Myth Realized - What if Any Planeswalker Could Be Your Commander? (Golgari)

(Vraska the Unseen | Art by Aleksi Briclot)

Where Do The Golgari Go To swim? Under Da City.

The question of planeswalkers as commanders has been brought up in Magic discourse an infinite number of times. People say it would kill EDH as a format, and others say it will do nothing but give more options to a perpetually endless pool of commanders. I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle. My name is Nick, and the fifteenth installment of Myth Realized will cover Golgari (black and green) cards. Let's look at how they would each ruin (or not ruin) your favorite 100-card Singleton format.

If you've stuck around with me until this article, you know what cards to look for in this color combination. If not, check out the articles I did in black and green to see the cards I've previously shouted out in these colors.

Garruk, Apex Predator - 5BG

There might never be a better poster child for former powerhouse planeswalkers than this card. With a name like Apex Predator, this card had to put in work when it hit the table, and by all accounts, he did just that. Garruk had four abilities at a time where the only other planeswalker with that amount was the powerhouse Jace, the Mind Sculptor. His +1 either removed an opposing planeswalker or made a formidable blocker with deathtouch. Creature removal and life gain on the -3 with an ultimate that will kill one player in most scenarios. The big downside with this card is the mana cost. Commander and Magic in general seem to get faster as the years go on, and time has not been kind to Garruk. It's a very cool card, and I would love to see it at a table where I play, but it won't break the format anytime soon.

Garruk, Cursed Huntsman - 4BG

So, what if you like Garruk to the point where you want to play all versions of him? Then this right here is the commander for you. A simple in-concept planeswalker can turn a game upside down if brought out at the right time. It has the standard abilities of making blockers and removing creatures for value, but it can also provide loyalty to any other Garruks you have lying around. The card is best used when you can either give it another counter as soon as it hits to get the emblem or when you have a way to sacrifice the Wolves to up the loyalty on itself and other Garruks you control. Maybe not a Superfriends deck, but at least one super friend for the person running this cursed huntsman as their commander.

Garruk Relentless - 3G

Somehow, Garruk is always getting cursed. A card often found in cubes, this might be one of the strangest planeswalkers on any of my lists. Essentially, the front-side version of this card wants to "die." But don't let it die too hard, or else we will not be able to get what we want to be doing with this card: playing the back side. Garruk, the Veil-Cursed, needs some help before he comes out, but then the possibilities are endless. This card and how good it can be depends on how many counters you can get the back side to come out with. Whatever that number may be will let you decide which ability best suits you. Maybe make a blocker that can be sacrificed? Or if you have a creature lying around, get your big win-the-game card; I like the classic Craterhoof Behemoth. How about we win the game, provided we have a stocked graveyard to help pump up our creatures? The world is your oyster, and Garruk looks strong enough to pry it open with his bare hands.

Nissa of Shadowed Boughs - 2BG

Landfall commanders seem to never have the ability to be bad. They always land on the scale somewhere between OK and broken. While Nissa is much closer to the OK end of the scale than the broken side, she can do some broken things. The -5 is very easy to get to on this card and is an ability you can use multiple times if your deck is built for it. Figuring out when you want to play it is what makes this card hard to pinpoint. Slamming it down on turn four might mean you don't have a land drop to pair her with. And playing her without having enough land to get the creature you want means she does nothing for you. This card is a pick-your-moment type of commander. Pick wrong and lose; pick the right, and you might win.

Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler - 1BG

This is undoubtedly the single most powerful card on this list. It's strong, and having it in your command zone makes it stronger. While not giving your creatures actual haste, letting them use abilities that need them to tap when they come down and being able to untap one of them can let a player get crazy. Most people will rightfully pair this card with any Elf they can get their hands on. Priest of Titania, Elvish Archdruid, and even the lowly Llanowar Elves can all do work with this card. And the -2 ability on this card should not be overlooked. Golgari is a color combination that has many die-hard fans in the ranks. If there is a way to break this card, they will find it by letting it live in the command zone. Tyvar is a card that would need to be watched if a rule change came down from on high.

Vraska, Golgari Queen - 2BG

Vraska does a bit of everything anytime they make a Golgari version of her. A planeswalker that takes the standard outline of uptick-for-value, downtick-for-removal, big-downtick-game-win-ultimate and turns all the dials to make it look shiny and new. And Vraska does look new, but maybe not very shiny because of where the Golgari are typically found in Ravnica (read: the sewers). I have died to the ultimate of this card before, and while I'm unhappy about it, I wouldn't be worried about it. Sadly, this card just isn't very exciting. People often pick Ob Nixilis Reignited as the baseline for how a planeswalker should look. I would say Vraska might also be a good contender for that pick.

Vraska, Regal Gorgon - 5BG

The only planeswalker deck planeswalker on the list isn't necessarily the worst one I have seen. It's overpriced, and the effects aren't exactly top-notch. However, this card does have nice numbers compared to other planeswalker deck cards. A +2 does a lot of heavy lifting to make this card not laughable bad. Pair that with a reasonable cost to kill a creature at -3, and we have a pretty standard-looking planeswalker on our hands. The -10 takes a lot of work and requires a setup to take full advantage of, but it does land close to the mark of a game-winning ability. It's still a card that is close to unplayable compared to everything in its color and planeswalkers, but it is far from the worst of the worst.

Vraska, Relic Seeker - 4BG

This might be the best -3 removal effect on any planeswalker ever. Removing almost any permanent type and giving you a Treasure to further your plays is on par or better than drawing a card. The +2 creating a token with menace means you hope to have other protection for Vraska since that token only wants to get at your opponent's life total. The ultimate on this card is also very good. At first glance, it's reminiscent of Sorin Markov and his -3. However, taking someone to one life instead of ten is a big difference. So many things in the game can deal one point of damage, and many do it as an afterthought. Even if you don't possess anything that can deal the damage, this will take your opponents off using a variety of lands, anything with pay life to activate effects and make them play on the back foot for the rest of the game.

Vraska, Swarm's Eminence - 2(B/G B/G)

Like many keyword-typal decks, deathtouch will always get pieces whenever cards come out. It might only be one or two cards, but there will always be cards. This Vraska does two things very well: Kill planeswalkers and make your opponents regret the attack step. Her 1/1 Assassins that can literally assassinate planeswalkers, when you get right down to it, can be perfect in the right matchup. Putting a +1/+1 counter on your deathtouch creatures means what used to be an annoying little Moss Viper into a card to be feared. She also fits into a nice spot regarding the other nine possible Golgari commanders focusing on deathtouch as a theme. Not the top-end powerhouse like Chevill, Bane of Monsters, but I believe above the low end such as Sisters of Stone Death.

Vraska the Unseen - 3BG

This is an excellent example of how to make a planeswalker in the earlier days of the card type's existence and a great example of how they would never make one today. The +1 on this card is a good deterrent for being attacked since she might not die outright. Vraska is also not enough of a deterrent for someone to find a reason not to poke it just so that you will never hit the -7. We once again see a solid -3 removal option for Vraska and a 1/1 Assassin (with chronologically their first planeswalker appearance). I think this card is long past the days of seeing a play at the commander's table, but she gives a glimpse back to the past of what planeswalkers used to look like, and I will give her some appreciation for that.

Wrap Up

Golgari is in a sad place when it comes to planeswalkers. Outside of Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler, nothing here synergizes on a deep level with what this color combination is known for—there is only a light sprinkling of anything related to sacrifice, token-making, and self-mill strategies. Ten options is not the most extensive list to date, but I have to note that the hits in this color combination disappoint me. However, the most significant thing against the Golgari is the steady onslaught of time. Many walkers cost too much mana and do too little in exchange. They were initially designed for one-versus-one formats, but even considering that having a five or above-cost commander in today's world can mean two things. You love the card so much you will play it no matter the cost. Or the card is so good that it wins as long as it can resolve.

I believe that Tyvar would be a dangerous card to add to the ever-growing list of commanders since it does everything you want a good commander to do. The electricity we saw in the last article with the Izzet has brought us equally to the dampness feature within the Golgari. Regardless, we push forward in the quest to answer the question: What, if any, planeswalker could be your commander? And we only have two colors left to go. Join me next time as we suit up with the Boros Legion.

Read more:

Myth Realized - What if Any Planeswalker Could Be Your Commander? (Izzet)

Singleton Shmingleton - Lhurgoyf

Player and lover of all Magic the Gathering formats. Forged in the fires of Oath of the Gatewatch expeditions. Always down to jam games with anyone and everyone. When not playing Magic I am doing something else equally, if not more nerdy.

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