The Best Commander Cards from Throne of Eldraine
- Robert Giel
It's been a good year for Commander players so far. Modern Horizons brought staples, M20 great wedge commanders, War of the Spark plenty of planeswalkers, and Commander 2019 was … also a thing. Throne of Eldraine seems to be a more traditional set, but there are still plenty of Commander goodies!
Once Upon A Time
I feel like Magic's power level has been going up and up as of late, especially looking at the incredibly impactful sets Modern Horizons and War of the Spark. Compared to them, Throne of Eldraine seems a bit tamer and more balanced. This is not to say that the set's bad! You'll find some very powerful planeswalkers and several other cards that are sure to become staples here. Today we will be looking at my favorite cards fom Throne of Eldraine for Commander.
The Elephant in the Loch
Let's talk about one of the most discussed cards in the entire set, Emry, Lurker of the Loch. Emry reminds me a bit of Dralnu, Lich Lord but for artifacts. The cost reduction is incredibly strong in Commander and basically allows you to ignore the Commander tax rule. This doesn't mean that Emry is in an easy spot though. As a mono-blue, artifact-centered commander, she competes directly with Urza, Lord High Artificer, Memnarch, Sai, Master Thopterist, Arcum Dagsson, and Muzzio, Visionary Architect. So the real question is: what does Emry offer that these cards don't?
First, playing artifacts from the graveyard isn't something that blue creatures are known for. Most of the above-mentioned commanders deal in some kind of deck or battlefield manipulation. Emry tackles an angle that we haven't really seen before. Second, Emry has a lot of potential for infinite combos that require little to no setup. As soon as the card was previewed, we saw people play around with Mirran Spy and Lotus Petal to generate infinite mana, and people are discovering more and more ways to abuse her ability. I expect Emry to become a very popular commander.
Assemble the Knights
As I already mentioned in previous articles, Knights became a lot more viable as a tribe with the introduction of Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale—finally a Mardu legend that cares about Knights and Equipment! I still think that Aryel, Knight of Windgrace would be the preferred commander to lead the charge for a Knight deck, but we can discuss this another day. The issue with playing a Knight tribal deck has been that there was always a lack of actual Knights good enough for Commander. A lot of them were designed with Standard in mind and can barely hold their own in a multiplayer game. Fortunately, Throne of Eldraine brings us a lot of new toys.
The Circle of Loyalty is by far the card that stands out the most. It's a Glorious Anthem, it's two token generators in one, and it only gets cheaper the more Knights you have. This is an absolute auto-include in any Knight tribal deck. Other Knights that I really like for Commander are Murderous Rider // Swift End for an on-theme removal spell that will become a creature, Acclaimed Contender, and Smitten Swordmaster // Curry Favor, which I think is a very powerful common. Especially the adventure can be a huge blowout once you've assembled a critical mass of Knight tokens.
The Legendary Artifacts
I can't write an article about Commander and not mention the rest of the cycle of Mythic artifacts. Let's start with the best one: The Great Henge is an amazing card that should go into every green creature-based deck. It doesn't matter whether you want to go wide or go large, this card will always perform well, as it just does so many things at once.
The Cauldron of Eternity is a card I'm not really convinced on yet. Yes, it's able to Reanimate creatures repeatedly for 3 mana, and that's insanely powerful. But its second line of text basically says that your creatures won't hit the graveyard anymore. Most strategies that want to have this card are also likely to have the desire to get creatures into the graveyard, making this quite counterproductive. Obviously, the Cauldron gets better once you've reached the late game, but I'd be weary of automatically including it in every deck. Then there's the application for Grenzo, Dungeon Warden, of course …
The Magic Mirror is basically a Mind Unbound that can potentially be a lot cheaper. The latter isn't a card that makes a lot of waves in Commander, and I doubt the Mirror will do either. The card still costs a lot of mana and requires you to untap with it again before netting any value it all. Sure, if you can keep it going, it will spiral out of control very fast. But if this happens, it's likely that you were already in a winning position anyway.
Last but not least, Embercleave is a card that will obviously fit very well in Voltron-style decks such as those commanded by Zurgo Helmsmasher, Aurelia, the Warleader, or even the new Knight commander, Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale. Fireshrieker already sees play in many similar decks, simply because doubling your combat damage triggers is very powerful—in addition to dealing tons of damage of course.
There Be Giants
I don't want to spend too much time on this tribe, but I'm glad the Giants received some new support. Realm-Cloaked Giant // Cast Off is an absolute powerhouse and a welcome addition to any Giant deck. Originally, Giants were a red-white tribe, but cards like Arbor Colossus, Outland Colossus, Sunder Shaman, and the new Beanstalk Giant // Fertile Footsteps definitely make you want to take a step or a giant leap into green. Mayael the Anima, Gahiji, Honored One or Marisi, Breaker of the Coil may be fun to try out as commanders.
The Return of the King
There are two types of people in my world. The first kind looks at Kenrith, the Returned King and sees it as a five-colored commander that would be perfect at the helm of a sweet goodstuff deck where the card acts as a toolbox, giving you exactly the right ability for every scenario. The other type looks at Kenrith and sees a commander that puts all kinds of exclamation points at the end of any infinite mana combo. It can grow infinitely large, draw your entire deck, give you infinite life, and give itself haste. Which kind of person are you?
A Rare Land Cycle
It's always exciting when we get new utility lands, and the Castles do not disappoint. In my last article I wrote about how mana sinks allow for optimal resource management, and in an older article I pointed out the importance of utility lands for Commander. The Castles serve both purposes: they allow you to spend mana without committing more resources to the board, as well as fill slots that were reserved for lands.
Castle Locthwain is my favorite of the bunch. Card draw is great in Commander, and having this ability slapped onto a land is all the better. Its cost is a bit steep, but in the right deck this will do a lot of work. Think of black-red decks such as Judith, the Scourge Diva, Anje Falkenrath, or Neheb, the Worthy that have trouble keeping their hand filled. At worst, Locthwain is still a Swamp, and a card-draw engine at best.
Castle Ardenvale, Castle Vantress, and Castle Embereth are right behind Locthwain and all do a decent job in their specific archetypes. Just as with their black counterpart, there is almost no reason not to run them. Ardenvale works great in token decks, Soldier decks, and Aristrocrat-style decks where it can provide sacrifice fodder. Vantress is probably the least exciting of the three. It probably works best when you're already ahead on board and just want to ensure your draws are live. Embereth should be great in any strategy that wants to go wide with tokens, think of Krenko, Mob Boss or even Prossh, Skyraider of Kher.
Castle Garenbrig is in my opinion the least exciting of them all, requiring a lot of mana to be activated at all and then netting 1 measly extra mana in return. On top, all of that mana can only be used on creature spells or abilities of creatures. I'm sure that somebody can find a weird combo to make this land work—maybe something with Wakeroot Elemental— but it seems like a niche ability.
Other Notable Cards
Some other cards that I think will appear in various Commander decks are:
- Return of the Wildspeaker. Soul's Majesty and Rishkar's Expertise already are staples in green "Timmy" decks and being able to play such an effect at instant speed is very relevant. The alternative mode is not as powerful, but it could still win you games in a pinch.
- Dance of the Manse is a great top-end card in Esper and white-blue artifact or enchantment decks. Think of commanders such as Sharuum the Hegemon, Tuvasa the Sunlit, and Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage.
- Faeburrow Elder is no Bloom Tender, but it comes close. A 3-drop mana dork isn't nearly as good as a 2 drop. On the other hand, it grows, taps for 2 mana regardless, and has vigilance. In sum, this card should be a solid addition to any deck that can run it.
- Escape to the Wilds is a card that has Commander written all over it. I see this card as a Gruul version of Urban Evolution, and that card sees plenty of play. It's easy to read over the part that says you can play the cards until the end of your next turn, which makes the card a great addition to most Gruul or Naya decks.
- I absolutely love Lochmere Serpent. A 7/7 for 6 with three activated abilities of such caliber is great already, but the fact that it has Flash pushes this card far over the top. It's a great finisher for Dimir, Sultai, or Esper Control. It's also rare to see a card with three abilities that are all incredibly relevant.
A Fairytale Ending for Commander Players
Like I said earlier, 2019 has been a great year for Commander players so far and Throne of Eldraine continues this trend. Whether you are finally going to build a Knight deck, make a Food deck, or beat people with the Loch Ness Monster, there is something here for everyone. What are your favorite Commander cards from the set? Did you find any ideas to brew a spicy new deck?
As always, thanks for reading. Until next time!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.
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