Commander Gems in Kaladesh
As with every expansion, I sift out the great cards for Commander and put it on my shopping list almost immediately. It doesn't take a lot more time since I am already doing research for Pro Tour Kaladesh!
While this is not an exhaustive list, it does cover most of the cards that will be fine additions to your decks. While many of the pictured cards are quite generic and can find a home easily, others are more specific, but they deserve honorable mentions. With over 50 cards I'm about to discuss, be ready for a wild ride!
Let's go to Kaladesh right now!
Kaladesh offers two board sweeping effects!
Cataclysmic Gearhulk is an auto-inclusion into most White decks. A Cataclysm effect that comes attached with a body which can be recurred is simply great! In Commander games, it hitting play will likely wreck havoc on the entire board and you're the only one who can play around it because you saw it coming and you're also the one choosing the best time to pull the trigger!
Fumigate is not very well-positioned in Standard at the moment but it will surely be welcome in Commander! Gaining 1 life for every creature destroyed is a lot, especially in games with three, four, five or more players! Woohoo! Not to mention that it will be very affordable to pick up once Kaldesh floods, so do get your copies at the most opportune timing!
Lastly, Refurbish is a little more narrow but reanimate effects in White are not common. Chances are, you'll have your Gilded Lotus or Sword of Fire and Ice-type of cards dealt with an getting them back might be worth the trouble in artifact-based White decks, such as Sharuum the Hegemon or Kemba, Kha Regent.
Honorable Mentions: Acrobatic Maneuver is decent for "blink" decks like Brago, King Eternal. Even if it is a little costly, it replaces itself so its worthy of consideration. Angel of Invention is nice for token strategies, but otherwise unimpressive as a 4/3 flier. Authority of the Consuls is nice for any deck that cares about life, such as those Black-White lifegain decks. Fairgrounds Warden is your second Fiend Hunter, assuming you need this type of cards in your deck.
These three spells are rather exciting and will make it to many decks because they are very generic.
Firstly, Confiscation Coup is great because it isn't an enchantment or aura, and this is also one of the reasons why Blatant Thievery is good. You won't have your work undone by enchantment removal and have your stolen objects returned to the controller. In Commander, you'll definitely find a lot of things worth stealing, even if you can only target a creature or artifact with converted mana cost 4 or less (you won't be running that many energy cards in your deck, I assume).
Insidious Will is great because of its utility. It is slow in regular Constructed, but in Commander you'll have a lot of big and flashy spells to either copy or turn around. It's also funny because casting Insidious Will will enable you to choose who your allies are, because you can copy a spell for mutual benefit, or counter it if you want to stop an enemy. You can also shift a spell targeting you or an ally to an enemy! It's great!
Saheeli's Artisty is great for copying practically anything and everything. Can you imagine doubling up on Solemn Simulacrum AND Gilded Lotus? That's not even the sickest thing you can do, but sounds rather unfair already! Do play it!
Both these cards are expensive and a little more narrow but thankfully you have some time to set them up. Metallurgic Summonings is very powerful but it will quickly turn you into public enemy number one! It's also not that difficult to end up with six artifacts, especially with all the artifact mana in Commander. Torrential Gearhulk has flash and that is the greatest boon. Being able to keep your mana open to interact with everyone at the table is crucial!
Honorable Mentions: Disappearing Act is useful if you can turn the drawback into a benefit, such as reusing Trinket Mage or something like that. Glint-Nest Crane will be decent in any deck with more than 35 artifacts and Padeem, Consul of Innovation can be abused if you build around it as your Commander.
Demon of Dark Schemes is worth running even if its the only card in your deck that cares about energy. Reanimating any creature from any graveyard is a valueable tool. Gonti, Lord of Luxury has already been written about and I think its also great even if it isn't your Commander, since it represents value and is a deathtouch body to discourage attackers.
Honorable Mentions: Diabolic Tutor is a nice reprint! Eliminate the Competition is not better than a traditional sweeper, unless you want to keep your best threats around and you have fodder to sacrifice. Lastly, Midnight Oil is excellent as another Phyrexian Arena, provided you don't need to hold cards in your hand. It is great for decks that don't rely on tricks, such as attrition-based B/G decks for example.
I'm not trolling but I apologize to all red mages this time round. There is near to nothing good in Kaladesh for Commander in red.
Chandra, Torch of Defiance does damage to all opponents but since it is a planeswalker you can be sure everyone will be attacking her. Her impact also isn't great enough that I want her in my 99-card deck! And since damage isn't much of an issue, so even Combustible Gearhulk isn't worth the trouble.
So yes, I'm singling out nothing worthy in Kaladesh for red!
Red is just bad this time round!
One format's junk is another format's treasure!
The best green card in Kaladesh for Commander is Wildest Dreams! For three mana, it will operate like a Regrowth, Recollect or an inferior Eternal Witness, but for 7 or 9 mana (which is commonly reached in Commander), you'll be able to return 3 or 4 cards! That is a lot of gas and also why I am an advocate of Praetor's Counsel in any green deck, except that you can scale Wildest Dreams!
These four cards will also be popular along with many other Commander superstars such as Doubling Season and Mycoloth. There are a lot of cards you can find synergy with and they are great in token decks like Rhys, the Redeemed and Ghaves, Guru of Spores, or counter-manipulation decks such as Vorel of the Hull Clade!
Honorable Mentions: Creeping Mold is reprinted and is okay if you need more versatile removal spells. Nissa, Vital Force is not half bad if you can find a great time to cast her and protect her, since she gives you an emblem if you succeed in holding back the opposition for just one turn. Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter is a poor man's Rhy, the Redeemed, but still fun enough that someone's going build around her. Lastly, at four mana, Wild Wanderer is a little slow and competes with Explosive Vegetation, Skyshroud Claim and Hunting Wilds but if you can abuse the extra body (such as with emerge) or recur it, it might be worth a spot.
Cloudblazer is excellent in any midrange or controllish W/U deck even if it cannot be evoked like Mulldrifter. It's going right into my Brago, King Eternal deck. Restoration Gearsmith is also excellent and the fact that it returns both artifacts and creatures makes it one of the best Eternal Witnesses for W/B decks!
Honorable Mentions: Unlicensed Disintegration is an efficient spell that has the upside of harming a planeswalker. There are plenty of artifacts in Commander, so if you need another Terminate or Hero's Downfall here it is. Is Kambal, Consul of Allocation better than Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim or Karlov of the Ghost Council as an Orzhov lifegain-themed Commander? Well, it depends how you want to build your deck! Rashmi, Eternities Crafter has also been built around and you can see it here!
Wow, there are many artifacts and lands which are good in Commander but Aetherflux Reservoir is the one you want to watch out for. On the turn it hits play, you could wipe out an opponent immediately and this effect is nearly unprecedented! Similarly, you'll need to watch out for any opponent who has 50 or more life and wants to take you down! Since its an artifact, anyone has access to it!
These three cards are build-around cards that do very different things and I imagine they will find a home in many decks. For example, Aetherworks Marvel isn't half bad in any deck that plays with sacrifice themes and Animation Module is also quite good in the examples that I mentioned above (about those bunch of green cards). Dynavolt Tower can go into U/R Control decks with very few or almost no creatures. Melek, Izzet Paragon, Keranos, God of Storms and Jori En, Ruin Diver are just some examples of Commander who will love Dynavolt Tower!
Ghirapur Orrery is one of those fun cards that everyone will "high five" you for, such as Howling Mine. Of course, you can build around it such that you take advantage it more with your deck but if you don't you are just providing your opponent with extra tools to kill you. One example of a great deck to play Ghirapur Orrery is Omnath, Locus of Mana. Unless you draw more than one land, you'll be able to empty your hand (because you have soooo much mana) and help yourself to another three next turn!
You'll also need to build around Panharmonicon but it will go right into any deck already playing a ton of "ETB" cards. Not only will cards like Eternal Witness and Solemn Simulacrum trigger twice on their own, you'll also get additional triggers from cards like Soul Warden or Cloudstone Curio because of the way it is worded!
Vehicles are generally good in decks that can crew them, mostly for the same reason that they are good in Standard. They evade board sweepers and mass removal, which are even more prevalent in Commander! Skysovereign, Consul Flagship and Smuggler's Copter are very generic cards and can fit into many decks that want raw power rather than specific utility. Lastly, Cultivator's Caravan is a mana rock that you'll want for most decks because it doubles up as an attacker! If you don't care about the indestructibility on Darksteel Ingot, Cultivator's Caravan is actually better!
Honorable Mentions: Filigree Familiar and Workshop Assistant are decent if you are trying to abuse "ETB" or "sacrifice" effects. Bomat Bazaar Barge provides "value", despite it being very slow. Foundry Inspector goes into very specific decks and is Etherium Sculptor's good buddy.
Well, these lands are great. Play them. They are affordable updates to your existing manabases once they flood out!
The final card on today's article is Inventor's Fair. I think it's a fine addition to any mono-colored or two-colored deck because the mana base is not so shaky like three-colored or five-colored decks. The extra life is nice and you'll likely be able to get it easy, because of the prevalence of artifact mana in Commander. Also, it is a tutoring effect attached to a land and even if it is a bit slow, it can be very relevant later on!
Grand Prix London Ahead!
As we speak, I just arrived in London and getting ready for the Grand Prix this weekend. I seriously hope for a great pool because I didn't fly from Mexico City to Newark to Toronto and then across the Atlantic just to open a pile. Fingers crossed and wish me luck! Also, after the Grand Prix, I will be headed to Honolulu for Pro Tour Kaladesh!
Thanks for reading and I hope you like my insights on Commander!
The Traveling Philosopher