by Phoenix Desertsong, Old School Duelist
Cascade has always been one of my favorite mechanics in Magic the Gathering since the days of the Alara Reborn set. Bloodbraid Elf was the first card to become a competitive staple with the mechanic. Now, Apex Devastator from Commander Legends takes Cascade to a brand new level. What does Cascade do exactly?
When you cast this spell, exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland card that costs less. You may cast it without paying its mana cost. Put the exiled cards on the bottom of your library in a random order.
Yes, ten mana is a lot to cast a card. But, not only do you Cascade once when you cast him, but rather four separate times consecutively. The initial reaction from many Commander players was that this card was simply too high a mana cost to be much use to any competitive deck builders. But, is that actually true?
Cascade has been a pretty good strategy in Commander, thanks to cards printed exclusively in Commander products such as Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder, as well as Maelstrom Wanderer printed in Planechase. Commander Legends took Cascade to a brand new level with a handful of new cards, including a couple of Legendary Creatures. We’ll take a look at these potential Commanders in particular and how Apex Devastator fits in with them.
Averna, the Chaos Bloom and Apex Devastator
A three-mana, three-color creature, Averna costs just one Green mana, one Red mana, and one Blue mana to cast. While Averna doesn’t cascade herself, her ability does directly impact other cards with Cascade in a big way. Typically, when you Cascade, any lands that you reveal are sent back to the bottom of the library. Averna now gives you the option to put a land card from among those revealed cards into play tapped.
Obviously, Averna, the Chaos Bloom allows you to quickly mana ramp up to your larger cascade spells, such as Apex Devastator. But, the Devastator offers a unique opportunity to put into play not just one, but up to four land cards into play in one fell swoop. With several other key Cascade cards printed in the set all falling well below the nine-mana threshold of Apex Devastator, you can cause a ridiculous Cascade of Cascade effect, as cards played with Cascade are still technically cast. Apex Devastator appears to be an immediate auto-include in any Averna decks.
Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty and Apex Devastator
The second, and perhaps even more powerful of the two Cascade Commanders in the set, is Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty. This five-mana Blue/Green Legendary Creature is a mere uncommon and has Cascade herself. Being that Imoti lacks Red in her color identity, it seems she is better suited as a complement to other Cascade Commanders.
However, I believe her effect covers the potential weakness of her inability to access cards outside of colorless, Blue, and Green. Any card that you cast with a converted mana cost of 6 or more automatically has Cascade when Imoti is in play. This is a perfect combination with another Commander Legends Legendary Creature called Brinelin, the Moon Kraken.
The 8-mana Kraken doesn’t have Cascade itself, but has an ability that whenever you cast the Kraken or a spell that costs 6 or more mana, you can return a nonland permanent to its owner’s hand. This is good both for reusing your own Cascade creatures or obviously bouncing opponent’s cards.
Apex Devastator is an auto-include in Imoti decks, since Imoti lends herself to playing many six-mana or higher cards. Being able to potentially cast four cards with that high mana cost all in a row - all of which can gain their own instances of Cascade with Imoti in play - is probably a game-ender in Imoti’s favor.
While ten mana is certainly a lot, Cascade decks tend to have plenty of ramp tools available to them. It doesn’t hurt that many of the mana ramp spells and mana rocks get cast for free by Cascade triggers on a regular basis. You very likely won’t wait until your tenth turn to cast Apex Devastator.
One last deck that can definitely use Apex Devastator is the Hydra Tribal Commander Gargos, Vicious Watcher. As Gargos makes Hydra spells cost 4 less to cast, this 10 mana behemoth suddenly costs just 6, but still offers his Cascade ability as a 10-drop. That’s some serious value.
Many other Commander decks are giving Apex Devastator a shot as a potential blowout card. Of course, Cascade triggers are inherently random, meaning you have as much of a chance as hitting a one-mana card as an eight-mana card. But, free card advantage can never be overlooked.
How would you use Apex Devastator?
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