TWR: C19 Spoilers – The Morph Deck

As promised, the Command Zone released a video talking about one of the four new Commander 2019 decks, and Wizards of the Coast revealed the full deck list simultaneously on the Mothership. Follow that link to see the list, you can also watch the YouTube video of the Command Zone directly on that page. Feel free to do that and then you can come back for my commentary. Monday’s deck reveal was of “Faceless Menace,” the Sultai-colored Morph-themed deck. The only thing I’ve noticed is that there are a couple of cards that I can’t seem to find spoilers for although they are present in the deck list, so I cannot comment on those just yet. As themes go, this one heavily leans on the Morph mechanic, which looks to be very powerful and synergistic. However, the mechanic simply isn’t interesting to me as a playstyle, so I don’t think I’m going to pick this one up. Still, let’s take a look at the cards, you might find some of this more appealing than I do.

Alternate Commanders:

The alternate commander suite is very much on theme, but the only one that I think is remotely intriguing is Volrath. His ability to place counters on creatures to make them weaker and then simultaneously be able to copy that creature while remaining a 7/5 is pretty decent. I can see him being his own general and probably being pretty decent due to these colors. Rayami is probably a voltron commander at best. Someone in one of my MTG groups pointed out that Grismold goes very well with Night of Souls’ Betrayal – which is an enchantment that gives all creatures -1/-1 so that he’s getting +4/+4 at the end of each of your turns, but then he’s probably still going voltron and it’s not as if he doesn’t die to removal. So all around I think Kadena herself should remain the obvious choice for commander of this deck.

New Cards:

Each of these preconstructed decks contain a ton of reprints, so there are only a few brand-new-to-the-format cards. Those are pictured above, outside of the couple that I mentioned are not online yet for some reason (Mire in Misery and Voice of Many are the missing cards). I also did not include already spoiled cards, you can check those out in older The War Report posts. There are some things here, but the only card I’d really like to own is the Apex Altisaur, as it would slot into Gishath quite nicely. Road of Return is pretty good, particularly for expensive commanders. I don’t like Sudden Substitution, but I’m sure there’s some trickery to be had with it. The Gift of Doom aura is blah. Thieving Amalgam and Scroll of Fate are great for the morph theme but otherwise fairly useless. Lastly, the Pendant of Prosperity is great for group hug themes but probably not used much otherwise. So overall I’m not really into the new cards made for this deck, and I can safely say there aren’t even reprints I’m dying to have that are included, though some are good cards if you don’t already own them.

Notable Reprints:

I’m not going to go over all of the reprints because they are old news, but I will say that the above are good cards for your collection. Seedborn Muse if fantastic in basically any green deck, but better in those that will abuse it. Deathmist Raptor was one of the beast creature cards that was changed to a dinosaur once the tribe became recognized during the Ixalan block. This is the first reprinting of the card with the new creature subtype. Strionic Resonator is a great card for commanders with triggered abilities, while Thespian’s Stage is a land that combos with several other lands to do fun things. Lastly, Vraska the Unseen is one of my favorite versions of the Planeswalker, though it wasn’t exactly expensive prior to this. Still, these are a nice pick up and if you really enjoy the mechanics in this deck I think it’s going to perform pretty well against the other decks and we haven’t even seen those yet.

The Flashback-themed deck is being revealed in a few minutes. I’ll be back tomorrow with thoughts on that.

TWR: Commander 2019 Spoilers: Round Two

While Gen Con has been finishing up, there were two more panels featuring spoilers from the upcoming Commander 2019 decks. The initial spoilers from a couple of days ago were just the commanders and their accompanying signature cards, and we got even fewer spoilers from there on. However, we are supposed to see a complete deck list for one of the four decks each day from Monday through Thursday next week, so then we’ll really be able to judge the value coming down the pipeline. On Friday, one new legendary creature, a spell and a land were revealed:

This new legendary is pretty nuts. He’s expensive, but only if you pay the full 7 CMC. He has phyrexian mana in his CMC, which we haven’t seen for a while, and is also quite powerful. This means that one can pay either three black mana or six life plust the four generic mana to cast this creature, and that opens up a bunch of options. Not only that, but he also effectively turns all black mana symbols in phyrexian mana which can really help to break black. It doesn’t stop there though, K’rrik also gets +1/+1 for each black spell you cast, and he has lifelink to heal you back up after spending life as a resource. There are some aristocrats, some extort creatures and other lifelinkers to make this into a viable way to cheat a bunch of cards out. I’m looking forward to brewing around this one. Next up, a spell and a land that sort of do the same thing in different ways. The spell is a little more flexible, as it can remove an opponent’s commander and also replaces itself with a card. The land would be more focused on returning your own commander to your hand, but it can only be done during your turn, so it’s likely just an extra blink effect for those commanders who want that. I don’t really find either of these cards very appealing. On Saturday there was another new legendary and one new creature spoiled:

Gerrard is fine I guess. A 4 CMC 3/3 with first strike is very Boros. He plays well with board wipes, particularly those that target both creatures and artifacts, as he will return all of those permanents back to the battlefield afterwards. Seems pretty niche, and not something worth building around. Probably pretty good in a deck that’s wiping often. As for the new creature, the Scaretiller is decent but a little expensive. It will ramp you each time it’s tapped, so this is probably baller in affinity decks that are always tapping and untapping artifacts. Probably good in Windgrace as well, to constantly return lands from the yard to feed your Gitrog Monster.

Overall, I have not been overly thrilled with any of the spoilers so far. I like K’rrik, but I’m not in love. We’ll check back in later this week with more on this set.

TWR: Commander 2019 Spoilers: The Face Cards

As of August 1st, spoiler season for the new Commander 2019 preconstructed decks has begun. Gen Con is going on, and Wizards is there — information was promised at a panel yesterday, and supposedly there will be more information given today as well. Next week we’ll get the full deck lists one at a time for four days. My plan as I laid out in yesterday’s post, is to report on the new information each day we get it, so today’s post focuses on what we learned yesterday, and I’ll have more to report after the panel later this afternoon (probably tomorrow’s post). That also means next week I’ll have four posts about the individual deck lists as well. With that said, let’s dig into yesterday’s reveals:

So far, we’ve been shown the box art, names of each deck and the face cards. Each of these new commanders has its own signature spell or companion creature similar to the cycle from last year’s product (you’ll know by the name of the card). So we have the Sultai Faceless Menace deck led by Kadena, Jeskai Mystic Intellect featuring Sevinne, Naya Primal Genesis with Ghired at the helm, and finally the Rakdos Merciless Rage deck sporting Anje. Firstly, I’m surprised by the fact that there are three 3-color decks and one that is only two, but I guess it makes sense given these keywords’ prevalence in those colors. Anyway, let’s take a closer look at the new generals:

Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer is a four CMC 3/3, which isn’t too impressive on its own. This is the commander of the morph keyword deck, so of course its other text has to do with the morph mechanic. The first creature you cast face down (via morph) each turn costs 3 less to cast, meaning you can cast that one for free, as the morph rules texts reads that you can cast this creature face down for 3. One free creature per turn isn’t terrible, and then those cards can be flipped in order to abuse other mechanics or surprise with an attacker or blocker. It’s an interesting enough mechanic, but it’s also one that I’ve never really cared much about. It is nice to get that free cast though, and as a bonus you get to draw a card for any morph creatures you play. I can see this being a pretty reliable card draw engine, but I don’t seem morph being a mechanic that will win you games.

The flashback keyword commander, Sevinne, the Chronoclasm is a five CMC 2/2… and that’s just bad. It is essentially indestructible which is nice, and it’s other rules text is only so-so. Basically anytime you cast one of your flashback spells from the graveyard you get to copy it. So there are a ton of copy spell effects in these colors, so I’m sure this can be a pretty decent storm deck given a good amount of mana, but it’s still pretty boring. I’m hoping there are some good cards in the deck otherwise, because this was the deck I was banking on being the one that I would buy first.

Ghired, Conclave Exile is our populate keyword commander. A five CMC 2/5, his stats are okay for the cost, but he does have an ETB effect that gives you a 4/4 with trample so you are actually getting 6/9 on the board for five, so that’s not terrible. As a bonus, if you can give him haste,  you can immediately attack and populate (make a copy of a creature token you control) giving you another 4/4 that’s tapped and attacking. Haste will make this a more aggressive deck, and you actually have access to green so ramping into him isn’t terrible. I have too many decks brewed already that utilize token strategies, but this one is probably the most interesting commander so far. If you’re making other big tokens, you can continue to make more of them each combat, but it’s pretty slow at going wide. I’m curious to see what else is in the box.

So Rakdos is kind of bad in my mind. I didn’t really like the madness mechanic back when it was in standard (and I was still playing standard back then). The thought of always discarding cards doesn’t feel like card advantage to me, but I guess that’s the point of madness, because madness cards typically cost less when they are discarded than if you cast them from hand, so in that way this commander fits the them well. Anje Falkenrath is a 1/3 for three CMC that comes with Haste. You can tap her to loot (discard and draw), but when you discard a card,  you can untap her. This can be broken. If they make the appropriate amount of good madness cards (as I remember it, there weren’t too many good ones in the past) this might be one of the best commanders of the bunch.

Overall I’m not really that interested in any of these face cards, and I remember sort of feeling that way last year as well. However, I do remember last year having some awesome alternate commanders though, so I’m banking on some awesome cards still appearing in these decks. Let’s take a look at the other spoilers we’ve had so far (by the way, Seedborn Muse was reprinted as well):

Nothing too exciting here either, though each plays well with its commander, so they make sense to be named after them. Here’s hoping for some new cycles, some good reprints and some alternate commanders that are better than these face cards! We’ll touch base as more information becomes available.

The War Report: Imposters

I was interested in Morophon the moment he was teased, but because I already have a 5-color commander in Jodah, I focused on some other brews first. I kept looking at Morophon though, and I just couldn’t resist building a deck around him. Let me show you why:

Morophon is fairly unique in that he’s a colorless creature and therefore only has generic mana in his casting cost (outside of the Eldrazi titans, there aren’t many). Granted, seven mana is hard to get to on early turns but not needing any specific colors helps to get there faster. Morophon is also classified as a 5-color commander due to the WUBRG symbols appearing in his rules text. This means we not only have access to excellent mana rocks to ramp up to seven mana to cast our big boy, but we also have access to any other color’s ramp too. It should be fairly easy to get him cast early on. The major detail here is that Morophon is a Shapeshifter, so he has the Changeling keyword (which means he counts as all creature types). I’ve utilized Changelings in the past with my Reaper King build, so I already had quite a few of these laying around. There are some interesting things we can do with this tribal Shapeshifter idea, and most of it is reflected in the general. Obviously when he is played we are going to choose the creature type Shapeshifter, and then any of those spells are reduced by up to five mana to cast. He’s also a Lord for the chosen creature type, and a lord sub theme will be present in the deck as well.

Changelings:

Modern Horizons introduced a handful of new Changelings, most of which are pretty decent. I’ve also included the best Changelings that already existed and I think we cover some good ground and keep the overall curve pretty low. Some of these are sort of underwhelming, being maybe a 2/2 with Morophon on the board, but being changelings, there are quite a few ways we can give them the power to beat down our opponents. Check out the lords:

Lords:

All of the lords here are not changelings. I couldn’t see including every single shapeshifter because many of them were underwhelming. But, seeing as that our creatures with changeling count as all creature types, all of these cards will benefit them! We can give our whole team indestructible, hexproof, shroud, flying, haste, deathtouch, etc. Other cool interactions are with cards like Unesh where you get some card selection for each creature played, or the Archdruid which let’s you steal land by tapping some creatures. I wanted to throw in some of the more obscure lords that are already in my collection but that I hadn’t yet found a home for, so cards like Midnight Entourage can finally see some play and draw me some cards in the process. Of course, we want all of these lords to benefit from their own abilities too, so we have some additional utility added:

Win Cons + Fun Interactions:

Arcane Adaption and Conspiracy are cards that I’ve talked about before in other home brews, but they are just as important here. When these cards are played, we’ll name Shapeshifter again, and then suddenly all of our cards in our hand, on the battlefield and even in our library are now Shapeshifters and the synergy goes off the charts. Creatures will be pumped up, they’ll get new keywords, and hopefully this means you can get in for some damage for the win. Other ways we’re going to pump up our team is with cards like Door of Destinies and Coat of Arms which can make our army stupid big. We’ll also want to capitalize on awesome enchantments like Rhystic Study, Smothering Tithe, Kindred Discovery and Rhythm of the Wild — drawing cards, getting extra mana and giving our creatures haste or extra counters + denying enemy counter magic is what we want to do. I’ve also included a dumb alternate win con in Liliana’s Contract. I had put this into Kaalia but it’s more of an ask in that deck. Here, we simply need four creatures with changeling and for the contract to survive til our next upkeep and we win.

This deck isn’t going to revolutionize the game by any means, but it’s a fun way to use some cards that I’ve owned for a while but never used. It’s fairly budget, with the mana base and spell package it’s sitting at $265. You can see the full deck list here.

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.