This is the final instalment into our deep-dive analysis of the background Commander’s from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate. If you missed part 1 or part 2, be sure to go back and give them a read.
As a recap, Background commanders are monocoloured with the text “choose a Background”, which allows us to choose any background and put it in the command zone. The background can be any colour, making more cards available to play around with. If destroyed can be replayed from the command zone.
As a side note, because backgrounds are commander cards (if played from the command zone), they interact with cards that care about the Commander being out. Cards like Jeska’s will, which let you play both modes if your Commander is out, or Deflecting Swat, which is free if the Commander is out.
With all that said, let’s get into it.
Red Commanders Continued
Mono Red- Extra turns
Karlach Fury of Avernus is next, who is a 5/4 legendary Tiefling Barbarian for 4 and a red. Whenever we attack, if it’s the first combat phase, we can untap all our creatures, they get first strike until the end of our turn, and there is an additional combat phase.
Mono red Aggro seems to be the way for this Commander. Let’s pair it with Tavern Brawler to dig deeper into our deck whilst making our Commander larger.
We are going to be attacking a lot. so let’s include cards like:
Professional Face-Breaker, Laelia, the Blade-Reforged, Goldspan Dragon and Neheb, Dreadhorde-Champion. Which will add value to our attacks. Especially when we are attacking multiple times a turn.
Because our Commander will be attacking most of the time, we should equip it with some strong Aura and Equipment. Lizard Blades will give our Commander Double strike, and Blackblade Reforged will pump our Commander based on how many lands we have.
We will need to protect her, so let’s include Swiftfoot Boots, Lightning Greaves and Commanders Plate.
Commander’s Plate is perfect because she is likely to get through if she has protection from everything but red.
We can control our opponent’s boards with Urabrask, Heretic Praetor, Urabrask the Hidden, Archetype of Aggression and if we want to be mean about it, Blood Moon.
We are in Mono red, so we want to go fast and attack as quickly as possible and make it tricky for our opponents. Be sure to include Anger and Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei, Tuktuk Rubblefort and Mass Hysteria.
Because this Commander cares about combat and extra turns. Let’s lean harder into that and include Port Razer, Combat Celebrant, Hellkite Charger, Moraug, Fury of Akoum and Relentless Assualt.
And last but not least, in this deck, we should include Jeska, Thrice Reborn, which we can use to triple the damage from our Commander, and potentially take a player out.
Next up, Livaan, Cultist of Tiamat. Who is a 1/3 legendary Dragon Shaman for 2 and red that reads: “Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, Target creature gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is the spells mana value”.
Pairing this up with Sword Coast Sailor will allow us to run Izzet colours for all the excellent spell slinger stuff, move us into treasure payoffs, and lean into “power-less-then 2” strategies.
First, let’s include Harmonic Prodigy, which will double up our Commander’s triggers when we cast non-creature spells. Pairing this up with Storm-kiln Artist will double our Commander’s triggers and give us 2 treasures per cast.
Subira Tulzida Caravanner is a 2/3 legendary Human shaman with haste for 2 and red. We can also use her to make our creatures unblockable so long as they have power 2 or less
We can also use Alora, Merry Thief, Rogues passage, Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar and Tetsuko Umezawa Fugitive to try and leverage unblockable damage. These cards have different power restrictions, but we can use them in similar ways
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell can benefit from being power 2 or less and will add another 2 damage from our Red sources.
Because we are trying to get unblockable creatures, let’s get some good ones to hit. Blighted Agent will allow us to take an opponent out with Infect. Thousand-Faced Shadow can create a copy of another target attacking creature. We can also Ninjutsu it in, which is excellent with all the unblockable action we have going on.
What’s the best part of Magic? Card Draw. So let’s include cards like; Moon-circuit Hacker, Tandem Lookout, Eternal of Harsh Truths and Reconnaissance Mission. Which will get us some card draw when we attack.
We can also include spellslinger all-star Veyran Voice of Duality because it’s a 2/2 before we cast our non-creature spells. Vadrik, Astral Archmage will reduce our instants when we go to combat.
Lizard Blades and Berserks’ Onslaught gives our creatures double strike, and then we can fill our deck with a bunch of pump spells to get the damage through. Cards like Unleash fury, Fists of Flame and Brute Force are cheap and efficient pump spells that we can use as combat tricks.
We can also use cards like Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time, which have high mana values but can be reduced, which will increase our Commander’s power.
Finally, Arcane Bombardment will not only give us extra value from our spells but can really get the damage through when we attack and cast all the spells from underneath it.
Izzet Dice Roll Matters
Our final red Commander is Wyll, Blade of Frontiers. A 1/1 Legendary Human Warlock for 1 and red who reads: “If you would roll one or more dice, instead roll that many plus one and ignore the lowest roll.”
And a second part of text reads, “Whenever you roll one or more dice, put a +1/+1 counter on Wyll, Blade of Frontiers“.
The very first Dice rolls matter. A lot of the cards we want for this are in Izzet colours. So pairing up with the background Sword Coast Sailor, we can also make our Commander unblockable when we attack with him.
Brazen Dwarf will deal 1 damage to each of our opponents whenever we roll a dice; with our Commander out, that’s 2 damage which can pile up. Barbarian Class lets us add another dice roll to our Commander’s trigger, and when we pair this with Pixie Guide, we can be rolling 4 dice instead of one. Those counters will soon pile up.
Wizard’s Spellbook is a pricey artifact at 7 mana, but we can use our dice rolls to get extra benefit from our instant and sorcery cards, which in an Izzet deck, we will be running plenty of. Speaking of Instants, Wyll’s Reversal and Gale’s Redirection are excellent counterspells in this deck.
Farideh, Devils Chosen, also benefits from our dice rolling. He gets menace and flying whenever we roll one or more dice, with the chance of card draw if any of the results are 10 or higher.
Ancient Copper Dragon will give us insane value from the treasure generation, and Ancient Silver Dragon will get us a tonne of card draw. Something we can take advantage of in these colours.
Wand of Wonder will not only take our opponent’s spells from them; we can cast them and then exile them again with the Wizard’s Spellbook.
Delina, Wild Mage lets us roll a D20 whenever she attacks, creating a tapped copy of a creature. If we roll anything over 15, we get to keep on rolling, which can lead to an insane amount of tokens and an insane amount of counters on Wyll.
The deck of Many Things gives us more opportunities to roll some dice, but it also has some incredible abilities. 1-9 we return a random card to hand, 10-19 draw 2 cards. But the one we want to get as much as possible is to roll a 20. If we do, we can put any creature from any graveyard onto the battlefield under our control; that’s not all. If that creature dies, the owner loses the game.
If we take an opponent’s creature, we are just the controller, not the owner; we can run it into something big and take a player out of the game.
And lastly, something that isn’t a dice rolling support, but we should include anyway. Helm of the Host lets us copy a creature, which we want to copy Delina as much as possible. This allows for more dice rolls if we hit over 15 multiple times and a lot of Delina’s. Absolute Chaos.
Our first green Commander cares what all Green cards care about, land.
Erinis, Gloom Stalker is a 3/3 legendary Halfling Ranger with Deathtouch for 2 and a green. Whenever he attacks, we can put a land card directly from the graveyard onto the battlefield.
We will pair this up with the background Scion of Halaster to get our yard filled up so we can play additional lands a turn and get more landfall triggers. This isn’t playing a land either; it’s returning a land card from the graveyard, so we can get multiple landfall triggers a turn.
First, let’s fill up our graveyard with lands with cards like Harrow, Crop Rotation, World Shaper and Underrealm Lich. These cards are great at helping us fill our graveyard with lands whilst providing additional value in the form of ramp or card selection.
Sylvan Safekeeper is excellent in the deck. We can sacrifice a land card to give protection to our Commander and then get it right back out when we attack.
We can include Crucible of worlds and Ramunap Excavator to get more lands from our graveyards onto the battlefield. If we pair these up with Exploration, Dryad of the Illysan Grove and Azuza, lost but seeking, we can do this multiple times a turn.
What payoffs can we get for playing our lands? We can include Nissa of Shadow boughs, who gets a loyalty counter whenever we play land. That’s not all; we can use her ultimate to get a creature from our hand, our graveyard, straight onto the battlefield. If that wasn’t enough, it comes in with an additional +1/+1 counter.
Lotus Cobra, Rampaging Baloths, and Avenger of Zendikar all work well in this deck. Being able to get multiple triggers from our land plays a turn
and if we include Scute Swarm, our board state will get out of hand very quickly.
The Gitrog Monster is incredible in this deck, too, because it gives us additional card draw when a land hits the battlefield. Because our deck is about recurring land cards from the graveyard, we won’t ever feel the downside.
We can also make our Commander infinitely big with The Gitrog Monster, Dakmor Salvage, Gaea’s Blessing and Oblivion Crown.
With The Gitrog Monster out on the battlefield, we attach Oblivion Crown to our Commander and discard Dakmor Salvage, which will trigger the draw ability from The Gitrog Monster. The draw ability will be replaced by Dakmor Salavage’s dredge ability. If you milled a land, leave the draw trigger on the stack, repeat the first step, return the Dakmor Salvage to your hand, and discard it again. Keep going until you put Gaea’s Blessing into the graveyard, which will shuffle our graveyard back into the library. We keep going until we put all our cards into our hand and make our Commander infinitely big.
Selesnya Token Dorks
Our next green Commander is, Jaheira, Friend of the Forest. A 2/3 legendary Human Elf Druid for 2 and a green, who gives all our tokens the ability to tap and add green mana.
This is any token, not just creatures. Clue, Food, and Treasure tokens become way better when you don’t have to sacrifice them.
Whilst we are making tokens of all kinds, the background card, Inspiring leader, will pump our creature tokens that bit further.
Arasta of the Endless Web will give us a creature token whenever our opponents play an instant or sorcery. Scute Swarm, Rampaging Baloths and Avenger of Zendikar give us tokens for our land drops too.
Scepter of Celebration is an equipment artifact for 2 and a green. That gives our equipped creature +2/+0 and Trample. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to an opponent, we create a 1/1 Human Citizen token. Old Gnawbone could be a perfect target for this, as it will make 9 treasures and 9 1/1 Citizen creature tokens, giving us 18 mana after a single attack.
Bootleggers stash from Streets of New Capenna is a must-have in this deck, essentially doubling our mana every turn.
If we have Seedborn Muse, we can do this on every turn. If we have Academy Manufactor, suddenly, we are tripling our available mana.
Because we are creating a bunch of tokens, we can include, Chatterfang, Squirrel General, Doubling season and Anointed Procession.
Halo Fountain can be incredible in this deck because it is a legitimate win-con. We can tap our tokens for mana, without going to attacks and then activate its last ability.
With all this mana, we need some mana sinks, right? So let’s put in Stonecoil Serpent and Biogenic Ooze, which is especially good because we are getting another token to be able to tap for mana later.
Of course, if we are going to sink a lot of mana. In that case, we have to sink it into Finale of Devastation. With all the bodies out on the battlefield will be a glorious way to take our opponents out.
Golgari Dragon/Graveyard Aggro
Skanos Dragonheart is a 4/4 Legendary Dragon Ranger for 4 and green. Whenever we attack with it, it gets +X/+X until the end of the turn, where X is the highest power amongst dragons you control and Dragon cards in the graveyard.
So Skanos cares about getting huge and what’s in our graveyard, so let’s pair him up with the background card Criminal past.
Skanos can trigger his own ability, so he will at least double his own power and toughness. With Criminal Past out on the battlefield, he will have menace, so he will be harder to block and get a buff for all the creatures in the yard, not just dragons.
Some fabulous cards from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate we haven’t talked about, but we should include here are Ancient Bronze Dragon which will give us a substantial amount of +1/+1 counters and
Ancient Brass Dragon, which can recur one of our beasties from the yard.
Beledros Witherbloom creates some inconsequential cannon fodder in the form of pest tokens, but that’s not what we are interested in. His second ability lets us untap all our lands if we pay 10 life. That’s not a small amount of mana. We can definitely use that mana to have an explosive turn.
We can use that mana to cast Finale of Devastation and get our Commander so big that he can take a player out instantly, or we can use it to play Torment of Hailfire and take all our opponents out at once.
Including The Great Henge will help us gain some of the life loss we might incur from Beledros but will also cost substantially less with our Commander and the background cards.
We can run interaction in the form of Crux of Fate and Kindred Domination which will be one-sided board wipes opening up for some massive swings
If we are running Golgari Dragons, we are running some great stuff. Junji the Midnight Sky can make our opponents discard some cards, although unable to recur us a dragon. Kura, the Boundless Sky, is a relevant body with flying and deathtouch, but it can also get us some lands we need. This is a very mana-heavy deck and the lands will help us.
Kukusho, the Evening Star and Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon will be huge threats. If our opponents thought that our Dragons were bad enough, we can play Fearsome Awakening to bring them back stronger than before.
Finally, it is worth running Triumph of the Hordes in this deck. Our Commander could quickly become a 10/10 with menace. Taking a player out with Infect is not something we should overlook.
Golgari Aggro Aristobear
Our Final Commander from the main set is Wilson, Refined Grizzly, a 2/2 legendary Bear Warrior with (deep breath) “This spell can’t be countered.” Vigilance, Reach, Trample and if that wasn’t enough, Ward 2, all for the cost of 1 and a green.
There are many ways you can build this, but my favourite way is a Voltron/Sacrifice sort of thing going on with Cultist of the Absolute. Which will add more keywords to our massive boy for a single black mana
So we can add the classic Aristocratic staples in this deck like Viscera Seer, Zulaport Cutthroat and Blood Artist. We also get to include one that doesn’t see that much play Poison-tip Archer.
These will help lower our opponent’s life totals when we have to sacrifice a creature at the beginning of our upkeep.
Beledros Witherbloom will give us sacrifice fodder for the Cultist of the Absolute‘s trigger. When they die, we will gain some incidental life. This is especially good if we include Savra, Queen of the Golgari. She will let us get both triggers when we sacrifice a pest token.
Avenger of Zendikar, Scute Swarm and Rampaging Baloths are excellent cards that feed our upkeep trigger for playing our land cards. Pairing them with Chatterfang, Squirrel General, or Parallel lives will give us additional tokens, too, so we will never have to worry about falling short.
We can capitalise on our sacrifices by including cards that pay us off for dying. Solemn Simulacrum,Shambling Ghast, Junji, the Midnight Sky and Kokushko, the Evening Star will give us additional value when we sacrifice them to our upkeep trigger.
If we are going to be mean about it, and let’s face it, we probably are. Then we should include Dictate of Erebos and Butcher of Malakir so that our opponents also have to sacrifice a creature at the beginning of our upkeep. Want to be even meaner about it? Well, friend Tergrid, God of Fright, will take those creatures for our own nefarious doings and then we can swing out with a big old grizzly.
So that brings us to the end of our deep-dive analysis of the background Commanders from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate.
I really like the background mechanic. There are hundreds of possible combinations and a lot of really cool synergies in colours you wouldn’t normally expect that you can build around.
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