The one thing a Commander player will never be able to complain about is a lack of options available when building a deck. Yes, some players will gripe because a specific ability isn’t in the colors they want, or there isn’t enough of a mechanic to make the deck viable solely by its own merit, or they can’t find a Commander for the colors of the deck they wish to build, but in terms of the sheer number of cards to choose from, Magic has no shortage. Thanks to its voluminous and decades old library, even the most obscure deck creations will grapple over which cards to add to a deck over more than if there’s enough to craft it at all. Colorless decks are possible. Tribal decks are possible. Decks invoking specific themes or motivations are possible. With Commander, nearly any idea can be crafted with enough time and consideration.
It doesn’t guarantee that it’s going to be a powerhouse contender of course, but it’s possible.
EDH is nothing if not an opportunity to demonstrate (and highlight) a litany of different cards to include in your deck – should you choose to do so. Take, for instance, mana artifacts. Do you know how many different noncreature mana rocks exist with a converted mana cost of exactly 3? Ten? Twenty perhaps? Try over eighty. There are, quite literally, dozens of options to choose from not named Pristine Talisman or Darksteel Ingot, many of which have the capacity to provide alternate mechanical or flavor-based advantages to your deck than their more commonly seen counterparts.
Indeed, as ubiquitous as it is to the format’s existence, deck variety is a facet to EDH that gets neither the level of attention or admiration that it should – if even for creativity’s sake alone. In some corners, the ability to use one card over another is either taken for granted or passed over entirely to ensure the deck is chock full of the most potent options that player has access to.
However, what often gets omitted in that process is the reaffirmation that just because a card isn’t the same one every other person in your game group uses doesn’t mean it’s inferior. Variety is not the antithesis to efficiency, contrary to what some may have you believe.
There also exists strategic advantages to shaking things up, such as keeping your opponents from memorizing every response they assume you’ll have. In some decks, having creature-based damage may be the better option, whereas for others it may be more suitable to focus on spells to deal out the pain. The trick is finding the cards to get the results you want while not assuming that their inclusion isn’t automatically the best option every single time.
Is it better, for example, to throw a grenade on the table to deter your opponents, or have it be a surprise? This week’s card addresses that very conundrum.
Today we have: Gaze of Granite
Name: Gaze of Granite
Edition: Dragon’s Maze
Focus: Board Wipe
Highlights: The effect seen in Gaze of Granite was introduced to a new era of players during the Return to Ravnica block, but for more veteran Magic folk, this card is more commonly seen as a spell-based version of the old powerhouse enchantment Pernicious Deed. In either case, their goal is the same: to destroy as many nonland permanents as you desire.
In both cases, the card revolves around an X value for destroying permanents, where X is however much mana you wish to dump into the effect. While slightly less mana efficient than some other mass board wipes, the advantage to such an approach is that it gives you the opportunity to remove as much – or as little – of the board as you desire. (It’s also a hard thing to find outside of White.) This makes for a useful selective board wipe, for example, if you wish to clear the field of small creatures and a wide swath of artifacts and enchantments cluttering the board whilst leaving your heavy hitters alive. Maybe you want to just kill off tokens, or maybe you want to obliterate everything. Either way, the option is up to you.
Admittedly X-based destruction could be seen as a negative if your goal is to remove everything including your opponent’s most expensive creatures, but it’s helpful to remember that this cuts both ways since your larger creatures would theoretically survive too.
In the case of Pernicious Deed, the enchantment comes ready to bear the moment you cast it onto the board. It then sits there as a warning, waiting to be used when the time is right. This can make for an excellent use of political chicanery, similar how a certain Disk behaves, but it also means keeping a certain amount of mana ready at any given time to set off in response to something. Such a move can deter people or make them more aggressive, depending on the player and deck. As such, having a board wipe fully visible creates a certain table dynamic that your deck may or may not want to foster.
By contrast, Gaze of Granite is your typical surprise board wipe, cast when deemed the most prudent. It’s more susceptible to counterspells than the Deed and requires you pay the three mana investment at the same time in addition to X, but the added element of surprise, as games of EDH time and again have shown, is usually well worth the risk. On the other hand, you don’t get the table manipulation, and its Sorcery nature means you don’t get the instant-speed response.
Furthermore, Gaze of Granite also has a secondary advantage over its predecessor: this iteration will take out planeswalkers.
That is, if that’s what you want your deck to do…
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