/ commander

Get ALLLLLL the Tibalts!

The time has come for yet another season of pre-releases and fervent trading with the arrival of Magic's latest expansion, War of the Spark. For the EDH players among us attending local pre-release events and working that trade hustle and bustle, here are my personal favorite EDH must-haves to be on the look out for.

Welcome to the Walkerama

We’ll start unpacking this set with what I feel are the top 7 Planeswalkers to be looking for in the next few weeks as War of the Spark is rolled out. My criteria for assessing them had to do mostly with the new static abilities built into their design. While all these static planeswalker abilities have their place in the spectrum of EDH strategies, I am most interested in the abilities that have immediate effect on the board state or turn sequences. Particularly when they these effects create road blocks for opponents.

7) Tibalt, Rakish Instigator

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Aside from my irrational bias in favor of Tibalt, I genuinely feel this version of the frequently brow beaten planeswalker warrants a spot on this list. Life gain in casual EDH is almost always a factor. Whether via strategies like Aetherflux Reservoir combos or incidental value auto-includes like Serra Ascendant, Tibalt, Rakish Instigator keeps life gain elements from getting out of control. Being hypothetically castable on turn one isn’t too shabby either. This card also has the feel of a lesser Goblin Rabblemaster in my mind and it will absolutely play well into Judith, the Scourge Diva builds with cards like Impact Tremors and Goblin Bombardment.

6) Narset, Parter of Veils

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Player almost always want to draw extra cards in a turn. For this reason Narset, Parter of Veils earns a spot. Though not as flashy as some of the other options on this list, we must not underestimate the value of denying card draw to commanders like Tatyova, Benthic Druid and party draw cards like Howling Mine. This also bottlenecks instant speed cantrips mechanics forcing your opponents to play “more fair magic” rather than storming off. Pairs very nicely with cards like Wheel of Fortune and Prosperity for extra value too.

5) Tamiyo, Collector of Tales

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Admittedly the static ability of this card is probably the weaker with regard to EDH but it clinches a spot because the sum of its parts make it super relevant to graveyard builds like Muldrotha, the Gravetide and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant. Tamiyo, Collector of Tales will easily find a home in these decks. She provides good insurance against punishment strategies running cards such as Liliana of the Veil and Grave Pact as well. She also pairs nicely with the new gods from War of the Spark should you be running them in the 99.

4) Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted

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This card screams Nekusar, the Mindrazer. It is yet another functional reprint of Nekusar’s primary ability alongside Spiteful Visions, Fate Unraveler and Underworld Dreams. The fact that it has a Murder ability built in is icing on the cake. Of course you don’t need to be brewing Nekusar to scoop this up. Every single EDH deck in black has a reason to play this card because every single player in a game of EDH is going to be drawing cards and playing creatures that need to be killed off.

3) Ashiok, Dream Render

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That this card is an uncommon blows my mind. So you read the primary ability and maybe the first thought is “nerfs tutors”. Yes. Then it also makes fetch lands completely useless for your opponents. By the way, green mana ramp, you can go pound sand. No Rampant Growth for you. What matters most for this card is the fact that it puts another bottleneck on an even more critical element of the format. If you’re stuck on 2 lands and Ashiok hits the board, may the top deck gods smile upon you. Then for flavor's sake, you activate the planeswalker ability to mill someone for 4 and make all the opponents graveyards disappear. Through the lens of EDH this card should have been rare. Definitely add these to your Wants list.

2) Karn, the Great Creator

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The nut draw goes like this: Turn one land, Sol Ring, Mana Vault, Karn, the Great Creator. Opponents' mana rocks are now literally just pet rocks. Even better than restricting access to fetching lands is restricting access to artifact sourced mana because everyone with the opportunity to brew with Sol Rings and Signets tends to do so. We’re also shutting down cheeky cards like Lightning Greaves, Skullclamp and Sensei’s Divining Top to name just a few. Karn’s colorless casting cost also makes him an easy include for any EDH deck looking to force everyone else to play “fairer magic”. The extra upside we see in this card is the fact that Karn, the Great Creator can literally pull artifacts out of thin air with his second activated ability. This should not be underestimated.

1) Teferi, Time Raveler

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This version of Teferi is the strictly better upgrade to cards like City of Solitude and Dosan the Falling Leaf in that it shifts the burden of spell restriction exclusively to the opponents, while you get to interact with their board state as you please. It's for this reason Teferi makes it to the top of this list. I have seen several board states progress comfortably with a false sense of security under City of Solitude effects giving great information on how to proceed. Mind you, in a Bant brew I would personally still run all three of these cards to keep games “fair”. What matters most however is the fact that Teferi is bringing this ability to EDH decks that aren’t running green and want to restrict their opponents more consistently than Grand Abolisher. His activated abilities don’t wow me as much as some of the other’s but more because they’re not my style of play. I can see the value of playing hand hate at instant speed though, and the ability to bounce targets to draw cards will be handy. He is a must have for any EDH brews in the Azorious colors.

A God for the Ages

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Of the five gods we are getting in War of the Spark I have to say I’m most interested in what God-Eternal Bontu brings to the table in a mono black devotion build. Most important to me is the fact that Bontu gains immense card draw advantage off his sacrifice ability. Even better is the value engine you get when using something like Ashnod’s Altar to sacrifice God-Eternal Bontu with his initial sacrifice ability on the stack in order to tuck him 3 down and draw Bontu back into your hand when his sacrifice ability resolves. Blood Artist and Grave Pact style cards will have a field day with strategies like this. I love the potential for accelerated mono black graveyard shenanigans with this commander as well. Sheoldred, Whispering One and Tortured Existence will certainly have opportunities to shine here. For added value one must run the lauded Vedalken Orrery of course. I’m just really happy with the potential of this card. Totally worth a brew.

Scooping up the Value

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As for the rest of the set there are some clear and obvious winners you should be on the lookout for if you aren’t already in hot pursuit of them. Fblthp, the Lost and Feather, the Redeemed are already well hyped cards that you may want to sit on for a bit if you get your hands on them. Particularly in the case of Feather, the Redeemed, there is good potential for build arounds to get busted.

We’re also getting a super spicy modal card in Casualties of War. This is like a much more versatile version of Hex that has a whole lot more reach and falls into green builds that can easily ramp into its 6 CMC. I would encourage anyone with Golgari combos in their libraries to pick up a couple of these.

Of the artifacts in the set I was actually very happy with the design of Mana Geode and Firemind Vessel. As simple as Mana Geode may seem I think it is a great stand in for something like a Commander’s Sphere if you haven't got one. Scry 1 feels like a fair substitute for the card draw you get from the sphere. As for Firemind Vessel I’m willing to overlook the fact that it enters the battlefield tapped for the simple reason that it is all signets all the time. It give us more versatility than Gilded Lotus and is an improvement over rocks like Ur-Golem’s Eye and maybe even Worn Powerstone. If nothing else this is an auto include for any and all casual EDH decks so be sure pick these up by the dozen.

The one other artifact that is catching my eye is definitely Vivien’s Arkbow. Clearly taking inspiration from the likes of Survival of the Fittest, Chord of Calling and Collected Company, this artifact feels like one of the more balanced versions of this ability. Even more important in my mind is the nuance in the fact that it discards any card which can be very relevant for reanimation strategies. You can even just pay 0 to pitch cards to the yard at instant speed too. This is a must have for all you dredge EDH players out there.

Finally the Finales. You know what? Just get a hold of all the cards in this cycle. Even Finale of Promise (which is the weakest of the bunch IMO.) Each of these scale up in power as a game progresses culminating in a major board state shift when you reach 12 mana. Finale of Glory basically puts lethal damage on the field. Finale of Revelation loads up your hand and coughs up enough mana for a Time Warp and table flip. Finale of Eternity offers up a tempo swing by Murdering the three largest threats and reanimating your whole graveyard. Finale of Devastation is basically what you get when Green Sun’s Zenith and Craterhoof Behemoth have a baby. As for Finale of Promise, I’m thinking you want to go looking for cards like Approach of the Second Sun, Blasphemous Act and Fury of the Horde? Like I said. Finale of Promise feels like the weakest of the bunch but I do think a home can be found for it. If nothing else it’s flashing back faster spells in the earlier part of the game.

And THAT is my EDH hot takes on War of the Spark. I hope this is a useful guide in your EDH pursuits through prerelease and the coming weeks. Please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @JohnnySlivers for questions and discussion on this or any of my Cardsphere.com articles.

Until next time, may your top decks be epic 😊

John

John Humphreys

John Humphreys

Husband | Father | Red Mage | Pauper Rube | EDH Casual | Tin Street Hooligan talking head | Cardsphere blogger impostor | Follow me on Twitter @JohnnySlivers at your own risk ;)

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