Should you care about your Commanders power and toughness?
Do your creatures’ stats really matter?
Yes. Yes they do.
Thanks for reading! If you like it, check out my other articles!
All kidding aside, I’d like to take a moment and figure out exactly how much they actually matter. I suspect we don’t think about the numbers at the bottom right of creature cards as much as we maybe should. Except for Level Up creatures or Kamigawa flip cards. We look in different places for them.
The most important creature statistics are on our Commander. These dictate how many times we need to smack an opponent to get them to twenty-one Commander damage. Seven is the sweet spot. Three hits and it’s done.
I’d say that’s less important if you’re not a “Voltron” style Commander deck. That is, you’re not intending to suit up your Commander with Equipment or Enchantments and take opponents out in one or two hits. Then we might benefit from taking a closer look at a Commander’s Stats.
One of the more popular Commanders out there is Breya, Etherium Shaper. Breya is a 4/4 with an activated ability that shrinks other creatures by -4/-4 for a turn. Four becomes a pretty important number in her case.
You know who has four toughness? Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice, a huge player in our format. There’s also splashy new kid on the block Teysa Karlov who has already seen a huge influx of brews with her at the helm, and happens to have four toughness as well. Breya can take them all out (including a copy of herself) with just one activation.
Looking at another handful of popular Commanders, we can find more four-toughness creatures. Edgar Markov, one of the more powerful tribal Commanders, has the same toughness. But with his eminence ability he may not join the battlefield where those numbers actually matter. Meren of Clan Nel Toth, also four toughness, is a Commander that needs to be dealt with sooner than later if we don’t want to get overwhelmed by recursion. And The Locust God is another popular Commander that must be dealt with quickly, yet again with four toughness. Though this one’s harder to keep down.
Many colour pairs have multiple spells which can outright destroy or exile a creature without concerning themselves with whatever numbers are printed in the corner of the card. They do the job regardless of size. Except for Red, that is. Red gets a bad reputation because it’s a damage based colour, when we all have double the life to start. People say Red is “half as good” for this reason, but all decks need to deal with creatures, and four equals four no matter what. Unless you have a damage doubler on the field…
It’s for this reason that I want to take another look at some Red spells that can do four damage to a creature. These are for the most part, “destroy target creature” spells. Char is a decent one that can nab any one of the above mentioned Commanders before they get out of hand. If we’re running an artifact deck, we ought to consider Galvanic Blast. Four damage doesn’t get any cheaper as long as we have metalcraft. And Mizzium Mortars, although it doesn’t hit players unlike the previous two spells, can be overloaded to deal with the majority of creatures on your opponents’ boards.
Lightning Bolt is perhaps the most iconic Red spell the game has ever known, and I think it’s extremely underrated even in a multicolour deck. Even though it only does three damage, there are so many creatures it can deal with that are often a big nuisance. Little deathtouch creatures that are stonewalling your larger attackers, utility creatures that are part of a bigger engine, turning on some key synergies, or a valuable sac outlet that’s preventing you from stealing anything on a certain board. Most importantly, these spells can sometimes do the last three points to a player to end their game. It’s a nice option to have on a spell that a Terminate can never do.
How many of your Commanders would go down to a single Char? What about Lightning Bolt? For me, it’s about three quarters of them. The few that dodge it are Ghave, if I haven’t removed any counters, Muldrotha and Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis. Only one quarter of my Commanders can survive a Char. I urge you to at least run Lightning Bolt in a few decks. You might be surprised by the value you can get from it.
Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to check out my podcast Commander’s Brew!