Fallout Set Review - Enemy Colors and Wedges

(Caesar, Legion's Emperor | Alexander Gering)

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Commander Never Changes

Friendly greetings and welcome to the enemy and wedge colors set review for Fallout. I'm John Sherwood, and this week Magic is taking me back to my teenage years. I played the first two Fallout games on computers with cathode ray tube monitors. I haven't played a Fallout game in over fifteen years, but I'm excited to see some familiar faces and places. This review will include the face commanders and alternates for three of the set's four preconstructed decks, as well as over a dozen new two color Commanders. Venture into the wastes with me to see how these new cards may impact your future games of EDH!


Dr. Madison Li

Energy is back, and Dr. Madison Li is breaking the laws of physics by creating more of it. Her triggered ability has combo potential, and her activated abilities have a sensible progression. The central themes of artifacts and energy will always be present in Dr. Li's decks, but two of the activated abilities open different build paths. Dr. Li's first activated ability is relevant for combat-focused decks, or decks that want a haste enabler. Meanwhile Dr. Li's third activated ability raises the potential to cheat the mana cost of big artifacts as a reanimator. Altogether, it's a great design with a lot of potential.

Liberty Prime, Recharged

Liberty Prime is cool, but...

It's an 8/8 for five mana, but it can't attack or block without spending two energy counters. It can draw cards and make energy, but you have to tap it and sacrifice an artifact. It's a sacrifice outlet, but it isn't easily repeatable. Liberty Prime is thematically accurate, but it can't do anything without significant investment from its controller.

This card is entirely dependent on other cards to be useful, and for that reason I'm on the fence about it. I think commanders that make players work for the payoffs are a net positive for the quality of the format. On the other hand, I don't like idea of a 5-drop that can't do anything by itself. The work required for payoffs from Liberty Prime will probably keep it in the 99 of dedicated energy decks.

The Wise Mothman

Mill and counters have plenty of support in in Sultai colors, and this is the first Sultai commander to specifically combine these mechanics. Because this is a new blend of abilities, I don't think it has a home in the 99 of any existing Sultai decks. As a commander, this card will be easy to build around. The Wise Mothman wants to attack to keep handing out rad counters, and flying definitely helps with that. By itself, the Mothman's distribution of +1/+1 counters will be inconsistent. However, there are plenty of top deck manipulation and mill effects in these colors to boost both the consistency and quantity. I think Wise Mothman decks will be interesting without being busted, and I look forward to seeing them across the table.

The Master, Transcendent

The Master, Transcendent joins an ever-growing throng of commanders with a payoff for milling cards. This time we're reanimating milled creatures as mutants. Because the target can come from any player's graveyard, this mutant master can be built to reanimate your own creatures, as a theft deck, or both. I'm a huge fan of commanders that can utilize underplayed cards. The Master creates a home for effects like Forced Retreat by turning an unpopular form of removal into a setup for stealing opponents' creatures.

The primary constraint for The Master, Transcendent is the need for a critical mass of mill effects. The Master only hands out two rad counters, which amounts to a meager total of three cards milled to feed its own activated ability. Putting on those first two rad counters on an opponents is kind of a trap, because two of the three milled cards will be milled while The Master has summoning sickness. On the bright side, there are plenty of other mill effects in Sultai.

I appreciate that mill doesn't have to be the win condition in this deck, it's a means to an end. This is another flavor win. The Master used the Forced Evolutionary Virus and abducted denizens of the wastes as means to achieve it's twisted vision of humanity's future.

Caesar, Legion's Emperor

Caesar tosses together a triggered ability salad, with fresh Aristocrats, crispy tokens, card advantage dressing and a savory side of burn. With a steady supply of creature tokens, Caesar doesn't have to attack to do any dirty work. He can relax on his throne while feeding expendable troops to your victory. A Caesar deck will benefit from several effects Mardu colors are already famous for, including token generation, attack and dying triggers and damage multipliers.

With enough tokens on board, Caesar doesn't even need combat damage to win, because his final ability could easily burn an opponent out of the game. Card is good, and it's going to be popular far beyond the bounds of the Hail, Caesar preconstructed deck.

Mr. House, President and CEO

I wonder if design considered restricting the triggered ability on Mr. House to six-sided dice? Given the abundance of cards that roll a twenty-sided die; it's easy to weight the odds so the house wins. I don't believe the ability is unbalanced. However, I feel Mr. House cheats his way to the top of the heap of dice-rolling commanders. Unfinity attractions will be a flavorful inclusion for the tycoon of New Vegas. There are eleven commander-legal cards in Mardu colors that open attractions. Not enough to build the entire deck around, but enough for a fun subtheme.


Colonel Autumn

With all the text on this card, I want to believe there's a line of play to get the most out of all its abilities. It wants a critical mass of Legendary creatures to maximize the opportunities to exploit. It also wants to go wide to put out as many +1/+1 counters as possible. Those two lines converge somewhere, and I think it's in the 99 of decks like Elenda, the Dusk Rose, Minthara, Merciless Soul and Liesa, Forgotten Archangel. Those cards would also be good in the 99 of a Colonel Autumn Deck, but I don't expect that deck to be popular. I know that will be part of the appeal for some people.

Elder Arthur Maxson

Orzhov certainly provides the framework to build a deck with Elder Arthur Maxson at the helm with plenty of token generators and sacrifice payoffs. Plus, Elder Arthur Maxson's ability to gain indestructible opens the door to an aggro strategy. However, I don't think training is interesting or strong enough to entice many players to build it as a commander. The free sacrifice outlet might help this card find a home in the 99 of existing aristocrats decks, but that's a crowded space with a lot of better options.

MacCready, Lamplight Mayor

Mayor MacCready's abilities are clearly pointing a Commander deck in the direction of white weenie with a pillow fort twist. The white weenie archetype is seeing a resurgence with support from the recent Murders at Karlov Manor set, thanks to new cards like Assemble the Players and Delney, Streetwise Lookout. A clear direction doesn't necessarily indicate a good direction. Skulk rates pretty low for evasion in Commander, where tokens run rampant and over a third of legendary creatures have power two or less.

There's a good chance skulk will be routinely invalidated by board state. Meanwhile, MaCready, Lamplight Mayor's second ability is only moonlighting as a pillow fort effect. It doesn't matter for creatures with power three or less. If one creature can deal five or more combat damage, then the net change in life totals is still in your opponent's favor. Ultimately, MacCready should only deter attacks when you have blockers or the creature's power is exactly four. MacCready, Lamplight Mayor may not be the best choice for a commander, but there is a Silverquill lining: its mana value meets the companion criteria for Lurrus of the Dream-Den.

Vault 11: Voter's Dilemma

The political potential for this saga should be enough to find it a home in Breena, the Demagogue decks, especially those sticking with Sheldon Menery's intended political theme for the Silverquill Statement precon. Two consecutive turns of an effect similar to Council's Judgment is a fine investment for four mana, and worth the wait to get past the saga's boring first verse. Verse 1 might be boring, but it isn't bad. In a full pod it will net three bodies, which is comparable to Company Commander, and better than White Glove Gourmand.

Red Death, Shipwrecker

This crimson-eyed crustacean brings another superlative first to Magic: this is the first Izzet creature that taps to make mana. Leave it to an elf player to focus on the mana dork aspect of an ability that isn't actually a mana ability. Let's go back to the beginning and look at the other things Red Death is doing before it gives you one red mana. Tapping to goad target creature is fun, impactful and good value for a two mana creature. I'm never a fan of giving extra cards to opponents, but we can either accept the card for its imperfections or build around them. Decks in blue and red can include payoffs for an opponent's card draw, such as Consecrated Sphinx, Faerie Mastermind and Zurzoth, Chaos Rider.

After those parts of the ability resolve, then Red Death adds one red mana. What would I do with one red mana? Lot's of things, but one option is untapping Red Death. Between artifacts and having access to blue, there are no shortage of tools to untap a creature. Patriar's Seal is good, and Magewright's Stone has an affordable reprint from Ravnica Remastered. Speaking of untapping, watch out, this card is another payoff for the classic untapping combo of Dramatic Reversal and Isochron Scepter. As long as you have at least one other nonland mana source, this combo can force force your opponents to draw their entire decks. Red Death, Shipwrecker is a solid pick in the 99 of existing goad decks, and offers a fun new spin on the goad theme as a commander.

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Shaun, Father of Synths

Shaun opens the door on a hybrid of legend and clone themes. This deck has three notable weaknesses: First, the copies are artifacts, making them more susceptible to removal. Second, the tokens all exile if Shaun leaves the battlefield. Third, it needs a creature to attack, and Shaun has neither protection nor evasion. On the bright side, if your opponents can exploit any of these factors, then the deck will still have board presence from the other legendary creatures Shaun copied. I think this card is an outstanding design for a new commander, and it would make a great addition to existing legend decks. Jodah, the Unifier and Sisay, Weatherlight Captain don't need any help, but making more copies of Aragorn, the Uniter would be a huge boost to that deck.

Vault 112: Sadistic Simulation

This card sees an unlikely convergence of saga and energy. Two themes that don't really go together, but each has devoted fans in the Magic community. Tom Bombadil is the only dedicated saga commander with a color identity that can include Vault 112, but Tom Bombadil can do so much better. I'm also not convinced an energy deck wants a saga, even if that saga does make energy. If I were looking for cuts to make room for more artifacts in the Science! preconstructed deck, then this would be one of the first cards to go.

Agent Frank Horrigan

The first time I played Fallout 2, I spent hours just trying to figure out how to get to the Enclave oil rig. When I finally got there, I found myself woefully unprepared for the game's cyborg mutant super soldier villain. Nothing about the card hits me with the same shock, but the Magic version of Agent Frank Horrigan is nonetheless a solid boss for a Golgari deck. As the first Golgari creature with proliferate, this legendary creature is conquering new territory for the black and green color pair.

Frankly, it won't be difficult to pump Agent Horrigan's power for some heavily armored combat. As much as I'm confident Agent Frank Horrigan will make a solid commander, I actually think it should see more play in Abzan decks, with white for more +1/+1 counter support. Of course proliferate isn't limited to +1/+1 counters. Although Frank is not a Blightsteel Colossus on his own, he has the potential to be a finisher in decks with poison.

Alpha Deathclaw

Versatile removal on a big stick, plus you can destroy another permanent and make the creature bigger. This card makes me smile. I want one, and I don't even know what deck I would put it in yet. Now, realistically, this card is a Timmy/Tammy special, and not much else. Casualties of War costs the same amount of mana and hits multiple targets, and even that's a hard sell in a increasingly efficient format.


Atomize is much easier to cast than Alpha Deathclaw, if significantly less exciting. It won't rise to the same popularity as Assassin's Trophy, but it is a removal spell with upside. Atomize lines up with decks that want to proliferate, and commanders like Skullbriar, the Walking Grave and Reyhan, Last of the Abzan will be at the head of the line.

Armory Paladin

There are eight Boros Equipment commanders with over 1000 decks, and several other more obscure ones. Armory Paladin supports a proven deck archetype with a decent body, evasion and card advantage. I love impulse draw, but not all impulse draw is created equal. For the best versions of impulse draw, look for the words play and next turn. Meaning you get the option to play exiled lands, and you have access to those cards for a full round of the table. Armory Paladin checks both boxes. It's worthwhile to note this card also triggers on Auras, which is nice but enchantress decks don't need help with card advantage. Armory Paladin is also a knight, so it's a perfect fit for Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale.

Cass, Hand of Vengeance

Cass is an insurance policy in Aura decks. The insurance policy has high premiums and terrible coverage. For this to work you need Cass in play when an enchanted and/or equipped creature goes from the field to the yard. It will work fine for creatures that die because of an edict, targeted destruction or combat damage. However, non-destruction removal is increasingly common and "destroy" board wipes will normally leave you without a target for all the dropped kit. In short, this card is too narrow to deserve a slot in your 99. There's nothing here worth building around, so it isn't going to be a popular commander either.

Desdemona, Freedom's Edge

Desdemona is a reanimator in Boros colors. The requirement to attack, and the absence of native evasion will hold this card back as a commander, but it doesn't have to lead a deck to be worth a look. I think Brion Stoutarm, Alibou, Ancient Witness or Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp decks may find a use for Desdemona's services. Each of those commanders has a good probability of having enough creatures in the yard to pay the escape costs, and repeatable recursion is a great way to give a deck some staying power.

Inventory Management

There have only been a handful of new split second cards since the original Time Spiral block, and this one is a winner. Inventory Management is versatile, with the potential to save your creature from removal, prevent Auras from going to the yard, or as a combat trick to punch through for lethal damage. Aura and Equipment commanders should absolutely be finding room for this. It's even useful in Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist decks, where it can provide redundancy for Ardenn's ability, or catch an opponent off guard after Ardenn shifted all your gear onto another creature as a diversion.

Moira Brown, Guide Author

My favorite part about Moira is the Wasteland Survival Guide token is not legendary. Moira pens a new approach to Boros Equipment; blinking Moira to make more tokens and using other creatures to attack and get quest counters. Resourceful Defense, Nesting Grounds and The Ozolith will be great picks in a Moira deck to keep your quest counters in play. While Moira is not going to be needed in in the 99 of any particular deck, I do believe she has a home in Voltron decks for players looking to add a little more variance. This is a new and unique design, and I think it will freshen up combat in a variety of decks with red and white in their color identity. Looking beyond Boros, here are some commanders that might want to read Moira's survival guide: Éowyn, Shieldmaiden, Jetmir, Nexus of Revels or Zurgo Helmsmasher.

Paladin Elizabeth Taggerdy

This card might be good in the 99 of any go-wide deck, but Paladin Elizabeth Taggerdy is designed to command. She draws cards and cheats creatures into play. Once upon a time this would have been a Shock in Boros colors, but in the five years since Feather, the Redeemed we've seen an increasing number of white and red commanders overcome the color pair's stereotypical shortcomings.

The best thing about this card is the sheer variety in creatures that can be brought to bear. Stay low to the ground with creatures at three mana value or less, go for kindred synergy with humans or knights, or (my personal favorite) pump Elizabeth's power to cheat out bigger threats. Angels and dragons anyone? A little protection and evasion will go a long way to help Paladin Elizabeth Taggerdy bring her flavor text to life on the table.

Sentinel Sarah Lyons

Remember one card back when I mentioned Boros stereotypes? Exhibit A: Sentinel Sarah Lyons, a five mana 4/4 with narrow setup requirements and payoffs that don't feel worth it. The first ability is a conditional anthem, but good luck triggering it on opponents' turns. Five mana for an anthem that isn't likely to help on defense feels like a waste. The second ability could add up really quickly with all the artifact tokens flooding the board these days, but it's very telegraphed and opponents won't let it happen. As a knight that cares about artifacts, Sarah might be a 99th pick in Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale decks. Otherwise, I think this Sentinel is going to be relieved of duty.

Three Dog, Galaxy News DJ

I don't see a bullfrog named Jeremiah, but this disk jockey will probably have Enchantress players singing along to Joy to the World. Three Dog, Galaxy News DJ is spinning old Auras in new ways. Copying Auras probably won't knock Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice off the top of the Aura commander charts, but Three Dog will command a respectable number of decks. Three Dog's biggest fan will be Mazzy, Truesword Paladin. Mazzy's ability to recur the Auras sacrificed to Three Dog will create some truly fearsome board states. Imagine multiple copies of All That Glitterss or Ancestral Mask on your entire team. "Joy to you and me."

Marcus, Mutant Mayor

Having a combat damage trigger might be a flavor fail for this character. Marcus surprised me the first time I encountered him in Fallout 2. The series sets you up to expect a fight when you see a super mutant, and then Marcus wants to talk. There's nothing surprising about the Magic version of Marcus. It's a Simic card that draws cards and adds +1/+1 counters. There's potential for a Rube Goldberg machine with cards that move counters onto other creatures, but is it really worth the effort? I think Marcus will be fine as a commander and fair in decks that consistently put out new creatures to attack.

Mutational Advantage

The expression on that puny human's face is an accurate representation of the faces opponents will make when you cast this card. Three mana to give permanents three layers of protection and it proliferates. A guaranteed superstar in Superfriends, Mutational Advantage will be better than Heroic Intervention in Planeswalker decks. Watch the numbers on this one, especially for Atraxa, Praetors' Voice and her 8500+ Planeswalker decks.

Vault 87: Forced Evolution

If any of the Sagas in this article make the cut for Tom Bombadil, it's this one. Five mana to temporarily control an opponent's creature, and draw a full grip of cards. The value on this card is in the first and third verses. I know someone has reason to play this card for the second verse, and I hope they respond in the comments. For now though, I'm going to force this card to face facts. Theft decks can steal creatures permanently for less mana. Creature decks can draw cards without waiting two more turns for the rest of a saga to resolve. I'm sure there are players who want this card, but I don't believe any decks need this card.

Uncommons & Commons

White Glove Gourmand

I almost didn't review this card because it creeps me out. The pairing of high society motifs and cannibalism in both the flavor and mechanics of the cards is nightmare food. This card will feed a couple deck themes including humans and aristocrats. If those two themes overlap in your deck, then it might be worth a look. If it's just one or the other, then your deck can probably do better. The card also makes food tokens, but I wouldn't sip whatever they're raising in that glass. The end step trigger is limited to humans dying, so it's too narrow to fit in the Food and Fellowship preconstructed deck from Lord of the Rings.

Young Deathclaws

I want to see someone scavenge Yargle and Multani to slap eighteen +1/+1 counters on a creature for six mana. This card is not the best thing you can be doing for four mana. A 4/2 with menace is mediocre at best, and the scavenge ability is useless without creatures in your yard. Scavenge is not as good as reanimating creatures, but in a deck that is already filling the graveyard, having one more option for graveyard value is never a bad thing. Are you into Pauper EDH? Then Young Deathclaws could be a fun commander with a payoff for all the self mill cards in Golgari colors!

Craig Boone, Novac Guard

If your deck is already planning to attack with two creatures, then Craig Boone is incidentally beneficial. This Fallout sniper has the potential to put your opponents in a political standoff. I suspect most players won't want to remove Craig Boone when he hits the field, because he isn't a threat right away. The first time the ability triggers is not really a problem for anyone, but if it triggers multiple times, then it gradually becomes a serious problem. Even then, players won't want to be the one to spend removal on it unless their best creature is your best target. Outside of creating novel political scenarios, I don't think this card is very good. The battalion-lite trigger is unreliable, and it takes several turns for Craig to build up enough counters to pose a serious threat.

Picking My Perks

Preview season for this Universes Beyond product gave me an amusing trip down memory lane. I can see the appeal for more devoted Fallout fans, but prices for Universes Beyond products are a deterrent for me. I won't be buying any of the Fallout preconstructed decks, but I'll definitely open my wallet for singles. I'm surprised by the number of entirely unique designs present in this set, and I'm curious to see which ones stick around. I swore off Boros after dismantling my Feather deck last year, but I may reconsider my Boros embargo to build a Paladin Elizabeth Taggerdy deck. Were any of my takes lost in the wasteland? Are you feeling the itch to build any of the twenty (twenty!) new commanders in this? Tell me about it in the comments below.

John Sherwood loves interaction, turning creatures sideways and interacting with sideways creatures. His deck building mantra is, "Run more lands." He has been a devoted Commander player since Zendikar Rising.

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