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Card of the Week – Basic Lands

Welcome to the last in the current series of Card of the Week. For the final edition I decided to pick a card that everyone will have in their collection. Ok more cycle of cards than an individual one. The Basic lands are the only cards that have received a printing in every single set. I can’t remember the last supplemental product I bought that didn’t have them. I think that they are often overlooked and cut for lands that are a downgrade. They come in untapped, so you can use them that turn and aren’t affected by Blood Moon effects.

If you ever ask either myself or Ian what the first thing we would to a Commander Precon deck is, the answer would be the same. “Replace the tap lands with basics”. When we refer to tap lands we generally mean: the tap lands, guildgates, temples, gain 1 life lands, and pretty much anything else with no redeeming qualities. When I see someone play a tap land on T2/T3 I tend to think, if not often say something along the lines of: “Was that scry really worth not casting a spell this turn?”, “Yay, you played your turn 2 spell on turn 3”, “Was it worth a whole turn rotation to cast that spell?”, “OH you played a guildgate on turn 2 to give you access to more colours? You could have cast a ramp spell, gotten the same number of colours while increasing your overall number of lands!”.

Alternatively you could cast a spell such as Farseek go find an acceptable tap land (such as a triome) and really fix your colours. Don’t get me wrong basics are not the best lands and there are many that they can be upgraded for. Apart from OG duels you want to look for lands that can come in untapped such as the check lands or the tango lands. I would like to challenge you all to look at your decks and ask yourself the question is this land better than a basic? Is it worth the tempo loss?

The final reason that you should run basic lands is for ramping. Most modern ramp spells specifically fetch basic lands. You will want to ensure you can actually use all of your ramp. In conclusion there is no downside to running basic lands, and they are often better than most lands that can produce multiple colours.

Parting remarks

Thank you to everyone who has read this series, I hope you enjoyed it and found some new cards. For this final edition of Card of the Week I have asked Boon to write a song expressing my feelings on tap lands.

Tap-lands, huh, yeah
What are they good for?
Absolutely nothing, uhh
Tap-lands, huh, yeah
What are they good for?
Absolutely nothing, uhh
Say it again, Y’all
Tap-lands, huh, (bad cards)
What are they good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me,

oh Tap-lands, I simply hate
Give me a basic land any day
A tap-lands means a land drop that you can’t use
You have to wait till next turn, there’s no excuse


I said, tap-lands, huh, yeah
What are they good for?
Absolutely nothing, just say it again
Tap-lands, huh, yeah
What are they good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
Tap-lands, it nothing but a delay
Tap-lands, it’ll slow you down each one you play

Oh, tap-lands, they’re the enemy to every deck
Just swap for basics, oh what the heck
You’re never at your best
If you have to wait a rotation
Watching all the other players game acceleration
Who wants them tapped?

Oh Tap-lands, huh, yeah
What are they good for?
Absolutely nothing, uhh
Say it, say it, say it
Tap-lands, huh, yeah
What are they good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen here now
Tap-lands, it nothing but a delay
Tap-lands, it’ll slow you down each one you play


Oh tap-lands, they come in each and every precon
Slowing you down, they should be gone
Can’t wait around a turn to play that winning card
If that tap-land was a basic you’d you wouldn’t have to discard


Tap-lands, huh, yeah
What are they good for?
Absolutely nothing, uhh
Tap-lands, huh, yeah
What are they good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen here now
Tap-lands, it nothing but a delay
Tap-lands, it’ll slow you down each one you play


Tap-lands bring precons fairness
Whilst giving access to more colours
But is it really hard to print them
With shocks, tango, checks or others?


Tap-lands, huh, yeah
What are they good for?
You tell me WotC? (Nothing)
Say it, preach it, scream it
Tap-lands (I know), huh (now, yeah)
What are they good for?
Stand up and shout it (nothing)

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Card of the Week – Panic

Panic - 5ED - Banner

Long time readers will be aware I think that cantrips are highly useful spells. [Niveous Wisps, Nighthaze, Scout’s Warning] Over Magics multitudes of sets many of them have been printed, and they are played in every format. Panic received it’s last printing back in 1997 with 5th Edition, making it only legal in the eternal formats. I think that it is a great and underplayed card in both Commander and Pauper.

Panic - Ice Age
Get out of my way

Panic is an Instant for a single Red mana, the oracle text can be found here. It can only be cast in the Combat step before Blockers have been declared. It prevents target creature from blocking, and draws you a card at the beginning of the next upkeep. The downside of this spell is obvious, the restrictive casting timing. This means that you cannot cast it do dig for answers, and instead will have to wait for the appropriate time. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t just use it as a cantrip to draw a card. As each turn has to progress through all steps and phases.

On the other hand you get quite a powerful effect from a single mana. If an opponent knows they are likely to be attacked they are going to leave up blockers. As we know the best type of removal is player removal and ignoring blockers is going to expedite it. Removing a blocker from the equation could completely change the combat, possibly leading to a knockout. It also has great synergy with decks that are utilizing attack or damage triggers and are looking to protect their creatures.

Additionally it can be a very useful political tool. Removing a blocker can be just as beneficial for an opponent as it is for you. You can gain a favour, deal with an opponent and draw a card all for a single mana. Finally it draws you a card.

Suggested Commanders

Panic is at its best in a deck that is looking to turn it’s creatures sideways. In Decks such as Feather, the Redeemed or Zada, Hedron Grinder it can provide large amounts of value. Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin could take advantage of removing a blocker to swing safely. Any number of Xenagos style Gruul stompy decks could use it to ensure they can trample over the creatures or just hit directly. It could also be used in Prowess decks such as Elsha of the Infinite to trigger prowess and draw a card.

This card just makes me think of the following scene from Dad’s Army:
Cpt. George Mainwaring: I could have sworn that they would never break through the Maginot line.
Sgt. Arthur Wilson: Quite right sir, they didn’t.
Cpt. George Mainwaring: I thought not. I’m a pretty good judge of these matters you know Wilson.
Sgt. Arthur Wilson: They went round the side.
Cpt. George Mainwaring: I see… they what!

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Card of the Week – Dragonrage

Dragonrage - FRF - Banner

If you played magic in the early days you would have been fearful of the mighty Shivan Dragon. A flying 5/5 Dragon with firebreathing, that was capable of threatening you life total in a hurry. While it has been surpassed by newer cards, the firebreathing mechanic is still being printed especially on Dragons. Dragonrage is the only instant way to grant the ability, which additionally acts a ritual. Making it a fine addition to Card of the Week.

Dragonrage - FRF printing
You get firebreathing, you get firebreathing, everyone gets firebreathing.

Dragonrage is an instant for 2R, that adds a red mana to your mana pool for each attacking creature you control. Additionally it gives each attacking creature you control firebreathing until the end of turn. Firebreathing is an activated ability that costs a red mana and gives the creature +1/+0 until the end of turn.

This is best in a deck that is running a lot of creatures and looking to attack anyway. For example if you are running a Goblin token deck you can generate a lot of mana and use it to cast combat tricks. If you don’t have any you can always pump the mana into the firebreathing ability of an unblocked creature. Additionally if you are looking to play more of a spellslinger build, you can generate the mana and cast more spells.

However, as a ritual it is quite unreliable. This is because you need to be attacking with at least 4 creatures for it to be positive. Furthermore as you can only create the mana from attacking creatures, you can only create it in your combat phase.

Suggested Commanders

Dragonrage is best in a deck that seeks to flood the board with creatures and turn them sidewards. You can generate a large amount of mana, which can be turned into damage. Commanders include: Krenko & Krenko; Kykar, Wind’s Fury; Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer or the Locust God. If you are playing an infect build of Saskia the Unyielding it could be useful as a pump spell. In Kalamax, the Stormsire you can copy it when you cast it to generate even more mana.

My personal favourite is Adeliz, the Cinder Wind. Ideally a wizard tribal deck that is looking to take advantage of the pseudo prowess she grants. Dragonrage would likely be mana positive and allow you cast even more spells. All of these decks would also appreciate a previous Card of the Week First Day of Class.

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Card of the Week – Argivian Restoration

Argivian Restoration - WTH - Banner

The major difference between commander and traditional magic formats is the singleton card requirement. This means that if one of your key pieces gets destroyed you can’t draw into another one. You must either protect it whilst it is on the field, or find a way to bring it back. The card of the week is Argivian Restoration an artifact recursion spell.

Argivian Restoration - WTH
Why come up with a different plan?

Argivian Restoration is a sorcery for 2UU that returns an artifact from your graveyard to the battlefield. One of the major upsides of this card is that not only will the artifact enter the battlefield, it will also be untapped. For the 4 mana investment you can recur artifacts with much higher MVs for example Mycosynth Lattice, or Darksteel Forge. Or even just key combo pieces such as unwinding clock. Additionally the double blue casting cost of this card is not much of a restriction, as blue is common is artifact strategies particularly in commander. Many of the top artifact commanders are either mono blue or the izzet leauge (blue and red).

One of my favourite commanders is Muldrotha the Gravetide, a commander that is all about recursion. Repeatedly playing the same threats means that your opponent will be forced to deal with the threat multiple times. Commander is a game of resource management, and forcing your opponents to use their resources is beneficial to you. Recursion is something that should be looked at more closely for commander decks in general.

The only real downside of Argivian Restoration is that is that it requires an artifact to be in your graveyard. This means that it is not useful in the early game, but becomes useful later. Additionally it can only be used at sorcery speed, giving your opponents more time to deal with the threat.

Suggested Commanders

Argivian Restoration is at its best in artifact focused decks, where there are multiple artifacts worth recurring. For example; Urza, Lord High Artificer, Saheeli, the gifted, Memnarcg, Arcum Dagsson. Additionally it can be run in decks whose win con involves artifacts.

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Card of the Week – Myth Unbound

Myth Unbound - C18 - Banner

They say that no plan survives contact with the enemy. This is just as true in commander, and it is advisable to have some contingency in your deck. One of the most likely situations that is likely to befall you is the loss of your commander. The card of the week Myth Unbound, is a way to help mitigate the loss.

Myth Unbound
Commander tax is optional right?

Myth Unbound is an enchantment that costs 2G, it acts as a cost reducer effectively halving commander tax. Additionally it draws you a card whenever your commander is put into the command zone.

When you play with certain commanders you expect that they are going to be targeted for removal. Even if they start off with a low MV, after being removed several times that 2MV creature could be costing you 6. Halving the amount of commander tax that you have to pay will allow you to keep re-casting your commander for longer. As well as being able to cast additional spells on your turn.

This card was printed before the commander death rule change in 2020. This means that it had to be worded in an alternative way to a death trigger. The generic wording works to the card’s advantage as it captures exile or shuffle effects as well.

The main disadvantage is that unless your commander returns to the command zone this card does nothing. Additionally it will not trigger if you are using bounce or reanimation strategies.

Suggested Commanders

Myth Unbound is a highly flexible card as has very few requirements. It is at it’s best in aggro decks running green, particularly those attacking with the commander. For example it would be a great addition a a Fynn the Fangbearer deck, or a Radha, Heart of Keld deck. It would be a good addition to an enchantress build where it could also take advantage of additional synergies.

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Card of the Week – First Day of Class

First Day of Class - STX - Banner

If you got the opportunity to go to a magical academy, just like me you would be very excited. Ready to hit the ground running and read as much as possible. First Day of Class is an Instant from Strixhaven that instils this enthusiasm into your creatures. This Card of the Week would be a fine addition to a Commander or Pauper deck.

First Day of Class - STX
Who wouldn’t be excited to learn magic!?

First Day of Class is an instant for 1R that grants haste and gives a +1/+1 counter to all creatures that enters the battlefield under your control, until the end of turn. One of the best things about this card is the way its worded. Because it doesn’t target a creature it has no limit on it’s scale. If you were using this in a Gruul stompy deck it might just affect one giant creature. But if you are going for a token build it will affect multiple creatures. Additionally the +1/+1 the creatures get is a counter not until the end of the turn. This could significantly change the combat step maths. Not only will you be swinging immediately but your creatures will be bigger.

When the learn mechanic was released I at least didn’t pay a lot of attention to it, being predominantly a commander player. In commander learn effectively becomes rummage. This is a useful ability, particularly if you are in colours that don’t have access to a lot of card draw. On First day of Class it is nothing but upside, especially as learn is a may ability.

The only real downside of First Day of Class is that it has no effect on the creatures you already have on the battlefield

Suggested Commanders

First Day of Class is best in an aggressive deck where you want to be swinging at your opponents. It would be great in Omnath, Locus of Rage, Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient or any Gruul commander. Alternatively it would fit perfectly into a Goblin build such as Krenko, Mob Boss or Grumgully, the Generous. It would also work really well in Kykar, Wind’s Fury where the learn could help keep the chain running.

Example

Its the mid-game, Krenko, Mob Boss died to a recent board wipe. Last turn you re-summoned him and got 2 1/1 goblin tokens. You untap and draw First Day of Class. Immediately casting it you decide to rummage away a mountain and draw a Crazed Goblin. You cast it followed by Krenko’s comand. You tap Krenko and create 6 1/1 goblin tokens

Thanks to First Day of class you have 9 goblins that can attack. With the additional +1/+1 counters you have doubled their power to 18 and are immediately able to threaten someone’s life total. For 2 mana, you got 9 +1/+1 counters, gave haste to 9 creatures and rummaged. That is value.

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Card of the Week – Niveous Wisps

Niveous Wisps - SHM - Banner

You will often hear players saying that they would like to make their deck more consistent. This is a common phrase that you will hear by magic players of any format. One of the best ways of doing this is by drawing cards. Unfortunately in Commander this is one of Whites weakest areas. Attempting to alleviate this is Niveous Wisps, the Card of the Week.

Niveous Wisps - SDM
Draw a card, with upside

Niveous Wisps is an Instant for a single white mana that draws you a card. Additionally it turns target creature into a white creature and taps it. Whilst turning the creature white is very situational, that doesn’t mean its not going to happen. Tapping the creature down is far more useful. This is because you can target an opponents creature with a tap effect and force them to activate it now. If you are scared of a creature on your opponents board you can play this before you go to combat and tap it down. The low mana value means that there is very little downside to running it, and you don’t need to hold up a lot of mana to use it.

However, Niveous Wisps is not a card draw engine it is just a cantrip. This means that it is not going to solve your problems on its own. Overall I think that it is a solid addition to any white deck, as it has a multitude of options without being a modal card.

Suggested Commanders

Niveous Wisps is a highly flexible card that can go in just about any deck running white. As it only needs a creature to be on the battlefield, you don’t even need to be running a creature based deck. The decks that it would be most effective in are Feather the Redeemed as then it becomes a repeatable cantrip. If you playgroup allows it Ink-Treader Nelphilim will turn this card into an overpowered ancestral recall.

The whole cycle

One of the best things about Niveous Wisps is that it is part of a cycle. Each of them costs a single coloured mana, has a colour appropriate effect and draws you a card. All of these cards are excellent and would be a fine addition to any deck.

  • Niveous-Wisps-SHM
  • Cerulean-Wisps-SHM
  • Aphotic-Wisps-SHM
  • Aphotic-Wisps-SHM
  • Viridescent-Wisps-SHM
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Card of the Week – Arena of the Ancients

As new sets are introduced they come with new mechanics. Some of these stick around and others simply haunt magic’s history. Legends which was released in 1994 had a bit of a hit and miss approach to mechanics. Expanding on Banding, and adding Rampage, whilst also laying the groundwork for the Commander format. As it gave us both Multicoloured and Legendary cards. In order to counterbalance this new creature types they printed the Card of the Week, Arena of the Ancients.

Arena of the Ancients - Legends
Let’s be honest, you didn’t know this card existed

The oracle text can be found here.

Arena of the Ancients is an Artifact for 3 colourless. When it comes it to play it taps all Legendary creatures, and prevents them from untapping in the untap step. This unusual stax piece won’t just hit the commanders but will hit a decent number of creatures in the 99. As Legendary creatures continue to be printed you are increasingly likely to play against them. This can completely shut down decks if they are going for a Voltron approach and need their commander to attack. Or if they have an activated ability that requires them to tap. The low mana value and generic cost means you can get it out early and easily.

However, Arena of the Ancients is a global effect and will effect you as well. Additionally it will not stop Legendary Creatures from untapping outside of the untap step.

Suggested Commanders

Just because Arena of the Ancients can go in every deck, that doesn’t mean it should. It is at it’s strongest in a stax deck such as Grand Arbiter Augustin IV. Or Urza, Lord High Artificer where it can also be tapped for mana. You could run it in a Kalamax, the Stormsire build that is more focused on slinging spells. Ultimately it should be run un decks where tapping to attacking with your commander isn’t part of the plan.

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Card of the Week – Blessing of Leeches

Blessing of Leeches - BOK - Banner

Fairly unsurprisingly commanders in the game commander tend to be quite important. You want to keep yours on the battlefield as much as you want to keep your opponents off it. This requires you to play both offensively and defensively. Blessing of Leeches is an Enchantment that allows you to repeatedly protect your commander, making it the Card of the Week.

Blessing of Leeches - BOK
“Medicine”

More information on the Regenerate mechanic can be found here.

Regenerate is a now retired mechanic that basically means the next time a creature would die, it doesn’t. Blessing of Leeches is an Enchantment that allows you to pay zero and regenerate the enchanted creature. This means that you can play it on a key combo piece or your commander. Additionally it has received an errata so that it now has Flash, meaning that it can be played at instant speed. Meaning you can play only when you need to. However the greatest advantage of Blessing of Leeches is that it’s activation cost is zero. This means that you do not need to leave up mana to activate it, and you can activate it multiple times per turn if needed.

The “downside” is that at the beginning of your upkeep you loose 1 life, but this isn’t really that big of a deal. In commander you start with 40 life, and as everyone knows “life is a resource”. The actual downside of Blessing of Leeches are those of regeneration as a whole. It is powerless against exile and forced sacrifice effects.

Suggested Commanders

Blessing of Leeches is a highly flexible card as it can run in any deck that is running black and has creatures. This is also due to its mana cost, only costing 1 black mana and 2. It can be run in deck such as Marrow-Gnawer, Anowon, the Ruin Thief, or Liesa, Shroud of Dusk.

However it is at its best in decks that want you to loose life as then the downside is completely countered. These include Willowdusk, Essence Seer and Greven, Predator Captain.

If you liked this Card of the Week please check out these previous similar entries. Gift of Immortality (White) and Broken Fall (Green).

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Card of the Week – Desperate Gambit

Desperate Gambit - WTH - Banner

One thing that you will often hear Commander player say is “I need to make my deck more consistent”. For different decks this is achieved in different ways, more pump spells, tutors or just focusing on a theme. The Card of the Week is focused on improving Aggro or damage dealing decks, but in a very Red way. Desperate Gambit is an unusual but potentially devastating pump spell, making it the Card of the Week.

Desperate Gambit - Weatherlight
Head you live, Tails you die

The oracle text can be found here.

Desperate Gambit is an instant that if you call a coin flip correctly doubles the next damage dealt by a source you control. However, if you call it incorrectly you will negate the damage instead, this is a high risk, high reward strategy. When you are playing Aggro or Stompy decks you need to be able to take advantage of opportunities to deal damage. For a single Red mana and at instant speed you can turn an attack into a KO. For example if you are attacking with a 7/7 Commander, you can cast Desperate Gambit to turn the next damage into 14 and Temur Battle Rage to give it double strike brining it up to a total of 21 damage.

However, Desperate Gambit does have some disadvantages. For example it is a gamble you could end up dealing no damage. Additionally it only doubles the damage for the next time it is dealt, so it won’t help a Guttersnipe.

Suggested Commanders

Desperate Gambit is best in decks that are looking to do a large amount of combat damage quickly. Making it is a good fit for Gruul stompy decks suck as Xenagos, God of Revels or Radha, Heart of Keld. It is also useful in Jund for example Prossh, Skyraider of Kher or Temur decks such as Kalamax the Stormshire.

Finally it can be used in coin flip tribal decks such as Okaun, Eye of Chaos.