Creatures. Creatures. Creatures. Creatures. Creatures. The master arcane magi at Wizards of the Coast have been repeatedly hitting us over the head for some time now like a blunt object. And as you’ve crumpled to the ground under the assault, you may have caught the inscription on the side of said weapon. It simply reads “Creature Focus”.
We get it: they want Magic to be largely creature-based now. For many years, in part due to a general weakness of the power level of creatures, it wasn’t uncommon to have spell-heavy decks. Even in multiplayer. It’s not that creatures weren’t useful or desired or needed for the first half of the game’s lifespan, but they weren’t an absolute requirement. Even in multiplayer. So, chances are if you come across someone bemoaning the fact that they don’t enjoy everything being all about creatures these days, you’re speaking to a long-standing veteran of the game.
The most commonly used rebuttal to this castigation continues to be that creature-lite (or entirely creatureless) decks are fairly common in the tournament scene. While this may be bully for the Constructed crowds, it’s not a true equivalency for the game as a whole. As is often forgotten by many (and why I routinely remind people), the concerns and metagame of the Standard / Modern / Legacy formats do not speak for the entirely of Magic players.
Unsurprisingly, then, the fussing from the old guard is usually from the casual faction. They remember times when their multiplayer decks could flourish with just a handful of utility creatures and some of their heavy hitters, followed up with an abundance of spell work and artifacts to do their bidding. That is arguably much harder to do now. Hence the griping about change and whatnot.
So, fine. Let’s do it their way. If you can’t beat them, join them, and all that jazz, right? Let’s make decks with nothing but creatures, land, and several iterations of card draw, land fetch, and rituals. Just make sure that every creature has an Enter-The-Battlefield trigger instead of an activated ability because the latter are too difficult to keep track of now. That should work, right?
Yeah, probably not. That’ll entertain the casual pre-Mending crowd for about 20 minutes.
And that is part of the reason why the casual folks – particularly those Magic players who have been at it for 10+ years – particularly enjoy the Commander format. EDH allows for more of the things they enjoy from when they started playing, and it gives them the freedom to play how they want rather than being corralled into one gameplay narrative. That said, Commander still has a lot of creatures. Still, the percentages aren’t quite as high compared to ‘normal’ decks. So why not take advantage of that fact? A special kind of advantage even.
Today we have: Predatory Advantage
Name: Predatory Advantage
Edition: Alara Reborn
Focus: Creature Generating
Highlights: As the name of the card so eloquently implies, this card provides you with an aggressive means of generating a leg (or claw, talon, etc.) up on your opponents. If there’s one format that isn’t guaranteed to have someone play a creature each turn, it’s Commander. Creatures in Commander are often expensive, and if a player is determined to do something else with their turn due to logistical or political reasons, casting a creature may not be the top priority for every single round.
The obvious benefit for them not putting out a creature is that you get a 2/2 token as a result. Free 2/2 creatures on occasion may not seem noteworthy on paper, but enough of them can make a formidable offense on the one hand, and a host of useful blockers on the other. The more subtle benefit is that this slow build up over time generates far less attention than similar enchantments.
Some people may balk at this 5-CMC card, however, because the usefulness of Predatory Advantage is directly reliant on what your opponents do. Clearly it works better with more opponents and a lack of creature cards being cast, and that can be more limiting than some may like. But it’s not going to shine as a game-ending enchantment. Rather, it is instead quite useful in the early to middle stages of a Commander game, and therefore shouldn’t be discounted so quickly.
Now, such ranting has made this old Magic fogie a bit tired, so if you could you kindly get off my lawn before I release the horde of thunder lizards, that’d be great.
Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.
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Do you have a particular Commander card to suggest for us to shine a future Spotlight on? You can send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org