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Everybody loves a good deal.

Moonlight Bargain | Art by Nick Percival

What makes a good deal in Magic is getting something extra for the same cost as something else:

If we were talking about these creatures on Twitter (I'm @the_stybs!) I'd be using the hashtag #Value. All three of those creatures are what I'd call "spell creatures"—each gives you something extra despite ample existing capability. It's this buy-one-and-get-one-free bargain that makes these kinds of creatures so valuable in Commander.

Getting every last drop possible out of cards feels necessary when you have double or triple the usual number of opponents.

That's part of what you find in Conspiracy, the multiplayer set for drafting you'll see at your local game store this Friday. As an aficionado of Cube (drafting) and Commander (multiplayer), finding a booster pack-sealed set filled with #Value has been exciting for me.

Creatures that give more are inevitably what fill my piles when building new Commander decks, and it's a clear trend that won't change anytime soon, given the piles that you sent in.

"Spell creatures" surely is a fuzzy definition. I don't want to just staple Naturalize to a 2/2 deathtouch body. That's just efficient. I want ridiculous. I want my creatures to be ANY spell I want. That's the foundation of how my Melek, Izzet Paragon deck is built.

Andrew's Melek
Commander — Melek, Izzet Paragon

Main Deck

99 cards

Desolate Lighthouse
Esper Panorama
Evolving Wilds
Forgotten Cave
Grixis Panorama
Halimar Depths
10  Island
Izzet Boilerworks
Izzet Guildgate
Jund Panorama
Lonely Sandbar
Mana Confluence
11  Mountain
Reliquary Tower
Steam Vents
Temple of the False God
Terramorphic Expanse

36 lands

Charmbreaker Devils
Diluvian Primordial
Djinn Illuminatus
Echo Mage
Hypersonic Dragon
Izzet Chronarch
Keranos, God of Storms
Meletis Charlatan
Mnemonic Wall
Nivix Guildmage
Uyo, Silent Prophet

14 creatures

Beacon of Destruction
Beacon of Tomorrows
Bonfire of the Damned
Call to Mind
Cast Through Time
Chain Reaction
Comet Storm
Curse of the Swine
Cyclonic Rift
Devastation Tide
Devil's Play
Dismiss into Dream
Elixir of Immortality
Epic Experiment
Future Sight
Increasing Vengeance
Izzet Cluestone
Izzet Keyrune
Izzet Signet
Mystic Retrieval
Peer Through Depths
Prophetic Bolt
Psychic Spiral
Pull from the Deep
Quest for Ancient Secrets
Quicksilver Geyser
Rapid Hybridization
Recurring Insight
Spin into Myth
Street Spasm
Time Stretch
Totally Lost
Turn // Burn
Uncovered Clues
Whims of the Fates

44 other spells

Chandra, Pyromaster
Chandra, the Firebrand
Jace Beleren
Karn Liberated
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

5 planeswalkers

Melek, Izzet Paragon

Basically, the goal of the deck is to cast as many instants and sorceries as possible. The problem with instants and sorceries is that they go away after you use them, unlike permanents. So my permanents help me get the most out of my instants and sorceries.

The creatures come in many groups. The returners are classic "spell creatures" that recur cards from my graveyard, like Archaeomancer and Charmbreaker Devils. Then there are the duplicators, such as Echo Mage and Djinn Illuminatus, that copy my spells to get more use out of them. Finally, Melek and Galvanoth turn my deck itself into an instant-and-sorcery-slinging-machine.


Spells creatures that are creatures that get back other spells? We have to go deeper. Spencer did:

I run a Derevi, Empyrial Tactician deck built on getting the most out of an army of ETB staples. My personal favorite is Coiling Oracle, just because of the sheer versatility. Getting either a land or a draw for two mana is all well and good, but with Deadeye Navigator; Venser, the Sojourner; or good old "Roon Burgundy" (Roon of the Hidden Realm) out, I can do it at least once a turn, giving me reliable ramping and/or card advantage for a minimal investment.


Spencer's Derevi
Commander — Derevi, Empyrial Tactician

Main Deck

99 cards

Alchemist's Refuge
Azorius Guildgate
Evolving Wilds
Faerie Conclave
Gavony Township
Kabira Crossroads
Rogue's Passage
Rupture Spire
Saltcrusted Steppe
Seaside Citadel
Sejiri Refuge
Selesnya Guildgate
Simic Guildgate
Terramorphic Expanse
Tranquil Garden
Transguild Promenade
Vivid Grove

39 lands

Acidic Slime
Aerie Mystics
Archon of the Triumvirate
Azorius Justiciar
Centaur Healer
Champion of Lambholt
Coiling Oracle
Deadeye Navigator
Deputy of Acquittals
Dungeon Geists
Elgaud Shieldmate
Elvish Visionary
Eternal Witness
Farhaven Elf
Juniper Order Ranger
Kazandu Blademaster
Lavinia of the Tenth
Loxodon Gatekeeper
Medomai the Ageless
Mistmeadow Witch
Roon of the Hidden Realm
Silverblade Paladin
Soul's Attendant
Stonehorn Dignitary
War Priest of Thune

30 creatures

Azorius Charm
Bant Charm
Borrowing 100,000 Arrows
Conjurer's Closet
Control Magic
Darksteel Ingot
Dramatic Rescue
Ghostly Flicker
Illusionist's Bracers
Journey to Nowhere
Krosan Grip
Momentary Blink
Oblivion Ring
Otherworldly Journey
Pithing Needle
Ronin Warclub
Selesnya Charm
Simic Charm
Sol Ring
Strionic Resonator
Sudden Disappearance
Swiftfoot Boots
Urban Evolution
Wash Out

29 other spells

Venser, the Sojourner

1 planeswalker

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician

Creatures that carry spells that let you use the spells over and over? I mean, don't twist my arm here.

We can also just go as big as we need to blow up everyone, as James does:

My favorite commander deck is my No Pain, No Gain deck, featuring Toshiro Umezawa. My favorite "spell creature" in the deck is Thought Gorger. Having grown tired of playing "safe" strategies, I designed the deck for maximum swinginess, no matter the cost. Thought Gorger is a beatstick that discourages killing it, and the downside is somewhat negated by Toshiro's fantastic ability. Disciple of Griselbrand is my second-favorite "spell creature" in the deck. This deck plays very riskily, paying lots of life for card draw (I have paid up to 20 life for Pain's Reward when I really REALLY needed a kill spell) and Disciple really helps offset the damage. Plus, getting rid of an unwanted Abyssal Persecutor or lethal Baleful Force is very helpful. Not to mention that saccing Thought Gorger to the Disciple is akin to an early Christmas.

While not as exciting or flashing, my most utilitarian "spell creature" would have to be Rune-Scarred Demon. Several of my win conditions require multiple parts to play successfully, and he is always there to lend a helping hand. Thanks to him, I have had many memorable victories with a combination of Sadistic Sacrament and Mirror of Fate, or Caged Sun and Nirkana Revenant, or Phthisis and an opponent's Serra Avatar. Although it isn't the most consistent deck I've made, and I kill myself as often as my opponents do, it's the most fun and creates the most memorable plays of any deck I have made to date.

Here's the decklist.


As a fan of games that end with "Boom goes the dynamite!" it makes total sense the culmination of Demon shenanigans ends up with everybody biting the dust.

You can also be a little more selective in what "blowing everything up" means, like Stephen:

My favorite spell creature is a bit of a difficult question to answer. But I feel I can answer it nicely with a mono-green deck I'm working on.

It's a spiritcraft deck built around Kodama of the Center Tree. Plenty of the cards could be described as "spell creatures," but it plays a few that follow your definition. If my board isn't getting repeatedly crushed, I can often turn every Spirit cast into a potent spell creature with the spiritcraft triggers.

Bane of Progress is an all-star of the format, and the only mono-green card to destroy all artifacts and enchantments. With no spell to replace it, I guess it's my favorite spell creature. Carven Caryatid, Eidolon of Blossoms, and Haru-Onna have the three most powerful words in Magic written on them and stay to the theme. If Bane of Progress is green's nuke, Acidic Slime is the sniper. And what a beautifully crafted rifle it is.

Anyway, decklist below.


Spiritcraft may not be at the top of your list of "Magic Mechanics That Create Impressive Value," but with the right creatures (there have been, and will be plenty more, Spirits made in the game) carrying the right spells, anything is possible.

Really, I mean anything. Zack even made the humble Spore Frog a force of multiplayer mayhem:

The first deck I think of when "spell creatures" are brought up is my Karador deck. Basically everything in the list has an ETB or dies trigger (or both!), making something like Birthing Pod a Swiss Army knife for all sorts of threats. But my *favorite* creatures?

Being a long-game-minded graveyard deck, I have to say that Spore Frog is the guy I want to see every game. That little Fog Frog does a great job of "ramping" into my commander, helps me play politics with protecting life totals later on (Gift of Immortality makes him an absolute nuisance), and is a bit of insurance against infinite-damage attacks (Prossh, Kiki-Jiki/Pestermite, that sort of thing).

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is always a blast to resolve. Crafting the deck to have few non-Humans to get maximum value out of his undying ability feels very good, and he's a better Cauldron of Souls with Vish Kal hanging around, as well (that's an infinite combo that I like having in my back pocket). Add in how great he makes the evoke creatures (Shriekmaw, I'm looking at you) and he just has the whole package.

One creature in my deck actually came in, replacing a spell with the same effect, because recurring the enters-the-battlefield trigger is more straightforward than recurring Eternal Witness or getting lucky off of Deadbridge Chant. I used to run Pull from Eternity to help protect against Bojuka Bog-style hate, but then found out about Riftsweeper in Modern Masters. When your opponents Path or Swords something like Ashen Rider, it is incredibly satisfying to drop it back in the graveyard to be cast again. This Grizzly Bears has earned its place in the deck many, many times over.


Zack's Karador and his Pillowfort
Commander — Karador, Ghost Chieftain

Main Deck

99 cards

Command Tower
Fetid Heath
Godless Shrine
Golgari Rot Farm
Isolated Chapel
Marsh Flats
Orzhov Basilica
Overgrown Tomb
Phyrexian Tower
Selesnya Guildgate
Selesnya Sanctuary
Sungrass Prairie
Sunpetal Grove
Temple Garden
Temple of Plenty
Temple of Silence
Twilight Mire
Verdant Catacombs
Wooded Bastion
Woodland Cemetery

37 lands

Archon of Justice
Ashen Rider
Birds of Paradise
Braids, Cabal Minion
Eternal Witness
False Prophet
Fauna Shaman
Harvester of Souls
Hell's Caretaker
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Massacre Wurm
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
Mitotic Slime
Pharika's Mender
Reya Dawnbringer
Sadistic Hypnotist
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Solemn Simulacrum
Spore Frog
Sun Titan
Viridian Emissary
Viscera Seer
Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter
Yavimaya Granger
Yosei, the Morning Star

32 creatures

Birthing Pod
Black Market
Bow of Nylea
Buried Alive
Deadbridge Chant
Debtors' Knell
Defense of the Heart
Demonic Tutor
Enlightened Tutor
Gift of Immortality
Golgari Signet
Greater Good
Grisly Salvage
Life from the Loam
Luminarch Ascension
Momentous Fall
Obzedat's Aid
Orzhov Signet
Planar Cleansing
Primal Growth
Read the Bones
Rescue from the Underworld
Sol Ring
Strionic Resonator
Trading Post

30 other spells

Karador, Ghost Chieftain

Or, for those that take "spell creatures" to the obvious extreme, Matt pulled out all the creatures that could:

I think my Ruric Thar Commander deck is the epitome of a "spell creatures" deck. I made a decision early on that I wanted it to be on-flavor for Ruric Thar as much as possible, which meant a lot of basic lands and a lot of creatures. My favorites include the creature tutors such as Fierce Empath, Mwonvuli Beast Tracker, and Brutalizer Exarch, with the latter pulling double duty as removal, too. Those set up for the bigger spells later in the game, including Sylvan Primordial (I am aware he is banned, but my playgroup is pretty lenient on that front) and Terastodon, both creatures that can have a huge impact on the game all on their own.

The suite of bloodrush creatures also are effectively spells. I rarely actually cast them, usually using them to either pull off surprise kills or to help Ruric Thar survive combat. I also have a host of creatures intended as removal for various permanent types, from an all-time favorite of mine, Acidic Slime, to the one true piece of creature removal in the deck, Gruul Ragebeast. Acidic Slime is especially great since it often also takes a creature out with it when it goes—pure value.

Last, but not least, Zealous Conscripts can be an incredible swing in tempo. I fondly remember stealing a friend's Avacyn, Angel of Hope, bloodrushing Rubblehulk onto her for something on the order of +15/+15, and then killing him with her. This deck simply doesn't work without a host of creatures that are also spells—everything from Pelakka Wurm's lifegain to Artisan of Kozilek's reanimation effect.


Sylvan Primordial—just like the conspiracies of Conspiracy—may be banned in Commander, but between friends, you should still play anything your group allows. Also, who wouldn't want "Ruric Thar smash!" to play out as it ought to?

But do you want ultimate power? Tyler tapped into the power of a God to fuel his deck of creatures:

Just like all my Commander decks, I can't choose ONE card. So, my Top 5 are:

5. Mystic Snake
4. Gilded Drake
3. Coiling Oracle
2. Eternal Witness
1. Rishadan Cutpurse

First, let me explain the deck. I LOVE green and blue. I wanted my deck to abuse "enter the battlefield" effects. It has lots of reusable bounce spells and permanents, so I can use each creature many times. So you're question this week for "spell creatures" literally IS my deck.

5. Counter creatures! Bouncing Snake, Venser, or Plaxmanta, gives you reusable counters.
4. Gilded Drake. Umm, I'll take your best creature. Thank you. By the way, I'll return the Drake with Temporal Adept. Thank you again.
3. Coiling Oracle is amazing. Whether you want spell and get a land, or vice versa, you're gaining card advantage.
2. Eternal Witness. More card advantage. Add Time Warp and Crystal Shard and you have a soft lock.
1. Rishadan Cutpurse. By itself, it's not a big deal. In my deck, however, this is my kill condition, for everyone! My deck has many three-mana-or-less creatures that all have "enter the battlefield" effects, which works great with Aluren. Add Cloudstone Curio, Coiling Oracle (for example), and Rishadan Cutpurse, and you bounce both back and forth to your hand however many times you'd like and make everyone sacrifice all permanents while drawing your deck and putting all lands into play. All during the end step!

Side note: The deck's gone through many commanders. Momir Vig, Edric, and even Zegana. All work, but Momir and Edric painted a target, and Zegana never had a target big enough. Once Kruphix came out, it was settled. No max hand size! Save unused mana! Deadeye Navigator and Cloud of Faeries thank you!


Tyler's Astronomy
Kruphix, God of Horizons

Main Deck

99 cards

Alchemist's Refuge
Breeding Pool
Command Tower
Coral Atoll
Flooded Grove
10  Forest
Halimar Depths
Hinterland Harbor
Khalni Garden
Mirrodin's Core
Reflecting Pool
Reliquary Tower
Simic Growth Chamber
Simic Guildgate
Soldevi Excavations
Temple of Mystery
Temple of the False God
Thespian's Stage
Tolaria West
Yavimaya Coast

37 lands

Acidic Slime
Æther Adept
Avenger of Zendikar
Cloud of Faeries
Coiling Oracle
Deadeye Navigator
Deranged Hermit
Elvish Visionary
Eternal Witness
Farhaven Elf
Gilded Drake
Loaming Shaman
Multani's Acolyte
Mystic Snake
Phyrexian Metamorph
Pilgrim's Eye
Progenitor Mimic
Prophet of Kruphix
Raven Familiar
Rishadan Cutpurse
Sakashima the Impostor
Sakashima's Student
Sea Gate Oracle
Seedborn Muse
Solemn Simulacrum
Sylvan Primordial
Sylvan Ranger
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Temporal Adept
Tidespout Tyrant
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
Venser, Shaper Savant
Wistful Selkie
Yavimaya Granger

36 creatures

Beast Within
Cloudstone Curio
Conjurer's Closet
Crystal Shard
Curse of the Swine
Erratic Portal
Krosan Grip
Long-Term Plans
Mystical Tutor
Nevinyrral's Disk
Planar Portal
Rhystic Study
Rite of Replication
Spell Crumple
Spitting Image
Temporal Spring
Time Warp
Vedalken Orrery

26 other spells

Kruphix, God of Horizons

While Tyler's deck is one that trips over my self-imposed power trigger, I know there are plenty of you who can appreciate the unbridled force Kruphix, God of Horizons creates here.


What's Old is New Again

There were more decklists included this week since there were so many that covered different themes. Thanks, as always, for sharing what makes your decks tick. It'd be impossible to cover everything without your help.

This week's question is much narrower: What card (or cards) in Vintage Masters are you looking for to add to a Commander deck for Magic Online?

  • Feedback via email
  • 300-word limit to explain which card(s), and why
  • Sample decklist is requested (does not count against word limit)
  • Decklists should be formatted with one card per line with just a leading number, such as "3 Mountain"—just a space (no "x" or "-") between the number and the card name, without subtotals by card type (submissions that don't follow this rule will be ignored)
  • Name and email required (non-personal information to be used in column)

Not all of you try your hand at Commander online, but one of the surefire ways to get a game of Magic on from anywhere in the world is to log on to Magic Online. I know plenty of friends near—but mostly far!—who I wouldn't get to play with without a digital connection.

But more often it's just plain convenient to lounge at home, pizza in hand, and get a game in. With Vintage Masters packed with more than just the Power Nine, I want to know what you'll be keen to wield digitally.

Join us next week when we go in under the cover of oversized power. See you then!

Adam Styborski
Adam Styborski
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Command Tower

Adam "Stybs" Styborski joined in 2009 to take over Serious Fun, before switching over to begin Command Tower in 2013. With his passion for Commander and community inclusion, you'll find plenty of opportunity each week to share your thoughts about everyone's favorite casual format.

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