The 600 - Ikoria and Commander 2020

A Monster-Sized Article

Let's turn on Blue Öyster Cult's "Godzilla" and crank it to 11. We're taking The 600 to Ikoria.

In this article series, we estimate which commanders will earn over or under 600 EDHREC decks after one year of existence. There's also a "Can't Miss Pick," which serves as the called shot of the set—or sets, in this case.

Today we'll examine every commander from Ikoria and C20. Let's get smashing.

Kathril, Aspect Warper

First off: gross. Second, the comparisons to Rayami, First of the Fallen have me worried (Rayami only leads 261 decks).

However, unlike Rayami, Kathril pumps its stats. It also doesn’t exile creatures, which should prove advantageous for future appearances. You can also assemble annoying keyword combinations like deathtouch + trample + first strike, or hexproof + indestructible, or heck, why not all five? It requires a fair amount of setup, but when has that ever stopped determined EDH deckbuilders?

The final point in Kathril’s favor: it’s a face commander, meaning it appears on the front of the box. This card will warp many aspects, whatever that means.

My prediction: Over

Tayam, Luminous Enigma

Tayam works well with Reyhan, Last of the Abzan, Cathar’s Crusade, and pretty much anything that spews counters. It also retrieves used fetch lands and removes counters from Undying and Persist creatures, which means that there are probably plenty of infinite combos to be found if you dig for them. Not bad for something that looks like it emerged from Area X.

My prediction: Over

Nikara, Lair Scavenger + Yannik, Scavenging Sentinel

Why an 80s goth punk would befriend a Hyena is beyond me, but I’ll go with it. Nikara and Yannik encourage mild synergy with blinking and +1/+1 counters, though how that coalesces is also beyond me. This duo seems to have its fans, but I think they'll be more of a niche act than a headliner.

My prediction: Under

Nethroi, Apex of Death

Cat Nightmare Beast, eh? Sounds like my cat Luna after snorting catnip.

Nethroi needs no catnip to give your opponents nightmares. In a deck with self-mill, enter-the-battlefield effects, and low-power creatures, this kitty turns vicious. With one cast you can revive Ghave, Guru of Spores, Forgotten Ancient, Polukranos, Unchained, Reyhan, Last of the Abzan, Kalonian Hydra, Noosegraf Mob, Spike Weaver, Realm Seeker... and none of that uses up a single point of the 10 power cap, so let's throw in Corpsejack Menace, Winding Constrictor and Pir, Imaginative Rascal... Alternatively, we can bring back the entire creature suite from a Doran, the Siege Tower deck. Or just rip a creature combo right out of the yard like Mikaeus, the Unhallowed + Triskelion, or a Reveillark + Karmic Guide loop... this thing can end games the first time you cast it. Watch your back, Karador.

Pair with Hermit Druid or Morality Shift for bogus games. Easy grade here.

My prediction: Over

Gavi, Nest Warden

Gavi combos with classic Cycling payoffs like Astral Slide, Drake Haven, and New Perspectives, plus new ones like Unpredictable Cyclone and Escape Protocol. Also, just remember all those red Cycling/discard goodies, courtesy of Anje Falkenrath: Underworld Breach, Glint-Horn Buccaneer, Tectonic Reformation...

Gavi's a face commander in a popular color combo with plenty of synergies for a much-beloved mechanic that hasn't yet had a dedicated deck-leader. I'm in.

My prediction: Over

Akim, the Soaring Wind

Giving Akim's 1/1 Bird buddies double strike seems disappointing, so I'd recommend some Divine Visitation, Entreat the Angels, and Luminarch Ascension payoffs, instead.

Unfortunately, Akim’s greatest problem is a fellow avian: Kykar, Wind's Fury

If you’re playing Jeskai tokens, you're probably one of the 1,972 players already playing Kykar. Akim competes in the same space, so while it's an interesting deck, it may ultimately get overshadowed.

My prediction: Under

Brallin, Skyshark Rider + Shabraz, the Skyshark

Nice to see Bruce from Finding Nemo find a friend—and wings! People seem hyped about these two, though I’m skeptical.

C20's other Partner pairs fuel one another. These two don’t (aside from giving each other evasion, which is unremarkable). They're good, of course, but they're not helping each other out They’re at their best when you cast Brallin into Bruce into a wheel effect, which is flashy when it works, but also fragile. They're also not the only commanders in these sets that will want to cast lots of wheels. 

My prediction: Under

Vadrok, Apex of Thunder

Snapcaster Mage in the command zone sounds alluring. Unfortunately, your spells are limited to less than three CMC. Plus, I doubt you'll Mutate it very many times. More like "Apex of Blunder," am I right?

My prediction: Under

Jirina Kudro

Online reaction has been solidly meh for Jirina. As always, EDHREC tells us why. Check the All Tribes page and you’ll find Humans in 19th place with 956 decks.

However, there are some bright spots. The power boost is great with first-strikers like Alesha, Who Smiles at Death. Blinking Jirina could flood the board, especially after casting her several times. Also, she pairs beautifully with Outlaw’s Merriment, Hanweir Militia Captain, and plenty new Humans printed in both C20 and Ikoria.

Of all the face commanders, I'm the least confident in Jirina, but it's tough to root against a fellow Human.

My prediction: Over

Kelsien, the Plague

It's not a glitch in the Matrix; we have seen experience counters before. Commander 2015 introduced five creatures that gave you experience counters, including Daxos the Returned and Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas, who were... not super popular.

Sure, Kelsien accumulates experience with Basilisk Collar, but he still needs ample support just to become decent. Also, I'm not hanging out with anyone nicknamed "The Plague."

My prediction: Under

Trynn, Champion of Freedom + Silvar, Devourer of the Free

Trynn provides the fodder, Silvar provides the slaughter. Got it.

Sadly, online conversation regarding these two has been overwhelmingly negative. People don't care about their synergy with Hanweir Militia Captain or the newly printed Bastion of Remembrance. Folks think these two are too expensive for too little payoff; I'd have to agree.

My prediction: Under

Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt

A strong beater, but ultimately nothing new for Mardu. The base art kinda looks like a tiger, so maybe Joe Exotic fans will pad the numbers? Nah, probably not.

My prediction: Under

Otrimi, the Ever-Playful

Otrimi is clearly a fan of Mutate. Fortunately, his precon offers plenty such creatures, as does the entire Ikoria expansion. Otrimi also cleverly mitigates the inherent downside of Mutate: since you’re investing multiple resources into one creature, you want a playmate who can recoup your losses once that creature dies.

A face commander with the new set’s headline mechanic? I'll play with that.

My prediction: Over

Zaxara, the Exemplary

Not only does Zaxara go infinite with Freed from the Real, but it also introduces X spell tribal to Sultai! Tapping for two mana is a solid enabler, and additional X/X Hydra pals are nice payoffs. This card’s gotten lots of online buzz, with many commenters noting such powerful tools as Mass Manipulation, Villainous Wealth, Torment of Hailfire, and Walking Ballista

This guy's a total X factor, so much so that it's my Can't-Miss Pick!

My prediction: Over (Can't Miss Pick)

Cazur, Ruthless Stalker + Ukkima, Stalking Shadow

Though I wouldn’t strike up a conversation with these two at the dog park, I must admit that they make a good team. Unblockable creatures are just begging to be Mutated, especially if they're commanders. You might also try Ninjas, or some Proliferate nonsense thanks to Cazur, or just making Ukkima so huge that people will be dead whether they get rid of it or not! Plus, Ukkima is a Whale Wolf, which has to count for something.

Sadly, nobody seems to dig this pair as much as I do. Bums me out to admit it, but I don’t think they'll make the 600 mark.

My prediction: Under

Brokkos, Apex of Forever

This is essentially just Colossal Dreadmaw with recursion. And if I wanted Colossal Dreadmaw as my commander, I'd just play it, since the memes have turned it legendary.

My prediction: Under

Kalamax, the Stormsire

If Reddit upvotes foreshadow a commander’s popularity, Kalamax might be the most popular Dinosaur since Barney. I can see why. It's unique, versatile, and exciting.

Yes, you'll need ways to tap Kalamax. Attacking won't always be safe, so pack some Vehicles. Then try copying Beast Within, Chaos Warp, or Harrow. Better yet, copy X spells like Expansion // Explosion. Make Kalamax infinitely large on another player's turn by copying your own Reverberates. Visit EDHREC’s Top Instants Page for more ideas.

This one's a slam dunk. Can I have two Can't-Miss Picks?

My prediction: Over

Xyris, the Writhing Storm

People are hyped about this card and I can’t understand why. Maybe I’m a heartless curmudgeon, but this feels a little too... hug-y. I don't want to attack with it. It's clearly a wheel commander, making tons and tons of tokens, which goes great with an Impact Tremors. I guess this just feels like a crowded space to me. Nekusar, the Mindrazer, The Locust God, Brallin and Bruce from above, not to mention Rielle (we'll get to that one soon). 

Despite my reservations, I speak for the people, and the people like this card.

My (salty) prediction: Over

Haldan, Avid Arcanist + Pako, Arcane Retriever

These guys seem fun and their matching outfits are too cute. But the noncreature clause is an issue, and Haldan being a Horned Turtle until you fetch something relevant is disappointing. Still, their innocent demeanor belies their true purpose, which is straight up larceny. I can dig that.

My prediction: Over

Illuna, Apex of Wishes

If Illuna wished for a random smattering of creature types, wish granted. But those types don't matter as much as the text, which is itself quite striking. Flample, Mutate, and free cards make this another easy pick.

My prediction: Over

Yorion, Sky Nomad

Our first Companion card! These are tricky to evaluate. So long as you meet the deckbuilding requirement, Companions effectively act as your second (or in some cases, third) commander. That's powerful. However, Companion conditions vary in severity, so they may or may not impact commander counts.

Yorion can't be a Companion in EDH (100 cards is enough!). As a commander, it's fine but nothing special. Blinking creatures is useful, but Brago, King Eternal rules that ability, and I don't see Yorian uncrowning him.

My prediction: Under

Gyruda, Doom of Depths

No odd CMC cards is a massive liability (Sol Ring is aghast at the notion), so I doubt this appears often as a Companion. That leaves us with a situational ETB effect and a 6/6 for six with no evasion or protection. Decent, but not Commander material.

My prediction: Under

Obosh, the Preypiercer

Obosh isn't terrible. It makes your seven-mana Banefire deal 12 damage instead of 6. And if you’re into ties, Heartless Hidetsugu kills everyone instantly. Fun stuff, but I’m seeing little else worth discussing. To quote Simon Cowell, it’s a no for me.

My prediction: Under

Zilortha, Strength Incarnate

A reverse Doran, the Siege Tower? That's interesting.

Thing is, most high-power Gruul creatures already have high toughness. Sure, you can make your Nessian Boar a 10/10 or give your Infinity Elemental infinite toughness. But that's about it.

My prediction: Under

Jegantha, the Wellspring

If EDHREC's Instagram comments are any indication, Jegantha might fall short because so many players want to Companion it with Jodah, Archmage Eternal. It's easy to do so, and I think that will legitimately impact this card's popularity as a commander.

My prediction: Under

Kaheera, the Orphanguard

Even orphaned creatures can do better than a commander who gives a measly +1/+1 and vigilance. See it in Arahbo, Roar of the World decks, but not in its own.

My prediction: Under

General Kudro of Drannith

An anthem for Humans is fine. Graveyard hate is valuable but sometimes irrelevant. And two-for-ones on yourself sound lousy, especially when sacrificing nontoken Humans. Aside from the crystal shoulder pad, this General is generally unimpressive.

My prediction: Under

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

There’s a whole slew of under-two CMC cards that play wonderfully with Mini-Muldrotha as a commander, including Kaya's Ghostform, Selfless Spirit, Sinister Concoction, and even Rat Colony. I think Lurrus is unusual enough to earn deck-builders’ support. Me-ow.

My prediction: Over

Rielle, the Everwise

At first glance, Rielle looks like just another Izzet spells commander. But look closer and you’ll see something far more interesting. This card goes nuts with Cycling cards and with wheels. Rielle, New Perspectives, and seven cards in hand let us cycle through our deck for zero mana. From there, giving Rielle unblockable in blue should be easy. Lethal commander damage!

My prediction: Over

Chevill, Bane of Monsters

I appreciate this dude's Monster Hunter sword and passing resemblance to John Cleese, but that's about it. Cool flavor, but too small-ball for a legit commander.

My prediction: Under

Umori, The Collector

Like Chevill, Umori offers a neat but ultimately minor effect in the command zone. Also, its face creeps me out.

My prediction: Under

Winota, Joiner of Forces

Card advantage in Boros? Could it be? Well, sort of. 

Yes, Winota casts free creatures and protects them with indestructible. But the attacker must be non-Human, meaning Winota can't trigger her own ability. Then, she can only fetch Humans from your deck.

I’m skeptical of a half Human, half non-Human deck. However, I suspect there will still be enough interest to break this one.

My prediction: Over

Zirda, the Dawnwaker

Zirda creates infinite colorless mana with Grim Monolith and Basalt Monolith, and reduces both Equip and Cycling costs (albeit never to zero). It even fits with already-powerful cards like Staff of Domination.

If I learned anything from Feather, the Redeemed, it’s that EDH players love Boros commanders that do something besides combat. I'd say Zirda checks that fox—I mean, box.

My prediction: Over

Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy

Kinnan seems sweet. Play fair by casting Standard dorks and rocks or generate infinite mana using Freed from the Real plus a dork, or the same Basalt Monolith trick as Zirda. Dangit, Simic, you couldn't let Boros's commander have that synergy all to itself, could you?

I like this card. I also like the random yak that’s honking in his picture's background. 

My prediction: Over

Keruga, the Macrosage

Another legend with an unreasonable Companion condition. Might it work as a commander instead?

I suppose, though it feels similar to Simic predecessors, namely Tishana, Voice of Thunder and Prime Speaker Zegana. Those two aren’t even almost famous, so I doubt this hungry hungry hippo will be, either.

My prediction: Under

Yidaro, Wandering Monster

Interesting, but clearly not designed for singleton formats. In the words of a wise zombie, I like turtles. Just not this one.

My prediction: Under

Kogla, the Titan Ape

Kogla's first two abilities are potent, but his interaction with Humans excites me most. It makes him nigh unkillable, and offers ETB value with Borderland Ranger, Eternal Witness, and Maul Splicer.

All that plus the flavor makes me think Kogla will be popular. The dude's a movie star, for ape's sake.

My prediction: Over




Can't Miss Pick

A big article for a couple big sets. Hope you enjoyed it! Let me know your picks for the most popular commanders from these products in the comments below!

Kyle A. Massa is a writer and avid Magic player living somewhere in upstate New York with his wife, their daughter, and three wild animals. His current favorite card is Nahiri, Forged in Fury. Kyle can be found on Twitter @mindofkyleam.

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