Set Review:Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate Background Commanders Part 2

Last time we talked about the White and Blue background Commander cards; if you missed that article, you can find it here.

As a quick reminder, the background commanders are legendary creatures with the text “choose a background” on them, and the background acts as a second commander in the command zone, almost like the partner mechanic. You can have any colour background in your command zone so long as it is part of the deck’s colour identity.

This will be another lengthy one, so let’s get straight into it.

Black Commanders

First up, we have Safana, Calimport Cutthroat. A 3/2 Legendary Human rogue with menace for 2 and black. At the beginning of our end step, we create a treasure token if we have the initiative; if we have completed a dungeon, we create 3 instead.

A quick reminder of the mechanic taking the initiative. It works a little like Monarch, where a card must first grant the initiative. Once a player has it, the initiative is taken if they are dealt combat damage. Having the initiative means that they go through The Undercity on the player’s next upkeep, similar to that you move through the dungeon cards introduced in Adventures of the forgotten realms.

With Safana caring about the initiative and completing dungeons, Dungeon Delver is a mechanic that lets the rooms of the dungeons we complete trigger an additional time.

Dungeon cards are pretty recent, so most of our support will come from Adventure in the forgotten realms cards.

Yuan-ti Malison is a 2/1 snake rogue who is unblockable so long as it attacks alone, and whenever it deals combat damage to a player, we venture into the dungeon. This is great because it will allow us to take the initiative should we need to and help us venture further into other dungeons. We can also use this to venture further into The Undercity if we need to complete it.

Acererak the Archlich is a 5/5 Legendary Zombie wizard for 2 and a black.

When we first play Acererak, we bounce him to our hand if we haven’t completed the “Tomb of Annihilation” dungeon, and then we venture into the dungeon.

If we have completed that dungeon, he sticks around, and when he attacks, each opponent gets to decide if we create a 2/2 zombie or if they will sacrifice a creature.

This is great in this deck; for 3 mana, we can keep venturing into the dungeon, and then after we have completed the Tomb of Annihilation then, we get a relevant body that can create blockers for us or take creatures from our opponents.

Displacer Beast is a 3/2 cat beast that ventures us further into the dungeon, and we can return it to our hand to play again.

We can also consider cards that can trip the venture mechanic, Bar the gate, Fly or Fates’ Reversal, cards we can use in the deck as interaction and then venture into the dungeon further.

Alora, Merry Thief, allows us to make a creature unblockable and return it to hand. Displacer Kitten will let us flicker a creature we cast a non-creature spell, giving us an extra trigger from our creatures that venture into the dungeon on ETB.

Sarevok, Deathbringer is a 3/4 Legendary Human Knight for 3, and a black which reads, “At the beginning of each player’s end step, if no permanents left the battlefield, that player loses X life, where X is Sarevok’s power. We can make this a Mono-Black Voltron Deck with the background: Criminal past, which gives our Commander menace and +x/+0 where X is the number of creatures in our graveyard.

So we fill our deck with creatures that want to die, payoffs for sacrificing and pumping our Commander so that we could potentially drain people for 5 or 6 at the end step.

Gravelighter, Fleshbag Maurader, Plaguecrafter and Demon’s Disciple are fantastic creatures in this deck. We cast these creatures, and everyone has to sacrifice a creature; the thing is, we want creatures to die on our turn, so this acts as excellent removal and fills up our yard a little.

Speaking of filling up our yard.

Angel of suffering is a 5/3 Nightmare Angel with flying for 3 and 2 black. If damage would be dealt with us, instead mill twice that many cards.

This could be a finisher, but it will also prevent our opponents from attacking us; if they do, we pump up Saverok

Angel of suffering is a 5/3 Nightmare Angel with flying for 3 and 2 black. If damage would be dealt with us, instead mill twice that many cards.

This could be a finisher, but it will also prevent our opponents from attacking us; if they do, we pump up Saverok

Blade of the Oni buffs our Commander, and we could also include an additional background in Cultist of the Absolute a 1 drop that gives our Commander +3/+3 Flying, deathtouch, and ward pay 3 life. We have to sacrifice a creature on each turn, but that’s what this deck wants to do.

Including aristocratic cards like Zulaport cutthroat, Blood Artist and Bastion of remembrance will take advantage of all those death triggers, and creatures like Shambling GhastSolemn Simulacrum and Burnished Hart are all wanting to die.

Skyclave shade can be played from the graveyard after a landfall trigger, and Driver of the dead will allows us to get a creature with 2 mana value or less straight to the battlefield.

Junji, the Midnight Sky and Koksuho, the Evening star give us some great death triggers and Ebondeath, Dracolich can be played from the graveyard, so long as a creature other than Ebondeath died that turn.

Shadowheart Dark Justiciar is a 3/4 Legendary Human elf cleric for 3 and black that reads; 1 and a black and tap Shadowheart, Sacrifice another creature, Draw X cards where X is that creatures power.

We are going to pair this with a black background card called Agent of the Iron Throne that gives our Commander the ability to deal 1 damage to our opponent if an artifact or a creature we control is put into the graveyard from the battlefield.

So we can run a lot of the same stuff for Saverok that want to sacrifice themselves for death triggers, but we will need a lot more fodder for a deck like this. 

Headless rider and Pawn of Ulamog generate us tokens whenever a non-token creature dies; Grave Titan will help fuel the sacrifice outlet. 

Serrated Scorpion, Solemn SimulacrumShambling Ghast, Junji, the Midnight Sky and  Kokushko, the Evening Star all want to die, and we can include more sac outlets like Viscera Seer, Woe Strider or Altar of Dementia.

Including Syr Konrad, the Grim will also help generate more value from our creatures dying.

 We can also include big spells that require a big sac outlet for multiple purposes. For example, Phyrexian Dreadnought is a 12/12 for 1 mana. It needs us to sac creatures whose total power equals 12 when it enters the battlefield, but we can use Shadowheart‘s ability and essentially spend 3 mana to draw 12 cards. That’s a great rate, whichever way you look at it. We can also include Phyrexian Soulgorger will cost 3 to cast for an 8/8, but it has a sac outlet on it, and we can sacrifice it to draw 8 cards. 

Next, we have Sivriss, Nightmare Speaker, a 3/3 legendary snake cleric warlock for 3 and a black. Sivriss lets us tap it and sacrifice another creature or artifact to mill a card for each of our opponents and then return a card from our graveyard to hand unless that opponent pays 3 life.

In the early game, we could be netting an additional 3 cards from our graveyard, but we need to incentivise the decision to give us the cards by dealing as much damage to our opponents as possible.

Whilst we have already talked about this background already, pairing this with Criminal Past will act as an incentive for our Commander; if our opponents choose to pay the 3 life, our Commander grows by 3.

There is a pattern with the Mono black commanders in this set; they care a lot about sacrificing. So like the other Commander’s in this list, we can include Junji, the Midnight SkyKokshko, the Evening starSolemn simulacrum, Serrated Scorpion and Shambling Ghast; all work really well in this deck.

Fell Stinger has an exploit trigger that will help with some more death triggers and card draw. Morbid Opportunist lets us draw a card each turn if 1 or more creatures die. 

Doom Whisperer, Cemetery Tampering and Angel of Anguish can help fill our graveyard up so that we have more of the good stuff to pick from.

Wurmcoil Engine and Phyrexian Triniform give us some extra creatures when they die. Scrap Trawler will let us get another artifact from the graveyard with lesser mana value than the sacrificed artifacts.

Our last mono-black Commander is Viconia, Drow Apostate, a 2/3 legendary elf cleric for 2 and a black which lets us return a random creature from our graveyard so long as we have 4 or more creatures in the graveyard. This card is probably better in the 99 than the command zone, but if you wanted to run this as a Commander, we could use the background Scion of Halaster to fill our graveyard up.

Syr Konrad, the Grim is a must in this deck. Lots of creatures will be going to and leaving the graveyard so we can deal a tonne of damage with him. Angel of suffering and Cemetery tampering fills our graveyard up more, so we have more cards to potentially get.

Sidisi, Undead Vizier lets us tutor up a card if we sac a creature to its exploit ability.  We can also use Buried Alive or Entomb to get a creature card into our graveyard and back to hand.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really much more to say about this card, it wants us to fill up the yard and bring a random one back, but there are tonnes of commanders that do this way better, like Chainer, Dementia Master or Sheoldred, Whispering One. 

Red Commanders (part 1)

Amber Gristle O’Maul is a 3/3 Legendary Dwarf cleric with haste, for 3 and a red which reads, Whenever Amber Gristle O’Maul attacks, you may discard your hand. If you do, draw a card for each player being attacked.

So, I see this deck as a bit aggro and a little bit “discard matters, ” so we want to run Criminal Past as our background. We need to attack, so giving our commander Menace and pumping it for the number of creature cards in our graveyard seems the way to go.

If we are going to discard our hands, let’s put some madness cards in there; Grave Scrabbler will get us a creature card back to hand from the graveyard. Call to the Netherworld, whilst restrictive to black creatures, is free to cast when it is discarded.

Archfiend of spite is a 6/6 flyer that, if dealt damage, will return that damage to the source unless that many permanents are sacrificed.

Shadowgrange Archfiend makes our opponents sacrifice their strongest thing, and we gain life equal to the creature with the highest power.

Shadow of the grave gets all our cards back that were discarded, and Archfiend of Ifnir puts a -1/-1 counter on our opponent’s creatures whenever we discard a card. In this deck, that could be a one-sided board wipe, and if we don’t want our cards to go to the graveyard, Bag of holding will exile them and let us return them to our hand.

If we are running Rakdos discard cards, we may as well sneak in Worldgorger DragonAnimate Dead and the Avacyn’s Judgement which can be a 3 card win-con.

If you don’t know this combo, you cast Animate Dead, Dance of the Dead or Necromancy to target Worldgorger Dragon from our graveyard. Once Worldgorger enters the battlefield, it will exile the enchantment aura attached to it, sending itself to the graveyard, returning all our permanents, including the enchantment aura.

Before we re-target Worldgorger Dragon, we can tap all our lands and float the mana. Do this as often as needed, and then target something else in the graveyard to break the loop. We can then discard Avacyn’s Judgement and pay x to deal x damage to our opponents. The combo also works with Torment of Hailfire.

Ganax, Astral Hunter is a 3/4 Legendary Dragon with flying for 4 and a red.

Whenever Ganax or another Dragon enters the battlefield under our control, we create a treasure token.

If we pair this with the background Acolyte of Bahamut, we can play a lot of the Gruul Dragons and reduce our cost for the first dragon we play each turn. when this gives us a treasure, we are effectively getting a 3 mana reduction on our Dragons.

Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients, gives us a 5/4 dragon token whenever he is dealt damage; we create a dragon token, which will, in turn, make us more treasure.

This pairs nicely with Wrathful Red Dragon that read whenever a Dragon we control is damaged, it deals that much damage to any target that isn’t a dragon, including opponents and Planeswalkers. If you can give something deathtouch, you can start controlling the board.

Atarka, World Render, gives our attacking Dragons double strike and Dragonborn Champion Will draw us cards if we can deal 5 or more damage to an opponent.

Because we want to cast a lot of dragons, we should put more mana reducers in the form of Goblin Anarchomancer, Dragonspeaker Shaman and Dragonlord’s Servant.

Giving our Dragons haste will keep our opponents on the back foot throughout the game. AngerFires of YavimayaRythm of the Wild and Dragon Tempest will allow us to send our big scaley boys at our opponent the turn they come in.

What’s the best thing about Dragon’s? They are huge, so why not take advantage of that and put in Aether Flash, an enchantment for 2 and 2 red that deals 2 damage whenever a creature enters the battlefield. This will keep those pesky go-wide decks down whilst we dominate the board.

Next up, we have Gut, True Soul Zealot, a 2/2 legendary goblin shaman for 2 and a red. When we attack, we can sacrifice another creature or artifact and create a 4/1 black skeleton with menace that is also attacking.

If we are sacrificing creatures and artifacts, it makes sense to pair this with the background Agent of the Iron Throne to capitalise more on the trigger.

Juri, Master of the Revue, will get big the more we sacrifice our permanents, and if she dies, she will deal a tonne of damage to any target.

Because we want a lot of things to be sacrificed, Demon’s Disciple, Fleshbag Marauder, Gravelighter and Plaguecrafter must go in this deck. We can also include Rankle, Master of Pranks, to get some card draw and sacrifice our creatures and control the board.

Mahadi, Emporium Master, will refund our creature sacrifices with more treasures, along with  Ruthless Technomancer will allow us to sacrifice a creature card and gain treasure equal to its power.

Mayhem Devils, Zulaport Cutthroat and Blood Artist will double up our background triggers.

We can include excellent sacrifice fodder in Impulsive Pilferer, Atsushi, the Blazing Sky and Junji, the Midnight Sky, Kokusho, the Evening Star, Shambling Ghast, and Solemn Simulacrum.

Dargo, the Shipwrecker is a massive body we can cast for quite a bit cheaper because of all the sacrifice outlets in this deck.

Rakdos Lord of Riots will reduce the cost of our creatures by the amount of damage we have dealt to our opponents. If we want to be really mean about it, Terror of the Peaks will trigger and deal 4 damage to any target when we attack; this could be what we need to give our creatures protection when we attack. Impact Tremors, Witty Roastmaster and Warstorm Surge will also be great for this, and Fuel our mana reduction for Rakdos.

And what giant creatures are we going to use this mana for? I hear you say aloud, well, friends, I have a single word for you. Eldrazi.

It that Betrays, Ulamog the Ceaseless Hunger, Conduit of Ruin and Artisan of Kozilek would be great in this deck. 

We will pick this up in the following Article on Friday. There are many more exciting commanders to discuss and some exciting ways to build around them.
If you want to build any of these decks, don’t forget that you can support the blog by using the Magic Madhouse link when buying your singles or any Magic product. Don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing list if you want these articles delivered straight to your inbox. Until next time.

One thought on “Set Review:Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate Background Commanders Part 2

  1. Pingback: Mana Dork -

Leave a Reply