Commander Spotlight: Dueling Grounds

Greetings once more to the guild-inspired Commander picks!

It seems we’re into the home stretch of guilds; we have just a small handful left. We noticed something early on when we were working on the list though: the final three guilds are all allied colors. As the list was chosen at random, it’s a great coincidence given we started with the other two allied colors. Aside from making for an amusing multicolor Oreo situation, it also made the last few choices a bit harder.

By and large, there are a lot more allied-colored gold cards than there are enemy-colored ones. Part of this is for theme, since so many multicolor cards are reflections of various story elements that have transpired over the game’s tenure. And part of this is also by simple design: if colors are enemies, there are far fewer reasons to have cards printed showing them working together.

Today’s guild is the stalwart Selesnya. Combining the colors of life and order, and you have a color pair that loves to gain life, protect themselves and their allies, and use their size in combat to their advantage.

As is the case with the Selesnya guild itself though, both of these colors are the token generators. And boy do they make tokens.

It would make perfect sense, then, that we would chose a card like Collective Blessing, championing the collective might of this marriage of mechanics and ideology.

But we didn’t.

It wasn’t expected for our final three to be allied colors. So, it’s somewhat fitting in this case we’re also going to buck the expected route and go with a card that does the exact opposite: shutting down a token army.

Today we have: Dueling Grounds

Name: Dueling Grounds

Edition: Invasion

Rarity: Rare

Focus: Combat Manipulation

Highlights: When Green and White reflect size in combat, it doesn’t have to mean volume. Dueling Grounds is the bane of any deck (Commander or otherwise) that relies on swarming with lots of creatures to deliver victory. Traditionally, whether it’s Saprolings, Soldiers, or the yet unseen “Plantmen armies of Berox IX”, these colors really enjoy creature tokens. However, they also both have a propensity for large, hard to handle creatures. After all, we’re in the realm of giant hulking creatures and angelic flying fury. (Plus, Green mages are the least likely to enjoy lots of sneaky combat effects.) The point is, this type of card deterrent isn’t outside of the color pie.

Remember here: Silent Arbiter is Dueling Grounds in creature form, not the other way around. And in this case, Dueling Grounds is harder to get rid of. Now, since this is still Commander, there’s no promise of it (or anything) surviving long term, so don’t bank everything you do on its existence. That said, say you have games where one player is amassing more soldiers than D-Day, and you only have a mere few able to block. Unless you are the one with said token army, don’t be surprised if other players turn a blind eye to this card for awhile. If nothing else, it allows all sides time to build up their forces.

Dueling Grounds also can also be paired with evasion abilities like flying, shadow, and/or those that grant intimidate like Nim Deathmantle or Executioner’s Hood, making it much harder for some decks to be able to block your attacker.

Trample is also a mean thing to add into the mix, especially against a token player. Truly there is satisfaction that your 19/19 trample can only be blocked by a solitary 1/1 Saproling, rather than massively gang-blocked by a wall of sentient fungus.

The Selesnya themselves may prefer a horde of creatures, but Green/White is perfectly fine with two champions clashing for dominance, and in a format like EDH, chances are you will be too.

Stay tuned for the next guild-based Commander card. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.

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