This week we’re covering the new Universes Beyond Commander release for Magic: the Gathering, which combines two of our favorite games in the best way. Today we’re talking about the new cards in the Chaos deck.
The Ruinous Powers is a 3-color, blue, black, and red deck, mostly focused on Demons and randomness, but also has a spellslinging subtheme. There’s a really nice mix of Chaos Space Marines, Demons, Mutants, a Knight, a Titan, and not one but two Primarchs that does a great job capturing the feel of the big tent of gross weirdos who serve the gods of Chaos.
Returning Mechanic: Cascade
We don’t get a new mechanic in this deck, but that’s mostly because there’s already an existing one that’s perfect for the appropriately named Chaos in Cascade. Much like being blessed by the gods, when you fire off a spell you know you’re going to get some kind of reward, but will it be an impressive gift that carries you to victory or the equivalent of a spawn?
Abbadon the Despoiler
BPhillipYork: This dude is suspiciously close to Yidris, though not requiring him to attack is a big deal. 5 mana is probably easier than UBRG to generate. I’ve heard the argument Abaddon should have UBRG in his colors (1 for each chaos color), and honestly, the similarity to Yidis is probably the reason. You can definitely build a whole deck around cascading out your whole deck, there’s a particularly fun interaction to be had with Prosper, Tome Bound. The trick to breaking this guy, as it is with Yidris, is to abuse the “free” suspend spells which have no mana value and can’t normally be cast without suspending, cascade overrides that. Abaddon is also a 5/5 with trample, which is, beefcake.
FromTheShire: There’s a reason that Sunbird’s Invocation is frequently called Sunbird’s Winvocation, and that’s because Cascade is a very strong mechanic even in the off-brand form. Abaddon is somewhat attenuated by only giving it to spells that cost less than the life your opponents have lost, meaning if you have to use your most reliable way of shaving their life down, combat, your free spells will be in your second main and less likely to come down with haste and kill people. That being said, I use the word ‘somewhat’ deliberately, since there are plenty of ways to get it pre combat if you build your deck to do so. Appropriately strong for a Big Bad, can’t wait to play him.
Rocco Gest: Wave upon wave of heretic crashing against shores of the Imperium. This is a cool and fun little card. He’s like Rakdos, Lord of Riots except instead of making your Eldrazi cheaper, he instead does the cool fun mechanic of casting cards for free off your deck!
Be’lakor, the Dark Master
BPhillipYork: For a fun Demon-themed Grixis (red/black/blue) deck this dude is extremely solid and fun. Almost all the Demons lie within red and black (along with Devils, which are, different) and in truth most Demons in magic are black, but still, this guy just seems fun. I think Be’lakor has annoying apostrophe placement, but decent potential for a funner, LGS style deck.
FromTheShire: Love. It. Love the very appropriate black selfish card draw for life, love flinging around damage with massive Demons like Kuro, Pitlord and Lord of the Pit, love the art….just excellent all around.
Rocco Gest: This kicks absolute ass. I love tribal effects like this. Apart from Kaalia the Vast there just isn’t a legend that synergizes with Demons in the same way that a Dragon legend might be synergistic with Dragons. Adding Electropotence on Demon ETB means I might actually play a Demon tribal deck. Just playing a bunch of Demons and beating my opponents down. It’s Dragons but meaner!
BPhillipYork: So 5 for a 3/2 with cascade that has enters battlefield deals damage equal to your storm count is pretty dangerous with a cascading commander. It’s pretty combo-ey. And Fun. Also fun because red has a bunch of ways to make temporary token copies of creatures, which will in turn generate even more storm count enters battlefield. The cost of 5 is enough to make it difficult to pull off, but it’s closer to how battlecruiser should be, in my opinion, Noise Marine has the potential to be an enormous broadside to your opponents board.
FromTheShire: Great flavor here, the more noise you make the more it hurts your target. Solid piece of removal for something annoying, continues your cascade chain, clones well.
Blood for the Blood God!
BPhillipYork: I love this card. It’s fun and goodish, a big stupid haymaker card that relies on clearing the board to get it off. It’s not that hard to get up to 8 creatures killed – one forced board sacrifice is 4, so it’s only 2 of those, or a ping killing off lots of 1/1s. There’s also ways to build your deck where you want to kill a bunch of your own creatures, then cast this to recover.
FromTheShire: Extremely appropriate use of Khorne’s number all over this card, and the cost reduction works perfectly. Excellent way to refill your hand after a board wipe, or just because you want to, and slings a solid chunk of damage right into everyone’s face as well.
Rocco Gest: This card has potentially awesome synergy with Blasphemous Act. Casting Blasphemous Act for, probably R, then following up with this for BBR is simply amazing. If you’re smart you’ll have Abaddon on the field already, but also somehow protected him from the Blaspehmous Act.
Kill! Maim! Burn!
BPhillipYork: At 5 mana this is a lot of mana. Sure it’ll let you kill a creature, and a destroy an artifact, but 5 mana for something like that is really too much. It’s nice that it’s instant speed but are you really going to hold up that much for interaction?
FromTheShire: It’s definitely not the most cost effective, but it’s perfect for the deck. The destroys are very useful, and when you are able to knock someone out with the burn you are going to laugh your ass off.
Rocco Gest: I like flavor of this card. Destroy creature (kill), deal 3 damage (maim), destroy artifact (burn). Too bad they had to list the modes alphabetically.
Let the Galaxy Burn
BPhillipYork: Strange card, at a minimum it will cascade off a 6 and deal 2 damage to each creature that didn’t enter the battlefield this turn. I’m not sure how you’re going to get the payoff of this card, how are you going to have enough mana to flicker all your creatures or something and cast this? It’s a strange design. I guess if you get a creature with the cascade it’ll be protected.
FromTheShire: Sometimes it’s not about min max-ing your value, it’s about spinning the cascade wheel to see what happens and burning everything down indiscriminately and damn the consequences. Incredibly Rakdos card and I love it.
Keeper of Secrets
BPhillipYork: This is really good, yet another way to benefit off casting from exile, which is increasingly a thing and a thing that’s not just for Prosper, Tome-Bound anymore. Impulse draw is everywhere, and benefitting off that is pretty cool and fun.
FromTheShire: Yeah this is a really nice way to get a bunch of extra damage just from casting your cascade spells you were already looking to cast anyway. Solid body with first strike and haste as well which is very useful.
BPhillipYork: Definitely a flavorful card, but a 5/4 with haste that doesn’t really “do” anything just recurs as a beater isn’t all that threatening. Potentially useful if you end up in a grind fest, but generally if you’re recurring something over and over you want it to hit something, or have a big ETB or a draw or something.
FromTheShire: There’s something to be said for a creature that just will not die. Nothing fancy but you know he’ll always be there for you in your time of need.
Rocco Gest: Is it an expensive boy to cast from grave? Yes. Is being able to “Escape”
infinitely a pretty good ability? Also yes. I think despite the high cost Helbrute has earned a slot in my Tymaret, the Murder King deck.
The Horus Heresy
BPhillipYork: This is a fun card to me, lot of potential upsides, the real go-to here, in my opinion, is in a sacrifice/recursion deck, potentially recurring enchantments and grabbing. 6 mana is a lot, but this cards ability to grab you a couple of creatures, card draw, and potentially sacrificing them for even more value is pretty fun.
FromTheShire: Brother will fight brother and the galaxy will be plunged into eternal war. Borrow a few great creatures here, draw some cards there… the only downside is you’re probably going to get 3 of your creatures blown up in the third chapter. Fitting I suppose, you ARE the one who set everything on fire.
The Lost and the Damned
BPhillipYork: This has some really interesting connotations, “from exile” “do something” are potentially really important triggers. Creating 3/3 Spawns aren’t the most dangerous things, but they can generate an ETB and Impact Tremors, be sacrifice for value or even a Fling. The art is also pretty awesome.
FromTheShire: Nice way to generate incidental tokens. On their own they aren’t impressive but there is always utility for them.
Lucius the Eternal
BPhillipYork: Another hasty recurring that is neat but doesn’t really do much but swing.
FromTheShire: The flavor game is on point here. My one quibble is how does the renowned duelist not have at least first strike?
Magnus the Red
BPhillipYork: This is uh, dangerous as hell. Scaling cost reduction is a crazy thing. The combination with something like Kykar, Wind’s Fury is pretty out of control. Strixhaven offered some colorless only sorceries, but there’s also the potential for huge X-spells with massive cost reduction tacked on.
FromTheShire: Sooooo once again, cost reducers are one of the most powerful things you can do in Magic, and when you apply it to instants and sorceries it’s crazy strong. There are a ton of ways to make tokens by casting those spells to fuel your next spell and so on, and next thing you know Magnus has buried you.
Rocco Gest: Oh cool another awesome Izzet token generating legend. Amazing synergy with The Locust God. Casting Enter the Inifinite for UUU is actually a really cool thing to do and nobody will be upset buy it.
Mutalith Vortex Beast
BPhillipYork: This is a totally fun card, I like the heads I win, tails you lose but it’s still a coin flip. Also a fun card to flicker in and out of play or recur.
FromTheShire: Love coin flips, love them even more when both options are good for you.
BPhillipYork: Fits really well into spell slinger decks, which seems to be one of the themes of this chaos deck. I love the idea of casting Saw in Half on this thing.
FromTheShire: Guttersnipe has been a staple in these kinds of decks for years, and getting a double-redundant copy is very nice.
The Ruinous Powers
BPhillipYork: This is bonkers fun, not hugely strong but fits well for Prosper, Tome-Bound and other cards that care about cast from exile triggers, which there are an increasing number of.
FromTheShire: Great way to get card advantage, annoy an opponent, prevent top of deck tutors, get exile triggers, and drain their life. So a lot of modes I like.
BPhillipYork: This is a decent copy spell trigger, one thing that’s really nice about it is it will automatically trigger when you cast, so your opponents can’t two for one by countering a spell you are trying to Fork or some such.
FromTheShire: Know what else is in the same realm of power as cheating costs? Doubling things, especially when those things are huge X spells or extra turns, or any of the other nasty stuff you can do with big mana.
BPhillipYork: This is solid creature removal for BB, goes through indestructible. Limited application in commander generally, though occasionally you’ll get a 2 for 1 with something like this if you are targeting a really common creature.
FromTheShire: Instant speed token destruction is nice, if a bit niche. There’s always utility creatures that need to die though.
BPhillipYork: This card kind of puzzles me, I feel like it should be turn over until you get a Demon, but it’s a weird Polymorph effect. The trouble is, it’s a 3/3 without haste and a weak evasion, so it’s a pretty slow way to polymorph, and also it is a creature, which Polymorph decks generally avoid so that they can get 1 specific creature out. Pretty fun flavor for this card though.
FromTheShire: Perfect flavor, will you get an awesome Demon and deal a ton of damage, or will you get a worthless spawn? The very essence of the cure of the dark gods’ gifts.
BPhillipYork: This is pretty solid, wiping something out then clearing the board, typically -3/-3 is about what you need to kill everything that isn’t absolutely enormous.
FromTheShire: Fuck you in particular, and then wipe out all of the small utility creatures and tokens, pretty damn solid.
Bloodcrusher of Khorne
BPhillipYork: This is a solid way to get trample everywhere, which is sometimes something you just need.
FromTheShire: Makes perfect sense for Khorne, and gives an extremely useful ability army wide, excellent.
BPhillipYork: There are now quite a few of these extra combat creatures, enough to really make a deck that pretty aggressively goes off by taking extra combat consistently on turn 3 or 4. Its ability to keep attacking is nice, though this one doesn’t untap anything else, but even swinging for 18 damage a turn really is knocking a chunk off of the 80 damage you’d need to do to win a game through combat damage.
FromTheShire: Whoooooo boy. Now that is one ANGRY lad. Flying and trample so you know you’re getting through and getting 2-3 extra combats, give yourself some vigilance with something like Angel’s Trumpet and end the damn game right here and now.
Rocco Gest: BIG. SWINGY. GUY. I love getting 3 additional combat steps in one turn.
BPhillipYork: Destroying 1 of 3 random permanents isn’t bad at all, especially if you have ways to recur it. 5 is a little pricey for the effect, but it definitely fits the flavor of chaos pretty well. Also the fact it’s a construct lets you fetch it with certain other construct cards.
FromTheShire: Love that this triggers both on ETB and dies so if you’re reanimating it like these colors like to do you’ll be blowing up stuff left and right.
Rocco Gest: I love Council’s Judgement, but dumber and on a stick.
BPhillipYork: Potentially a counter to an opponent’s combo, a bit dangerous, but can also just be used on your own creature as a traditional polymorph.
FromTheShire: A mass Chaos Warp of sorts, it lets you pick and choose how much gambling you want to do. Love how much randomness this offers, very thematic.
Chaos Terminator Lord
BPhillipYork: Giving out double strike is potentially huge, it’s one of the abilities that WotC hasn’t made particularly easily available, since there are a lot of creatures that function off dealing combat damage.
FromTheShire: Not very beefy for a Chaos Lord, especially in Terminator armor, but he hands out a buff like a good warlord does, and it’s a great one.
Rocco Gest: Handing out double strike is cool and good, but this guy is kind of underwhelming for being a Chaos Lord in Terminator armor. I’d prefer he at least had menace as well.
BPhillipYork: Abusable if you want to, you can free cast the suspend spells with this, also just potentially a value engine.
FromTheShire: Cascade is good, and more cascade is more gooder. I’d probably prefer this on a cheaper body, but I’m happy to have it
Rocco Gest: I just like that his ability costs 3 to activate. Really feels like I’m going to roll a die, get a 2, and move on with my turn. It’s cool to give your next spell cascade, but I’d be hard pressed to find a time that I want to activate this rather than spend more mana on other cooler cards or abilities.
BPhillipYork: I think this is a really neat equipment. Creature control combined with gaining a big bonus from having the thing exile is neato. It costs a ton, which is kind of unwieldy, but potentially lets you swing for a lot after destroying a large threat.
FromTheShire: Oh baby, it’s the murder sword itself, and it does not disappoint. Exiling creatures is always extremely useful, and by the time you can cast this and have a worthwhile target, this should give a juicy boost to whatever you equip it to. Plus that art…..
Exalted Flamer of Tzeentch
BPhillipYork: Very solid trigger especially combined with the recursion effect. Could be abused if you trim your graveyard for a taking turns deck to be your loop to keep casting extra turn spells.
FromTheShire: Great source of spell recursion, even if you’re just getting something random it’s something you put in your deck for a reason and value is value. Getting to ping people is gravy on top.
Rocco Gest: This guy goes really well with Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph from that other deck! Slowly crafting a new Izzet deck as I review these cards.
Great Unclean One
BPhillipYork: Definitely fits in the theme, the creation of 1/3 vanilla Demons isn’t too special unless your deck really cares about having a lot of Demons for some reason.
FromTheShire: Nice drain effect, and while the Demons aren’t impressive on their own, there are a bunch of things that care about Demons entering or the number of them you have, so it fits well.
Herald of Slaanesh
BPhillipYork: This is awesome. Cheapening Demons and giving them haste (with a Demon even) is really solid. Balor was the main cool red Demon but now there are a bunch more.
FromTheShire: A lot of Demons are on the expensive side, so reducing their cost by 2 is excellent and honestly worth running on its own. The fact it also gives haste is a massive bonus.
Heralds of Tzeentch
BPhillipYork: Cascade is fun and on point, for the Lord of Change, but the applications of this card are fairly limited in my opinion.
FromTheShire: Not too exciting, this is mainly here to trigger Demon things and keep your cascade chain rolling, but those are things you definitely want to do so this is solid.
Kharn the Betrayer
BPhillipYork: This is a really complicated trigger, and while it seems fun and flavorful its kind of a crazy card. There’s some ways you could abuse this trigger,
FromTheShire: Completely outstanding representation of Kharn. Absolutely cannot wait to play with this.
Roco Gest: This man is perfect. If I had imagined Kharn as a Magic card prior to this release, this is pretty close to what I would come up with.
BPhillipYork: I like this card, I like that it’s just an out-of-control bomb that is going to attack. It’s overly expensive, but so what.
FromTheShire: Big stompy lad doing big stompy things and I’m here for it. I really like the fact that we are getting to see some of the other, weirder Chaos stuff in this deck than just Demons and Marines.
Lord of Change
BPhillipYork: 7 mana is a lot but draw 3 isn’t bad for all that. For Demon tribal, if you’re going Grixis, could be solid.
FromTheShire: Draw 3 is nice, though I wish this did more once it was in play.
Mandate of Abaddon
BPhillipYork: This is potentially a very swingy one-sided board wipe. For commanders like Kenrith, Returned King or the leaders of this deck, could be a really solid card.
FromTheShire: Excellent flexible board wipe and the might makes right vibe is on point.
Mortarion, Daemon Primarch
BPhillipYork: I like the way this card works a lot. It’s a really good match for the flavor of needing to sacrifice life to get the reward. Generating tons of 2/2 creatures with menace is really dangerous, could be a piece of a game winning combo.
FromTheShire: Black can do some great life gain and drain shenanigans, and this plays very well with them. The tokens are more useful than most as well since they have built in menace.
BPhillipYork: Instant speed recursion is really rare, though it’s limited by opponents’ yard. Could let you really shut down a mill or recursion deck, or also just grab a really solid creature.
FromTheShire: Useful for either sniping out a reanimation target after your opponent targets it or goes to do graveyard nonsense, or just instant speed getting a big threat on the end step of the player before you to give it pseudo haste.
BPhillipYork: This is a funny card, and it’s a recastable enchantment for enchantress decks, which Abzan can do, it’s an interesting card if there is a payoff to be had with it.
FromTheShire: It’s cheap because it’s not going to do a ton of lifting for you, but a nice little source of Demon production that recurs itself to your hand.
BPhillipYork: This replacement effect is potentially really dangerous. There’s also some red cards that cause players to gain life then lose life later, and there’s now a few triggers like that, that block life gain, and there might be enough now to build around. It’s also a Demon, and would have hilarious effects on decks addicted to gaining life off triggers.
FromTheShire: Completely hoses a lot of decks, like anything that is incidentally gaining life, much less ones that are deliberately playing games with their life total. Love it.
BPhillipYork: Wow that’s a crazy trigger. So these Zombies could potentially be triggered to return over and over due to something like impulse casting and for things like Prosper, Tome-Bound.
FromTheShire: A deathtouching blocker that returns straight to the battlefield over and over is super useful, especially since the trigger is something you’re going to be doing a bunch anyway.
Seeker of Slaanesh
BPhillipYork: I like that the chaos that force attack don’t goad, they very much can attack you, which is kind of more fun.
FromTheShire: When this is a full on ‘all creatures must attack each combat’ it frequently ends badly for you, the person forcing the attack, so I really like this both being a bit more limited and only applying to your opponents. A lot of the time this is going to force some very awkward attacks from the rest of the table.
BPhillipYork: So this combos really well with the Poxwalkers, getting cascade off a creature spell repeatedly could be quite interesting.
FromTheShire: Yeah there’s a whole bunch of token creators in this deck that this synergizes well with, and getting that all important cascade going is super worth it.
Tallyman of Nurgle
BPhillipYork: This is an interesting warrior trigger and a way to mass draw at the cost of life loss. Really solid for attrition decks.
BPhillipYork: This could get really fat if you’re causing a lot of deaths, and let you gain a lot of life back, but it’s pretty clunky.
FromTheShire: This kind of effect always seems great on paper, but then in practice you get like 4-5 counters and then the board gets wiped so you never get the massive payoff. Still, if you’re sacrificing your tokens to get cascade and blocking with them etc, this has a slightly better chance of doing stuff than usual.
Next Time: Necron Dynasties
That wraps up our look at the second of the crossover Warhammer 40k decks. Join us next time as we review the Necron themed deck, 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 email@example.com.