If you’ve ever laid out a Commander deck, you probably have determined after a few times that there are certain categories that tend to pop up again and again in most of them in some capacity. Most of such card clusters are deliberate, as they are fulfilling a desired block of card allocation in those coveted 99 slots. Some basic categories aren’t hard to spot and will include:
- Card Draw
- Targeted or Mass Removal (board wipe)
- “Heavy Hitters” (giant stompy creatures)
- Win Conditions – cards that will directly cause you to win (say, Mortal Combat) or indirectly cause you win based on the deck’s strategy (say, if using self-milling as a tactic, you could use Traumatize with the aforementioned Moral Combat.)
- Tutoring – searching your deck for specific cards
And, of course, probably the one that most Commander decks try to account for in some form:
- Mana Acceleration
As we have mentioned in previous entries, mana acceleration can be done by either casting spells and permanents that will increase your mana production, or fetching more land from your deck. More commonly known as land ramp, there is no more reliable way to guarantee an increase in mana output than having out more land. This is usually because in most play circles the types of board wipes used will let players keep their lands around even if everything else gets destroyed.
Moreover, it’s a solid strategy that carries over from competitive play: ramping out more land means there’s less of a percentage that your precious, precious draw for the turn will be a land. In Commander – where games go substantially longer than your ten minute duel – late game land draws can make the difference between winning and, well, not.
The main problem that comes with land ramp though is that it is almost entirely in the domain of Green. This week’s card is very much not Green.
Today we have: Weathered Wayfarer
Name: Weathered Wayfarer
Edition: Onslaught / Ninth Edition
Focus: Land Ramp / Mana Acceleration
Highlights: Once upon a time, in the ancient days, the colors of Magic all had some manner of producing additional mana / land. Black had temporary mana, Blue got to draw*, Green got mana-producing creatures as well as land ramp, and Red, aside from Mana Flare, was cut off purposefully from the ability.
White too was all but shut off from the fun except for one card. That card was Land Tax.
Unfortunately, while fitting into White’s philosophy of balance, Land Tax proved to be such a broken card that it warped the power of land ramp too much. It’s still considered one of the most powerful ramp cards of all time. White, as it turned out, was not supposed to have that kind of advantage. That wasn’t its purpose. And it’s been true ever since.
Consider the following:
– If you include reprints of the same card, White gets, on average, just one card that can land ramp every two years.
– In every case to date but one that card is rare.**
– Only three of them besides Land Tax are permanents.
– Only two of those three permanents can use the ability more than once.
– One of those two re-usable permanents everyone gets to cash in on.
The other is Weathered Wayfarer.
Consider Weathered Wayfarer to be the “fixed” Land Tax: it’s reusable, but it’s in a fragile 1/1 body that has to be tapped to be used. And you’re only gaining one land versus three. Still, because it is a such a rare species in White, Weathered Wayfarer can prove very advantageous in a Commander deck using a lot of the color – assuming the deck doesn’t also have access to Green. As it takes both time and mana to invest into its use, and the result nets you a mere one land per activation, it doesn’t broadcast a sign that says ‘threat’ very often. Rather, it’s often common to see him quietly do his job on a table full of gargantuan creatures and epic spells.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but he is as much of a plow horse as the one on its artwork.
In Commander, it’s very unlikely someone is going to waste a valuable spell or provoke someone over a plow horse. In most normal decks, or colors outside White, you can even argue he isn’t all that exciting. You would likely be right. However, since it is White, one could certainly take advantage of this rare specimen, as its colorless alternative is not quite as efficient.
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.
* True, Blue did get High Tide, but since this is the only acceleration the color has ever received, it’s feasible to say it was a fluke. A very, very dangerous fluke capable of warping entire formats.
** This is discounting Path to Exile, as Path’s purpose is creature removal, and the only time you would benefit from the land ramp is to exile your own creature. Which, really, is rarely the card’s intent.
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