Underrated Commander Cards From Planeshift

Underrated Commander Cards From Planeshift

Jacob LacknerCommander

I started playing Magic: the Gathering in Fall of 1998 and my first was Urza’s Saga. This means for the first two years I played Magic, I bore witness to an era dominated by noncreature spells and monocolored cards. So, when Invasion Block came out two years later with a big focus on multicolored cards and powerful creatures, it felt really fresh to 12-year-old me. So I’m very nostalgic when it comes to Invasion, Planeshift, and Apocalypse

There’s one card in particular that made me want to take a look at Planeshift in particular – and that’s Wastescape Battlemage. It’s a callback to a cycle of battlemages in Planeshift that I think are way underplayed in Commander.

In this article, I’ll make the case that not only for the battlemage cycle, but 4 other cards in Planeshift deserve more serious consideration when you’re building your Commander decks.

Underrated Commander – Ertai, the Corrupted

Ertai, the Corrupted
The 1,106th Most Popular Commander on EDHRec

Ertai’s ability to turn any creature or Enchantment on the board into a counterspell for only one Blue mana is pretty sweet. While you can go in a lot of different directions with Ertai, the most unique thing you can do with Ertai is build an Enchantment sacrifice deck.

Hatching Plans | Chime of Night

Enchantments that give you value when they are sacrificed are a great fit for Ertai. If you sacrifice Hatching Plans, you’re basically countering a spell and casting Ancestral Recall at the same time! If you sacrifice Chime of Night, you end up with Terror stapled to a counterspell.

Using Enchantments that return to your hand anytime they go to the graveyard is a nice strategy too, as you can get back the Enchantment’s effect while also making sure you continue to have fuel for Ertai’s ability.

However, using Enchantments that give you big value but come with downsides is by far the sweetest thing you can do with Ertai. Drawing cards with Treacherous Blessing and then sacrificing it or getting your exiled cards back from Induced Amnesia is a nice starting point. But you go even harder than that.

You can use Transcendence to dig you out of a hole, and get rid of it before it ever makes you lose the game. You can use up Demonic Pact’s good modes and get rid of it before it makes you lose the game. You can use Thought Lash to keep you going in just about any situation and then get rid of it before it makes you exile your whole library.

You know what’s even better than sacrificing these types of Enchantments before they lose you the game, though? Giving them to your opponent and making them lose the game. All of that also means that you can run a bunch of “Donate” cards. This can turn these Enchantments into win conditions, if you give your opponent the permanents at the right time.

So, Ertai is a great Enchantment sacrifice commander, but a pretty good “Bad Gifts” commander, too! He makes for a pretty unique play experience, so if you’re looking for something fresh, he’s a good choice.

Battlemage Cycle

These are the battlemages that inspired the aforementioned Wastescape Battlemage. Each three-color wedge has one, and while some of them are better than others, all three of them offer kicker costs that let you add additional enter the battlefield abilities to them.

They are all pretty useful Swiss army knives. The best of these abilities are the ones that let you destroy certain permanent types. Sunscape can destroy flyers, Stormscape can destroy creatures, Nightscape can bounce up to two creatures and destroy lands, Thunderscape can go after enchantments, and Thornscape can go after artifacts.

Should you ever get a chance to pay both kicker costs on any of them, you’re going to end up with at least a 2-for-1, and in some cases a 3-for-1.

These probably shouldn’t be played in every single deck that is in each of these wedges, but if you could use some creatures that have valuable effects in the mid-to-late game, you can’t really go wrong with these.

Primal Growth

Primal Growth
Played in .9% of Green Decks on EDHRec

Primal Growth is a really good ramp spell that more players should be using. If you don’t kick it, it’s not that impressive, but if you have an expendable creature to throw away it lets you grab two basic lands. And, whether you kick it or not, the lands you get enter untapped. In other words, if you kick it, you get a rebate on two of the mana you spend to cast it. Kicked Primal Growth is significantly better than casting Cultivate or Kodama’s Reach.

Admittedly, it doesn’t fit into as many decks as those two cards do. However, if you’re playing a sacrifice deck with Green as part of its identity, though, you should definitely be using Primal Growth.

That means there are several popular Commanders that this is a great fit for. If you’re playing a Saproling Commander like Slimefoot, or a sacrifice Commander like Korvold, you’re going to get insane value out of Primal Growth.

Keldon Twilight

Keldon Twilight
Played in .004% of Rakdos Decks on EDHRec

Keldon Twlight is admittedly not as broadly useful as Primal Growth or the Battlemages are. But it has a really unique symmetrical effect. 

It affects you first, which is definitely a little bit awkward. But after that every player has to make a decision about whether to attack or give up a creature every turn. There are certainly situations where your opponents planned on attacking anyway, in which case Keldon Twilight is pretty meaningless. But there are tons of board states where Keldon Twilight wreaks havoc.

So the way to abuse this is to break the symmetry. Luckily, that’s not that hard in Rakdos decks. As long as you are interested in almost always attacking or sacrificing creatures, Keldon Twilight is worth some consideration. 


Cloud Cover
Played in .015% Percent of Azorius Decks on EDHRec

Cloud Cover makes it impossible for targeted removal to deal with your permanents. While they do get bounced to your hand, in most Blue-White decks that’s way better than having them go to the graveyard.

This is especially true if you’re playing a deck loaded up with creatures and other permanents with Enter the Battlefield abilities, as any targeted effect your opponent tries to use on your permanents is likely to let you rebuy an Enter the Battlefield.

Some popular Commanders that are particularly adept at abusing Cloud Cover are Tameshi, Reality Architect, and Brago, King Eternal. Tameshi will draw you a card when your permanents get bounced by the Cover, and if you’re playing Brago you’re very likely to have permanents with ETB abilities.

End Step

I hope I introduced you to some overlooked gems from Planeshift. I hope I’ve introduced you to some new cards that you’ll consider next time you’re building a Commander deck. Do you think there are any cards I left out? Let me know over on X