Commander Spotlight: Mage Slayer

Welcome to Week 2 of the Guild-Themed Commander picks. Last week we led off with The Dimir, and that was in no way because bad things would have happened to us if we didn’t. None whatsoever…

Just remember kids: incriminating evidence doesn’t have an expiration date.

Luckily, this time around we’re dealing with a guild that cares not for political intrigue: the Gruul.

(They just insisted on threats of physical violence instead.)

Both Red and Green are known for generally being the most direct and to the point colors in their damage delivery. So it’s only naturally that their combined efforts can make some rather useful damage-based effects. Sometimes, in the case of things like Firespout or Branching Bolt, this allows Green access to spell-based damage. Likewise, this can allow Red access to powerful creature abilities that don’t pertain to haste, first strike, or short-term power buffs.

But wouldn’t it be just great if you can do both?

Today we have: Mage Slayer

Name: Mage Slayer

Edition: Alara Reborn / Planechase

Rarity: Uncommon

Focus: Damage Dealing

Highlights: No one said Red/Green is known for its subtlety, and it’s not like your opponents won’t see this one coming. Indeed, their challenge, rather, is going to be stopping it. Mage Slayer is, for the most part, a one-trick pony: slap it on particularly monstrous Beast of Burden or Hellkite Overlord, and you’re letting any creature have a ‘pseudo double strike’, wherein the first iteration of damage is near-guaranteed to get through. (Throwing it on an actual double-strike creature creates a fun ‘triple strike’ effect.) If something happens to your fatty creature, equip it to the next one and carry on the rampage.

It’s wonderfully efficient and straight-forward in a format that can get a little convoluted at times. Nevertheless, it does have a few aspects to point out that may be less obvious:

  • Should combat damage be prevented via Fog effects, Mage Slayer still deals damage. (You’d be surprised how often this came up in rules questions when the card first came out.)
  • It’s the creature dealing the damage, not the equipment, which, much like the fight mechanic, can be important. While abilities of creatures specifying non-combat damage are more in Blue territory, there are a few Gruul-aligned creatures that can benefit from it such as Deus of Calamity. There’s also always creatures with lifelink, or if you really want to be mean, infect.
  • Mage Slayer is aptly named, and it likely will draw ire, so utilize it accordingly. Plan for political blow-back. It is not an artifact that most metas will allow to just sit around on the board for long. Luckily for Red/Green, it doesn’t usually mind playing both offense and defense. That’s sort of its thing.

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

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