MTG: Bark At The Eldrich Moon – Commander Set Review


Now it’s Commander’s turn. Here I’ll try to prognosticate the cards from the Eldrich Moon set which are likely to show up in somebody’s decklist out there, or perhaps spawn their own. When it comes to Commander, allow me some leeway. It’s such a crazy stewpot format that anything goes, but also it has the biggest card pool and potential deck interactions. Result: You have to be pickier about your 99, even for casual friendly play.

As always, I leave out everything but the cards worth mentioning. Do you really need me to tell you that Vaporkin – oops, I mean Tattered Haunter – doesn’t have potential in the format? I don’t want to write it and you don’t want to read it. If I leave it off the list, I’m pretty sure it won’t show up in the format.

My rating rules: (2-5) means relative expected strength and chance that it will show up in the format. A (1?) means a card that I’m completely uncertain of. This might be a budget substitute for an established card, a possible combo piece, a great card for a currently non-existing deck, or something that the format has simply never seen before. It’s anybody’s guess! A (0) means it won’t show up, but – unlike obvious cards – I see the need to explain why.




Ulrich of the Krallenhorde – (5 kajilliny-bazillion) – After all these years of nagging WotC about it. Oh my, I feel another Mel Brooks meme attack coming on…


Anyway, I have no idea why everyone wants to run werewolves in Commander – they’ll flip like flopping fishies in multiplayer, and they’re just puny little beatsticks at best. But all right, you got your werewolf!


Emrakul, the Promised End – (0.001) – See, this is what I mean about this format. Sure, if you pull it, you might be tempted to dump it into a deck for the giggles. But really, granting somebody an extra turn in this format, even if you had the previous turn to sabotage them, is just a crippling tempo risk and will make you no friends. Meanwhile, a 13 damage beatstick doesn’t just win the day like it does in constructed.


Bruna, the Fading Light & Gisela, the Broken Blade – (2) – Here’s our Commander version of a meld combo. This one’s a little iffy – yes, the finished creation is formidable and clamping down on 3-drops and under does put something of a lock on the table. But it’s a little dicey to put together in mono-white. I could see it as an alternate wincon in something like Grand Arbiter Augustin IV.


Gisa and Geralf – (3) – Zombie tribal fans just won’t be able to resist at least trying this out, although it’s got some stiff competition even among zombie Commanders: Glissa, the Traitor; Grimgrin, Corpse-Born; Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord; and Sidisi, Undead Vizier to name a few. This is Havengul Lich in your command zone, which is handy, but maybe Sidisi, Brood Tyrant is better left in charge. Seriously, zombies are spoiled rotten.


Ishkanah, Grafwidow – (4) – It’s not my style, but I notice a lot of people like these one-trick pony commanders that do one thing all too well. With the Golgari color identity, token production, and burn damage per token, this is begging to be run with Doubling Season and the usual accompanying shenanigans. Yes, we finally have a spider tribal general, but have you seen spiders in Commander? Not many are playable.


Thalia, Heretic Cathar – (1?) – Gah, a Loxodon Gatekeeper in the command zone! Probably not good there, as it’s bound to get picked off constantly and pure mono-white Stax decks are rare when you could have ten times the pillow and fort in UW. But some sadistic troll out there is brewing this up anyway.

And the rest…


Deploy the Gatewatch – (4) – Ah ha ha, you gave Narset, Enlightened Master WHAT now? It’s much easier to stack your topdeck in Commander, and planeswalker also have a much higher impact in this format. This one’s going to leave a mark, especially since Call the Gatewatch was just printed last set.


Extricator of Sin – (0!) – No, I don’t think this will make waves in Commander. I’m just pointing it out for the flipside: “Eldrazi you control have vigilance.” What the fuzz? Eldrazi need lords now? Can Mark Rosewater just start his own card game called Eldrazi Circlejerk and let the rest of us have Magic back please?


Providence – (1?) – This is actually feasible to hard cast in Commander, although even hardcore pillow forts shy from cards that do nothing but gain life. But 26 life when you’re the table’s enemy and doomed next turn can save a hide now and then.


Sigarda’s Aid – (3) – A solid enabler in Voltron decks. Nahiri, the Lithomancer and Zurgo Helmsmasher are obvious candidates to name a couple. Or imagine Kaalia of the Vast dropping Rune-Scarred Demon and then being able to tutor out something like Quietus Spike and equip at instant speed. You think that’d hurt?


Advanced Stitchwing – (3) – Since we mentioned zombie tribal commanders back there, this dude’s a mean combo with Victimize. I love me some graveyard shenanigans.


Coax from the Blind Eternities – (2) – Just worth mentioning if your battlecruiser gets hit with Swords to Plowshares.


Curious Homunculus – (3) – This little dork doesn’t have nearly the impact he would in Modern, but he could still prove useful. Deranged Assistant at the same color and cost already sees play, and this guy flips into something even more useful.


Docent of Perfection – (4) – The main thing that makes this guy good is his flipside, which makes him an auto-include in any blue wizard commander that doesn’t fly on their own. Azami, Lady of Scrolls is just going to love this.


Fortune’s Favor – (3) – Well, who doesn’t want one more Fact or Fiction effect in Commander?


Imprisoned in the Moon – (5!) – There’s only a handful of pseudo-removal available in the format for must-answer threats that can’t be dealt with via simple Swords-to-Plowshares. We’ve all known the pain of getting our battlecruiser hit with Darksteel Mutation or Lignify or Song of the Dryads. And this, mark my words, will be just as painful.


Mind’s Dilation – (5) – Yeah, blue’s just wrecking Commander this set. Now along with “you paying (1)?” from the annoying guy with Rhystic Study, he can also steal a card off your deck and brunch on it. Now tell me how you get rid of it?


Spontaneous Mutation – (?!) – Disregard, I sniffed glue on this one. To atone, since we haven’t raved enough about werewolves in this post, here’s a Stack Exchange discussion on how werewolves should observe Jewish holidays, since they tend to congregate around full moons.


Summary Dismissal – (4) – There’s really no avoiding it, an all-purpose stack scrubber has uses in Commander.


Cryptbreaker – (4) – Of all the formats, it’s oddly Commander where this little guy might shine brightest. It’s a pseudo-Azami for zombies, if you will. Intruder Alarm and a couple mana dorks make it go infinite. Always watch out in Commander for anything trying to be a one-card engine.


Liliana, the Last Hope – (3) – The good news it that this will be much cheaper to buy than the other 3-drop Liliana. The bad news is that it’s not nearly as useful. Her ultimate is Endless Ranks of the Dead, while her middle ability is yet another graveyard enhancer. I know, UB zombies is getting a lot of attention here, but you’d expect that from an Innistrad block.


Tree of Perdition – (4) – Not all that threatening in 60-card constructed decks. But in Commander, this can sap an opponent for 27+ life, and there’s all kinds of ways to finish off that last 13 points of damage. Not to mention suddenly having a creature with 40+ toughness, a cinch to use with something like Devour Flesh or Kin-Tree Invocation. Evil, isn’t it?


Nahiri’s Wrath – (3) – Just a nice, big board wipe in something like Alesha, Who Smiles At Death And Wants Expensive Creatures In The Yard Anyway So She Can Recur Them. Esquired.


Splendid Reclamation – (5!) – Speaking as a Sidisi, Brood Tyrant fan, this card made me drool as soon as I saw it. Not just basics, mind you, but aaaaalllll the land cards! The fetchlands, the manlands, the lands with ETB effects, all of it. The Gitrog Monster and Omnath, Locus of Rage are also huge fans. Avenger of Zendikar, Rampaging Baloths, and anything with landfall give it two tusks up. Lotus Cobra saw it and hissed with joy. Ulvenwald Hydra grew right through the ceiling. One-shot kill with Ob Nixilis, the Fallen. Makes an untap engine with Retreat to Coralhelm. Makes a draw engine with Trade Routes. Makes Armageddon players weep. Get it now, you will never run out of uses for this card.


Spell Queller – (1?) – I just have no idea what this card is good at yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t find its purpose. Obviously, it wants to be in a deck with Mistmeadow Witch, and now what? Or do you just zip it in as an instant answer to Wrath of God?


Tamiyo, Field Researcher – (4) – I thought there was somebody at WotC design that vowed we’d only see Tamiyo again over their dead body. So apparently they’re dead now, hallelujah. I don’t comment on story matters often, but I sincerely hope Tamiyo kills Jace and replaces him. Back to the card, it’s a very practical 4-drop walker. First and second abilities are innocuous value grind, and the ultimate is holy-smokes, a free Omniscience! Welcome the heck back, Tamiyo!


Geier Reach Sanitarium – (4) – Not broken, not outstanding. But every color has the ability to loot now, and in the spirit of democracy we will all loot at once, together. Naturally there’s all kinds of tricks like the kind Nekusar, the Mindrazer would run to punish the symmetrical draw. But meanwhile, Boros colors are grateful for any card draw at all.

And that’s a wrap! Speaking of sanitariums, I feel like I need one after living through the return to Innistrad. On the whole, doesn’t hold a candle to the original Innistrad. The zombie tribal is turned way up while the rest of the tribes get almost ignored, Eldrazi in every set just makes every set “Why are we bothering to visit different planes when they’re all Borged by Eldrazi?”, and there was no Snapcaster Mage reprint nor anything trying to be one.

But you’ve got your legendary werewolf!

UPDATE: A few comments and reactions I see here and there around the web ask why I don’t include more cards. Sure, there’s plenty more cards that might be good in a set, but that doesn’t make them that notable. Take Eldritch Evolution. Sure, it’s good in Commander, and I gave it the nod in Modern because it’s even more needed there. But Commander still has Birthing Pod legal where Modern doesn’t. And Commander has access to old set tutors like Worldly Tutor, and it’s also a format where Ring of Three Wishes is feasible. Commander just has a glut of playable tutors. So another tutor in Commander gets a shrug, in Modern gets some comment, and a tutor of any kind is big news in Pauper. That clear it up?

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