Commander Gems in Rivals of Ixalan

by Chapman Sim on 10 January 2018, Wednesday

Chapman Sim

Commander Gems in Ixalan





I hope everyone has had a very happy holiday season. As we pack away our Christmas trees and dust off the confetti on the floor, Rivals of Ixalan will be releasing very soon. Let's get back to the land of the Dinosaurs. The full card list just got posted a few days back, and Prereleases are next week!

If you're a Commander enthusiast like me, you should be ready for this shopping list! It's a significant expansion, and I wouldn't want you to miss out!





Bishop of Binding Radiant Destiny Slaughter the Strong 


Bishop of Binding is quite good. Although it might look easy to deal with, not all Commander decks have a lot of spot removal for creatures - they still need to pack cards to kill lands, artifacts, enchantments, and more! It will often be crippling when you take down an opponent's Dragon and get killed by a 6/6 himself. It is especially significant in decks with counterspells, protection, and evasion.

Radiant Destiny is interesting because token decks that need more Glorious Anthem effects will love it. Not only do you pump up your team of tokens, but they'll also contribute to Ascend faster, plus you can attack with your whole team and still block with them! Intangible Virtue number-two!

Slaughter the Strong is also great. It is a potent effect for just three mana. Granted, it won't kill everything outright, but if you have a Commander or crucial creature you wish to keep alive, at least you can do that. Your opponents, if they don't have anything with four or less power, will be forced to sacrifice his entire team, while it also protects you from someone who is building an army of tokens.


Honorable Mentions: Forerunner of the Legion is one of my favorite cards from Rivals of Ixalan. It allows you to tutor for the best Vampire in your deck, which is great in a 100-card format. However, the small body may not be super relevant depending on which one it is, making it about as strong as a Harbinger (Flamekin HarbingerElvish Harbinger, or Merrow Harbinger).





Kumena's Awakening Nezahal, Primal Tide

Kumena's Awakening is pretty solid in most blue decks especially if you expect your games to go long. It becomes a one-sided Howling Mine that doesn't seem as threatening as Mind's Eye that some players might just ignore it - making it quite a sound card.


Nezahal, Primal Tide is unkillable if you build around him or if you're careful. You can't counter it unless you use exile effects such as Void Shatter or Mindbreak Trap. You can't kill it effectively with spot removal (which are less common in Commander), and it also dodges mass removal by pitching a few cards. It doesn't have evasion - so sometimes you won't be able to attack - but you'll be happy as Nezahal sits there and draws you cards.


Honorable Mentions: Curious Obsession doesn't work like Curiosity the same way with Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind but I guess that's not it's true purpose. It's a great aura that will go in some combat-oriented decks like Rafiq of the ManyRelease to the Wind is interesting but it seems very narrow. Probably great in Momentary Blink decks that want to retrigger "cast triggers" and "enter the battlefield" triggers.





Black offers the best upgrades from Rivals of Ixalan! Three genuinely beautiful cards which are so high in power and will impact Commander monumentally.


Champion of Dusk


Whether or not you are a fan of Phyrexian Rager or you have a dedicated Vampire dec, Champion of Dusk is just great. It will usually replace itself and provide a significant body size. It's also a lot of value with recursion engines. 


Mastermind's Acquisition

Mastermind's Acquisition is not as cheap as Vampiric Tutor or Demonic Tutor. But - except possibly only Praetor's Grap - Mastermind's Acquisition offers you the widest range of cards for choice than any other tutor in the game!

Of course, you can reach the other 98 cards in your library, and you can also reach your Commander (although I do not know why you would do that). You can also reach cards which were exiled - whether by yourself or your opponent - something that can't be done with other tutors. Also, you can "retrieve back" anything stuck under opponents's Oblivion Ring or Spell Queller effect.

Most importantly, if you are using a sideboard of 15 cards, that's 15 additional options for your choice! That's bonkers. Death Wish never looked so broken! Please play it in every of your Black Commander decks!

The same goes for the next card!

Tetzimoc, Primal Death 

Tetzimoc, Primal Death is ridiculous.

During early turns, you will sometimes find random leftover mana. Reveal Tetzimoc, pointing it at an opponent's creature. The game changes from that point. Your opponents will be deterred from deploying his best creature or Commander. Your opponent still has to play around Tetzimoc as long as it is in your hand. That's terrifying.

It does not destroy all of your opponent's creatures (and it will do poorly against token decks), but it will also never destroy your own. This one-sided aspect makes it a compelling addition to all Black decks!


Twilight Prophet


Then, there's a Sorin, Grim Nemesis and Dark Confidant hybrid on steroids. You'll draw cards, and everyone loses life. Thanks, buddies!

More one-sidedness coming your way!

What about Vona's Hunger


Vona's Hunger


Crackling Doom was nuts, but now Vona's Hunger looks even better. It doesn't have a complicated mana cost which means it goes into every Black Commander deck automatically. I mean, it's additional Merciless Executioner and Fleshbag Marauder - and this one is at instant speed.

That already sounds insane, but wait til you have Ascend. Your opponents will sacrifice half of their creatures instead of just one! If you have 11 Black Commander decks as I do, please buy 11 copies of these cards. Too good!


Honorable Mentions: Golden Demise is a great option if you don't want more Damnations. If you aren't playing small creatures yourself, you can break the symmetry with Golden Demise, taking out hordes of tokens while keeping your fatties alive.






Blood Sun


Blood Sun will very quickly rise to the top of "Most annoying card in Commander" lists and rankings. It replaces itself which never makes it a dead card and it also shuts down a plethora of utility lands in Commander. 

Dust Bowl is now shut down, as are WastelandStrip MineRiptide LaboratoryVolrath's Stronghold, and also a lot of Ixalan's lands we've worked so hard to transform.


Dire Fleet Daredevil


Ooooohhh... a Red Snapcaster Mage. Not quite. But still pretty cute. You'll have plenty of targets to scavenge upon and turn your opponent's best spells back against them. 


Honorable Mentions: Brass's Bounty is great for artifact-based decks. It's much worse than Boundless Realms since you get Lotus Petals instead of lands but you can sacrifice these Treasures to respond to your opponent on the big turn where you tap seven mana to cast it. Etali, Primal Storm needs haste! Rekindling Phoenix is very annoying. Shake the Foundations is narrow but quite solid.






Jadelight Ranger


I think Jadelight Ranger will be quite good in Standard and also in Commander. It's a combination of being decently-sized, gains you value, fill up your graveyard, skipping past unwanted draw steps, early pressure, recursion fodder (oh my god GenesisOversold Cemetery) and also a solid Momentary Blink target!


World Shaper 


World Shaper is probably the most unfair card from Rivals of Ixalan for Commander. There is so much room for abuse. Self-mill decks with sacrifice outlets? That's not an uncommon strategy in Commander. You can Dredge a bunch of cards with Golgari Grave-Troll, or cast Glimpse the Unthinkable on yourself. Mesmeric Orb maybe? Buy your World Shapers fast! Splendid Reclamation is splendid!


Wayward Swordtooth


Exploration on a (very sturdy) stick? I'll take it. Happy to gain a couple more land drops for a few turns and then bash your face with this 5/5. I think Wayward Swordtooth needs to be considered in every green deck too.


Honorable Mentions: Path of Discovery is very cute in token decks!






This segment is for the remaining cards, namely the multicolored cards, artifacts, and lands!


The Immortal Sun


The Immortal Sun should be played in the majority of all Commander decks. It's too good. They are mythic rares, so I suggest you pick them up quickly.


Hadana's Climb Storm the Vault Profane Procession Journey to Eternity Path of Mettle


Commander is very welcoming of "small gains over a long time" cards like Phyrexian Arena. That makes all the transform cards very powerful. A lot of players will also be very excited to play with Azor's Gateway and even Golden Guardian.


Arch of Orazca


Oh yes, play Arch of Orazca in your decks too. It's slow but quite good.


Honorable Mentions: Zacama, Primal Calamity is a very exciting Commander since its the first "free" one to be printed in years. Elenda, the Dusk Rose looks like a lot of fun but somehow it seems like too much work. If you enjoy building interesting mana bases, Awakened Amalgam is a rather funny beat stick you can include in any deck.




Signing Off



Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan is a great time to be playing Commander. It has been a long time since there were so many cards in a new format which are so good in multiplayer games. The cards are well-themed, have great mechanics, and a lot of longevity for long Commander matches.

Last but not least, the transform cards from the entire Ixalan block are the best of the lot. They are stunning in so many decks. I strongly encourage you to buy them while they're in supply. They're going to be very good even in decades to come.



The Traveling Philosopher

Chapman Sim

Articles you might be also interested

Felix Capule ranks his favorite Brawl Commanders from Core Set 2019!
Felix Capule addresses the recent bans in Brawl and also shares a blue Brawl deck!

Copyright © 2002 - 2019