Everyone Starts Their First Adventure a Little Green
Last time we visited the Forgotten Realms, we were treated to a set geared towards the standard format of a core set slot. Now we get to see what Wizards can come up with when the “Standard” gloves are off and the more open and flexible “Commander” gloves come on. Let's see what happens when we smash Commander Legends and the world of Baldur's Gate together. Take the initiative with me and explore the green cards of the set and see what Treasures we can uncover!
After seeing that the red Dragon made Treasures, I waited with baited breath to learn what this Dragon was going to do. Taking a look at the card, we see that its base stats are good: a seven-mana 7/7 with flying is absolutely nothing to sneeze at. Interestingly, for the first time ever we see the Elder creature type without a legendary clause attached to it.
Moving right on over to that “Roll a d20” ability, being able to put up to 20 +1/+1 counters on two different creatures is indeed very good. Not only can you grow your own creatures, but if you have goaded another player's creature, you can give it a nice healthy boost before it goes into combat. Obviously the downside is that it’s almost uncontrollable and random on exactly how many counters you're going to be putting on creatures. On top of that, you have to deal combat damage to a player, though with a flyer that isn’t too hard of a task. Regardless, it's on every hit, so going just by averages, that's 11 (rounded up from 10.5) counters per creature per hit! Don’t even get me started on what would happen if this Dragon gains double strike.
The usual suspects for +1/+1 counter synergies would love this card, like, , , and everyone’s favourite four-color monstrosity, . Dragon commanders, like and , would love this card in the 99, but that's also true for most five-color legendary Dragons. An underplayed commander that would enjoy this is another Elder Dragon herself, . Seeing as CLB has a Temur Dragon archetype, I could see this commander receiving some much-needed love.
Almost immediately this started being compared to thefrom which it gets its name. At eight mana, goes five cards deep, as opposed to a number of cards equal to (one of) your commander's mana value. With that information in hand, we know if you have a commander that's five mana value or greater, you've already hit that comparison level. Another notch in this card's favor is that if you Cascade into this, X will never be zero. Cascading into this from an sounds really good, compared to doing so with , which sounds really bad.
Big dino-commandersand would love thisl, as it digs at least eight cards (or in Zacama’s case nine!) deep and gets them free permanents and, more importantly, more dinos! Speaking of Dinosaurs, was on everyone’s mind when this card was previewed, and for good reason: eight mana gets you 12 cards deep, which is a great return on investment. Something that folks might miss that definitely puts this card over the top is it doesn’t care about the mana value of the cards you reveal off the top, you just get all permanents revealed! Landfall decks will definitely appreciate this, like , , and to name a few big mana value commanders. Last thing, not to mention the giant Dragon in the room, will absolutely love this card and all of the Dragons it brings along with it.
What’s a good adventure without a? This is a very interesting card; it gives your opponents the option to keep going and perpetuate the fighting, but it unfortunately also gives your opponents the choice of who to fight, which is this card’s downfall. For two mana, this is a simple fight spell with a potential upside, though the inability to target anyone but the person to your left really makes this card hard to slot into a lot of decks. The "fighting" commander would absolutely make good use of this card; she rewards you for starting the rumble royale. Man at back said everyone attack, and it turned into a !
What ifwas a terrifying Dragon? This is what that looks like. Kinda. Caring only about the mana value of Dragons you control is what sets this flying lizard apart from its ground-based counterpart. The fact that you can bring it back to your hand by paying 3 and sacrificing a land is gravy, reminiscent of . Getting up to a total mana value of 14 with your Dragons may be a little challenging in the early game, but in the mid to late game getting to play this for five mana or less and you’re laughing! (and basically every other Dragon commander than can play green) would very much appreciate this big beefy beater in the 99. A throwback to Commander Legends, but turns this into a Cascade for 14, which then can Cascade into, say, an , perhaps? Fun fact, this is the first creature we have seen with 14 in its casting cost!
The neat thing about these commanders that have Choose a Background is that they have flexibility in what kind of deck you want to build with them. If you were to givethe Background of , you could make a Golgari aristocrats deck, taking advantage of your tokens to ramp you into more tokens, a similar strategy to , which coincidentally is a commander that would like Jaheira in the 99. points Jaheira towards a Gruul -style deck. Jaheira’s typing is especially interesting if you decide to go a Selesnya route with a Background like or , meaning she can start dipping into Human tribal synergies, alongside Elf synergies, taking full flavor advantage of Magic’s “half-Elf” typing. Of course, to make the most of Jaheira’s token synergies, she’s more at home with the green Backgrounds and . With green making so many Treasures nowadays, Jaheira can help keep those around by letting you tap them for green without having to destroy them, and not only Treasures, but Food and Clues too! and are some solid green cards for Clue production, and are the same but with Food. Now that we’ve mentioned the trifecta of noncreature artifacts, we have summoned the infamous and heralded . For decks that Jaheira can slot into, token strategies are a given, so commanders like , , and the more recent would use her well. Another commander that would very much like Jaheira is a commander from this very set? .
In the ever-growing suite of “fogs” that reward you, we have been given the most green version of them. not only protects you, it also ramps you depending on how big the army attacking you is. The more creatures that attack you, the better, so knowing when to deploy it is the real test. With only two attacking creatures, it's quite literally a fog stapled onto an , meaning anything more than two creatures attacking you and this is giving more than what you put in. In decks like , , and other land-centric decks, this ramp-fog becomes a ramp-fog-card draw spell! Not as mana-efficient as , but it allows you to bounce back and potentially get ahead with all your newly acquired lands.
From a spell that ramps to a spell that “punishes” opponents for ramping.is as cute as it is ferocious, and with an ability to spit out a creature from the top eight cards of your library, it makes even blush. The only probablem is that it has to attack to trigger, and, well, a 3/3 isn’t the most intimidating stat block. May I suggest the baby owlbear not go into the combat zone without its ? That is, of course, if you want it to stay alive; and wouldn’t care too much seeing this pop into the graveyard. Cheating big creatures into play is what green was built for; with this ability and , you can potentially get two free permanents on the battlefield. Stick this in a deck and feel free to swing knowing that with two mana you can bring it right back if it dies. ]
Now, saying all these lovely things about this little baby is fine and all, but there is one stipulation that doesn’t allow this owlbear to truly spread its wings: the opponent you’re attacking has to have eight or more lands. If you have this out in a pod of decks that don’t ramp as well, you’re gonna have a bad time, though if you're sneaky enough to put this out turn three/four, your opponents may forget about this little 3/3, allowing you to go in for the kill!
One of only three green cards that takes the initiative,is an interesting mana dork to say the least. For four mana, you get a mana producer that has vigilance; in the event that you lose the initiative, you can swing with this adventurer to try and get it back and still be able to tap it for mana. Looking at the other ability that cares about you completing a dungeon allowing you to add six green, green hasn’t really been known to explore dungeons all the frequently or reliably, so the number of times you’ll get six mana is very low. Its typing makes it relevant for decks that care about Warriors, so and are solid choices.
, , , ,
I thought I would do all of the Backgrounds all at once, very much like you would see them when creating a character in Dungeons and Dragons!
Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate has a Temur Dragon archetype, making this a great piece to start the embers of a Dragon deck.and will give you some interesting options for Dragon tribal commander decks. Speaking of Renari, they allow you to cast Dragon spells at instant speed, so that means the discount given by this Background can be used every turn! As for the 99, this card can slot into , , , and other Dragon tribal decks that play green. Dragon players always love it when their Dragons are cheaper.
As mentioned in this article,would make great use of this Background, as you could go a pure token route, or have fun building a mono-green Squirrel deck. , , and all work specifically with tokens in different ways. Selesnya can generate great token strategies, so there are already a lot of pieces waiting to be slotted in those decks. Of course, the catch with this is that a creature has to be put into your graveyard from anywhere, so - and -type spells are great additions to a deck running the Hermit Background. synergizes quite well by being able to take the tokens made by the enchantment and then turn them into bigger, badder skeletons, to then get more Squirrels!
In the 99 this fits right at home in, as it makes Squirrels for Chatterfang to then eat, which then makes more Squirrels, which then repeats itself ad nauseum. , , and are commanders that would also make solid use out of this enchantment.
has Dethrone without actually having Dethrone. can sneak in and deal a sizable chunk of damage while making something scarier unblockable. doubles up with combat steps to double up the pump received by this Background. Have you ever wanted to make the ultimate Bear-tron deck? Now you can! With , you’ll be able to suit him up and rumble into combat growing him to grizzly proportions. As just an enchantment, , , and would all love this in the 99, especially if they are built to be more Voltron-leaning.
This is the type of Background that goes in the 99 of a lot of decks, so let's start there!with this enchantment on the battlefield makes every creature reduce the cost of the next creature. comes down already Modified and so do all of your other creatures. The Partner commander would absolutely love this card in the 99. Where there’s counters, you’ll find , only now as long as she’s out with that Background, all of your creatures get nice little counters on them to Proliferate. If you have a +1/+1 counter strategy, this fits right in. A few of the legends from CLB that would partner well with this would be , , and .
gives you the opportunity to make your commander bigger than you ever thought possible. For example, is a pretty harmless 2/2 with trample that usually needs an opening to get in and make a couple of Saprolings. With the addition of in the 99, Tana is able to swing in and create more than just a couple Saprolings. is in a similar boat: a 1/1 with indestructible is a lot scarier once it becomes a 10/10 with indestructible. Looking back to the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander Decks, gets a nice little boost, which gives you a little bit more mana; anyone? An interesting “partner” to is , giving you at least ten mana to cast those spells from exile, graveyard, or to activate abilities; that’s a lot! A couple of green stompy commanders in and pair nicely with this, and turns into a hasty 10/10 that could draw you up to three cards if you so desire? Sign me up! Talk about really leaning into the "Gruul smash" mindset.
Uncommons and Commons
There's a cycle of Dragons in this set that you send off on adventures and they do a fun thing. The green one is the most interesting, being a limited, and giving green access to a very blue mechanic. This is the first mono-green card to have this ability without having any blue attached to it, giving it a lot of flexibility in terms of what decks it can see play in. A solid piece for a control build, and come to mind. Being an adventure spell that's also attached to a 4/4 flying trampler doesn’t hurt, so would like to have it, but the times you’ll copy it will vary.
Being a 3/3 for three mana with deathtouch makesa force that folks may be very wary to block, so triggering their ability will be easier than one might expect. Being able to take lands out of the graveyard is very helpful, especially lands like , , and . Not as reliable as a or a , but they can still get the job done. Pairing them up with gives you card selection and the ability to go and grab lands from the graveyard that you put in there with the Background. In the 99, can do a lot of work in , , and .
The second green card that gives you the initiative that I’ll talk about is. A direct comparison is ; for one mana more this spell allows you to take the initiative and explore the Undercity. In that sense, it gives more than that spell, but with the addition of all of these Gates in CLB, this becomes a staple in decks that care about getting gates. On top of that, a lot of very budget mana bases would love a card like this to help fix their mana more reliably. In a world where we are getting more and more three-color commanders, affordable and beneficial mana fixing is incredibly appreciated.
As a commander,cares about one thing and one thing only: Dragons. No, you don’t understand: Skanos needs Dragons. Like, everywhere: on the battlefield, in the graveyard, in your hand to cast later, if it has anything to do with Dragons, Skanos wants it. As of right now, there are a total of 19 (almost half of them appearing in this set) mono-green Dragons, so Skanos will need an appropriate Background in order to field an ample numbe of Dragons. , , and would be the best fits for Skanos. Of course, this card also fits into decks as it also cares about Dragons in the graveyard.
A branch off of the ol’tree, works similarly but with a few obvious differences. One, you get to know and subsequently pick the cards that you present to your opponent. Two, the pile you don’t pick still goes back into your graveyard for later use. Three, as opposed to the aforementioned , this operates at sorcery speed and thus can’t be used at the end of someone’s turn. It only costs one more mana than and will more times than not get you more cards back. has utility in decks like and . and will have their abilities trigger if certain permanents hit the graveyard upon resolution of the spell, and in the case of , he also triggers when creatures leave the graveyard. If you were planning on playing in your deck, this card is definitely for you.
is a suped-up Bear that can’t be countered, and when it lands it’s difficult to get rid of; what else is there to say? The easiest go-to strategy for Wilson is a Voltron-style build, so including cards like , , and (which is getting a reprint in this set) are great picks for him. If you choose to go in that direction, the Backgrounds and are top picks for sure to pair with Wilson. Whichever Background you pair him with opens up the options for what you can enchant, Equip and/or use to give Wilson a boost. As a card for the 99, Wilson fits right at home in the queen of Bears herself, . What decks does belong in? Any one he dang well pleases.
Green this time around received some support in areas where green hasn’t had a lot of support in the past (e.g., Dragons). We also saw some awesome mythics and interesting Backgrounds to try out with the new legends of this set. What green cards are you looking forward to? Let us know down below, and make sure you check out the other reviews here on Commander’s Herald and at EDHREC!