War of the Spark: Commander Review Week 2
War of the Spark Commander Review; Week two
Hello and welcome back to Helix Gaming’s review of War of the spark for the Commander/EDH format! I, again, am your host Steven and I’m excited to get into this wild week of Gods and flying fortresses and all sorts of other wild stuff!
Check out week one at: https://helix-gaming.com/blogs/news/war-of-the-spark-commander-review
As before I’ll only be talking about cards put into the official Wizards of the Coast Card Image Gallery at the time of writing. So even though there are more cards that have been revealed you may not see them here as Wizards updates their image gallery the day after.
Lets dive in!
Karn, the Great Creator
Calm down, Karn. Calm Down. Static ability is one sided Null Rod. We could stop there, and he’d probably be good enough but that’s not all he does! His +1 is fine if you’re being fair. Voltaic Construct + any mana rock that makes more than 2 mana makes infinite mana. Oh and don’t forget to kill your opponents artifact lands(Don’t do that, that’s rude)! His -2, however is stupid. If your group has wish board rules it may be time to rethink those since it can wish up Mycosynth Lattice which combines with Karn’s static ability to lock opponents out of the game. Other busted ways to abuse it include looping Ugin’s Nexus (given a way to keep Karn’s loyalty up) for infinite turns.
Thrumming Bird is not an unreasonable card. And I’m sure there are decks that don’t have access to Thrumming bird or other good proliferate options that would like this. Decent card.
Martyr for the Cause
In the sort of deck that can reuse and abuse this it could be amazing. Make your dudes big with +1/+1 counters, boost your planeswalkers up, etc etc. Probably one of the more abusable proliferate effects. It’s no Evolution Sage (patience, friends) but it’s not bad.
What even is this!?! Wow. For those that don’t know the first Parhelion was the residence of many of the Boros angels and during the events of Ravnica: City of Guilds block it crashed into the spires of Prahv, killing co-villain of the block, Grand Arbiter Augustin IV. Now the Boros unveil its successor in what may be Ravnica’s hour of greatest need. Later we’ll see that this thing is basically the Death Star. As for the actual cards it’s… wow. The cost is massive. 8 mana and 4 power worth of crewing. That’s no small feat. And if it dies before it’s declared as an attacker, you’re going to feel terrible. However, if you get to swing with this thing it’s great. The first attack is 13 (Yes technically it’s 9 because of the 4 it cost you to start it up but from a practical sense it’s 13) and from there on its self-crewing because it’s producing 4/4s. And its power grows each turn. And last but not least everything has vigilance and the angels don’t come in tapped and attacking so you’ve got a great defense as well. I’m certainly going to try this in Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice and I think it will be fine. Overall a card with an abysmal floor but a game ending ceiling.
Yet another Zombie keyword lord. This time for flying. Now this actually may be too expensive to be worth it. 5 is a lot and it’s limited to tokens. Would rather just play Wonder or even Archetype of Imagination.
Man, the gods are on point this set! With Kefnet you get all the miracles! But before that let’s be clear that a 4/5 flier for 4 is a fantastic rate. That effect is where the juice is though. The first card you draw every turn, EVERY TURN, your opponent’s turns too! And its technically card advantage since you cast a copy of the spell so you still have the actual card in hand to use as well. Kefnet is super solid both in the driver’s seat and in the 99. Great card. And dang if Kefnet isn’t hard to get rid of. This ability that this round of gods have may be the best so far. Even though you don’t get them back immediately like the Hour of Devastation gods this ability makes them exile proof. The only way to stop these guys is transforming enchantments like Kasmina’s Mutation, killing them and then using instant speed graveyard hate, or letting them go back into the deck and then milling that player.
Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor
This card is interesting. It gives a Frost Titan style protection to your creatures and planeswalkers. Which could be great. Increasing the cost of dealing with your things could put your opponent’s off of dealing with your stuff for just long enough to do what you need to do or even better lead them to use their removal on other players threats. Another interesting thing is that she protects herself. Which is usually not a thing. Kasmina’s activated ability is one of the most versatile of the uncommon walkers so far. Making a dude and providing card draw is something you would normally see spread across two abilities on a mythic walker in any other set, but by the gods this is War of the Spark!
Not many of the “signature spells” have been good enough to show up but this one follows a pattern of other good cards that makes it strong. That pattern is in the vein of cards like Song of the Dryads, Darksteel Mutation, and Imprisoned in the Moon. Transforming things while leaving them in play rather than killing them. This sort of thing is especially good against decks that rely on their commander. It is weaker than the aforementioned cards as it allows the transformed creature to attack or block and die but if that’s not something you care about then this will be strong. Best in a Mono-U deck, probably but still strong.
Vehicles all over the place now! Even under water. Unfortunately, Magic’s first submarine is pretty meh. The draw a card trigger is fine and the fact that it triggers off of planeswalkers is a nice bonus but its just a 2/3 with no evasion that costs you power on board to get attacking. Sub-optimal… Eh? Eh? No? Fine.
Not quite Clever Impersonator but almost a strictly better Clone (can’t copy your opponent’s things). And it comes with an extra +1/+1 counter or an extra loyalty counter just because it likes you. Great card. If you would play Clone, there’s very little reason not to play this instead.
Being an eternal looks really good on these gods. This is just a sweet card for the raw value. It’ll go great in black token decks like Zombies and will draw you all the cards you could ask for. Blink for sac and reanimate for even more value. But if you want the real value from sacrificing Bontu may I point you to Barren Glory? With a sac outlet, Barren Glory and Mindslicer in play cast Bontu. With her ETB trigger on the stack sacrifice her off. Then sac every permanent you have except Barren Glory. Mindslicer will trigger and cause each player to discard their hand. Now your opponent’s have a single draw step to find a way to get rid of Barren Glory and if they don’t get there you win. And all that on a solid, evasive body to boot!
Now this is a juicy card. It needs a lot of work, but it could be a board wipe that leaves a hard to block body behind. I think this would be best in a place like Gonti or other black decks that want to abuse ETBs and deaths. I’m not convinced Massacre Girl is going to be good because of how specific her ability is but it’s cool that WotC is fulfilling all these memes they gave us in old Ravncia and she’s certainly a neat card.
Vizier of the Scorpion
Even more zombie token keyword lord. This could very well serve as full evasion because people won’t want to trade their actual creatures for your meager tokens. It’s no Gleaming Overseer but it’s solid.
A bit of a card of extremes. Four mana for this effect by itself is way too much. However, if you can reliably meet the “ferocious” requirement then getting this for one is great. Red counterspells are always nice.
Chandra, Fire Artisan
A source of impulse draw, like Chandra, Pyromaster, that punishes your opponents for hitting her. Her ult kind of worries me. Impulsive drawing for that many cards should probably be allowed to be played until the end of your next turn. Unless your overall curve is very low, or you can produce a ton of mana probably just tick her up.
Trample is a powerful keyword the problem that makes this the worst of the zombie token keyword lords so far is the fact that it’s in Red. Most zombie decks are in various forms of Blue and Black or Blue, Black, and White. If you can manage a zombie tokens deck in Black and Red then this with Vizier of the Scorpion will be fantastic together.
Ilharg, the Raze-Boar
Hoo pig sooie! Mono Red has been getting some sahweet commanders lately. Between the two Nehebs and now Ilharg Mono Red really has been growing and it’s kind of great. Ilharg will be cool leading a sort of Mono Red Blink deck. Throw in things that have cool enters the battlefield effects or damage triggers and go to town. Bring the aporkalypse down on your opponents with the biggest scariest things you can manage. If you want to be a jerk and just kill people throw down a Blightsteel Colossus.
Jaya, Venerated Firemage
I’m not super high on Jaya. If you want that damage boosting ability grab you an Embermaw Hellion so you can get a 4/5 trampler for the same amount of mana. The two shocks she gives is pretty irrelevant. Pass on Grandma.
Powered by lightning! This is a neat card. It’s a cheap threat that is immune to sorcery speed removal and has an alternate way to activate itself. This thing could be scary in the right decks. Just, you know, be careful with vehicles. They could also just be bad as a top deck.
Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi
At this point I don’t know why we are worried about Ravnica. They are literally throwing the world tree at Bolas’ army. But the card? I mean, is a tapped 9/9 with flash for 5 good? What about an untapped one for 6(Since you have to have an extra untapped land to make use of Vitu-Ghazi)? It’s quite the beating if you can blow someone out with this. But let’s be honest; we’re commander players. We aren’t just going to animate a basic forest or something so mundane as that. No, we’re going to animate a Needle Spires or an Inkmoth Nexus. Bonus flavor points if you use it to animate Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree, though.
Now this is what I’m talking about. 3 mana 3/2 that proliferates on Landfall. There are decks where this is going to be insane but there are also decks that will just want this. Even if you’re just playing one land a turn if you’re in a +1/+1 counter deck or a superfriends deck this will still be good. But if you’re dropping two or three lands a turn and basically going off this could be nuts. Check out Fertilid.
Snekdad is back and more game ending than ever. Great in the 99 or at the helm of a big stompy deck. It can also provide a Craterhoof Behemoth-like effect to some but with the added benefit of giving vigilance just in case you don’t end them rightly so you can block a crackback. And for the low, low, price of 5 mana. And being a 5/5 with Deathtouch that’s hard to keep gone isn’t irrelevant.
Nissa, Who Shakes the World
Personally, I’m a bit on the meh side for this version of Nissa. She feels pricy at 5 and is kind of restrictive. The double mana static ability is great but the fact that it only works with forests pretty much restricts it to two color or monoG. Making lands into creatures always makes me nervous. I’m not big on making my mana base into vulnerable creatures. On the plus side, instead of setting sized elementals they’re 0/0s with +1/+1 counters which can be proliferated. Her ult is pretty underwhelming. -8 and higher should be game winners. This solves the problem I have with making my lands into dudes which is nice, but the second part has the same problem as the static ability of being limited to forests. And, to boot, they come in tapped. Come on, I worked to get this ult, the least you could do is let me use the lands now.
Now let’s be clear. Two mana to get some forests to your hand is pretty weak. That said the normal version of this card will let you keep land light hands in heavily Green based decks. But it’s really that “kicker” that you want. Getting any three lands to your hand is actually pretty awesome. Assemble Tron out of nowhere. Get your Urborg, Coffers, and Cradle all at once. Best place to play this is probably Nissa, Vastwood Seer since that guarantees you get your Nissa.
Domri, Anarch of Bolas
Poor kid, he just fell in with the wrong crowd. That said the wrong crowd makes him awesome for smashy creature decks. +1/+0, mana, uncounterable creatures, and fights if you need it? Solid card. Domri tends to show out when he’s three mana.
This looks like a limited card at first brush but the fact that it gives Red Green decks a way to readily deal with planeswalkers and give a little bit of pump is nice. Worth a shot.
Feather, the Redeemed
A long-desired character finally showing up on a card, and another sign of how serious the Boros are about dealing with the Dreadhorde. Feather was the successor to Razia, the Boros Parun, but went a bit crazy during the first Ravnica block so she was locked away. During RTR we got a tiny glimpse of her as someone hired Krenko to sneak into Sunhome and try to free her. He failed but she is back now and redeeming herself against Bolas’ army. The card is no less great than the lore. This is the kind of thing RW has needed. We have been getting really bored with a RW commanders who do nothing but go to combat. One of the biggest problems RW has is card advantage. And as long as you’re targeting something of yours your spells are card neutral. Grab some cards like Crimson Wisps or Defiant Strike and start drawing cards. Feather lends a lot of neat versatility to the command zone that Boros hasn’t had in a while. Spell Slinger Voltron? Go for it. Zada, Hedron Grinder, style token deck with the likes of Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor? Yessir! My favorite? Play the Zada style tokens deck but use things like Path to Exile, Chaos Warp, Oblation and other things you would normally be using as removal on your own things to get sweet benefits. Oh, and there’s possibly even a big burn strategy here too. Aurelia’s Fury, Fight with Fire, Grapeshot. Target something of yours for one (or with the original spell in the case of Grapeshot) and the rest at your opponents and get the spells back. Just remember when you’re doing things with feather to cast things at the end of your opponent’s second main phase not during their end step. Otherwise, you won’t get your cards back until the endstep following that. Feather is great and I hope she doesn’t end up being a flavor of the week style commander but has some staying power.
For starters this combination of power, toughness and mana cost is really interesting. Most things just aren’t getting through this guy. But that’s not all. He’s got two sweet abilities for lands decks. The first one, two mana and discarding a land to throw a shock is pretty solid. Seismic Assault is a good card and while this costs mana to activate Red Green shouldn’t have any trouble making mana. But for my mana it’s the second ability that really has the juice. A single Green to return a tapped land to your hand. Use this in decks like Omnath, Locus of Rage or similar decks to be able to get some extra lands to drop when you’re out. Lord Windgrace can use it to draw some extra cards if you need to as well. And last but not least use it on lands that make lots of mana with a single tap such as Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx or Gaea’s Cradle to double dip.
Judith but only for sacrifice. Now to be fair most decks that are abusing this sort of thing are doing so through sacrifice. In that case it could be just as good as her. Outside of the +1/+0 (and I guess the fact that Mayhem Devil can’t lead a deck) I guess. The places where this is good will be obvious. Play it there.
Remember Eldritch Evolution? Pepperidge Farms remembers. Pepperidge Farms also remembers that Eldritch Evolution gets a creature of CMC X OR LESS. That’s important. Neoform costs one less and only gets you CMC+1 and exactly that. I question the usefulness of this card due to that limited nature.
Ral, Storm’s Conduit
Storm’s conduit indeed. The fact that his static ability keys off of casting AND COPYING is legitimately absurd. Moreover, he gives purpose to doing something that before was pointless. Forking a Fork creates a loop that, until Ral, did nothing. Honestly his activated abilities pale in comparison to this. They are certainly useful and his -2 can be very powerful but I’m just blown away that WotC went with this wording. I’m excited for this card.
Roalesk, Apex Hybrid
An interesting card. Honestly, it’s a bit of a shame he’s a legendary because he’s a pretty crappy commander. But in the 99 of a deck that can reuse him will be happy to have him. A 4/5 flier is a respectable body and he brings two +1/+1 counter for another one of your creatures so effectively 6/7. And then double proliferate on death. Doing that once is fine but really you want to abuse it. A fine card but a bit of a waste of a legend.
Here we see the Parhelion II doing its Death Star thing. And it’s a reasonable card to boot. Run it with mass Lifelink cards like True Conviction to gain yourself a bunch of life. My secret tech for this card is Archangel of Strife. Play the angel, choose peace, see if your opponents will choose war and then get them with Solar Blaze. A fine board wipe although take warning, while this may, at first glance, seem like a great card for Firesong and Sunspeaker it actually doesn’t work with them because the spell has the creatures doing the damage instead of the spell itself.
Tamiyo, Collector of Tales
What an odd card. She protects you from discard and sacrifice, something that UG decks are probably thankful for. However, her first ability is very odd. We have more Deck manipulation than most other formats but she’s also only going to get you one card and bin you three others. Now granted that could be great in the right decks but it’s still odd and if it weren’t for her static and her -3 I can’t say she’d be worth it. And a great -3 it is. Just Regrowth. Not like Nissa, Vital Force that only gets permanents, no, you get any card. Which can be useful with the +1 dumping things in but that’s an awfully slow and costly way to draw a card. Color me unsure on this iteration of Tamiyo.
Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves
Tolsimir and his BFF, Voja, are back and more violent than ever! This is a pretty solid card. 6/6 worth of stats for 5 mana plus a fight and 3 life. It’s unfortunate that Tolsimir wants you to play wolf tribal in White because there’s a whole one White wolf. That said Tolsimir will be great for that deck. Throw in Wren’s Run Packmaster for fun and profit Play Master of the Wild Hunt, Wolfbriar Elemental and just go to town. Oh and don’t forget to do it all with some Vigor!
Dovin, Hand of Control
The tax man cometh. For 3 mana making your opponent’s artifacts, instants, and sorceries cost more is pretty good. And add on 5 uses of the “bubble” effect to protect yourself from your opponent’s scariest creature and Dovin is pretty decent.
Saheeli, Sublime Artificer
This is what I’m talking about. Saheeli is probably the strongest of the Uncommon walkers (We’ve only got a UB, WG and a MonoU left to be spoiled). The static ability is awesome. Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor are powerful enough to see Legacy and Vintage play. And this version isn’t vulnerable to creature removal. Bonus points the 1/1’s Saheeli makes are artifacts! Her -2 is pretty sweet too. Make your worst artifact, say like a 1/1 servo, into a copy of the best artifact or creature you control. This is rife with potential abuse. My plan is currently to put her into Narset Voltron. Make extra blockers when I cast my equipment and auras and get to turn them into wild things like Sunforger.
Now this is a sweet land. Got four spare mana lying around? Why not proliferate? Another nice way to slot affects you want into your manabase rather than needing to spend spells on them.
A very interesting card. Is a 3/3 vigilance good enough when it’s in your land slot and potentially free? No idea, honestly. I don’t think this is especially good but honestly I don’t know. The obvious place is in Superfriends. Being a land, it could be a surprise blocker for your walkers as it’ll be easy for your opponents to forget about until you activate it.
Thats all for now, but we will be releasing these each week so check back in and comment on our blog or facebook with you own thoughts on how some of these cards could work in your commander decks!
ALL IMAGES BELONG TO WIZARDS OF THE COAST AND THE ARTIST WHO CREATED THEM. SPOILER GALLERYArticle written by: Steven Mace