Wizards Of The Coast is releasing a new Commander Product this year as the Multiplayer Offering. Last year, they brought us new Shard focused Commander decks, as the release before focused on the Wedges. This time around, the focus is on monocoloured decks, allowing for the products to be designed in such a way that the cards in the decks can be used in any deck that shares the colors, instead of isolating them based on colour identity. Also of note is that this product will be the first one to release Planeswalkers with the rules text on them which states that they can be used as the Commander of your deck. Having played no shortage of the format, let me tell you that this can easily lead to some very degenerate things. (That is why we play this format though right??)
CHRIS: Our preview card however is not one of these fancy new planeswalkers, nor is it one of the new spicy legends from Magic’s past that have never before graced a card. What it does do is show (one of?) the new mechanic(s) in the set: Lieutenant. Rules-wise, this is pretty simple – as long as you control your commander, cards with Lieutenant do something extra or different. It’s an ability word so it doesn’t actually have any rules associated with it, it just does what it says on the card. It’s worth mentioning that a copy of your Commander, for example if your opponent is playing it, will not count and will not grant the bonus. A mechanic like this is also a neat way to make sure that any card they design with this mechanic doesn’t break Legacy, because outside of Commander this does nothing. But hey, it’s not like a card designed for multiplayer could EVER see play in Magic’s most widely-played Eternal format…right?
Oh. Right. Errr…Scott? Help me out here buddy.
SCOTT: Our preview card is one that is sure to see a lot of play at your tables in the very near future, as it really passes all of the litmus tests for the format. Commander creature evaluations traditionally revolve around 3 pillars over and above the cost/size ratios; Enter or leave the Battlefield triggers, static or activated abilities, and the overall resilience of the creature. Our preview card hits on all of these points. Without further ado, let us reveal to you the Demon of Wailing Agonies.
I feel as if this card is going to easily see a lot of play in this format. First of all, a 4/4 flying creature for 5 mana is a well positioned creature. There have been a lot of iconic creatures in Magic’s history to share these statistics, most notably for me are [card]Sengir Vampire[/card] and [card]Serra Angel[/card] (Yes… I’m old and have been playing a long time…. get off my lawn). The fact that this creature has these stats and a powerful upside is a good sign.
Once you get past that and start reading into the Lieutenant ability though, this really starts to get attractive. Removal effects, although powerful on their own, see an increase in value proportionate to the power of the thing you are removing. In Commander, deck building space is somewhat limited, and creatures have to pass particular tests in order to make the cut. Nowadays, many of the creatures have indestructibility, protection from certain colors, or even Hexproof (Thanks Zac Hill) which can make removing them a tricky proposition. Demon of Wailing Agonies gets around all of this and on top that, a flying 6/6 demon is no slouch itself, meaning that one way or another, when it comes across the battlefield, it is likely eating something, albeit a blocker or through the edict effect.
CHRIS: Even limiting the removal discussion to opposing commanders nets us an impressive list of victims who will be wailing in agony after a solid thwack from our new friend here: [card]Uril, the Miststalker[/card], [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card], [card]Thrun, the Last Troll[/card] and even [card]Avacyn, Angel of Hope[/card] are eating dirt once this bad boy connects. As Scott rightly pointed out, a 6/6 flier is going to match up favourably with all but the beefiest of opposing fliers, meaning even [card]Kaalia of the Vast[/card] could see herself in trouble (though in fairness, she’s likely running a copy herself). Spot removal is often seen as something of a dirty word (or two words) in the format, but when your spot removal is repeatable and also pounds your opponent in the face…we might be a little more likely to sleeve him up.
SCOTT: The edict ability should ensure this sees a wide range of play, as the ability can be put to use in both aggressive and controlling strategies. Aggressive strategies will be looking to help keep the way clear for the rest of the forces, and the control decks can really use the edict nature of the removal effect to clean up creatures that they otherwise might have difficulty removing. In both cases, the effect allows you to cheat on mana by giving you a spell that you don’t have to pay for, allowing you to further develop your primary strategy.
CHRIS: I hear free spells are good. One thing I wonder about though is which Commanders will be able to make the best use of this card. I know the first place I am looking is [card]King Macar, the Gold-Cursed[/card]. His Inspired ability already allows for removal shenanigans, but there will always be things he can’t target. Protection from black is one of the more populous keywords, and [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card] is in almost every deck that has the creature base to support it. The one-two punch of free removal should allow that sort of deck to easily keep the way clear for beatdowns.
SCOTT: I will be looking to put this to work in Kaalia first, as this dropping during the Kaalia turn 3 Kaalia attack can be as punishing in most cases as a [card]Rakdos the Defiler[/card] or a [card]Master of Cruelties[/card] would be (ok… almost). I also think that a UB(x) deck would be at want for the effect.
I have played against [card]The Abyss[/card], and yes, sadly I have been victim to a [card]Sorin, Solemn Visitor[/card] Emblem. Neither of these things are remotely fun to play against, and I expect that being behind on board while this Demon is attacking you clearly demonstrates that it should earn its title. I suggest bringing a Mason jar with you to the table, so that when you crush the hopes and dreams of your opponents you can collect their tears in it, and then drink their misery.
CHRIS: I do enjoy a nice tall glass of misery, especially when served up with agony. I think it’s important to mention that there are some places where this card will not be at its best, like against a Sigarda deck. Having Sigarda on the board will just shut this guy down…and make him just a 6/6 flier for 5. Hmm, yeah maybe not shut down then. He’s definitely less powerful against any sort of token or weenie aggro strategy like [card]Rhys the Redeemed[/card] or [card]Teysa, Orzhov Scion[/card], and of course an opposing [card]Grave Pact[/card] or similar will just make you miserable. Just some things to watch for.
SCOTT: Good catch Chris. As far as synergy goes for this card, the only real fair advice that we could give you is that this card is not very subtle. The best way to use this card is simple really, but just in case, let’s go over the recommended usage shall we?
Step 1: Play Demon
Step 2: Play Commander
Step 3: Connect Demon with opponent’s face
Step 4: Profit
Anything that can help facilitate step 3 is desirable. Some ideas might be [card]Rogue’s Passage[/card], Swords, [card]Whispersilk Cloak[/card], [card]Cover of Darkness[/card], or even the lowly [card]Prowler’s Helm[/card].
We would like to close up with a sincere thank you to both Wizards Of The Coast for continuing to support the Commander Format with amazing new journeys into design like this one, and to ManaDeprived.com for letting us share this bomb of a card with you.
CHRIS: It’s always a pleasure and an honour to bring you a new card. This one might not have a ton of cute tricks associated with it, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not meant to be subtle. It’s a giant freaking hammer with which to crack skulls. So…go forth. Crack skulls. Make your opponents wail with agony.