As a new site, we weren’t holding our breath when we asked Wizards for a preview of a Commander card. We have never done a preview card before, so we would have been happy with anything, even perhaps a card that is being reprinted. Imagine our surprise when they sent us this bad boy:
Just a quick discussion of the art before getting to the meat of Dread Cacodemon. Izzy has given us a demon that you just don’t mess with. The picture makes us think of HP Lovecraft, and Graveborn Muse’s future opponents will likely see it in his Cthulhu deck soon—it seems to have a real Dunwich Horror kind of vibe. We haven’t seen a satyr-like demon in some time; we wish that the creature type was Satyr Demon, but you just can’t have everything.
Dread Cacodemon (which we are already referring to as CocoDemon, since we’re cuckoo for it), is the next black card in a long line of black cards that destroy some particular group of creatures. The question becomes whether the CocoDemon is good enough to replace the Plague Wind/Reiver Demon/Decree of Pain that is already in your deck.
Let’s break this card down, bit by bit:
This isn’t a creature that you can recur, since the effect only works when you cast it from your hand, so paying ten mana is mandatory. On the bright side, only three of that ten mana is colored, so the color requirements are pretty minimal. Casting Sorin Markov or Ball Lightning on-curve in a three-color deck is a bit of a stretch, but once you get to ten mana you shouldn’t have any trouble casting CocoDemon. In fact, Seedborn Muse is running Sadistic Sacrament in his Sen Triplets deck and two Myojin in his Karona deck, so the BBB part of the cost should not be a limiting factor at all.
The actual limiting factor of the card is that it costs ten mana! Forget the colored mana requirement, ten mana on its own sounds pretty harsh. With this mana cost, you are forced to ask whether it is worth it to spend ten mana to kill all your opponents’ creatures, but not get to use yours to attack until the next turn. How much can your opponents recover in their next turns to make this card worth it? That will depend on your deck and the game state, but we believe the answer is usually “Yes, it’s totally worth it.”
Blood Speaker anyone? A small Demon subtheme in a Thraximundar deck can do sick things. I trust you can do a Gatherer search to find out Extractor Demon (ew), Malfegor (ew’er) or Prince of Thralls (ew’est) are just some of the Demons that would work with Dread Cacodemon.
We are also guessing that Dread Cacodemon is in the white/black/red “Heavenly Inferno” deck. In his Monday article on the mothership, Mark Purvis mentioned that this deck has an “Angels, Demons, and Dragons” theme. You can determine if CocoDemon combos with Tariel, Reckoner of Souls.
This is the phrase that keeps you honest. This is the phrase that says no graveyard recursion, no blinking, etc, to get the effect. This phrase says that if you want to destroy all of your opponents’ creatures, you are going to have to spend the mana to get the ability, just like the old guy who had to walk uphill both ways in 10 feet of snow for a mile just to get to school.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise though, since Reiver Demon has the same limitation.
This is where Dread Cacodemon shines in comparison to the other Wrath-style effects in black. Reiver Demon and Hellfire are nice but they have limiting factors. Neither takes out black creatures and the Reiver Demon doesn’t take out artifact creatures either. For this to be as good as Cocacola Demon, you have to be playing all black, or you can expect some of your creatures to be dying as well. On top of that, Reiver Demon is probably harder to cast in a three-color deck than the Coke Fiend.
Life’s Finale, Decree of Pain, and most famously, Damnation, destroy all the creatures in play. While this is handy, getting to keep your monstrous army and crashing in on defenseless players is the real benefit of the Dreaded Hot Cocoa Demon.[i]
Black Sun’s Zenith, Mutilate, various Pestilence effects, and Forced March are also good, but they’re better against smaller creatures. For every time that you get to use these cards to kill everyone else’s stuff and still keep a board presence of your own, there’s a time where you can’t make these effects big enough to kill the creature you really want to get. There is a time and a place for these cards, but again, you will usually lose some of your creatures as well, without guaranteeing you’ll kill everything you want to; what you really want is their creatures dead, and yours alive.
Plague Wind, Overwhelming Forces, and Rain of Daggers kill one or more opponent’s creatures and leave your creatures alive. Admittedly, it’s harder to take advantage of their empty board, like you can with Plague Wind, but for only one more B, Coocoodemon provides an 8/8 body. Also, D.C-demon does allow creatures to regenerate while Plague Wind just takes them out. You’ll have to look at your metagame to determine if that is important. It should be remembered that while Asceticism is popular, regenerating the entire team takes a LOT of mana.
Overwhelming Forces only kills off one opponent’s creatures which is a great way to take down the primary threat in your game, but it leaves other opponents with creatures, and that just isn’t any fun. Rain of Daggers is cheap and effective, but like Overwhelming Forces, it only hits one opponent. The bigger problem is that in a 4-player Commander game, by the time you can cast Rain of Daggers, there will likely be at least one guy playing tokens who has 10 1/1 tokens in play. Casting Rain of Daggers will practically kill you off. Here again Dread Cacodemon reigns supreme.
No!!! The whole point of leaving your creatures alive is to attack into all those players with no defenses! I can already hear you saying “for 10 mana, either my dudes should not tap, or Coco Puff should have haste.” Setting it up this way is essentially saying that 10 mana gets you a one-way wrath and a dude. If you have 10 mana, your opponents likely have 10 mana and will drop some creatures. You’ll be the target at that point, so you may only be able to attack with a few creatures.
This looks like a major problem. When looking at a problem like this, you have to start getting creative. Seedborn Muse effects work here (Quest for Renewal especially looks great). White has To Arms! and Reveille Squad), while red has combat-based variants on untapping such as Aggravated Assault. Although you might have to take Coco out of its original deck, Green gives you reasons to like tapped things such as Marshaling the Troops and Toil to Renown, and every color can use the untap effects from Shadowmoor.
Or maybe you don’t need to be all that creative. Vitalize certainly solves a large drawback and only costs a single green mana.
Regardless, this isn’t nearly as much of a drawback when you’ve DESTROYED THEIR WHOLE FIELD. An 8/8 can do some serious damage to the player who can’t recover quite fast enough. More importantly, there’s a tendency to look at a drawback like this and say “Oh, no, when I draw this I will have a huge army and be beating face with it, so CocoDemon will be a bad play.” However, that’s not so likely. Think about the most likely late-game scenarios where you might be able to play this card:
- Getting beaten down by, as it were, overwhelming forces—Cocoa will save your life and allow you to turn the tide next turn.
- You’re beating down with your huge army—then you should probably hold on toCocoaas an insurance policy, but you also have the option of swinging with most of your critters and then dropping him.
- The board has degenerated into a standoff—while a Plague Wind is better in this situation,Cocoa is one of the best cards in the entire game in this situation.
- Nobody has out more than one or two creatures—you can still make some profitable attacks and then seize control of the game by droppingCocoain your second main phase.
The bottom line is that Dread CocoDemon is expensive and would be more powerful if it didn’t tap your doodz, but if you have the mana available there is never a time where it is actually a bad draw or a bad play. Plus, unlike Plague Wind or Decree of Pain, Coco can be recurred with the likes of Oath of Ghouls, Oversold Cemetery, Haunted Crossroads or Phyrexian Reclamation.
Places this card can go
While this fine fellow already comes in a deck ready to play, I suspect most of us are already picturing our decks to determine where he would fit, or are imagining all new decks with Dread Cacodemon in it. Just like its destructive forebears, Cocois nifty in monoblack; that’s pretty obvious. But since it’s more splashable than Reiver Demon, where does that let it go other than its precon? Here are some of the best literal outside-the-box options:
Blue-Black: There might be just enough Lorwyn Merfolk that care about being tapped that you minimize the drawback. Sygg, River Cutthroat is a semipopular commander, and if you’re already building to work with Merfolk, adding the Demon as a board sweeper could make sense. Besides, in a deck full of 2/2s and 3/3s, isn’t it nice to have an 8/8 once in awhile? That could be said of a lot of blue-black Commander builds; it’s efficient to have your board sweeper and your fatty on the same creature, especially if you’re in the colors of card draw and tutors. Leyline of Anticipation makes the Demon 10 times nastier.
Black-Green: We’ve noted already the untapping options in green, but anybody who likes this combination is drawn to the recursive aspects of both colors. Recurring sweepers is one of the most powerful things in the format, and even if you have to cast it every time that’s okay. It’s not like green can’t find mana, and you might even be able to use this as a Tempting Wurm-style fake group hug with cards like Veteran Explorer and the newly spoiled Collective Voyage. Let the opponents bring out their best stuff faster…heh heh heh.
Blue-Black-Red: Thraximundar’s already attacked, so it’s fine to tap him on the second main phase. Besides, you get maximum value from the Ogre-Demon tutor package mentioned earlier.
Black-Red-Green: Like black-green but with even more destruction, allowing you to be more selective about Cacophony’s drawback. Kresh the Bloodbraided becomes a one-shot kill after you’ve served some Hot Cocoa, and there are still plenty of ways to untap for an attack on the same turn.
We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments! Dread Cacodemon, devastating a table near you!
Graveborn Muse, @the_casual_guy
Seedborn Muse, @earthdyedred
Windborn Muse, @manaburned