Commander 2019 Set Review - Shared Cards and Reprints

(Grimoire of the Dead | Art by Steven Belledin)

Coming Soon to an LGS Near You

Hello all! I know you're usually used to my usual series where I talk about hyper-underplayed cards deserving of more love in your EDH decks, but today, I'm going to be talking about cards that absolutely nobody is playing in their decks! At least, not until Commander 2019 hits the shelves on August 23rd! After I go through the seven cards that can be found in two or more of the new Commander decks, I'll also be talking about some of the noteworthy reprints we're getting with this product.

Cliffside Rescuer

White has a long history of creatures that sacrifice themselves to save something from certain death. Resistance Fighter (10 decks on EDHREC), Benevolent Bodyguard (367 decks), Vigilant Martyr (43 decks), Resolute Watchdog (291 decks), and Dauntless Bodyguard (591 decks) are just a few examples. Cliffside Rescuer continues on that tradition, sacrificing itself to protect a permanent you control from all of your opponents for a turn.

Based on the deck counts from it's fellow martyrs, I don't expect this card to make much of a splash in Commander. Sure, one can argue that it can save any permanent, not just a creature. But it also requires tapping to activate the ability, meaning you have a wait a full round before you can use the effect, so I think it evens out. The one deck type where I see this card being effective is in Voltron, specifically Boros builds. If there's the potential to give the Rescuer haste, along with means to abuse a creature's protection-invoked unblockability for a turn, this card seems very worth it! After all, white doesn't get access to unblockability all that often. Overall, a wonderful, balanced design... it's just not something that anyone was asking for, based on the numbers.

Leadership Vacuum

WotC has certainly stepped up their design of fun, interesting commanders since the format has taken off, and for a long time, great effort was put into commanders that could stick around. The indestructible Gods of Theros, the God-Eternals of Amonkhet, and numerous hexproof legends like Uril, the Miststalker and Narset, Enlightened Master have required specialized measures to neutralize. This, in turn, has affected the build of any typical EDH deck, requiring more exile, more board wipes, and more prison cards like Song of the Dryads.

But it looks as if the pendulum is swinging back to the center with Leadership Vacuum. This card provides a much-needed means of clearing a commander from the battlefield without targeting, and without providing options as to its destination zone. The ability feels quite blue, very much like a bounce equivalent. I expect this to be one of the chase cards from the Commander 2019 set, becoming a desirable option for Spellslinger and Control shells that seek to severely obstruct their enemy's tempo. I hope this isn't the last time we see this kind of effect.

Mire in Misery

Doth mine eyes deceive me, or does black finally have an answer to enchantments that's not Nevinyrral's Disk? I've heard both good and bad about Mire in Misery so far. Personally, I'm psyched for it! If my black deck is doing its job, the board should be void of creatures already anyway, so this is going to hit at least one problem enchantment on the field every time I cast it. My Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis deck is going to need to make some room.

Looking at the numbers, though, I grow a little less optimistic about Mire in Misery's fate. If I use planeswalkers as an analog for enchantments (about the best I can do), then I think this will end up played somewhere around To the Slaughter's general numbers (725 decks). Black likely won't be getting targeted enchantment removal, so I could see this being as good as it gets, which would help increase its use. But if you don't like it, there's always Meteor Golem.

Hate Mirage

The card Hate Mirage certainly feels at home in the new Populate-themed deck. This isn't an effect we often see on a red card. To find a good comparison, I had to go back to Lorwyn for Heat Shimmer. It sees play in 1,154 decks, and a whopping 75% of Zada, Hedron Grinder builds on the site. However, Zada likes that spell because it's a viable target for her to copy. The rest of the legends on Heat Shimmer's EDHREC page follow that pattern: Godo, Bandit Warlord, Feather, the Redeemed, and Brother's Yamazaki to name a few.

As such, I believe this card will likely only have a good home with the new Ghired, Conclave Exile. Potentially Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer decks as well, but this does depend on your opponents having good creatures to copy. The lack of control over the other side of the field is a variable to contend with, for sure. But I would love to be proven wrong here! Experimentation with Hate Mirage in Brion Stoutarm or Adriana, Captain of the Guard decks could prove fruitful. Give it a go!

Voice of Many

Can I just say how off-putting it is to see a "Voice of" card that's not a white Angel with flying and protection? Voice of All is very sad. But seriously, Voice of Many feels like a very "green" means of card draw. While I'm not inherently a big fan of cards that reward you for being ahead, I would expect it to do about as well as Elvish Visionary, with 6,926 decks on EDHREC. It's yet another example of a well-balanced card printed in these decks. The power level feels just right.

Personally, I'm considering the Voice for my newest Savra, Queen of the Golgari Elf tribal build, where I can frequently clear the board of opposing creatures during a game. Decks that are capable of making a stupid number of tokens will also like Voice of Many, so start clearing a spot in your Rith, the Awakener and Ezuri, Renegade Leader decks.

Bloodthirsty Blade

Bloodthirsty Blade is a truly phenomenal card! Giving any color the ability to deflect attacks from a creature on the battlefield feels like something we've done before, but never with quite the finesse or staying power that this card demonstrates. I'll be throwing the Blade into any Equipment or artifact deck of mine from here on out, and potentially into even more.

To determine potential popularity, I think the best analogs are the Vow cycle (highest deck count is Vow of Wildness: 1,187) from the original Commander products, as well as Assault Suit (2,088 decks). I see a lot of benefits to Bloodthirsty Blade over even Assault Suit, so I think 2,000 decks is the floor, here, not the ceiling. Marisi of the Coil and Xantcha, Sleeper Agent, please enjoy your new weapon!


It's going to be very hard not to draw comparisons between Scaretiller and another four-mana artifact creature that deals in land: Solemn Simulacrum. To be completely honest, Scaretiller just doesn't get the job done. The need to turn this Scarecrow sideways to take advantage of its ability is just too situational for this card to see play in decks that aren't specifically land-themed.

However, if you do feel compelled to scare some tills in any old deck, I highly recommend a package that allows for the tapping of a creature you control through a means other than just an attack. Holdout Settlement, Springleaf Drum, and the like are going to be your friends. If your colors allow you to squeeze in an Opposition or Glare of Subdual, then all the better. But really, just play Solemn Simulacrum instead.

Commander 2019: The Reprint-ening

You'll have to forgive me, but there are just too many wonderful reprints in these decks to be able to cover every single card. So, I'm going to go through those reprints that stuck out the most. And if your favorite reprint doesn't show up on this list, then let's give it some love it in the comments section.

The Planeswalkers

I think it was a great move to include a planeswalker in each of the Commander 2019 precons: Vraska the Unseen, Ral Zarek, Garruk, Primal Hunter, and Ob Nixilis Reignited. In the wake of War of the Spark, the card type seems to have reached its peak of popularity, and it's excellent to see that further promoted in Commander. I've heard some argue that the walkers could have been more on-theme for each deck, but the data on use of these cards in EDHREC is a bit more nuanced. Here's what my research found:

Overall the lesson here is that planeswalkers are tricky. Up until very recently, walkers have had three distinct abilities that play into different themes. Does one place emphasis on the final ability, as it's usually the most explosive? Or should emphasis be given to the first or second ability, as the player is more likely to use those loyalty effects in a game? I don't think that matters much here. Each card is adding something to the overall build that other cards in the deck aren't contributing. For that reason, as well as the value of getting a guaranteed planeswalker in the deck, I'm happy for the reprints, on-theme or otherwise.

The Battle Lands

I think the choice to reprint a few of the Battle Lands from Battle for Zendikar was a well-thought-out decision when these decklists were put together. Let's look at the use numbers from EDHREC:

These lands fall right in the center of the land-use curve. These numbers show what I would expect from cards in a product such as this: nothing of incredible value so as to cause mad buyouts of the decks, but still enough value and playability to make the preconstructed decks worthwhile. Add in the brilliant reprinting of Farseek in the green decks as a means to fetch these dual-typed lands, and it all really comes together as a win!

Reprinted Legends

Two of my favorite legends are getting a reprint in Commander 2019: Geth, Lord of the Vault and Feldon of the Third Path. I wanted to get some idea if limited printings were effecting the numbers for these cards, so I made some comparisons with previously-reprinted commanders that have similar abilities. Unfortunately, there's no exact comparison that can be performed, so some assumptions will have to be made.

Looking first at Geth, his mill ability is fairly obscure in mono-black. So, the best comparison I could make was to the blue/black Oona, Queen of the Fae.

Card Name As Cmdr In 99
Geth, Lord of the Vault 121 3,026
Oona, Queen of the Fae 669 1,085

It looks like Geth is overall getting more play than the Queen of the Fae, but that Oona, likely because of her color diversity and tribal potential, captains more decks. I would expect a spike in both Geth's "commander" and "99" numbers after this second printing, and I would imagine that he'll continue to outpace Oona overall. It might be good to invest in some mono-black mill like Shared Trauma if Geth's looking good.

For Feldon, the best comparison I could find is the Goblin with the worst luck, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. Here's the comparison:

Card Name As Cmdr In 99
Feldon of the Third Path 472 3,526
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker 197 7,588

Here, it looks like Kiki has a clear lead, which makes sense. But given the unique niche that Feldon sits in, I think his numbers are going to jump up soon. I mean, how many red commanders make tokens of dead creatures? I think he's the list! Plus, combine that with decks that have artifact synergy, and I think we're looking at more demand for cards like Daretti, Scrap Savant and Goblin Welder.

Staple Commander Cards

The trio of cards above (Ghostly Prison, Seedborn Muse, and Chaos Warp) continue to be staples in EDH decks, and they're getting the reprints to help support their widespread use. Here, have some data!

Card Name C19 Iteration Included/Total
Ghostly Prison 7th Printing 18% of decks
Seedborn Muse 5th Printing 10% of decks
Chaos Warp 9th Printing 23% of decks

For clarity, the last number in the above chart is the percentage of decks that use the card on EDHREC out of the total number of decks that could run the card. The higher the number, the more popular the card in its color.

It's clear from the numbers above that these cards are true staples of white, green, and red in Commander. Thankfully, WotC recognizes this and makes sure they see print frequently. I may be getting up there in EDH years, but it warms my Heart of Ramos to see an easy way for new players buying their first Commander product to have access to these cards.

Speaking of staples, it seems Tempt with Discovery has broken out of the pack and is now seeing much higher play than the rest of the cycle. Is it reaching that "must-play" status?

Card Name Deck Count
Tempt with Discovery 7,935
Tempt with Vengeance 3,157
Tempt with Reflections 1,180
Tempt with Immortality 532
Tempt with Glory 276

While I would say it's not quite there yet, it's certainly making a name for itself in countless terrain-themed decks like The Gitrog Monster the Re-land-imator and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim's Guildgates. I think it has viability as a general land tutor in EDH, and I hope to see more decks using it and more reprints.

First Time Reprinted

River Kelpie is a favorite of mine from way back. Looking at its EDHREC page, I noticed that, of the 1,458 decks using it, there's the following breakdown among its top commanders (by deck count):

Card Name Deck Count
Muldrotha, the Gravetide 527
Marchesa, the Black Rose 505
Sedris, the Traitor King 65
Dralnu, Lich Lord 41

Interestingly, well over half of decks containing River Kelpie are using its effect to draw off of creature reanimation. It's not until we get to Dralnu with those 41 decks when we finally see some Flashback interaction for the water horse. I would imagine, post-C19, that we'll be seeing more decks with River Kelpie triggering off of noncreature spells being cast from the 'yard. Thanks, Sevinne!

It's about time Clever Impersonator saw a reprint! Phyrexian Metamorph has held the crown of "Clone King" for too long, and it's time for a new world order. Here's the standings right now, adding in original Clone and the recently-printed Spark Double for reference.

Card Name Deck Count
Phyrexian Metamorph 12,126
Clever Impersonator 10,519
Clone 3,694
Spark Double 3,029

I, for one, welcome our new shapeshifting overlord! But seriously, I think we can all agree that Clever Impersonator belongs with the group of EDH staples listed above instead of here in the "First Reprint Club." To the first of many, I hope!

Finally, there's the reprint that I'm most excited for: Grimoire of the Dead. This card is one of my favorite reanimation cards, and it's an excellent choice for the Madness decklist. But, looking to EDHREC, I noted that the card's "Top Commanders" section was completely devoid of discard-themed decks. Instead there's a fair amount of Zombie tribal, and some reanimation theme as well. Thus, my plea with this specific reprint is for you all to get inventive! The Grimoire can fit in well with many strategies, so I want to see it popping up everywhere. To help with this, here are some initial commander ideas that don't show up on Grimoire's EDHREC page... yet.

When you give the card a try, I want to know about it. Get brewing, and let me see those beautiful Grimoire-containing decklists, Internet!

...And Then There's Mimic Vat

As a 'thank you' for reading this extensive review of the shared cards and reprints in Commander 2019, I leave you with a wonderful bit of trivia on our last reprint of note, Mimic Vat. While I'm sure its near future will be filled with making tokens to Populate, here's the list of the top 3 creatures from EDHREC that, according to deck data, are the most likely to be Imprinted on the Vat.

  1. Solemn Simulacrum in 44% of decks containing Mimic Vat, or 3,429 out of 7,793 possible decks
  2. Burnished Hart in 23%, or 1780 out of 7,737 possible decks
  3. Myr Battlesphere in 21%, or 1637 out of 7,793 possible decks

Thanks again for reading, and enjoy Commander 2019!

Midwest transplant to the Pacific Northwest, Kyle has been playing the jankiest of decks for nearly 20 years. He loves non-lethal combos, obscure deck themes, Cloudstone Curio, and winning with Coalition Victory. When he's not tapping lands or brewing decks, Kyle is enjoying his other ridiculously expensive hobby: building with Lego.

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