fbpx

Strixhaven Commander/EDH Set Review – Multicolor, Colorless and Lands

It feels like just yesterday that I wrote my Kaldheim Commander set review, and you’re saying it’s already time for Strixhaven? Unbelievable. Obviously the passage of time is a bit warped for all of us, but set releases just seem to keep coming. Anyway, I’m pretty excited about this set for Commander – I think it has more promise than Kaldheim did, and I’m interested to see how my ratings line up with your expectations. Speaking of ratings, I don’t use numbers or grades – I use this more subjective scale for this strixhaven commander set review.

 

Header - Ratings Scale

  • Commander: You want this card in the command zone at the start the game. Its best use is to lead the charge as the cornerstone of your deck, but it can probably fit into your 99 as well.
  • Build-Around: This card can be a huge player in the theme of your deck. It either enables the theme by itself or is something you’re looking to take advantage of over the course of your ideal game. It’s probably worth dedicating other slots in your deck to cards that work with a build-around.
  • Powerhouse: This card’s not really about synergy, but it’s good all by itself.
  • Role Player: This card might not be the cornerstone of a deck list, but it’s an important part of the engine or strong enough on its own to merit potential inclusion. This category also covers cards that look good enough to try out but don’t seem like obvious winners.
  • Tech Card: Counterplay is important, and if a card doesn’t fit into one of the above categories but is good enough at countering other strategies, it’ll be included here.
  • Niche Inclusion: This card might make your deck if you have a deckbuilding restriction, whether it’s self-imposed based on theme, a power level consideration or a card availability concern. 

As a reminder, my focus is on social Commander rather than competitive EDH. That means you’ll be hearing about cards largely from that more relaxed perspective. My goal when playing Commander is for everyone to have fun but also for me to have a good shot at winning the game, so if that’s your mindset as well, these ratings will probably resonate with you. I won’t be reviewing reprints, so you can just assume I feel the same way about Grinning Ignus as I did before we found out it was in this set. When you inevitably disagree with a rating, please feel free to tweet at @RagingLevine with your thoughts!

Two notes before we begin. First, because of the way “outside the game” effects work in Commander, you can’t use cards with learn to go get the Lesson you need. Instead, you’ll pretty much be rummaging. If your playgroup is house-ruling these cards, have fun, but my ratings will reflect the official rules. Second, this review will not include the Commander 2021 cards or any other weird stuff that won’t be in draft boosters – all that will come later.

 

 

Header - Multicolor

Beledros Witherbloom

Rating: Commander

So there are a couple of unreal things about this card. First off, you’re getting a token at the beginning of each upkeep, Verdant Force style. Second, paying 10 life to untap all of your lands seems like a lot – at least until you cast this, untap all of your lands and realize you’re playing Commander, you started with 40 life, and you’ve got a hand full of haymakers. As long as you’ve got things to do and aren’t in apparent danger of imminent death, untap those lands! And yes, I know this is a seven mana 4/4, but who cares? This could be a seven mana 0/4 and I’d still play it.

Biomathematician

Rating: Niche Inclusion

Maybe I’m an optimist, but I’d love to put Followed Footsteps on this, clone it with Progenitor Mimic and really go off. Blade of Selves, Mirror Mockery, some blink effects… I know we only get to play one of these, but maybe I can just tutor for it. Why can’t this be my commander? Anyway, this is a pretty ridiculous dream.

Blade Historian

Rating: Role Player

Double strike is pretty strong, so if you’re all-in on Boros battlin’, you could do worse than this punny professor. After all, you’re not playing True Conviction primarily for the lifelink, are you? That said, this is a creature, and that changes the vulnerability level of the card.

Blot Out the Sky

Rating: Role Player

And you thought only double-faced and/or modal cards were flexible! Blot Out the Sky is a bit of a confusing take on Martial Coup, since everyone else gets to keep their creatures too, but if you’re trying to break through a wall of artifacts, enchantments and even planeswalkers, your Splatoon of flying 2/1s might need the help. That said, usually what’s in the way of my creatures is other creatures.

Body of Research

Rating: Niche Inclusion

If you’re doing power-matters shenanigans, this will get you an absurdly large creature. You can also sneak it through by making it unblockable. This is all pretty obvious, so let me give you the most important message about this card: you do NOT need to count your library. You can just count your cards that aren’t in your library and subtract that from 99 (or 98 if you’re on partner commanders). That said, if your library is small, or if counting the stuff that’s not in it is complex for some reason (control effects can make it easy to mess this up), sure, count the library. I’m just trying to minimize waiting for everyone else when inevitably your phone rings while you’re casting this and then everyone just stares at SpellTable for five minutes until you come back and say “okay, I guess I need to start counting again.” 

Culling Ritual

Rating: Tech Card

Since various altars exist to help you turn your own creatures into mana, you’ll largely want to cast this when your opponents have covered the board in tokens. It’s narrow enough that you’ll have a hard time justifying it unless you really play against token decks every game. 

Culmination of Studies

Rating: Niche Inclusion

As many have noted, this is a math problem that somehow didn’t get put in Quandrix. The more cards which are both blue and red that you have in your deck, the better it is – but is this effect worth it, especially considering that it exiles the cards revealed? Given how inconsistent this card is, I’m inclined to say no, though I’m not above casting it a few times for fun just to find out.

Daemogoth Titan

Rating: Niche Inclusion

As this lacks evasion, its job is really just to have 11 power for cards like Greater Good. If your deck is high of effects like that, go for it. 

Deadly Brew

Rating: Role Player

This may be my favorite Innocent Blood in a while – yes, even more exciting than Plaguecrafter. That said, you need to actually want an Innocent Blood effect, and that’s not good against every opponents. As long as it gets value against at least one player and you get to pull back something you didn’t sacrifice for what is hopefully greater value, you’ll be happy. Oh, and if you’re getting value out of sacrifices themselves, perhaps with Savra, Queen of the Golgari, this gets much easier to include.

Decisive Denial

Rating: Niche Inclusion

This will live on its flexibility and die being the 103rd card left in a list before you finish making cuts.

Dina, Soul Steeper

Rating: Role Player

While she may be an interesting commander as a reliable, cheap sac outlet, I see Dina as a stronger player in the 99 of lists that can gain life incrementally – Savra comes to mind yet again. Of course, you could simply try to deal lethal commander damage with Dina… I feel an article coming on.

Double Major

Rating: Niche Inclusion

Having to respond to your own spell puts you at some risk and really restricts the use of this card, but I think it’s going to be best used on your commander most often – you like your commander, right?

Dramatic Finale

Rating: Niche Inclusion

You have to be all in on B/W tokens for this and have nontoken creatures that die. You also have to deal with the heaps of restrictions on the Inkling generation… I’d just rather play something else.

Elemental Expressionist

Rating: What?

What is this for? Am I supposed to storm off in response to a wrath? Why do I want to exile my own stuff? What’s happening here? I can’t wait to find out what this card can really do.

Eureka Moment

Rating: Role Player

Urban Evolution sees play, and Growth Spiral sees even more, so the middle ground should appease Simic players who simply want more of the same effect over and over again. You can tell I’m enthused.

Fracture

Rating: Niche Inclusion

With cards like Despark, Vindicate, Anguished Unmaking and more already doing this better, this is unlikely to show up much.

Galazeth Prismari

Rating: Commander

I can’t wait to Storm the Vault with Galazeth and my Goldspan Dragon. I assume Galazeth’s Treasures are unique and beautiful works of art, and that’s why they stick around to inspire future bursts of creativity – I hope Galazeth doesn’t mind if I improvise a little with them, though – and yes, I’ll break them once in a while too. 

Golden Ratio

Rating: Niche Inclusion

As long as you can reliably beat Divination and draw three or more cards here, you’re good. That said, in the early game, that’ll take a lot of work, but in the late game, you might be able to draw even more cards. I prefer my cheaper draw spells to have a decent floor, and when the floor is zero, I get a little bit scared.

Harness Infinity

Rating: Powerhouse

This spell is unreal. Obviously the color requirements are onerous, but putting your graveyard in your hand at instant speed is ridiculously powerful. Expect your opponents to try to counter or otherwise mitigate this – beware of Rakdos Charm and similar – but when you get this off, you should probably win.

Hofri, Ghostforge

Rating: Commander

We talked about this one in my article already!

Kasmina, Enigma Sage

Rating: Role Player

If you’re deep on the Superfriends plan, Kasmina can help the engine run a little more smoothly. I’m interested to see how the +2 she grants interacts with some of the War of the Spark planeswalkers – the ones that can’t normally grow their loyalty total, that is. Even though I’m not usually a big planeswalker player, I’ll have to find an excuse to play Kasmina since she’s a friend to all Fractal owls. Fract-owls?

Killian, Ink Duelist

Rating: Commander

I’m interested in an Orzhov Auras deck featuring Killian – make sure to throw in Sram, Senior Edificer, Kor Spiritdancer and the like to keep the cards flowing. Sure, you’ll get blown out by removal or wraths sometimes, but get a hold of some totem armor and a few bestow creatures and it won’t seem so bad. 

Lorehold Apprentice

Rating: Role Player

If you’re going to play a Boros, or more likely Mardu deck featuring lots of Spirit tokens, Lorehold Apprentice can give you some extra reach. That said, multiple magecraft triggers per turn aren’t super advantageous with this one, which is awkward.

Lorehold Command

Rating: Tech Card

I see this mostly as an anti-wrath card with upside, as the other modes aren’t terribly impactful for the cost. I actually like this better than most of the other Commands, many of which you will not see mentioned in this article at all due to their low impact!

Maelstrom Muse

Rating: Niche Inclusion

Adeliz, the Cinder Wind decks might want this in order to play some extra instants during combat to pump the team, but other than that, the mana investment is likely to be too much here.

Magma Opus

Rating: Niche Inclusion

Even combined, these effects don’t add up to enough to make me want to spend eight mana. Think of all of the things you can get for eight mana. Now look at this card. See what I mean?

Mortality Spear

Rating: Role Player

In any Golgari or Abzan life gain-focused deck, this is an easy inclusion, and if you’ve just got a little bit of incidental life gain, it’s worth taking a look at your deck and seeing how often you’ll be able to cast the cheaper version of this card. Cheap removal with few restrictions is hard to pass up.

Quandrix Cultivator

Rating: Role Player

Like any ramp creature, this one gets its value from the potential to blink it or otherwise repeat the trigger. The fact that it only gets basics is a little bit of a downer, but we don’t need more cards that search up duals, do we?

Quintorius, Field Historian

Rating: Role Player

While not much of a commander, Quintorius is a solid inclusion in any deck focused on flashback synergies or Hofri nonsense. Return your Eternal Dragon to your hand? Get a token. Fire off a bunch of cards from your graveyard via Past in Flames, one at a time? Get LOTS of tokens!

Radiant Scrollwielder

Rating: Role Player

I’m a sucker for Charmbreaker Devils and all of its friends, and while this doesn’t punch quite as hard, this amount of recursion is solid for the cost. The lifelink is a nice extra, but you’re really playing this to recast some random value spells. Just make sure you’re not overpacking wraths or you’ll feel pretty awkward.

Reconstruct History

Rating: Role Player

Five-for-one. A five-for-one at four mana. Obviously, you need the stars to align perfectly to ever get full value, but even at three-for-one I’m in. The later the game goes, the better this looks compared to Concentrate as your graveyard fills up with effects you want to reuse.

Rip Apart

Rating: Tech Card

Hey, it’s Abrade 2! Okay, you’ve to be playing both white and red, and it’s a sorcery, so it’s definitively losing a step. That said, I’m interested to see if the flexibility of adding planeswalkers and enchantments to the targeting matrix pushes this into solid territory – I’m cautiously optimistic.

Rootha, Mercurial Artist

Rating: Commander

Any commander I can return to my hand over and over again is good in my book. I love dodging commander tax (I pay regular tax)! I love it so much that copying spells almost seems like a bonus when, in reality, the repeatable Fork is the whole point. Since bouncing Rootha is part of the cost, you’re only risking the spell you cast if there’s opposing countermagic – you just have to have a legal object on the stack to target. 

Rushed Rebirth

Rating: Powerhouse

Kill my creature, huh? I’ll just go get my Eternal Witness and get my Rushed Rebirth back. Then I’ll cast my Rushed Rebirth on the next thing you kill and go get something else. Of course, I can just cast this on something and then sacrifice it, hopefully chaining recursion effects all the way down for massive value, but honestly, as long as I’m using a big creature’s death to get a solid enters-the-battlefield effect, I’m getting more than two mana of value out of this card.

Shadrix Silverquill

Rating: Commander

You can really break the symmetry of this in Commander by giving yourself one effect while passing the other to a player you’re currently friendly with or one who’s not really in the game. Someone has no creatures? Enjoy some counters. This doesn’t have tons of synergies to build around, but having a double striking commander never hurts, especially when you can buff the power with something like Edge of the Divinity and really rack up big numbers.

Spectacle Mage

Rating: Niche Inclusion

I just like effects that give me discounts. I also just like bird people. This card isn’t actually very good, but I like it.

Stonebound Mentor

Rating: Niche Inclusion

This is tailor-made for Hofri or other decks that remove cards from their own graveyard one by one, but those are few and far between, especially in this color combination.

Tanazir Quandrix

Rating: Commander

Tanazir is the home for all of your Spikes (the creature type, not the player psychographic), graft creatures and other weird nonsense with zero power and toughness. Phantom Tiger? Get in here. Academy Elite? Let’s go. Modular? The more, the merrier. Clockwork creatures? Okay, I think we’ve gone too far. Tanazir even lets you play Etched Oracle in a two color deck and not feel like a complete fool!

Teach by Example

Rating: Role Player

If you’re all in on Doublecast-style effects, Teach by Example is a solid multicolor option. Not much to say other than that – it’s pretty simple!

Tend the Pests

Rating: Role Player

Most Golgari sacrifice decks love to convert larger creatures that have already done their thing (by entering the battlefield and triggering) into even more creatures that can also die, so why not make that happen with this card? Veteran Savra/Ghave/etc players know that more creatures mean more triggers.

Thrilling Discovery

Rating: Niche Inclusion

Kind of a weird Cathartic Reunion, but if it’s countered, you’re not out two cards. Worth a look.

Vanishing Verse

Rating: Niche Inclusion

Again, for just one more mana, you can have Anguished Unmaking, but if you’re really trying to load up on removal or you’re looking to break away from staples, this is a fun one. The flavor text kind of hurts though, if you have any memories of this stupid and ridiculous form of punishment.

Velomachus Lorehold

Rating: Commander

With haste, you’re nearly guaranteed at least one trigger, so make sure you’ve got enough instants and sorceries in your deck. Let’s do some math: with 20 qualifying instants and sorceries in your deck, you’ve got an 80.5 percent chance to get at least one hit. With that in mind I’d focus on making sure your hits are good rather than trying to juice up Velomachus’s power to hit bigger spells at the cost of consistency.

Venerable Warsinger

Rating: Build-Around

I like this one a lot – it’ll need some Equipment, but red and white tend to have plenty of synergy with that. It returns creatures directly to the battlefield, so it’s worth giving this some focus. Give it double strike with Embercleave, increase its toughness, give it hexproof, do anything you can to help this bring back your fallen forces.

Witherbloom Apprentice

Rating: Niche Inclusion

Given that Golgari isn’t a big spellslinging color combination, this is going to get discussed a lot in conjunction with Chain of Smog and not much else.

Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy

Rating: Commander

You could put Zimone in the 99 of your Tatyova, Benthic Druid deck to amp up land dropping and card drawing, but her low cost is a clue – play her early, get as much value as you can with extra land drops, then replay her later when you’ve got some Lightning Greaves and are ready to draw lots of cards. Did Simic need another lands-and-value commander? No. Is this a really cool card? Yes.

 

Header - Colorless

Introduction to Annihilation

Rating: Niche Inclusion

If your monocolor (or totally colorless) deck needs removal for types it can’t hit, but you don’t want to pay seven for Scour from Existence, I suppose you could cast this. It’s in the vein of Chaos Warp, which makes it worth talking about, but five is significantly more mana than three and at sorcery speed, it’s even tougher to justify.

Wandering Archaic // Explore the Vastlands

Rating: Tech Card
If your playgroup is full of spellslinger decks, Wandering Archaic can either slow them down or reap a lot of value, and at 4/4 it’s not the easiest to take down. I don’t expect to cast the sorcery half of this too much outside of decks that are going for the group hug vibe.

Codie, Vociferous Codex

Rating: Commander!!

Permanent spells? Who cares? I’ve got Codie and I’m ready to activate it over and over again. Sure, my deck might not have a cohesive plan or be able to handle even a moderate amount of recursion, but look! My commander is a book! Let’s all just play Codie decks and have a great time with spells-only. Remember the Jhoira Basic “format”? Well, this is better than that. I think. Hopefully.

Strixhaven Stadium

Rating: Niche Inclusion

Unfortunately, the fans at the stadium are too fickle to help us consistently eject opponents. Stick to Simic Ascendancy and other alternate win-cons. This card’s fun though, so actually, do try it out!

 

Header - Lands

Access Tunnel

Rating: Niche Inclusion

This fits the classic “sneak something through, then pump it afterwards” narrative, but that’s obviously a much more restrictive set of conditions to work through than the simpler Rogue’s Passage. If you need a second Passage and you can make this work, give it a shot.

The Biblioplex

Rating: Niche Inclusion

Exactly zero or seven, huh? Library of Alexandria this is not. I’m a much bigger fan of the library card that lets me take out books in real life.

Hall of Oracles

Rating: Niche Inclusion

There’s a Quandrix deck that wants this. Knowing Quandrix, there’s exactly one.

The Campus Cycle

Rating: Niche Inclusion

If you’re looking for cheap duals that give you something to do with your mana late in the game, these are fine budget options.

The Snarl Cycle

Rating: Role Player

I’m a bigger fan of this cycle than some since I tend to play a lot of basics these days, but there’s no denying they’re miles behind many other available lands.

 


 

Okay! Next time, I’ll have a review of all of the Commander 2021 cards, assuming they’re all spoiled and ready for evaluation. I can’t wait to see what you do with all of the new cards, and I’m looking forward to getting some brewing done myself!

Discussion

Scroll to Top