Within the vast community surrounding Magic: the Gathering, custom MTG cards are nothing new. Proxies, for instance, are one of the most popular forms of custom cards available. Sporting unique artwork that often incorporates non-Magic IP, these cards can sometimes sell for upwards of $2000! Alongside these artistic wonders, plenty of MTG players take on the role of R&D to create their own cards. Sporting weird, wild, and often meme-y abilities, some of these player-made custom cards can be absolutely insane. Other cards, however, wouldn’t look out of place in an upcoming premier MTG set. Some cards, mysteriously, even manage to predict the coming months before Wizards of the Coast makes it a reality.
The Sword of Rage and Tranquility
Throughout Phyrexia: All Will Be One’s spoiler season, MTG players have witnessed all manner of Limited and Constructed bombs being revealed. This has pushed hype for the set to newfound levels, despite the plethora of leaks threatening to ruin the fun. Alongside mythic bombs such as Tyrranax Rex and Ichormoon Gauntlet, players were delighted to see the continuation of a cycle almost 20 years in the marking.
First debuting in Darksteel, the Sword of X and Y series is finally getting another card to almost complete the cycle. With the Sword of Forge and Frontier releasing in Phyrexia: All Will Be One, only one remains missing from this cycle. Hopefully, this Dimir-aligned sword will appear in March of the Machine, but that has not been confirmed yet.
Given how long this cycle of swords has been in development, MTG players have been doing a lot of speculating. On the r/CustomMagic Subreddit, some MTG players have even made their suggestions for the final two swords a reality. In the past few months alone, MTG players have created the Sword of Raise and Raze, the Sword of Freedom and Sacrifice, and the Sword of Heart and Soul. While these are all compelling suggestions for the Gruul sword, one r/CustomMagic user managed to guess correctly.
Displaying a frankly worryingly level of foresight, card creator ThatDamnPopsqueak created the Sword of Rage and Tranquility. While the name is unique, the abilities of this sword are incredibly familiar, identical to the Sword of Forge and Frontier. Five months ahead of schedule, even before the numerous leaks, ThatDamnPopsqueak prophesized this Phyrexia: All Will Be One card almost perfectly.
Sarkhan, Dragon Nerturer
While not every r/CustomMagic card is an apparent premonition of the future, plenty of submissions offer compelling ideas that could see print. Many cards, such as Corrupt Politician, utilize existing mechanics, while other cards, such as Pride’s Shadow, feature new mechanics. Across the r/CustomMagic this isn’t an uncommon practice. However, few new mechanics have caused a stir quite as much as Sarkhan, Dragon Nurturer.
“Command Over Dragons (Sarkhan, Dragon Nerturer can be your commander and if he is, your deck can include dragons and cards with basic land types regardless of color identity.)”
As you can imagine, removing the color constraints around a tribe in Commander, u/PyromasterAscendant’s creation caused quite a stir. Despite all the commotion, however, u/PyromasterAscendant attested that their creation was potentially a better way to balance tribal Commanders. While not every player was convinced of this, Command Over [X] would at least mitigate the desire for five-color commanders.
“It can be a problem when you want a card that can support cards from across many colors but you don’t want a five-color commander.Go-Shintai of Life’s Origin gives access to all five colors, but I thought it would be more interesting if it only gave access to shrines across all 5 colors. Then non-shrines would be more limited.
It’s important not to have one best commander for any archetype. I’m hoping that Command Over [X] would fulfill the idea of giving access to something while still limiting the other parts of the deck.”
While the current wording of the Command Over Dragons has some flaws, such as its clause for land, many players were enthralled by this card concept. Reddit user u/kauefr, for instance, lauded Sarkhan, Dragon Nurturer as one of the best cards on the subreddit. “This is why I follow this sub. Legit interesting mechanic, not a meme-y card that’s just funny to read but unplayable. These are so very rare.” Alongside this praise, several players suggested it’s only a matter of time before Wizards of the Coast prints something similar.
“Yeah, this looks very interesting. This commander isn’t a “5c” commander because it can’t abuse all those broken commander staples in other colors. But you can still haha big dragon go brrr.
Yeah, I think Wizards will print this in a few years.”
As tempting as this mechanic might be for Wizards to implement, they’re not really the ones in charge of Commander. Sure, Wizards still print all the cards, but the Commander Rules Committee decides their fate. Subsequently, it’s possible that, should a card like Sarkhan, Dragon Nurturer ever be printed, it could be swiftly banned. It’s not unheard of for the Commander Rules Committee to ban powerful cards before release, after all.
For better or worse, it’s highly unlikely that Sarkhan, Dragon Nurturer will actually see print. This is thanks to Mark Rosewater and the MTG Design Team not being allowed to see unsolicited card designs. Subsequently, they’re not allowed to go around pinching ideas, no matter how interesting, balanced, or comical they are. Technically, it is possible that Sarkhan, Dragon Nurturer has already been made, similar to the Sword of Rage and Tranquility. However, the chances of this happening are extremely low, so I certainly wouldn’t count on it.
Alongside this legal quirk, Wizards don’t appear too fond of five-color Commanders capable of doing everything. Corey Bowen, a Senior Game Designer at Wizards, explained this point following Urtet, Remnant of Memnarch being spoiled. Stating that “Commander philosophy, in general, has started to shy away from […] five-color commanders,” Urtet is a lucky exception to this rule. This is partly thanks to Urtet’s primary purpose of being a tribal commander.
“The card is so specific. You just want to play Myr in the deck. You’re not really playing five-color good stuff, you’re just playing a bunch of Mry and stuff. So there were a lot of factors where we thought that this was a pretty safe place to deploy that kind of shape and it really fit aesthetically with the rest of the creature type. [..] We are thinking about that kind of stuff, and we’re being really smart on where we deploy five-color stuff among our Commander design stuff.”