Hello all! Long time reader, first time contributor here at Strictly Average MTG. As a new set is upon us, this is the best time to review our favorite cards of the set and compare them to older staples of the format. These are my top 10 favorite commander cards from Guilds of Ravnica.
Honorable Mention – Circuitous Route
As there are so many great cards in the set, I’ll start by cheating and including a virtual number eleven, which we’ll call my Honorable Mention. This honor goes to Circuitous Route. This card easily qualifies as one of the best mana ramp and color-fixing cards for budget decks. Easily slotted into three, four, and five color decks playing budget duals, specifically Gates. This card compares well with Skyshroud Claim, itself one of the best mana ramp and fixing cards ever printed. Circuitous Route can even fetch up two gates which contain no green at all!
Number Ten – Discovery and Dispersal:
In a Ravnica set, it’s practically a requirement that a hybrid card and split card be included on a top-ten list. In this case, we’re lucky enough to be able to include both in one card, Discovery and Dispersal. This versatile card allows you to cantrip early in the game, while fixing the top of the top of the library and stocking the graveyard, all for two mana. Discovery is like format staples Preordain and Ponder, but with incredible upside; and that is just the first half of the card. Then, Dispersal adds an incredible removal option, hitting each opponent much like Crackling Doom. It works as permanent removal for opponents who may be empty handed, and works at instant speed!
Number Nine – Crush Contraband:
Commander is really a format of threats, answers, and resources. To end up on top at the end, you need to ensure that you preserve your resources with your answers. This is a roundabout way of saying that two for ones, three for ones, etc. allow you to stay ahead on resources, while dealing with your opponents’ threats. Crush Contraband splashes into multicolored decks better than Return to Dust, while allowing you to hit two targets at any time, removing the timing restriction of the latter card.
Number Eight – Citywide Bust:
Citywide Bust, the new Retribution of the Meek, gives low-lying decks a new option for creating an asymmetrical board sweeper. At only three mana, it’s as aggressively costed as possible, and even has an advantage over Retribution. Using power boosting buffs, like Cranial Plating, Sword of Vengeance, and Hammer of Nazahn, you can make Citywide Bust vastly superior to Retribution of the Meek.
Number Seven – Bounty Agent:
I’m beginning to wonder if the rest of the list will be all white cards – Editor
Not to worry, we’ll be taking a break from white for a bit after this. Bounty Agent is a unique bear, which allows you to remove opposing commanders, while also targeting some of the best artifacts and enchantments in the game. Feel free to target classics like Umezawa’s Jitte and Akroma’s Memorial, as well as new favorites like Helm of the Host and the two full cycles of Legendary Enchantments from Ixalan block. This little two-drop works like a Mangara of Corondor “light.” While the colon is in the wrong place for the crazy shenanigans that are possible with Mangara, Bounty Agent does not exile itself. In the right deck it can act as recursive removal.
Number Six – Omnispell Adept:
Cheating mana costs is among the most powerful things you can do in the game of Magic. Omnispell Adept allows for an incredible rate on casting instants and sorceries (without timing restrictions). You even get to cast massive spells like Apex of Power from your hand for the mana bonus, while also capitalizing on the trigger from Sunbird’s Invocation. The possibilities are truly endless. Pair the adept with the likes of Rings of Brighthearth, Illusionist Bracers, Training Grounds, and Thousand-Year Elixir to really go crazy.
Number Five– Assassin’s Trophy
Like a few of the other cards on our list, it’s difficult to explain how amazing you’re about to find Assassin’s Trophy. Much has been said about how Assassin’s Trophy will impact Standard, Modern, and even Legacy, as possibly the best removal spell ever printed. A card with that kind of pedigree will likely leave an impact on Commander as well. Unlike the recently printed premier removal spell, Fatal Push, Assassin’s Trophy is not hampered by a drawback uniquely unsuited for Commander play. Assassin’s Trophy is simply the best single target removal in this format, trimming off a mana from Vindicate, while accelerating to instant speed.
Number Four – Mausoleum Secrets
Rather than explain how Mausoleum Secrets is better than cards currently in the format, I want to point out that of the two best tutors ever printed in Magic’s history, neither is strictly better than this card. Mausoleum Secrets plays like a combination of the best aspects of Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor, adding two drawbacks that are hardly drawbacks in Commander. Mausoleum Secrets can tutor, at instant speed, Countersquall, Assassin’s Trophy (!), various combo pieces, and my personal favorite options, Notion Thief and Tainted Strike.
Number Three – Mission Briefing
Mission Briefing will most likely be slotted into decks a somewhat budget version of Snapcaster Mage. Rather than detailing how similar it is to one of the best two-drop creatures of all time, I’m going to focus on the reasons it is better than Snapcaster. First, surveil allows you to add to the options of spells to copy. This allows you to dig for answers, even if you do not have one available. Second, in a spell-focused deck, Mission Briefing allows you to build towards your critical mass of spells, add counters to Primal Amulet, get copied by Fork, and even be flashbacked by Snapcaster Mage … seriously. Third, and the coolest advantage that Mission Briefing provides, is hidden in the wording. Since one of the two cards you can mill over with the surveil ability are available for casting, the spell itself does not target like Snapcaster Mage. This means that by the time you name the card you intend to flash back, you can retain priority and cast the spell, preventing an opponent from using their Deathrite Shaman, or other targeted graveyard hate to fizzle your spell.
Number Two – Divine Visitation
Divine Visitation single handedly adds a new win condition to every white based token deck. Multicolored commanders that include white and create token creatures include Edgar Markov, Ghave, Guru of Spores, and Rhys the Redeemed. These guys are already top-tier commanders. Changing their text to creating Serra Angels as their tokens is just silly. Serra Angel is not a playable card in commander, but if you can efficiently create four or more of them per turn, you will win plenty of games.
Number One – Doom Whisperer
If Lilliana signed a contract with five demons, I would be talking about Ugtharod, and how he is almost as game breaking as Razaketh, the Foulblooded. The craziest part of Doom Whisperer is at only five mana, it will likely be cast from hand more often than reanimated from the graveyard, and without the assistance of Cabal Coffers. Now, I’m not saying that Doom Whisperer is better than Razaketh, but it does have its advantages. Doom Whisperer fixes the top of your deck and fills your graveyard. It does not even need a second creature in play to sacrifice for the cost. That ability, combined with a 6/6 flying, trampling demon, at only five mana, makes it my favorite card of Guilds of Ravnica.
I am beyond excited about the new additions to my favorite format. As always, we never know the precise impact of the new cards we add to our decks until we get to play them, but I have a feeling several cards from Guilds of Ravnica will make a lasting impact on my decks and on our format as a whole. Let me know below which cards are your favorite from the new set. I did not even mention popular and exciting cards including Underrealm Lich, Thousand-Year Storm, and Beast Whisperer, so let me hear your worst.
Joshua is a family man and EDH player. He started playing during fourth edition, and after a long hiatus, returned during Innistrad block. EDH quickly became his favorite format.