EDHREC Ikoria Commander Preview Cards

(Gavi, Nest Warden | Art by Randy Vargas)

Excitement that Transcends Species

Hello, everyone! It’s your friendly neighborhood Jesguy here, breaking from the normal Tuesday articles to bring you a very special Ikoria Commander article with some awesome free preview cards from Wizards of the Coast!

My excitement knows no bounds right now. EDHREC got not one, not two, not even three, but seven preview cards to share with you all! Three of them are fantastic, brand-new cards that you can check out on today’s very special episode of the EDHRECast with Joey, Matt, and Dana! The other four are reprints that I get to share with you in this very article! Let’s just get straight to it, because I’m champing at the bit to show them to you all!


With All This Cycling, I Should Buy a Helmet

If you follow me on Twitter, you know two things about me: I love Jeskai, and I am incredibly excited for Ikoria. Well, to my astonishment and pure, unabated glee, we are blessed with yet another Jeskai preconstructed Commander deck, a mere eight months after Commander 2019‘s Mystic Intellect deck. Better yet, all of the new cards in this set are based on the plane of Ikoria, no less!

But what is the deck’s shtick? What are we building around?

CYCLING! One of Magic‘s most simple and fun mechanics is this deck’s core theme! Let’s see what goodies are getting reprinted for us!

Astral Drift is a card originally from Modern Horizons and is a fantastic example of how strong Cycling payoffs can be. Blinking a creature whenever you Cycle a card may seem innocuous at first glance, but it is very powerful when built around properly. Cycling a card while Astral Drift is in play allows for tons of blinky tricks such as blocking a huge attacker and removing our creature from combat at instant speed, so we don’t take damage or lose our creature! It also allows us to reuse enter-the-battlefield effects or save our creatures from a removal spell, too! Astral Drift can even target enemy creatures, opening the door for political shenanigans or just letting us temporarily move blockers out of the way. Oh, and if we decide we don’t need this enchantment, it too has Cycling! This card’s incredible versatility is its strength.

In a Jeskai deck specifically, combine Astral Drift with Purphoros, God of the Forge or Impact Tremors to consistently ping opponents, or even Dismiss into Dream to permanently remove your opponents’ creatures when you target them. Repeatedly blink a Warden of the Eye to buy back your noncreature Cycling cards, setting up a seriously cool value engine that lets you draw extra cards every turn. Sun Titan is another great creature to combine with Astral Drift, as you can use it to retrieve any smaller permanents you’ve discarded or Cycled, such as Irrigated Farmland or Lonely Sandbar, not to mention the original Astral Slide, giving you more opportunities to eke out every last bit of value.

Jeskai decks often rely on being crafty and tricky to help combat their enemies’ removal spells and their huge creatures, and Astral Drift is a fantastic build-around tool to help out against those exact scenarios.


Spirited Away

While different than Astral Drift, Eternal Dragon is also the combination of a Cycling payoff and a Cycling engine.

For two mana, we can Plainscycle the Eternal Dragon away and fish out any Plains from our deck. Whether it is your Tundra, your Sacred Foundry, or just a basic Plains, Eternal Dragon doesn’t care, it can find them all!

The other interesting bit about Eternal Dragon is that, during our upkeep, we can pay five mana to put it back into our hand from the graveyard, giving us another chance to find our lands, or to cast the Dragon itself. Five mana on our upkeep is a very hefty price, but there are some really cool things to do with our Dragon friend.

Combine Astral Drift/Astral Slide with Palinchron or Great Whale, then throw in the Eternal Dragon, and we have a way to make the Dragon’s cost moot. You will need the mana up front, but by returning the Dragon to our hand and Cycling it again, we will trigger Astral Drift, bouncing one of the creatures to untap our lands and netting us a land every turn for free. This kind of combo isn’t something to build around, of course, but it is something really fun that can just happen in these Cycling decks since these are all cards you’ll want to include, anyway.

White also has a bevy of reanimation options if we decide that that is something that we’re interested in. We can Cycle our Dragon or any other big Cycler early, smooth out our draws, and then bring them back as a beater later with Resurrection or Karmic Guide. Along with those, we also have Abandoned Sarcophagus, which is basically a Yawgmoth’s Will for Cycling cards, letting us play any of our nonland Cycling cards from the graveyard. This card is incredible for a deck revolving around Cycling, as any player who has cast Yawg’s Will can tell you. One of the brand new cards that the EDHRECast is previewing can also help bring Eternal Dragon back from the graveyard to the battlefield, so if you’re curious what that is, make sure you go check out their special preview episode! 😉


Buggy-ness is Next to Godliness

When you break down what Cycling is, all it is is paying a mana cost, discarding a specific card, and drawing a card. That’s pretty simple, right? There are a bunch of decks with payoffs that revolve around drawing cards, and those same payoffs can be wonderfully utilized in our deck, too! A prime example of this is one of my favorite commanders, and a great reprint that was included in this precon: The Locust God!

The Locust God is a terrific commander, often utilizing cards like Wheel of Fortune and Windfall to draw as many cards as possible and churn through our deck at a blistering speed. While I don’t think we’ll be looking to combo that quickly, that does not diminish The Locust God‘s power.

Every time we Cycle, we’ll be rewarded with a 1/1 flying Insect with haste. This little friend can be used in a multitude of ways.

We can sacrifice it to either Ashnod’s Altar or Phyrexian Altar to help pay for other spells’ costs (or for more Cycling costs). We can once again combine it with Purphoros, God of the Forge or Impact Tremors to quickly chip away at our opponents’ life totals. We can use Fanatical Devotion to sacrifice them to keep The Locust God and our other important creatures around…. There are a lot of uses for a value engine like this.

While it may seem a bit far-fetched to include the Altars or Fanatical Devotion in a deck like this, remember that we also have access to cards like Drake Haven, Migratory Route, Improbable Alliance, Mad Ratter, and Decree of Justice, so a token sub-theme may not be out of the question. Combine this with the fact that the new commander, Gavi, reduces our Cycling costs to zero, and will reward us with a token each time we draw two cards in a turn, and voila! These cards seem like a perfect fit. It’s wonderful when a commander helps support existing strategies!

Three more cards that work in similar veins to The Locust God are Dream Trawler, Psychosis Crawler, and Glint-horn Buccaneer. If this new deck is anything like Mystic Intellect, the Commander 2019 Jeskai deck, we definitely need win conditions, because otherwise we’re just spinning our wheels (in this case, quite literally). Dream Trawler is a hard-to-kill threat that gets bigger when you draw cards, while Psychosis Crawler and Glint-horn Buccaneer add an extra damage each time you Cycle a card. It may not sound like much on paper, but in practice, every little bit of chip damage counts, and over time it will be enough to fell the entire table if done correctly.

I’ve already mentioned The Locust God and Purphoros as win conditions, but the above cards give you even more options and reach into your opponents’ life totals, which is something to make sure you have in any Commander deck.


Fluctuations are a Feature, not a Bug

We’ve been talking about Cycling a lot, but we have only briefly addressed the elephant in the room: the cost that it takes in order to Cycle our cards! Under most circumstances, we won’t have an infinite amount of mana to sink into our Cycling costs, and that could pose a potential issue. Luckily, Wizards had this same line of thinking and thought it was prudent to include Fluctuator in this deck!

Fluctuator is an older card from Urza’s Saga which makes all Cycling costs cost two generic mana less to activate. This goes a long way to help us reduce the cost of Cycling our cards. From allowing us to Cycle things like Eternal Dragon for free, or reducing Nimble Obstructionist‘s cost to a mere blue mana, Fluctuator nets us a lot of free mana.

I am not often a fan of cards that produce mana for or reduce the mana costs of specific cards or mechanics. I’m talking about things like Catalyst Stone or Pillar of Origins, which often only benefit 20-30% of your deck. More often than not, I’d rather run a mana rock in place of them since a Commander’s Sphere will help you cast any spell in your deck, not just narrow, specific ones. Fluctuator is different, though, because Cycling itself is different.

Nearly an entire deck can be made up of Cycling cards if we want. In Jeskai alone, before any new cards, we have 128 Cycling cards available to us. Some of them are creatures, some instants, and some lands. Cycling has appeared on every card type except for Tribal and Planeswalker, giving us a bevy of cards to choose from for our deck while not pigeonholing us into just one or two card types. Where some cards only support 20-30% of a deck, Fluctuator can often support up to 70-80% if the deck is built properly while also potentially becoming a key combo piece, too.

A similar card to Fluctuator, and one to make sure you put in your Cycling deck, is New Perspectives. It will draw you three cards immediately while also reducing your Cycling costs to zero mana if you can ensure that you can keep seven cards in your hand, which, in a deck like this, doesn’t seem hard at all.

With so many amazing cards for this strategy, like Astral Drift, Purphoros, God of the Forge, Psychosis Crawler, and Fluctuator, it seems prudent to potentially run a few ways to tutor out whichever one of these cards you need. Luckily, we have Enlightened Tutor, the newly reprinted Idyllic Tutor, and also Fabricate, to ensure that we can fish these integral pieces from our deck when we need them. These are obviously optional inclusions, but by adding them to our deck we can increase its power and overall consistency. The last thing we want is to break our Cycling rhythm.


Reaching the Finish Line

I cannot express to you how absolutely giddy I am for Ikoria and another Jeskai precon deck.

Cycling is such a wide-open and simple mechanic with myriad payoffs. I can’t wait to see the full list of cards once the entire deck list is revealed.

That said, I did only talk about four of EDHREC’s seven preview cards. Make sure to tune into the EDHRECast to hear all about the other three brand-new cards previewing today. If you like any of the cards I talked about here, you’ll be ecstatic to see the cards that they have up their sleeves. They’re really fun.

I hope you all enjoyed this little dive into the reprints from the Jeskai Cycling deck from Ikoria Commander, and thanks again to Wizards of the Coast for the free previews! Leave your thoughts or other cool interactions below, or feel free to @ me on Twitter anytime. It’s always open to Magic (and Jeskai-related) shenanigans 24/7.

I’ll see you all this Tuesday! Until then stay safe, wash your hands, and enjoy preview season!

Angelo is a Connecticut native who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. With at least 20 EDH decks constructed at all times, it's an understatement to say that he loves Commander. Angelo trusts counterspells over creatures, and is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation rotation out of Standard.