7 "Bad" Commander Cards That Are Secretly Underrated

7 “Bad” Commander Cards That Are Secretly Underrated

Kristen GregoryCommander

Kristen has a selection of “bad” Commander cards that have gotten better with time. Trends come and go in Commander, and sometimes cards that were considered “unplayable” or “bad EV” get their moment in the spotlight once more. These cards are pretty underrated. 

When you’ve played Commander a while, it’s easy to follow time-honored heuristics when choosing cards for decks, especially when you build your decks online/at a computer, with access to knowledge from content creators and EDHRec. I tend to use those sources as a “peer review” of what I come up with, preferring instead to dig through my collection and allow my brain to pick out patterns and associations.


One benefit of digging through your collection is that your brain is subconsciously thinking about recent gameplay, and so rather than just thinking “I’m building Humans, time to pull out all my Humans”, you’re actually also going to naturally pause on cards that might synergize not only with your new Commander, but also offer something that slots nicely into your local meta. 

Today, I’ve got some cards to share that used to be considered low-EV, or hard to justify. Either because your deck didn’t draw enough cards (so the “quality” of cards had to be higher), or because it was a poor tempo play, or because it was prone to a blowout from popularly played cards.


Sword of War and Peace has long dwindled to the bottom of most players’ tier lists of the Swords cycle, as it offers a lot less than the most powerful cards on the list, such as Feast and Famine or Hearth and Home. I think it’s slowly elbowing its way up to the middle of the pack, though, and it’s because of unique conditions in the current Commander metagame. 

Aggro is really good right now, and life totals are in the 20s without much effort. You know what else is good, and easy these days? Drawing cards. Between Esper Sentinel, The Great Henge, Elemental Bond et al – and I don’t even need to mention Rhystic Study – players always have close to a full grip. 

In the article linked above, I also talked about how players are favoring single target removal over wipes, and only playing the most efficient wraths available. Sword of War and Peas slots nicely into the overall casual meta, giving protection from Swords, Path, Bolt Bend, Deflecting Swat, Chaos Warp and Blasphemous Act, while massaging your life total and decimating an opponent’s. It also allows your creature to get past Human, Soldier, Spirit, Goblin and Rebel tokens thanks to protection, which comes up more often than you’d believe.

I don’t like this in every deck – with some equipment decks playing too much red and white equipment to justify the inclusion – but in decks that attack a lot and want to buff their life total, consider it. 


Grasp of Fate used to be a pretty risky play. In a more battlecruiser meta with more wraths, it’s just begging to be hit with an Austere Command or similar. What’s more, players quite keenly removed it, as battlecruiser metas played a lot more Archaeomancer and Eternal Witness to recycle effects.

Today, players play less removal overall, and they often save it for removing roadblocks like hatebears or lite-stax, or for removing haymaker effects like Doubling Season. The thing is, with so many “must answer” cards appearing lower on curves, dropping a Grasp of Fate is actually pretty good. 

It’s mana efficient, gets rid of multiple issues at once, and I’ve noticed that people are happy to leave this in play much more often. Removing it to get your Esper Sentinel, to give an opponent a Sylvan Library or a Fable of the Mirror-Breaker? Yeah, not gonna happen. Getting rid of those three cards on turn three, though? That’s delicious. 


There are many decks over the years I’ve shied away from running best-in-slot haymakers like Doubling Season in, and it’s because they just. get. removed. 

Trying to untap with them was the last straw on the proverbial camel’s back, and led to a “buckaroo” board wipe, or someone dropping their Krosan Grip. With so many cards being “must answer” nowadays, and synergy engines being spread amongst many baskets, playing a “lightning rod” card actually feels pretty good. Either the opponents have already used their removal, or they use it, and you get to slam something even stronger. 

What’s more likely to win you a game, The Great Henge, or Doubling Season? Probably the former, but not removing the latter might let you win quicker, depending on your hand. 

Make people guess. 


Boards are getting gummed up, and they will continue to do so the more people leverage tokens (which are great at drawing you cards) and the more people eschew board wipes in favor of single-target removal. What’s the answer to a gummed up board? Well, either a Cyclonic Rift, or if you’re not in blue… Tapping stuff down.

Bond of Discipline opens the way, but does so while giving you the tempo swing you need: a bunch of lifegain too. You’ll need this if you’re not swinging for lethal.

Tap effects are White’s overrun, and alongside Akroma’s Will and Serra’s Emissary offer a way to smash in for massive damage regardless of what blockers might be in play. I even used to run Winter Blast in some of my green decks, just because being able to casually remove Thopters and Spirits and also tap down annoying blockers was a great mana sink.


It might just be me who faces armies of tokens regularly, but it has me reaching for a card I haven’t seriously considered in a deck before: Guardian of the Gateless. The opportunity to just sit there accruing virtual card advantage by stopping incoming go-wide attacks is pretty priceless, and if they don’t have removal right away, you can buy yourself time to deal with the army in front of you.

A similar card I’ve seen used to some success is Angel of (Kristen’s) Suffering, a card that has been my nemesis in more games than I care to admit. 


When I first started playing voltron, I was warned off of this card – and for good reason. Removal was plentiful, and Vandalblast, Austere Command, and more were played in every game. Masterwork of Ingenuity, then, was a bit of a dead card, particularly because back then Equipment decks struggled to draw as many cards as they do now. If you had your stuff removed before it entered play, you’d be hit by a huge tempo loss. It was also a dead draw after a boardwipe.

In the era of snowball Commander, though, a one mana card that can potentially draw you a card off of Sram, or become a copy #2 of Sword of Hearth and Home, or equip for free at flash speed with Sigarda’s Aid? Yeah, that’s a good magic card. Mana efficient, and helps you really accrue value in the early game. 


This last one is a bit of a cheat, but these cards all flourish in a meta where boardwipes are dropped down less often. Royal Assassin and Intrepid Hero now cause serious headaches when they hit the board, offering multiple turns of value for a small investment. In dedicated tap/untap decks they obviously do more, but even in your average Human, Soldier, or Assassin deck they can put the work in. Or a deck with a lot of haste, I guess.

One that falls under this category also is Oriq Loremage, a card that never quite made the cut for me in Chainer, Nightmare Adept, but one that I’m much more likely to leverage now thanks to the insane value of getting to Entomb every turn for the rest of the game. 


The Commander meta is anything but stagnant, and even local metas and playgroups will naturally shift and ebb with time. Take advantage of the current trend of speed-battlecruiser and play some cards that didn’t used to be good, but could now be great. Examine your collection, because who knows what you might unearth.