The 600 - Predicting the Popularity of Dominaria United Commanders, Part 2

Dominaria Key Art by Justyna Dura

Commanding Unity

It's time for double the Dominaria. We're back with another 600!

In this article series, we predict how popular new commanders will become one year after release. Last time, we covered the commanders from Dominaria United. Today, we'll analyze the newbies from the Commander product.

As a refresher, each commander gets an "Over" or "Under" grade. The former means I believe the commander will lead more than 600 decks, while the latter means fewer. I'll also have one Can't-Miss Pick, which is like a called shot in Horse.

Now, let's get to it!


Zeriam, Golden Wind

Yet another offbeat tribe earns a commander. There are only 42 white and colorless Griffins in Magic, and few of them are good, yet if I've learned anything from Ayula, Queen Among Bears, it's this: no tribe is too obscure.

My prediction: Over

Emperor Mihail II

Speaking of tribal fans, get a load of Mihail II (Mihail, Jr. to his parents). Casting cards from the top of the library is always popular, and Merfolk have been a mainstay since Alpha. Though I don't see Junior usurping Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca's top spot in Merfolk tribal, I think he'll still clear the mark.

My prediction: Over

Moira, Urborg Haunt

Moira reads like an uncommon. Menaceis quickly blanked as the game progresses, and her ability is far too conditional to rival other reanimator commanders.

My prediction: Under

Rosnakht, Heir of Rohgahh

I can't tell if this card is sweet or terrible. We've never seen Battle Cry on a commander before, and Heroic only appears on two others (neither of which are popular).

That said, players adore Kobolds of Kher Keep and there's no shortage of ways to grant evasion, so I suppose Rosnakht will make it. However, I must admit, I'm not confident.

My prediction: Over(?)

Baru, Wurmspeaker

I'm old enough to remember pulling Baru, Fist of Krosa in a booster pack, which is slightly depressing. Try as I might, I couldn't make that card work. This version is better... but by enough?

I'll guess yes. With a big bonus for Wurms and a legit way to create more, this seems like the sort of payoff that players (and Dune fans) have been waiting for.

My prediction: Over

Greensleeves, Maro-Sorcerer

This card shares a name with Elizabethan-era double platinum #1 hit "A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves." It also happens to be a solid—if not innovative—commander.

The protection clause is mostly flavorful, but it will come up occasionally (preventing Oko, Thief of Crowns +1s and Niv-Mizzet, Parun pings, for example). Greensleeves also promises to get big fast, and 3/3 badgers per land are useful (not to mention funny).

Nothing groundbreaking, but I can totally see players sleeving up Greensleeves.

My prediction: Over

Ayesha Tanaka, Armorer

Utility artifacts, Equipment, and Vehicles? Ayesha uses them all (though Equipment are best since they boost her power). Also, in your average EDH game, players frequently possess random artifacts, paving the way for free activations.

My prediction: Over

Rasputin, the Oneiromancer

Cue up the Boney M. song. Rasputin is back and weirder than ever.

Ramp in Azorius is a neat bonus, and free Knights with pro-red aren't bad, either. You'll want blink and/or Proliferate effects to maximize those dream counters, and fortunately, these colors offer plenty of both.

I'm not sure he's the most cohesive package, but Rasputin is certainly unique.

My prediction: Over

Tobias, Doomed Conqueror

I see this Toby becoming as popular as Toby from The Office—which is to say, not very. This is far too much setup for a handful of Zombies, especially when compared to Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, Ghoulcaller Gisa, and so many others.

My prediction: Under

Ramirez DePietro, Pillager

Pirates and Treasures are prime ingredients for an Over, and, fortunately for us EDH players, they go together like salsa and guac. Plus, Ramirez DePietro, Pillager even offers consistent card advantage. I'll join this guy's crew.

My prediction: Over

Ramses, Assassin Lord

The perfect commander for an underserved tribe? Check. A splashy win condition? Check. Snarky flavor text you can read aloud to the table when you win? Check (but be sportsmanlike). Even the Faceless Men of Braavos would be impressed by this commander.

My prediction: Over (Can't Miss Pick!)

Sivitri, Dragon Master

There are more Dimir Dragons than you'd think, and Sivitri's printing makes me suspect reinforcements will arrive in the coming year. Her -3 fetches the perfect Dragon for every situation, like Deathbringer Regent when you need a board wipe, Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon when you need a threat, or Henge Guardian when you need a chuckle.

My prediction: Over

Bladewing, Deathless Tyrant

The more Zombie tokens you create, the more useful their menace becomes. That shouldn't be difficult in Rakdos, a color combo renowned for its discard synergies.

My only concern here is the mana value, which is steep at seven. Fortunately, haste helps, and a splashy effect from a famous character of yore is hard to ignore.

My prediction: Over

Orca, Siege Demon

Same cost as Bladewing, yet Orca's build-around condition is far more challenging; Orca needs to enter the battlefield before creatures croak, while Bladewing can join after. Also, half of her value comes from dying, yet her second casting costs a whopping nine mana. I'm out.

My prediction: Under

Rohgahh, Kher Keep Overlord

Rohgahh wants Changelings, since they yield both a Dragon and a Kobold. The former is nice, but the latter is best for sac fodder, even with the +2/+2 bonus. If you look to expand, there are only 13 non-Changeling Kobolds eligible for the deck, and many of them carry oversized price tags.

Rohgahh doesn't seem great to me. However, r/EDH is supporting him like senior citizens during a PBS pledge drive, so sign me up.

My prediction: Over

Tor Wauki the Younger

Five mana for a 3/3 is subpar, yet reach and lifelink do much to redeem the stat line. What's more, you get a big bonus for casting instants and sorceries, not to mention extra damage if they happen to be burn spells. And don't forget, pings from Tor gain you life thanks to the aforementioned lifelinkThis card is outstanding.

My prediction: Over

General Marhault Elsdragon

This is a significant improvement over Marhault Elsdragon, a card with Rampage: 1 and no reminder text. I'm still not impressed, though, especially since combat-centric commanders need to be great—not just good—to make an impact.

My prediction: Under

Stangg, Echo Warrior

Doctor: Congratulations, you've delivered a pair of healthy twin boys! What would you like to name the firstborn?

Mother: Stangg.

Doctor: Okay, great. And the other?

Mother: Stangg Twin.

Doctor: Oh, umm. Why not a real name, like Stan, or Gary, or, I don't know, Maurice?

Stangg and Stangg Twin slay the doctor before he can ask any more foolish questions.

Mother: Good job, boys. Now let's head home. I've got some Bloodforged Battle-Axes for you.

Alright, enough of this bit. Unimaginative names aside, Stangg and his twin are sweet, especially when copying stuff like Blazing Sunsteel, Rancor, or the aforementioned Battle-Axe.

My prediction: Over

The Lady of Otaria

Dwarf tribal has never received much support—but that all changes today. Though you still owe commander tax, tapping three Dwarves to cast The Lady of Otaria represents a huge mana savings. Furthermore, she draws up to four Dwarves per end step, offering plenty of ways to replenish.

I question how many viable Dwarves exist in Magic, but sometimes that doesn't matter. Tribal synergies are eternally popular.

My prediction: Over

Jasmine Boreal of the Seven

I'm torn on this one. Our best reference is Ruxa, Patient Professor, a card that went Over 600—but not by nearly as much as I expected. Jasmine, however, has three advantages over the prof: she adds an extra color, she ramps, and her evasion is better. Bonus: She even synergizes with her original card!

My prediction: Over

Ohabi Caleria

If you thought Griffin, Kobold, and Dwarf tribal were shallow, try finding some viable Archers. The idea here is sniping opposing creatures via tap abilities, then untapping to do it again. Problem is, most Archers target only flyers or creatures in combat, and they rarely deal more than a damage or two.

It seems like every random tribal commander goes over lately. But the arrow stops here!

My prediction: Under

Torsten, Founder of Benalia

I feel like a guy named "Torsten" should be a tortoise. Instead, we have a Human who really likes the number seven—a heptaphile, if you will. Seems good, but also kind of vanilla, especially for a seven-drop. Sure, a draw-seven sounds great on paper, yet Overflowing Insight appears in less than one percent of decks. Though Torsten isn't exactly that, let me reiterate—he's not a tortoise.

My prediction: Under

Verrak, Warped Sengir

This guy is giving me major Count-Orlok-from-Nosferatu vibes. More importantly, he's got three relevant keywords, plus a unique ability that gets nasty with cards like Razaketh, the Foulblooded and Priest of Fell Rites. I am so in.

My prediction: Over

Cadric, Soul Kindler

Based on the staggering number of legendary creatures printed these days (72 in this set alone), it's safe to say Cadric will continue making new friends over the coming year. That should be enough for an Over.

My prediction: Over

The Ever-Changing 'Dane

"The Ever-Changing 'Dane" sounds less like a Magic card and more like a National Geographic article examining shifting cultural norms in Denmark. Nonetheless, it works well as a commander—assuming you have the right support. Try leaving up mana with cheap hexproof and indestructiblecreatures lying around, then sac them to save your 'Dane. Or steal your opponents' stuff, then sac it and keep your own version.

There's plenty to do with this commander, and I believe EDH players of every nationality will enjoy the experience.

My prediction: Over

Tetsuo, Imperial Champion

Tetsuo, Imperial Champion presents an odd mishmash of Equipment and spells—and a clunky one at that. In general, low-mana-value Equipment is best, yet Tetsuo rewards you for playing high-cost items, like Argentum Armor. What's more, Equipment doesn't stack on him like other Equipment-based commanders.

That said, Tetsuo introduces a fresh archetype to Grixis, doing so in an interesting (albeit inefficient) manner. Good enough for me.

My prediction: Over

Xira, the Golden Sting

First thing: Xira looks like a contestant on The Masked Singer. Second thing: her ability reminds me of Mathas, Fiend Seeker and Chevill, Bane of Monsters, both of whom have decent followings of 695 and 730 decks, respectively. Best of all, Xira can lead Insect tribal, an archetype that's already proven popular with the yucky Grist, the Hunger Tide.

My prediction: Over

Hazezon, Shaper of Sand

If you're looking for a challenge, you've found it.

With just 16 Deserts in Naya, (many of them along the quality of Sunscorched Desert), you're committing to a shaky mana base. Yet the payoff is there, providing a mashup of Ramunap Excavator and Scute Swarm in the command zone. I doubt we can expect any quality Deserts to appear in the next year, but maybe we don't need them.

My prediction: Over

Jedit Ojanen, Mercenary

Everybody's favorite shirtless man-cat is back, and this time he's charging for his services. The price is right though; for just one G per legend, you get 2/2 Cats that combo beautifully with Song of the Dryads. It's not the most exciting commander, but with Cat tribal already being a thing, I can see Jedit surpassing our mark.

My prediction: Over

Dihada, Binder of Wills

A three-color planeswalker precon face commander that powers up your legends, self-mills, generates Treasure, and builds to a free Insurrection, all for four mana? What more can you ask for?

My prediction: Over

Shanid, Sleepers' Scourge

The real sleepers' scourge is my cat, who starts rubbing against my face starting at 3am.

Shanid, on the other hand, is just trying to emulate Dihada, and though he's not quite as potent, he's pretty darn close. For the same mana cost, we get evasion for all our legends, plus a decent card-drawing engine. Plus, Orzhov legends were already a supported archetype in original Dominaria, so you'll have no trouble filling out a deck.

My prediction: Over

Jared Carthalion

For a five-color planeswalker commander, Jared Carthalion is actually pretty tame. A 3/3 trampler with all colors is fine, and pumping it plus a friend on the subsequent turn is deece. Even the ultimate ability isn't as game-breaking as usual, though it's still plenty powerful.

Overall, I'm glad Wizards didn't push this design space as far as they could have. I mean, have you seen Urza, Academy Headmaster?

My prediction: Over

Jenson Carthalion, Druid Exile

Here I think they could've pushed a little harder. A scry per multicolor spell is meh. A Serra Angel per five-color spell is better, though difficult to trigger multiple times. Filtering for WUBRG is useful for Angel-casting, though if you build your mana base correctly, you might not even need it.

Maybe I'm jaded by power creep, but I find this card underwhelming. However, five-color commanders are like the Golden State Warriors: never a good idea to bet against. In the history of The 600, a WUBRG commander has never gone Under. I don't see it starting now.

My prediction: Over

The Peregrine Dynamo

Any time you're using Wastes as your basics, things are getting dicey. The best this Dynamo can do is copy an Eldrazi cast trigger or a Karn/Ugin planeswalker ability. Sounds fun in theory, but in practice, it's just clunky.

My prediction: Under


Recap

Over (26)

Under (7)

Can't Miss Pick

The hype for this set seems universal, so let's hope it lives up. Until next time, enjoy these new commanders! (Except the Unders. They need to stay Under for my reputation, so please don't enjoy them too much.)

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 Rasputin, the Oneiromancer. Kyle can be found on Twitter @mindofkyleam.