In the Commander format, the single most visual component to most are the legendary creatures themselves. They sit apart from the rest of the other 99 cards, patiently waiting for the moment when they can enter the fight for (or passively support) their deck. Each deck is unique, tailored partly to the Commander they are beholden to, as well as the style of the player engineering it. Commanders are the display pieces for the game. We all know, however, that there’s much more to it.
There’s a number of rules that go into building a Commander deck, but none captivate people’s imagination – or frustration – like being limited to one of any card. Born out of the aptly-named Singleton format that became popular in Magic Online, as well as the idea of “Elder Dragon Legend Wars” from a Duelist article seventeen years ago this month, EDH struck a chord with players. Now known as Commander, it has taken off in popularity in recent years to many people’s surprise.
Still, flashy creature avatars are nice and all, but the underlying reason of what makes the format so enticing is that it forces players to think creatively about the cards in their decks. Each card slot is an exercise in decision-making, because you’ll likely only get one shot with them. With normal Constructed decks, there’s always the chance you’ll get another copy of a card you want to achieve your goals. With Commander, that’s just not going to happen.
Ok, well, at least not without some help.
Today we have: Codex Shredder
Name: Codex Shredder
Edition: Return to Ravnica
Focus: Card Recursion
Highlights: Being able to get a card back from the graveyard in Commander is nothing to scoff at. The format sees its fair share of potent cards that carry a lot of power and/or utility to them, and as useful as casting them once may be, twice certainly sounds a lot better. Codex Shredder allows for exactly that through a colorless means.
Normally, unrestricted card retrieval is the domain of Green. With cards like Eternal Witness, Recollect, Regrowth, Praetor’s Counsel, and so on, Green is rather undisputed in this territory. This is great – if you have access to Green. For everyone else, though, things get more complicated:
- Black can only get creatures, either into your hand or onto the battlefield.
- Blue only gets instant and sorceries. (Yes, in the early years it also had access to artifacts, but even then only sparingly).
- Red also is limited to instant and sorceries, and at even lower occurrences than Blue. It does have decent assistance to Flashback effects, however.
- White can salvage artifacts and enchantments, as well as being able to put creatures directly back onto the battlefield.
- Artifacts largely can only get other artifacts, with exceptions such as Crystal Chimes.
And, of course, this handy Codex Shredder. The fact that it can be put into any deck without access to Green really opens up its usefulness to getting cards back that the other colors normally are not able to. While the activation is perhaps a little higher than some would prefer, that is usually the tradeoff for an out-of-color artifact ability. Plus, it can be set off as long as you have the mana, so it can be activated on someone else’s turn.
What’s more, Codex Shredder has an added benefit with its first ability. There are a number of occasions when a player may have it known to themselves or others what the top of their library is (Clash effects, Future Sight, Garruk’s Horde, Brainstorm, etc.). What better way to throw a wrench into your opponent’s plans than by milling that card away? It’s a situational use in that context for sure, but as it’s an added bonus to Codex Shredder’s recursion ability on a card for one mana, it certainly can’t hurt to be prepared.
After all, it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. In Commander, doubly so.
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