The yearly Commander pre-constructed deck releases for Magic: The Gathering have become a staple of the game. With the upcoming release of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, the latest decks come with an interesting twist. All five Commanders will be from Ikoria, the plane from the newest set. Now, Gavin Verhay, Senior Designer and Writer for Magic: The Gathering, has released previews of the five newest three-color commanders.
Welcome to Ikoria
Each of these commanders is unique because, while the commanders all depict characters from Ikoria, they will not be included in the standard set. Verhay outlines Wizards’ key design philosophies in his article, where he also announces the return of the smash-hit Partner mechanic.
Good morning, Magic players! We are officially IN #MTGIkoria preview season! To kick it off, I run through all 5 new Commander decks and what they do… Plus, talk about an important reprint in them! (Want more? See my DailyMTG article: https://t.co/emzq36ltsk)#wotcstaff pic.twitter.com/cS7NABaTNT
— Gavin Verhey (@GavinVerhey) April 3, 2020
Gavi, Nest Warden – Timeless Wisdom
The first spoiler is the Jeskai commander Gavi, Nest Warden. Cycling has returned in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths after its most recent appearance in Ahmonket block, and Gavi is a new commander based around enabling lots of cycling.
Gavi’s first ability allows you to cycle the first card for free every turn. This could prove very powerful when paired with cards that have additional effects upon cycling, like Nimble Obstructionist. It also pairs well with cards that allow you to cycle a card multiple times, notably Abandoned Sarcophagus. Gavi looks like a powerful tool for tempo decks, enabling players to gain card selection and a board presence simultaneously.
Jirina Kudro – Ruthless Regiment
Jirina Kudro is the new Mardu commander, and she represents more support for human tribal commander decks. Verhay notes that, up until now, there was no dedicated commander tribal that actually had the creature type ‘Human’. Jirina serves as Wizards’ remedy to that issue.
With 3/3, an effective enter the battlefield ability, and a very powerful offensive anthem ability, it’s hard to argue with the sheer cost efficiency of this creature. Jirina helps compensate for one of the weaknesses of Human tribal decks, too, allowing them to recover from multiple board wipes more easily with more tokens every time you cast her.
Kathril, Aspect Warper – Symbiotic Swarm
Kathril, Aspect Warper, the new Abzan commander, is one of Ikoria’s newest mechanics turned up to 11. Ikoria has introduced the concept of keyword counters – counters that function like the classic -1/-1 and +1/+1 counters but instead grant keywords such as flying, trample, or others. Kathril continues the tradition of similarly colored commanders caring about the graveyard. It takes keywords from creatures in your graveyard and spreads them across your whole team. No doubt, this card will show up in Commander circles for years to come.
Otrimi, the Ever-Playful – Enhanced Evolution
Otrimi, the Ever-Playful, the newest commander from the color shard of Sultai, highlights one of Ikoria‘s keystone mechanics: Mutate. Much like Bestow from Theros, this allows creatures to combine, forming one enormous beast to trample your opponents with. With a huge power, great Mutate cost, and the ability to recur other Mutate creatures from your graveyard, Otrimi is clearly the go-to general for players looking to build around this newest mechanic.
Kalamax, the Stormsire – Arcane Maelstrom
The final deck, belonging to the Temur shard, features the enormous storm dinosaur Kalamax, the Stormsire, who helps you copy spells and grows in size as you do. Kalamax is an interesting turn in Commander design because most spell-oriented commanders have mechanics that care about instants or sorceries. Kalamax focuses entirely on instants, which lends itself to the instant-speed focused colors in Temur.
As more is revealed about the upcoming MTG Commander decks, stay tuned to Daily Esports for more updates.