The Scoop: 2018 Commander Themes and Art

I am a rather large fan of the EDH/Commander format. I like the length, variety, synergy, expansiveness. It’s all good. So I like to keep a close eye on the new Commander decks to see what they have to offer. While we don’t have any specific card spoilers, we do have a general idea of what to expect.

The four Commander deck color identities and themes are as such:

  • Bant (U/W/G) Enchantments
  • Esper (U/B/W) Top of Library Shenanigans
  • Izzet (U/R) Artifacts
  • Jund (B/R/G) Lands

I’ll be honest, at first glance it feels like a pretty lazy set of Commander deck themes. Why are three of them Alara-based tri-color identities and one random duo-color? Maybe other Commander sets have had this awkwardness present before, but it really caught my OCD at first glance.

Bant (U/W/G) Enchantments

Unlike all the other color identity/theme dynamics below, Bant stayed close to home with its dear friend, enchantments. Commander recently did a go-around in B/W enchantments that I, despite the break in theme for the colors, was a fan of. But I like to see enchantments return to their home in Bant and I’m curious to see the reprints and new additions for this deck style. Based on some of the art released, it looks like we can expect Theros to help with some enchantment creatures perhaps?

Esper (U/B/W) Top of Library Shenanigans

As I’ll discuss ad nauseam under Izzet, I’m not a fan of altering the themes of color identities in the grand scheme of things. I prefer color identities embrace their themes and mechanics in the big picture. But, I will admit, when it comes to Commander, I’m fine with color identities taking a break from the norm to try something new and unique. In this case, while I love Esper’s themes centered in Artifacts originally, I’m excited for the mechanics associated with the theme of top-decking shenanigans. I once tried to build a deck that would feed off of Ashiok’s abilities, but it was a garbled mess of a deck that was embarrassing just to look at, let alone play. I’d like to see a deck that could manipulate all players’ top-decking, though I’m sure this deck is more-so referring to your own. But still, this sounds fun.

Izzet (U/R) Artifacts

Feel free to disagree, but I like when a color identity retains its general theme through most sets (though I am admittedly a closet fan of messing with color identities in sets such as Commander). I’ve been a little irritated of late that Artifact Control went from the Esper color identity to Izzet over several recent sets. My irritation is two-fold; I don’t like that my Esper Artifact EDH deck hasn’t received as many color-based supplements of late because of all the Red, and secondly, I think Izzet fit a perfect niche of being the duo-color instant/sorcery along with its sister tri-color identity of Jeskai (U/W/R). I’m sure there is a lot of reasoning they put into this change, but I’m personally not a fan. And speaking of Jeskai, why wouldn’t this Izzet deck be Jeskai to be three colors like the other decks? The OCD in me is really bothered by that…

Jund (B/R/G) Lands

I may be a stubborn dragon fanatic…but it’s hard to picture Jund as a Lands-based color identity. Green is really the only color there that makes sense to me. I think White is the only other color that instinctively comes to mind when I think of Land shenanigans. I find the color identity to be awkward. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Land shenanigans doesn’t really have a base-color identity, so picking any combination isn’t messing with any canon or themes. I think of all the deck builds, I’m most curious to see how this one looks, because I have a hard time picturing its synergy and base mechanics.

Given my limited budget, I often weigh my choice of Commander decks to purchase on the number of supplements they provide me for existing decks. Jund Lands may be diving into a style I’m not financially prepared to build outside the deck. Bant Enchantments will probably have a couple I could use, but WotC already has strong enchantment support. I’d have to go with the Esper Top-Decking as the one I’m most curious to see. It looks like its interesting mechanics would provide some interesting supplements, or even a framework for a relatively cheap EDH deck around its primary theme.


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