Welcome back to Pure // Simple, the article series that takes the mystery out of card choices in Commander.
Commander is usually a game of attrition. Wrath of God-like cards destroy your creatures, you use your Chaos Warp to deal with an opponent’s big threat, and maybe Neheb, the Worthy has been making you discard swaths of cards. Over the course of a fierce game of Commander, you might just run out of things to play. Being without cards in hand is a tough position (outside of the aforementioned Neheb, the Worthy), so much so that you could be on the verge of losing. How do you make sure you don’t find yourself in that position? Well, one solution it to draw more cards.
The more resources you can use in a game, the more likely your chance at survival; so the following cards might come in handy to keep your hand stocked throughout the game. Of course, I can’t talk about every possible card that draws cards in some way, so I decided to talk about cards that might give you a bit more value over the course of a game.
White is the color with the most difficult time trying to draw cards. You usually have to resort to artifacts to shore up your deck; but with Mentor of the Meek, you can really stock up on cards, provided that you can make tokens. And what do you know? White is probably the best color for making tokens. So now you get to play into one of white’s strengths and do something that white doesn’t do well. It’s such a low risk for such an important part of the game.
Let’s look at the top three commanders on EDHREC that run Mentor of the Meek:
These choices are not surprising. All three of the top commanders make use of the Mentor by either directly stating “power 2 or less” like Alesha, or make a lot of tokens, like Teysa and Ghave. It’s apparent that this card is a perfect fit for decks that want to make a lot of small creatures.
It feels wrong to mention a blue card in this article since blue is the premier card drawing color. It’s hard to play a blue Commander deck without drawing a few extra cards here or there, you can almost do it on accident. That being said, I can’t not talk about perhaps my favorite blue card draw spell, Mulldrifter. This flying fish can do a lot more than it seems. With its evoke ability, it’s never worse than a Divination. And evoking “Big Daddy Drifts” is a great way to get it into the graveyard, where things Reveillark are at the ready to bring it back. Or, you can let it sit on the board and just get cards after cards after cards with Roon of the Hidden Realm or Deadeye Navigator. It’s an easy-to-cast card, especially when paired with Animar, Soul of Elements. Plus, it has flying, so it can even block for you when needed, or hold on to something like Sword of Feast and Famine for an almost guaranteed hit.
The top three commanders for Mulldrifter just prove my point. The first two commanders allow you to reuse Mulldrifter each turn and Animar, Soul of Elements allows you to cast it for as little as one blue mana. If you are playing a deck that wants to get maximum value out of creatures entering the battlefield, Mulldrifter is a top pick.
Black is second only to blue when it comes to drawing cards with format all-stars like Necropotence and Phyrexian Arena, but what about a card draw spell that can be used as a weapon? That’s where Damnable Pact comes in. Of course, its main use is as a scalable Sign in Blood, giving you cards in exchange for life, a very black ability. Just like Sign in Blood though, you can aim this solidly at an opponent for those last points of health. Combine this with black’s love of doubling its own mana (a la Cabal Coffers or Crypt Ghast), and you can take someone down with ease. It even works as a political card in a pinch, since you can help another player out, while slyly making them more vulnerable to attack.
Damnable Pact’s top commanders are a bit different than the previous two cards I discussed and shows the variety of strategies where this card can fit. Nekusar, the Mindrazer decks love making other players draw cards so that the commander can deals huge packets of damage to them. Using Damnable Pact allows the Nekusar, the Mindrazer player to essentially turn the card into a Fireball with a Furnace of Rath on the battlefield. The Marchesa, the Black Rose deck, on the other hand, most like uses Pact to get their life total below other players so that the dethrone ability is active, which is the crux of any Marchesa deck. Whereas for the Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief decks, these decks like to make use of doubling black mana (as mentioned above) to close the game out, and the X on Pact makes that easy to do.
Red has a “use it or lose it” approach to playing additional cards. This is actually a very recent ability that the designers at Wizards of the Coast have given red, and I’m glad it’s here. The reason that many players consider blue, black, and green the strongest three colors in Commander is for their ability to gain cards and resources at a much higher clip than white and red. Blue and black can draw cards easily and green can fill the battlefield with lands. Green and black also have access in cards that can get back things from the graveyard in Eternal Witness and Phyrexian Reclamation, which means that the total number of cards they can play over the course of the game is higher. This fairly new red ability of being able to play additional cards at least allows the color to get closer to green, blue and black, although still behind in some cases. If you like Outpost Siege, then you should try other cards in the same vein like Chandra, Torch of Defiance or Commune With Lava.
The top three commanders on EDHREC for this card show its versatility. Purphoros, God of the Forge and Krenko, Mob Boss are very good mono-red commanders that both have a solid token strategy. This means that both options on Outpost Siege are perfect. Mono-red can struggle with card draw, so the “Khans” option is perfect to get back in the game. Or, when you have a large swath of tokens, Outpost Siege makes it difficult for your opponents to get rid of your board without taking a lot of damage. Couple that option with a sacrifice outlet like Ashnod’s Altar, and you can outright win the game. That second part is probably the main reason Prossh, Skyraider of Kher is number three on this list, most likely using the “Dragons” side of the card.
Green is much better at drawing cards than you might realize, although most of its card draw is based on you having a lot of creatures, or a really large creature. Lucky for you, that’s is green’s wheelhouse. Shamanic Revelation can be a powerhouse in the right deck. Need to dig for the game winning Overwhelming Stampede with your board full of creatures? This is your card. The fact that there is tacked on lifegain if you have enough power (which isn’t too hard) can push this card over the top, making it closer to Sphinx’s Revelation than anything. However, the best time to resolve this is after clearing the board with a huge Ezuri’s Predation.
The number one commander using this card is Omnath, Locus of Rage, which makes sense. The strategy for that commander is to get as many landfall triggers once Omnath, Locus of Rage is in play to make a beefy legion of 5/5 elementals. Since the all are power 5, Shamanic Revelation does a whole lot. You draw for each token and gain vast amounts of life. It’s a perfect marriage. Saskia the Unyielding at number two is probably because the card was included her precon. Ezuri, Renegade Leader being third also makes sense, given that his normal strategy is elves and his second ability can easily make your swarm of elves above the 4 power threshold, once again doing similar things as Omnath, Locus of Rage.
I really like Ephara, God of the Polis as a commander because her ability to get you cards is a bit more innocuous than other spells or permanents. It’s been my experience that people tend to overlook that you can draw three or four extra cards each turn cycle. It’s somewhat sneaky and rewards you for doing things you should be doing, playing creatures. I like how she works with flash creatures in particular like Snapcaster Mage or the recently reprinted Aven Mindcensor, effectively giving them “Draw a card” along with the rest of their abilities, which means you are tapping into far more resources.
Here’s the decklist for the version of Ephara, God of the Polis I currently play, which I was able to win my LGS’s championship belt with. I focused on flash creatures, as mentioned above, but also cards that can make creatures at anytime, like Kjeldoran Outpost
Even without being the commander does she work some wonders for drawing cards.
It would be wrong to not sneak an Amonkhet card in here, especially one that helps shore up weaker color combinations when it comes to additional cards. This is the first artifact of its kind, the closest cards to this effect are Tamiyo’s Journal, Staff of Nin, and Mind’s Eye. All of which do similar things, but either take longer to accomplish or cost more upfront to cast. I think Oracle’s Vault might be better than these in some cases since you can play lands off it as well, and once it hits three brick counters, it is definitely better than all of them. Pair it with a Paradox Engine and go to town.
This is perhaps the most diverse top three commanders in this article, even though there are very few decklists, since the card is pretty new. Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice being the top commander using this card is reasonable simply because any card that cares about counters can find a home in someone’s Atraxa deck. Hazoret the Fervent being second shows how much use red can get out of cards like this, especially when the commander works better if you have no cards in hand. What better way to still cast spells than to get them directly from the top of the library? Kozilek, the Great Distortion at number three shows that colorless decks can get in on the action as well. As versatile as artifacts are, there are actually very few colorless cards that draw you cards, and Oracle’s Vault is a perfect addition to those decks.
For this article, I decided to let lands get in on the action as well. Lands that tap for colorless mana but have other activated abilities are usually referred to as “utility lands” since they provide a bit of a benefit in exchange for not being able to produce colored mana. These benefits can be marginal, or downright helpful, like Scrying Sheets. While Scrying Sheets doesn’t always get you a card (it will only get you a card about 30% of the time in actuality), the benefit of playing it is much higher than a replacement card. Of course, you’re required to play many snow-covered basics to get this to work, but it’s just an extra little thing you can do that will get you a card or two over the course of a game.
So there you have it. No matter what colors you are playing in Commander, there are at least a few good options to draw more cards. Of course, some colors are better than others at it, but if you plan effectively and know your potential weaknesses, you should never be without cards in a game.
What cards do you like to use to get you even more cards to your hand? Please comment below and let me know. I might feature them in a future article!