Editors Note: Due to Unexpected Results being unexpetedly absent. This week we are giving you a one-shot article, written by Kirsin Koch. If you like his article, please let him know in the comments below.

I recently discussed how we used to run Thornscape Battlemage back in 2001 in 5-Color decks with Kevin Cron, a Vintage champion, So Many Insane Plays podcaster, and fellow Commander fan.  I expressed how I was hoping to see the Planeshift Battlemages reprinted in Commander 2013.  I initially commented how these cards are in the right shard colors, have flexible casting costs like Dragon’s Maze’s fuse cards, and interesting effects.  They’d be great for the casual Commander player, right?  Kevin responded with the simple negative observation, “Most have one ability you would enjoy to use and another that you wouldn’t.”  With this in mind, I simplistically re-examined these cards to delve into what they do without the kicker text and rules complicating the analysis.

Bant

bantWould I prefer to play a combined Glory Seeker + Plummet + Divination for 8 cmc or just play a Mulldrifter at 5 cmc?  In this case, I’d have to go with Mulldrifter as even at 5 cmc without the Plummet effect, I get a better creature than I would with Sunscape Battlemage.  Mulldrifter’s similarly flexible casting options means I can evoke it as a Divination or “kicked” for 2 more and get a 2/2 flying blocker as well.  Additionally, since Mulldrifter doesn’t have true kicker, I get enters the battlefield triggers when paired with white recursion or white or blue flicker effects.  So, in a fair post-New World Order design, I really can’t recommend Sunscape Battlemage for budget players or and I’m no longer interested a reprint in Commander or any other product.

Esper

esperBefore writing this article, the Esper shard-based Stormscape Battlemage was one card I was really interested in seeing reprinted.  Wizards of the Coast apparently agreed with me and reprinted it in the Eternal Bargain Commander 2013 deck.  I surmised Stormscape Battlemage had some possible role in creature removal with a body attached.  When fully kicked, the Stormscape Battlemage becomes a blue Glory Seeker + Dark Offering (or inverse Sip of Hemlock) at 7 cmc.  Even if I choose not to kick Stormscape Battlemage with W for life gain and pay 4UB instead, I get only the 2/2, nonflying Dark Hatchling variant.  Unfortunately, in that comparison, I can’t think of a scenario where I wouldn’t more likely prefer to play Dark Hatchling.  Given an even wider card pool option Dark Hatchling pales compared to more cost efficient cards such as Bone Shredder, Shriekmaw, or Nekrataal instead.  This firmly knocks out Stormscape Battlemage as a recommendation for budget Commander players.  I believe many players will find other methods of lifegain that will work with the Eternal Bargain commanders.

Grixis

grixisNightscape Battlemage has really interesting art with a Frank Franzetta feel and would be nice to see reprinted with the new border and cleaned up text.  However, after distilling this card to its base functionality, I really began to see the fallacy of wanting to have Battlemages reprinted in Commander 2013.  Nightscape Battlemage only amounts to a Scathe Zombie + Undo + Stone Rain for 9 cmc, and is yet another very unexciting option even in budget Commander decks.  At any late point in the game where I’m wanting maximize the use of this card, why not just cast a larger, more game-affecting card like Evacuation, Inundate, Plague Wind, or Rise of the Dark Realms instead?  Even with the blue kicker, 4UB for a Scathe Zombies + Undo is just not an effect I’m interested in, making Nightscape Battlemage a poor choice for Commander.

Ana

anaAna Battlemage is the only wedge Battlemage to date and I sincerely hope to see this cycle completed by Wizards at some point through their casual products. Ana Battlemage is a Grizzly Bear + Fugue + Backlash for 8 cmc which is very cost effective if I need those particular effects in an Ana deck.  Although I blanche at spending 8 mana for an overcosted Mulldrifter with Sunscape Battlemage, I might consider this card.  The ability to cast Fugue on the most threatening player allows you to take away resources without gaining resources.  The result is a decent social play that doesn’t attract attention from the rest of the table and still get a free body.  This type of move is something to consider for a budget Commander player.  The out of color Backlash can also allow you to temporarily remove a blocker, deal some damage, and open the way for others to attack as well.  If you’re playing Ana colors (blue/black/green), consider this card.

Jund

jundThunderscape Battlemage is the second most efficient Battlemage, being a red War Priest of Thune + Mind Rot for 6 cmc.  However at 6 cmc, it still isn’t what I’m looking for in my mana curve.  By comparison and despite rk post’s fantastic art, Abyssal Horror trades Thunderscape Battlemage’s enchantment destruction for flying and still isn’t played in any Commander deck of which I’m aware.  Prior to Theros block, enchantments tend to show up far less in multiplayer than artifacts, so the green kicker isn’t quite as useful as one might hope.  If you really want to destroy target enchantment in Gruul or Jund colors, there are other flexible, cheaper options like Hull Breach, Golgari Charm, and Destructive Revelry.

Naya

nayaI have previously included Thornscape Battlemage in my own Hazezon Tamar/Sunforger deck as an early Equipment carrier or mid-game value play.  First, I’d like to note that under the New World Order card design precepts, an Uktabi Orangutan/Viridian Shaman + Shock creature could technically be printed for 2RG and would be very strong, but 3RG is still within reason.  (White under New World Order card design isn’t necessary for this card any longer.)  This reminds me why Thornscape Battlemage is the only Battlemage I ever played with consistently in 5-Color.  Thornscape Battlemage’s potentially useful set of triggers to destroy an opponent’s key artifact and remove a small blocker or ping an opponent for two will be relevant in many different Commander games.  However, similar cards such as Flametongue Kavu or Acidic Slime and are cards that almost always find a slot in my Commander deck before Thornscape Battlemage.

After examining all the kicker Battlemages to say which cards are actually playable in budget Commander decks, I’d consider Thornscape Battlemage and Ana Battlemage.  Each card’s kicker triggers are useful enough in many games even if neither card can benefit from blink or recursion effects like Deadeye Navigator or Chainer, Dementia Master.  If you have a specific functional hole or redundancy after cards like Flametongue Kavu or Acidic Slime to fill in your budget deck, consider Ana Battlemage or Thornscape Battlemage in your next build.