These Cards Do WORK! - Rosheen Meanderer
(Rosheen Meanderer | Art by Aleksi Briclot)
X Gon’ Give it to Ya!
Hi there! I’m Jeremy Rowe, AKA J Ro, the Unsummoned Skull, a former Judge, Tournament Organizer, and Pro Tour competitor. I’m also a current teacher, college professor, streamer, community leader, and content creator. In this series, we examine the big EDH questions: What makes a card good? What’s the difference between popularity and synergy? What even is that synergy thing anyways? My intention is to differentiate between high- and low-synergy cards, describe in what ways the cards work with the commander, and explain why high synergy is such a good thing. For a deck to be powerful and consistent, each card needs to do a job, and these cards do WORK!
For our tenth article, we're taking a look at a unique Gruul commander, a crazed Shaman with a particular affinity for unbounded spells: Rosheen Meanderer
Rosheen Meanderer was one of the first commanders I saw that truly enamored me. She taps for four mana, but only for costs that contain X, be they spells or abilities. I also love how she costs four mana, taps for four, and is a 4/4! That's four fours! Plus, I’ve always loved X spells, as unbounded spells and abilities challenge players to find ways to maximize them. I had a copy of Rosheen sitting in my binder for way longer than I’d like to admit because I just couldn’t figure out the right balance for the deck, and there were only so many X spells in the format back then, so the deck never quite coalesced. Years later, with new additions, functional reprints, and changes in formats, I finally found the critical mass to make two decks: Earthquake tribal, and Hydras galore. Neither deck is truly optimized, but the decks are exciting, original, and fun. There are so many cool X spells nowadays, from Crackle with Power to Exponential Growth!
It is my belief that all Commander decks are midrange decks, needing the same jobs done in order to switch cleanly between offense and defense, as well as to combat a variety of threats from around the table. Rosheen Meanderer is a special commander, so let’s find the right tools for these jobs!
Most decks need ramp to play high-impact spells at a time when they are still relevant. Rosheen has only has one hybrid color pip and 3 generic, so it's fairly easy to cast on time, but the spells in the deck are quite mana-hungry. Furthermore, as with many decks that use mana dorks, such as Birds of Paradise, the adage of "bolt the bird" applies, where decks target mana-producers to prevent them from helping cast big spells later. While we can recast our commander later, we want to be spending our mana in the late game on more impactful spells, not on a card that enables them.
For each job, I'd like to highlight a low-synergy-score card, a high-synergy-score card, and an underrated card for this commander, to add more context to the qualitative data and see how each one magnifies the abilities, accentuates the strengths, and mitigates the weaknesses of our commander.
Farseek is a generic ramp sorcery that helps us find Mountains, including shocklands or Cycling dual lands like Sheltered Thicket. 31% of Rosheen decks run it, but mostly because it’s a generally useful card in multicolor decks, rather than a uniquely useful card for Rosheen. This is shown by the fact that 30% of other Gruul decks also run it, so it's not that unique to our commander.
Unbound Flourishing might not seem like a mana rock, as it doesn’t produce mana, fix colors, or reduce costs, per se, but it doubles the X costs used to cast a permanent or copy a spell or ability with X in the cost, effectively acting as a Doubling Cube for X spells! The fact that this sticks around and applies the same discount to all spells and abilities saves a lot of mana over the course of the game, allowing the deck plenty of flexibility!
Pyromancer’s Goggles is an underrated mana rock, although not one that is relevant in the early game. It costs five mana to add one red mana, which is not a terrific rate, but it copies any red instant or sorcery the mana is used for, including however much mana was put into X if X is in the casting cost! This is particularly helpful when our commander gives us so much mana to make that X really big! Furthermore, if we can untap it, the Goggles can copy the spell again! On Rosheen Meanderer's EDHREC page, you'll see that Pyromancer’s Goggles has a somewhat decent synergy score (5%), emblematic of how undiscovered this gem is. Synergy scores on EDHREC are a form of uniqueness calculation (7% of Rosheen Meanderer decks play Pyromancer’s Goggles, and 2% of all other Gruul decks also play it, so the difference = 5%). One of the reasons why we play a commander like Rosheen is because of the unique cards she’s able to make better and, as a result, the low monetary cost of a powerful deck like this.
In addition to being able to cast spells on time (or early enough in the game to still be relevant), decks need removal to be able to deal with the threats opposing decks present, as well as to be able to protect their own threats from opposing removal. In Rosheen’s case, spot removal needs to have X in the cost and to be worthy of investing a lot of mana into.
Banefire is a powerful mana sink that gets around much of the counterplay that makes tapping out for a single spell so risky. As long as the X is 5 or more, the big blast can’t be countered and the damage can’t be prevented, which dodges most ways that blue and white would try to avoid the massive hit.
Burn from Within is a nasty mana sink with a synergy score of 26% for our seemingly gentle Giant, which means it's used much more with her than with other Gruul commanders. Being able to kill that which seems unkillable, or to tag someone in the face as a form of “player removal”, is a big deal. Only 1% of other Gruul decks run this card, but for Rosheen, it’s in 27% of lists.
Volcanic Geyser is very similar to another early heartthrob card of mine, Blaze. Both are solid role-players and decent mana sinks that can remove a creature or planeswalker, or even go upstairs to dome their controllers. They do the job well, but aren’t particularly flashy. Still, removal that can win games is nothing to ignore!
Most decks need plans for what to do if things get out of hand, and Rosheen Meanderer is no different. Just as Rosheen wants spot removal that goes to the face, such as Blaze, we want our mass removal to scorch the land, air, or both, while still lowering life totals!
Jaya’s Immolating Inferno is an incredible blast that works perfectly with our commander! Because Rosheen’s being used for the mana, she will be out to fulfill the legendary quota. This spell has amazing flexibility, knocking out multiple creatures, planeswalkers, or players! My favorite use is to hit all three opponents for lethal at the same time. After all, the most effective removal is player removal!
Pest Infestation, meanwhile, has a synergy score of 29%, so it's fairly unique to Rosheen decks when compared to other Gruul decks. It carves a path right through artifacts and enchantments, creating Pest tokens equal to twice the amount of mana paid into the X, which help us buy time to find and play more big spells!
Bonfire of the Damned is an excellent way to target an opponent and blast them into oblivion. The double X is tough to pay, but it goes to the face and mows down each creature that player controls, and not just the ones on the ground!
Every deck needs card draw, selection, tutoring, or advantage, to help find the pieces it needs to transition between the phases of the game. There are always going to be spells that are better early than late, or better from ahead, or better from behind. Rosheen Meanderer is a commander designed to accelerate into big, splashy, game-ending spells. The deck does run into the issue of running out of things to do, so Regrowth effects can provide solid value.
Garruk’s Uprising is a solid repeated draw effect that is particularly useful if we go in the Hydra direction. Our commander triggers it, and it happens to come out the turn before our commander! Each additional Hydra gets trample, which allows the deck to transition from a turbo-ramp deck to a beatdown deck! With Blazes, Hurricanes, and Earthquakes, trample damage can lead to post-combat eliminations!
Wildest Dreams shows up with a 41% synergy score on Rosheen’s EDHREC page. It's only played in 4% of non-Rosheen Gruul decks, making it fairly unique to our commander. It regrows multiple cards of any type, and with that X cost, it's extremely flexible. It can easily just Regrowth one card for three mana, giving us the flexibility to use that spell the same turn, but it can also get us back a whole bunch of damage spells to cast all over again!
Greater Good is a solid card-drawing engine that used to be a fixture of the format, and is still frequently used in ramp and stompy lists. In our deck, we can tap Rosheen and then sacrifice her to draw four cards and discard three, but it's even saucier if we need to cash in a ton of immense Hydras!
The last major job that most decks need is a way to actually close out the game. Ramping allows you to play spells out, but can be dead draws late game. Removing threats works for a while, but with three opponents, someone’s going to stick something, and games can either stall out or develop into arms races. Card draw helps, but what are you looking to actually draw? The answer is... win conditions! Rosheen is a wall: it sits there, preventing damage for a while, but has no inherent way to win 1-on-1. We’re going to need some other way to finish players off.
Neverwinter Hydra is a massive trampling threat that protects itself and can grow to be gigantic. While it does have the difficult double X cost, the counters are equal to the combined roll of X d6, which has tremendous potential. This card sees a modicum of play outside of Rosheen, but is so much better with a big mana-producer in the command zone!
Gelatinous Genesis is an absolutely insane sorcery to throw into a deck that generates this much mana. Essentially, we pay X mana twice, then make that many creatures with power and toughness equal to the X. What’s more, it can be regrown later to make even more of the even bigger Oozes!
Helix Pinnacle is not 'good', but I feel contractually obligated to include one of the most hilarious try-hard win conditions in this decklist. Helix Pinnacle is the epitome of the "It just has to work one time!” cards that we put into a deck to play off of the variance of the format. Commander is a game in which four players come together to tell a story, and a game ending in Helix Pinnacle, especially without infinite mana, is usually a story worth telling.
X Marks the Spot!
Let's round it out with a sample Rosheen decklist! We're focusing on doing the jobs a deck needs to function in a way that capitalizes on the commander’s unique characteristics. It’s time to smash with big, splashy spells!
The Path to X-cess!View on Archidekt
Hopefully, this guide helps you to evaluate cards and use the data at hand! Results may vary, as playgroups, deck choices, and the luck of the draw can impact how games go.
Which cards overperformed for you? Which cards were overrated? Join me next time as we explore which cards are dead weight, and which cards do WORK!