It's very difficult to talk about triple warpath and not about karani. Even more so when you talk about a command setup. Fine, then, forget about Karani for a minute. Other command options include:
- Aleta caretaker. Healer/support kind of commander. Doesn't do much at all for combat, except to be dropped as a desperation (?) defender, which she's actually not bad at. Except when it's that stage, she can trade what, 2 for 1?
- Aleta Survivor. I had hopes for this card when she came out, but I don't think she's caught on much. Her restriction to 4 cost or less is tough, in my opinion, just because I feel warpath's most critical card at the moment is Pack Leader, which is 5 costed. If you have untapped wilderness out, well and good, you can pull Pack Leaders and now if you want, Shamba and get the most out of your beasts.
- Matriarch. She might have a little potential with cycling hasted blockers back and forth between the defense and support zone, but I really won't be able to tell how well this would work. An added weakness is the potency of early game drops such as GI's early 10/10+ that can 1 shot your blockers, or Kali who can just burn them away.
- Pack Leader. A 5 cost that (usually) needs to be on the battlefield to actually do something. Probably one of the best field buffers in any faction.
Actually, I'm going to stop here and go off on a tangent, because something occured to me while thinking about Pack Leader. The thing about pure warpath is that they're supposed to be the best at two things: heavy ramp, and lots of huge beasts.
Now here's one issue I see: overdependance on key cards. You-know-who was probably the pinnacle of resource acceleration for triple warpath, but enough has been said about her. I'm actually going to talk about pack leader now.
Warpath characters are, either with above average stats, or with haste. The naturally high stat characters e.g. Tusked Behemotn are generally slow and predictable. In a game with simultaneous turns and plenty of targeted control, whether hard (death ray) or soft (stumble), relying on these guys won't do at all.
What about the hasted guys? They might not pack the raw power of their lumbering counterparts, but they do get out with much more of a surprise, and to compensate, have slightly reduced stats. On their own, hasted characters are more likely to block without being vulnerable to removal, but are unable to trade as efficiently compared to larger characters. For example, both One of Many and Killaroo can trade evenly with 3 aspirants, but One of Many can trade with Kali while Killaroo cannot.
Pack Leaders are a major factor in increasing the potency of the hasted characters. Instead of for example a 4/5 swift hunter, you're looking at a 7/8. Unfortunately, that means that a. future cards have to be designed with pack leader in mind and b. their effectiveness is dependant on pack leader in the first place.
Seriously, I'm interested to see just how many options 2 purity warpath has without pack leader. Hunted dragon is the major contender, but to be fair it comes with its own set of problems. Any others? Or has pack leader been an auto include?
My take on faction design is this: if a faction is meant to be good in a certain aspect, simply giving them the single best card in that aspect isn't enough, they should be able to approach that aspect from a variety of angles. Resource ramp/management has been approached from a variety of angles, some with more potency than others, some tweaks from that angle wouldn't go amiss though.
For the strong creature aspect, things can get a little tricky. Haste in particular makes things weird unless you heavily skew the stats towards defensive capability, otherwise you end up with another problem, namely that they become fantastic attackers as well, but with the flexibility to block.
One possible solution would be to make a mini pack leader, similar in concept to plaguebearer. Plaguebearer is cheap, which helps in timing, and provides a good buff to the whole field. Giving warpath a card like this would help a lot in leveraging the power of hasted characters and getting a better field setup in the early game. Right now, it feels like warpath has to make a tough decision of ramping and getting whacked (or missing opportunities to put pressure) or to throw out small guys early and get whacked a little later.
I think hermit's worth bringing up here, too. Why does a hermit deck do fine where a regular heavy ramp warpath suffers? Verore purity aside, Hermit is an engine that keeps making your field better and better by the turn. Pure warpath does not have this option. If it wants to take advantage of the tools given to it, it has to ramp and then hope that the increased resources can make up for the disadvantaged.