It’s near impossible to keep up with all of the cards in Commander and their various uses. Some incredible cards will inevitably slip through the cracks and fade into obscurity, appearing only as pet cards or secret technology in the decks of brewers with too much time on their hands (yes, this is a self-callout).
Today, I’ve got five such picks that deserve more love than they’re currently getting. These are cards that don’t show up enough relative to their power, and many decks stand to benefit from playing them.
As always, I’ve set a limit of $5 per card. Magic is at its best when it’s inclusive, so there’s something here for players of any budget!
Dawn Charm – $0.25
It’s well-known that I’m a big fan of modal cards, considering how much I’ve written about them. I believe they’re most important in Commander; it might seem like you’d have no problem fitting every effect you want into the 99, but it always comes as a surprise when you’re stuck with 10 cards left to cut. It’s why cards like Dawn Charm are so powerful: they can give you multiple different effects in a single card slot. They’re never the most powerful version of those effects, but these jack-of-all-trades cards are often enough to get the job done.
Most decks would love to fit a Fog effect in somewhere, but can’t afford to dedicate a full card slot to it. Regeneration may not be quite as comprehensive as hexproof or indestructible, but it still has a great many uses. It’s not very often that you will need to counter a spell that targets you directly, but Dawn Charm can stop a Jeska’s Will, the graveyard exile mode on Rakdos Charm, and Curses like Fraying Sanity.
Even within these individual modes, there’s a lot of flexibility. The damage prevention and regeneration effects don’t just target you or creatures you control; you can use them politically to save an opponent in combat, or to protect a creature and open the lines of communication to make a deal. Bargaining chips like Dawn Charm have an understated value that shouldn’t be overlooked!
Dawn Charm can replace one of your protection spells, as its regeneration can provide a similar effect. This way, you don’t dilute your protection suite, but it will grant you much more flexibility in different situations. What it lacks in raw power, it makes up for in adaptability.
Dire Fleet Daredevil – $2.49
There’s just something about playing with your opponents’ cards. It’s why cards like Bribery and Etali, Primal Storm are loved so much by the people that play with them. When I first saw this card in Rivals of Ixalan, I felt like I’d see this a lot going forward in Commander pods. While it does show up in roughly 5,600 decks on EDHREC, I expected it to appear in many more decks by now!
I believe this could easily become a red staple eventually, alongside cards like Chaos Warp and Faithless Looting. Stealing a card from an opponent’s graveyard is an extremely flexible ability, and at just two mana, it’s an incredible rate. The body is reasonable, too: a creature with first strike can attack and wear Equipment well, and giving utility to Boros decks while keeping the creature count high can be invaluable.
However, this card’s greatest attribute is its sheer power level. It is only ever as good as the spells your opponents are casting, which makes it a very safe inclusion in any deck. It’s also an ability that requires something from your opponent(s) to work, but needing them to cast spells is just about the most achievable criteria possible. The majority of mono-red decks could stand to benefit from this Pirate, and even decks with only a red splash should strongly consider this as an option. It has also just seen a reprint in the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander preconstructed decks, so now is the best time to pick up your copy!
Timeless Witness – $0.35
What’s better than an Eternal Witness? Two of them! Timeless Witness is a very recent addition to Magic, coming to us from Modern Horizons 2. It’s an homage to the iconic green staple, while its eternalize ability is a nod toward Hour of Devastation. It’s currently only showing in just over a thousand decks on EDHREC, but I expect that number to skyrocket over time.
The Regrowth ability is timeless (pun intended), and in some cases, this card may be even better than Eternal Witness itself. Self-mill and graveyard decks like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant or Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis are constantly looking for more cards that can provide value from the graveyard, so this fits the bill perfectly. Token decks can also make excellent use of the eternalize ability, especially with cards like Parallel Lives.
It may cost one mana more than the original Human Shaman, but it makes up for it in flexibility and value. Even if your green deck doesn’t have a heavy graveyard focus, you should consider running something like Timeless Witness, anyway. The graveyard is there to be used, and cards like this will ensure you always have access to what you need.
Throne of Geth – $0.35
Magic is full of different types of counters, from +1/+1 counters to poison and loyalty counters. Adding more counters to permanents or players is an extremely potent ability, and one that Throne of Geth gives you access to in any color.
If you play with a +1/+1 counter deck, you can make great use of the Throne; supersizing your board by eating excess mana rocks, Treasures, or other random artifacts is trivial. Superfriends decks are already known for proliferating (I’m looking at you, Atraxa players), so this will feel right at home in those builds. You can even add a charge counter subtheme to your artifact deck to make use of this: Everflowing Chalice, Culling Dais, and Magistrate’s Scepter are particularly strong when you’re proliferating often.
As proliferate can be used to add counters to anything that already has counters on it, you can garner favor with opponents by growing some of their creatures or planeswalkers. You can also use it to hinder opponents in specific situations, like adding counters to a Blast Zone or increasing their poison count. The floor of this card is a two-mana proliferate effect, which is completely reasonable. Even if you don’t have an artifact package in your deck, Throne of Geth is still worth considering in any deck that makes counters.
Dovin, Hand of Control – $0.25
It’s hard to stand out as a War of the Spark planeswalker; poor Dovin never got the same level of attention that some of his more obviously powerful peers received. While it is understandable considering the competition, I think he deserves a little more credit than he’s currently given.
Dovin, Hand of Control’s static ability is essentially an asymmetrical Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. It’s a little more nuanced than that, but it’s a pretty close comparison. It makes life miserable for Storm players just by existing, and Spellslinger decks become extremely inefficient. On top of this, artifact decks also can’t function correctly until he’s dealt with. There’s an awful lot of splash damage with this effect: mana rocks become much more painful to cast (you never want to pay four mana for a Commander’s Sphere, believe me), and removal becomes costly. This is enough of a speed bump to most decks that you could easily pull ahead in the early game.
As for Dovin’s activated ability, a “bubble” effect like this can be another huge roadblock for several decks. As you have up to five uses of it, you can really ruin someone’s day: you could completely shut down a Voltron deck’s main attacker for several turns, stop commanders like Syr Konrad, the Grim from doing anything worthwhile, or even invalidate an opponent’s Impact Tremors.
These abilities might seem low-impact, but they cover such a wide variety of strategies that they’ll almost always have a powerful taxing effect. Plus, if you’re a sucker for promos, you can pick up the stunning Japanese special art version for just $0.29!
As I mentioned at the start, it’s an arduous task to keep up with everything in Commander, especially when it comes to finding the right card for the job. Hopefully, these five cards help you to find the right effect for your deck, or maybe even find a new pet card!
Do you have any underplayed or pet cards that you love to play with? You can tell me all about them over on Twitter — I always love to hear about sweet cards and secret tech. And who knows — maybe if I really like them, they could end up in another article like this one!
Scott is an Irish content creator and the Head of Budget Magic for the Izzet League. He focuses on affordable decks in Pioneer, Modern, and Pauper, particularly ones that stray from the mainstream. When he’s not writing about his favorite decks, he can be found talking incessantly about them on Twitter and on The Budget Magic Cast.