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August 28, 2017

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Sultai Commander Review

Ew, a bug! That’s right, this week we look at all the BUG (or Sultai) cards that Magic has to offer to us EDH players. Sultai strategies are often based around the graveyard since all three colours are strong in graveyard interactions, with abilities dedicated to both putting cards in, and getting them back out. Ramp, card draw, and removal are three pillars of EDH play and, well, these are the three colours for it.

Some say Sultai is the best colour combination for Commander (personally I think it’s Bant). Agree or disagree, one thing is for certain: it’s easily top tier when it comes to what each colour brings to the table.

But what about when all three colours get together on the one card? Do we see a sum greater than its parts, or a mishmash of limited-level abilities that don’t add up to much?

A quick reminder of how this will work:

We’re looking at each card’s multiplayer effect, its power level, and whether or not it’s playable in a multitude of decks or just one. For legendary creatures I’ll still assign one letter grade, but also talk about the card’s viability as a commander or in the 99.

The grading looks like this:

A: Bombs/broken cards and excellent commanders. A lot of fun with unique design and interaction. Will effect the board in a big way in just about any deck or will allow for a very strong deck to be built around it if it is a commander.

B: Very good cards in most decks or total bombs in only one particular deck. Solid commanders but perhaps not the best in the colours.

C: A playable commander card, not great, maybe you’re running it because of budget reasons. This card may be perfectly good in a specific deck yet not playable in others. An average commander, the abilities make for a mildly interesting/fun commander.

D: Not really a playable card in EDH except in some corner cases and specific builds. Generally not good. A commander that has no relevant abilities or is just not very fun.

F: Unplayable in a commander deck or as the commander itself.

Abomination of Gudul – D

These Khans three colour morphs were great fun in Limited, but when it comes to Commander they’re definitely lacking when it comes to power level. Outside of some multicoloured morph deck, I doubt this guy is good enough for most Sultai decks. Still, not 100% awful or anything.

Bound // Determined – D

If you’ve been reading these reviews you know I like modal cards. What might normally be a D easily becomes a C or higher based on the flexibility of the card. These cards are literally two in one, and are often a decent choice to include in most decks. Bound and Determined is sadly an exception to this general rule. Bound isn’t terribly worth it as a one time effect, and Determined is, I don’t know, a storm card?

Damia, Sage of Stone – A

Damia is one of the best commanders Sultai has to offer. The amount of card advantage you can generate with her is amazing. After ramping up and dumping your hand on the table, Damia draws you right back up to seven. About the only downside Damia has is her 7-CMC cost. It’s definitely outside the realm of affordable commanders, but not enough to take her down off of the A-pedestal.

Fungal Shambler – D+

Another card that’s hurt by it’s high CMC, Fungal Shambler also suffers from a relatively low toughness for EDH considering that mana cost. While it’s ability isn’t bad at all, I doubt this beast will make many decks, even the ones looking for this effect.

Kheru Lich Lord – C+

Kheru Lich Lord could be an amazing EDH card if it weren’t for the fact that it is basically impossible to break. Despite that, it might also be a super fun commander if it were legendary. So without being able to abuse its ability, or have it act as a commander, Kheru Lich Lord is a much overlooked card. But I contend that this card (while not great) is a bit underrated. There are better options for reanimation, sure, but this Lich Lord is a repeatable source and with trample and flying can definitely finish games for very cheap. Maybe give KLL a shot in your next reanimator build, I really think it can have a big impact on games.

Rakshasa Vizier – D

Exiling your own graveyard to make an otherwise vanilla creature larger can be ok, but it’s not generally what Sultai wants to do. Not the worst, but not really what we’re looking for.

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant – B

More than others, Sidisi, Brood Tyrant is the commander I see as the general placeholder for Sultai graveyard decks. The reason for this is most likely due to the budget-friendly nature of the card, and the slight upside Sidisi gives to a deck looking to mill itself. Sidisi’s ability is often whiffed on though, and for such a small body you’re probably not looking to attack often with her. There are better options for Zombie tribal and just general Sultai, but her fair CMC and slight upside of an ability makes her a decent card still.

Sultai Ascendancy – B+

I actually really like Sultai Ascendancy in almost any deck looking at graveyard strategies. It offers good card selection while filling up the bin with whatever you’ve got. It’s a narrow strategy, but most decks in these colours will want this card.

Sultai Charm – C+

Again with the modal cards, this time you get two solid options and one that at the very least replaces itself. If you ever include Naturalize or Doom Blade in your Sultai decks this is basically a strict upgrade.

Sultai Soothsayer – C

If we’re looking at ETB abilities for Sultai you’d think Sultai Soothsayer would be a huge standout, but I never see anyone running this card. And look, I get it, five mana for a 2/5 is a lot, and if we’re looking for card draw or mill there are better options. But consider the soothsayer if you have a few blink-friendly cards in your deck. Graveyard/ETB cards can open up your strategy and be a real boon. It’s not an amazing card but could be a solid role-player in the right deck.

The Mimeoplasm – A+

Is it wrong to call this guy the original Sultai commander? He does everything a Sultai general should, he cares about the graveyard, he gets +1/+1 counters, he’s an ooze. Seriously, The Mimeoplasm is an amazing commander and can be as powerful as you want him to be/as powerful as your opponents want their decks to be.

Villainous Wealth – A+

Entire decks are built around Villainous Wealth and 100% rightfully so. One of the best and most fun cards Magic has ever printed, the only thing I am ever upset about when it comes to VW is the fact that I can’t run it in anything other than these colours. But that’s so miniscule a reason because Villainous Wealth is just plain FUN. Made for EDH, just make sure you don’t pick the Ashling deck 😉

Vorosh, the Hunter – B+

One of the craziest +1/+1 commanders in the game, Vorosh falls victim to the “must hit to trigger” clause of this cycle of dragons. However with the right support, Vorosh can be an absolute monster of a voltron commander, or even just a very fun addition to a dragon tribal deck. A solid commander (maybe the best of his bretheren) and a valued win condition amongst any 99, Vorosh is worthy of seeing way more play than he currently does.

That does it for the graveyard colour-wedge that is Sultai! Classically known as BUG, this colour combo is easily one of the best and has some great cards to offer. Let me know what you think about this write up and these ratings in the comments below! Tune in next time for the next tri-colour combo review!