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Chromanticore – A Magic the Gathering Card Review

For the first time since 2009, Born of the Gods introduced a new five-color card into Magic the Gathering, Chromanticore. Unfortunately, it’s not a Legendary Creature. However, every one immediately talked about how this Chromanticore could be a pretty sweet Commander, especially considering that it has Bestow on it! How interesting would it be to Bestow this from the Command Zone? To this day, many still wonder about it, myself included. But, I’m sure that the Wizards of the Coast design team had their reasons.

Anyhow, Chromanticore is a 4/4 creature with flying, first strike, vigilance, trample, and lifelink. If you Bestow it, which costs 2WUBRG (2 colorless, White, Blue, Black, Red, Green), the enchanted creature gains +4/+4 and all of those abilities. So, on its own or as an Equipment, it’s very powerful. If you manage to get all five colors of mana available to you, it’s going to be a solid finisher. Then, because it’s a Bestow creature, if the enchanted creatures dies or is otherwise removed from the battlefield, Chromanticore remains on the field.

In Standard, it’s understandable that Chromanticore didn’t do very much. Being a five-color card in an environment where many decks were three colors – perhaps splashing a fourth – didn’t really let this card shine. There are ways to sneak it out in Modern and other formats. But, there are such juicier targets to consider in eternal formats that why would you bother?

Although Chromanticore is not a Legendary Creature, some players decided to use it as an unofficial Commander. (EDHREC once had a page tracking these unofficial Commander decks, but has since removed that page.) Decks built around the chromatic Manticore have focused on running almost exclusively Enchantment Creatures and other powerful Enchantments. 

Many friendly playgroups already allow Chromanticore as a Commander, since he’s not overpowered. These decks are built purely for flavor, but they look fun. Still, if you’re taking the deck to an unfamiliar playgroup, be sure to have a backup Commander on hand, such as Horde of Notions.

Officially, Chromanticore sees a fair amount of play for a five-color card in Commander. Recently as 2022, Chromanticore saw the most play in Cromat decks, which makes a heck of a lot of sense, making the already versatile Commander much deadlier. Ramos, Dragon Engine particularly loves Chromanticore, because having a five-color casting cost means you get to put five +1/+1 counters on Ramos. In exchange, you can remove those counters to get twice the mana investment of Chromanticore! The synergy is just too obvious.

By 2024, the commander who uses the five color Bestow creature the most is actually a Planeswalker: Jared Carthalion. Being all five colors, Chromanticore is a perfect target for Jared’s minus six loyalty ability to return a multicolored card from your graveyard to your hand. You additionally get to draw a card and create two Treasure tokens.

Another fringe, but interesting Commander making use of Chromanticore is Jegantha, the Wellspring. While most often utilized as a Companion, Jegantha itself can be a fun offbeat five-color Commander. Since Jegantha taps to add one each of all five colors of mana, it’s a free way to cast Chromanticore. Karona, False God and O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami decks also sometimes utilize the Chromanticore’s talents sometimes, while the manticore has mere cameos in other five-color decks.

At one time, the Commander who used the Bestow creature the most was actually Progenitus, which is odd since you can’t attach anything to something with Protection From Everything. Of course, there are other creatures in the deck you can attach it to. Also, Chromanticore is pretty fun in Child of Alara Commander decks. Attaching the Manticore to it makes for a 10/10 with flying, first strike, vigilance, and lifelink, as the Child already has trample. 

Honestly, it’s a bit strange that Chromanticore wasn’t made a Legendary Creature in the first place. The flavor is there. Also, who realistically can play multiple copies on the board at once? You can see why this is an unofficial Commander for some people. It’s a casual favorite, for sure. It’s a well designed, powerful mythic rare that could have been quite a Commander (officially) if they’d just made it Legendary.

Sure, 5-color Bestow never became a thing in Standard or Modern… But, you never know when they’ll revisit the mechanic in the future!

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Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy. Personal Website: https://www.thephoenixdesertsong.com

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