Top 10 Strixhaven Commander Cards - By Bryan Smith
Releasing April 23rd, Strixhaven is the next standard legal Magic set based on the wizarding school genre. Along with it comes the release of Commander 2021 and the introduction of the Mystical Archive (made up of reprints in stunning alternate frame treatments). In this article we’ll cover cards that will shine in the ninety-nine from the main set. Legendary creatures were excluded from this review, but you should definitely check them out for the unique decks they can pilot (especially some of the Elder Dragons). Let’s dive into the top ten cards you should pick up from Strixhaven for Commander.
10. Reduce to Memory
Without wishboards in Commander, Lessons as a mechanic aren’t as exciting overall as they could have been (although you may be able to use one if the table agrees). There are nonetheless some great options with these sorcery speed cards. There are some common colourless utility spells in Introduction to Annihilation and Introduction to Prophecy, but the best Lesson is Reduce to Memory. Yes this does create a 3/2 for our opponent, but to exile a nonland permanent, it’s definitely worth it. While a bit slower than Generous Gift, it can deal with pesky Indestructible permanents like Darksteel Forge or get rid of a threat so it can’t be brought back.
Teferi’s Protection is a very strong effect, but it’s not very budget friendly. Semester’s End won’t buy you one more turn when you’re getting attacked for lethal, but it can provide a game winning tempo response to a wrath. More casual games can take a bit longer due to the amount of wraths that happen, and everyone needs to take time to rebuild. Either in response to an opponent’s wrath or your own, Semester’s End can help you get well ahead of opponents and put you in a position to close the game. Having your creatures return with additional +1/+1 counters is just a bonus.
Ravenform, I mean Resculpt is a fantastic way to deal with Artifacts or Creatures for blue. Compared to its very recent predecessor, it costs one less, and can be used at instant speed at the cost of upgrading a 1/1 flier into a 4/4 vanilla. While a 4/4 can be intimidating, removing a key combo piece, shutting off card avantage or slowing down your opponent’s mana production is well worth it. A great option to consider for decks with less options for removal.
Paying four to exile a Creature is steep, but paying two at instant speed and giving an opponent a draw is quite a bit better. You could let the opponent draw a card after removing their Creature if you want to soften the blow, or you could give that draw to another opponent (great in Archenemy situations). In the situations where giving your opponent an extra card isn’t great, the added flexibility of being able to cast Baleful Mastery for its full cost is where this card really shines.
While Efreet Flamepainter requires a bit of set up, the pay off can be huge. When this Creature hits an opponent you get to cast any Instant or Sorcery in your graveyard for free. In the situations where your Flamepainter remains unchecked, you’re looking at a pair of spells thanks to Double Strike. A bit behind? You could recast your Mana Geyser and Jeska’s Will. Or maybe you want to watch the world burn and follow a Warp World with a Scrambleverse.
Acting as a Selfless Spirit with flexibility, Selfless Glyphweaver // Deadly Vanity is a great option if your deck can run it. You can’t recur it to the same extent you can Selfless Spirit, but using one of your wrath slots for this can potentially open up another slot in your deck (which can be key when cutting cards is often the hardest part of deck building). The backside of this MDFC acts like a Duneblast that also hits Planeswalkers for one more mana and a looser colour identity.
4. Rip Apart
Similar to Abrade, Rip Apart is a great modal removal spell. As is a common theme with this list, single cards that fulfil multiple roles are great and shouldn’t be overlooked. If you can meet multiple needs with fewer cards, that leaves more room for the fun stuff. I’d run this in any Lorehold deck alongside the aforementioned Abrade as well as Wear // Tear, Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Generous Gift and Reduce to Memory.
All of the Commands in Strixhaven have a home in different Commander decks, but I think Prismari Command is the best of the cycle in terms of wide useability. Card draw, removal and ramp, this one does it all. It can even hit Planeswalkers, delaying a game ending ultimate or helping to remove it completely. This card can also be used politically as the card draw and ramp effects are ‘target player’, meaning you could be able to talk an opponent out of removing your Commander or maybe use it to help convince another player that your mutual opponent is the real threat.
Not quite as good as Assassin’s Trophy, but at a fraction of the cost this is a great pick up for the budget conscious. Most of the time it’ll likely resolve at four mana value (our new term for converted mana cost), but in decks that have a bit of lifegain that reduced cost will be common. Hitting a nonland permanent is great, and any ways that we can build more redundancy in our decks are welcome additions. I’d run this alongside Binding the Old Gods, and would replace Putrefy with it in most cases.
Now I know what you’re thinking, why is this card on the list, it’s super narrow! This is true, but it’s also super fun. Most of this list has covered cards that are modal to allow for more fun stuff in our decks, and what’s more fun than an 80/80? Arguably a lot of things, but for those that love big Creatures this one is a for-sure win. I’d love to see this card in the “magical christmas land” scenario as follows: turn one and two ramp, turn three Branching Evolution, turn four Parallel Lives, turn five Doubling Season, turn six Body of Research. A rough estimate would put this board state at four 340/340s. While extremely unlikely to ever happen, it would be a blast to see.
There we have it, ten cards from Strixhaven you should definitely pick up for Commander. I’d highly recommend checking out the rest of the set for some specific upgrades to your decks, as there are some very interesting narrow designs in this set, especially for Lorehold. If you’re wanting to try out these new cards after you get them, what better way than to join us on Tuesdays for Chimera’s Commander night? Our community is growing week by week, and we play Commander via SpellTable. It’s a great way to play with your decks while we’re stuck at home. All you need to do is join the Discord and hop into the Commander channel. Are there any cards in Strixhaven you’re excited for that didn’t make the list? Would your ten picks be different? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.