Just in time for Halloween we’re returning once again to Innistrad. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and we’ve got an entire set of spooky new cards to shake up every format. In today’s set review we’re taking a deep dive into the set’s cards, picking out the ones we like, and talking about their impacts on key formats.
BPhilipYork: The disturb ability here is really really strong, and UW for a 2/3 with lifelink and a decent stax ability is very playable in my opinion. The downside of course is you can only get 1 Clue per turn, or else this card would be really really out of control, disturbing into a wrath would be enormous. Even so I think in Azorius decks this could see play.
FromTheShire: Both sides are valuable, but you really want the apparition. I would like to give this a shot in Esper control or mill/ self mill decks for sure.
BPhilipYork: This is moderately playable in certain deck types, you can flicker a Peregrine Drake or an Agent of Treachery so it slots nicely into Brago, King Eternal decks and Yorion decks, but aside from that, its speed is too slow and so it can’t be used for utility purposes to protect your creatures.
FromTheShire: I think this is kind of tough in commander unless you’re using it as part of a combo on your turn. If the tap out Esper control deck I have been hearing rumblings about actually materializes in Standard I could absolutely see this being a useful tool in a meta with tons of disturbed and transformed creatures.
BPhilipYork: Honestly for a Teferi this card is so tame. Useful as a component in going off with Chain Veil decks, or any deck where you really really want to untap a powerful artifact, something like Magistrate’s Scepter. Other than that I don’t see this standing out enough to try to protect it in a 4 player game.
FromTheShire: Another possible Standard powerhouse, people have already noticed that this gains infinite life with Lithoform Engine, a mana dork, and any land, and makes infinite mana as well if the dork taps for more than 1. If you’re so inclined you can definitely pull off the same kinds of shenanigans in a Superfriends deck.
BPhilipYork: Mediocre for Zombie tribal at best, and boring even so.
FromTheShire: There’s a Dimir Zombies deck already putting up results in Standard with this in the main, and getting the half of the lord effect you really care about on a 2 drop isn’t bad in commander either.
BPhilipYork: Offhand what occurs to me is Sage of Hours and using this to take a bunch of turns by exiling a lot of creatures from your graveyard. In theory this could be your commander and you could use it to pump him and make him unblockable, but I find this Ludevic kind of unimpressive.
FromTheShire: This is an excellent callback, but nothing exciting in EDH.
BPhilipYork: This is a really powerful card, you can use it to nab a win con off the top of someone’s library that has tutored it there, you can play it rather than cast it so it will let you grab a land, and it has flashback, so you can easily pitch it to a draw/discard spell just to save flashback against a tutor.
FromTheShire: A ton of utility across multiple formats, I really like this card in myriad decks.
Dinglis: So what I said about reprinting Think Twice, this card is solid and will likely be the backbone of many UBx control and midrange decks.
BPhilipYork: This seems like a really nice filter for Rakdos, tying nicely with the theme of opponents life lost, and synergizing nicely with Prosper and other cast from exile cards.
FromTheShire: Florian can let you dig through your deck for a specific card at a very aggressive pace, especially in a tribe with a ton of fliers. Being able to pick the best card out of your top 5-10 every turn and play it is outstanding.
BPhilipYork: Strong buff for a go-wide vampire strategy.
FromTheShire: This lord making you do a little extra work is completely worth it since it leaves its buff behind after it dies.
BPhilipYork: I think this is potentially quite strong in combination with cards like Entomb, Buried Alive, and Unmarked Grave. It’s a bit pricy but it lets you get a total of 4 creatures across 11 mana, putting 2 to play and 2 to hand.
FromTheShire: Definitely strong, this is a great tool for reanimator decks. The exile only triggers at the end of the turn too, so if you blink or sacrifice the creature it doesn’t get exiled.
BPhilipYork: This seems like a way to try to force the day/night issue which I don’t think will connect in commander.
FromTheShire: Absolutely love this card. If there’s an argument against a control deck existing in Standard, this is a massive part of why. It makes creatures, it lets you flash in creatures on their end step and gives you great counter play against counterspells, and it turns into a beater of a creature itself. It’s so good I expect this to see play outside of Werewolf decks. The synergy with Bard Class is interesting, and in the Werewolf deck specifically being able to trigger Tovolar on your upkeep to make it night and then casting the transformed Arlinn, the Moon’s Fury for 2 mana and beating down with a surprise 5/5 seems excellent. The same holds true in Tovolar commander decks and I believe this is slotting into every single one of them.
BPhilipYork: This is a decent control card for Gruul, notably you can cast it on your own lands if you so desire, and in that sense it’s an improvement on Harrow, since it’s more flexible and it has flashback.
FromTheShire: I never like giving away resources in commander, but especially in other formats sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
Dinglis: Roses are Red, Remember Blue, Gruul gets you dead, playing control is cruel.
BPhilipYork: Seems neat for a certain kind of deck, but RG for a 2/2 that makes mana is a but underwhelming unless you’re using it to power combat tricks.
FromTheShire: Absolute staple in Werewolf decks, including in Standard.
BPhilipYork: Fun werewolf commander for casual.
FromTheShire: Oh baby. At long last, after….like 10 years? of begging, we finally have a great Werewolf Commander who actually offers tribal support. Edric, Spymaster of Trest is probably a tier 2 cEDH commander because of how damn good this kind of draw is, and while we don’t have the same kind of cheap, evasive threats that blue does, we have ways to get big and trample over and take multiple combat steps so we can get bigger and trample over again to draw more cards so we can end the game. Tovolar is cheap so they can come down early and start causing havoc and drawing you cards, and it can’t be overstated how huge it is to be able to consistently flip your somewhat overcosted Human Werewolves into their terrifying alter egos. They even give you a built in Kessig Wolf Run to help you push damage through and get that sweet draw train rolling. Extremely excited to build this deck, and even more excited to see what other tools we might get in the next set. This is already shaping up to be a huge part of making Gruul terrifying in Standard as well.
BPhilipYork: Another way to force day night, which again, unfortunately, I just don’t think will see much play in commander. If it’s good enough to be playable it’ll probably break constructed formats, but otherwise there will be probably just not be enough support for day/night cards.
FromTheShire: An excellent support piece for Tovolar that gives you an imitation if they’re not out, and lets you double up your draw triggers if they are. Very nice.
BPhilipYork: Inherently turning all humans into mana dorks has a lot of potential, there are quite a lot of human token generators. Is it worth building a deck around? I think that’s the rub. If you do it’ll be a very vulnerable deck to blowing up the commander, but if you don’t the effect isn’t likely to occur often enough to be very meaningful.
FromTheShire: You’re somewhat restricted by the colors, but this is a fun deck or part of the 99 in 5 color humans. The mana ability is super useful, and there’s a metric ton of counter synergies that work well here too.
BPhilipYork: Enchantress as an instant, though it has some potential since it’s ETB rather than cast, so if you wanted to force some kind of Replenish deck it might be workable.
FromTheShire: Potentially massive for Modern Elves, this alternate to the banned Glimpse of Nature is extremely powerful. You have to splash white but this also triggers off of token creatures entering, fetching a Dryad Arbor, the creatures you get from Collected Company…. It also has flashback so you can fire it off early to draw a card or two and still have access to it on your big win the game turn. The same holds true for decks like Rhys the Redeemed that absolutely rain tokens.
BPhilipYork: Pretty mediocre sadly. Read this card and compare it to Winota, Joiner of Forces, you can certainly build some cleric/angel human deck for fun and profit, but it won’t be that fun, or profitable.
FromTheShire: I think you can still build a fun deck here, Humans are extremely deep. Probably not my cup of tea though. Along those same lines, there’s absolutely the potential for a Standard deck here, we have a bunch of good Humans and as a curve topping threat, lord effect, and draw engine, Sigarda is very good.
BPhilipYork: Strong card, can return many useful creatures to the board, has flashback, and the exile is only on death, so you can flicker or return to hand if it’s important to keep the combo piece around, but the exile on death is still a serious downside. Also, I challenge you to explain the art.
FromTheShire: I’m not sure this is worth it with the mana and exile restrictions in Commander, but there will certainly be decks that can use it.
BPhilipYork: Awesomely creepy art and a really powerful card. A sacrifice trigger and a build in sacrifice ability, though sadly it’s not a perfect sac outlet since it costs mana. Nonetheless, it has 2 power and toughness, meaning it’s a legit target for virtually every reanimation effect in the game, which adds a lot of simplicity and utility using it as a combo piece for aristocrats’ decks. Again A++ art.
FromTheShire: Gains you life and lets you dig while you’re doing your sacrifice shenanigans, absolutely love it.
BPhilipYork: Delayed triggers like this are great because they are confusing, and it’s always nice when magic comes out with cards that have unusual rules effects. As a 4/5 flyer with lifelink for 5 Liessa is okay as a commander or in the 99, you can recur a creature over and over, but only once per turn, so that means you want to plan for stax and force the game to be grindy.
FromTheShire: This is always a fun effect, and a solid addition to the ranks of Commanders who like playing one of my personal favorite stunt cards, Shadowborn Apostle. Also a potential control finisher if that deck materializes.
BPhilipYork: Powerful if you absolutely know you will have tokens, like your commander is a token generator or you are running many investigators and treasure generators, in that case a powerful control card and maybe even helping your aristocrats deck generate triggers. Unfortunately it’s at sorcery speed, so you can’t stop a game-winner with it, and that’s probably enough drawback, combined with the sacrifice additional cost, to make it not show up often.
FromTheShire: Exiling any nonland permanent is excellent utility to have in your deck, and in these colors especially a lot of time the sacrifice is a bonus. I’m here for it.
BPhilipYork: This strikes me as an obviously playable search card, Izzet colors have all kinds of magecraft triggers now and ways to generate mana from casting, and searching for the particular instant you need to go off is really important in that kind of scenario. Flashback is icing on the cake.
FromTheShire: Izzet is always on the lookout for more cantrips, and while this isn’t a guarantee, in the right deck it can certainly get you there.
Dinglis: A strong card for control and spell decks, you will need more hits than you first think but could be solid.
BPhilipYork: I think this card is a nightmare. Copy your next spell, then you can flash it back and copy another spell. Huge card for Izzet spellslinger decks and Niv-Mizzet decks and storm decks.
FromTheShire: Aggressively costed version of this effect that also has flashback, going to see a ton of play.
BPhilipYork: Fun for the day-night thing, sadly they didn’t put in a Jeskai day/night commander, that would’ve gone a long way, or else put in some tri-color partner with combos. Disappointing.
FromTheShire: In Commander I don’t think the day/night counters are what get you there but you have many other ways of getting counters, and Mizzix of the Izmagnus has shown us just how busted this kind of mana cheating can be.
FromTheShire: You will be behind and want to wrath an awful lot in Commander games, and this lets you basically save your best creature when you do so. Solid.
BPhilipYork: This is amazing for self-mill decks, like a potential combo piece that leads immediately to a win.
FromTheShire: I think if you’re not using this to combo with it’s going to be underwhelming pretty frequently.
BPhilipYork: This card is capable of making a huge fattie and dumping a huge amount of cards into your graveyard at once, though the mana cost to do so would be enormous, but even say putting 4 into X will then let you get 2 zombies with Diregraf Rebirth. In the manner of such decks you might easily sacrifice them all for mana and then turn around and Noxious Revival Old Stickfingers back into your hand to recast. I do wish they’d have stuck with wording like “put x-2” into your graveyard, so you could fold in commander tax for a fun commander.
FromTheShire: This is pretty cool as a fairly played general, and absolutely disgusting in a creature-light Necrotic Ooze shell where it serves as basically half of your combo sitting in your command zone.
BPhilipYork: If it had instant speed this would be really something, but as it is I’m not sure there’s much use.
FromTheShire: This is right at home in decks like Feather, the Redeemed where you’re spellslinging your commander into a deadly and difficult to remove threat. I hate seeing it cast every turn against me already.
BPhilipYork: REALLY HORSE GEESE. WTF. So uh this effect is really really powerful in fact. I guess that’s the power of horse geese, but you can freely cast spells like Flame Rift, or Earthquake, or Rolling Earthquake. So that’s nothing to sneeze at indeed, you just need to get pro red onto Rem, Karolous, Stalwart Slayer himself, since it’s “another permanent” but white is good at giving protection. Frankly that’s pretty much a deck in and of itself, Rem, repeatedly AOE damage and board clear, and protect your Horse Geese riding… does he have a sword? He’s going to hit something with a sword when he’s on a horse goose with a beak that’s about as big as him? Can we do that 40k sergeant riding a tank meme here please?
FromTheShire: I have a Boros burn deck for Commander because I am a degenerate weirdo deck builder and this is a welcome addition.
BPhilipYork: I’m pretty sure this is for standard or modern or something, and in that format it’s probably quite dangerous.
FromTheShire: I’ve been hearing rumbles that this is a bit of a sleeper hit but we’ll have to see.
Dinglis: Could be good for the Jeskai deck in Pioneer its a little small but has a shot.
BPhilipYork: Awesome flavor, good card, fun, frog tokens for everyone.
FromTheShire: This set’s meme card that everyone loses their mind over, this is at least very fun and good.
BPhilipYork: This is a confusing card but I could see it being worthwhile, especially to get back a flashback card that you then get to cast twice more.
FromTheShire: Interesting utility and worst case it’s a mana dork.
BPhilipYork: Okay so when a land goes to your graveyard it gets bigger, then you can put it in your hand by removing counters, then you can return lands to your hand when it leaves the battlefield. Okay well that’s a confusing ooze, but there’s a lot of Simic land fuckery going around so I could see working this in various ways, but it probably underperforms vs the oracle and the Tireless Tracker and Tireless Provisioner.
FromTheShire: Not the best Simic lands Commander but solid for Ooze tribal, which is a thing they have been continuing to provide support for recently.
FromTheShire: Unlikely to make it into Werewolf decks, but if the Humans deck materializes this will absolutely be in it for its Fiend Hunter impression.
FromTheShire: This slots right into Edric decks, but other than that I struggle to see where this has a home in any format.
BPhilipYork: You can fetch a lot of neat things with this card, including any artifact land, or some big artifacts that generate mana or something else, like Chromatic Orrery, you can also grab a Gauntlet of Might with this thing, or a combo piece like Lion’s Eye Diamond, Grim Monolith, or Basalt Monolith. So having an artifact tutor that also lets you grab a land is pretty good. It’s not a huge wow factor but this card will see a lot of play.
FromTheShire: Outstanding tutoring for mana rocks in the colors that don’t have access to land ramp, or just for a wide away of the most powerful artifacts in the game like Phyrexian Altar.
BPhilipYork: Cool art, card is a bit underwhelming
FromTheShire: Potentially quite interesting for budget 5 color decks.
BPhilipYork: I dunno, I’d like to see this be good but it feels like it will just miss it. Too bad they banned Golos, he was the go-to commander for making weird jank work.
FromTheShire: Love it. It’s a 3 mana rock which isn’t great but it’s fine, it introduces day/night into the game to incidentally gain you life and let you loot, and lets you control your Werewolves’ transformation, which is the single biggest struggle in the deck.
BPhilipYork: I think this card is kind of hilarious, but not actually, like, good, but even so, funny. I love the idea of an attacking inn.
FromTheShire: An untapped land that serves as a sac outlet and then flips into a creature that drains and gains and phases out to protect itself? Signe me right the fuck up.
Dinglis: I just call it Heimlich Hospital (Leave a comment if you get the reference.) It’s a solid card and a very powerful effect to have onto a land.
BPhilipYork: An allied cycle of tapped unless you control two or more lands, So this is another conditional ETB tapped dual lands, and in that instance they probably aren’t really playable in commander unless you have no choice.
FromTheShire: I’m going to strongly disagree on this one. These may not be playable in cEDH, but these are an absolute home run in Commander. The checklands are similarly unfetchable and see widespread play, including around 25% of all decks registered on edhrec which is the same as check lands, battle lands, or bond lands vs the approximately 50% rate of shocklands. Unlike the battle lands they count any lands for their tapped condition so on anything other than turn 1 and 2, these will just be untapped duals, and if you really want to fetch for them there are ways in green, black, or using artifacts to get them. The average deck will have plenty of turns where even a tapped land will be fine because you don’t have something on curve, and the number of games where that happens where it loses you the game are vanishingly small.
Dinglis: This isn’t quite what Pioneer needs but they are good for standard, I would really like Fast Lands for Pioneer but what else is new.
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.