I’ve been playing this format obsessively for almost three years and there have been certain cards that consistently perform that I simply don’t see cast across the table. It’s not uncommon that people comment that they “forgot that card existed”. Much like my previous article discussing underrated commanders this piece is intended to shine the spotlight on some cards that I feel are being sorely overlooked. The way I am defining “underplayed” is a combination of amount of decks the card appears in on Edhrec and the amount of times I have seen it in other people’s lists, whether in person or on the various deck building websites. Without further ado in no particular order here are my top 5 underplayed commander cards.
This card is in roughly 3000 decks on edhrec that sounds like a ton however it was printed in the Mimeoplasm precon so that skews the numbers a bit. What is astounding to me is how little this card sees play compared to Reanimate which is in over 13,000 decks!
Stitch together to me is simply another reanimate since any graveyard focused deck with black will be able to turn on threshold 9 times out of 10. If the graveyard deck has less than 7 cards in the bin then either its tremendously early early or something has gone horribly wrong. The double black might be problematic but honestly as long as the mana base is balanced correctly that drawback is negligible. I run this card in decks that need to recur creatures and it has always been a trusty member of my usual reanimation suite. It is simply another Reanimate that costs one mana more and doesn’t lose us any life. Typically black decks like to use their life total as a resource not having to use some of that to reanimate a large threat allows us to be more laissez-faire with other effects that want us to pay life. In addition, it’s exceedingly cheap money wise compared to Reanimate even after the Ultimate Masters reprint. Stitch Together is roughly a quarter compared to Reanimate’s 10$(USD) price tag! It also has the same converted mana cost as Animate Dead(about 20,000 decks on Edhrec) without the fragility of the enchantment to contend with. Bottom line, this card is a solid reanimation spell that doesn’t see nearly enough play especially compared to its aforementioned counterparts. Both of these are solid but I would argue that Stitch Together is simply better than Animate Dead. Reanimate is a better card overall but Stitch Together serves the same function with and is not nearly as much of a strain on the wallet. The former is easier to cast but I feel that if we want the threat to stick around, having an enchantment attached to a key creature is another kind of removal that can blow up our plans. For these reasons Stitch Together should see at least as much play as Animate Dead since apart from the second black required it is strictly better in my opinion. It is literally a poor man’s Reanimate and that’s still quite good.
This card is essentially green counterspell. I play it in my Cedh Gitrog Monster deck but I think it has potential for casual play. It is likely more powerful in combo decks since it essentially gives one turn of free reign and when we are playing combo one turn is all that is needed to end the game. However Autumn’s Veil is a cheap, efficient answer to frisky control decks. It also gives a green creature based deck some much needed reactivity and flexibility. In my experience most blue control decks have enough mana to cast an engine piece and have enough left over for one counterspell. Most of my decks even my casual ones have combo lines so perhaps this card isn’t for everyone ,but I have run across many non-combo decks that would love a spell that gives them a worry-free turn. It not only protects important spells on the stack it also stops black removal spells from destroying key creatures once they have resolved. Even if Veil doesn’t resolve, the control deck burned through two pieces of interaction which throws a large wrench in their future plans. Again this card is more impactful in a deck with combo lines however, even without combos I still think that most decks would love to have one full turn of free reign. This card deserves to be in more than 1000 decks as it is a fantastic silver bullet for any creature based deck with green.
I don’t have many remarks on this card only that it is strictly better than Naturalize and I see Naturalize played more which doesn’t make any kind of sense. The four life gained from Nature’s claim is meaningless in a format where all players start at fourty. Apart from a few corner cases this spells serves the same function as Naturalize but it costs one mana less. For some reason I hear players mention Naturalize in the same breath as Krosan Grip!
Edhrec has Nature’s claim in more decks so I might be a tad off on this one however, in my personal experience players know that Naturalize exists more than Nature’s claim when discussing instant speed artifact and enchantment removal. That one mana difference is huge for essentially no drawback and as such this card is second to Krosan Grip in my book.
This card’s lack of play might be partially due to how new it is. This cheeky goblin was one of the hype bunnies when commander 2018 was spoiled and it seems as though it has gotten lost in the shuffle. Despite its printing in the artifact precon I would argue that this gobbo is worth an include in a variety of strategies from artifact matters to theft to goblin tribal. In my experience, opponents will use their mana regardless of this card’s presence on the field. If they do at minimum he nets us extra mana for a turn, at best we steal something like a Hedron Archive or Commander’s Sphere netting us our choice of mana or cards(Commander’s Sphere gives us both!).
This card I feel is strong in any eggs builds that love sacrificing artifacts or artifacts matter builds that need artifacts en masse like Saheeli the Gifted. Even without considering the artifact synergy he is a goblin thus, he gives a goblin deck extra mana to make more goblins! If opponents don’t want us to have their mana rocks for fear of losing them then they have access to less resources with which to advance their boardstate or disrupt ours.Treasure Nabber also can provide an extra turn before the ramp deck truly unleashes if they intend on using artifact mana. I run him in my Wort, Boggart Auntie Goblin deck and he has put in work if there are mana rocks abounds. Treasure Nabber is unique and powerful effect with a creature type that is both relevant and well supported; play Treasure Nabber next to a Mycosynth Lattice and go to town!
This card is another relatively new one and another favorite from my Wort deck. Thrilling Encore certainly has some thrilling possibilities, playing this card after a wipe is game ending however, it provides more than simply board wipe protection. If we are sacrificing our own creatures Thrilling Encore can recur them en masse, allowing us to rebuy their Etb triggers and sacrifice them again netting tons of value in the process. It is true that holding up 5 mana is not a small price ,but with the amount of mana ramp in casual edh it’s doable. Other mass reanimation effects are also 5 mana and do not have the same surprise potential as they are at sorcery speed. Thrilling Encore does have a wider spread of outcomes but the ceiling is much higher than Living Death and friends.
As I have said the floor is indeed lower, this card should only be run in decks that reliably gain value from it either to rebuild from a wipe or to jumpstart an explosive turn. This card should find a home in decks running either Phyrexian or Ashnod’s Altar since those cards can use creatures on board to offset the spells cost. In addition, swarm based decks and sacrifice focused decks should be able to derive some value from this spell. Bottom line is Thrilling Encore is a flexible mass reanimation effect with a ton of applications, which has a higher ceiling/lower floor version of Living Death. When played correctly this card has the potential to result in the kind of game ending blowouts that edh was founded upon. If that wasn’t enough the art/flavor text combination is nothing short of fantastic.
Thanks for reading!
-Paul of Clan Nel Toth
In case y’all didn’t know what Edhrec was here is a link https://edhrec.com/
The card images were obtained from gatherer.wizards.com/
I do not own any of these images or art all of the aforementioned belond to Wizards of the Coast.