Commander Cards on the Horizon - 1
- Robert Giel
All the cards in Modern Horizons have been spoiled and, oh boy, is it a treat for Commander players. Let's take a look the most noticeable cards for your commander decks, both in the lead slot and in the 99.
More Like Commander Horizons
Wizards release what they call an "innovation set" every year. In the previous years we received sets like Conspiracy and Battlebond. Funnily enough, Battlebond was often dubbed as "Commander Masters", the set gave us much needed reprints such as Doubling Season, Land Tax, Nirkana Revenant, Mycosynth Lattice and many more while also providing a lot of new cards, including Arena Rector, Bramble Sovereign, Najeela, the Blade-Blossom, and much more!
In the beginning of this year Wizards announced that this year, their innovation set will be designed to inject new cards straight into the Modern format. While this is still very much the case, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of cards that seemingly do not fit in Modern but seem straight up designed for Commander.
When More Than Two Tribes Go to War
Wizards: Yes Timmy, what is it?
Timmy: I want to have a commander for my crab tribal deck.
Wizards: I like what I'm hearing Timmy.
Wizards: Hold my beer Timmy.
All jokes aside, I honestly think Wizards knocked it out of the park with this card. While Morophon, the Boundless is lightyears away from being in any Modern deck, it's a very welcome addition to the five-color commander club. Its abilities allow you to run any given tribe in all five colors. The cost reduction makes your Riptide Crab cost only a single colorless mana while even providing an anthem for all your crabs. If only Morophon was prettier…
Bear With Me Here
Ayula, Queen Among Bears is another card I would have never expected in a set called Modern Horizons. While they might have not been the strongest creature type in Magic history, they sure are a big part of Magic's terminology. For those of you who are not familiar with the term "bear" in Magic, it basically is a callback to the card Grizzly Bears from the very first set and is nowadays use to describe any creature that is a 2/2 for 2 mana.
It's only fitting that now that this new bear commander is exactly that, a 2/2 for 2. Fortunately, 26 years of evolution has brought us further then a vanilla legendary creature. Ayula is cheap and has two very powerful abilities that are literally the "Greenest" thing I've seen in my life. You can slam her down on turn 2, and then either start pumping your bears, or start throwing bears at your opponents' creatures. This cleverly avoids the fact that the few bears in the game are bearely playable (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist).
The fun doesn't stop bear(there), we also get two more cards for our bear-tribal deck - Mother Bear and Ayula's Influence. While I don't think this will make waves for most Commander players, it is very cool to see Wizards caring about these under supported tribes, and I'm happy these cards were spoiled.
Apparently, We Needed More of These.
One does not simply talk about tribes without mentioning one of the OG tribes; Slivers! First off, let me say that I'm a bit surprised that Wizards decided to print even more support for Slivers. There are currently already four five-color Sliver commanders in the form of Sliver Overlord, Sliver Hivelord, Sliver Queen and Sliver Legion. The latest addition, The First Sliver is obviously no joke, giving EVERY Sliver cascade allows you to cascade into multiple slivers at once, as the first one triggers into a second one, into a third one etc. I'm not sure however if The First Sliver is a better commander than Sliver Overlord though. Being able to toolbox Slivers allows you to be both more reactive and adaptive.
Cloudshredder Sliver is absolute powerhouse. Galerider Sliver is already often considered to be one of the more powerful Slivers and for the mere price of a single extra mana, you get a Blur Sliver as well. One of the more fundamental problems of creature-based/go-wide decks in EDH is that they are prone to board wipes. Dregscape Sliver allows you to alpha strike right after having your board wiped, combine this with ETB slivers like Harmonic Sliver or the new Lavabelly Sliver and you've got a solid package for those who have been patiently waiting for even more Sliver support.
Force of Negation
The force cycle was something everyone was excited about from the beginning, people where speculating on Force of Will getting a reprint in Modern, and as soon as Force of Negation was spoiled their prayers were answered, sort of. Force of Will sees some play in cEDH decks and other more optimized decks. In more casual EDH it's a decent card to play, but not dramatic if you can't afford it or don't have the space. It is, after all, just another counter spell. Force of Negation comes in and provides players a cheaper alternative to Force of Will. Is it a strong card? Yes. Is this card going to see play in Commander? I think so. Is it a card that you absolutely need and will shake up the format? I doubt it.
Force of Virtue
I have mixed feelings about Force of Virtue, anthem effects are strong in the right deck and giving an anthem flash can really screw up the opponent's combat math. On the other side, for one mana more you get the vastly more powerful Dictate of Heliod. Granted, you could cheat in Force of Virtue, but white decks aren't necessarily known for keeping a lot of cards in their hands, so we'll have to see how high the cost on this is. It's a good card, I just feel like there's better alternatives for this slot in EDH.
Force of Vigor
Force of Vigor on the other hand seems like a very solid card. Every EDH deck needs to reserve some amount of space for artifact and enchantment hate and this might well become a new favorite. A lot of the times I run into the issue that you want to advance your board state in EDH and remove problematic artifacts and enchantments, but don't have enough mana to do both. Force of Vigor allows you to do just that. I also like that it will always be a two-for-one at best and a one-for-one (or two-for-two) at worst, so you never truly lose card advantage.
Force of Despair
Out of all the forces, I have to say this one gets me the most excited in EDH. Force of Despair allows black-based deck to have an instant-speed answer to "Oops, I win" cards like Tooth and Nail, Rise of the Dark Realms and Living Death. It seems that these cards often provide frustrating situations for casual playgroups and giving non-blue players a way to directly interact with these spells is a great idea.
Force of Rage
When it was revealed that there would be a force-cycle, I jokingly said to one of my co-workers that the red force will probably be just as bad as the red card in the pact-cycle, Pact of the Titan. "It would be funny if it just created some 4/3 elemental token or something like that." Well, it turns out I wasn't far off. For three mana we get a Ball Lightning spread over two bodies. This effect is very underwhelming in Commander, so there's not much else to say.
An Ancient Struggle
Urza, Lord High Artificer
For more than 25 years we've been hearing about the all-powerful Urza, but we never got an actual card that represented him (besides a wacky planeswalker in an Un-Set). Well the wait is over and Urza, Lord High Artificer meets, or even exceeds all possible expectations. For four mana we get a creature that enables so many infinite combos that the heart of every blue artifact player starts racing. His secondary ability allows you to tap artifacts for blue mana, while his third ability provides a sink once you've achieved infinite mana. Expect to see him at the helm of plenty of cEDH Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter decks or maybe even a few stax decks, as he works nice with Winter Orb and Howling Mine.
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
What would Urza be without his archenemy Yawgmoth? Just like Urza, Yawgmoth has been mentioned in countless powerful cards, think of Yawgmoth's Bargain, Yawgmoth's Will, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, but never received a card of his own. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician makes a grand entrée to the joy of every aristocrats-style deck. Just like his blue counterpart, Yawgmoth does everything; he provides a free sacrifice outlet that draws cards that can also dub as removal. To top it all off, he can proliferate the -1/-1 counters he places as well as any poison counters placed by his creations, which offers a cool way of showing the spreading Phyrexia into a mechanic. Yawgmoth will spawn plenty of aristocrats-style decks where he is the sole-engine that provides a sacrifice outlet and card advantage. He works particularly well with the undying mechanic as he can remove the +1/+1 counter from those creatures to create infinite triggers.
Sisay, Weatherlight Captain
Captain Sisay is already a popular and powerful commander for a legend tribal deck, but the W/G color identity restricted her deckbuilding to only legends in those colors. Not any longer, with Sisay, Weatherlight Captain, Modern Horizons gives us (yet another) 5c commander. While Sisay can only fetch Legendary permanents with a CMC no higher than six, there are still plenty of options. War of the Spark brought us many low-costed Planeswalkers, while other "cheap" legendary inclusions contain cards like Shalai, Voice of Plenty, Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain, Gaddock Teeg, Tatyova, Benthic Druid, and many more.
If you are really feeling nostalgic, this is also the perfect commander for a "Weatherlight-crew" themed deck with cards such as Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain, Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist, Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage, Arvad the Cursed, Tiana, Ship's Caretaker, and Hanna, Ship's Navigator, who all have a high synergy with the historic theme.
Bring Me That Horizon
All jokes aside, Wizards did say that the set wouldn't be JUST for modern, and the name was more a play on words for the future of Magic, than an actual indication of what this set is for. Nevertheless, we Commander players can be incredibly happy with what this set has to offer. What cards are you excited about? Have you already brewed some spicy new list? Do let me know in the comments. As always, thanks for reading and until next time!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.
Check out our Modern Horizons page if you're interested in picking these up before everyone else catches on!