As I mentioned recently, spoilers for the next MTG set is coming very soon. We’re also getting Commander 2020 sets a bit earlier in the year than usual. At this point we know that Ikoria’s release was pushed back to May rather than this month, so we can also assume we won’t see these decks on shelves until then either as they are set to release simultaneously. Whatever the case, we have seen the full deck lists released, plenty of new YouTube videos covering new builds and ideas, and now it’s my turn to throw down my two cents.
My first observation is that there are finally five decks again, rather than the four deck sets of the past couple of years. It’s also nice to see consistency between the precons, in that each is a three color shard, which I think is probably the sweet spot for most decks. We also know due to others’ diligent work, that there are a total of 71 brand new cards included in these precons, which is the most new cards ever introduced with a Commander product, though that record might again be broken with the draft set later this year. Whatever the case, The Command Zone guys also broke this down further, letting us know that each of these decks have a good chunk of value in them just off of the reprints. One more important note, there’s plenty of good mana rocks included in each deck including the newish Arcane Signet that is in high demand and was limited to being printed into last year’s Brawl decks. Lastly, the deck I am the most drawn to and interested in buying first is Timeless Wisdom, aka the Cycling deck.
Because the cycling deck is my favorite of these doesn’t mean I’m not interested in others. I’m kind of over Mardu and another deck with boring humans in it doesn’t really appeal to me. I’m also sort of turned off by the Mutate themed deck, as the mechanic seems sort of pointless. The Keyword Soup Abzan deck is also sort of meh. I find the Temur deck the next most interesting, Instants matter is definitely a thing but I’m more interested in the Snake sub-general so I’ll likely buy both of these immediately. There are plenty of new cards in each though, so I assume buying them all would be the smartest bet just to get a lot of gas. Whatever the case, I love this time of year because when we get all of these new commanders out in the wild the meta changes for a while and brings new and interesting ideas to the table. I’m not going to go over any reprints besides the ones I’ve already mentioned because there are simply too many new cards that deserve to be highlighted, good or not. I should notate that because there is an identical number of new cards per color, I’ve split them up that way but these are all spread about the decks as all of the colors are represented equally between the five decks. I also arranged them so that the cycles of cards are highlighted in the middle of each gallery. Those new cycles are: 1. A free to play spell as long as you control your commander and 2. A mono colored Partners With Legendary creature. Their partners will be highlighted with the other Multicolor cards. There is a cycle of “impetus” that are auras that goad the enchanted creature while buffing it as well, but really these won’t see much play so I don’t have further comment. Let’s dive in.
The free spell for white is Flawless Maneuver, and it is a 3 CMC spell that you can cast for free if you control your commander. This one gives your creatures indestructible until end of turn, which can help you to save blockers/blocked creatures or protect from a boardwipe (including one you might do to yourself). I think it’s a strong card for white. The Partner here isn’t as good, basically giving you tokens for attacking, but not until end of turn. Honestly the best card here is Dismantling Wave, which blows up multiple artifacts/enchantments on the cheap, but then can be cycled and is a boardwipe. I love modular cards, and in a deck that can cheat cycling costs, this is basically a free or cheap wipe. I like Cartographer’s Hawk as well because it’s ramp, but it is a bit situational. I think bird tribal people run it automatically. Otherwise, it’s sort of situational. I think mono white decks will use it.
Wait, a FREE counterspell? Yeah, Fierce Guardianship will allow you to counter any noncreature spell (which are usually the best targets for counters) as long as you control your commander. That’s powerful, especially for higher tier decks that partially rely on their general to win. It’s going to see play for sure. The partner here is also pretty interesting as he pairs with a card that exiles opponent’s cards and then he lets you play those for any color of mana. I think they could be a powerful deck by themselves, but also fit into a number of other strategies. Probably my favorite card here otherwise is the Crystalline Resonance, because it’s an enchantment with a payoff for cycling, where you can copy other goodies on the board and use it in different ways.
Being able to exile for free is pretty damn good, especially because white is the only color that usually exiles on the cheap (with downsides). The only real downside to this card is having to pay four mana for it if you don’t control your commander. The partner is kind of boring, but card draw in black is always paid in blood, so I guess it’s on theme. With its partner it can do things but I don’t really care for it. I do really like the Netherborn Altar, especially for commanders that can get really expensive to recast (say, Vilis after he’s died a few times?). It’s functional jank. Species Specialist could be good black card draw as well, but it’s limited to one type. Ghave might like it.
The red free spell is pretty powerful as well. Control your commander, and you can cast Deflecting Seal for free, and with that you can choose new targets for a spell or ability. This is instant speed disruption that could potentially stop game winning combos. The partner here is probably one half of the two I like the best, this one is actually good in any deck that cares about discarding cards, and it will likely find a spot in a wheeling deck I’m playing on building after these cards find their way into my hands. I’m not really into the other cards, but you can see what they do above.
Green’s free spell is equivalent to a fog, which is probably less desirable than the other color’s spells, but still will find its place in certain decks. The partner here is fine for +1/+1 counter synergy, but is less appealing by himself than with his partner who would push him out of a mono green deck. He could still be functional in a mono green counters matter deck. I really like Curious Herd, as it is the next Dockside Extortionist, except for the fact that he only counts one player’s stuff in order to give you 3/3 tokens. I think populate decks will like this card. Glademuse also looks strong in draw go decks, mainly because you’re already planning on casting spells on other players turns, so you might as well draw a card. This is symmetrical though, so I guess it’s a bit of a group hug card.
Next up is the rest. The multicolored cards here are the alternate commanders for the decks, along with the dual colored Partner With creatures that pair with the mono colored ones we already covered. Of the pairings, I like the mono red that is paired with Shabraz the Skyshark. Not only is this un-set level ridiculous, it’s also a very effective pair. I don’t think it’s something I’m going to use only because its colors are off for what I want to use the mono red guy for, but it’s still cool. My secondary favorite is Ukkima, Stalking Shadow, but I ultimately don’t want to use its partner either, instead wanting to put Ukkima into my Yuriko deck because it is unblockable and can be used with ninjitsu to get more value of it’s leaves the battlefield trigger. Of the subgenerals, I’m most interested in Xyris, the Writing Storm, because it’s essentially The Locust God with the addition of green. I love my Locust God deck, but being a 6 CMC commander is sometimes hard to ramp into without green, and green would push that deck over the top. The Locust God is actually included in that precon, so apparently WotC sees the same thing I do. You’ll see that build soon, because I think my original game plan for that deck will work even better even without The Locust God in the command zone. The new artifacts are mostly blah except for the Twinning Staff, but I’ll leave that card for someone else to break. The only new land is Nesting Grounds which is actually pretty good for all of the new keyword tokens as it allows you to move those around. Overall these sets look really good and though it’s unlikely I’ll buy them all, I’m definitely grabbing at least a couple.
Up next, Spoilers for the booster set.