Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
As the Season 8 Contest came to a close, we had almost thirty entries willing to subject themselves to the withering barrage of criticism the Circle of Judgment levies on those with the courage to subject themselves to it. For a prize so sweet, though, uncommon courage is destined to be found even in the heart of cravens.

But when the chamber doors open and the shady figures of the Circle emerge from their dreaded Deliberation Chambers, this can only be one winner. One person determined enough to snatch this sexy prize from the Circle’s collective hands. One individual with the intellect and style to best all the others. One Magic player who is SO into pretending to be a fantasy wizard, they listen to a weekly podcast about a cornercase format and designed their own super-dope cards for it that they’ll probably never be able to play.

THE EVALUATION PROCESS

In the chambers, each member of this hallowed circle was given the entries and has chosen three. Their favourite entry gets three points, second-favourite two, and third-favourite one. When deliberation was completed, the scores of each entry were tallied up to get a winner. Below, each member of the circle explains their decisions, as the Circle is nothing if not transparent.

JUDGMENT DAY

DAN aka CHAOSORBFTW
1 Point: Jason L.’s “Lily the White” + “Lily’s Spark” + Precon Decklist

I really liked Lily, and I thought that her potent abilities were well balanced on a more fragile card. The additional card is a perfect compliment for her, and appears to allow the deck to play exceptionally well as a whole. The entire build is very solid, and it is a very strong imagining of what a UW deck should be able to do. I imagine that this deck would also be very playable out of the box, and with a small investment could be edited to be very strong by a like-minded player. One of the things I enjoyed the most out of the list is the inclusion of multiple cards (Gulf Squid, Rebuff the Wicked, Long Term Plans, etc) that don’t see a lot of regular play, but really work well with the blink theme here.

2 Points: Tim’s “Arcum the Mad”  + “Arcum’s Rig” + Precon Decklist

I thought that this general was a really interesting one to build around. There are a ton of ways you can build a deck with this guy at the helm, and the power level can really be changed according to any playstyle or group. Arcum’s Rig is flavorful and helps further the decks theme without being overly blunt and forceful. I like the keyworded mechanic, and I think overall it is very well put together.

The deck is solid and very playable as is. It is also a really good jumping off point that a player could use to really do anything their heart (or budget) desired. I’d really love to be able to sleeve this guy up.

3 Points: Anthony S.’s “Thalia, Corrupted” + “Thalia’s Saber” + Precon Decklist

This card made me sad it wasn’t really in print. It is a fast, aggressive creature that can enable a very solid discard strategy. While exceptionally powerful, it is not overly unbalanced. It also makes targeted discard a relevant strategy for a multiplayer table by allowing your discard to do damage as well. The deck makes a strong compliment to the general in focusing on creatures that are additionally aggressive, and the spell choices are all very good thematically. It seems to be well shored up for a mono-black deck, and could be a real bully at the table if left unchecked.

I really loved the Thalia’s Sabre as well. While tip-toeing on the border of grossly overpowered for it’s cost, it does work thematically. It would definitely go a long way to enabling a very strong attack while protecting a smaller general from the big, bad creatures that she would need to fight her way through. Overall really well done, and a card I really would love to see print one day.

KARSTON aka TOPANDGO
1 Point:Tim’s “Arcum the Mad”  + “Arcum’s Rig” + Precon Decklist

(images above)

HE’S A RIGGER!!!  We asked a question on the Top And Go Production’s Facebook/Twitter, it was: What are the creature types that are least loved in Magic?  Rigger was one of the most mentioned creature types, so there is an obvious demand for more of them.  Assemble is an interesting mechanic, and having an equipment that makes anyone into a rigger with assemble is also very nice.  The deck is also pretty legit.  Therefore, I like this because of reasons.

2 Points: Andrew W.’s “Tolovar of Kessig” + “Repentant’s Rites” + Precon Decklist

I love that he created the legendary creature that Wizards should have created in the first place.  I like how he grabs an awesome enchantment for Werewolves, even though it forces people to put that card in their deck.  I also liked the transforming enchantment and how it gave Werewolves an extra aggressive edge.  The deck played all of the werewolves, too, which is just awesome.

3 Points: Nic N.’s “Kara Vrist, Neurok Agent” + “Vristian Neurocoder” + Precon Decklist

I liked this general because the creator decided to do something that was a little unpopular.  Sure, it seems a little more obvious to create a rigger or werewolf general, but a mono-blue general that goes out of its way to beat face is different, and honestly a little unpopular.  Obviously, one could build a typical mono-blue deck around Kara Vrist, but this deck is an awesome beatdown deck with cool equipment, which is just neat and different.  Also, the story card was one that I could see being played in a multitude of different artifact decks, so I think it was very well designed.

JUD aka GUDOUG

1 Point: Andrew W.’s “Tolovar of Kessig” + “Repentant’s Rites” + Precon Decklist

I would like to start off by saying that I think the werewolves in MTG are pretty stupid.  When people bitched and complained about not having a legendary werewolf I didn’t understand as they were all terrible in general and terrible in EDH.  So I am was pretty surprised when I really liked the Andrew’s submission.  The Tovolar card has an ability that while it isn’t super over powered, is pretty useful for a werewolf tribal deck.  The enchantment story card explores new territory in flip cards as both sides have abilities one would want in play so the transforming from one side to another brings interesting implications to game.  The deck was well designed and had a lot a great non-werewolf choices to supplement the tribe, and he designed it with the Commander Product and packaging in mind.

2 Points: Mike W.’s “Agrus Kos, Rebel” + “Mask of Kos” + Precon Decklist

First I would like to admit for the record that I am a big Mike Workman, AKA Mightily Oats, fan.  That being said I would also like to let it be known that I didn’t even look at the names on the submissions until writing up this review.  I liked the reworking of Argos Kos.  It is a really interesting variant on the Relentless Rats ability with a tribal twist.  Also the nature of Argus Kos not ever going back to the command zone leads to lots of decision on when to play the “General Version” of the card.  The story card has a Witchbane Orb feel to it where you could play it to protect your graveyard without the intention of using/benefiting from the other ability.  The deck has plenty of answers and tools as its disposal and looks to be very well rounded.

3 Points:Henrik O.’s “Malvern Xelionos” + “Malverns Lab” + Precon Decklist

The Malvern card is neat evolution from the Lifeblood flavor text.  It really does seem like it just fits right in with this newly designed card.  On top of that the story card is a nice supplement to Malvern but works completely on its own without it.  Everything seems pretty inline power level and CMC wise.  I don’t think anyone would bat an eyelash at a White Legendary Creature that is 5 Mana and just a 1/2 with potential.  The deck seems very complimentary with the general but has plenty of reach, cool card choices, and disruption.  There is plenty of tap effects to use as both control elements and Malvern enablers.  Plus it has the Alaborn in it…including the Swayze with boobs one.

ANDY aka GHoooSTS

1 Point: Ryan S.’s “Toshiro, Blind Sensei” + “Toshiro’s Charm” + Precon Decklist

When I first saw Ryan’s take on Toshiro I was like “what in the piss is going on” but it grew on me over time. At first it grabbed me just because it was a weird idea, but then I started looking through the decklist more and I loved it. It’s using a lot of really bad cards and making them almost ok; it’s using a mechanic that is difficulty to use in Commander at all; and it gives B/W another Commander that has a distinct style from the others, who feel kinda same-y to me.

Plus, a charm!

2 Points:“Ugin the Transparent” + “Uginite Cave” + Precon Decklist

This shit is crazy. I gave it a lot of points on the basis of uniqueness, including the ballsiness of creating an entire new type of BASIC LAND. How dope is that? It’s also a new colourless Commander, so that’s awesome. I love the feel of Ugin being this sort of mana-sucking beast, it’s a good look. On the whole, I think this type of thing would be a great addition to EDH overall, especially as a precon to show new players just how crazy things can be. It’s also a cool character to reference.

I had a hard time evaluating this one. I knew it was one of my top pics, but I wasn’t totally sure it was the best entry. I gave it this standing mostly based on originality, but I think my top pick is just a slightly better overall package.

3 Points: Jonathan F.’s “Higure, the Ill Wind” + “School of the Still Wind” + Precon Decklist

The whole package here is dope. It’s another revisited and underused block mechanic from Kamigawa, and this is such a slick idea for repackaging it that I was in love at first sight. Higure himself is a nicepackage, nothing too complex but undeniably powerful. The land itself is sick, but nothing abusive–its just a cool, fun and unique card. The deck includes Endemic Plague. There is nothing to dislike here in my opinion, but there’s a also enough cool and fun stuff that I was compelled to put this one in my first-place spot.

Also, ZOMBIE NINJA: combining two played-out things into one awesome thing.

BRIONNE aka FORKOFDOOM aka THE FORMER MANRIQUEZ

1 Point: Jake P.’s “Geralf the Stitcher” + “Geralf’s Assistant” + Precon Decklist

This is a legendary creature that really needed to be made and I have a soft spot for zombies.

2 Points:Ryan S.’s “Tahngarth, Talruum Warrior” + “Tahngarth’s Zeal” + Precon Decklist

The general is great, and the whole deck is themed well around dealing/preventing damage.

3 Points: Andrew W.’s “Tolovar of Kessig” + “Repentant’s Rites” + Precon Decklist

(images above)

This submission was awesome.  Werewolves needed a legendary creature, and I liked the interaction with an existing card.  Not to mention his mock-up of the Commander packaging was a nice touch.

WILLIAM aka BLUERAM
1 Point: Andrew W.’s “Tolovar of Kessig” + “Repentant’s Rites” + Precon Decklist

(images above)

A werewolf legend was desperately missed when Avacyn Restored was fully spoiled, and it’s one of the few things I’ll really ever criticize Wizards on (go ahead, call me an apologist if you must but I still stand that they mostly know what they’re doing). Andrew’s design solves the odd “legend rule interactions” that held Wizards back in a short and elegant manner. Mechanically, I’m not sure how I feel about the general naming a particular card that it fetches (much in the same vein as Nissa Revane and Nissa’s Chosen), but I would’ve preferred that he search for other werewolves, similar to how Sliver Overlord searches for slivers to give the feeling of an alpha leader assembling his pack (perhaps with a “tap” cost, with the flavor of howling. I, for one, would have had tons of fun howling everytime I searched up a werewolf). 

 Flavorful in that the Planeswalker’s guide to Innistrad does indeed mention Tovolar as a werewolf that is never seen reverting back to human, even in the day. For sure, I thought this would be the character that Wizards brought in to be our legend (especially with Mondronen Shaman being quoted to her master). Alas, it was not to be. It’s still a very interesting card and gives me several ideas for creating my own Werewolf legend to build a commander deck around.

 Repentants’ Rites // Tovolar’s Blood Rites, the double-faced enchantment packaged with Tovolar, is simply fantastic! Protective aids to help werewolves lead their lives as humans, and punishes people who would transform them back into from their howling counterparts! I love it! This is definitely the support that werewolves could have used back when they were trying to compete against Delver in standard, and giving the transform mechanic to an enchantment opens new and interesting design space. Kudos!

 Overall, this was a very strong entry that was only hurt by it’s competition and one other thing: The Master of the Hunt card that he included. Although I also took points away for the entree not having a decklist (the link provided led to the Planeswalker’s guide he linked in a separate area), it was his “extra credit” card that gave me pause. The reminder text is nice and cheeky, but banding is by no means a beginner mechanic. The need to have cards that newer players can intuitively understand is a part of what goes into these products, and this card will only cause problems at local kitchen tables. The effort is appreciated, but too much in the wrong direction will only hurt you, folks.

2 Points:Justin D.’s “O-Kagachi” + “Opening of the Reikai” + Precon Decklist

Kamigawa spirts are not good. At all. But with this card, they can at least be fun! 

 I have nothing to say about it mechanically, because it’s so out there. I’ve never seen a card like this, and only play testing would show whether it was some sort of abusable horror, or the savior that Kamigawa’s been wanting for almost a decade now. 

 Flavorwise, I had to knock off a couple of points since it was a flying spirit. Silly Justin, Kamigawa spirits don’t fly! 

 The only thing I have to complain about with the support card, Opening of the Reikai, is that it’s a colorless card. Only the Eldrazi (and Ugin’s signature spell Ghostfire) have been colorless cards where color would have normally occurred  and that was for supernatural space-monster reasons. The lack of color seems like a forgotten element in its design. I can understand wanting to make it easier for a 5-color deck to play, but if you’re playing 5-color already then you should have enough colors to play at least 3 colored spells on a regular basis, it would seem.

 Honestly, I was considering this for third or fourth on my list until I saw the decklist. I have a weakness for legendary creatures, and a deck that included a plethora of legendary spirits that are SO hard to play normally gets my seal of approval any day! For giving the spirits in my collector’s binders renewed hope, I award second place to this entree.

3 Points:Sander Z.’s “Lovisa the Exiled” + “Spirit of the Wolf” + Precon Decklist

I love this card. I love her mechanics. I love how its interactions are very subtle and flexible. Lovisa, to me, is the ideal design in most cases. Mechanically speaking, I probably would have downgraded her power a bit to turn her into a 3/2 since she’s a three-cost first striker who has the ability to pump herself with her own ability. Creatures with first strike usually have smaller bodies (toughness) to emphasize their speed, rather then their bulk, particularly when we consider the flavor the author/designer gave us.

In this design, the author describes a scene in which Lovisa seeks out help rather than remaining bull-headed during a great conflict, losing the favor of great stone beings but garnering the respect of the smaller, sleeker, woodland spirits. The stat change would have reflected this nicely, in my opinion. But this is still a strong theme for an alternate universe Lovisa where things would have gone differently had she made a different life choice.

Her spirit wolf is a card that would see play in decks, regardless of who the commander was, provided that you were running basic snow lands, which I approve of. Not being dependent on the general but have good synergy with her makes for a strong design.

The deck is appropriately fitted as a g/w token deck that makes use of Lovisa’s pump ability. Personally, I have NEVER seen a store that doesn’t still have any of the g/w decks that were presented to use from Archenemy and Planechase. As such, I have some skepticism about putting out anther product in those colors. However, the reprinting of basic snow lands was a smart move that would be sure to sell the deck to those who want them.

To this top-tier deck and cards designed by Sander I say, “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!”

WINNER

Andrew W.’s “Tolovar of Kessig” + “Repentant’s Rites” + Precon Decklist

Here, Andrew explains his design choices. PAY HEED:

“For the CommanderCast Season 8 Contest, I decided to create a legendary Werewolf. This is something a lot of people have wanted, and I think I found a good way to make the legendariness of a double-faced card work.

I found three named Werewolves in the Planeswalker’s Guide to Innistrad: Kessig and Werewolves. They were Ulrich of Krallenhorde, “a cunning and perceptive wanton who remains in the wild and runs with the howlpack even when he reverts to human form,” Skaharra of Leeraug, “a black-furred she-wolf noted for her tendency to kill along bloodlines, murdering entire families in a single night while sparing unrelated farmhands and servants,” and Tovolar of Mondronen, “a mute, silver-furred werewolf who leads his pack on revels of carnage and howling songs, and who never seems to revert to human form.”

I decided to go with Tovolar, as I found the idea that he never reverts to human form intriguing. Thus, I designed him with his Werewolf side lacking the trigger clause that would ever revert him to daytime mode. Then, I added a couple abilities to enhance your other Werewolves—he is the packleader after all. And while he might not care when it changes “from night to day,” he still cares when it “turns to night” again, as he summons up the Full Moon’s Rise every time.

One of the few other things we know about the Mondronen pack is that they “are said to control a dark, bloody magic of nature,” so I created Repentants’ Rites to reflect this. Repentants are people who know they are werewolves but still try to stay in their everyday lives. So, I designed the card to be a form of magic that protects them from villagers’ scrutiny, and when they change forms, their ritual magic changes as well into a kind of Mana Barbs / Kaervek the Merciless that helps punish players for trying to make it day again.

As for strange cards, here we go:

Ichneumon Druid: This guy doesn’t really fit, but R/G is the harshest enemy of blue, and blue likes instants, and this guy has a funny name.
Master of the Hunt: He makes Wolves, and banding is awesome. Plus, check out that reminder text.
Baton of Morale: It just makes sense that Wolves and Werewolves would attack in bands.
Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded: He’s a Storm Seeker and an Insurrection. Let’s give him a shot.

I also included a Maybeboard on the TappedOut decklist. These are cards I’d like to include and that I feel could fit into a precon, as their printings could pull down the price tags of their existing versions. However, they don’t fit into the final list because of price. Wolf Pack was the most unfortunate casualty of this, as it’s a very bad card, but it’s sooo on-theme, and only its expansion symbol makes it costly.”