The full set dropped today, and wow is there a lot to process.
We’ve got collector boosters, alternate versions of just about every card in the set, Food tokens with the plural of Foods, and mythics that people don’t think are good but control decks will love.
This week, we were given a legend to admire. An ability that’s never been on a legendary creature, and a card that’s begging to be broken.
Let’s dive into the magical world of….
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
This ability, or some variation of it, has been on lots and lots of cards, but never on a legendary creature, making this a fantastic Commander card and a chance for us to get out ahead of what might be.
A lot of these cards are at nearly-bulk prices, so let’s begin with one caveat. None of these are guarantees, but I think Torbran is the most interesting and does something new. Plus, cheap specs are always a good time.
Please keep in mind that damage doubling and adding an integer doesn’t work quite as well as you’d hope. From the Comprehensive Rules:
616.1. If two or more replacement and/or prevention effects are attempting to modify the way an event affects an object or player, the affected object’s controller (or its owner if it has no controller) or the affected player chooses one to apply, following the steps listed below. If two or more players have to make these choices at the same time, choices are made in APNAP order (see rule 101.4).
Basically, if I Bolt you with Torbran and Furnace of Rath out, you decide if you’re taking 10 damage or a measly 8. Annoying, but that’s our first category of Torbran-based specs: damage doublers.
Angrath’s Marauders – It’s a seven-mana creature, but doubling is doubling. It’ll be nice to attack for more with this out.
Dictate of the Twin Gods – This having flash is spicy indeed, and can be used effectively even if you’re not the one causing damage.
Fire Servant – It’s an uncommon, so the value might not be there even in foil. It’s a card I would absolutely play, though.
Furnace of Rath – It’s been printed several times, most recently in Planechase. This is going to see a bump, and I’d either be in on foils or the original printing. There’s not much difference between the foils, so go with the earliest at 8th edition.
Goblin Goliath ($4, no foils) – This card is in an interesting space. It’s from the Game Night set, so there’s not a lot of copies out there. It also selectively doubles damage when you pay mana, meaning that the effect requires more work but isn’t threatening everybody all the time.
Gratuitous Violence – The gold standard, because it only doubles what your creatures deal, making it less likely that you take extra damage. Notably, there’s only 8 NM Onslaught foils left on TCG, but I’m one of those old border snobs. That foil is just under $10, and a little interest will rocket that number higher.
Quest for Pure Flame – Takes time, but when it’s ready to go off, not costing mana is a very useful trait. Problem is, unless you’re going to run Skull of Orm, it’s a one-shot effect.
Damage for all!
Ancient Runes – Conditional, yes, but there’s a certain joy in ‘you did this to yourself’ sorts of cards and some people really need to cut down on the brown mana ramp.
Chandra, Pyrogenius – Having a +2 that will mean each opponent takes four is a lot of game, even for six mana and being an intro deck planeswalker.
Flame Rift – Simple, efficient, and symmetrical, until it isn’t.
Hammerfist Giant – Granted, this takes out Torbran too, but there’s equipment on this list or figure out something to keep it around for repeated fun.
Heartless Hidetsugu – Another symmetrical card which isn’t symmetrical with Torbran in play, and that’s just what we want to hear.
Mondronen Shaman – The flipped version of this basically begs for a removal spell, but it’s so so so good if not immediately killed! Worth the inclusion.
Pyrohemia – Oh yeah, this does EXACTLY what you want. With Torbran out, it says R: Lightning Bolt everything in play and each player, except for your stuff, which only takes one damage. It’s got reprints, so eye those Planar Chaos copies hard. The foils are unsurprisingly rare, considering that this was in Planar Chaos and then Commander 2011. Only 4 NM foils in stock at TCGPlayer, only 36 overall. Godspeed.
Sarkhan, Dragonsoul – A plus ability that deal one to everything you don’t control, which Torbran upgrades to three? Sold.
Spear Spewer – Gosh, I can’t wait to build this deck and make people spend removal on something as dumb as this is.
Sulfuric Vortex – Lifegain isn’t easy for this deck anyway (gotta get the right Equipment!) so playing this puts a clock on the board that spins much faster for everyone else.
Warmonger – With the right equipment out, this is good. With Torbran, it’s breathtaking and you should enjoy every moment.
Only your opponents!
Hazoret the Fervent – The activated ability is top-shelf with Torbran out, dealing big chunks of damage to only your opponents.
Brimstone Trebuchet – I don’t think you’ll untap it often, but three per turn adds up super fast.
Lightning-Rig Crew – Super-duper fast.
Lobber Crew – Super-mega-duper fast!
Thermo-Alchemist – LUDICROUS SPEED
Chandra, Torch of Defiance – the +1 here will hit each of the other players, and while the card may want to be cast, you’re adding damage as fast as you can.
Fanatic of Mogis – Oh yes. This will hit each player for a minimum of six with Torbran out, and this deck will have lots and lots of red pips.
Firebrand Archer – The effects add up pretty fast!
Guttersnipe – And faster!
Impact Tremors – There’s a lot of ways you can build this deck, and Tremors speaks to the go-wide type.
Purphoros, God of the Forge – Of course this is here, and might be one of the most broken Purph decks around. Nonfoils are around $20, and that’s reasonable, but the foils in the $40-$50 range are where I’d rather be. The inventory on these is quite low, and the price is getting high enough that Purphoros would be a headliner in a new Commander deck. I think it’s pretty unlikely that the return to Theros will include a reprint, but I’d respect if you want to wait.
Sizzle – Take five!
Spireside Infiltrator – Niche, but combine with Whip of Flame for real fun.
Aria of Flame – If you build the spell-based version of the decks, that ten life is going to last no time at all.
Akki Lavarunner – The flipped version of this is a worse Torbran, but why just settle for +2 when you could have +3?
Embermaw Hellion – This doubles damage to your own things too, so keep that in mind.
Jaya, Venerated Firemage – She doesn’t enhance herself, but she will help all your other fun things.
Pyromancer’s Gauntlet – Can I interest you in Bolting someone for seven damage? I truly love picking up these foils. Nearly-bulk prices, so easy to sweep up, and it’s from six years ago!
Sulfuric Vapors – It enhances spells only, but if you’re building a spell-based version of Torbran, you’ll love this.
Cavalcade of Calamity – With the right creatures, the game is OVER.
Raid Bombardment – I do like the curve of Cavalcade-this-Torbran-attack for 11.
Rage Forger – If you’ve got enough counters, this plus Torbran is amazing, though you might have trouble setting it up.
Hellrider – YES PLEASE.
Inferno Titan – It’s not perfect, but triple Bolt is hard to argue with.
Orbs of Warding – Since you get apply the order of damage-replacing effects, do the math correctly, please?
Urza’s Armor – We never heard enough about the cool things the original planeswalkers made. A shame, really.
Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.