The War Report: The Rumor Mill

We’ve known for a while that the new Commander 2019 decks would be releasing in August, as they have years prior. Spoiler season hasn’t quite begun yet, so we don’t know what sorts of mechanics or colors to expect from the precons, but that changed ever so slightly once this image (and others like it) started popping up around the internet:

Clearly this is a website that belongs to a wholesaler, it appears that this listing was put up before it should have been, but that’s the nature of the Internet — someone is always watching. What’s important here is the line “Each deck has a returning keyword ability as its main theme. The four featured abilities are populate, flashback, morph, and madness.”

We now know what the themes of the Commander 2019 decks will be, or at least we should get some confirmation soon, as August isn’t too far away. This sounds believable though, particularly with recent sets bringing back old mechanics that maybe haven’t been fleshed out enough. For those of you not familiar with the keywords, here’s a breakdown of each:

1GreenWhiteTap: Populate(Create a token that’s a copy of a creature token you control.)

Populate is part of a token strategy and can easily be combined with abilities like convoke to have powerful turns. The keyword has been exclusive to G/W so far, so it would make sense for that to be the colors of this deck, but there may be a splash of something else. It’s not a very exciting mechanic as tokens tend to prefer going wide rather than tall, and populate only copies one token, but I suppose if they are 10/10 Eldrazi’s that’s not too terrible. We’ll have to see how the commander(s) abuses this mechanic to find out its worth.

Flashback 1Blue (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)

Flashback is the most represented keyword in this selection. We have seen this stapled onto countless cards and it is usually quite useful if not a little expensive. Cards played from the graveyard with flashback will go into exile and though there are tricks for getting cards out of exile it’s probably best to just get the double value out of each spell with this keyword and move on. I’d say the most prevalent colors that use flashback are Grixis, but I don’t think we really need more Grixis commanders. I still think this is likely the deck that has some of the best cards in it though.

Morph 2BlackGreenBlue (You may cast this card face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)

I don’t like morph. It has its boons on the occasional card, but overall it just feels too slow. Essentially you want to play a big creature that does something cool after morphing, face down as a 2/2, then morph it into its bigger, badder self at the right time to surprise people. I wouldn’t advise letting morph creatures get through with combat damage, as the morph can be activated before damage is applied so you’ll have something worse coming at you with no blocks declared. It’s sneaky and I’m sure there are some cool things you can do with this mechanic, but it’s simply not my style. I won’t even venture to guess the color pairing because I believe the mechanic is present in all colors.

Madness 1Red (If you discard this card, discard it into exile. When you do, cast it for its madness cost or put it into your graveyard.)

Madness is another mechanic that I remember being a thing when I first got back into the game (my friend had a Rakdos vampire deck that did some disgusting things with madness and Smuggler’s Copter) but one that I didn’t use. The thing is, if you are drawing a bunch of cards and then having to discard (or using looting spells) you can get a nice engine going, as madness costs are almost always cheaper than the normal CMC of the card, so discarding it and then casting it on the cheap can be really efficient. However, if you can’t discard then you’re sitting on dead and expensive cards in your hand. My thought is that a different color pairing might work better than Rakdos, but I’d wager this deck is going to be janky.

We should be hearing more about the set and you know I’ll be here with spoilers when they come out, so we’ll discuss more soon. The second piece of information to leak is in the following image:

We’ve known about the next set coming out in September for a while, it was code named “Archery” and little other information has surfaced until now. When I first saw this it was just a rumor, but it has since been confirmed from a breakfast at the San Diego Comic Con occurring right now. The next major MTG set will be known as Throne of Eldraine, and apparently the artwork is littered with Fae. So a new plane and a bunch of fairies. Sweet, I guess? Honestly it doesn’t really matter what the theme is, new planes are awesome and we should get some new mechanics, new creature types and other support for existing themes so it will likely be awesome despite my implied negativity. A larger announcement is coming this evening at Comic Con, so I imagine there will be more stuff about C19 and this new set within a few hours. I look forward to thinking and writing about that as well.

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