Rubinia Soulsinger is certainly far from being the only card in the game that can steal creatures as long as it stays tapped. However, she's also a potential EDH Commander and a Legendary Faerie. Rubinia was originally printed way back in Legends and reprinted in the much maligned white-bordered reprint set, Chronicles. So, it was long past time that she entered modern Magic in the Commander 2013 deck, Evasive Maneuvers.
Rubinia Soulsinger may not be the greatest Legendary Creature to build around in EDH. Still, people try. She's certainly pretty good in a deck that utilizes tap and untap shenanigans like the Evasive Maneuvers deck in which she was printed. Beyond being Mind Control on a stick, she's just a 2/3 for 2GWU, which is okay. But in the right deck, she's very solid and can cause a lot of issues when she's able to tap and untap at will.
True, there are cards in White, Blue, and even Green that pretty much do what she does. But, she's a classic Legendary creature, and some Derevi, Empyrial Tactician and Roon of the Hidden Realm EDH players have kept her in improved versions of the Evasive Manuevers deck. But she's hardly ever going to be popular as a Commander. Still, Bant is a great color combination to build a Commander deck around. So, as a relatively non-threatening Commander, you can build a sneaky good EDH deck around Rubinia Soulsinger.
The Level Up mechanic introduced in the Rise of the Eldrazi set has had its share of successes and shortfalls. Kazandu Tuskcaller, from that same set, falls somewhere in between. The Shaman is a 1/1 for 1G. She can level up twice for 2GG to become Level 2 and be able to tap and create a 3/3 Elephant creature token. In 60-card Constructed formats, that's not wonderful, especially as Kazandu Tuskcaller only remains a 1/1 herself. If you manage to level her all the way up to 6, though, she then taps to create two 3/3 tokens.
In Commander / EDH, where mana is often plentiful, it's fairly easy to get Kazandu Tuskcaller easily up to Level 2. With the untap shenanigans that exist in Commander, this card can be quite abuse-able. This is primarily why Tuskcaller was selected to be a reprint in the Evasive Manuevers deck led by the widely hated Derevi, Empyrial Tactician. But interestingly enough, Derevi is not the Commander that plays her the most often. It's actually the token-happy Trostani, Selesnya's Voice that utilizes her talents the best.
Kazandu Tuskcaller is no money card, but she's solid in any token-creating deck or any deck that abuses tap abilities. Her mana-hungry Level Up ability turns a great many players off, but once her token creation ability is online, she's better than you might at first realize. Kazandu Tuskcaller is a solid addition to any Commander player's arsenal.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
With the release of the Commander 2013 decks, Wizards of the Coasts apparently decided that the time was ripe to reprint a whole bunch of Portal: Three Kingdoms cards. They made some wise choices, such as Lu Xun and Borrowing 100,000 Arrows. Hua Tuo, Honored Physician, however, is a fine reprint. He is included in the Power Hungry deck, which features the popular commander Prossh, Skyraider of Kher and a lot of underwhelming cards.
Basically, Hua Tuo allows you to recycle creatures from your graveyard by putting a target creature back on top of your deck. You must use this ability only on your turn and before attackers are declared. It’s still a great effect, as there are plenty of creatures that you’ll want to reuse during the course of a game, especially if you can grab that creature back without having to draw it for turn. The timing on this card is important, since it has to be on your turn, but there are ways to make it a valuable asset in some decks. No longer being a $60 card from Portal Three Kingdoms, Hua Tuo could now see far more Commander play. In fact, he's now become a bulk rare.
However, Hua Tuo's effect makes cards that manipulate the top card of your library much more powerful. Library of Leng, Scroll Rack, and Sensei's Divining Top are the first that come to mind. But there are some other crazy cards that benefit from top-deck manipulation as well, such as Elkin Bottle and Timesifter. The Enchantment Call of the Wild is especially good for putting creatures from the top of your library straight into play for 2GG.
This Hua Tuo Commander list from 2010 is a great list to glean ideas from, although plenty of cards that work well with the famous Chinese physician have been printed since then. Here's another list from 2013 based around a combo with Squirrel Nest. And if you're into Tiny Leaders, the Commander variant with only 3 CMC or less cards, here's a cool Hua Tuo Aggro list.
All told, Hua Tuo's cool ability may actually be pretty underrated, especially as a Commander. The Commander 2013 copies are probably never going to be worth much, so he's a fun cheap card that you can play with.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Today we’ll take a look a card specifically printed for Commander, Surveyor’s Scope. The Commander 2013 decks introduced several cards that are really only playable in a multi-player Commander setting, and the Scope is certainly one of those cards. For two mana, you get to play an artifact that can tap as soon as it’s played. You exile it and search your library for up to X basic land cards, where X is the number of players who control at least two more lands than you. You get to put those lands directly onto the battlefield.
For decks that don’t have other ways to ramp up their mana, such as Cultivate or Kodama’s Reach or creatures that can grab lands like Yavimaya Elder or Sakura-Tribe Elder, it’s not a terrible option. But it’s a bit too situational, in my opinion, to be reliable mana ramp. If you have two or three players at your table with two more lands than you – for example, in cases where you’re really getting mana screwed – then it’s a very good card. Having to exile it kind of stinks, but it’s understandable considering the very good value you can get out of this card.
Getting one basic land out of this honestly is perfectly fine. Two mana to put a basic land directly onto the field untapped is pretty solid. It’s worth playing, but to get full value out of it in multi-player, you have to time it just right. Even to ramp up with one untapped land to catch up to an opponent is easily worth the two mana to cast the Scope. It’s a pretty solid Commander card, if not the most consistent. Keeping up with land drops is even more important in Commander than other formats.
However, Surveyor’s Scope could now find a more consistent home, thanks to Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient.
Kurkesh has a nifty ability to copy the ability of an artifact, as long as it’s not a mana ability, for only a single Red mana. That means that you can get two activations out of Surveyor’s Scope before it needs to exile itself. This is great, because getting two lands instead of one, or four instead of two, or even six instead of three makes the Scope that much more valuable. Obviously, there are far nuttier things to do with Kurkesh, but this is a nice interaction that makes the Scope far more playable in artifact based decks. Strionic Resonator from Magic 2014 also allows for this, but Kurkesh does it better and more cheaply.
Surveyor’s Scope is a decent card for an artifact deck, especially one that can make use of copying its ability. Obviously, it would be pretty ridiculous if it didn’t have to exile itself, so it’s not a card that can be “broken” so to speak. But, it can definitely provide great value, especially with its effect duplicated, so if you have a way to make its ability resolve twice at once, go ahead and give it a run!
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
You might be wondering, what’s so great about a 1/3 for 2UU? Lu Xun, Scholar General is originally from the ancient and extremely rare Portal: Three Kingdoms set. He finally saw a reprint in Commander 2013.
The key mechanic in that set was called Horsemanship. Honestly, Horsemanship might as well say unable to be blocked, because only other creatures with Horsemanship can block a creature with that ability. There are only a few creatures in the game with that mechanic, and all are from that set. Sun Quan, Lord of Wu is the other creature well-known for Horsemanship. His ability gives ALL of your creatures Horsemanship, which is pretty fantastic.
Lu Xun is a bit less exciting than Sun Quan, but his effect is very useful. Whenever he deals damage to an opponent, you may draw a card. Now, his ability is not limited only to combat damage. If you were to find a way to have Lu Xun deal damage to an opponent, say with an Equipment that causes target creature to deal 1 damage to a target player, you would still draw a card.
Obviously, card draw is awesome to have in any deck, so Lu Xun can fit into a lot of Blue decks with ease. Since becoming available in the Commander 2013 product, Evasive Maneuvers, players only need pay about a dollar per copy for him now. Previously, you would need to shell out over $20 for a single copy of him. Now that he’s more accessible, it’s a lot easier to see him fitting into a lot more budget lists.
Also, Lu Xun, Scholar General is a Legendary Creature, meaning that he is a potential Commander. While he’s probably nowhere as good as Sun Quan as a Commander, the fact that he can be a consistent draw engine that oftentimes can’t be blocked means he can be a surprisingly decent Voltron-style commander. Any abilities that can give him double strike allow you to draw two cards instead of one.
A deck built around him could be a more fair version of Azami, Lady of Scrolls – a Commander which allows for such a ridiculous draw engine that it hits its win conditions more often that not. He may be only a casual sort of Commander. But it's interesting to consider what sort of draw-based shenanigans could be made with him at the helm. If you'd like, EDHREC, the premier EDH decklist website, has a few suggestions for building a Lu Xun EDH deck.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Lord creatures are really cool. Whenever they give you an additional effect beyond just giving your creatures power and toughness boosts, then they are awesome. Murkfiend Liege, originally from Eventide, is one of these awesome lord creatures. The Lieges were a cycle from the Shadowmoor and Eventide sets that boosted the stats of all creatures from a combination of two colors. Each of them also had an added effect, but some were clearly better than others.
Murkfiend Liege has one of the best secondary effects for any Lord creature. During each other player’s untap step, you can untap all green and/or blue creatures you control, including the Liege himself. Even though the Liege doesn’t benefit from his own stat boosts, he does get to untap. In Commander, you will have many creatures of hybrid mana costs, and as long as there is a single blue or green mana symbol in its mana cost, it will get to untap. In a Commander deck like the 2013 pre-constructed Evasive Maneuvers product, in which Murkfiend Liege is featured, being able to untap your creatures is extremely powerful to be able to use their tap abilities after each of your opponent’s turn. Also, your creatures then are open to block, as well, making it possible for you to swing with creatures that you otherwise would not have.
While Seedborn Muse or Prophet of Kruphix are each more powerful than Murkfiend Liege, the added boosts in power and toughness alone make the liege a must in any deck that runs both blue and green and is creature-based. It’s a solid card that needed a reprint for a long time, as it was in the now long out-of-print Eventide set.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
If there was any card that said "abuse me," it would be this Commander deck exclusive Djinn of Infinite Deceits from the Evasive Maneuvers deck. It is a 2/7 that costs 4UU to cast, and it’s a flyer that can tap to exchange control of two target non-Legendary creatures. What’s especially cool about this is that neither of those creatures need to be under your control. It’s pretty awesome to be able to give another player someone else’s best creature, or to give up one of your spent utility creatures for someone else’s best creature.
This is a pretty cool creature, and it can be well utilized in a deck that abuses tap and untap abilities like Derevi, Empyrial Tactician. However, it could be used in a wide variety of decks. It’s far better when you can use its ability more than once per turn, and well worth considering if you like to cause chaos at the table. The Djinn has found himself in not only Derevi lists. One Commander that has found some utility for him is Riku of the Two Reflections. That Commander can copy creatures when they enter the battlefield. Having two Djinns for the price of one plus a Blue and a Green mana is pretty good.
Roon of the Hidden Realm, which is an alternate Commander of the Evasive Maneuvers deck, also finds room for the Djinn. “Blinking,” which is a mechanic that involves removing a permanent from play, only to have it either return immediately or at the end of the next end step, allows you to steal creatures and be able to reuse any enter the battlefield abilities that they may have. Rubinia Soulsinger, another potential Commander from the Evasive Maneuvers product, steals creatures away as well, and by using a “blink” effect, you don’t even have to keep Rubinia tapped to keep that creature. The Djinn of Infinite Deceits fits perfectly with that theme, as well.
The best sort of deck to put this card into would be a deck that lets you benefit from giving away permanents you know longer need – and that would be with Zedruu the Greathearted as your Commander.
Zedruu has decks built around her that focus around causing chaos at the table. While she herself can give your permanents away, often giving them things they can’t use or things they really don’t want to have, having cards like the Djinn work really well with his ability.
Djinn of Infinite Deceits is definitely a usable card that has its niches. If you’re building a Commander deck with any Bant-themed (White, Blue, Green) commander or Zedruu, Djinn is definitely worth a look to include in your other 99.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Today, we'll take a look at a Commander 2013 exclusive card, Bane of Progress. It's a solid 6-drop green creature that was included in the Evasive Maneuvers Commander 2013 pre-constructed deck.
Under the right circumstances, Bane of Progress can be an absolutely devastating card. This 2/2 Elemental destroys all artifacts and enchantments when it hits the board. For many Commander players, this is extremely destructive. If the deck that plays this doesn’t rely on its own artifacts or enchantments to win where others in the playgroup do, it’s a huge blow for only 6 mana.
It gets even better, though, because Bane of Progress also gains a +1/+1 counter for each permanent it destroys. Artifact-based decks simply die to and as many Commander decks rely on their artifacts and enchantments rather heavily, this is a death sentence for some players. Bane of Progress is only a 2/2 by its own merit, but when this card usually comes down it’s going to be a lot, lot bigger than that!
Timing is critical with this card, but played correctly, it’s one of the best investments you can get out of a 6-drop mana slot. Also, the Evasive Maneuvers deck in which it comes depends more on its creatures than its artifacts (which are pretty good themselves) so it’s a fantastic inclusion. Bane of Progress has seen play in a wide variety green-based creature-centric decks, including those led by Animar, Soul of Elements, Riku of Two Reflections, Xenagos, God of Revels and of course, the very Commander that the Bane of Progress came with, Derevi, Empyrial Tactician.
The best possible thing you can do with Bane of Progress is to play it after you’ve put an effect into play that makes all your artifacts and enchantments indestructible. One way to do this is with Elspeth, Knight-Errant‘s emblem, which makes all artifacts, creatures, enchantments and lands you control indestructible. You can also have Avacyn, Angel of Hope on the board, who makes all of your permanents indestructible. Alternatively, you could play a card like Faith’s Reward which restores to the battlefield everything that was sent from your side of the field to the graveyard that turn.
Also, there is a card from Magic 2015, Soul of New Phyrexia, that has an activated ability for 5 mana to make all permanents you control indestructible until the end of turn. Drop a Bane of Progress on a loaded board while having one or more of these effects in your arsenal, and you will be finding yourself with some great value.
All in all, Bane of Progress is an excellent card that’s really only viable in the Commander format, and deployed correctly, it’s a major value card, being able to often destroy quite a few permanents when it enters the field.
by Phoenix Desertsong
For an Angel card enthusiast, Angel of Finality is certainly a great creature to add to the collection. However, graveyard hate on a flying stick can be pretty good. Graveyard shenanigans are plentiful in Commander, so Angel of Finality can spell doom for players that have decks that rely on their graveyard as a major resource. Adding a 3/4 flying body for 3W on top of that effect is honestly pretty good. Kaalia of the Vast players have certainly found room for her!
Angel of Finality is a flavorful card that sees a good deal of Commander play. She can be ridiculous in one-on-one Commander matches as a Tormod’s Crypt on a stick. In playgroups that have graveyard lovers, she’s basically an auto-include in a lot of white-based decks. She’s not the most versatile graveyard removal in the world, but she’s pretty good at what she does while also providing a useful body for the modest mana investment.
The decks that she often finds the most play in are those Commander decks that can re-use enter the battlefield trigger abilities with “blink” mechanics, such as Roon of the Hidden Realm and Brago, King Eternal. Akroma, Angel of Wrath Angel Tribal decks definitely find space for her, giving the deck one more Angel to help boost all other Angels with such cards as Coat of Arms on-board. Many Bant lists such as Derevi, Empyrial Tactician and Rubinia Soulsinger also find board space for her as a utility creature that can also have a decent board presence.
Angel of Finality isn’t the strongest Angel out there, but in Commander, she’s definitely not to be overlooked, and as she’s now in a highly-printed Commander 2013 product, the Evasive Maneuvers Deck, she’s fairly easy to acquire for roughly $3 USD.
by Phoenix Desertsong
Molten Disaster is an interesting mass removal spell from Future Sight. It has gotten two reprints fairly recently, the Modern Masters set and in one of the Commander 2013 decks. For X and two Red, it deals X damage to each creature without flying and each player. It’s a fairly good burn spell in Commander and it was playable at one point in Constructed. The nice little extra with this card is being able to pay an extra Red mana to give Molten Disaster split-second. This makes it unable to be countered and nothing can be played in response to it - unless it’s an ability that provides mana.
Being able to hit all creatures without flying and players is fairly useful, especially if you’re running a lot of fliers that won’t be affected by it. While no one in Modern will be playing it soon, Molten Disaster is quite playable in Commander. According to EDHREC, the premier resource on the Commander format, Molten Disaster sees play in 25% or more of the time in 5 Commander decks. They are Diaochan, Artful Beauty, Heartless Hidetsugu, Ashling the Pilgrim, Rosheen the Meanderer, and Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh.
If you haven’t heard of Diaochan, that’s ok - most people haven’t. She was first printed in the extremely rare Portal Three Kingdoms set and was included in the short-run Commander’s Arsenal premium foil set. She has a tap ability that destroys a creature in exchange for letting your opponent choose a creature to destroy. She makes for an interesting political deck. In that deck, Molten Disaster helps you clear the board to make Diaochan’s ability more relevant.
Molten Disaster’s inclusion in Heartless Hidetsugu is more straightforward - it’s another way to help set up Heartless’s tap ability to cut everyone’s life totals in half. You can use it to make sure you’re at an odd-numbered life total so that you don’t fall victim to any damage-doubling effects often run alongside Heartless Hidetsugu. It’s also just a good way to wipe the board if things are getting ugly.
Ashling the Pilgrim loves to have as many ways to deal damage to all players as possible. Molten Disaster is yet another way to do just that. For the same reason, Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh wants this Sorcery in her fold, as well. In Chandra’s case, she has Pyromancer’s Goggles to copy it, and Pyromancer’s Gauntlet to make it deal 2 more damage to each target.
Lastly, Rosheen the Meanderer loves any red and/or green X spell, since her tap ability adds 4 colorless mana to your mana pool to cast any X spell. Having 4 free mana to cast Molten Disaster makes it a really potent spell.
If you’re playing a mono-Red deck in a Commander deck, Molten Disaster is a good card to consider if you need a sweeper that can easily be made immune to counter-spells.
by Phoenix Desertsong
Originally printed in Dissension, Aethermage’s Touch is a very curious instant. The very fact that it is an instant, however, is what makes it fairly valuable. At any point, you may pay 2UW (2, blue, white) to cast this card and reveal the top four cards of your deck. You may choose a creature card from among those four and put it onto the battlefield. At the beginning of your end step, you return that creature to its owner’s hand. Any other cards are put to the bottom of the deck in any order.
What’s especially good about this card is that you can play it during an opponent’s end step and be able to attack with it during your turn, all the while getting any enter the battlefield abilities. Combined with other cards, it can actually set off some interesting combos. In any case, that creature goes back to your hand at the end of your next end step, so you still get to keep it as long as it doesn’t die or isn’t exiled before then.
Aethermage’s Touch can allow you to toss an otherwise much more expensive creature onto the battlefield. If you find ways to reuse this card or its effect, it can be pretty valuable. The best way to abuse Aethermage’s Touch is to be able to “blink” the creature that is summoned with its effect, meaning to remove it from play and have it return to play at the end step with a card like Conjurer’s Closet or the effect of Venser, the Sojourner or Nephalia Smuggler.
The card actually saw a bit of play during Ravnica Block constructed when Momentary Blink was in Standard, which doesn’t even wait until the End Step. So if you summon the right creature with Aethermage’s Touch, it can provide a ton of value if combined with “blink” cards. Used correctly, it’s a sweet little combo trick, but not quite as sweet in Commander as it was in its Standard heyday.
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