The Over/Under - Predicting the Popularity of Wilds of Eldraine Commanders

(Devouring Sugarmaw | Art by Nino Vecia)

Wild Things

Welcome back to Eldraine, the plane where the candy eats you!

Oh, and welcome back to The Over/Under as well. In this series, we predict the popularity of new EDH commanders based on a line of 1200. Each commander gets an "Over" or "Under" grade, the former predicting more than 1200 decks in a year, the latter predicting fewer. Each set also gets one "Can't-Miss Pick," which is my guaranteed selection.

Ready to head into the forest? Pro tip: If you see a witch, don't engage. Now follow me!

Lord Skitter, Sewer King

First of all, check out that schnoz. Second of all, check out that graveyard hate. If you're not impressed, check in with anybody who's been subjected to Muldrotha, the Gravetide, Meren of Clan Nel Toth, or Sefris of the Hidden Ways. It gets even better when it's stapled to a typal commander, especially a type as popular as Rats (5320 decks on EDHREC as I write this). Though Skitter's tokens can't block, you get a free one each turn for literally nothing. If that's not enough for an Over, I don't know what is.

My prediction: Over

Old Flitterfang

On my first glance, I decided this card was gross. An elderly rat gorging on a cherry from a pie that appears to have organic tendrils attached to it? No thank you.

On closer inspection, I also realized it has Flying. Flying? Then I squinted at the artwork and noted the tattered wings.

I'm out. This card has the most disturbing artwork I've seen since Grotesque Mutation. For the sake of EDH players with weak stomachs, I hope this thing goes...

My prediction: Under

Goddric, Cloaked Reveler

Firebreathing for all dragons is cool, but Celebration is a little too hard to enable consistently. Plus, this guy looks like an unmasked party guest from Eyes Wide Shut, which should concern everyone involved.

My prediction: Under

Imodane, the Pyrohammer

I'm pretty sure the flavor text here is a direct quote from Game of Thrones about Joffrey, but whatever. There's some interesting rules text here as well, because it enables mono-red burn strategies for EDH. It's especially interesting with indestructible dudes such as Stuffy Doll and Brash Taunter.

Problem is, Torbran, Thane of Red Fell already dominates that niche. I see little reason to think Imodane will pose a threat to the Thane.

My prediction: Under

Hylda of the Icy Crown

Unlike most cards these days, Hylda's design doesn't enable her own payoff. Still, that's allowed R&D to make the payoffs especially powerful—particularly the second one. You'll find most tap effects in blue, though white offers a fine selection as well, including repeatable tappers like Stern Constable. Seems like a staple of blue-white for years to come.

My prediction: Over

Sharae of Numbing Depths

Speaking of tappers, this one's decent, though not amazing. A four-mana 2/3 is poor, and capping at one card per turn is disappointing. Play it in your Hylda decks, but not on its own.

My prediction: Under

Will, Scion of Peace

Umm, this dude seems busted. White is the life-gaining color, so it'll be trivial to set up turns where you cast overcosted threats like Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, Zetalpa, Primal Dawn, and Overwhelming Splendor. The only question is, will your opponents let you untap with Will? If they know what's good for them, they shouldn't.

My prediction: Over

Alela, Cunning Conqueror

If you're playing with this card, you'll love it. If you're playing against it, you'll hate it.

To be fair, that's exactly what we should expect out of Faeries at this point. Many cards of this type have Flash, so accumulating tokens should be easy enough. The obnoxiousness is capped to one token per turn and one Goad per opponent, yet still, this card is gonna be a hit.

My prediction: Over

Obyra, Dreaming Duelist

Another Faerie commander, though this one seems less powerful. Sure, she's better with go-wide strategies, but one life per creature isn't enough of a payoff, in my opinion. Also, she has her eyes closed, so how's she supposed to win any duels, anyway?

My prediction: Under

Talion, the Kindly Lord

The number you select for Talion will probably be between two and five, though perhaps you'll go higher if you're playing against Eldrazi or something. The real big-brain play would be packing your deck with Mindslaver and Emrakul, the Promised End, then forcing your opponents to play into Talion. But you didn't hear that from me...

My prediction: Over

Tegwyll, Duke of Splendor

This is a solid typal commander, albeit not the most inspired design I've ever seen. I mean, what about this card says Faeries to you? An anthem plus a draws-when-dies trigger feels like it could appear on a Goblin, Zombie, or Phyrexian commander, just as easily as this one.

That said, we all know how this is going to end up...

My prediction: Over

Rowan, Scion of War

So Will was just a colorshifted version of Rowan, eh? I gave him an Over, and I honestly like her better, mostly due to the color identity. Thought life loss is often harder to engineer than life gain, there's already precedent supporting the archetype's viability thanks to Rakdos, Lord of Riots. Just close your eyes and imagine casting a discounted Rakdos's Return against some player who's really wronged you. Then I think you'll understand.

My prediction: Over

Totentanz, Swarm Piper

You may be familiar with Totentanz from his bestselling memoir entitled Among the Rats: Finding the Acceptance the Human World Never Gave Me. Just like his rules text, it's a stirring read. I mean, when else can you double up on your red sacrifice effects while also supporting typal synergies? I'll be buying a copy—both of the memoir and the card.

My prediction: Over

Agatha of the Vile Cauldron

If Jon Taffer stumbled upon Agatha's kitchen, I think he'd bellow incoherently for 90 seconds straight and then have the place shut down. But until he gets here, this chef is gonna cook.

...At least, that's what I thought at first. Yet when you dig into the card's applications, you'll soon find there isn't all that much to be inspired by. Sure, you can lower costs on your Invokers or turn your Magus of the Candelabra into a ramp machine. Yet you're really only popping off if you can permanently boost Agatha above one power, which only turns her into a lightning rod for removal. Like Taffer, I'm shutting this down.

My prediction: Under

Ruby, Daring Tracker

The four-power-matters thing never really matters, and a two-mana mana dork in the command zone is fine but not great. A fun spin on Little Red Riding Hood, but that's about it.

My prediction: Under

Ellivere of the Wild Court

I've never liked Enchantress decks, but I understand they appeal to many other players very much. Ellivere comes with a free Ethereal Armor (sans the first strike), a card-draw effect, and an entourage of armed woodland creatures. Now that's impressive, even to me.

My prediction: Over

Gylwain, Casting Director

I'm tempted to go Over on flavor alone, though I'll try to be more objective. Basically, your decision will depend on whether you want ward (Royal), scry (Sorcerer), or trample (Monster). Though you can't stack them, these free enchantments should be a boon to many Enchantress and/or Voltron strategies.

My prediction: Over

Syr Armont, the Redeemer

This one I'm less jazzed about. An anthem for enchanted creatures is less useful than it sounds, since in these decks you're often going tall, not wide. Furthermore, a five-mana 4/4 won't provide game-changing impact, nor will a Monster Role token. Definitely feels like an uncommon power level.

My prediction: Under

Yenna, Redtooth Regent

This rules text is a very wordy and convoluted way of saying, "Put Eldrazi Conscription in your deck."

Though that is a sweet proposition, we should acknowledge the setup cost here. You'll not only need to resolve your four-mana 4/4—you'll also need to wait a full turn cycle to activate. From there, you'll need a viable enchantment to copy, which will ideally already be attached to another creature, and you'll need to cross your fingers and hope you don't get utterly blown out by somebody's Infernal Grasp.

I think I've just talked myself out of this card. It's sweet, but it's asking for far too much.

My prediction: Under

Eriette of the Charmed Apple

Though black-white enchantments has been a thing, we've never seen it quite like this. Role tokens make this trivially easy to set up, not to mention cantripping auras like Angelic Gift. Plus, there's nothing I like more than winning with a commander that literally never has to attack. Durdlers rejoice—we've found our new queen.

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

Neva, Stalked by Nightmares

The obvious synergy here is with Roles tokens, though Sagas work nicely, too, especially when you're buying back stuff like The Cruelty of Gix (I can't talk about Sagas without talking about that one; I just love it). That said, we've already gotten several viable Saga commanders of late, including Tom Bombadil and Narci, Fable Singer. Can Neva compete?

My guess is no. I think she's certainly playable, but she's just not good enough to hang with the big dogs—or big Sagas, as it were.

My prediction: Under

Johann, Apprentice Sorcerer

Fun fact: Johann co-starred in the 2010 film The Sorcerer's Apprentice alongside Nicolas Cage. This would be the high point for anybody's career, but it's especially true for poor Johann, who's just a worse version of Melek, Izzet Paragon. He might want to go back to acting.

My prediction: Under

Greta, Sweettooth Scourge

Not to be confused with Greta Gerwig, Greta Thunberg, or Greta Van Fleet, Greta, Sweettooth Scourge is basically the Anton Chigurh of Candy Land. She provides decent value, but I doubt she's interesting enough to supplant established black-green Food commanders like Gyome, Master Chef.

My prediction: Under

Ash, Party Crasher

The only other Ash I'm aware of is Ash Ketchum, and even he might make a better commander than this dude. (We may get to find out someday, since I'm sure Universes Beyond: Pokemon has been discussed.) In the meantime, we'll have to settle for a card clearly designed for Limited play, which isn't even that good there, either.

My prediction: Under

Kellan, the Fae-Blooded

Boros equipment commanders always seem to go Over of late, and I think Kellan here is no different. For just two mana, he searches whatever Aura or Equipment you desire most, offering a toolbox style we don't often see in this archetype. He even supports Go-Wide strategies with his pumping effect. Plus, it's not every day you see a Human Faerie running around.

My prediction: Over

The Goose Mother

First thing: This artwork is incredible. Second thing: The name might be even better. Third thing: The Goose Mother is basically Hydroid Krasis in the command zone.

Seriously, both are massive, X-mana flyers that gain you life and draw you cards. Goose is actually an even better rate, since it starts as a 2/2 and rounds up instead of down. Krasis appears in 26,108 decks, so I'd say that bodes well for our Mama here.

My prediction: Over

Troyan, Gutsy Explorer

The "big mana matters" mechanic appears frequently in Simic, though it never really works. Troyan may be gutsy, but he's not gutsy enough to overcome a shoddy archetype.

My prediction: Under

Korvold, Gleeful Glutton

I'm a sucker for the Delirium mechanic, so I must admit, I'm a little biased toward this one. The cost-reduction thing seems clunky, but the payoff for slapping opponents is great, especially with the addition of Battles as another permanent type. Probably not as good as original Korvold, but still plenty powerful.

My prediction: Over

Brenard, Ginger Sculptor

Thanks to Brenard, your opponents basically need to kill your creatures twice. The second time they do so, they'll feel especially guilty, since they're killing gingerbread people. This effect works particularly well with powerful ETB triggers (of which there are many in this color combo), plus you can build your candy army with populate. Definitely a future finalist for The Great British Bake Off.

My prediction: Over

Beluna Grandsquall

I always wanted to build a blue-red-green Adventure EDH deck back when Temur Clover was a big deck in Standard. I could never find the right commander, though—until now. Beluna makes it easy to both find and cast your Adventure spells. And among all the Adventures found in this set, OG Throne of Eldraine, and Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate, there are plenty of options to choose from.

My prediction: Over

Syr Ginger, the Meal Ender

Like any great meal, we save the best for last. Syr Ginger could go Over on flavor alone, but the card itself ain't bad, either. I'm not quite sure why he hates Planeswalkers so much, but my mental image of this dude taking Nicol Bolas one-on-one makes me not care. It's also great with Food tokens, Treasure tokens, Clue tokens, Spellbombs, and so many other utility artifacts. It might feel weird to fill out your deck with Wastes, but for Syr Ginger, it's worth it.

My prediction: Over


Over (16)

Under (14)

Can't-Miss Pick

Thanks for stopping by for another edition. Next time, I'll try to take us on a less creepy journey. Until our next meeting...

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 Ghired, Mirror of the Wilds. Kyle can be found on Twitter @mindofkyleam.

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