Hey magic people! It’s Commander Legends Eve, as tomorrow, we’ll be getting some prerelease kits for the new set. It’s weird to have prerelease kits for a Commander set, but every set these days is a unique and beautiful snowflake, or something. There is no actual prerelease event, for obvious reasons, but we’ll be playing various pack opening games with the new cards.
So today, I’m going to sneak in a review of most of the new cards. I’m going to do it bite-sized chunk by rarity, leaving the Partner Commanders and the reprints to last. Evaluating the Partners is going to be tricky, as they’re basically all good. My approach to the set is to get a copy of every Partner Commander I can anyway, and I’d encourage Commander enthusiasts to do the same. I’m looking to do a Commander-style Battlebox, rather than try and wrap my head around any specific Partner decks. At least for now. Holy blank canvas, batman. On to the cards!
Hey Jeweled Lotus, you’re the elephant in the room. At base, what this card does is enable busted starts. Whether it’s turn 1 Purphoros, God of the Forge with a Mountain or turn 2 Nekusar, the Mind-Razer off any 2 BRU basics plus the Lotus, some of the most obnoxious Commanders ever are poised to come down long before they can be properly dealt with. Maybe it’s Yawgmoth, Thran Physician or Maralen of the Mornsong with a Swamp[c/], followed up by [c]Nest of Scarabs or new card Opposition Agent. Lots of ways to also get 3 mana on turn 2. Lots of tutors available to make it all happen.
Why stop there? K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth plus a land plus some life plus the Lotus is a turn 1 skull factory that can win the game on the spot with the right cards. Many Commander metas even offer an additional free mulligan, so the combo players can find their pieces and win before the casuals finish shuffling. Of course, casual players can all run the most efficient, powerful countermagic and removal out there, on the off chance they can get it off in time. Better make Force of Will, Force of Negation and Force of Vigor into format essentials. Not running Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares or even Thoughtseize might not be optional. Is Anguished Unmaking good enough? It’s a whopping 3 mana. Make sure you invest in full sets of Fetches and OG Duals, because Shocks might be too much life to pay. Magic players break cards like Jeweled Lotus. It might not even be the start, but the finish. Maybe with Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Cloud Key and Altar of the Brood.
I think Jeweled Lotus is unhealthy. I think it’s bad for Magic. I think it further weakens the credibility of Magic’s R&D versus Hasbro’s bottom line, and raises more awkward questions about who exactly the Official Commander RC is standing for these days, and how hard they lean on rule 0. But the cat is out of the box, and this thing will be available to buy tomorrow. Maybe I’ll open one. Maybe you will. I hope it’s not a problem for you, or ruin yours or your friends’ good times. I hope it doesn’t give you FOMO, and I REALLY REALLY REALLY hope it’s not the precursor to a Secret Lair drop of a Commander Mox cycle. Black-bordered, and only available for a limited time. I shudder to think.
Commander’s Plate is more of what I like on my plate. I like fragile Commanders, with some hilarious jank ability attached to a 1/1 Wizard body. But those creatures dies easily, and need things like Lightning Greaves or Darksteel Plate to keep the heat off. This new piece is a pretty good addition to the armory. Yes, it’s downright nasty with colourless creatures, like Kozilek, the Great Distortion, but it should be a fair card overall. I have a deck starring the Eldrazi Titan that would love this. The CMC is awesome, but the equip cost is fair, and even a little much. I’d love one of these.
Phyrexian Triniform might actually be part of a cycle: mythic 9-drops that will cause cEDH players to roll their eyes, especially when they’re the mythic slot in yet another booster, and not some Lotus or Mana Drain. This is pretty derpy fun. You can cheat it into play and get some Golem tokens when it dies, and then scrape and claw your way to 12 mana, and then Encore Bonanza!! Encore is crazy. It seems like fun, but the 12 mana requirement here seems a little far-fetched considering the effect will probably not win the game. The Kozilek deck linked above can make the mana to hardcast and/or Encore this thing, and maybe some 60 card Cloudpost wants this, but it’s going to be a bit of a reach for most decks.
Mnemonic Deluge is another eye-roller. Of course this looks great when you play it as part of some Time Stretch Temporal Mastery chain that causes a mass scoop from your opponents, but it’s hard to imagine this not being a huge win-more. The big CMC might be fun in a Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow deck.
See the Yuriko comment above for Profane Transfusion. The art looks like it’s from the Prometheus movie. The effect is another weird one. This definitely won’t win the game. Honestly, I don’t know where you’d play something like this, unless you’re using the CMC, maybe with Baleful Omen. I’m reaching. Next.
Reshape the Earth should win green decks the game, because Landfall is crazy powerful. This plus Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove is a great start, or maybe all you need is Avenger of Zendikar. Why not get all the Guildgates at once with Maze’s End in play? However, green has been gifted such a wealth of such cards that this one seems like another overcosted win-more. Traverse the Outlands, Scapeshift and even something like Harvest Season can get the same job done without much additional work. I can imagine a lot of decks casting this and finding they don’t have 10 lands left in the deck. Oops, all spells?
Soulfire Eruption is a bunch of question marks. While it does many things, including dealing damage and sort-of drawing cards for an open-ended amount of targets, those things are not so synergistic and don’t necessarily amount to much more than a medium sized Earthquake. Yes you can play cards from exile until the end of your next turn, but unless that pile is of good balance, a good chunk is likely to remain in exile. If you have a good balance of land and castables, it means you probably didn’t do much impact damage with the spell. If you’re an Il-Harg, the Raze-Boar or Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded concept stuffed with Eldrazi, hey maybe.
Triumphant Reckoning is certainly high-impact if it connects with a graveyard full of powerful artifacts, enchantments and planeswalkers, but, like white cards do, it has to find you at a disadvantage to work best. Of course you can find a way to dump your library into your yard and somehow find the 9 mana to cast this and hope whatever comes back wins you the game. Hermit Druid? I’m sure there’s a specific plan where this is a big wheel, and this might be a real gas as a top-end card for white in Cubes and Battleboxes, but like all the 9-CMC Mythics, I’m not excited. I really hope I don’t open ANY of these.
Archon of Coronation is okay. Darien, King of Kjeldor wants this immediately, even though the CMCs clash a bit. There’s nothing wrong with the effect, and a 5/5 flying body that can definitely be blinked, but I’d rather have the Monarch on a cheaper body regardless of the effect, like on Palace Jailer. Not bad, not amazing. Better than Protector of the Crown, but pretty underwhelming for a Mythic, however.
Speaking of underwhelming Mythics, Seraphic Greatsword is right up there. Cool CMC, but rather limiting considering colour identity. The equip cost is too much, and may make this barely playable. I don’t think it’s worth the effect, and the angel token is conditional anyway. A lot of white decks want the player with the most life to be themselves. All sorts of eye-rolling here.
From underwhelming to eye-popping. Sphinx of the Second Sun pops my eyes. It seems like it’s tailor-made for extra combat steps. Can we do that? Aggravated Assault until the game ends? This is a silver-bordered card, right? And it can be cheated into play, and the ability is going to happen that turn. There’s some interest in this from Legacy decks that play Oath of Druids. Watch out for this. I have a mental list of cards that demand immediate answers and this is looking like a lock for it.
Hellkite Courser is another scary card, because the Commander you own is probably The Ur-Dragon. This reminds me of what Geode Golem was trying to do, but I think this gets there. Good body, evasion, good tribe, hot ability: this is the kind of Mythic that should be exciting to open. Your friends may hate it because it might be a little too strong, and having the trigger on ETB is a bit excessive, but at least it’s not green. Counter this.
Port Razer is pretty fun-looking. Orcs are fun, and Pirates are fun, and combat is fun. He’s a smallish, evasion-less body that has to connect, which can be tricky, and will definitely hold this guy back, but he’s a lock for the kind of fun Pirate that should be in most Admiral Beckett Brass decks. I think this would make more sense as a rare, but I would be fine opening it. I’d be just as fine buying it for a dollar or two when it falls to bulk.
How much fun is Apex Devastator? Well, a lot of people will have a feel-bad moment trying to cheat this into play, and then realizing that Cascade is a cast-trigger, not an ETB trigger. However: LOL. This is hilarious and is great casual fun. 10 mana for 5 spells is pretty great, though watch out for a delightful quartet for rocks/dorks/ramp. We’re at a great place to build ‘Cascade tribal’ with Maelstrom Wanderer at the helm. If I open one of these, I’ll totally build that deck. In the meantime, this is something that would be an absolute slam dunk in Battleboxes. Mine goes to 10 lands, so this would be the quintessential 10 mana play. Love it. Hope it falls to bulk, but doubtful based on casual interest.
Precon Commander Wyleth, Soul of Steel is actually pretty great. Think Lightning Greaves on turn 2, into this guy turn 3 with a good source of card advantage online so long as there aren’t a ton of dangerous blockers. Good types and trample are nice additions. This would be super hot in my Akiri Speedrun deck. Wyleth won’t break the world, but this is a solid build-around that would also make a lot of 99s. I have almost all of the precon already, but I’ll try and grab a copy of this guy for sure.
Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait is yet another powerful Landfall creature to throw on the pile. Additional lands and additional cards on your turn are totally fine, right Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath? This will probably make a lot of decks, and form a lot of decks, and be both redundant and interchangeable with Tatyova, Benthic Druid. What I hope is that this enables some Sea Monster builds. Make this deck about Serpents and Octopuses and Leviathans and such. Don’t just default into Landfall.
Here ends part 1! Watch out for the rest as they roll out! Part 2 is here. Thanks for reading. Your life matters! Black Lives Matter!