Wilds of Eldraine previews are already underway, and there’s a lot of unique cards to look forward to. There’s a cool new Planeswalker, some returning themes such as Food, and even a bonus sheet centered around Enchantments. Perhaps the most hyped-up card in the set that has been spoiled thus far though is none other than Moonshaker Cavalry. There’s even a full-art, textless store championship version of the card!
Moonshaker Cavalry is very similar to Craterhoof Behemoth. It’s a massive eight mana Creature that is capable of ending the game with even a few Creatures in play. It’s both a Spirit and a Knight, giving it additional synergies with specific Commanders and strategies. This enormous Flier has Commander written all over it. Let’s take a look at where this card shines the most.
Go Wide Strategies
There are tons of white-based Commander decks that focus on going wide and overwhelming your opponents. Commanders like Myrel, Shield of Argive incentivize you to create a lot of Creature tokens. There are ample ways to make tons of tokens in Commander of various Creature types. Cards like Increasing Devotion and Martial Coup help ensure that you have the upper hand in board presence. The key to these decks, however, is making each of these tokens as scary as possible.
In decks centered around one specific Creature type, playing a card like Coat of Arms can end the game in short order. Besides giving your team a massive buff, another way to ensure that your tokens can deal damage is by giving them evasion. For a deck that goes wide, playing something like Eldrazi Monument can be quite strong. Evasion and power boosts go a long way to ensuring your Creature tokens can cross the finish line, and this is exactly where Moonshaker Cavalry comes into play.
Moonshaker Cavalry not only gives Flying to your whole team, but assuming you have a decently big board of Creatures, your Creatures will each get a ridiculous power and toughness boost until the end of the turn, likely ending the game in many spots. If you’ve ever played with or against Craterhoof Behemoth in Commander, you know how devastating its effect can be. Of course, part of the benefit that Craterhoof Behemoth has is that, as a green card, it naturally goes in decks that can generate lots of mana and ways to cheat big Creatures into play, such as Natural Order or Elvish Piper. Luckily, there are some ways to abuse Moonshaker Cavalry beyond simply hard casting it.
Maximizing Moonshaker Cavalry
Besides simply paying eight mana for Moonshaker Cavalry, there are a few ways to utilize its enters-the-battlefield effect ahead of schedule. Likely the coolest Commander-based interaction involves utilizing Moonshaker Cavalry alongside Sidar Jabari of Zhalfir. As long as Sidar Jabari is your Commander, thanks to its Eminence ability, you to loot away cards each time you attack with one or more Knights. Then, if you manage to attack and connect with Sidar Jabari, you can return a Knight Creature from your graveyard to the battlefield.
This package works incredibly well with Moonshaker Cavalry. First, if you attack with a Knight, you can discard Moonshaker Cavalry. Later, when you’ve developed a big board of Creatures, you can attack with Sidar Jabari. If it connects, you can then return Moonshaker Cavalry to play. Because Sidar Jabari has First Strike, it deals damage before your other Creatures that don’t have First Strike. Therefore, your other Creatures will get the massive buff from Moonshaker Cavalry before they deal damage!
Other Commander Synergies
Beyond Sadir Jabari, there are some other multi-color Commanders that work extremely well with Moonshaker Cavalry and provide additional ways to cheat Creatures into play. One of these Commanders is Hofri Ghostforge. Hofri is a great Boros Commander for a deck focused on the Spirit Creature type, giving all of your Spirits a buff as well as Trample and Haste. Moonshaker Cavalry is a Spirit in addition to a Knight, so not only would it help give your other Spirits a big buff, but it would also get to attack itself.
Part of the weakness of Moonshaker Cavalry compared to Craterhoof Behemoth is that it itself doesn’t have Haste. Also, without Trample, the opponent can still chump block if they themselves have a decent number of Flying blockers. In this sense, Craterhoof is likely both in a better color to maximize it as well as a card that provides a more devastating effect. With Hofri in play though, you get the best of both worlds by getting a big board of Flying, Trampling, Hasty Spirits that can kill your opponents in one shot.
Another Commander that works extremely well is Kykar, Wind’s Fury. While this Commander incentivizes you to play non-Creature spells, it creates a massive army on its own in the process. Assuming you have a big enough board of Spirit tokens, you can greatly reduce the amount of Lands you need to tap to cast Moonshaker Cavalry by sacrificing some of the Spirits to add more mana. Of course, in red, you also have access to cards like Sneak Attack that can cheat Moonshaker Cavalry into play as well.
Moonshaker Cavalry Beyond Just Commander
While hard casting it is definitely reasonable in some Commander games, cheating it into play is more effective in non-Commander formats. While likely more on the casual side, there are a few ways to abuse Moonshaker Cavalry in Standard. The first card that pairs exceptionally well with it is Rabble Rousing. Rabble Rousing takes a lot to get going. You need to attack with lots of Creatures, which in turn will help create more Creatures in the form of Citizen tokens. Then, if you control ten or more Creatures, you can cast the exiled card from Hideaway without paying its mana cost. If the exiled card happens to be Moonshaker Cavalry, you are in luck.
Another way to put Moonshaker Cavalry into play ahead of schedule that may have a better chance at seeing play is with Invoke Justice. For five mana, you get to return a Creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield and get an additional bonus. There are already white-based Control decks in Standard that utilize The Restoration of Eiganjo as a value engine that can act as a discard outlet. These decks also utilize Wedding Announcement, which creates multiple Tokens on its own.
Moonshaker Cavalry’s Standard potential is definitely limited, especially with the existence of Atraxa, Grand Unifier as a big reanimation target. Still, the immense power boost that Moonshaker Cavalry gives to your team as long as you have some Creatures in play can end the game in one swing. Even if it may look worse than Craterhoof Behemoth by comparison, having this effect in white is a massive boon for non-green Commander decks that can abuse it.