Opinion: Commander Takes, Pt. 1 – "Magic: The Gathering"

Wizards of the Coast has made mistakes in the past, with regards to the printing of certain cards in Magic: The Gathering. I mean, just look at cards like Gaea's Cradle or the brunt of the cards banned in Standard from the original Mirrodin block! Today and tomorrow, I'd like to go over some of these community-perceived mistakes as they pertain to the Commander format, and see if my own hot-take opinions properly align with those ones.

Opinion: Commander Takes, Pt. 1 - "Magic: The Gathering"
Source: Wizards of the Coast

Bear in mind that I'm only talking about cards in this series, and not meta-level mistakes such as the whole Nic Kelman debacle, or shoehorning Greg Weisman into retconning Nissa and Chandra to be platonic, or the Autumn Burchett thing (which, let's be frank – I'm firmly on the side of the Knights but that's for another op-ed piece). If you care to read these I recommend looking at my archives for these issues and reading onward.

On to the Commander takes!

#10. Mana-Positive Rocks

This is not a discussion of mana-producing artifacts that cost more than they can procure. This is talking strictly about the opposite: mana producing artifacts that make more than they initially cost. Cards like Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, and Mana Vault are all egregious offenders in this category, as are any Moxen.

Opinion: Commander Takes, Pt. 1 - "Magic: The Gathering"
Source: Wizards of the Coast

Let's be real here: These cards have been the problem child of Magic since the dawn of the game. And it isn't really even just mana production. Spells are costed as they are for a reason, and to manage to break the parity of land drops is rather a problem. It's why deck types like Elf Ball are so fast and strong, or why the 2007 Dragonstorm combo deck from Standard was a blowout for as long as it was. Cheap spells that flow easily into bigger spells are just plain wrong. It's kind of also true with cards like Ancient Tomb, even more so with Gaea's Cradle or Serra's Sanctum.

But hey, I told you I had an opinion here – and that's still true.

Take: Positive-mana rocks need to be banned (except Sol Ring – when everyone is super, nobody is!).

Opinion: Commander Takes, Pt. 1 - "Magic: The Gathering"
Source: Wizards of the Coast

#9. Draw-Value Cards

Next, I'd like to talk about cards that generate insane levels of draw-power. Necropotence was the card most responsible for the infamous "Black Summer" of 1996 when most every player used black in their decks. This was before Commander but you must understand that, to assess old cards with a history, you often need to look at that history to see the problems inherent.

Opinion: Commander Takes, Pt. 1 - "Magic: The Gathering"
Source: Wizards of the Coast

Does Sensei's Divining Top get a pass because it's a colorless card and thus can go into any deck, or despite that? After all, the card generates more value than, say, Recurring Nightmare, which you may know offhand is a banned card because it's so hard to actually stop (and yet costs mana and cards in hand to make use of). The Top also nets you cards as it leaves play, on top of (heh) fixing your draws basically for the rest of the game.

Do cards like this have a place in Commander? Honestly, yes, but Wizards has to make sure to keep that toned down a bit. We can't all have a Yawgmoth's Bargain in Vilis, Broker of Blood, but that doesn't mean we all should.

Take: Commander is great with cards that generate value, but future cards should be heavily-monitored by Development.

Part 2 Incoming!

I'm apt to write out this series in its entirety during all of today and tomorrow, loyal readers. Expect five parts, maybe more if more issues arise that I'd like to discuss. In writing drafts for this series, I think my bases are covered, but I'll let you know. Till next time!

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About Joshua Nelson

Josh Nelson is a Magic: The Gathering deckbuilding savant, a self-proclaimed scholar of all things Sweeney Todd, and, of course, a writer for Bleeding Cool. In their downtime, Josh can be found painting models, playing Magic, or possibly preaching about the horrors and merits of anthropophagy. You can find them on Twitter at @Burning_Inquiry for all your burning inquiries.
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