Previously, we took a look at the Commander 2014 planeswalkers specifically designed to be your Commander. We found them to overall be better than your average legendary creatures, which is to be expected. These flip walkers blend the two card types in some interesting ways. You have to build around them to ignite their spark, then compliment their ascended abilities, as well.
How has the EDH / Commander community risen to the challenge? Let's find out.
Commander of 175+ decks (EDHREC)
In the 99: Seen in about 2400+ decks. Top Commanders include Tasigur, the Golden Fang, Azami, Lady of Scrolls, Atraxa, Praetor's Voice, Mizzix of the Izmagnus, and Teferi, Temporal Archmage
It may seem strange to say, but Vryn’s Prodigy made Jace tribal a thing. That was the approach to building his deck, at first. It really does seem to make sense to jam any card with his name on it or any card having to do with him in a deck and run with it.
In Commander, the "looter" (draw a card, discard a card) ability on a 0/2 simply isn't that exciting. Even when you do flip him, the flashback ability is not what you'll be trying to do. You'll be looking to tick him up to his ultimate and work to mill everyone to death. There are a lot better ways to do it in Commander. You could obviously use his flashback ability on extra turn spells to help you “get there.” The trick is getting more than one activation out of him and there are plenty of other ways in blue to recycle spells.
I'll go out on a limb and say his flip side, Telepath Unbound, is just a lot better in 60-card Constructed. Being such a hot card in tournament play, though, probably kept most Commander players from acquiring him at first. This Jace could prove useful in more than a few decks that actually like the looting such as Sultai (green/black/blue) and are happy to get the flashback for some big spells.
Some blue/black and Sultai decks also don't mind getting the emblem to get some fuel for reanimator spells. Simply put, I’m not sold on him as a Commander, but he's shown up in the 99 of more than a few strong commanders.
Grade: B- (he's not bad), In the 99: B (definitely a useful complementary piece on both sides)
Commander of 90+ decks
In the 99: Seen in 900+ decks. Top Commanders include Odric, Lunarch Marshal, Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, Iroas, God of Victory, Captain Sisay, and Tajic, Blade of the Legion.
Kytheon is an interesting case where as a Gideon planeswalker he's a bit awkward. He's extremely easy to flip in Commander, but not remaining a creature makes it difficult for him to keep bashing in for considerable damage. Oddly enough, however, Gideon Battle Forged as a creature can still deal Commander damage when he becomes a creature with his ability. This is both good and bad. It means he's a huge target at the table, but he can also dodge a lot of creature removal.
Being so unique, I'm not surprised he hasn't been tried more as a Commander. The original Gideon Jura may be better overall in some ways, but the ability to be the first one drop planeswalker in Magic history makes Kytheon highly playable in any mono-white or Boros (red/white) aggro strategy.
Grade: B (Commander), B+ (In the 99). He’s a one-drop planeswalker for crying out loud!
Commander in 300+ decks
In the 99: Seen in 3200+ decks. Key contributor in Meren of Clan Nel Toth and Alesha, Who Smiles at Death. Notable appearances in Gisa and Geralf Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, Grimgrin, Corpse-Born and Karador, Ghost Chieftain
Liliana’s popularity shouldn't be too much of a surprise as her flip side embodies Liliana’s two favorite things, discarding and reanimating. The optimal Liliana brew probably hasn't been found yet, but stocking up on value creatures and ways for you to benefit from opponent's discards is a nice place to start. Mono black is so flooded with strong Commander options that it's no surprise that major innovations taking place around the Heretical Healer haven't yet taken place.
That being said she's easy enough to get online in Commander, so you can get some solid value from her. Just being able to build a Commander deck around one of the most popular planeswalkers of all time is pretty sweet. After her rotation from Standard, she has found consistent homes in the 99 of Commanders who most value her contributions.
Grade: B (Commander), B+ (In the 99). Mono black is flooded with Commander options, but she should prove to be a good one long term.
Commander of 180+ decks
In the 99: Seen in 3700+ decks. Key contributor in Omnath, Locus of Rage. Honorable mentions in The Gitrog Monster, Meren of Clan Nel Toth, Atraxa, Praetor's Voice, Karametra God of Harvests, Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Titania, Captain Sisay, Omnath, Locus of Mana, and others.
Landfall is a pretty big deal when it comes to Nissa. A slightly worse Borderland Ranger doesn't seem worthy of Commander status. But a free Forest never hurt anyone. However, when you hit your seventh land her flip side is enough to get her going. She's already done a good deal of work in competitive Abzan.
Sort of like her C14 counterpart Freyalise, she can do a lot for a variety of decks. Her plus ability gives you real card advantage and the ultimate can help to set up a pretty good endgame. She affects the board more than Freyalise so I see her having staying power as a Commander.
As a contributor in the 99, she's found her way in a wide variety of decks, especially ones that can take advantage of her as a Planeswalker with use of Doubling Season.
Grade: B+ (Commander), B (In the 99). You just have to hold her back until you’re ready to flip her.
Commander of 180+ decks
In the 99: Seen 580+ times. Honorable mention in Rakdos, Lord of Riots
Did you see this coming? It turns out Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh is the real deal in Commander. It's a shame that her planeswalker side doesn't deal Commander damage, but with the amount of burn you can realistically throw around that doesn't matter. The emblem wins games. It's actually quite easy to build around her.
As one of the 99, she is pretty much only useful if you need to ping things, making her really good friends with Rakdos, Lord of Riots. This gal is so good in multiplayer that it's a bit scary. She would be far from the first card to be better with more players, but she's as good as she is as a commander due to how her effects play up.
Grade: A (Commander), C (In the 99). Build a deck around pumping your burn spells, copying them, and flipping Chandra and you have a chance at burning everyone at the table.
In the early going, Chandra would be the best commander of the Magic Origins bunch. But has time has passed, Liliana has become the most popular, which isn't very surprising considering how easy she is to flip in Commander. In the 99, Nissa, Vastwood Seer is a worse Borderland Ranger who can turn into a decent Planeswalker. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy has shown up all over the format as the member of the 99. Interestingly, Kytheon hasn't been adopted by as many Commander players as I would've thought, and I think he's still under-appreciated in the format.
Which is your favorite flip-walker? Who do you think is the best in the Commander format long-term?