Commander 2021 Review - Witherbloom Witchcraft

Dana Roach • April 16, 2021

Witherbloom Command by Dmitry Burmak

More Commander 2021 Reviews

Lorehold Legacies | Prismari Performance | Quantum Quandrix | Silverquill Statement

You can find all five Commander 2021 decklists here.

Commander 2021 - Witherbloom Witchcraft

New Witherbloom Commanders

Willowdusk, Essence Seer

Willowdusk, Essence Seer is an interesting commander that is probably going to require you to jump through too many hoops to be really effective. The sorcery restriction means you can't do surprise combat tricks as either as an attacker or a blocker. This means that without haste it's going to take a full turn to start working. Perhaps most importantly, as a commander it's just demanding a lot of slots in your deck; cards that lose or gain a significant amount of life along the lines of Grim Feast or Bolas's Citadel, cards that let you untap Willowdust like Instill Energy or copy the ability like Rings of Brighthearth, plus the usual +1 counter enablers like Doubling Season or Solidarity of Heroes.

As the head of your deck, Willowdusk feels like it wants you to  jam 120 cards into 100 slots. That kind of thing always makes for a frustrating brew. I like the lifegain space Witherbloom is playing in, but I think it's going to be a lot of work to really take advantage of it. That said, restrictions also breed creativity, and Willowdusk might be the kind of commander that shines when people get inventive.

Gyome, Master Chef

Gyome, Master Chef finally gives us a Food commander! No longer do your memes have to be dreams. He does it pretty well too. For starters, he's going to make a Food the turn he enters the battlefield. It's always nice to have a commander that triggers something of value on cast. In this case so as long as you have at least one free colorless mana you have the means to give him indestructible. That's always useful.  He also interacts quite nicely with Cauldron Familiar as well.

There's a lot of ETB shenanigans possible here, like Myr Retriever and Scrap Trawler loops via cards like Semblance Anvil to reduce costs, and cards like Marionette Master or even just Blood Artist effects, etc. It's also a flavor win with the Master Chef making a larger meal the more students show up. That's just fun. Unfortunately there aren't effects in the black and green color pairing that deal damage based on the number of artifacts you control.

Tivash, Gloom Summoner

Tivash, Gloom Summoner is a value machine, and like Gyome it has a chance to trigger the turn it comes into play. It also probably has a home in the actual Willowdusk, Essence Seer deck as well as in Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose and Oloro, Ageless Ascetic builds. Unfortunately as a commander you lack the token doubling you'd have access to if the commander had green in the cost, leaving you to make just a single token a turn absent something like Strionic Resonator to copy the triggered ability. Just incidentally generating value evasive bodies when your lifegain deck gains life is hyper efficient though. That's enough to ensure Tivah will see plenty of play even if it is mostly in the 99 as opposed to atop a deck.

Yedora, Grave Gardener

Yedora, Grave Gardener also plays quite nicely with both the multi-colored commanders from this set, and Mina and Denn, Wildborn get a lot of extra utility out of their ability to bounce lands to hand when those lands are flipped creatures that can then be recast, and the same is true of Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar. Outside those commanders, cards like Quirion Ranger and Scryb Ranger also give you wants to bounce the land to replay it, and Living Twister can bounce it with the land it makes. Maybe best of all, Sakura-Tribe Elder functionally gets you two lands for two mana; the one it fetches up, and it itself becomes one when it hits the yard.

There's also a lot of combo potential here. Any kind of persistent effect that makes your lands into creatures just generates a loop. Throw in an Altar of Dementia and mill everyone out, or generate infinite mana with a Ashnod's Altar. You can also generate infinite landfall triggers which can win in any amount of ways. There's just a lot of options here if combo is your scene.

New Witherbloom Rares

Blight Mound

Blight Mound looks very attractive for decks rolling graveyards, or who care about death triggers. Teysa Karlov or Teysa, Orzhov Scion both come to mind. Those style decks often lean heavily into Grave Pact-style effects, and having your sacrificed bodies make more bodies to sacrifice is stellar. It's also more tokens to couple with Anointed Procession or turn to angels with Divine Visitation. Enchantments are also hard to remove which is a plus, and being able to attack with a 2/1 pest swarm with evasion is also quite useful.

Blossoming Bogbeast

Blossoming Bogbeast is this set's version of Pathbreaker Ibex. It requires a little more outside help to beat Ibex's stats, but even with no added lifegain it is a repeatable Overcome on a stick. That is maybe enough to see play in go-wide decks even if they don't run added lifegain synergy. If they are gaining life though, it's molten fire. Commanders like Trostani, Selesnya's Voice can't wait for this to show up. It also makes cards like Momentous Fall better than they already were.

Essence Pulse

Essence Pulse is unexciting outside any of the Witherbloom lifegain decks. Even in a mono-black deck with lifegain synergy like Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose, cards like Mutilate are just going to be more consistent as a board wipe. Lifegain commanders like Oloro have access to white and black's suite of more versatile board-clearing cards. If you just want it to sweep out weenies, cards like Infest or Golden Demise are more efficient. There's new decks it will show up in, but most people probably aren't going to be adding it to existing lists.

Ezzaroot Channeler

At first glance Ezzaroot Channeler looks like a great support card in Hydra tribal decks. Is it though? There are 49 Hydras legal in commander, and only 19 have an X in the mana cost. Only two have baked-in means to gain life: Hydroid Krasis and Lifeblood Hydra. You'd need some density of lifegain in a your deck to use this, and I doubt most decks have it. Adding enough would require another handful of changes. I'm not sure that it's worth altering a deck that much just for a card you may only see every fifth game.

Healing Technique

Healing Technique feels pretty boring unless you're going hard on the lifegain, or are going hard on keeping everyone's graveyard empty. Regrowth and Eternal Witness both do the greedy version of this better with less work. Skullwinder also exists if you want the political version of this effect. It's fine, but it feels a lot like the kind of card someone will cast in 2024 and you'll comment about how you forgot it existed.

Marshland Bloodcaster

Marshland Bloodcaster gives your spells an alternate cost of 1B on a tap ability. That can save you plenty of mana, though as an alternate cost it stops things like overload or X spells. It is a cast effect, so you do still get cast triggers, and that's nice. It honestly feels a little narrow, though there are certainly decks with a density of high-cost spells that will want it. Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge or Rakdos, Lord of Riots for example could use it as a backup plan. That said, if I never see this used effectively I won't be surprised; it just feels niche.

Pest Infestation

With Pest Infestation green gets its own better Release the Gremlins. Three mana destroys a target and makes two pests, five destroys two and makes four, seven destroys three and makes six, etc. That's pretty decent value if you don't want to run sweepers. I doubt it's going to replace Bane of Progress as a way to remove things en masse. Reclamation Sage and Krosan Grip for more surgical removal will keep their slots too. I expect it will find a home mostly in decks that cares about small token bodies like Ghave, Guru of Spores.

Revival Experiment

Revival Experiment feels like the utility card that winds up being expensive down the road. Obzedat's Aid is a very good card that sees play in 1,300 decks on EDHREC, and for one mana more Revival Experiment is five copies of Obzedat's Aid. Yeah, Season's Past exists in green, but it doesn't put the card into play. I'd much rather pay some life than pay the mana to recast everything most of the time.

Sproutback Trudge

Sproutback Trudge feels a little like a Dollar General version of Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. Hogaak, for all the terror it wrought on other formats, was never an EDH all-star. I'm not sure a neutered version will be either. Are there decks where you're going to be able to play it consistently as a 9/7 for GG? Yes. Is it playable outside the decks where you can do that consistently? Eh, probably not. There's better big beaters in green unless your deck has a ton of lifegain woven into the fabric. Still, in decks where you're able to play and replay it regularly it's really good.

Trudge Garden

Trudge Garden is a semi-passive enchantment with a decent payoff in a lifegain deck like Trostani, Selesnya's Voice. It requires your two mana, but two mana to create a trampling 4/4 is value. This is especially true in the colors with access to most of the token doubling tech in the format. And hey, what do you know, Ashnod's Altar just happens to generate two mana when you sacrifice a pest to it, and that sacrificed pest will gain you the life that lets you spend the mana to make the beast. Throw in some aristocrats and you got yourself a stew.

Witch's Clinic

Note that Witch's Clinic just says commander, and not commander creature. A commander that isn't a creature like a Purphoros, God of the Forge without devotion or a planeswalker commander should still get the effect. Like Duelist's Heritage you can also target other commanders controlled by other players if that is ever beneficial. Horobi, Death's Wail pilots will probably take another kill condition on a land. It's also solid utility in a deck where the commander wants you to lose life like K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth. Last it makes you way less vulnerable to a crack back after a Hatred-style alpha strike.

Veinwitch Coven

Veinwitch Coven feels like a solid utility player. Unlike some of the cards that trigger of gaining life, you don't need a lot of it to really work. Occasionally gaining life is enough to generate value in a tribe like Vampires that have lifegain cooked into their rules text.  There's over 100 Vampires legal in EDH that have some way to gain life, and that's probably accidentally enough. Similarly, most aristocrats decks gain enough without trying to generate the trigger. It also doesn't hurt that it's an efficiently costed 3/3 with evasion.


Witch Commander 2021 Deck to Buy?

All in all, there doesn't seem like a ton of filler here. The cards serve a purpose in this deck and most will find homes somewhere. They're maybe a little niche, but that's not a bad thing. I'm not sure cards like Dockside Extortionist that are an upgrade to any deck that can run it are good for Commander. I'd much rather the quality go wide than tall so we don't get Eye of Doom-style cards that nobody uses.


Dana is one of the hosts of the EDHRECast and the CMDR Central podcasts. He lives in Eau Claire, WI with his wife and son where he has been playing Magic so long he once traded away an Underground Sea for a Nightmare, and was so pleased with the deal he declined a trade-back the following week. He also smells like cotton candy and sunsets.