Opinion: Commander Takes, Pt. 2 – "Magic: The Gathering"

Welcome! If you are looking for Part One of this series, you can find that over here.

Are you tired of the same old lines of play from Commander pub-stompers and their overly-competitive decks? Well, chances are that if you're tired of them, so are a fair few others. This series, as I'd mentioned in my last part, deals with the many hot takes that Magic: The Gathering players have about cards in the Commander format, and how my thoughts align with those thoughts. I'm not dealing with meta-issues such as the Commander RC, the CAG, the DCI, R&D, or any other acronym-ed Magic organizations (besides EDH and MTG as a whole), nor am I talking about social issues in here (Rule Zero aside… potentially). Bearing this in mind, let us begin!

Opinion: Commander Takes, Pt. 2 – "Magic: The Gathering"
Source: Wizards of the Coast

#8. Countermagic

Don't you just love when you cast a huge, game-ending spell, only to have it get countered by a player with two Islands available? If you do, I'm sorry to say but you might want to move on to number seven because number eight on my list (continuing from my last segment) deals with countermagic.

This isn't about physical counters, mind you (although I have some choice words for people playing Ghave, Guru of Spores!), but counterspells… like Counterspell.

Opinion: Commander Takes, Pt. 2 – "Magic: The Gathering"
Source: Wizards of the Coast

Let's face it – we don't like not being able to play Magic when we sit down to play Magic. It's just a fundamental truth – if you are looking to do something, and that's the plan, you probably wouldn't like a plan of yours to go awry. Sadly that's exactly the point of countermagic – to make plans go horribly awry. Yes, that's a link to a literal counterspell called Horribly Awry.

The social aspects of this game call for some political plays, and sometimes countermagic can help justify those socio-political bonds, I guess. But overall, a card like Pact of Negation just feels painful to see on the other side of the board, as does a Force of Will. And Force of Negation… Man, Wizards of the Coast needs some more ideas for names if they want to continue printing these kinds of cards.

Opinion: Commander Takes, Pt. 2 – "Magic: The Gathering"
Source: Wizards of the Coast

So my take here is pretty simple:

Take: Countermagic has a time and a place, but I don't think it's in Commander, especially if the countermagic is free. Leave that to Vintage.

#7. Cyclonic Rift

"Wait," I hear you type on your laptops, phones, and tablets. "Why do a whole segment on one card?" Well, this is why these Commander takes are hot. If you disagree with me, that's fine but I have a feeling my opinions here are pretty widepsread.

Anyway, Cyclonic Rift. Where to begin? The card is already quite strong at two mana, being able to bounce a nonland permanent. But the kicker is in its Overload cost – wherein everything that each opponent controls leaves play and goes to the hand. Honestly, if you're casting this spell, chances are that nobody wanted it to resolve except for you and you alone.

Opinion: Commander Takes, Pt. 2 – "Magic: The Gathering"
Source: Wizards of the Coast

My take on this is also as simple as the last one, and actually directly correlates to it.

Take: If you let an overloaded Cyclonic Rift resolve, you deserve to lose. This card is the reason I am okay with cheap counterspells, so long as they're not free. However, it's a cheap card and makes a win hollow. It can theoretically cause a social "rift" in your friend group, too (see what I did there?). It's the Monopoly of Magic: The Gathering.

Opinion: Commander Takes, Pt. 2 – "Magic: The Gathering"
Source: Wizards of the Coast

Part #3 Tomorrow!

I hope you're enjoying my takes on Commander's problem-cards. I am going to have more for you tomorrow, March 3rd. Keep the discussion going in the comment section, if you so desire to! 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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