increasing amount of good impulse effects to pair with it.
BPhillipYork: Yeah, I guess he’s like a ranger that hurls his hamster which has gotten big at people, so that’s okay I guess. There are so many more exciting and fun things to do with Gruul, I don’t see the appeal, personally.
FromTheShire: This is very much a classic lore card for one of the most popular characters in the game, and I feel like they have done a pretty decent job in both sets of capturing him and his miniature giant space hamster. Interesting that we have gotten Minsc as both a creature and a planeswalker, but he consistently makes Boo get large and get in there, no notes.
BPhillipYork: This is mana dork tribal and it’s potentially really terrifying, like, casting 7 mana stuff, taking extra combats, mana dorks getting big then finishing with a big creature, fun straightforward deck.
FromTheShire: Turns your mana dorks into much more survivable creatures, gives you untaps, and then scales into bigger pumps and trample later for when it’s time to close the game out, I dig it.
BPhillipYork: So, making overcost midrange dragons bigger, it’s like fine, but it’s still kind of meh to me.
FromTheShire: Extremely potent ability that is going to close out games fast if it’s not killed. Turns Atarka, World Render into an instant kill, The Ur-Dragon is very close…. You’re here to smash things with dragons and having to smash them half as many times is great. Love it.
TheChirurgeon: I love dragon tribal stuff but the deck needs more stuff to cast on the small end that isn’t ramp and doesn’t compete with the flying dragons I want to push out. This is solid with Atarka, though.
BPhillipYork: This is a really interesting ability, if you have 5 treasures lying around you get 5 rabbits, and there are lots of ways to make tokens bigger or better, or now even tap for mana. So this has the potential to get out of control really really fast. Also, give her double strike.
FromTheShire: Very nice that this has trample built in, as well as triggering for each token of any kind, not just creatures. With all of the Doubling Season effects in green and white this can seriously spiral.
BPhillipYork: It’s too much hug for the group and not enough self-benefit.
FromTheShire: Appropriate that a creature this helpful is a Flumph. Getting to pick the best ability for yourself each turn isn’t bad but yeah this basically just goes in group hug decks.
BPhillipYork: Too expensive, there are some big things you could do with this and combo with big black enchantments, but that’s like 11 mana invested to create scenarios where you double life gaining. Exquisite Blood is a game-ending combo, and it’s better to go grab it than double something absurd, in my opinion.
FromTheShire: Drain and gain strategies are a ton of fun, and this lets you supercharge whichever aspect you need at the time. Not crazy powerful but a lot of the time that’s a benefit.
BPhillipYork: I like the idea of a deck built around just having all the experience creatures in it, some kind of Atraxa variant for funsies. I don’t think it’ll be good, but it’ll be pretty funny.
FromTheShire: With all of the sacrificing aristocrats decks do, this can rapidly become untargetable and turn even tokens into scary threats, rewarding you even more for the thing you already wanted to be doing anyway.
BPhillipYork: I don’t think there are enough awesome party members to quick cast and go nuts with, nor, do I expect there to be enough any time soon. Maybe if the color pie bleeds enough, but dumping out a bunch of creatures and then attacking with a +1/+1 counter on each of them doesn’t seem sufficiently good to me.
FromTheShire: Very nice piece for your Tazri, Beacon of Unity deck, giving you card advantage, growing your team, and making them harder to block.
TheChirurgeon: Even if there were enough good party members, you’d almost certainly need to run a five-color deck to make use of them. There also just aren’t enough effects that key off them or having multiples – why would I run a party member deck over a Wizards deck?
BPhillipYork: This is one of the best goad triggers so far, and one of the most interesting to me, especially since dragons tend to fly so you can actually consistently get the goads off usefully.
FromTheShire: The fact this only triggers once is a bit of a bummer, but you should be able to stuff enough other sources in to draw plenty of cards.
TheChirurgeon: There needs to be more Dragon Tribal effects. The card draw effect here is great and I like the ability to goad opponents into attacking each other and benefit from it. More of these type effects, please.
BPhillipYork: This is a neat trigger to me. Has the colors for Curiosity, can run tons of adventures, and has some small fun dragons. Decent control aspect, a little expensive, but not so much that it’s out of control.
FromTheShire: It’s a cast trigger so even if it gets countered you still get your damage, and with dragons you are going to be slinging some serious numbers around.
FromTheShire: Kind of a one-sided Possibility Storm which is cool, but only triggering once per turn does put a damper on things a bit.
BPhillipYork: There are some enchantments that return to your hand when they go to the graveyard, and you could make an interesting combo with those, as well as some of the dangerous enchantments like Demonic Pact.
FromTheShire: Definitely a bunch of creatures, artifacts, and enchantments you can rebuy, or you can just rely on all of the extra draw to find new things to sacrifice. Love the grind here.
BPhillipYork: I don’t like abilities like this because if you mill something really good someone can blow up Kagha in response. These “play from GY milled cards” (that’s what it effectively does) are neato as value cards, but 4 for a 1/4 that gains deathtouch and mills 2 just isn’t very exciting to me.
FromTheShire: Solid piece in decks like Meren of Clan Nel Toth, doesn’t do enough to be your Commander though.
BPhillipYork: This is a sizable chunk of card advantage for engaging myriad like abilities, if you get to exile 3 and they cost 3 less you can see how you would be able to consistently hit some extra combats, and that could be a game-ending set up. The draw back is a 5 mana value commander without haste that only has 3 toughness, which, if Liara relies on attacking to go off is a bit dangerous.
FromTheShire: Boros does do some solid token builds, which are perfect for sending their deaths to get maximum triggers, and with all of the continued support we are getting for casting from exile, this only stands to improve.
TheChirurgeon: I love that this combos with Duke Ulder Ravengard to create some real cost reduction.
BPhillipYork: I think this is really cool, has a lot of potential. Cloning Dockside Extortionist 3 times, or Solemn Simulacrum is pretty crazy. Also a lot of abilities starting to trigger off of how many people you attack, so potentially big swingy deck.
FromTheShire: Great for generating ETB’s, triggering melee, getting value with Commander Liara….a lot of possibilities.
TheChirurgeon: There are a bunch of great red/white abilities that trigger off attacking and all the “get an additional combat phase” effects are in red/white as well. This is great for a deck that just wants to turn things sideways, though I’m not sure how competitive it’ll be in a more combo-focused (i.e. actually competitive) setting – getting unlimited combat steps is much more difficult.
BPhillipYork: This is definitely a combo piece, you can exile a bunch of stuff and keep untapping Alaundo and resolve any number of win conditions. Also of course, Intruder Alarm, which you know, every time a new set comes out there’s a card that combos with Intruder Alarm, so kind of boring.
FromTheShire: You for sure want a way to activate this repeatedly, just doing it once per turn fairly isn’t going to get you there. Very powerful once you build around it.
BPhillipYork: I guess this is fine as an enabler for dragon decks, like that one that makes token copies of dragons in Temur colors, that’d be fine. What even is a dragon that dragon has some kind of… accordion? Tulum? Concertina
FromTheShire: Clearly a Dragonborn. This is some nice card advantage and information, and it comes down early so it’s on board already once you have the mana to start casting your dragons.
BPhillipYork: Drawing a card for a creature dying is okay, nice to have in the command zone, 5/2 that gets indestructible is fine, I like the suicide black aspect of it. Funnish card, not terribly strong, but I like the guessing aspect of it.
FromTheShire: I really wish they had gone big with the gods in this set, making them mythic and appropriately powerful. I know this is them when they’re in their mortal forms, but still, c’mon. As is, this could make for an interesting big creature/reanimator shell but a lot of time this is just going to be a Grim Haruspex.
BPhillipYork: Big swingy sorceries getting copied is fun. But they are all really expensive so you need a ton of mana, and then even more to pay for this Tiefling to copy it. This will automagically create a ton of magecraft triggers, so I think rather than going crazy with big haymakers, just copy lightning bolt 3 times and get 3 triggers, and that’s better.
FromTheShire: I like exploring this design space, turning the kind of spells that are typically bad in the format because they are single target into haymakers. Especially in black there are a ton of nasty, Mind Twist level spells that I can’t wait to copy for everyone.
BPhillipYork: Again the less than 50% life is indestructible, it’s okay and then you force your opponents to fight (sort of) when your creatures die, which is okay. Red can run Sneak Attack and it’s variants, sacrifice those big fatties, or use Dash abilities, and that’s not so bad, so could be a fun sort of swingy flingy sacrifice deck that forces the game to progress, even if it’s not particularly strong.
FromTheShire: Doesn’t feel particularly murder-y but it’s alright I suppose. I can see a build with a bunch of recursive creatures and threaten effects being solid.
BPhillipYork: I’m sure there’s something to do with this, but Mazzy seems to lack exactly the colors you’d want to do something nutso with this (animation spells and stuff like Treachery) I guess you could just use auras that make your creatures bigger that’s just such a bad concept.
FromTheShire: First impulse is to pair this up with Kaima, the Fractured Calm and a bunch of Auras and let the chaos begin. Being able to return them when the creatures you put them on die is excellent, and it’s until the end of your next turn so if someone else wraths you still at least have an opportunity to recast them.
BPhillipYork: Well I guess you run a bunch of adventures and copy them. Also, run Lucky Clover to copy them again. Of course, red is the best “from exile” color which is where you’d get a lot of the value from a card like this, so this seems pretty “unpushed”.
FromTheShire: This is immediately what every deck going heavy on Adventures is switching to, and I like when we get Commanders clearly made to helm fun tribal or theme decks because there’s a ton of demand for it. People love the fun and challenge of making gimmick decks and playing them with friends at the kitchen table.
BPhillipYork: So this goes infinite with Intruder Alarm (two untaps go on the stack, in response you can sac one to make 2 treasures then when the next untap happens you sacrifice one of the treasures, then lather, rinse, repeat; which is at least a thing. Of course, that spell isn’t in the color identity, which is probably good since that would be kind of boring. It is just a fun sacrifice for value and generate a ton of treasures and constructs. Really too bad it’s not a dwarf, would be really fun with Magda, but beggars (or Gnome Artificers) can’t be choosers.
FromTheShire: Mardu artifacts isn’t a common list but there is a ton of support in the colors for it if you sit down to do it. We even recently got a dope white untapper in Drumbellower so you can go pretty big with this and all of red’s artifact support, then toss in stuff like Marionette Master from black, and you’ve got a real solid build.
BPhillipYork: People are excited about this card, and it’s fine for Temur dragons, and I guess it will let you make an absurd amount of dragons and dragon token copies, which isn’t so bad if your opponents are going to let you make an absurd amount of dragon token copies. In theory, you could cheat out originals using Sneak Attack and it’s ilk and letting the copies trigger then the original die, and that’s kind of interesting. Basically just ramp and then cast this and then cast dragons. Maybe some additional copy effects. Hordes of dragons.
FromTheShire: Hell yes, I’m so in. Dragons are a blast already, and this set has given us a way to double their power and now a way to double how many of them you have, in addition to a bunch of other sweet cards. Super glad they put the legendary rider in since most dragon decks end up stuffed to the gills with them. Great as the Commander, great in the 99.
BPhillipYork: I guess this is a cycle. Would be kind of neat if some of them had indestructible when you had more than half your starting life total. But there’s probably some backstory I don’t know about. Making enchantment copies of creatures that die is neato. But then also 7 mana. And then what? Force out creatures somehow, let them die, then get copies? It reeks of battlecruiser, though you can use it in the god-pile with The World Tree.
FromTheShire: Uh yes, you could say there are about 300 novels and 60 years worth of backstory, and the whole story of this set is the Dead Three and the forces of basically Hell attacking Baldur’s Gate. I actually really like how the indestructibility works as well since it’s during the Time of Troubles, when the entire pantheon (with one exception) is walking the world as mortals. As for the card itself….eh? It’s not like anyone is tripping over themselves to play Séance, though the fact they become enchantments opens up some intriguing possibilities.
BPhillipYork: I guess you can double activate Aladdin’s Ring.
FromTheShire: Kurkesk, Onakke Ancient is a neat deck, and getting a similar card that adds blue and white is pretty cool.
TheChirurgeon: I really like this, though now I’ve gotta go through gatherer and figure out all the abilities I’d actually use this one. I reckon I’m going to be disappointed iwth the actual number of 4+ mana activated abilities I find on red/white/blue creatures.
BPhillipYork: So, gate deck. I already made the deck, and already wrote the article.
FromTheShire: Extremely cool to get a Gate Commander so we can follow in the footsteps of other formats and turn Gates from a meme into a real deck.
TheChirurgeon: I am extremely here for Gates and Gate deck.
BPhillipYork: Cool for drafting and stuff. I think it should be a changeling. Having two enchantments in the command zone might be something that could be exploited, though I’m not sure how.
FromTheShire: It’s nice that we’ve gotten a couple of these now that effectively let you make whatever color combo you want, although I think most of the time you’re better off with just using one of the Backgrounds from the color you want to be in.
TheChirurgeon: Yeah I’m still not sold on drafting Commander, but the concept is cool enough. Love the art.
BPhillipYork: This is neat, most neat for a deck with no creatures IMO. I’m not sure if it’s good, but it’s neat.
FromTheShire: The tension here really fits with the card, but board wipes are like the one place I really want it to just work the way I want when I want.
BPhillipYork: 3 mana to get a 4/4 that draws 2 when it hits that has trample, but only if crewed by 2 creatures. I think that’s playable, if you have a game plan that will let you consistently crew it. Thankfully you can overtap if you want, so you can tap a 4 power creature and a 1 power creature even though that 1 power creature is unplayable.
FromTheShire: Nice piece for vehicle decks, the draw is something you can really use.
BPhillipYork: With Containment Priest this is like a creature lock. Which is neato. I also think the idea can create lots of ETB effects, which is an interesting side effect. Creatures enter, then they get exiled. Then you cast another creature, which enters then exiles, then the first creature enters again. You could exploit this with things like Spellseeker to grab all combo pieces you need.
FromTheShire: Maybe in Panharmonicon type decks you can break the symmetry enough for this to be worth it but most decks have quite a few ETB’s that you’re going to let them rebuy.
BPhillipYork: This seems unnecessary. If it’s a multi-class baldric, the logic just doesn’t make sense to me. And the abilities don’t really gel that well with each other. Haste is great, and I guess you can use this as another lightning greaves if your commander is a wizard, but it doesn’t provide the hexproof, which is also valuable.
FromTheShire: It only really goes in party or Warrior decks, but it gives a solid set of abilities.
BPhillipYork: So, Spelljammer? It’s a neat ability though, reanimating by hitting after exiling is pretty exciting.
FromTheShire: Yes. I’m almost positive it’s Captain N’ghathrod‘s ship. You’re in a bit of an awkward position waiting for enough creatures to hit one person’s graveyard in order to be worth exiling, while balancing against waiting so long that you don’t have time to do the reanimation.
BPhillipYork: This is a decent card for making dungeoneering payoff.
FromTheShire: Gives the initiative, makes mana, gives you free stuff eventually, solid.
BPhillipYork: Fun for dice rolling decks. On its own it will take about 9-10 turns to get a tutor off this which isn’t really tenable, and otherwise, it’s just a 3 mana rock. But as a fun payoff for dice decks, it’s a solid piece.
FromTheShire: In the specific deck this is made for, pretty darn good. Otherwise, not worth it, play a 2 mana rock instead.
BPhillipYork: Choose your own adventure gates, there’s 5 of these, biggest thing to me is that it lets you make Maze’s End decks with 3 color commanders.
FromTheShire: A neat set of new gates, getting to pick your extra color is nice.
TheChirurgeon: MORE GATES
BPhillipYork: This is really cool to have, makes gate decks a lot more ramp-y.
FromTheShire: Excellent ramp piece, excellent flavor text, even enters untapped. If you’re playing Gates this is an incredibly obvious slam dunk.
TheChirurgeon: POUNDING TABLE MORE GATES
BPhillipYork: Making gates enter untapped is pretty nice.
FromTheShire: Removing the biggest downside of Gates is superb.
Next Time: Commander Decks
That wraps up our look at the set’s multicolored and colorless cards. Join us next time as we do a deeper dive into the Commander decks released alongside the set, picking out our favorites, and talking about the future build-arounds. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.