Everyone approaches Commander from different angles and for different reasons. Some focus on the format as a way to create a thematic deck, with every card reinforcing the identity of its legendary avatar. Others like it because of the egalitarian philosophy behind deck creation, as decks consisting of simple and cheap cards are just as likely to win as those with heavy investment into rare and expensive ones.
Still others appreciate the singleton style, which allows them to play a multitude of different cards that they may not be able to otherwise. (As shocking as it may sound to many, there are quite a few Magic players who prefer not to have sixty card decks with a half dozen playsets, be it because they enjoy card variety, they focus more on multiplayer styles, or they simply can’t or don’t wish to put lots of playsets of cards together.)
But as a subset of multiplayer casual games, the most iconic attribute behind Commander is the politics. When facing down a single player, there is no need for nuance and posturing. Your goal is simple: kill your opponent. Having five opponents, though, is not nearly that simple. If you come off as too aggressive and powerful, you become the communal threat. Yet if you wait too long to deal with a person playing defensively, it’ll be all the more difficult to stop them when they finally amass that doomsday weapon across the table.
Yes, politics is a big component of the Commander metagame, and if you find it appealing, a politically-charged EDH game is all the more memorable.
Of course, how you approach that political component varies wildly. Do you bestow a Vow of Wildness on your opponent’s heavy hitter so they can rampage in every direction but yours, or do you level the playing field of attackers with cards like Magus of the Moat, Dueling Grounds, or Powerstone Minefield? Do you sit on a host of Wrath of God-like board wipes, or do you play nice and downplay your own threat meter by doling out friendly benefits such as Font of Mythos and Keeper of Progenitus?
Or, do you just like to be subversive with the political game entirely and see how often you can Warp World everyone? You know, just to shake the table up.
One of my particular favorite styles of political cards are those which offer players a choice: Do you want Option A or Option B? Ideally, I enjoy the ones that don’t actually hurt anyone directly but still can throw a wrench into a player’s plans all the same. Cards like Fatespinner, for example, provide powerful means to alter the status quo without necessarily stepping on too many toes. Usually. Alas, a poor fragile Fatespinner sometimes attracts the attention of those who wish to take their turns entirely unencumbered, and desires it dead.
While Fatespinner is still a useful Commander card, if you want the political accumen of it without it suffering a quick and immediate death, you’re going to have to utilize a card mechanic you probably haven’t considered before. So let’s take a look.
Today we have: Teferi’s Realm
Name: Teferi’s Realm
Focus: Board Control
Highlights: Yes, Teferi’s Realm is one of about a dozen non-creature cards that work off the old-school phasing mechanic, and as far as Commander politics go, this one is the most potent. We’ve mentioned using phasing to your advantage before, but Teferi’s Realm operates on a whole different level.
Indeed, Teferi’s Realm presents each player with an opportunity to temporarily remove a permanent type on a massive scale. Even though players will get their cards back on their turn, in the meantime they will cease to exist within the game. How a player utilizes this fact can vary wildly:
- You could each simply choose the same permanent type as the player before you, essentially making it an equal playing field – minus one card type. If players are playing nice, artifacts would be chosen. If players are being cautious of retaliation, simply keep creatures locked out.
- Players can certainly chose enchantments, rendering Teferi’s Realm inert until your turn. Of course, doing so affects anyone relying on enchantments.
- Choosing lands is a big gamble, as if you’re the only one to do so during a round, you will be the last one to get them back. On the other hand, if you’re about to go on a major creature attack and want to ensure players can’t interfere, then it may certainly be worthwhile. Choose wisely.
- Naturally, players making different selections maximizes its usefulness, though which choice you opt for may change from round to round.
- Shroud, Hexproof, Protection, Indestructible – none of them are immune to being phased out. If something with one of those abilities is being a problem, this is one heavy-handed solution for it.
- Teferi’s Realm only affects non-token permanents, which may or may not factor into your decision-making.
Yes, Teferi’s Realm can make a normal Commander game quite unpredictable without necessarily being destructive. However, as is often the case with these cards, it can be a bit passive-aggressive. Therefore, rather than take advantage of the ever-changing landscape, don’t be surprised if some players insist on Teferi’s Realm being destroyed. Or you, for that matter.
Unfortunately, you phasing out is not an option.
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