Carrying on with the ‘Year of Commander’ theme, Zendikar Rising features two new Commander decks as a gateway for players to enter Magic’s most popular format. If you wanted to try out Commander but uncertain of where to start, these are an ideal entry for format beginners.
These function differently compared to the annual Commander release. Usually, Commander decks highlight around seventeen new cards. Which also includes over-sized cards, all packed in a box with various pre-constructed decks available. However, the Zendikar Rising Commander decks are an additional release aimed at new players and for those who missed the boat on the previous releases. Think of these as the introductory Planeswalker pre-constructed decks, but only for Commander.
The Zendikar Commander decks come with the following:
- 99-card deck
- One foil Commander
- Ten double-sided tokens
- One deck box
- One Life Wheel
Both of the Commanders present a theme to build around. Obuun cares about landfall triggers and using lands to your advantage. Whereas Anowon centers around Rogue tribal and enabling a mill approach through dealing combat damage.
Let’s dig into the decklists starting with Land’s Wrath.
Land’s Wrath is a flavourful take on Zendikar’s environment by animating your lands to deal damage to your opponents. As you are in green, you have access to various ramp options allowing you to get ahead.
For the enfranchised player, these decks are brimming with value and include desirable reprints.
Rites of Flourishing, Admonition Angel and Omnath, Locus of Rage are excellent reprints that will serve well within the build. Piloting a three-coloured strategy straight out of the box may cause for concern, but you won’t have any issues with fixing as the list is well-built. As mentioned above, green is well-known for mana ramp and fixing so you will have access to all your colours early on. Also, green is known for its gigantic creatures such as Rampaging Baloths and Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar that can grab wins on their own. You aren’t leaning on green to get the job done either, as Sun Titan and Admonition Angel will impact the game immediately.
If you prefer to play something with a tribal theme, then Sneak Attack is for you. The objective is to swarm the board with Rogues, to take advantage of Anowon’s ability to eliminate your opponents.
Similar to Land’s Wrath, Sneak Attack features sought-after reprints of Commander staples.
Obelisk of Urd, Sygg, River Cutthroat, and Oona, Queen of the Fae remain desirable cards within the Commander environment. Their value combined comes to almost the full price of the deck which is excellent value. Falling into the black and blue colour pairing means you won’t be ramping compared to Land’s Wrath. Instead, you have acceleration in Arcane Signet and Sol Ring as insurance. Another feature of Sneak Attack is the ability to take control of your opponents’ permanents with cards such as Extract from Darkness. Within a game of Commander, this is a solid approach to managing power levels and keeping up with your opponents. Besides, blowing an opponent out with Notion Thief never gets old. Trust me.
When it comes to pre-built Commander decks, there are deckbuilding issues that can harm your play experience. Typically, it’s in the mana being cumbersome or synergies often feeling incidental. Instead, these decks offer a smoother experience and remove any previous stigma, making these fantastic to play straight out of the box. As someone who purchases Commander pre-constructed decks on the regular, these are easy to pick up and fun to play. If this is the expected quality of Commander product going forward, then I am excited to see what Wizards of the Coast have lined up over the next year.
Looking ahead, these decks will see future support if you intend to upgrade these down the line. Rogues are likely to feature in Magic: The Gathering Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms due out next year. On the flip side, Land’s Wrath will see continued support as lands are a crucial aspect of the game. Both Sneak Attack and Land’s Wrath are ideal regardless of how you approach Magic. They’re great just out of the box, within casual playgroups, or to upgrade into something competitive later on. From a design perspective, these Commander decks are some of Wizards of the Coast’s best work, and suggest picking these up if you want to enter Commander on the cheap.
Emma Partlow is a writer for TCGplayer and co-host of The Budget Magic Cast. She’s been involved in Magic since Khans of Tarkir, and loves helping players dive into the game’s most diverse non-rotating formats.
Follow Emma on Twitter: @Emmmzyne
If you want to pick up the Zendikar Rising Commander decks or any singles, you can do so in-store or here on the Langden Games website.