“Breed Lethality” Commander 2016…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

FOUR COLORS.

Wow.  This was the selling point of Commander 2016.  The Wizards of the Coast put out five brand new decks, each with a four color general  And because designing four-color cards is such a difficult task, they created a new “partner” mechanic, that lets you mix and match a pair of two-color commanders, for some new EDH ideas.

If you have been reading the SpartanNerd Blog for awhile, you know I recently picked up Kaalia of the Vast, a three color “mardu” general.  I did this because I really like casting Angels, Demons, and Dragons.  But also…this is one of those cards serious EDH players should have.  And at this point, I do consider myself a little bit serious about Commander.  I think the “Breed Lethality” deck, with Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice will be the next deck along the same line as the Kaalia thing.  You can’t find it anywhere!  I have been looking patiently at the big box stores, knowing that they will stock it at MSRP.  But all I ever see are “Open Hostility” and “Stalwart Unity.”  Luckily, at the SC Comic Con I saw Atraxa’s deck…and in Japanese no less!

Because it is in Japanese, (Kanji I assume), I thought it a good idea to wait awhile and get some experience with the deck.  This was a great decision.  I feel like I have a thorough review for you today, chock full of experience!

This week has been Spring Break, and I spent a great bit of time playing Commander.   I saw “Breed Lethality” quite a few times…almost exactly the stock version.  I took my own baby out, the almost totally foiled out Liliana Tribal to a few tournaments this week.  There was one time that in a five player match, two players had Atraxa!  She’s good!  But there is also a little bit of sadness when a deck gets so popular “everyone is playing it.”

Well anyway.  Here’s my review!

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We get the same sort of box we always get.  This time, though, the writing is all in Japanese.

The window shows you a real clear view of the oversized foil general, Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice.  Flying.  Vigilance.  Deathtouch.  Lifelink.  At the end of your turn, Proliferate.  That is…add another counter of any kind on the board…on as many different permanents as you want.  This general is so good…, it’s no wonder people want to play it.  It is almost like a challenge for you to figure out how to use it!  Proliferate Poison Counters…Experience Counters.  Abuse cards that look for +1/+1 counters.  Suspense counters.  Time counters.  On and on.

Here’s the back.  It shows off some other cards.

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These three are the “Partner” generals.  You can mix and match them.  In fact, if you did buy the other Commander 2016 decks, you would have fifteen different cards to interchange all together!

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Here’s the contents of the box.  This time I am going to complain a little bit about the box.

This is the first time that I have DOUBLE SLEEVED an EDH deck.  This deckbox can’t accommodate Dragon Shields double sleeved.  It CAN hold Dragon Shields without the double sleeved system if you side load them into the box.  But not the double sleeved.  (Why did I double sleeve?  To write the english text in Sharpie on the card as an aid as I tested out the deck.)

The other items in the box are…The deck.  The General.  The box, along with a plastic tray that can double as a swimming pool for Lego Mini-Figures, a how to play reference guide, which is probably just as unsuitable in Japanese as in English for EDH, and then the insert which contains story, art, how to play the deck, and the all-important decklist.  But it’s all in Japanese, so I can’t tell you what it says!

This week while playing, I heard the Atraxa’s story.  Basically, four of the Praetors, Elesh Norn, Jin Gitaxias, Sheoldred, and Vorinclex each decided to transform an angel into a Phyrexian Horror.  Urabrask, the red Praetor, decided to stay out of it.  This is why Atraxa is all four colors except red.

This is a pretty cool story.  I don’t really know that much about the Praetors.  I do have Elesh Norn for my Gifts Ungiven deck in Modern.  And I have a foil Sheoldred coming in the mail to add to Liliana’s deck.  But really, neither would be all that great added to this deck…that’s not really how this deck wants to play out.

So…On with a review of the cards!

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First of all, here are the generals.

Atraxa, Who I already explained.  You get this smaller card to shuffle and be discreet with in your hand, in case someone out there was wondering.

Inkra Shidiqi, the Usurper…this person lets you gain life equal to the toughness of your creatures when they deal combat damage to a player.  I find this an odd ability in the colors Green and Black.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to play or play against this card yet.

Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker.  He flies, and lets you put counters on him whenever your opponents play a spell.  (And since this game is titled MAGIC….)

Reyhan, the Last of the Abzan.  This character gains the +1/+1 counters of other creatures when they are put in the graveyard.

I have partnered Ishai and Reyhan….they are an incredible combination!  I was able to 132 +1/+1 counters on Reyhan!

Here are the tokens…next in the deck.  How cool is it to have a Japanese “Germ” token!

Now for the main deck.  As before…I will really only comment on cards that I find to be really significant through my experiences.  But this time the deck is terrific, so…

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Thrummingbird.  A 2/2 flyer that lets you proliferate.  This is getting you there!  Abzan Falconer.  Do you like fliers?  I thought you did!  Tuskguard Captain…everyone gets trample if they have a +1/+1 counter on them!  Juniper Order Ranger.  Everyone deserves a counter!  Whenever another creature enters the battlefield, they get a +1/+1 counter, and so does the Juniper Order Ranger!

The Signets.  And Darksteel Ingot.  One thing about this deck…if you are playing Atraxa, and you can’t get all of your colors, you might just be behind everyone else.  The Wizards wisely reprinted the signets and Darksteel Ingot to help you fix your mana.  (Commander’s Sphere is practically the same thing as Darksteel Ingot.  It isn’t indestructable, however.)

Mortify and Putrefy.  This deck doesn’t have that much targeted removal.  These two do nicely, if not as well as Fatal Push, Path to Exile, or Vendetta.

Crystalline Crawler, Deepglow Skate, and Duelists Heritage…these are all new cards.  They all work really well.  You get to load counters on the Crystalline Crawler, who is colorless herself.  So you can play that without all of that fixing.  Deepglow Skate lets you double the counters on a permanent, and then Duelists Heritage helps you play politics, as you can choose an attacking creature to give double strike too!  Forgotten Ancient…He gets a counter whenever anyone casts a spell…even you!

Kalonia Hydra…double counters every turn!  Ghave, Guru of Spores.   I remember the first time I ever saw this guy as a general…wow.  He can make a ton of Saprolings.  Scavenging Ooze.  Need I say more about that card!

Of the cards on the bottom…Fathom Mage lets you draw a TON of cards.  Merciless Eviction and Spitting Image.  Merciless Eviction is almost the only sweeper in the deck.  Spitting Image…It is frustrating to see this card across the table.  Not pictured…Treasure Cruise…

There are plenty of basic lands, but here are the fixers.  You need the power of ALL OF THESE!

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Command Tower AND Opal Palace.  Bounce lands.  Tri-Lands.  And Evolving Wilds.

As I have played against this deck this week, I have noticed one of the most striking modifications is to add Fetch Lands and Shock Lands to help with the fixing.  This is something I have rarely seen in Commander…but it makes sense for these four color decks.

 

Playing the Deck

All week I have played this deck, and played against it.  In different places.  So I have a varied look at it.

The deck is great as is.  And I have seen it played like that some.  When I have played it, I like Forgotten Ancient/ Ishai Ojutai Dragonspeaker combo.  The Mana Fixing has to be right…But I haven’t had any trouble myself.  I have seen other people have trouble assembling the necessary mana base, however.

You want to be sure to get some creatures on the battlefield, and then to have some counters on those creatures.  Besides not assembling the colors you need, the other way to lose is to have “counter screw.”  This actually has happened to me, and it’s frustrating.  But it was all about the luck of the draw that time.

You want to get cards like Corpsejack Menace, which doubles the counters.  You have to be careful about the order of the triggers in order to maximize your value, however.

When playing against other people who play this deck, I have seen one standout strategy for a custom deck: infect.  In EDH, you still are dead with ten poison counters.  Not twenty as you would hope.  I saw one guy kill everyone at his table in one turn.  I was holding an excellent mono-black hand, and that guy ruined my game!

SpartanNerd’s Rating of “Breed Lethality” Magic the Gathering Commander 2016

I’m going to give this product a 5/5.  It’s goodness all around.  The Wizards were able to give us a functioning deck with cool new game play.  They didn’t have to reprint fetches and shocks, (which would have wrecked the product availability and after-market price even more.)  The four color commander Atraxa is great, and promises a future of creative deckbuilds.

I’m not sure how the “infect” problem should be handled, though.  Atraxa is well loved, and so a ban probably isn’t going to happen.  But getting killed off frequently by infect isn’t fun.  So there’s a problem for the EDH rules committee.

THE SPARTANNERD RATES “BREED LETHALITY” 5/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

 

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SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Guided By Nature Commander Deck

Should I call this a “Vintage Review”?  Surely not!  I went on a hunt for this deck when I heard the news that the Wizards are going to be re-printing the deck as a part of next Summer’s “Commander Anthology.”  That product is to contain four reprinted decks, and by adding Freylise’s “Guided By Nature” deck to my collection, I already own three of the four decks!  (The other decks are “Invasive Manuevers,” “Plunder the Graves,” and the money-card loaded “Heavenly Inferno” which is the only deck I don’t have.)

I picked up my copy at Toys-R-Us.  Yes.  Still on the shelf.  I paid $40.  MSRP was $35.  But this deck is selling on the internet for way more money.  And I could piece it out and get well over my $40 worth of cards back if I wanted to.

I owned two of the Commander 2014 decks already, Ob Nixilis and Nahiri the Lithomancer.  I truly hadn’t stopped to appreciate Freylise’s deck until the Wizards brought so much attention to it.  I have found it to be a thing of beauty, and certainly worthy of a re-print.

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“Guided By Nature” came in this traditional window box packaging, showcasing the Planeswalker Freylise, who can also be used as a Commander.  We are told it is a 100 card deck, and there are 15 new Magic cards in the deck.

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On the back we see some of those new cards.  We get lots of propaganda.  You can see the names of the other two decks I don’t have, “Built from Scratch” and “Peer Through Time.”  This doesn’t really inspire me to get Deretti, Scrap Savant or Tefuri, Temporal Archmage’s decks.

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Freylise’s deck didn’t open any differently than the Ob Nixills deck.  You get the big splashy oversized card, a cellophane wrapped deck, a piece of poster just for this deck, the guide to playing Magic, and a pretty good deckbox, which has a tray inside that is more useful if you take it out.  The Guide to Playing Magic is completely useless for this Commander product, and should be disregarded by new players.  That guide only tells you how to play regular Magic, not Commander.

We get even more double sided tokens.  (The same cards are featured in both images, just flipped over.)I already expressed that I feel that it is likely more challenging to make double sided cards for the Wizards.  While they have access to the factory to do so, (for the main purpose of Origins Planeswalkers and Shadows Over Innistrad block), they have gotten lots of milage printing double sided tokens.  These are great!  And very useful as you play the game.

Should I show you a picture of plain basic lands…Nope.  I’ll skip that.

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We get these special lands.  Notable is Crystal Vein ad Havenwood Battleground.  These a “Sac Lands.”  Ghost Quarter, Haunted Fengraf, and Evolving Wilds are also quite useful.

So on with the real cards…

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So what does Freylise do?  Rolling her up gets you a mana elf.  You really want THAT in this deck!  Rolling her down will get you Naturalize.  And her -6 is important because that green card draw is hard to come by!

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We get two more commanders.  I have yet to try Titania.  But Ezuri is a super “elf lord,” and I couldn’t help but give him a try!

img_9413img_9414As usual, the rares are on top.  And you get an INCREDIBLE amount of them.  From Seer’s Sundial to Thunderous Baloth, to Beastmaster Ascencion.  The rares in this deck work wonders to bring you a win.  You get lots of regular green stuff too…stuff that should be in every green Commander deck, like Silklash Spider and Emerald Medallion.

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This deck is TRIBAL ELVES.  And that becomes clear when you look at the rest of the cards.

 

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Question:  How many mana elves does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

But you need this critical mass of elves to make some of the effects in the deck work.  Think by to Ezuri, the alternate commander.  Lots of elves means Ezuri wins!  It is also great that most of these creatures are small, with low converted-mana-cost.  That makes a card like Thunderous Baloth, with its Lieutenant ability, really shine!

img_9417And finally we get to some of the usual stuff.  Sol Ring has to be in EVERY deck.  Commander’s Sphere and Swiftfoot Boots.  Also worthy must includes.  Overrun.  How many times and different ways can you give your creatures +x/+x and trample?

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Here is the full decklist from the poster.

HOW DOES GUIDED BY NATURE PLAY OUT?

Great.  For real!  I haven’t seen this deck lose.  The mono-green elf strategy is tried and true, and the Wizards have given us one of the finest mono-green decks of this sort.

Can it be improved?  Absolutely.  Add some more expensive cards.  Craterhoof Behemoth.  Crucible of Worlds.  Gaia’s Cradle.  And so on!  Allosaurus Rider.  Nylea, God of the Hunt.

I see why this deck has elevated to Anthology level.  And am proud to own it.  I score it a 5/5.  I have found that “Evasive Maneuvers” and “Plunder the Graves” are also rated 5/5.  I can only imagine that “Heavenly Inferno” would be a 5/5 as well, but I think I can affort to piece that together rather than purchasing it.  Either way, I WON’T be getting the Commander Anthology this summer.  It would take some serious enticing, like foiling it out for me to change my mind.  I mean, I already own the bulk of the product!

The SpartanNerd gives Frealise’s “Guided By Nature” deck a 5/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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!

 

NATURE OF THE BEAST Magic the Gathering Commander unboxing and review

 

Ever the cheapskate, the SpartanNerd was shopping at the Goodwill, and…what…was…in…the…case??????? (The glass case at the front for “specialty items?”)

 

That’s right!  the final Commander set that I did not own.  For $30?  Nope.  $10?  Nope.  $8?  YES!  They also had Power Hungry and Evasive Manuevers.  But I already had those!  (I thought about getting them anyways.  What a deal!)

 

So I present my unboxing and review!

 

(Disclaimer.  I used a different camera this time, with some blurry results.  Sorry!)

Here is the box.  Notice the Ceremonial sticker at the top.  $8.00!

Now for the back.

Anyone notice that this commander is a MOOSE?

Lets crack it open.

NATURE OF THE BEAST comes in a similar deckbox as the others in this set.  This time it is green, to highlight that this deck is aimed at green magic players.  (Not Martians.  People who play green magic, silly!)  When you remove the top of the box you get to see the main commander moose, Marath, Will of the Wild.  He is pretty good, having counters determined by the amount of mana spent to pay for him, and able to give those to someone else.

Now for a look at all three commander cards.  Yep.  Just like the other sets, this one has three also.

 

Of the three, I have only ever seen Mayael the Anima actually played before.  Competitive players like card draw, and green doesn’t get that much.  So that’s my theory why.

The other two, Marath Will of the Wild and Geiji Honored One both add to the Beast flavor of this deck…both can pump creatures.

So what else came with this deck?

Here’s a pic.  I don’t need to be reminded that I am a Planeswalker anymore, so I trashed that right away!

The pick also shows another paper, which is the “instruction manual” for the deck.  The most important thing here is the deck list, which I will reveal below.

First of all, there is a strong tribal vibe to this deck.  There are more Beast creatures than anything else.  Here is a picture of a select few.

Not only are they Beasts.  THEY ARE BEAST!!  And nearly every one has an ability that either has something to do with land or pumping someone else.

They’re not ALL beasts though.  Here are the other creatures.

These guys compliment the beasts pretty good.  They are all ust as expensive and all.  The least inspired of them seems to be the Archangel, who it is nice to see the classic art of.  However, it’s still just a plain old 5/5 flyer with vigilance.  Not really sure why she’s here, except that it caters to a certain style of fan.

There are some good artifacts in this deck.  I am a fan of the colored artifact hammer thing here.  Of course we get the Sol ring, which I learned the hard way was banned in Modern…Hey.  It’s a great card.  Too great I guess.  Then there is the Swiftfoot boots.  An underpowered filler.  This is the kind of thing I groan about when I get it in a booster pack.  Yet every Commander deck in this set came with a copy of this card.  Why?

There are a lot of different kinds of land in this deck, but I thought I would share my favorite standouts here.

Mosswort Bridge is a “Hideaway Land.”  I had none of these before!  It’s cool!  Basically you get to exile some cards, and then you can play them much cheaper.  A great advantage for this deck especially, with its really high mana curve.  The Contested Cliffs card is aimed at that tribal beast flavor, forcing a fight between a one of your beasts and someone else’s probably weaker creature.

Blah Blah Blah.  Yes there are instants, sorceries, and enchantments.  But lets get down and see how the first match went.

I played the first match against three family members, each of which were playing one of the other decks unmodified, except for the Nekuzar the Mind Razer deck.  (The person playing this deck really wasn’t into it today anyway.)

I used Marath, but never casted him.  I did get to cast Mayael the Anima, twiche actually…(she was sent back to my hand.)  On about turn twelve, the Power Hungry deck was finishing everyone off…I mean, it’s hard to beat that big flyer, no matter how much “trample” you can get from your beasts.

Which confirms why my Magic color of choice is BLACK and not GREEN.  I disagree with that philosophy, to sort of quote Gideon.

Regardless, I got a great value for this deck.  I’m sure I will have many more wins to it.  But for now, I am putting it with the other decks, I HAVE A COMPLETE COLLECTION!

 

I am going to rate this deck 3/5, removing a point because there aren’t many flyers, or at least people with reach.  And removing a point because the commander is a MOOSE.  (the main reason I haven’t bought this deck is simply because of that.  I think I am going to nickname THE NATURE OF THE BEAST, “The Getalong Gang!”

What do you rate it?  Let me know by sending a comment, oh Hub City Geeks!

ETERNAL BARGAIN Commander Deck….Unboxing and Review

HOORAY!  The SpartanWife got me the OLORO, AGELESS ASCETIC DECK!

First of all, I thought OLORO must be the commander for me when I first saw the artwork on the card!  He’s just kicked back, relaxing, and directing a win!  (I first saw the card in the store at the Tangled Web.)

As far as a product, it is more or less exactly the same as the Derevi deck that I already reviewed as far as the packaging and presentation are concerned.  The SpartanSmurfs  both got a commander deck also(Mind Seize and Power Hungry), and they are all boxed the same, with a different set of instructions specific to their deck, a different color box for storage, and three oversized commander cards.  I might get to review their decks as well, if they don’t mess them up too bad.

Back to OLORO.

You are always gaining life with this deck.  And the cards included count on that, as many of them say “Pay X life…” as a cost for their effect.

This is what the box looks like.  You can clearly see the three colors, White, Blue, and Black, “Esper.”  The purple coloring is a good compliment, though it doesn’t mean anything else to me.  My boys were puzzled by the purple…all of the other commanders have a color of box that represents one of the REAL colors of magic.

Here’s the back.  It’s just propaganda.

All that hype aside…you open the box and see something LIKE this.  Only this isn’t the correct product.  This is what POWER HUNGRY looks like inside. not ETERNAL BARGAIN.  How did this happen?  Regardless of how I swapped out the pics accidentally, I assure you it looks like this when you open it.  You get a nice box that perfectly fits the deck….at least when the cards are sleeveless.  Three big foil cards.  And two pieces of paper.  You might as well throw the blue one away.  The other one is specifically for the deck it came with.

ETERNAL BARGAIN came with this commander on top.  OLORO, Ageless Ascetic, of course.  Read it and weep.  Basically, unless someone is playing EREBOS, GOD OF THE DEAD, you gain life constantly.  Notice the art too.  This is what struck me first.  I am an art kind of guy!  I have studied this picture several times, and am finding new things.  Notice the bandolier he is wearing…He’s a giant…He has regular sized human weapons strapped to that bandolier!

You also get this sqinx as an alternate commander.  This deck plays lots of artifacts, so this card approaches that angle.

This card also tackles the artifact angle.

This poster comes with the deck.  It is pretty, but this side doesn’t accomplish much but tell you some fantasy story that surrounds Oloro.

This side accomplishes a lot!  You get a very light summary of how to play the deck, and then the deck list.

Here is the deck list alone, if you want to try and read it.

OK, already.  What cards are in the deck?  Well, I have played the deck twice against the SpartanSmurfs, and am going to play in a more “serious” tournament tomorrow.  But I have kind of an idea how this is supposed to work.  I have a self designed life drain deck, and this accomplishes that, but on a commander scale…It could definitely be improved, but I am keeping it vanilla for awhile.  (I am just playing what was here, at least until a second more serious tournament.)

AZORIUS.  Enough said.  But cool enough, both times I have played this deck, he wound up in the graveyard, and I was able to cast him from there and get the life gain benefit!

Great card if it didn’t get burned off 😦

There is one of these in every Commander deck apparently.  This is a great card, and legal in modern!

This card is one of the staples of my self designed life gain deck.  The fact that she can give you life and burn EACH opponent is great!  She can be burned easily, though, and her abilities are indeed a tad expensive.

Sorry about the sideways action.  I didn’t get to use the ability on this card, but it is a source of card draw.

A slow source of mana….

This card is normally a complete board wipe.  Get rid of those indistructibles and hex proofers!

Same as Azorius Herald, I was able to cast this from the graveyard.  But I have never been able to pay the echo cost.  It has always appeared in the early game.

I’m glad to own this!  A panorama card comes with each Commander deck.

I played this today, I like it…But I held off and used the tokens as blockers.

Heh Heh.  Drop this onto a commander…He becomes utterly useless!

Another good source of life gain.

Now we’re talking!  A board sweeping artifact!

A big drain spell.  I usually wait ’til the very end to play stuff like this.

The OLORO deck has lost both matches…I think it’s me, not the deck.  Proshk, Sky Raider of Kherr is the one that did me in, with the commander damage rule.  Oloro pretty much forces your opponent to swing with his commander, because there is probably no way that your 40 life is going to be whittled down.

I am not going to rate this deck…  Compared to Derevi, it hasn’t won as much.  On the other hand, these are more of my natural colors…I like this deck, and love the art!  Darksteel Mutation is maybe the best card for a commander, and then the Vizkopa Guildmage also really makes it work.

UPDATE:

Last night I played the deck at the Commander tournament…It was my first EDH tournament ever.  And each match was exceeding long.   Oloro as a Commander makes you into a target…not so much as Nekusar (SpartanSmurf #1 found this to be the case).  Just the same, Oloro did what he was supposed to.  I should have won the first match.  I played Sanguine Bond, and then a few turns later Filigree Angel.  I forgot to call the trigger.  So it was my fault.  I didn’t make good draws during round two, and SpartanSmurfs were tired out by the time that was over…

Next time I am plain Derevi.  Or maybe I will tweak this deck.  Drain is one of my favorite styles.  It just tends to be slow.  I should maybe tweak this some.