Today’s Commander article is going to be a response piece
to the last Command Tower article
written by Adam Styborski. Last week, Stybs went through one of the cards he
thought should be banned in Commander and then highlighted some of the cards we
readers want to banish. I’ll be going through each of the cards talked about
and giving my two cents regarding their ban-worthy status. Nothing complicated.
Just keep reading. Go. Do it. Now.
Come Sail Away
The card Stybs would like to see banned is Deadeye
Navigator. He talks about harmonic
synergy, the way in which Deadeye Navigator makes thing more powerful just
by existing. Literally any card with an enter-the-battlefield ability gets
better with it around, and it helps other creatures dodge targeted removal.
Without mass removal, trying to take out a Deadeye Navigator is like trying to
choke an eel.
I agree with Stybs that the card is unhealthy for
Commander. It’s not a card that can be easily outmaneuvered with the social
contract; if you use Deadeye Navigator, eventually you’ll break a game. Even if
you just blink an Ondu Giant, you’ll pull out such a massive advantage over
everyone else. There’s no way to actually use Deadeye Navigator that doesn’t
set you on the game-breaking path. Stybs’s solution was to not play with it,
which should be the solution for everyone.
X Marks the Spot
Two cards set a player’s life total to 10: Sorin Markov
and Magister Sphinx. They’re expensive for regular constructed formats where
you will probably have a player’s life below 10 by the time you hit six or seven
mana. But in Commander, these cards come down fast, blow out 75% of your life,
and pretty much make you dead on the next attack. That’s not fun.
Worse yet, it’s very easy to find and recur a Magister
Sphinx. If one card in this pair should get banned, that’s the one. Sorin
Markov is only fringe playable in a lifegain archetype anyway, its only real
purpose being the middle ability.
Does their raw power earn these cards a place on the ban
list? Probably. Sway of the Stars and Worldfire are there for a similar reason,
and I think it’s a little hypocritical for some cards that set low life totals
to be banned while others are not.
Every Turn is My
Prophet of Kruphix
Two related cards are Prophet of Kruphix and Seedborn
Muse. Each one lets you untap your lands and creatures on other players’ turns,
cramming extra value down everyone else’s throat. Each card comes with its own
caveat. Prophet lets you cast creature spells whenever (read as: never on your
own turn), while the Muse untaps your artifacts too. Each card sends you down a
dangerously degenerate path, with the Prophet the clearly more powerful option.
Are they ban-worthy? Certainly Prophet of Kruphix has to
be talked about. It’s a purveyor of harmonic synergy itself; if you play creatures,
it makes your deck supremely better. Seedborn Muse is less abusable, usually
letting you to things with activated abilities only. “Only.”
I can see myself in a future where Prophet of Kruphix is
banned. I’m not sure Seedborn Muse is worth excommunicating along with it.
After all, you can social contract out a lot of the Muse’s power, especially
when it comes to including abilities in a deck. I think forcing players to add
a second card to the combo to reach Prophet of Kruphix’s is enough to keep
Seedborn Muse legal.
I agree with Stybs that the final card submitted to the
article isn’t worthy of a ban. Mana Reflection is an excellent card, there’s no
doubting that. It’s very powerful, and that’s part of why I don’t mind it. If a
player has the gall to cast a Mana Reflection, they have to be prepared to have
it blown up almost immediately.
And let’s look at Mana Reflection for a moment. It
doubles your mana. That’s it. It doesn’t protect itself, it doesn’t protect
anything else, it doesn’t generate card advantage, and the tempo advantage is a
trap. It’s tempting to just dump your hand onto the battlefield after sticking
a Mana Reflection, but Wrath of God is much
cheaper than whatever it is you just did. Mana Reflection enables you to
overextend your hand, which isn’t something you really want to do.
Without massive card draw, Mana Reflection doesn’t do a
whole lot for its controller. If they’re still only casting one or two spells a
turn, then where’s the broken part of this card? It needs card draw and
haymakers in order to make anything near a broken play. Its combo potential is
far too fragile, baring Basalt Monolith shenanigans.
The Green Mile
For the most part, the Commander community knows what’s
bah-roken and what’s simply just powerful. Deadeye Navigator, Sorin Markov,
Magister Sphinx, and Prophet of Kruphix are top contenders for the ban list. I
think Seedborn Muse can squeak buy, and Mana Reflection is fine as it is. I’m
surprised Derevi wasn’t mentioned in Stybs’s article, as her status on the
French Commander ban list surely should bring her name up for the rest of the
Until next time, planeswalkers, may you get away with
your heinous crimes before the rules committee comes and shuts you down.