The Over/Under - Predicting the Popularity of Dr. Who Commanders

The First Doctor | Art by Kieran Yanner

Mama Called the Doctor and the Doctor Said...

Ah yes, another Universes Beyond IP I know next to nothing about. I apologize in advance, Doctor Who fans.

You're tuning into The Over/Under, by the way, the article series where we predict how popular new commanders will become one year from their release. Our line is 1,200 decks, so an "Over" means I predict it'll end its year above that line, while "Under" means below. I'll also do one "Can't-Miss Pick," which is my opportunity to embarrass myself if I get it wrong.

Ready to step into that phone booth thingy and presumably go somewhere interesting? Let's do it.

Astrid Peth

Food and Clue tokens? Yes. Explore? No. Unless this mechanic returns with a bigger bang in Lost Caverns of Ixalan, I can't imagine this will be a hit.

My prediction: Under

Barbara Wright

Though players enjoy Sagas and read ahead is a sweet augmentation, I doubt both together will be enough to popularize this history teacher, even with partner.

My prediction: Under

Ian Chesterton

I'd argue replicate is a bigger payoff than read ahead, though not big enough to go Over for Ian, either.

My prediction: Under

Jo Grant

Jo's not all that impressive unless she's got somebody in her sidecar, yet fortunately for us, she has partner—er, companion. (Yikes. That's gonna be confusing.)

At any rate, cycling has been around forever, so support for this motorcyclist should be plentiful.

My prediction: Over

Peri Brown

Our friend Peri here (apparently "Perpugilliam" on her birth certificate) is another fine partner, especially in a go-wide build.

My prediction: Over

Romana II

Populate on a stick is interesting, especially in tandem with The Third Doctor. I'll defer to the token lovers here.

My prediction: Over

Rose Tyler

Suspend is a sweet throwback mechanic, and it gets excellent reinforcements from this set, such as Atraxi Warden and the wonderfully named Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.

My prediction: Over

Sarah Jane Smith

A two-mana 2/1 is an abysmal stat line, and capping the investigation caps Sarah's power level. Reads more like a common than a rare.

My prediction: Under

Tegan Jovanka

What is this, Limited? I don't care if you're using The Tenth Doctor as your Doctor—Tegan just doesn't do enough.

My prediction: Under

Wilfred Mott

Doctor Who fans, is this guy a lighthouse keeper and/or a singer of sea shanties? Because he looks like both.

Whatever his job, I think he might be moonlighting as many people's commander, too. Though he takes a while to get going, Mr. Mott here is a potent build-around, especially with proliferate, scry, and general topdeck manipulation.

My prediction: Over

Adric, Mathematical Genius

This reminds me of Errant, Street Artist, a commander that went Under even when my line was 600. Adric has more applications, true, but even that and partner won't save him from the ultimate Under.

My prediction: Under

Danny Pink

Forget Steve Buscemi—this is the real Mr. Pink. The only challenge will be tracking who's gotten their counters when.

My prediction: Over

K-9, Mark I

You had me at the creature type.

My prediction: Over

Martha Jones

Martha plays in a similar space as K-9, Mark I, and though she offers the added synergy built into Clues, she lacks the whimsy of the robot dog.

My prediction: Under

Nardole, Resourceful Cyborg

Aside from C-3PO, Nardole is the best testament to the power of human-cyborg relations I've ever seen. The Twelfth Doctor might be its best partner, but there are countless other options, too.

My prediction: Over

Nyssa of Traken

This card has build-around potential, especially with Clue payoffs like Tireless Tracker and Fleeting Memories. Partner with The Fugitive Doctor and enjoy—I might do the same.

My prediction: Over

Osgood, Operation Double

Two commanders for the price of one, and both ramp and/or draw cards. Seems osgood to me.

My prediction: Over

Vislor Turlough

The "may" here is essential, since sometimes you'll want that Castle Locthwain for yourself. Still, you'll be taking lots of damage in that scenario, and when you give Vislor to an opponent, they can easily kill him to avoid the downside. No deal.

My prediction: Under

Bill Potts

Bill's most obvious comp is Zada, Hedron Grinder, a commander ranking just outside EDHREC's top 100. That's strong, and with partner, Bill should finish even stronger.

My prediction: Over

Dan Lewis

Funny that Dan Lewis is a legendary creature, since Dan Lewis sounds like the kid you sat next to in third grade. And though his flavor is fun, I don't think turning Clues into Bone Saws is all that impressive.

My prediction: Under

Donna Noble

Players have wanted Stuffy Doll as a commander for years, and now we've finally got it.

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

Iraxxa, Empress of Mars

If mars is for the rich, Iraxxa is a rich commander indeed. Prosper, Tome-Bound has demonstrated the power of casting spells from exile, and this commander offers even more options to fulfill the trigger.

My prediction: Over

Ryan Sinclair

The idea here is to run cheap spells and/or augment Ryan's power, but that seems like a lot of hoops to jump through, especially when you'll sometimes whiff.

My prediction: Under

Yasmin Khan

Hill Giant and Archivist aren't particularly interesting. But what if you combined them into one card?

The result is Yasmin Khan, and unfortunately her Magic treatment still isn't that interesting.

My prediction: Under

Ace, Fearless Rebel

This is basically "Anarchy in the UK" in Magic form. It also takes a heck of a lot of setup to get going.

My prediction: Under

Graham O'Brien

This isn't much better than Meriadoc Brandybuck, and I roasted that poor hobbit.

My prediction: Under

Jamie McCrimmon

Don't ask me how I know this, but a kilt is worth 600 decks all by itself. Mr. McCrimmon should make up the rest based on sheer stats.

My prediction: Over

Karvanista, Loyal Lupari

Human tribal is always popular, and it'll only get even more so when led by an Alien Dog Soldier.

My prediction: Over

Leela, Sevateem Warrior

I know you're supposed to pair this with The Second Doctor, but giving away free cards seems like too steep a price for a big green creature with no built-in evasion.

My prediction: Under

Susan Foreman

Do people like Planechase enough to run a commander for it? I'm dubious.

My prediction: Under

Sally Sparrow

I'm going to go ahead and assume this is Jack's sister. She's also a cross between Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage and the back half of

, neither of which are especially popular.

My prediction: Under

The Eighth Doctor

With this and all our Doctors (we now know there are at least eight), it's important to remember that they can all be paired with numerous doctor's companions, meaning their numbers will all be juiced. The Eighth Doctor here doesn't even need the help, since he's basically Muldrotha, the Gravetide for historic cards.

My prediction: Over

The Eleventh Doctor

He isn't just a doctor—he's also a secret Targaryen.

Anyhoo, this doctor comes highly recommended, especially when he's cheating stuff into play. I like this one, and I think many players will, too.

My prediction: Over

The Fifth Doctor

This dude dresses and acts like a recent retiree; just check out that flavor text. He also happens to be a pretty powerful commander, especially when paired with Osgood, Operation Double or Peri Brown. Hope he's enjoying the weather down in Florida.

My prediction: Over

The First Doctor

Our string of Doctors continues with the OG. The TARDIS, by the way, looks like this:

Together, these two cards fuel each other beautifully—and that's not even counting whatever companion you select for your commander here.

My prediction: Over

The Second Doctor

Reminds me of Orzhov Advokist, a card appearing in 22,036 decks. If The Second Doctor performs even half that well, we'll be in business.

My prediction: Over

The Seventh Doctor

If you don't mind spending several minutes selecting an opponent and then explaining to them exactly what it is they're guessing, then you'll love this card.

My prediction: Over

Rassilon, the War President

I wouldn't vote for someone styling themselves "The War President," but I'd totally run this guy as my commander. Free card draw that conspires for additional value...and he's wearing what appears to be an Infinity Gauntlet? What more could you ask for in a commander?

My prediction: Over

The Cyber-Controller

This plus Ixidor, Reality Sculptor. Huh? Huh?

My prediction: Over

The Master, Formed Anew

Not to be confused with the Paul Thomas Anderson film, The Master seems bizarre on first read, then gets spicier the more you brainstorm. I mean, it basically turns every non-legendary creature you've ever wished was your commander into your commander. My top candidates include Massacre Wurm and Thassa's Oracle, though I'm sure you'll have your own favorites.

My prediction: Over

The Master, Mesmerist

"Skulk typal" doesn't sound like something worth building around, and giving the keyword to your opponents (plus goading them) sounds only marginally better.

My prediction: Under

The Beast, Deathless Prince

Four mana is an unholy bargain for this amount of stats, and six stun counters ain't bad at all with enough Threaten effects. Should be one of the set's biggest hits.

My prediction: Over

The Dalek Emperor

This card is super powerful, yet with only Dalek Drone, Dalek Squadron, and Dalek tokens available to reduce its hefty cost, it's going to be a tough build-around.

My prediction: Under

The Master, Gallifrey's End

Rakdos artifacts is like the breakfast menu at Taco Bell: I'm pretty sure it's good. Pretty sure.

I confess I haven't tried either. Yet both look tasty, especially when considering Disciple of the Vault, Oni-Cult Anvil, and the Breakfast Crunchwrap with Bacon. I might have to try it all.

My prediction: Tempting...I mean, Over

The Master, Multiplied

This guy again? I knew there were, like, 15 Doctors, but I didn't know there were multiples of this dude, too. The more the merrier, I suppose—and that happens to be this Master's ethos. Cards like Feldon of the Third Path and Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink suddenly skyrocket in value, breaking ground for a mostly unexplored archetype.

My prediction: Over

Strax, Sontaran Nurse

I'm sure you don't need me to tell you never to accept medical assistance from an Alien Cleric wielding a shovel and shouting, "Grenades!"

My prediction: Under

The Fugitive Doctor

Why yes, I'd love to flashback my Titania's Command and Brass's Bounty on discount. Even if I'm re-casting Decimate for the same price, I'll be happy.

My prediction: Over

Sergeant John Benton

Group Slug and Group Hug combined? That mixes worse than the Taco Bell Breakfast Menu and a morning jog.

My prediction: Under

Vrestin, Menoptra Leader

There aren't many Insects in white (just four, counting the backside of Befriending the Moths), but there are many in green, and that's plenty to support this excellent typal commander.

My prediction: Over

Idris, Soul of the TARDIS

This card seems very wheel-spinny to me (and not just because you can exile Vehicles). Though copying Spine of Ish Sah with Idris sounds fun, I think she's too narrow to lead more than 1,200 decks.

My prediction: Under

River Song

This is basically Grenzo, Dungeon Warden's dream girl. He leads 3,071 decks, and I suspect River Song will lead even more.

My prediction: Over

The Ninth Doctor

At the very least, this is halving your wait time on suspend cards. On the higher end, it's doubling your meanest upkeep triggers, such as those on Dominus of Fealty and Dragonmaster Outcast. No wonder he earned his doctorate.

My prediction: Over

The Tenth Doctor

Wow, who knew Barty Crouch Jr. was masquerading as The Tenth Doctor all along? Imposter or not, this card reminds me of Jhoira of the Ghitu, a commander who leads 2,831 decks. Bodes well for Mr. Crouch here.

My prediction: Over

The Twelfth Doctor

I don't know many doctors who play electric guitar, but if they did, I suspect prostate exams would be more fun (at least a little). The Twelfth Doctor is an excellent demonstration of this, adding demonstrate to your suspend and flashback spells.

My prediction: Over

Jenny, Generated Anomaly

See my evaluation of Astrid Peth.

My prediction: Under

The War Doctor

This dude reminds me of Bell Borca, Spectral Sergeant, a commander that went Under despite my prediction to the contrary. I've got to think this guy will do better sheerly because he can partner with so many doctor's companions. Fingers crossed.

My prediction: Over

Duggan, Private Detective

I don't mean to be a history snob, but "The Most Important Punch in History" was clearly Rocky's knockout blow on Drago—not this.

My prediction: Under

The Fourth Doctor

The Food token is just gravy (perhaps literally) on top of whatever you're playing. It's capped at one per turn, though instants or flash enablers break that paradigm wide open. I'll have a bite of this commander.

My prediction: Over

The Sixth Doctor

This guy is giving me Will-Ferrell-as-Mugatu vibes, which probably isn't a good thing. Still, the effect here is plenty powerful, despite feeling like a Simic retread at this point.

My prediction: Over

The Third Doctor

Reminds me of Gimbal, Gremlin Prodigy, a card that's already gone Over (1,242 decks). The only difference? This guy has a sword. And ruffles. And he's not a Gremlin.

My prediction: Over

The Thirteenth Doctor

There's that casting-a-spell-from-anywhere-other-than-your-hand text again. It's just as good here as it was on Iraxxa, Empress of Mars, and it gets even better when you stack counters onto stuff like Arcanis the Omnipotent.

My prediction: Over

Ashad, the Lone Cyberman

Shades of Anhelo, the Painter, only with more armor and less acrylics. Ashad probably won't become quite as popular, but he should come pretty darn close.

My prediction: Over

Cult of Skaro

Randomness is frowned upon in lesser formats, but in EDH, we appreciate a good roll of the dice. Get your D4s ready.

My prediction: Over

Davros, Dalek Creator

This card is super mean, especially when you can turn a simple Lightning Bolt into a 3/3 with menace, plus a fresh card in your hand or a card out of theirs. They don't get much more villainous than this.

My prediction: Over

Missy

This card is getting a lot of hype, though I'm a little confused as to why. One, it's expensive, and two, nobody's ever going to choose the damage option. That leaves you with a six-mana personal Howling Mine that gets auto-chaos if you're playing Planechase. Doesn't sound appealing to me, but I suppose I'll follow the hype.

My prediction: Over

The Rani

People complain about set fatigue all the time, but you hear very little about goad fatigue. It's a mechanic that appears on a commander about once per set, and though it started popular (see the solid performance of Marisi, Breaker of the Coil), it's performed worse of late (see the shoddy performance of Bhaal, Lord of Murder). I'm foreseeing more of the latter.

My prediction: Under

The Valeyard

Tivit, Seller of Secrets has performed well, though it offers lots more than just additional votes. The Valeyard's only additional upside is doubling villainous choices, and I don't think there are enough of those to build around.

My prediction: Under

Alistair, the Brigadier

Eight is a lot, even in EDH, and a bunch of measly 1/1s while you wait doesn't sound substantial enough.

My prediction: Under

Jenny Flint + Madame Vastra

Evaluating these two together since they're each other's partners. Both provide a fair amount of value, yet neither does much unless they're attacking simultaneously. Also, they don't suggest a clear direction, except maybe "attack with stuff."

My prediction: Under

Me, the Immortal

Arya Stark, what are you doing here? When she's not exacting revenge on her family's enemies, she's apparently hoarding counters. Tracking those counters while she's in the graveyard sounds like a logistical nightmare, but whatever—this card is basically a souped up version of Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, who commands 4824 decks. Methinks Me might go even higher.

My prediction: Over

Amy Pond + Rory Williams

After Googling Rory Williams and finding a realtor from Idaho, I figured I'd made a mistake. But make no mistake about this: Rory and Amy Pond here make a great pair. Cast Rory on two, cast Amy on three, then start swinging to cast Rory—or another suspended card—ahead of schedule.

My prediction: Over

Kate Stewart

Time counters are worse than 1/1 tokens, so if Alistair, the Brigadier goes Under, Kate Stewart should go even Underer (editors, please leave that in).

My prediction: Under

The Face of Boe

Boe: Would you like a Deep-Sea Kraken for three mana, or perhaps a Star Whale for two?

Me: Why yes, Boe, I would. Would you like a body?

Boe: Too soon.

My prediction: Over

Clara Oswald

Clara here is like The Prismatic Piper and Faceless One, only she's not better suited as a coaster. She's actually quite good, especially when partnered with The Ninth Doctor, The Tenth Doctor, and many others. Her versatility might make her the set's most popular commander.

My prediction: Over

Recap

Over (45)

  1. Jo Grant
  2. Peri Brown
  3. Romana II
  4. Rose Tyler
  5. Wilfred Mott
  6. Danny Pink
  7. K-9, Mark I
  8. Nardole, Resourceful Cyborg
  9. Nyssa of Traken
  10. Osgood, Operation Double
  11. Bill Potts
  12. Iraxxa, Empress of Mars
  13. Jamie McCrimmon
  14. Karvanista, Loyal Lupari
  15. The Eighth Doctor
  16. The Eleventh Doctor
  17. The Fifth Doctor
  18. The First Doctor
  19. The Second Doctor
  20. The Seventh Doctor
  21. Rassilon, the War President
  22. The Cyber-Controller
  23. The Master, Formed Anew
  24. The Beast, Deathless Prince
  25. The Master, Gallifrey's End
  26. The Master, Multiplied
  27. The Fugitive Doctor
  28. Vrestin, Menoptra Leader
  29. River Song
  30. The Ninth Doctor
  31. The Tenth Doctor
  32. The Twelfth Doctor
  33. The War Doctor
  34. The Fourth Doctor
  35. The Sixth Doctor
  36. The Third Doctor
  37. The Thirteenth Doctor
  38. Ashad, the Lone Cyberman
  39. Cult of Skaro
  40. Davros, Dalek Creator
  41. Missy
  42. Me, the Immortal
  43. Amy Pond + Rory Williams
  44. The Face of Boe
  45. Clara Oswald

Under (28)

  1. Astrid Peth
  2. Barbara Wright
  3. Ian Chesterton
  4. Sarah Jane Smith
  5. Tegan Jovanka
  6. Adric, Mathematical Genius
  7. Martha Jones
  8. Vislor Turlough
  9. Dan Lewis
  10. Ryan Sinclair
  11. Yasmin Khan
  12. Ace, Fearless Rebel
  13. Graham O'Brien
  14. Leela, Sevateem Warrior
  15. Susan Foreman
  16. Sally Sparrow
  17. The Master, Mesmerist
  18. The Dalek Emperor
  19. Strax, Sontaran Nurse
  20. Sergeant John Benton
  21. Idris, Soul of the TARDIS
  22. Jenny, Generated Anomaly
  23. Duggan, Private Detective
  24. The Rani
  25. The Valeyard
  26. Alistair, the Brigadier
  27. Jenny Flint + Madame Vastra
  28. Kate Stewart

Can't-Miss Pick

Many commanders to choose from here. Hop in the TARDIS and select your favorites!

Read more:

The Over/Under Part 2- Predicting the Popularity of Lord of the Rings Commanders

Too-Specific Top 10 - Timey-Wimey

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 Xolatoyac, the Smiling Flood. Kyle can be found on Twitter @mindofkyleam.

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