Looking to switch up your Commander 2019 decks? Here's this year's best alternate commanders to try!
Magic: the Gathering's new Commander 2019 decks are here! After a entire year of waiting, four new decks have made their way to store shelves, ready and waiting for novices and veterans alike to take them home. The best part about another round of precons is the amazing variety on offer - between Faceless Menace's morph, Mystic Intellect's flashback, Primal Genesis' populate and Merciless Rage's madness, these decks are likely to have a play style for everyone!
However, choice doesn't just stop at selecting a deck. Rather, once you crack open that plastic seal, you'll have another two choices staring right at you. In this article, we're gonna take a look at some of the alternate commanders on offer right out of the box! For those that want to add a little extra spice to their precon, I've also included fun combos for each of the alternate commanders - just an extra way to retune the decks for your new general!
Volrath, the Shapestealer
For those who are looking to keep their deck as tuned as possible, this is not the swap for you. While Volrath is a very cool card, the cost reduction and card draw present on Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer is just so hard to beat - especially in this deck filled with tens of morphs!
Now that we've appeased the Spikes, let's gush about Volrath. Firstly, those STATS. A 7/5 for five mana? What a solid rate! This is a commander that knocks an opponent out in three turns of commander damage (as is Elder Dragon tradition), helping you keep the pressure on your enemies as the game progresses.
Putting a -1/-1 counter on a creature every turn is nice, too. This gives you targets for Volrath's ability, but it also lets you kill off your opponents' X/1s or weaken their bigger threats. Spending zero mana to shoo away an opponent's Birds of Paradise might feel a bit rude, but you're here to win!
But we've saved the best for last - that one mana clone ability. In a game of commander, there's always something cool to clone. If we look at the precons for examples, Mystic Intellect is running a copy of Zetalpa, Primal Dawn. If you clone that with Volrath, you end up with a flying, double-striking, indestructible 7/5 with vigilance. That's a lot of power on one body!
If you're the sort of player who enjoys seeing what everyone else has on the board and playing it yourself, Volrath is worth giving a go.
Bonus round: Using Volrath's ability, you can clone a Master Biomancer, then play Sage of Hours to instantly get an extra turn. Combine that with Deadeye Navigator and suddenly you've got infinite turns! What a fun combo that is definitely reliable, not prone to easily being removed and won't make anyone extremely mad.
Elsha of the Infinite
Mystic Intellect is a powerful deck. Being filled with cards that have built-in recursion, the 2-for-1 factor is not to be ignored. Theoretically, this means that Sevinne, the Chronoclasm should be the best pick for the deck. After all, the only thing that's better than a 2-for-1 is a 3-for-1, right? Unfortunately, a good deal of the deck's spells don't really offer additional value when you flash them back. For example, copying the second half of Dusk // Dawn doesn't get you any extra creatures back - they're already in your hand.
But you know what does help your game plan, always and forever? Card advantage! Elsha of the Infinite lets you look at the top card of your deck anytime you like and cast it if it's a noncreature spell. Essentially, in a deck like Mystic Intellect which is packed full of noncreature spells, she reads "your hand is one card bigger at most times". Having this card advantage in the command zone is invaluable - it's the reason I was raving about Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer earlier!
Giving the spells on the top of your deck flash is also not to be scoffed at. Dropping a Storm Herd right before your turn means your beautiful fleet of pegasi won't have to succumb to a board wipe before you get a chance to swing in with them.
Bonus round: If you've got a Sensei's Divining Top and a Kykar, Wind's Fury lying around, throw them in this deck for the ability to draw your entire deck in a single turn. If you don't find a way to turn that into insane amounts of mana (like adding an Anointed Procession for extra tokens), just go for lethal with all the extra power from prowess triggers!
Atla Palani, Nest Tender
There's little more satisfying in a game of commander than smacking someone with big creatures. Ghired, Conclave Exile is really good at this - once you've got a massive token like a Desolation Twin, you can populate every time you attack, hitting for more and more every combat. The only problem is big tokens usually cost big mana, meaning it'll take a while for them to hit the field.
This is where Atla Palani shines! Her ability to make a 0/2 Egg token for two mana lets you pull massive creatures out of your deck for a lot less than their casting cost. While this doesn't help with any creatures you may have in your hand, this unique mechanic turns your deck into a gachapon machine - except, instead of toys, the balls are filled with giant monsters that want nothing more than to crush your opponents!
If you're the sort of player who likes a little bit more randomness and mystery in their game, Atla Palani is worth the switch.
Bonus round: If you add a Thornbite Staff to the deck, Atla Palani will untap everytime one of your eggs dies, giving you more chances to make eggs every turn cycle. Combined with Marauding Raptor from the latest Core Set, your eggs will get cracked as soon as they hit the battlefield, meaning you don't have to find ways to kill them off. But, replace that Marauding Raptor with an Ashnod's Altar, and suddenly you can sacrifice your eggs as soon as they hit the battlefield, giving you two mana to spend on another egg. With this, you can fish every single creature out of your deck!
Chainer, Nightmare Adept
In Merciless Rage, Anje Falkenrath's discard ability is hard to beat for that madness game plan. A free rummaging outlet is one thing, but untapping when you discard the deck's signature card type puts this commander firmly into that golden range of card advantage - a truly rare specimen for a Rakdos deck!
However, once you start discarding creature cards, how are you going to get them back? The answer, of course, is with Chainer. While it is restricted to once a turn, being able to cast creatures from your graveyard without having to pay any extra mana is powerful in a way that isn't obvious at first. If you've ever sat down to play against a Muldrotha, the Gravetide deck, you'll know the insane advantage that deck has when it can treat its massive graveyard like an extension of its hand.
Once those creatures come back from your graveyard, Chainer gives them haste until the end of turn, meaning you can head straight to combat and attack with your threat from the graveyard before anyone has a chance to untap their mana and kill it. Chainer's ability also hits creatures with madness (after a card with madness has been discarded, the trigger sends it to a special exile zone where you get a chance to cast it before it makes its way to the graveyard), meaning a good chunk of the creatures in this deck will also come in with haste!
Bonus round: Chainer's ability doesn't just apply to creatures you own - any nontoken creatures that enter the battlefield under your control fit the bill for that haste trigger. Combine a Chainer on the field with a Rise of the Dark Realms for a giant board that's more than likely to decimate your opponents in a single swing!
Inspired to give one of these commanders a try? You can pick up Commander 2019 decks and related products in-store or online from our website!