Command of Ikoria - Commander 2020 Spoilers 3/4/2020
Article by Adam Ray
It seems like the trip we are taking to the Lair of Behemoths is so monstrously big, we're going for two major releases. The first drips of the Commander 2020 products have started to show, and we've seen arguably the most important cards in that release: the Commanders themselves. We've got five this time around, and that makes for a satisfying cycle. More importantly, they're all in the wedge colour combinations - Bug, Rug, and Junk if you're old-timey; Sultai, Temur, and Abzan if you're newer to the scene and in favour of flavour.
Spooky bug is interesting indeed. Displaying more of Ikoria's unique mechanics - putting keyword counters on your creatures. As a commander, Kathril reads very similarly to cards like Odric, Soulflayer, or Cairn Wanderer. This cast of cards also go alongside spooky bug, as do creatures that are themselves keyword soup, like Zetalpa. As a member of the 99, the bug works very well with decks that like a full grave, like Karador or Teneb. In charge, Kathril can benefit from the same full grave, and ensure your team are keyworded and the bug is big. I think the deck would also love ways to flicker the bug, spread the keywords very lovingly as your team, or this commander, become an unstoppable force.
What a loving mother. Gavi reads like Cycling dot deck. Returning in Ikoria, Cycling is an old and beloved mechanic, but to my mind, there hasn't truly been a dedicated Commander for it. One that gums up the board this effectively, making 2/2s and herself being a 2/5 - this deck can stave off aggression very well. As a cycling deck itself, there's many different directions one can take. New Perspectives ensures that your cycles are always free. Once you have that online, you can flood the board with more tokens from Drake Haven, zap your opponents with Lightning Rift or flicker everything with Astral Drift. A balance between all of these may make for a fascinating deck, and it's good Jeskai flair to make the deck build a puzzle itself.
What a precious mutant. As much as we want to play Surgeon
And now, we look at the civilised people who have to survive alongside a savage landscape full of terrifying monsters. Jirina, who some friends say kind of looks like Rihanna, is the representative of the Human tribes of Ikoria. It's only fitting that she's a Human Tribal commander. The colour pair has revolutionised Vampires thanks to Eddie. On the face of it, her as a Commander is a 3/3 and a 3/1 for four mana. A boardstate in a box is definitely expected in the most aggressive wedge. I'm very interested in her wording as a member of the 99. She makes tokens based on the number of times 'a' commander has been cast. If you were to place her in the 98 of a Bruse Tarl/Reyhan, Last of the Abzan deck - or even a Ludevic, Necro Alchemist/Ravos, Soultender deck, then she'd have double the number of commanders to see come and go from the zone. On the face, she's a solid choice for Mardu Humans - or a boardstate in a box for a partner pair. I was expecting Mardu to be boring, but this one is quite powerful.
Elemental. Dinosaur. Who can hate the flavour of this set, honestly? The Temur colour combination has been the favourite for the Miracle Grow archetype. Cards like Qirion Dryad and Deeproot Champion have always been around. To a lesser extent, Spellheart Chimera, Enigma Drake, and Crackling Drake also really fit this bill - even Ikoria newcomer Sprite Dragon is welcome in this deck. This card is the second, after Ral, Storm Conduit to reference copying spells. Pairing this with other copy effects like Reiterate, Primal Amulet, and Repeated Reverberation make for a very large Dino. Not to mention the instant wins with Ral and Expansion//Explosion.
The commanders are powerful, diverse, and oozing Ikoria flavour. With a release set some time after Ikoria, I can expect to tinker with at least one crackly dinosaur. Expect more Commander 2020 spoiler comments right here on Fantastic Universes.