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November 7, 2016

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5 Very Underrated Commanders

With the new Commander 2016 decks almost on the market, we’re being inundated with content about the exciting new cards and the great reprints. But release day is still a few days away and until then what on Earth should us Commander-heads do to kill the time in between?

The answer is brew decks of course. But not just any decks, decks with generals that are not always viewed as the most powerful but still pack a serious punch. Below I’ve listed what I think are 5 of the most underrated commanders in the format and the reasons for each of them. All 5 of these Commanders has less than 200 decks listed on EDHrec and are so deserving of having a ton more.

Rith, the Awakener

Rith is one of the best token generators Magic has to offer and is an amazing tribal general for the sneakily powerful Saprolings. So what is it about Rith that keeps her from being a popular commander? I’d guess the prevalence of Marath token decks and the versatility that commander provides means if people are building a Naya tokens deck, they’ll just go with Marath. But don’t count out Rith just because there are other good Naya token makers. Rith can make a lot more tokens than Marath for a lot less if you start off your game with a few mana creating elves or are even just playing against another deck using a lot of a specific coloured permanents. Usually you can find a person without a flying blocker on turn 7 or 8 to get your gameplan rolling so Rith can actually be pretty consistent. However despite this, Rith’s weaknesses are apparent. Rith needing to find an open opponent to make any tokens plus her high mana cost are two downsides that need to be planned for. Despite this, I’ve seen Rith absolutely flood the board with saprolings and completely take over a game with one swing.

Wort, Boggart Auntie

Goblin tribal is a powerful strategy in Commander that tends to feel a little like a glass cannon. Set up your board, swing with your mob of goblins, only to then have someone cast a board wipe and ruin all your carefully laid plans and you’re not too happy. But with Wort you have graveyard recursion built right in. The exact thing you need to keep a tribal strategy going in a long game of EDH is recursion and redundancy and Wort has exactly that. I’d wager the only reason we don’t see more Wort decks is that some of the key goblin cards are popular in other formats and may be hard to come by or can be expensive. However, if you listen to the Commander’s Brew podcast episode on the two Worts, you’ll see that you don’t need to break the bank to build a great goblin Commander deck.

Rubinia Soulsinger

Rubinia is basically a nicer version of Merieke Ri Berit, meaning that Rubinia will actually give the creatures she steals back. You might think this is a down side, but I’ll tell you as a person who has seen first hand the amount of hate Merieke decks get in my own meta, I’d be happy to see a Rubinia Soulsinger deck make an appearance and would be a lot less hostile if I knew my creatures were eventually coming back to me. Sure, Rubinia doesn’t let you use black but gives you the benefit of having green while still giving you the controlling parts of White and Blue.

Kaseto, Orochi Archmage

We all made a big deal about Kaseto when it was dropped in the Commander 2015 precons, mostly because we felt snake tribal was now a possibility. Kaseto to me, however has never really seemed like a tribal general. Kaseto’s ability might as well read that she – and only she – gets the +2/+2 and unblockable because that’s all I’ve ever use it for. Kaseto is simply a great voltron general that doesn’t need auras and equipment she just needs herself and a ton of mana – of which the Simic guild is happy to provide in spades.

Pharika, God of Affliction

You may be surprised to see what is often thought of as the worst god is actually a pretty solid Golgari commander. Pharika’s ability seems like it is at odds with itself – and it is. It seems like if the aim is to exile creatures from other people’s graveyards, you should still get the snakes. Well, maybe we’ve been looking at this the wrong way. Maybe in addition to occasionally exiling something from your graveyard to get your own deathtouching snakes, you can use Pharika as a political tool to barter with your opponents and give them great blockers in the face of a tough attack. Not to mention the fact that in doing this, you get to remove a creature from your opponents yard and have them thank you for it. Other reanimator decks will hate you but might also come running to you for help, which can be a powerful combination.

We’ll see you guys next week when we all have new Commander precons to play with!