Review: 'Commander 2018: Nature's Vengeance' (MTG)

Review: 'Commander 2018: Nature's Vengeance' (MTG) WOTC / BRAM SELS

Magic: The Gathering takes a slightly different approach with its Commander 2018 preconstructed EDH decks compared to recent years.  How does each deck come across right out of the box?  The "lands matter" deck Nature's Vengeance isn't perfect by any means, but it's packed with potential.

The Deck:

At some point in a game of EDH, land draws become troublesome and useless.  Not so much in Nature's Vengeance, however, thanks to the bulk of the deck having extra uses for the card type.  Nowhere is this more evident than with the featured commander, the old-school planeswalker Lord Windgrace.

Windgrace's love of the land (specifically his land) is well documented as he gave his life and his planeswalker spark to save Urborg during the Time Spiral block.  His abilities exhibit this to a degree by having great land synergy.  His +2 ability lets you rummage but can get you a nice two-for-one if you discard a land.  His second ability lets you put those discarded (or destroyed/sacrificed) lands from your graveyard directly into play at a cost of -3.  Lord Windgrace's ultimate ability doesn't care about lands per se, but it does provide for some great spot removal and gives you an instant army of 2/2 forestwalking Cat Warrior tokens.

Nature's Vengeance has three other commander candidates in Thantis, the Warweaver, Gyrus, Walker of Corpses, and the "old school cool" Xantcha, Sleeper Agent.  They're all pretty nifty in their own right between Thantis getting larger whenever you or your planeswalkers are attacked, Gyrus' unearth-like combat ability, and Xantcha's heavy flavor and interesting ability.  What they're not, however, is all that synergystic with the whole "lands matter" concept.  The Vorthos in us is really jazzed for Xantcha to finally get a card, though.

While the deck's other possible commanders don't have much of anything to do with Nature's Vengeance's overall theme, there are a number of new creatures making their debut in Commander 2018 that do.  There's Turntimber Sower, a 3/3 for 2G that gives you 0/1 plant tokens whenever your lands hit the graveyard that also has an extra ability that Dredge players should love.  There's also the spicy Nesting Dragon that creates Dragon Egg tokens whenever you trigger landfall.  For the late game, there's Crash of Rhino Beetles, a 5/5 trampler for 4G that becomes a 15/15 so long as you control at least ten lands.  The deck also has two lieutenant cards -- Loyal Subordinate and Loyal Apprentice.  Neither really fit in with the deck's theme, sadly, and feel more like throw-ins that could easily have been something else.  A Ley Druid would have been nice instead.

Unsurprisingly, Nature's Vengeance sees no new artifacts or enchantments.  What it does get are a few new spells.

The deck's lone new sorcery, Reality Scramble, is an interesting card.  It lets you target a card you own (note: not necessarily control) and plop it onto the bottom of your library before having you reveal the top card until you find a card that shares a type with it.  Once you do, you can throw that card into play.  Now, while that might not seem like it matches the "lands matter" theme, it does have retrace -- an ability that requires you to discard a land to do it again at some point in the future.  The other new spells, Fury Storm and Windgrace's Judgment, are interesting in their own right.  Both instants, the former is similar to a Wild Ricochet (although without the ability to re-target the original spell) with a multiplier based upon how many times your commander has cast from the command zone, and the latter lets you cherry pick some non-land spot removal against your opponents.

Being that Nature's Vengeance cares so much about lands, it's safe to say that the deck has an amazing out-of-the-box land base, right?  While it's better than the other three Commander 2018 decks -- Adaptive Enchantment, Subjective Reality, and Exquisite Invention -- it's not quite as good as we would have hoped.  Thankfully there are a nice little assortment of land cards that are nice to see on the deck list.  Of the 43 lands included in the deck, only one -- Forge of Heroes -- is new.  The other 42 are all reprints and includes 18 basics.

Of the lands WotC decided to reprint for Nature's Vengeance, many of them are the comes-into-the-battlefield-tapped slow lands.  This includes multicolored lands such as Akoum Refuge, Savage Lands, Gruul Turf, and Kazandu Refuge.  There are also a handful of mono-colored non-basic lands that also come into play tapped like Forgotten Cave, Barren Moor, and Tranquil Thicket (the cycling lands from Onslaught).  Khalni Gardens and the actually useful Bojuka Bog also fall into the category.  As for the ones you could expect to be able to use right away, there's Command Tower, Grim Backwoods, Haunted Fengraf, and a couple of others as well.

Nature's Vengeance does include some fetch lands, but before you get excited don't expect those found in Khans of Tarkir or Zendikar.  That would be insane in a sealed product like this.  Rather, the deck has an Evolving Wilds along with its clone, Terramorphic Expanse.  It also has two Mirage-era fetches in Rocky Tar Pit and Mountain Valley with this being the Valley's first printing since its debut all the way back in 1996.  You can also fetch for lands with the likes of Blighted Woodland, Jund Panorama, Myriad Landscape, and Warped Landscape.  While these cards aren't nearly as good (or expensive) as the tier-one fetch lands, it's nice to see such an assortment.

Non-land reprints of note for this deck include Sakura-Tribe Elder and Yavimaya Elder (both of which are very appealing and useful in the deck), Rubblehulk and Zendikar Incarnate (both of which grow more powerful as you control more lands), and the fits-in-this-deck-oh-so-well Avenger of Zendikar.  The Champtions of Kamigawa flip creature Budoka Gardner is also included.  Looking beyond creatures, Nature's Vengeance has the Commander traditional reprinting of Sol Ring in addition to a lot of land searching thanks to cards such as Cultivate, Harrow, Explosive Vegetation, Hunting Wilds, and Far Wanderings.  The deck even has some nice spot removal from cards like Ruinous Path and Putrefy.

The Value:

As can be expected from a pre-constructed Commander deck, Nature's Vengeance is worth more in singles than the MSRP implies.  While there's no one single that stands out like in the Subjective Reality deck, there are a handful of cards worth mentioning in terms of value.  Surprisingly, none of them are lands in this "lands matter" deck.

Topping this deck's price chart is the featured planeswalker, Lord Windgrace ($8).  After that, you're looking at Windgrace's Judgment ($6.50), Xantcha, Sleeper Agent ($6), Nesting Dragon ($5), Budoka Gardner ($3.75), Avenger of Zendikar ($3.25), and Sol Ring ($3).  Beyond these, there are a 11 others worth between $3 and a buck.  Included in those 11 are the three most expensive lands in included in the deck: Command Tower, Bojuka Bog, and Myriad Landscape.  All three are worth about $1.50 each.  The rest of the deck -- 72 of the deck's 100 cards -- are all worth less than a dollar with the bulk of those less than 40¢ a piece.

The Magic: The Gathering Commander 2018 deck Nature's Vengeance is available now and retails at $39.99.

For An Extra Ten Bucks:

Like the other Commander 2018 decks, we recommend investing a few dollars into improving the Nature's Vengeance's land base.  Swapping out slower comes-into-play-tapped lands for those that don't should be a priority.  Cards like Sulfurous Springs ($7), Karplusan Forest ($5), and Llanowar Wastes ($1.50) are all good replacements for the price.  You also might want to consider "man lands" like Mishra's Factory ($1), Hissing Quagmire ($2), or Lavaclaw Reaches ($2).  Raging Ravine ($16) is really good, but it's also over budget.  Also, Ghost Quarter ($1.75) and Tectonic Edge ($1.75) both pair well with Lord Wingrace's second ability.

If you're looking at non-land cards to put in, we would like to suggest Stone-Seeder Hierophant (15¢), Zendikar's Roil (50¢), Ramunap Excavator ($4), The Gitrog Monster ($10), Ob Nixilis, the Fallen ($5.75), Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar ($1.50), and the Ley Druid (15¢) we mentioned earlier.  There are a couple of planeswalker cards -- Nissa, Vital Force ($5.75) and Nissa, Vastwood Seer ($7) -- that would go very well in this deck as well.  If you want to spend more, Titania, Protector of Argoth ($18) has amazing synergy with The Gitrog Monster in this deck.

Bonus Coverage:

If you want to see the Commander 2018 decks in action, check out this special video presentation from the recent preview battle royale match we held at a LGS in Las Vegas.

Wizards of the Coast provided the Nature's Vengeance deck used in this article.

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