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Commander: Gatecrash In-Depth Set Review Part I

Gatecrash Prerelease Primer

It’s been a few months now since Gatecrash released onto the unsuspecting world. In those few months, I’ve been playing a LOT of Commander with the new cards. Gatecrash is one of the best sets for Commander in quite a while, so there’s plenty to talk about. In this article, I’ll be going through some of the notable hits and misses of Gatecrash as they pertain to the Commander format, organized by color and guild. There were definitely some doozies in all categories. This article is purely my opinion. If you have any issues with my choices or have additions of your own, tell me about it in the comments below!

White

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Blind Obedience is a wonderful utility enchantment in stall/pillowfort decks. Forcing your opponents’ artifacts and creatures to enter the battlefield tapped prevents them from getting any use out of them that turn, and the Extortion provides you a great way to bleed your opponents and buffer your own position.

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Now we come to a massive disappointment: Luminate Primordial. When the set was first spoiled, the Primordial cycle looked like some of the coolest Commander cards to be released in ages, and for 3 of them it turned out to be true. Luminate Primordial was not one of them. While it looks really cool at first glance, I’ve found that I really can’t justify it in any of the decks I build. Swords to Plowshares (the classic removal spell Luminate Primordial is emulating) is good in part because it only costs one mana and is available at instant speed, neither of which are present here. Multiple Swords attached to a seven CMC body just doesn’t work. Definitely a big old thumbs down.

Blue

I wanted to include Enter the Infinite here, but I’ll be honest and say I’ve never drawn mine, and I’ve never seen someone else use it. I still think it would be awesome, though.

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Diluvian Primordial is one of the coolest cards in Gatecrash for Commander. It’s effect is immediate and can be back-breakingly powerful, depending on what spells your opponents are using. This dependence on your opponents’ spells provides a natural balance as well, making Diluvian Primordial only as powerful as your opponents allow it to be. Add to that a relevant power and toughness on a flying body, and you have an incredibly powerful, but not overpowered card. My figurative hat goes off to Wizards’ R&D department on this one.

53Stolen Identity is yet another in a long line of Clone-style effects. It’s the Cipher ability that makes this one special, however, allowing you to repeatedly get copies of whatever the biggest baddie is at the table at the moment.

Black

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Illness in the ranks is a pretty small and corner case card, but it can be just what you need when playing in a group overrun by GW token decks. A first turn Illness in the Ranks can help protect you from one of the most common deck archetypes and their sometimes insane early game.

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As you might have been able to tell from my Sheoldred Commander deck article, I really like mana doublers in mono-Black. For that reason, Crypt Ghast was the card I was most looking forward to from the set, and it did not disappoint. It’s a great reanimation target, while still being cheap enough to hard-cast. The Extort is just the icing on a very delicious cake, letting you spend the extra mana you’re generating to pull even further ahead of your foes.

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This massive demon is the very essence of EDH: it’s big, flashy, expensive, and it can rapidly swing the game in your favor. Another guy from my Sheoldred deck, he also finds a comfortable home in Kaalia of the Vast decks and many others.

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The Black addition to the Primordial cycle is an incredible amount of fun. Honestly, I’d be willing to pay seven mana just for the effect, and getting a 5/4 Intimidate as well just makes it even better. Add to that the fact that Black is the best color at reanimating its creatures, and you have an unholy terror that can be used multiple times in a game to steal your enemies’ best creatures.

Red

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There just isn’t much to say about Hellkite Tyrant, aside from that it’s awesome. People tend to play a lot of high value artifacts, and the Tyrant gets your hands on all of them. Finally, it has the words “you win the game” printed on it, which just makes it instantly awesome, no matter how hard the trigger is to activate.

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Molten Primordial is pretty goddamn good, especially for Red. Even a miniature Insurrection can still be a devastating play.

Green

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As with Hellkite Tyrant, there’s not much to say about Skarrg Goliath, except that it’s a load of fun that you probably won’t be playing in any other format.

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Another massive beatstick of fun and joy, Giant Adephage really exemplifies the essence of Green. Copying itself over and over just makes the Adephage a bigger and bigger problem for the opponents, with a fun synergy with Selesnya’s Populate mechanic to boot.

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And now we get to the main event: Sylvan Primordial. This card is one of the most powerful Commander cards printed yet. The ability to destroy a noncreature permanent belonging to EACH player is just insane, but still not overpowering (comparing closely with Terastodon). It’s the mana ramping that puts this powerhouse over the edge, making it feel like a new form of Primeval Titan, a blast from Commander’s past (before the banning). As with Prime Time before it, any game that involves more than one activation of Sylvan Primordial (whether it be via reanimation or flickering effects) quickly degenerates into chaos as one person runs away with the game by destroying everyone else’s board and ramping beyond belief. Despite my disdain, however, I still run this in every green deck I own, because of its insane power level.

That’s it for part one of my review. Part 2 is up and ready for your perusal. If you think I’m missing anything, leave a comment below or send me an email at JakePPetersen@gmail.com!

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Jake Petersen

I am an avid video gamer and player of Magic: The Gathering. If you want to discuss either, or my articles, leave a comment or contact me at JakePPetersen@gmail.com. I love interfacing with fans, so feel free to hit me up.
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