Commander Staples – Assemble the Legion

Hello Commander players, far and wide! Today I’m covering a card that marches in wearing a blue collar. Not literally, but it has a lunchbox mentality that it does better than most. And who benefits more from a tasty lunchbox than an army of soldiers, just itching to get into the swing of things! Whether it’s a lynchpin of your strategy, or your ultimate plan B, get ready for a Staple that gets the job done!

Assemble the Legion is what’s called an ‘Army-in-a-Can’ card. That means you can plop it down and out will come a fighting force for you. Being Magic, these fighting forces are almost always tokens. The archetype itself is a Magic Staple, and has dozens and dozens of cards that fit the bill. Armies in Cans do generally require the can to be a permanent, and so I’m excluding things like sorceries and instants, although an instant with a reasonable buyback cost, or other way to cast it repeatedly might be can-worthy.

Most Army-in-a-Can cards tend to be one of two kinds: dorks now, or dorks once per turn. A card like Myr Battlesphere is a good example of a ‘dorks now’ Army-in-a-Can card. It makes 4 Myr tokens when it enters the battlefield.

Obviously, getting 4 dorks all at once is a great thing, and better if you can blink or recur the Can somehow. But if all your dorks are easily wiped away by your friends’ sweeper spells, for example, you might have been better off playing a card like Tezzeret, Artifice Master, and generating 4 thopters over 4 turns from a source that is harder to wipe away.

Context is everything, however, and neither type of Canned Army is inherently better than the other. You can absolutely play a deck that is full of Army-in-a-Can cards, and exploit the synergy between them. In fact, I highly recommend it. And if you do, Assemble the Legion should be at the top of your list, providing you can cast it. Why? Let’s start with the can!

Assemble the Legion is an enchantment, which is among the most difficult permanent types to remove. Some entire colours have few answers to them at all. Cards like Jokulhaups can even wreck the board and leave it untouched to muster like crazy.

And while the Can is the type that broadly fits into the ‘dorks once per turn’ box, the muster counters can and will add up quickly, making it much, much more than that. And that’s without help from effects like proliferate, or even sympathizers like Maulfist Revolutionary. Not Boros, but definitely up for more soldier tokens.

Making plenty of soldiers with Assemble the Legion is easy. So easy that when left alone, the card will take over most games given enough turns. Which makes it an excellent stand-alone card to throw into any deck that might fizzle. Red and White (Boros) decks are famous for this. It would be a Staple if the dorks it made were generic 1/1s with no type or abilities.

But the true Staples of Commander go one or two steps further. They find notes of synergy and tiny advantages. The tokens produced here are soldiers, which is a relevant creature type, and also not humans, which may dodge a touch of hate for a very popular tribe. In addition, they are two colours, which has all sorts of synergistic potential, and to put the cherry on top of the hardworking Boros mage’s sundae, they have haste. All of this together is an insane package of value. I’m not even getting into chump blockers, sacrifice outlets, anthems, and all the other things tokens are good for in Magic.

There are reasons not to play Assemble the Legion, and they can be applied to other Army-in-a-Can cards, too. Chief among them is velocity. These cards can be slow, and often have a high CMC to compensate for their strong, longer term value. When they don’t impact the board immediately, and make you wait until upkeep for your dork, they give your opponents a window of response that might disassemble your legion before they can get out of the break room. They’re also high-visibility targets, especially the ones that produce tokens in volume, or too frequently to ignore. Planeswalkers can be attacked directly as well, and are often big targets anyway. That being said, give these cards a couple of turns and hindsight will make them look like a bargain in a lot of games.

Speaking of bargains, Assemble the Legion is in Mystery Boosters, and that means a price drop. It wasn’t really that expensive to begin with, and copies are now easily had at a dollar or less. Foils are going to be more, as Commander Staple foils often are, and may not be reprinted for a while. Since the primary demand for this card is from casual players, mostly playing Commander, it’s likely any reprint will be in a Commander precon. Translation: no foils. This year could shake that up, considering the Commander-heavy release schedule, and it might appear in the Draft Commander set.

In summation, Assemble the Legion is quite likely the best of an archetype called ‘Army-in-a-Can’ cards. These cards usually produce tokens, and can take over a game by themselves. Assemble the Legion stands out with unique and exploitable mechanics, and an amazing array of synergy. Hasty tokens push it right over the top! Although you can just throw it in any deck that can cast it as a difficult-to-remove hedge against fizzle. Sometimes it just might go the distance for you. What more can you ask of hardworking, humble Staple? Thanks for reading!

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