Players have continually seen more and more insane spoiler cards over the past week. The Lost Caverns of Ixalan are dated to release on November 17th, and there are a ton of powerful cards to look forward. Whether you’ve been waiting for the new Dreadbore to hit MTG Arena, or are looking forward to a new power boost for Merfolks in Modern, a lot of the new cards in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan are rather exciting.
Commander players, however, had to wait a fair bit. Sure, the new Face Commanders were indeed revealed alongside a main set card that looks fantastic for Typal Commander players, but Commander exclusive cards were not revealed right away.
Now, Weekly MTG has given players a First Look the ten new Set Booster exclusive cards that are Commander legal! Notably, you can also find borderless versions of these in Collector Booster packs, but you will not be able to find them in Draft Boosters or in Commander decks.
Illustrious Wanderglyph is an interesting card for Commander decks utilizing a lot of artifact creatures. You need City’s Blessing to get the buff this card offers rolling, but Illustrious Wanderglyph helps out by creating a bunch of tokens. Satisfying Ascend is not at all difficult in Commander and the Wanderglyph can almost do it alone.
Illustrous Wanderglyph is a lot more powerful than it may first appear. Most token creation effects like this one only occur on the player’s turn. Interestingly, this is not the case for the Wanderglyph, triggering every turn. This means one turn cycle grants your four 1/1 creatures. If you have five other permanents in play (lands/mana rocks to cast the Wanderglyph), that’s already ten permanents for your City’s Blessing trigger!
Illustrious Wanderglyph seems like a strong upgrade for the Brothers’ War Urza’s Iron Alliance Commander deck and should be considered for any other Commander decks that have a central focus on similar themes. Really, this card can fit in any go-wide Commander strategy.
Altar of the Wretched
Altar of the Wretched, at face value, is a powerful new piece of support for Keyword matters decks. This refers to cards that care about collecting a bunch of different Keywords to create a more threatening creature. Soulflayer is the most noteworthy card amongst Keyword matters cards like this.
Alter of the Wretched is very interesting in Commander. Any creature-based decks that has a heavy mill synergy will probably want this card. Sure, Alter of the Wretched performs best in a keyword-based deck, but as a reminder, you can Craft with the card type cared about in the graveyard. Since you can Craft with any number of creatures with Altar of the Wicked, your Wretched Bonemass can be absolutely massive. As long as you can consistently get a Haste creature with a ton of power, Altar of the Wretched may be worthwhile for you.
The ETB effect of Alter of the Wretched helps it synergize further with creature-based decks that care about milling. The Altar probably isn’t good enough to solely see play in a pure Aristocrat deck, but a card that functions as recurrable advantage, furthers your win condition and is a threat of its own should allow Altar of the Wretched to fit well in any mill-based creature deck while being an auto-include in keyword matters.
This, honestly, reads like a card right out of Alchemy. If Ore-Rich Stalactite can work in paper, we may get paper variants of other Alchemy cards yet.
Ore-Rich Stalactite is powerful enough to see play in red Commander spellslinger decks. The Stalactite offers a colored mana rock for two mana, which most casual Commander decks will be interested in playing anyway. If you can make use of this mana rock’s mana ability consistently, then its probably worth playing in your deck.
In exchange for providing a prohibitive mana ability, Ore-rich Stalactite can Craft with four red Instant or Sorcery cards, turning into a powerful, but volatile payoff. Of course, you’ll prefer to Craft with more powerful Instants and Sorceries to increase the potential payoff of Cosmium Catalyst.
Overall, while the Craft ability can repurpose your mana rock into a powerful payoff, it is rather expensive to pull off. Not only do you need four Instant or Sorcery cards available to Craft, but you need to pay five mana just to make it all happen. To make things worse, your opponents can simply remove the artifact, punishing you for a lot of effort.
If you can make use of the mana rock consistently enough that this card proves powerful, it could be worth considering. If not, skip this and replace it with something more easily useable.
Contest of Claws
Contest of Claws looks absolutely fantastic as long as you can use it consistently enough. At worst, this card is a Rabid Bite which, to be fair, is not great. As long as you deal just one excess damage, however, Contest of Claws can Discover 1. Depending on how your deck is constructed, this can easily hit a Sol Ring or a Mana Crypt, the two most powerful cards in all of Commander. From that lens, Contest of Claws is an absolute slam dunk as long as you have enough creatures to make sure it doesn’t end up as a dead card in your hand.
Tetzin, Gnome Champion
When I look for signs of a new fantastic Commander, the most important aspect I want to see is the potential to explore new game space. Tetzin, Gnome Champion specifically cares about and flips double-faced artifact cards. What an incredibly unique theme to build around!
Tetzin comes down for cheap and can generate a ton of value right away, as long as you pack a bunch of double-faced artifacts into your deck. As I currently understand it, as long as the side of the card in play is an artifact and the card is double-faced, Tetzin’s ability will trigger, milling three cards and allowing you to return an artifact from amongst what you milled to your hand. That said, the double-faced artifact may need to be an artifact on both sides. Milling cards also helps fuel the Craft ability attached to Tetzin.
Unlike some other Craft effects, Tetzin doesn’t care about what artifacts you use to craft it. What it does care about, however, is the other double-sided artifacts you have in play. The Golden-Gear Colossus can help bypass some particularly difficult transforming conditions on your cards like Azor’s Gateway, the new Matzalani, the Great Door and Craft effects like The Enigma Jewel.
Useability Shouldn’t be an Issue
In case you’re concerned about the number of double-sided artifacts in Magic being an issue for players building this deck, there are, according to Scryfall, 81 different double-sided artifact cards available. Some of them are going to be off-color, not all of them are going to have artifacts on both sides, and there are a few tokens included, so the actual number of useable cards will be smaller than this. That said, there are a ton of new cards in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan that Tetzin synergizes well with, and not all of them are updated on Scryfall yet.
Xavier Sal, Infested Captain
Xavier Sal, the new Human Fungus Pirate spoiled by early hints, is another new Commander exploring some interesting design space. While not as unique as Tetzin, this Commander does provide a strange ability, granting players the ability to Proliferate and Populate on the same card. The downside is that both of these abilities require a cost that can be generated by the other ability.
This means that maximizing Xavier Sal requires some very crafty deckbuilding. There are a few different ways you can go with this, but all involve a reward at a cost.
Eye of Ojer Tach
If you’re running a typal deck and it’s not at a cEDH level, you probably want this card. Nowadays, three-mana mana rocks need to offer something additional in exchange for them being worth your time and, when you don’t need mana anymore, the Eye of Ojer Tach can become the Apex Observatory.
Able to provide a free spell of the creature type of your choice, the Craft cost of the Eye is more than worth the payoff. Any deck that isn’t trying to close things out incredibly quickly can utilize this card to strong effect.
Paleontologist’s Pick-Axe, despite both side’s names, may not be meant for strictly a Dinosaur deck. The design surrounding this card is rather narrow. Unless you’re specifically interacting with your graveyard and consistently attacking, while also having enough creatures that you may want to copy with the Headdress, this card may not be for you.
There definitely will be some Commander decks out there that are interested in the Pick-Axe, but the design is rather weak and narrow unless your deck cares about multiple assets of the card.
Commander Decks Coming Soon!
If you’re excited to see what the four new Typal Lost Caverns of Ixalan Commander decks have to offer, sit tight! All four Commander decks are being spoiled later today!
We’ll be sure to have some first impressions on all the new cards coming to each deck, as well as what reprints to look out for, and what things look like at first glance. Of course, once we get the chance, we’ll also be sure to let you know how they play.
Read More: Top Five MTG Most Expensive Merfolk Cards