They're finally here: Four. Color. Commanders.
Four-color commanders have been at the top of the heap of Commander requests for years, and this year you can finally get your hands on some sweet new designs. Some of them come in the form of the awesome partners—which you should definitely check out if you haven't seen them already.
But partners aren't the only way you can play four colors with Commander (2016 Edition). After all, there's something to be said for straight-up four-color legendary creatures. We've never had them before—so we made sure the ones we did print were pretty juicy.
I'm sure many of you are familiar with one of the previous times Commander took a sojourn into the Maelstrom: the mighty Maelstrom Wanderer. Now a Commander staple and one of the most fearsome leaders around, its ability to cascade so many times quickly captured players' hearts—and smashed opponents' faces.
Well, it's time to go once more into the breach. And if you thought Maelstrom Wanderer was something...Well, hold your breath—because we're jumping headfirst into the Maelstrom!
Let me introduce you to Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder:
You really mean...All of them?
That was my first reaction upon seeing this card.
It's not just cascade twice. It's not even like Maelstrom Nexus, which "merely" gives cascade to the first spell you cast each turn. If you connect with this Ogre...Well, your turn is going to go pretty crazy.
Cascade cards have an impressive pedigree: Bloodbraid Elf, Shardless Agent, Bituminous Blast, the aforementioned Maelstrom Wanderer...Nearly every cascade card has shown up in Constructed at some point. They're automatically two spells for one, and their value can only increase from there.
So let's break it down.
Four mana for a 5/4 trampler means you can get this onto the board early—and since it's your commander, you're going to have access to it every game (provided your mana works out).
This means hitting with it so you can activate its ability is going to be pretty easy. Unless someone can remove it right away, it's unlikely they can block all of the damage. It also has trample to punch through—and even if it dies in combat, as long as 1 damage still plinks an enemy skull, its ability still triggers!
You need spells in your hand to cast, of course—the cascaded creatures don't cascade again thanks to Ydris's wording—but you should definitely have plenty of those.
So, how would I go about building with Ydris?
While there are many, many ways to build Commander decks—all the way from story-focused decks to decks that seek to combine very unlikely forces together to everything in between—when you're looking at a new legendary creature, there are three main paths I tend to go down. Let's review each of them.
1. Commander as a Bonus
One simple way to build a Commander deck is to just take a legendary creature you like, put in a bunch of your favorite cards of its colors, and be ready to go. (Or, similarly, figure out which colors you want to play and find a commander to match.)
For example, let's just say you want to build a blue, black, red, and green Commander deck. After all, there are finally four-color commanders! Well, Ydris can totally be your commander without much more effort beyond building the deck.
Some commanders demand to be built around, such as Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker. A five-mana 2/2 isn't exactly doing a lot if you can't take advantage of its first ability. But plenty of legendary creatures are strong on their own even without support.
My personal favorite Commander deck uses Merieke Ri Berit.
Why Merieke? Am I untapping her a bunch with Thousand-Year Elixir? Am I sacrificing creatures? Nope. I just like playing Esper control, and I picked Merieke because she played into the Esper control–nature of the deck. There are any number of other good choices for this—such as Oloro, Ageless Ascetic and Sen Triplets—but I just happened to like Merieke.
Ydris passes all these parameters with flying colors. (Well, at least four trampling colors.) If you play with Ydris, it'll just work.
2. Commander as a Theme
While I certainly love my Merieke deck, I'd say many people's favorite Commander decks probably fall into category 2 or 3—and probably more 2s than 3s.
Oftentimes, your commander is a directional tool. After all, there are a lot of cards in Magic. When given equal choices, why not pick ones that play well with your Commander? That's where this category comes from.
A great example of a card like this that would fit well into a Ydris deck is Ancestral Vision. It's totally fine on its own—but really awesome when you Ydris into it. Similarly, spells that can have their mana costs reduced are awesome here. Emerge creatures like Wretched Gryff pick up a lot of value, since they let you potentially cascade into more powerful cards.
Now, not everything you play in this kind of Commander deck will generally fall into this camp. But where possible, you should try and fit in some cards you might not normally play—but that are also good on their own—because of their great synergy with your commander.
3. Commander as a Build-Around
This is by far the wackiest of these three options—and where you truly get some of the wildest Commander decks.
This deck doesn't just have its commander as something it works nicely with—this deck is entirely built around taking advantage of its commander.
Edric, Spymaster of Trest along with every one-mana creature possible and extra-turn effects? A category-3 deck.
Uril, the Miststalker and nothing but Auras? A category-3 deck.
I'm sure you can get the idea here.
These kinds of decks are really where some unusual—but effective—cards begin to make your singleton lists.
For example, with Ydris, imagine a deck that played a ton of one-mana spells alongside huge creatures with the idea of cascading into Hypergenesis and playing them all?
Or, perhaps, a deck focused on playing as many free spells as possible to get as many spells as it could, chaining cards you almost never see in Commander, like Saprazzan Legate, into cheap card draw spells into more free spells until you flood the board and set up some combo.
The possibilities truly do, well...cascade out of control.
I expect Ydris to find plenty of Commander homes. Even past the fact that Ydris is one of the first four-color commander options, it's a card I would want to build a deck with anyway.
And I can tell you from personal experience with Commander (2016 Edition), it truly is a blast to play. The deck is built to showcase the fun of chaos—and Ydris provides it aplenty.
Oh, and Cube aficionados? While the mana is a bit tricky, I personally can't wait for the first time I connect with this in a Cube draft. Ah, good times.
Curious about anything in this article, or just want to send along your thoughts on Ydris? I'm always happy to hear from you! Feel free to contact me by sending me a tweet, asking a question on my Tumblr, or writing an email (in English, please) to BeyondBasicsMagic@Gmail.com.
I'll be back next week. Talk with you again then!