What am I doing with my life?
What are you doing with your life? No, I'm not looking for you to answer any existential issues, I'm talking about life totals! In Commander, we start with 40 life. Let's take a look at what we can do with it besides just watch it tick down as our opponents try and pummel us into oblivion.
The inspiration for this article comes entirely from Aetherflux Reservoir. Man, what a card! I can't think of a better way to spend 50 life! To steal a phrase from a player in my meta, "Boom, you're dead!" But, to be fair, he's been using that phrase for a long time for any card that can kill outside of combat. To him, a Shock is a Boom, You're Dead, but this Reservoir takes it to a whole new level!
I was hoping to find a couple interesting cards that let you spend life as a resource in each colour, but Green and Blue come up pretty short. These two only let you pay life as a part of a flashback cost, and I'm pretty sure they're only in here because there was a whole cycle based around that flashback payment. Green and Blue, you just stick to drawing cards and ramping up. We were hoping to do something a little flashier anyway!
I recognize that you're not getting the best return on investment on your life paid into this dragon, but the hope here is that you've got enough of an attack that you can pay life into Moltensteel Dragon to fill in the damage gap. The appetizer, if you will, for the main course of a face pounding! Today's catch is a bunch of dragons! And for dessert, a handshake and a "gg".
White is the primary lifegain colour, so it should certainly get a few ways to spend that life, right? Well, here's two that I've never encountered before but seem pretty great. Maybe worth putting into a few decks! Righteous Aura is fantastic tech against anyone in your meta who plays infect or likes to fling near-infinitely sized fireballs! As for Inner Sanctum, It's certainly a powerful effect, but just make sure your deck is suited to run it! That cumulative upkeep will add up pretty quickly!
And last but not least, we have black cards that let you pay life! It makes sense that this ability is found in more black than in any other because it's kind of black's thing. If you've got a way to earn a little extra life here and there, Killing Wave could turn into a (mostly) one-sided wrath. Those are the best wraths! Unspeakable symbol is no Moltensteel Dragon, but it can sneak in a win if your opponent isn't paying enough attention to their life totals! Moonlight Bargain can help us get to those cards. A draw five spell seems awesome ordinarily, but in a black deck, it's a very good way to spend a little life! Who knew black had a draw five spell?
I've saved the best way to pay life in black for last! Kuro, Pitlord has it all! There's no tapping, so you can start to spend that life the moment this demon hits the battlefield. And it's a pretty cheap rate too! Another (maybe) one-sided wrath! The upkeep cost is real, but even if you just cast this demon to turn your life into death rays and then let it go to the graveyard, it's a pretty good deal!
So, it should come as no surprise that the best colour to spend life is Black. I'd say the next best colours at using life as a resource would be White and Red. So instead of building up that lifegain deck and trying to sneak in a Felidar Sovereign on an end step, spend that extra life on something more interesting! Unless you're in Blue, in which case you'll have to settle for boring old Force of Will.