10 TOP COMMANDER CARDS (AND WHY I DON’T PLAY THEM) Pt.2

Well this wasn’t supposed to take so long!

There was a lot of discussion surrounding this article, mainly on social media. Some were outraged that “10 top commander cards (and why I don’t play them) Pt. 1” didn’t even feature 10 cards. Please accept my humble apologies.

For the rest of you that read the article there was debate about what constituted fun. It’s always interesting how different this can be amongst different cohorts. Many of you suggested your own set of cards you love to hate, or what the ‘top five’ should be.

Maybe I didn’t make it very clear last time: this isn’t so much a Top 10 as ’10 Top’. It’s a subtle difference, but I’m not a fan of top (insert number here) lists. These are simply 10 cards (over two articles) that are considered good that I don’t play. Furthermore this isn’t a top 10 most un-fun/annoying/douche-bag Commander cards list either, designed to berate all those that play them. I just don’t play them. It’s as simple as that!

Thanks to all of you for joining in, that’s what this is all about!

Rhystic Study

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A few of you will be happy to see this, no doubt. This is Mind’s Eye’s (who’s eye?) obnoxious younger sibling who just demands your attention all of the time. “Are you paying a mana for that? How ’bout now? Can I draw a card or are you paying one? Are we there yet?”

And this isn’t just restricted to facing the card. It’s just as obnoxious and annoying playing Rhystic Study in one’s own deck, in my opinion. How many times do you need to ask whether your opponents want to pay one or not before you begin to resent yourself? Have some self respect!

Just when everyone has forgotten it’s there “Ha! Didn’t pay the one, I draw”

Oh, Eff off! All I want is some tranquility!

Insurrection

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Big dumb spell. Check.

Instant win. Check.

Rather uninspiring for all involved. Check.

These are all true bar the second one. Insurrection is often an instant win the first time you cast it. No one is expecting it and why would you cast it without a metric tonne of big, beefy EDH monsters on battlefield?…

So what usually happens when you cast this is everybody stands up to salute you. Then; explosions, lights, beautiful women -or men if you prefer, screams of ecstasy from your adoring fans. Then you attack for the win.

…But that trick becomes old pretty quick. Your opponents, much like when they discover your limited deck has a wrath in it, if they’re good, should alter the way they’re playing against your Insurrection deck. Insurrection is, in essence, a punisher card (I’m a big fan of punisher cards and this is the daddy). Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

So whilst this is a fairly sad-face way for someone to win the game sometimes, it’s mainly here because of the diminishing returns after the first casting. Shout out in the comments if you disagree.

If you splurge out on a Genesis Wave (yawn) with no back-up, frankly, you and Mr. Insurrection over there deserve each other.

Sol Ring

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One of the categories of card that the EDH/Commander GodFather, Sheldon Menery, has heralded as essential in this format is mana accelerants. I agree. Removing the need to have 50 lands in order to play your 20 mana combo or 10 mana guy seems a good idea. It’s pretty miserable playing a game of commander and not being able to do anything, either from bad deck building or evil opponents.

Kodama’s Reach, Rampant Growth, Wayfarer’s Bauble, Gilded Lotus,  Darksteel Ingot, Everflowing Chalice, the ubiquitous Solemn Simulacrum. There are plenty of options to make sure you don’t fall behind. And I think Sheldon is right in that you should dedicate a considerable number of slots for these cards.

Where I disagree in the main, though, is the notion that every Commander deck should have a copy of Sol Ring.  As such Sol Ring has been included in many printings of Commander pre-cons. And this isn’t an aversion to ‘Commander staples’ either; I would happily play sad robot in every deck I own.

I guess this is as much a sentiment of the group of Gentle-Hawks I play with as my own. I’m not sure whether I came to this conclusion by my self or by the local meme-pool.

So in circles where everyone has a Sol Ring, there are normal games and then there are games where someone plays a turn one Sol Ring. Followed by Solemn Simulacrum. Followed by something obnoxious and huge on turn three. That player then becomes public enemy numero uno. Either they dominate the game pretty quickly (especially attack left/right, but sometimes in chaos too) or eventually they lose due to the bad blood spilled early in the game.

Furthermore, Sol Ring becomes a lot less good the mid and late stages of the game. The playgroup I’m in have mostly decided that games on average are more enjoyable without this rampy menace!

Exsanguinate 

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I really like Siphon Mind as a card. No one really begrudges you making them discard one card – especially when it’s indiscriminate – and drawing cards is always good (Unless you’re playing Mind’s Eye or Rhystic Study). Of all the cards of this ilk, Exsanguinate, I feel is the most open to abuse or likely to put you on everyone’s naughty list.

This is often going to find it’s way into mono-black lists… So you’re telling me that the Cabal Coffers you have there and the Gauntlet of Power you have here won’t, in any way, be used in a manner that might upset me?

We have a reached a pretty sweet spot, I feel, in the playgroup I’m in, where even cards that are open to abuse of the highest order typically are used in a non-offensive way. But, in my opinion, there’s no number for ‘X’ that is worthwhile for Exsanguinate. Anything below 3 and you’d be better off playing something else, somewhere around 6-10 will just put a target on your head until balance is restored and game winning numbers will just make everyone else feel bad.

Stop complaining! If you hate losing to these cards so bad, just play…

Counterspell

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Back when I was the epitomy of a kitchen-table Magic player, it was my firm belief that Counterspell was an abomination. What could be more unfair than stopping me play my spells!? The day I found out how Counterspell worked with Harrow was a dark, dark day…

Over my short and unremarkable constructed career I have learned to appreciate all the strategies available, including control. But my life-long aversion to counter-magic still rises to the surface whenever someone’s 7 mana Timmy offering is sent to the yard with the simple Counterspell. The injustice!

Not only this, though: I dislike the effect as much as the cause. If the major selection pressures for winning Commander decks are cards like Exsanguinate, Myojin of Night’s Reach, and Armageddon the knock on effects are just as unsatisfying.

The best answer to ‘I win’ cards are surely counterspells. Therefore any good Commander deck is then  obliged to run both ‘I win’ cards and counter strategies to other people’s ‘I win’ cards. I think a healthy casual meta-game can do without these two forces at play.

Whether you agree or disagree this was fun to write and caused me to analyse the reasons behind the cards I do and do not play. Thanks for reading!

Enough negativity, though. Next time we’re going dancing. More on that later!

Ciao for now!


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6 thoughts on “10 TOP COMMANDER CARDS (AND WHY I DON’T PLAY THEM) Pt.2

  1. But I love Counterspell! C’mon…isn’t your favorite word around the table repeating the word “No, No, NO!” as you counter something huge? I have my play set from Ice Age (incidentally the best art on Counterspell ever) and love running them whenever I can. Great list mind you and they make sense. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, well aren’t you a killjoy, bgray8791!? I actually find it quite comical when some one is about to do something EPIC!!! For it only to be countered by a negate or something equally offensive (bonus points if you can use dispel!)

      Thanks for you comment and kind words! Check out Chris’s article on not getting attacked in Commander if you haven’t already – it has some themes similar to in this article but is a really unique way at looking at the game we all love!

      Liked by 1 person

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