The Most Exciting Cards in Magic's Commander 2015 Edition

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Magic’s newest Commander decks have been with us for a few weeks now, and there’s finally been enough time to understand what the most interesting cards in Commander 2015 actually are. Some of the cards are reprints and some are unique, but every single one of them has something special to suggest about this fun and exciting format. Go ahead and sit back, sip a smooth cola, and check out this objective list of interesting Commander 2015 cards.

15. Deadly Tempest

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In Magic, black is the color of hubris, greed and overextension at any cost. It is no surprise, then, that this card that totally wrecks every single player in a game is positioned within that fifth of the color wheel. Imagine this: a violent storm rips through the battlefield, rotting everything in its wake, and as the spirits of the diseased combatants flee their bodies, they rend the life force from their controllers. It’s pretty metal.

14. Jareth, Leonine Titan

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I have no way of explaining this card other than by telling you that Magic has a species of cat people creatures called the leonine. They have a giant, a literal giant, who is their representative best buddy, and that giant cat whips ass throughout the multiverse with his big shield and fun guy face. This card is excellent because of how weird it is, and if you’re not deeply intoning the name every time you say it, you’re doing it wrong.

13. Arjun, the Shifting Flame

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I’m in love with adding the creature type “Wizard” to basically anything, and the tried-and-true Sphinx Wizard is always a signal that some kind of weird shenanigans are going to be going on. Most of the time those shenanigans have to do with reading the text, talking over what it should do, and painstakingly plotting out what the hell a response might be. None of that here, though. Cast a spell, throw your cards into the library, and keep on keeping on while this wizard mean mugs out into the distance. You get bonus points for making the same facial expression at your opponent the entire time.

12. Stinkdrinker Daredevil

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This little goblin went into the literal mouth of the beast and started making waves. I mean, look at that art. He ripped out a giant’s tooth and he’s hauling ass back to his house to do something. Like, what’s the end game here? To show off the tooth? Is he going to take it down into some kind of hidey hole? Carve a chair out of tooth? A real American hero, the goblin’s mind is inscrutable even to me.

11. Grave Peril

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There have been a few times when Magic has had “trap” cards that trigger on certain conditions to cause fun things to occur (Archive Trap is a favorite). Grave Peril is a deadfall on the battlefield, and everyone knows exactly what the stakes are. The card is perfect because it turns the game into “who is willing to throw a creature in a hole first?” and those kind of hard-hitting decisions that generate bad feelings around the table are the kind that I enjoy the most.

10. Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

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On one hand, this card is the Golgari rot guild spirit completely collapsed into a single card. Dead things matter, rising from the grave is possible, and chewing up your own minions in order to gush sickness over your opponent. It’s lean and mean and feels good to play. On the other hand, this dude’s name is Jarad.

9. Trygon Predator

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This card used to have some of the goofiest art imaginable. It looked more like a manta ray crossed with a dog that someone tossed out a window. They’ve “fixed” it, I guess, if fixing something means making it less fun, but it’s still a creature that flies over the battlefield chewing up artifacts and enchantments for a living. I imagine that it bellows and does the clown car honk in a deep voice.

8. Crib Swap

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This is probably the smuggest Magic art of all time, and if I had my way I would have the original art framed on my wall after immediately getting the full frame tattooed on my back. Look at it. There’s a little guy in there pretending to be a baby. It should be the creepiest thing of all time, but that changeling is SO CONFIDENT that it is pulling off this stone-cold weird little baby look that there’s no room to doubt it. You know when you see those GIFs of high fashion and you think “there’s no way they take themselves seriously” but then you read an interview and it’s clear that these people are the most serious possible? It’s a metaphor for this smug thing pretending to be a baby.

7. Underworld Coinsmith

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There’s some really beautiful storytelling here. This “human cleric” (I’m not convinced of either) sits in literal Hell and carves up funeral masks to turn them into coins. When an enchantment appears, the coinsmith is enthused. A wave of good feelings, of life, surges throughout the battlefield and into the player. When the constellation is gone, it goes the wrong way. The coinsmith drains everyone while waiting and working. You pay the life, and your enemy pays too.

6. Anya, Merciless Angel

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The level of mercy on display on this card is exactly what you might imagine it would be. Anya is an angel flying around and pursuing enemies to the ends of the earth, and the more she beats down on your opponent, the harder she is to deal with. She can block other creatures, fly through the air while using that spear thing, and generally be the best angel that one could be. She’s interesting!

5. Magus of the Wheel

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This card is the buddy of some other cards that have been printed in the past, and the general idea of these magi (gifts not included) is that they’re creaturely versions of classical enchantments and spells that are just too damn good to reprint. Wheel of Fortune is one of those cards. It forces both players to pitch their hands and draw seven cards, and there’s just way too many shenanigans to allow for that to be real these days. That doesn’t stop this magus from getting very involved in those same hijinks, though, and even though his smugsmile face is creepy and gestural, he doesn’t get close to matching the coolitude of the Magus of the Vineyard.

4. Cage of Hands

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In a real nightmare scenario straight out of Labyrinth, this card is literally a cage of hands that appears and gets in your way. In my other list I’m writing titled “Top Ten Things I Never Want To Have Happen To Anyone Ever (Especially Me),” a giant cloud of hands preventing me from living my life is currently number 2.

3. Champion of Stray Souls

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This guy comes out of nowhere and just starts hollering at the dead dudes in your graveyard telling them that they’re not dead at all. They’re just sleeping. They start climbing onto the battlefield and smashing things up, and some rival wizard of yours blows some mana on a Rolling Thunder that sweeps this champion right into a crypt. And you? You invented chill for this perfect moment, because you immediately slam this champ right from the graveyard onto the top of your library. Your turn happens. He’s wearing shiny armor. It’s a match made in heaven.

2. Cloudthresher

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This is a goofy giant wiggling spaghetti monster that grabs things from the sky and whacks players for seemingly no reason. Like many elementals, it doesn’t make a lot of mental or visual sense, but those giant noodle arms aren’t going to emotionally support themselves. You pay for the ballet lessons. You go to the recital, and you know, it’s fine. You’re glad to be there. But all the other kids are pirouetting and Cloudthresher is just flailing its horrible vestigial limbs around the stage. It gets awkward. This card is a fun one.

1. Kaseto, Orochi Archmage

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I know that you know how much I like wizards. If you’re a wizard enthusiast, you might also care about this really big addendum that Kaseto brings to the party: snake. That’s right: snake wizard. And he does all the things that you would expect from a snake wizard in that he really rewards your other snakes for being that kind of being. Am I saying that this card would not be better if you could somehow summon thousands of snakes from wizard world? I’m not saying that. I’m not saying that a card that would demolish my opponent beneath a wall of snakes as if some kind of reptile dam had burst would not be the best thing possible. I’m just saying that a snake wizard with four arms is a pretty excellent card by nearly all possible measures of excitement and fun.




Cameron Kunzelman tweets at @ckunzelman and writes about games at thiscageisworms.com. His latest game, Epanalepsis, was released on May 21. It’s available on Steam.