Now new and improved with (hopefully) 100% fewer silly mistakes, my top ten commander list is back with Dragon's Maze to make your day 110% more exciting.
10. Zhur-Taa Ancient
While he does come with his risks, Zhur-Taa Ancient is a sizeable body for only 5 mana. Seven power is nothing to sneeze at, allowing him to command some decent board presence. However, the real reason this old guy with the huge neck makes it on the list is his mana doubling ability. At first glance, doubling everyone's mana at the table might seem like it is putting you at a massive disadvantage since all of your opponents get access to double the mana before you do. Yet, they will not necessarily be using all of that mana to go after you, especially if there is someone more powerful at the table and in the right position it can be an excellent way to boost certain players at the table to accelerate their board presence or pull off a massive fireball to catch up with a player who is running away with the game. Also, since he is only 5 mana, later in the game, you could easily be able to play him and some other meaningful spells within the same turn. In fact, if you build your deck correctly, you should be able to take advantage of his effect better than anyone else at the table because you are playing mana ramp and/or awesome X spells like genesis wave. His biggest downside that stops him from being higher on the list is the Hunted Wumpus effect (where someone just drops a nekrataal to kill it when his enter the battlefield ability triggers) since one of your opponents could play some huge creature and then have mana left over to throw a STP at the ancient.
9. Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
At number 9, Gruul slams in there with another explosively game-changing, if awkward beater in Ruric Thar. Ruric has a potent combination of abilities with vigilance, reach and most importantly dealing 6 damage to a player whenever they cast a noncreature spell. The last ability will vary greatly in power; it will completely hose some decks and do almost nothing against creature heavy decks. It's hard to believe that any player who will be messed up by this card will not want to kill it as soon as possible taking six damage in the process to avoid much more later. However, it is a great way to give an aggressive deck more reach, since it punishes your enemies for clearing the board or countering your kill spells to stay alive and they are in real trouble if they are at 6 or less life. Yet, despite its aggressive pedigree, it still serves as an excellent blocker, killing or trading with all but the most massive fliers in commander. His biggest downside is the fact that he has to attack every turn. Sure, the vigilance helps mitigate some of this downside, but the truth is that sometimes the board will be so clogged where anyone he attacks will kill him and that is just terrible to lose an impressive creature for no reason. I guess Wizards wanted to emphasize the recklessness of Gruul this time around with these two.
8. Progenitor Mimic
Like all clone effects, Progenitor Mimic takes a big hit in commander from the new legendary rules changes. Not being able to take out any commander despite hexproof or other shenanigans, makes clones much less flexible. However, repeatedly copying the best nonlegendary creature (even if it has hexproof on the board is an ability that can carry the game away post haste. Imagine the mimic copying Terrastodon or Simic Sky Swallower every turn. The mimics biggest downside is it needs time to start working. If somebody wraths or if you are under a lot of pressure, it is not the best creature to be playing, but in games where you can get him to stick around for multiple turns in a row gaining you massive board presence or card advantage in the process, there are few better creatures.
7. Melek, Izzet Paragon
Melek is a fun, build-around general unlike any of the other Izzet generals in that he isn't overpowered and annoying like Jhoira of the Ghitu, screaming for infinite combos like Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind or absurdly underpowered like Tibor and Lumia. Playing with all the most powerful instants and sorceries and finally having a general that supports those cool instant/sorcery cards like Sphinx-Bone Wand seems like a blast and a deck that would play differently that your average commander deck. Melek is one of those rare cards that feels like he hits a home run for both Timmy and Johnny and I'd expect to see a lot of him at kitchen tables for years to come.
6. Tajic, Blade of the Legion
From the piddliest of 0/1 to overcosted 3/3s, any creature that has indestructability has to be on your radar for commander playability. Darksteel Gargoyle is a French vanilla creature that costs 3 more mana than he would without indestructability but he is still a servicable addition to commander decks. So when I saw a legendary indestructable rare with an explosive ability in the same vein as Konda but much cheaper, I wet pants a little bit. Sure if you are unable to get batallion to trigger he is little better than the likes of Darksteel Gargoyle (although any general that is hard to kill deserves consideration in voltron strategies), but unblocked his batallion ability makes him a three turn clock. Cramming your deck full of the best voltron equipment, holy mantle effects and evasive utility creatures and beaters to trigger batallion (hello Soltari Guerillas) will make a fun aggressive deck. Sure, you have to jump through a few hoops to make him as effective as possible, but having built in protection makes your strategy much more resilient to much of the removal played in commander.
Check back soon for the top 5.