Underplayed Commander Cards: Graveyard Shenanigans

Underplayed Commander Cards: Graveyard Shenanigans


Everyone knows about the Dockside Extortionists and Sol Rings of the world, but what about those underplayed gems? The cards that make you lean over the table and say “Sorry, that card does what?”. Today I went digging for treasure, and asked everyone at ETB Oakville to tell me about their favourite underplayed Commander cards.


1. Oskar, Rubbish Reclaimer

For my underplayed Commander Card, I'll be talking about the criminally underplayed Oskar, Rubbish Reclaimer. This garbage sifting wizard only has the simple text of, in essence, giving madness to all cards you discard. This simple line of text opens a world of possibilities, so much so, that despite my constant ravings about the card, I have yet to finalize a decklist for him.

With the plethora of discard outlets within the format, simply setting up an Oskar engine only needs something like a Putrid Imp or Ghostly Pilferer along with some sort of discard or cast-from-graveyard payoff can start the value train. But this is why settling on a specific archetype is so difficult. Cycling, Wheels, Tempo, Reanimation, Graveyard Synergies, the options for what you can do that all intersect and make so much value, it's impossible to choose!

Beyond that important line of text, the cherry on top of this fantastic card is simply that Oskar costs [1] less for each different mana value in your graveyard! This means that Oskar can bypass commander tax for a majority of situations! In conclusion, Oskar is a cheap, non-restrictive commander that fuels a myriad of deck archetypes that you can get for under $1.00?! Oskar, Rubbish Reclaimer is truly the treasure that so many have considered trash! Pick it up today!



2. Tayam, Luminous Enigma

Tayam is truly the good-est of boys; this furry fellow can be the center of a plethora of combos, from Devoted Druid lines to Acererak the Archlich shenanigans - this oversized dog mutant does it all. The core of all this card’s interactions comes from its activated ability, which imposes a soft deck-building restriction of only including permanents with 3 or less mana value. this allows you to recur any piece of a combo or hate bear out of your graveyard. With any pump effect that gives at least a +3/+3, a Devoted Druid produces infinite green mana, mills your whole deck, and puts on the board each and every permanent with 3 or less mana in your deck. Once you find a way to produce infinite mana with Tayam the ways to win are almost endless. My personal favourite way to win is by using Eternal Witness to return a Finale of Devastation to your hand with a Concordant Crossroads giving all the creatures you just reanimated haste, resulting in an absolutely massive board, capable of killing just about anything or anyone. This beast of a card is an underrated powerhouse capable of throwing hands with the best of the best.



3. Strands of Night

This is a card I’ve never seen played in Commander decks. Strands of Night is a 4-mana enchantment with an activated ability that reads “BB, Pay 2 life, Sacrifice a swamp: Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield.” It’s a repeatable reanimation engine that allows you to exchange your swamps for the best creatures in your graveyard, without the “exile at the end of the turn” downside associated with similar cards like Whip of Erebos.

Not only is this card able to provide constant value to almost any black deck, but the fact that it’s an enchantment also makes it incredibly difficult to get off the table. I feel what scares people the most about this card is the idea of sacrificing your lands but that hurdle is easily solved in so many ways. Cards like Crucible of Worlds, Ramunap Excavator, Splendid Reclamation, and Life from the Loam all let you get your precious Swamps back. Not to mention Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth + Drownyard Temple in a pinch. Not to mention how some decks absolutely love to sacrifice lands, like Windgrace and the Gitrog Monster.

Overall, I feel like the value accrued by being able to reanimate your best creatures over and over again far outweighs the cost of sacrificing a couple of swamps before it inevitably gets removed once your opponents realize just how insane this thing is… Oh and did I mention it does all this at instant speed



4. Life//Death

Hello everybody, today I'm going to introduce you to one of my personal favorites (and criminally underplayed) commander cards. Life // Death is a split card with two different spells, one turns your lands into 1/1 creatures until the end of the turn, the other reanimates a creature and you lose life equal to its mana value. Each of these modes is quite powerful (although one is more obviously powerful than the other) As it turns out, 2 mana reanimate is still really great on rate, and being uncommon, it's also an excellent option for budget decks that can't play actual factual Reanimate or Animate Dead. Now to the utility of the Life portion, while on the surface this effect seems fairly weak, in combination with an Overrun or Triumph of the Hordes you can win out of nowhere! "Life" also allows you to do some crazy stuff with sacrifice effects, letting my lands sacrifice to Razaketh? or Sadistic Hypnotist? Seems good! Both of these effects are especially desirable to sacrifice decks, but Life // Death can fit into almost any deck that wants either of these effects!



5. Nature's Resurgence

Nature’s Resurgence is an awesome card draw spell for those graveyard players out there, that one group hug person (those exist right?) or for those of us who just don’t like running Harmonize. For four mana each player draws cards equal to the number of creatures in their graveyard which at first glance isn’t great. If we build around it a little bit or just have a lot of creatures attacking and well… dying we can definitely set ourselves up to draw more than our opponents.

Players frequently cast Wheel of Fortune or Windfall into players with zero cards in hand so I don’t want to hear “I don’t want to help my opponents” in the comments. I think this card is also really cool in either Self Mill or a Mill everyone style deck where we can use it to draw players to death later on in the game by have a critical mass of creatures in their graveyards or a Psychic Corrosion in play.

Surprising absolutely no one this card only sees play in 359 decks (according to EDHREC) and can be picked up for $0.75 which is totally worth it. Also! The art is beautiful and it’s one of the only cards I’ve seen where the art has a border.



6. Unfulfilled Desires

It seems like everyone has reanimation on the brain this week, which makes this the perfect time for me to talk about a long-term pet card: Unfulfilled Desires. This innocent looking 3 mana enchantment is a powerful engine for any deck that does anything with its graveyard. Got some extra mana? Start looting through your deck. A reanimation target stuck in your hand? Dump it in the bin. Did you just pick up 3 lands with Life from the Loam? Let’s cycle them into some spells. This is the perfect engine for commanders like Muldrotha, Araumi, and Kess, just to name a few very popular options. The effect is instant speed, requires only a single generic mana, and the life cost is negligible in a 40-life format. A simple effect, but a very powerful one when its repeatable and such a small mana investment. To top it all off it has some fantastic D. Alexander Gregory art and some really cool flavour text from a Mirage/Visions poem. Stick it all together on one reasonably priced Reserve List Rare and you have my pick for underplayed commander card.