The Other Side of the Rotation
With Throne of Eldraine hitting standard and several sets rotating out, let’s talk about some of the heavy hitters that may be rotating out of standard, but with their now lower prices, should be rotating right into your favourite EDH deck. Many commander players won’t put new cards in their decks until they’ve been out for several months or are due to be obvious staples in the format (see Arcane Signet). This can often be due to volatile prices while in standard, general availability or just a general disdain for cards in the current standard format due to wanting to distance oneself from a rotating format in general. Whatever your reason might be, it’s a prime time to reevaluate and consider adding some once overlooked cards to your favourite commander decks!
First off, let’s start with something that was a pretty big offender during its time in standard.
Nexus of Fate
I hear you, a lot of people don’t like infinite turns cards and I do get that. I really do. But at the same time, if you are open to spells of this nature, the power level on this card is considerably high. The inability to mill it, the fact that it helps you from decking when going off in turns decks or the fact that it is instant speed all make for a high power level card. There are slightly more efficient cards for the mana cost (see Time Warp), the fact that you can just keep going with this card is absurd. I personally use this as one of my finishers in my Vial Smasher the Fierce and Thrasios, Triton Hero deck and boy does it not disappoint. Going through my deck then looping infinite turns and dealing infinite damage to the table with Vial Smasher is a sweet way to end the game (at least for me).
Helm of the Host
Another pretty nutty card. Several ways to go infinite with this one. Slap it on an Aurelia, the Warleader, or a Godo, Bandit Warlord for infinite combat steps with the respective tokens. Don’t want to throw it on an infinite combo? That’s totally okay too. Let’s talk about some insane value with this card. For starters, you can just throw it on your commander like Yarok, the Desecrated or Vial Smasher the Fierce for some excellent results. My personal favourite is to throw it on mad lads like Mulldrifter or Desecration Demon for magic the way Richard Garfield intended. No matter how you slice it, this card can get out of hand if the table doesn’t deal with it.
This is an option I’ve personally quite enjoyed for decks that would rather play off of their opponents library rather than their own. Why pack your own win conditions or answers when your opponents brought them for you? A frequent include in my decks alongside Mind’s Dilation. One of the best ways to keep your decks fair and balanced across multiple playgroups and budgets is to just steal your opponent’s best stuff or to play off of their deck. Shout out a couple of my favourite cards from the current standard format that offer similar styles: Agent of Treachery and Mnemonic Betrayal. It’s a play style that I personally quite enjoy and I expect to write more on at a later date.
Card advantage, the ability to deal with flyers, enchantments and artifacts all in one? Sign me up. What do you mean there’s an ultimate on this card? The first two abilities on this card are pretty fantastic in more creature heavy decks, but the ultimate really helps it go over the top. If you can hit the ultimate in a deck all about snowballing out of control, I’d be surprised if you told me that you went on to lose the game. It’s an overwhelming ultimate with two excellent abilities to help get you there. Strong inclusion for most green decks.
Spellslinger decks need look no further for their new best friend. This card is just fantastic, It flips into a land with relative ease and helps you get out of control in no time. Being able to copy take extra turn cards or even Turnabout with this land can often just be game winning on its own. Spell density in your deck definitely has to be higher to really take advantage of this card, but spellslinger decks aren’t usually running too many creatures outside of options like Snapcaster Mage or the like. Being a colourless artifact also greatly helps the case of this powerhouse.
Early game mana fixing and late game second copy of Maze of Ith. It’s a strong inclusion in most decks looking for early mana fixing or card advantage. Being able to have something to do with your mana until you’ve hit enough lands to cast all the biggest spells you have is definitely a plus in a more interactive deck. It is also strong support for non green decks to search for lands. At a five mana investment to get your first land, it may not feel great, but over the course of the game it will generally prove to be useful in either keeping you alive, or in the game in general. Missing land drops is often one of the first ways a player will be knocked out of a game.
Vona, Butcher of Magan
I personally can’t get enough of removal spells. To be able to remove a problematic nonland permanent every turn is enough to sell me on this card. Put this in a deck that can gain a fair bit of life and also run Seedborn Muse or a similar effect? You have my money. At five mana it makes for a solid commander if you love removal even more than I do. It works as a solid inclusion in most B/W/x commander decks that have some amount of life gain. Now, I need to get my group to sign off on letting me run Siege Rhino in the command zone to go with this card in the deck…
Vance’s Blasting Cannons
I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m an absolute sucker for being able to see more than one card a turn. Outpost Siege is a personal favourite effect of mine and I find it hard to argue with more of that effect. I also enjoy trying to make offbeat colour combinations and decks work. Helping non blue spellslinger decks is something I frequently come back to and having something that offers card selection and then later ramp/removal is just solid. Flipping into a land that bolts a turn is a more powerful effect than people give it credit for. Three damage will kill a large number of problematic creatures in the format or help deal with planeswalkers. It also works sometimes as player removal when you have a Seedborn Muse on the field.
Nezahal, Primal Tide
Because blue didn’t have enough card draw, here’s some more card draw! Suitable both in the ninety nine or in your command zone, Nezahal is often a back breaking finisher for most blue decks. Guaranteed card draw and the ability to protect itself makes for a competitive finisher. Definitely one to include in harder control style decks that want to see as many cards as possible while having a minimal number of finishers. Cryptic Command loves good company.
Three mana to cast and then five additional mana to exile something is a large amount of mana. This could be put into a board wipe, your commander or a general removal spell. This is hard sell but one I’ve been personally fond of for control decks. The ability to constantly threaten a removal ability is strong and the ability to later turn your opponents wincons against them is often an excellent time. Being able to remove your opponents creatures before the Swiftfoot Boots can be equipped is often a powerful play and this will often draw your opponents finest enchantment removal. Jokes on them though, you were sitting on a Smothering Tithe in your hand this whole time. A neat interaction with Profane Procession is that it looks for the creatures to be exiled with it. As a result, if you exile an opponent’s commander and it goes back to the command zone, it won’t count towards the three necessary to flip the card. This can be either a pro or a con depending on how you use it but it’s pretty much always been a pro for me.
I’m sure you’re thinking that there were several staples that I missed such as Muldrotha, the Gravetide and Ravenous Chupacabra but I wanted to focus on some of the more quiet inclusions in the format (and bring up the sweet interaction with Helm of the Host). The overall goal here is to just have you go through these old sets again now that they’re easy to get your hands on and perhaps update a few of your favourite or pet lists. Now go forth, and take infinite tur- I mean have fun!