The New Commander Fate

Posted in Command Tower on January 22, 2015

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Reforging fate has never felt so sweet for us Commander players. Khans of Tarkir granted us five new legendary creatures, a fair number that provided choices without overloading us with possibilities. We could play with new mechanics, try new themes with enemy wedge-colored decks, and celebrate our newfound fealty for one of the clans of Tarkir.

Anafenza, the Foremost; Narset, Enlightened Master; Sidisi, Brood Tyrant; Surrak Dragonclaw; Zurgo Helmsmasher

Entering the preview season for Fate Reforged left me hopeful to see a few new faces. Ancestral leaders of the clans felt like a natural fit, and they were delivered as promised. Then the Dragons appeared and all hell broke loose. Ten new commanders in one neat set? It's a bounty we haven't seen in booster packs since the likes of Dragon's Maze.

I could get used to this.

The Dash and the Furious

I had a grand time during last weekend's Prerelease. Through six rounds of Magic I managed to enjoy a lot of Fate Reforged. While an extra pack of the newest set and a seeded pack of clan-skewing cards meant the experience wasn't exactly the same as the upcoming Sealed events I'm looking at, it was fantastic for going all out with new mechanics and cards.

Two copies of Rageform and a Goblin Heelcutter put in effort I wasn't expecting.

Aside from a sampling of the Limited angles Fate Reforged promises, one card dominated the games I found victory in: Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury. It turns out a 5/5 flying, haste, "pump all the other dudes attacking" Dragon is a pretty potent way to wreck opponents. Between rounds I couldn't help but think where this one would fit into my Commander decks:

  • Dash is a mana-intensive way to get damage going, but in Kolaghan it's a repeatable way to pump an entire army of creatures, like tokens you might try to feed Prossh, Skyraider of Kher.
  • Since Kolaghan isn't going to knock any player out in one or two hits (at least without some serious work with spells, Auras, and Equipment), she shouldn't terrify opponents so easily. "Just a big flying creature" is great cover for hiding other plans in a deck.
  • There are plenty of Dragons to pair up with Kolaghan, including the powerful Bladewing the Risen. With enough red and black Dragons in your deck, Kolaghan can become a one-hit wonder, thanks to triggering for each Dragon that attacks at the same time.

Ruminating on just one Dragon is just the tip of the Commander iceberg. What I love about all of the legendary creatures in this go around is that I've learned from those who came before how flexible commanders can be, even if it's not always your commander.

Many of you pondered the mysteries of our fateful friends, as Travis did about Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury too:

For a long time, I've been trying to build a Dragon Commander deck with Bladewing the Risen but I haven't had the inclination to go for it. Now, finally, I'm going to do it with an interchangeable commander (and probably the one I'm going to end up with) with Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury.

Being able to bring her to my hand and attack every turn for at least 5 if I want is HUGE. Sporting Commander staples, black and red Dragons along with an alternate win-condition of Purphoros, God of the Forge and tokens, I'm ready to bring this deck to bear. Cards like Hordeling Outburst, Ogre Battledriver, and Myr Battlesphere become immensely better whenever Kolaghan is on the field, making every creature produced a large powered threat. Additionally, just attacking with a ton of Dragons is satisfying and brutal. Below is my full decklist and I can't wait to smash faces with it.

Travis's Kolaghan

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury

This is exactly the kind of deck my mind wandered to. The power of Kolaghan to both support going wide with a slew of tokens and hitting hard by herself is the type of threat that lets you play around the obstacles opponents present.

Archie had a different Dragon doomsday scenario in mind:

The minute I saw Atarka, World Render previewed I knew I wanted to build a deck around her. She really speaks to my inner Timmy as a big Flampling [flying+trampling] Dragon with a cool ability.

There are 3 main portions to the deck along with a few staples to deal with artifacts/enchantments.

1) A high concentration of Dragons. It sounds obvious but I wanted to make sure that I would have enough dragons to make Atarka's double-strike ability relevant.

2) Power-boosting effects. With Atarka effectively doubling their effectiveness, power boosts get a lot better. Because of this, I prioritized firebreathing Dragons like Shivan Dragon, or better yet Moonveil Dragon.

Equipment like Loxodon Warhammer and Sword of Fire and Ice along with enchantments like Ghitu War Cry and Dragon Breath (Which also handily provides haste) help out those Dragons not blessed with firebreathing.

Speaking of power-boosting effects, Xenagos, God of Revels and Atarka are a match made in Nyx.

3) The holy trinity of Ramp, Haste, and Card Draw.

  • There is a fairly standard land and artifact ramp package, as Dragons tend to cost a bit of mana.

  • I feel haste is one of the most underrated abilities in Commander, a format filled with Wrath of God effects. Cards like Lightning Greaves, Sarkhan Vol, and Anger should allow my Dragons to get damage in consistently.

  • Who doesn't like to draw cards? All I know is I want to cast Hunter's Prowess on Atarka!

That's it really. I like my decks to have a plan and this one is to cast big Dragons and attack with them until you die. Simple really.

Archie's Atarka

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Atarka, World Render
Planeswalker (1)
1 Sarkhan Vol
99 Cards


That's what I imagine players who get hit by an attacking Atarka, World Render will be saying soon. Atarka is one of the few commanders in the "Two Hits Club" that can take out an opponent in two uncontested turns. Unlike Kolaghan, who spreads the cheer everywhere, Atarka is firmly interested in helping other Dragons. Archie naturally solved this with actual Dragons, but it's worth noting that anything with changeling counts too.

Chameleon Colossus is going to get somebody after Atarka comes down. Don't let that be you.

Fate Reforged isn't all Dragons, however. Mitch is ready to run rampant with the shiny Prerelease card I opened, Tasigur, the Golden Fang:

I've been a rot farmer since Ravnica but when it came to Commander, the Golgari commanders and I just never clicked. Finally, with Tasigur, the Golden Fang I have what I've been waiting for. Finally, a (mostly) Golgari legendary that actually has recursion. With a mono mana cost and hybrid ability I can exclude blue altogether if I choose. Though there are some that just work too well to pass up I still remain true enough to my guild.

His ability allows opponents to choose which card you recur and that could be his downfall, but remember that this is a format where almost every card you have should be useful in some way. And if you're worried about your opponent handing you exactly the card you don't need? Every rot farmer should know how to prune the bone garden. Scavenging Ooze; Pharika, God of Affliction; Holistic Wisdom; Varolz, the Scar-Striped; or just delve away what you don't want. It changes delve from just a cost reducer to a versatile ability. Your opponent choosing is a problem, I won't deny that, but the point is it's still a great way to grow the graveyard while refilling your hand. And if you don't like it you can just discard it to Lotleth Troll or Grimoire of the Dead.

I almost forgot to mention that Tasigur himself can delve. But need I even bother explaining how excellent that is?

Mitch's Tasigur, the Golgari Fan

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Planeswalker (1)
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
100 Cards

Unlike their descendant leaders we met in Khans of Tarkir, the new-old legends at the forefront of clans in Fate Reforged ask for colorful mana after hitting the battlefield. Tasigur exemplifies the flexibility of these new commanders with the three-way option to be Golgari, Dimir, or firmly Sultai.

Mitch's Golgari focus might look like an exercise in excluding powerful blue cards, but focusing on fewer colors always carries benefits: mana is easier and themes are more coherent. With some graveyard massaging, Tasigur will almost always give you the things you'd like to use. As a fan of Deadbridge Chant, I can vouch for its power as a purely random return when your graveyard is well groomed.

Getting cards back is great when there's dozens in the graveyard, too. Tasigur is interesting in every scenario.

Reforged Once More, With Feeling

The next few months are going to be a great time to experiment with new commanders. Colors and options lie just ahead with the release this weekend, and I hope you'll take some time to open the past and create a new Commander future.

It's the theme of looking back to move forward that brings us to this week's question: What was the last Commander deck you took apart, and why?

  • Feedback via email
  • 300-word limit to explain the deck and reasons
  • Sample decklist or list of cards is requested (does not count against word limit)
  • Decklists should be formatted with one card per line with just a leading number, such as "3 Mountain"—just a space (no "x" or "-") between the number and the card name, without subtotals by card type (Submissions that don't follow this rule will be ignored.)
  • Name and email required (non-personal information to be used in column)

While some of you keep every deck and continuously tweak and refine them over time, many of the rest of us tear decks apart to try something totally different. I want to know what you took apart, and why you did that. Too powerful? Not powerful enough? Wasn't interesting anymore? All-new commander to try out? I want to know!

Join us next week when we weld new tool to our old tricks. See you then!

Latest Command Tower Articles


January 7, 2016

Doubling Down by, Adam Styborski

Making mana is a fundamental part of Magic. While we've come a long way from the first booster packs running an Island in the rare slot (lands really are that important!), it hasn't been ...

Learn More


December 31, 2015

Allied Command(er) by, Adam Styborski

War never changes, but Magic does. There's always something new around the corner, like the wonderful wave of awesome incoming with Oath of the Gatewatch. As a Commander aficionado, I'm c...

Learn More



Command Tower Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All