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!
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.
As with other Commander decks I’ve opened, it’s best to open from the bottom.
You see this nice little plastic blister tray.
and then this is the oversized card beside the box.
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.)
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.
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.
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!