Commander Products, Good or Bad?

With the release of the new 2016 Commander Decks by Wizards of the coast, I feel like now is the time to speak what needs to be spoken. Dear Wizards, stop ruining the Commander format. Okay, let me explain where I’m coming from.

In case you don’t know, Commander started as a format known as Elder Dragon Highlander, and it was a bit different. For one, you can only use one of the original five elder dragons as your commander; those being Arcades Sabboth, Chromium, Nicol Bolas (The non-planeswalker version), Vaevictis Asmadi, and Palladia Mors. This was an extremely casual format, as Wizards of the Coast didn’t really support it and make cards specifically for it. However, as that group grew and started asking for DCI sanctioned tournaments, Wizards responded, and made it and official format. However, they changed the rules so that there was a ban list, and your commander could be any legendary creature. With this, they also released a set of five three colored commander decks to accompany this change.

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These decks however included new cards that specifically were only made to be commanders, and Command Tower. Command Tower is a card that allows commander players to play any color of mana with no drawbacks. This card is now the most used card in all of commander, and with a price tag of two dollars for a common that keeps getting reprinted, it’s easy to find, but ruins the format. While some people rejoiced that Wizards released a product that specifically benefitted Commander players, many more were hesitant that this would be too radical of a change, and that Wizards would in fact make these new cards must haves in any commander deck.

In newer commander decks (cough cough Commander 2014 and 2016) Wizards has begun to mess with the original idea of Commander; having one legendary creature who you think has a fun ability that you like, and build a deck for it. However, in the second Commander Deck product made by Wizards of the Coast, they printed three planeswalkers who could be your commander. This was an outrage to many people, as commander players didn’t want anything besides one legendary creature commander to be played as a commander. With this though, you can now have a planeswalker be your commander. Despite these being legal commanders to use, they are banned in many playgroups as they specifically are changing the rules of commander. The real question though was what will come next for these decks. Personally, I hoped that Wizards would take a step back and never make this mistake of allowing non-legendary creatures to be commanders ever again. So far, only legendary creatures have been commanders, for now.

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In these newest Commander decks though, Wizards has messed with Commanders once again. Now, you can have two commanders, as long as both have the new ability, Partner. Some of these creatures include Vial Smasher the Fierce, Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist, and Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker. All of these commanders can partner up with someone else who has this ability, and is able to somehow work together, even if they don’t share the same color identity. In all honesty though, allowing two creatures to be your commander is a bit awkward. While it does make some sense that Ludevic and his creation can command the deck together, I do think that it would be weird if Ludevic’s creation were to work with Ishai, a bird who translates Draconic for the monks of Ojutai. Ignoring the fact that this commander situation doesn’t make much sense flavor wise, I personally think that the idea that Wizards of the Coast can change such basic rules of the game is quite ridiculous and should not be done.

However, despite the commanders not following some of the format’s main principles, I do like the commander decks as a product. At least most of them are easy to play, and can hold their own against most decks that have a big name in the format. In addition, they are quite affordable at an MSRP of $34.99 and are highly customizable. In addition, they all have many needed reprints that help make more cards accessible. In addition, many of these decks can be upgraded to extremely competitive decks. I personally try to buy one of each from the different years. From the commander 2016 line, I have already ordered the Stalwarts Unity deck, and can’t wait to unbox it and play with it. These are fun decks, and I don’t want to see them be discontinued. I think that overall, they are among the best products that Wizards of the Coast makes, but I would like to see less Commander Specific cards, and more cards that can be played in modern 60 card decks with 4 cards of each copy.

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Top 5 Flavor Fails

When it comes to Magic the Gathering, some things just don’t make much sense. After all, this is a game where your monsters attack your opponents monsters and they do the same. However, after almost 25 years of Wizards of the Coast making cards, there are some things that just don’t make any sense at all. Here are the top five of them in my opinion.

5. Alternate Win Conditions: While there are some cards such as Coalition Victory and Darksteel Reactor which sort of make sense why they would win the game, there are others that don’t make as much sense. After all, Coalition Victory looks like the United Nations just stepped in for you, and Darksteel Reactor is practically the Death Star from Star Wars. However, there are some cards like Chance Encounter and Biovisionary that don’t make much sense why you would win the game. After all, Chance Encounter basically just says that if your strategy involves flipping coins a lot, then you’ll probably win, and Biovisionary is some sort of human wizard mutant thing that only gets along with copies of himself…All I know about him is that he doesn’t make much sense, and using him in your deck is almost never a wise thing to do.

4. Scepter/Crown/Throne of Empires and Shield/Sword/Helm of Kaldra: So, I have no idea what Wizards of the Coast was thinking when twice, they thought everyone would want to play cards that you have to have as a three piece combo. Well, back then it was harder to find cards in your deck. In fact, the only color that had that capability at the time was black, and few decks would like to run artifacts in black because blue and red interacted so much better with artifacts. Now, despite no one ever using them, I would like to ask, how is it that your artifacts get better just because you have other specific artifacts? If I was an artificer, I would totally think to make a scepter more powerful only if you have my specific throne and crown as well. Oh yeah, and I know, what if we made it so that having all three out is really hard? This is one of the most ridiculous combo sets I have ever seen, and I’m glad that they don’t do it any more

3. Power and toughness of humans: There are some things that don’t make sense, and then there are some things that really don’t make sense. One of these things that really does not make sense is how strong humans are compared to other monsters and even themselves. Which do you think is more powerful, a generic human soldier, or a rat? If you said that most times the rat, you’d be shockingly accurate. Lets just take a moment to realize that a human soldier will without any buff spells will lose in a fight to a rat. This isn’t even a mob of rats, but just one rat. However, this is far from the only instance of a messed up power and toughness. Some humans such as Caller of the Hunt, Crusader of Odric, and Westvale Cult Leader all are humans who get bigger if you control many creatures, yet they aren’t one full and complete unit. I would imagine that these creatures being infinitely large is not what Wizards of the Coast imagined when making these cards.

2. Vehicles on Kaladesh: Yes, there is an artifact type called vehicles, and I have thought of some ways that they make little to no sense. The way that vehicles in Magic works is that if you control one or more creatures whose combined power is greater than or equal to the crew cost, you can tap them, and now the vehicle can be its how creature until the end of your turn. However, like many new and abstract mechanics, this comes with many opportunities for flavor fails. For example, because the crew cost for something like Sky Skiff which has a crew cost of one, almost any creature can crew it, right? Well, it would make sense that something like a Toolcraft Exemplar would be able to operate it, there are many things that I would find to be incompetent to fly it. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that Worldspine Wurm, Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, and Coral Eel would all have a hard time piloting this smaller skyship. Also, what happens if something unexpected happens and the vehicle is blown up while the pilots are inside? In the game, the creatures all have ejection seats apparently, so that they’re all safe, even if the vehicle is somehow destroyed like the opponent casting an Artifact Mutation on it. Also, one last thing to point out; the vehicles can be a legal target of Murder, so yeah. The concept of a vehicle probably shouldn’t have been brought to Magic in this way.

1. For the biggest flavor fail in all of Magic the Gathering, I’d say that it is none other than the idea of legendary creatures/planeswalkers. Both of these card types make absolutely no sense when both players have one of those out. The idea behind legendary creatures is that they are supposed to be the individuals who advance the story along. Some of these people make steadfast alliances and would never work with more than one individual at a time. How does it make sense that two players can each have a Captain Sisay as a member of their army? What would happen if the two would meet up? Is it that your legendary sneaks out when you aren’t looking and goes to your opponent when you aren’t looking? It also gets worse though, once you include the fact that your deck will most of the time have multiple copies of one or more legendary cards and planeswalkers. What is it like when your legendary dies, then oh wait, you play another? Ultimately, there are just some things best left unexplained.

Thank you for reading this blog post. While it is weird and unexpected that there are these flavor fails in Magic the Gathering, I do find it fun and entertaining to find more and more of them in a simple game. If you have any more bizarre flavor fails, please leave them down in the comment section for everyone to see. I would like to add a part 2 someday, and I’m open to suggestions.