Wade into Battle

Today I present to the world the SpartanNerd’s third review of a Commander deck from the 2015 set.  This deck is titled “Wade Into Battle,” and features a red-white color scheme and a nifty new general named Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas.”  Read on for a complete review!

“Wade Into Battle” comes in the same kind of box as all of the other Commander decks from the past few years, featuring a large window showcasing the main card in the deck, oversized and in foil.  The package has a nice red-yellow look too it, like fire, or glowing metal, or lava.

Flipping the box over reveals some of the cards from the deck, and an inspiring message.  (All of the propaganda doesn’t really mean anything to me.  My big question is “how fun is the deck?”)

I am going to go ahead and apologize.  I had some technical difficulties with the pictures.  I’m not sure how, but I took some pictures, and only some of the image ever made it through.  Nothing too important, as this didn’t happen to the main part of the deck.  But the unboxing pictures fell victim of this.  Sorry!  But I assure you, that the deck was packaged exactly like the other two decks I have reviewed.

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You get a nice deck box, with a plastic tray (trash) and a guide to playing Magic (also trash.)  You get a poster with a decklist and instructions, which I always keep.  And the cards wrapped in cellophane.

Who is this general?

A double striking, vigilant giant 3/3 soldier!

This chick is ooooozing with flavor.  Apparently in the early sets of Magic, there was a card called “Hill Giant.”  And he was a 3/3 red creature.  Kalemne captures that.  She also captures the flavor of the Theros block, Iroas being the god of war in Theros, who also had a red-white color scheme.  Double-Strike was prominently featured on cards during the Theros block as well.

It is the bottom ability that is all-new.  With this set of Commander, we get a new thing called Experience Counters, counters for the player that are permanent.  Poison Counters were the only kind of counters before this set.  But Experience Counters are a positive thing, and Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas gets +1/+1 for each experience counter you have.  And how do you get these?  By casting creatures with a converted mana cost of five or greater.  (It goes without saying, Kalemne must be on the battlefield for you to get the Experience counters.)

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Sorry for the blurry pics.  But we get two other possible commanders.  Anya, Merciless Angel, and Gisela, Knight of Goldblade.

These other two generals want you to build around their abilities and the fact that they are ANGELS!  Gisela is a reputable Commander.  Anya is looking for other players to have a pretty low life-total.

 

Here are the cards.  I am going to drop some commentary below each picture.

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First of all, the RARES.  These pre-constructed Commander decks always contain an incredible amount of rares!  And notice the converted mana costs…most of them are five-or-greater!

Almost all of the creatures in this deck are GIANTS.  I would say this was a tribal deck.

We get two Titans.  You can’t sniff at any of the cards in that cycle!  Blade of Selves is a money card in this deck, giving the person it is equipped to “Myriad.”  This new mechanic causes all of your opponents to be attacked by a copy of the same creature it is equipped to.  Unfortunately, Myriad is a dead ability if you are playing two player Commander.

Hostility is an incredibly fun card that can get you tokens…but you have to be able to cast spells that cause damage.  Still, he is a 6/6 with a six CMC.

We get a giant legendary Leonin (to further add to the Theros flavor and offer a new white commander)  and Hamletback Goliath.  (This guy…they sell a promo version of him on three-pack sets at Wal-Mart…the packs are from Return to Ravnica block.)

Angel of Serenity…an Angel with an O-RIng ability for three creatures.

And tons more giants including Fumiko, the Lowblood…a legendary red creature with Bushido, and is a possible red general for another deck.

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Here are the lands.  (This is one of those pictures with the bug, luckily it was still usable.)

Teramorphic Expanse and Evolving Wilds are begging to be replaced by better fetches.  Command Tower is dedicated commander fixing.  There are a few dual lands, most entering the battlefield tapped…Boros Garrison is notable because it is a bounce land.  We get two vivid lands, that also enter the battlefield tapped, but have charge counters so you can produce the other color if you need to.  And cycle lands.

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We get a new rare dual land this time…Ancient Amphitheater.

(I am not showing you the basic lands.  They are…basic…)

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With these huge CMC cards, there better be some ramp.  And there is!  This deck has a ton of MANA ROCKS.  All of these are mana rocks except Lightning Greaves, which is equipment.

Notable here is Thought Vessel, a new mana rock that lets you have an unlimited hand size.  Also Dreamstone Hedron, which reflects the current storyline in Magic.  (The Current storyline is Battle for Zendikar/ Oath of the Gatewatch).

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Other spells in this deck, and there aren’t that many, include Fiery Confluence, which is part of a new cycle where you can make up to three choices, and can choose something more than once.  This is a powerful card in this format!

Earthquake is a sweeper, as is Breath of Dirigaz.

There aren’t that many instants…(I noticed in one of the other decks there were ZERO instants.)  This time we get Crib Swap, which is just creepy.  Also, Orim’s Thunder, which can really hurt voltron style players.

Finally, this time I am going to show you the tokens.  They are double sided as in the other decks.  Here is the front side and back side.

$$$THE VALUE OF THE CARDS$$$

Not much here.  Blade of Selves is the money card for this deck.  I looked up the value of everything I thought might be worth something.  Nothing else really.  The titans here are under three dollars.  Rumiko the Lowblood is also.  Turns out that our “new” leonine giant is a reprint.  Gisela isn’t worth much.  And Kalemne is worth less than a dollar.

So if you are in the game for money, this deck isn’t for you!

EXPERIENCES PLAYING THIS DECK.

The first match was against “Call the Spirits.”  This deck came out the winner!  Call the Spirits created many tokens, but  Earthquake took them out, and then the giants coming in after that were just too much.

Matches two and three were solitaire against “Defeat a God” and “Face the Hydra.”  The first deck was just too much, too fast…several times in a row.  The Hydra deck was a blast..giant hydras against giant giants!  But Kalemne came out the winner.

“Forged In Stone” from Commander 2014 lost in a similar way to “Call the Spirits.”  Tis time is was Breath of Diregaz, followed by Kalemne herself and a few angel friends crunching in behind.  The thing about Breath of Diregaz, when it is kicked, it only deals four damage to each creature.  SO….the giants and angels survive through that!

And finally, a matchup against “Plunder the Graves,” this time piloted by the SpartanKid.  He discovered a combo, and made a REAL challenge for “Wade into Battle.”  The combo went like this.   Champion of Stray Souls plus Kraul Death Priest plus Terastodon= Churning through the graveyard to create card advantage.    Terastodon continually destroys things and replaces them with 3/3 green elephants.  I managed to break this combo by playing Angel of Serenity and exiling all three pieces of the combo.  It had taken awhile for the SpartanKid to get that combo going, and so he was at a low life-total.  Unfortunately so was I.  But I top-decked Fiery Confluence for the win!

SPARTANNERD’s RATING OF “WADE INTO BATTLE.”

It took me awhile to get this review out.  I haven’t had that much of a chance to play.  I also had issues with the pictures.  But it has been fun every time.  Kalemne is a great commander who makes great use of those experience counters.

The deck could have a better mana base.  And I wish the wizards would have printed the cycle of temples for us this time.  The new dual land is perfect for this deck.  And the inclusion of all those mana-rocks…that’s just dumb.  There should be a better way, or at least better mana rocks.  Why not Boros Keyrune, which can become a creature?  Why no man-lands?  If you are going to have fixers enter the battlefield tapped, they should do something.  Guildgates are useless outside of limited.

But the creatures in this deck are fun.  It is good to have no less than five legendary creatures.

And that ton of rares was also nice.

Like I mentioned, Myriad is useless against a single player.  You have to have multi-player games for that to matter.

But like I said, the deck has been fun overtime.  So I am going to rate it a cautious 4/5, because of the strange mana base.  But it is a winner, and is fun.

Do you agree or disagree…let me know in the comments, oh Hub City Geeks!

 

 

 

 

 

SpartanNerd Review…Commander 2015 “Call the Spirits”

So what did the SpartanNerd get on his special day this year?  A full set of Commander cards!

Loyal, (probably bored) readers know that I have intended to do sleeving videos, and discuss the cards.  But that hasn’t worked out.  My first two attempts were with “Call the Spirits” and the graveyard deck, which means at least in the case of “Call the Spirits” that you are getting a review post sleeving, post playing.

I have played about six matches with “Call the Spirits…” is it any good?  Keep reading!

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Each commander deck came in a similar box as before.  There is a big window, where you can see the oversized foil commander card.  One thing I appreciate more and more about these big cards…I can easily tell who has what commander far away.  The guy at the end of the table with a non-oversized commander…I might not be able to see the card, and therefore also disregard.

The back has some cards from this particular deck.

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As with other Commander decks I’ve opened, it’s best to open from the bottom.

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You see this nice little plastic blister tray.

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and then this is the oversized card beside the box.

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Quite notable..the deck box has a plastic tray inside instead of the cardboard spacer from years past.  I just tossed mine, along with the blister.  I guess it could be a hot tub for GI Joes or something…

There is the general guide to playing Magic…(The rules reference card.)

The cards cellophane wrapped.  Notice the “Gold” token on top.

And a guide to playing this particular deck.

(I just toss the rules reference aside nowadays.  Good information for new players though, and conceivable as this is a sealed product sitting on store shelves.)

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The guide to playing the deck has some good information.  We get a little of “Daxos, the Returned” story, and the story on someone else called “Karlov, of the Ghost Council.”  I keep these papers for reference or fun later.

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The backside of the insert has the decklist.  Useful for taking inventory.  I get my sets back together every four to six months.  Maybe that’s anal-retentive.  But it helps me know what I have.  And sometimes as I read articles and things, a card will be mentioned, and I will be like…”Hey, I have that!”  Then I can use it somewhere else.  (Facilitating the need to keep inventory.)

Now my review of the cards.  Remember what I said at the beginning…this isn’t a true unboxing…rather a review of the cards.

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The tokens are double-sided.  I like that the Wizards started doing this last year.  The grown-up inside of me thinks that in order to print double-sided Planeswalkers, they had to meet a minimum quota of cards needing two sides…so this is how they accomplished that.  But it is a handy idea.  We are getting double the value!

(The question is, will Shadows Over Innistraad have transforming cards?)

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Here is Daxos the Returned.  I would like to take a moment and discuss the importance of the character.  Daxos was a side-character in Theros.  And many of the cards in this deck, (as well as in the Black Green deck) have flavor from the Theros block, which was a Magic set based on Greek Mythology, with a pantheon of gods that headlined as “enchantment creatures” as well as much more minor enchantment creatures.  The fact that creatures can also be enchantments is one of the tricks to this deck.

Daxos was killed over the course of the Theros story, and this is what happened to him.  He went to the “underworld”…we would say “Hades,” it was called Asphodel in Theros block, and “returned” as a zombie.

Daxos original card was pretty good, but didn’t see much standard play.  It was white and blue, and let you play extra cards if you did combat damage, or something like that worth looking up.  This card doesn’t give you any of that, but is more powerful as far as board presence.  Daxos the Returned gets experience counters whenever you cast an enchantment spell.  And Experience counters are something new.  Look at the tokens above…you get one token that is for keeping up with Experience counters.  They work similar to poison counters, but instead of making you lose the game, they do something positive.  Daxos second ability lets him make blockers.  At instant speed.  Quite important, because this deck is pretty slow otherwise.  There isn’t a single “instant” in the deck.  (There are some cards with flash.)  But the ability to get a BIG blocker for only 1WB ANYTIME,  is nothing short of handy, especially when you have a ton of experience counters.

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Besides Daxos we also get two alternate commanders, neither of which is to be sniffed at.  Karlov of the Ghost Council gets really big whenever you gain life.  I can’t wait to try him in Oleo, Ageless Ascetic’s deck.  (Oloro is one of my favorite commanders!)

Teysa has protection from creatures.  So in commander, she is also incredible.  But she is a little slow as a seven drop.  It is also a little sad that the creature has to do combat damage to you before you get the flying blocker.

RARE CREATURES

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All of these are really great in this deck.

Fate Unraveler never really saw Standard play.  But here in Commander she rocks!

Celestial Archon was an intro deck card.  That it has bestow, makes it wonderful here.  (You can cast an enchantment creature with bestow as an aura, adding its power and toughness and abilities to its target.)

Doomwake Giant saw lots of play in Standard right before the Theros block rotated out.  It has Constellation, an ability that triggers when an enchantment enters the battlefield.  In his case, he gives all other creatures -1/-1.

Mesa Enchantress.  An enchantress in Magic is typically a female character on a card that lets you draw cards when an enchantment enters the battlefield.

Treasury Thrull.  I have always considered a junk rare.  But not in this deck!  I think I’ll swap this for my foil…

Silent Sentinel, another intro deck card.  This card, like Treasury Thrull, lets you get enchantment and artifacts back from the graveyard.

Ajani’s Chosen lets you get a 2/2 cat token when you cast an enchantment spell.

Celestial Ancient…I hate the art on this card.  (I hate Treasury Thrull’s art just as much).  When you cast an enchantment, all of your creatures get a +1/+1 on each creature.

Bastion Protector is a new card, and it cites Commander creatures…the last set we got had cards with “Lieutenant”, a similar ability.

And finally, my favorite.  Nighthowler. You can bestow Nighthowler onto a creature, and give that creature +1/+1 for each creature in every graveyard. Incredible.  And if they kill the thing he is bestowed upon,  he falls in place as a creature that is a least one 1/1 bigger.  This card was really good in a devotion deck, requiring two blacks.  And with bestow it was adding even more devotion.

RARE SORCERIES

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There aren’t many sorceries in this deck.  And they are all fairly cost intensive.

Righteous Confluence is what is notable here.  This is a new card, part of a cycle.  You get to choose up to three of the options, and may repeat any of the options more than once.  Gild is how you use the gold token.  The gold token was rather rare during Theros block.  I think that is one of the greek stories that resonate with people, and make people feel that flavor.

The only sweeper in this deck is Deadly Tempest.  And Open the Vaults has generally been too risky to play in all of my matches so far.

SPECIAL LANDS

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Here are the interesting lands.  It is good to see Vivid Meadow and Vivid Marsh here.  There are only four dual lands.  We get Tainted Field.  This is a land that I think should be allowed in Modern.

RARE ENCHANTMENTS

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Because enchantments are so important to this deck, this part has to be solid.

And it IS.  Underworld Connections gets you card draw.

Sigil of the Empty Throne is a winner in this deck.  Dictate of Heliod…with flash in combo with Sigil makes you have surprise huge angel blockers.

Daxos Torment becomes a 5/5 flying demon each time another enchantment enters the battlefield.

And Karmic Justice evokes Karmic Guide.

Basically, you want as many of the effects to stack up in your favor as you can get.  Make an unstoppable army of angels or spirits.  And crush your opponent.

COMMONS AND UNCOMMONS

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The two seals, Seal of Doom and Seal of Cleansing are incredible in this deck.  And if you can bring them back over and over, this is how this deck does removal for the most part.  People who play Commander depend on artifacts.  Just get Seal of Cleansing over and over, and you can stop them. And guess what…they’ll try and exile it while it is on the battlefield.  You can just sac it in response, and target your own mana rock.

Banshee of the Dread Choir is a new card, with the “myriad” ability.  Whenever the Banshee attacks, a copy of her attacks each other opponent that isn’t the defender.  And when she hits…they discard a card.  This card discourages the “group hug” strategy.

Cage of Hands…another creepy Pacifism type of effect.

Crystal Chimes, sacrifice it and get all of your enchantments back from the graveyard to your hand.

I’m glad to see Burnished Hart here, use it to block, and then sacrifice it to get a basic land.  It’s good to see Lightning Greaves reprinted.  Underworld Coinsmith is great flavor and a good effect to help out Karlov of the Ghost Council.

Everything here feels like it belongs.  There might be ways to tweak it and make it better.  Maybe add Merciless Eviction, Erebos, God of the Dead, Heliod, God of the Sun, or Athreos, God of Passage.  But overall, a pretty good, solid deck.

$$$$VALUE$$$$

I don’t really collect Magic cards for their value.  I don’t really see that much money here, though.  Maybe not even the MSRP $35.  Black Market?  Here is one that has been rarely reprinted and could see more legacy play.  (This printing has caused the price to fall a little bit.)  Lightning Greaves is worth a couple of dollars.  A quick look at TCGplayer pretty much confirms it.  Not much monetary value here.

IS THE DECK FUN?

I have played out six matches with “Call the Spirits.”  Those that I lost, I lost to speedy strategies and mana screw.  This deck has a large percentage of four and five drops.  It doesn’t work against “Thoughtsieze” early game.  It doesn’t work against the guy who can smash you early with a giant Craterhoof Behemoth or Wurmcoil Engine.

If you can manage to get the seals on the battlefield, and use them over and over, you can win.  Casting them gets you experience counters. (As long as Daxos is on the battlefield.)  Casting them causes triggers.  And triggers are good.

I played against the Red White deck from the same set.  Sigil of the Empty Throne was what won the game.  It took less than fifteen minutes.

The deck has beaten the solitaire Minotaurs deck, but lost to Defeat a God solitaire deck twice.

And it took out Nahiri the Lithomancer’s deck by out-chumping it, using “Sigil of the Empty Throne” as well as recycling Seal of Cleansing over and over.

It is a fun deck!  It has some flashy rares.  It doesn’t give you much monetary value, though.

So what does the SpartanNerd rate Magic the Gathering Commander 2015 “Call the Spirits” deck?

I am going to give it a cautious 4/5.  I really like the Theros flavor of the deck.  I thought playing all of those enchantments might be a little boring.   Especially seeing how it had no instants.

But it has been fun to play and try out.  I don’t see myself taking many things out and changing it much…it isn’t broke, so I won’t fix it.

The SpartanNerd rates “Call the Spirits” a cautious 4/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!