Commander Value Town: Graveyard Edition
Magic, like so many things in life is all about value. Get the most value you can out of each card and each play and you’ll find yourself on the winning side of things more often than not. This is especially true in a format like Commander where the breakneck speed of other constructed formats is eschewed for the slower pace and larger spells that accompany a starting life total of 40. So as opposed to Standard or Modern where the value comes immediately by destroying creatures or making 2 for 1’s and taking advantage of efficient mana costs, Commander players get their value over the long run. The best way to get this sort of value, maximize it and really make your opponents pay, is simple: Use your cards more than once. Sounds like cheating, I know, but if you’re ignoring your cards once they’re in your Graveyard, you’re giving up incredible amounts of value and could be the reason you lose any given game.
Graveyard recursion isn’t a new concept of course, but when deck building it can be easy to forget that Black and Green are not the only colours out there capable of maximizing a full graveyard. Card draw can be hard to come by in Red and White decks but there are other ways of creating card advantage.
We’re talking recursion, but we’re also talking recursion that is recur-able – specifically by tying that recursion to creatures and other permanents. It’s easier to get back a creature or (depending on the colour) an artifact or enchantment so creating a chain of recursion can be devastating to opponents since their board wipes now just fuel your next turn, allowing you to get in the game quicker than anyone else. These effects also don’t need to exclusively live in Commander decks like Karador or Daretti. Recursion is one of the best things your colour has to offer you, so no matter who you’re building, here’s a few effects to look out for.
We all know Sun Titan is an absolute staple in just about any White EDH deck, but how about the newly printed Ironclad Slayer? Even in a deck not dedicated to equipment or auras, getting back your destroyed Skullclamp or Oblivion Ring from the yard can be just the thing you need to get back in a game and essentially blank your opponent who put it there in the first place. White’s blink effects especially help out when talking about recursion tied to creatures. Making Monk Idealist and cards like it a great way to get back key enchantments over and over.
Blue specializes in recurring instant and sorcery spells with cards like Archaeomancer and Mnemonic Wall but Blue is also capable of bringing back artifacts and even creatures. Argivian Restoration gets you an artifact back straight to the battlefield while Rootwater Diver gets one to your hand. There’s even the enchantment Dreams of the Dead, which must be played in an Esper deck but can be a great way to recur creatures for a one-time repeat of a desirable effect.
Black is the no brainer of this list, obviously Gravedigger and Sheoldred, Whispering One get you creatures back to your hand or battlefield but my favourite of all time is Palace Siege. An enchantment that sits on the table that constantly delivers value directly to your hand. You really don’t need to run a graveyard themed deck to make Palace Siege one of the best cards in your deck. Put this in your black decks and watch the value roll in.
Red can recur something? Very funny. If you’re thinking this I take it you haven’t played a Daretti, Scrap Savant Commander deck yet. Red is certainly the most specialized of the colour pie. Mostly focusing on artifact recursion with cards like Goblin Welder and Trash for Treasure. There are still ways to get other cards. Shreds of Sanity or Charmbreaker Devils can get you those Instants and Sorceries while Alesha, Who Smiles at Death is a Mardu-only way to getting smaller creatures back from the yard. Red’s recursion usually comes with some sort of risk, whether it be random or then having to discard or something but when you’re in Red, you take what you can get.
Green is definitely the most versatile slice of the colour pie, being able to return cards without restriction to your hand. Eternal Witness is the most popular of the cards that do this but recently we’ve been given a few more in Greenwarden of Murasa and Den Protector. But Green can get specific too, enchantment decks love to run Dowsing Shaman and creature-heavy decks should always consider Genesis or it’s more budget friendly pal, Deadwood Treefolk.
Artifacts and colourless cards can also get in on the recursion game, but generally focus on artifacts. Junk Diver, Scarecrone and the artifact planeswalker, Trading Post all recur your artifacts and artifact creatures effectively but if it’s enchantments or just cards you need Crystal Chimes and Codex Shredder can get the job done for you in decks where those jobs may be difficult to do.
Building recursion into each one of your Commander decks is an effective and essential way to get more bang for your buck. Cards have powerful abilities and if you’re only using them once a game, guess what, you’re getting cheated out of a ticket straight to value town.