Hey shufflers and dealers! It’s time for more Commander Legends reviews. This time, the Mythic and Rare Partners are gonna get a look. Want to see the rest of the reviews? Check out my review roundup here. Enough intro!
Previous Akromas have been known for their keyword soup. Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Akroma, Angel of Fury were some of the fiercest and wordiest legends in the early years of Magic. Even after her death, Akroma’s Memorial keeps serving that soup. I don’t know if Akroma, Vision of Ixidor is a call back to when she was alive, or if she’s been resurrected somehow, but she’s here for more keyword fun. There are a few things that need pointing out with this card. First, 7CMC is a lot for a Commander. That’s more of a finisher than enabler, but this card does fit that role. You will need some big mana for the deck, which could mean playing a green partner. What’s not really so obvious with a glance at the text box is that Akroma only adds a bunch of +x/+x to your creatures, not any abilities. She rewards abilities already on the creature. She is not Odric, Lunarch Marshal who is likely going to be played with her often. Don’t get me wrong, buffing the team by some +x/+x is good, it’s just incomplete when it comes to an alpha strike. You want every creature to be similarly evasive, like trampling, flying or unblockable, not a motley bunch of maybes with big numbers. Every creature that’s stopped by a 1/1 chump is a fail for a card like this. You can mitigate by having lots of evasives in the deck, and while this isn’t Craterhoof Behemoth it’s every combat, not just the initial one. Ultimately I think this gets a fail from me. It’s too expensive, is missing haste, and wants Odric so bad I’d rather just play that guy. If it’s good, it’s probably dead quick, and then it’s a painful 9 to bring back. No thanks.
I wanted to like Sakashima’s Protege, another new card, but was stopped cold by a weird limitation in the text box. The entire card was undermined by the fact that it could only copy permanents that entered the battlefield this turn. Well, I’m sorry to say that Sakashima of a Thousand Faces suffers the same fate. But for two words in the text box, this would be an all-star. Two words. Can you guess? This time, it’s ‘you control.’ As in you can only copy your stuff with this. How limiting is that? I guess that’s between you and your opponents, but the biggest fail for this is having to play it when you have no other creatures and your opponents have big juicy ones. Of course you can leverage this to copy nasty stuff of your own, and even make use of the ‘legend rule’ shutdown, but every time it comes down and can’t copy the best thing out there, it’s going to feel bad. As far as the other ability, is Mirror Gallery played much, and would it be if it was in the Command Zone? Not sure. I’ve had Helm of the Host for a while now, and I’ve mostly just struggled with the equip cost. There’s probably some combo in there somewhere, involving Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker no doubt. I’m wracking my brains to come up with a really fair but nasty scenario where copying Legendaries is worth the trouble, and the only idea I have is Theros gods. Keranos, God of Storms would be fun in multiples, for sure. As a 99 card, this probably has some play, but it is so not Clever Impersonator. The best things about it might be the types, as both humans and rogues are creature-heavy tribes with the kind of creatures you might want to copy. I don’t hate this, but I’m not crazy about it either.
I liked Planeswalkers when I returned to Magic a few years ago, but since have soured on them. I could, and might, write a whole column on how I feel the math of Planeswalkers is unhealthy for Magic on multiple levels, but suffice it to say that I’m anti-PW in general. I hate these new Partner PWs. Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools, or ‘Szat So,’ isn’t super cheap to cast, but black can push it out in a number of ways if necessary. Making tokens is great, because only a billion magic cards jive with tokens. Making two is better than one, and the black thrull type is moderately useful. The +2 aspect is annoying, because this can go up fast. Planeswalkers without minus abilities have an edge, for sure. The sacrifice ability seems easy to break. If you’re not stuffed with token thrulls, something like Ophiomancer is an easy source, and you can always partner with a token generator or even Rogakh of Kher Keep for a one-time free draw 3, and then a 2CMC draw 3. Both terrific rates. In that case, you can be mono black if you want. And then of course taking all the Commanders, including from the zone should win you the game. I could see this with a green partner and all kinds of proliferate and tokens. I don’t want to, and hope I don’t ever. Hopefully this is the only PW in the set….
Oh no, another one!! I’m assuming this is spark’d Jeska, Warrior Adept, probably reborn. I feel initially like the entry conditions are pretty limiting. Casting Commanders over and over to the point where you’d get a sexy number isn’t that common. And what’s that number? 4? 6? 3 or even less might be enough if you stuff your deck with cards like Furnace of Rath and Fiery Emancipation. But that might not even matter. I mean, Jeska, Thrice Reborn could be the ultimate Russell Westbrook card, because it’s all triples and doubles. That first ability wants a double striker, and with both the Furnace and the Emancipation burning up the court, it’s a tripled double strike, tripled and doubled. Mmmm. Are we all dead yet? Russ always plays on the Court of Ire. Pairing Jeska with Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker will give you pillowfort colours and a big airborn threat to bring death from above with. Both it and Jeska here can proliferate in the fort. I know someone who I think will adjust their Ishai and Akiri, Line-Slinger deck to be Jeska instead, which is both cool and terrifying. This could be very, very good.
What the hell, Kamahl, Heart of Krosa?! 8 mana for you? I don’t care how you can cast Elemental Uprising whenever you want, or how you’re secretly Force of Nature, you’re just too expensive. The major reason is that unless the Kamahl player gets to combat, there is a window for everyone else to kill Kamahl, amounting to an 8 mana fizzle, or a 10 mana bad Elemental Uprising. I’ve seen how easy it is for even mono green decks to have a reliable Decimator of the Provinces, Craterhoof Behemoth or End-Raze Forerunners on turns 4-7, and while it’s nice to not have to tutor for that guy and to have another colour, I feel like it’s easy enough already to do what Kamahl does with something like Ezuri, Renegade Leader. You can open up Kamahl tribal with a red Partner and run Kamahl, Fist of Krosa and Kamahl, Pit Fighter in the 99, but that seems pretty janky, even for me. Pass.
You’re a bear, Livio. Unlike many white bears, Livio, Oathsworn Sentinel does not hate. ‘May’ exile? Most opponents won’t take that deal unless it’s a favour to save their guy from something else with the promise to bring it back later. This exile is mostly for you. If you can untap with Livio, or give him haste, this is a really interesting pseudo-blink mechanic. It bears mentioning that access to the exiled cards does not change if Livio has been recast. As long as Livio is in the Command Zone, aegis cards are never truly gone. The aegis counters also only ever exist in exile, and don’t follow the creature back into play for any shenanigans. While this is certainly powerful, and compares pretty favourably to Roon of the Hidden Realm mashed up with Safe Haven, it’s very mana-intensive and will eat a lot of removal. Terrific CMC, though. Obviously this does well with ETB cards, and is great with all sorts of random abilities like Revolt. A green Partner opens up cards like Aid from the Cowl and Renegade Rallier for example. This could be really good.
Some cards resolve, and that player just goes into overdrive. Consecrated Sphinx is the first thing I think of when I think of somebody about to draw most of their deck. Until maybe now. For a fairly reasonable 6 mana, Eligeth, Crossroads Augur might be that kind of draw engine, and the reason poor Mahamoti Djinn is retired. Consecrated Sphinx really needs no help, but Eligeth can live in the Command Zone and have the deck built just for them. There’s plenty of good scry that’s good enough to play already, but what about Mystic Speculation, Thassa, God of the Sea, or Eyes of the Watcher. Cards like Augury Owl, Jace’s Sanctum and Omen of the Sea get super juicy. This could be paired with many things easily, but green gets Eligeth out the fastest. Thrasios, Triton Hero can be the Partner that makes that happen. Hey, scry on demand! That was easy. Siani, Eye of the Storm, a new uncommon Partner, also has scry on board, but doesn’t give you any additional colours. If this is a 99er, it’s probably a lock to go into The Scarab God decks, among many others. I don’t think this is really good, I know it is.
It’s taken a generation, but Homelands powerhouses like Didgeridoo and Baron Sengir are finally starting to be valuable. Sort of. The old baron is a reserved list curiosity, more than anything playable. Like a super Sengir Vampire, which was quite the powerful and iconic creature in the old days. Sengir, the Dark Baron is one way to see how Magic has power crept over the years: instead of a conditional but flavourful (yum, blood) damage-based ability, now the bat man gets bigger when anything else dies for any reason. That’s easy to do, and the CMC here isn’t bad, but this feels like a fun vampire and not a competitive vampire. That’s not a bad thing, but the real drawback I think is not doing much for the rest of the coven. This doesn’t really inspire me to play any other specific cards at all, and the payoff of lifegain if another player loses the game is uninteresting. It’s great with Sanguine Bond for a possible double kill, but that’s a pretty big corner case. This a promo card that a lot of people are going to get, and I wish it were a little more splashy and less direct. I think it’s destined to be underplayed.
Anyone who says thumbs are a measure of the intelligence of a species hasn’t seen most hitchhikers. Krark, the Thumbless won’t review movies with the late Siskel and Ebert any time soon, but he will still find a way to flip coins. Krark’s Thumb is a key accessory, and Krark’s Other Thumb is still banned for a certain gesture, in addition to being silver-bordered. Hahaha. Silver is where mechanics like coin flipping and dice rolling generally live, but there are a few legal payoffs for that too. I don’t really think that that’s what Krark wants to do, though. I feel like the best thing Krark can do is put a spell on the stack, and then return it to your hand. While it’s on the stack it can be copied and such, and add to your Storm Count and give you incidental cast triggers. And then you can cast it again. And do it again. It’s not easy to fail coin flips on purpose, but if that’s the success case and double spells is the fail, I think you win? Winning by losing, or winning by winning by not losing while trying to win. I think the most important thing to take away, as always, is Storm Count. Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix jumps out as terrific colours to add to Krark, and a sweet payoff if a lot of Krark’s spells are cantrips. Be careful of cards like Cathartic Reunion where the discard is part of the cast. That means you discard even if it’s returned to your hand, but you don’t discard on a copy. If you can even leverage the discard on something like that, Krark is going to do very well for you.
What’s a reach? A reach is to think that Kodama of the East Tree isn’t completely overpowered. This cheats while you cheat. Play a free creature from your hand with that nice, new Court of Bounty? Why not play two? Did you play a land this turn? Why not play another one? Does every green deck want this? Gonna go out on that tree limb and say yeah. Is it worth paying 6 mana for? Yes. Is this really bananas in the Command Zone? Yes. By itself, yes. As a partner, it can turbo charge any strategy, or just enable green goodstuff. That’s a big chunk of Commander goodstuff. Kill this on sight, but expect it to be enabling stuff you also need to kill on sight. Expect it to be paired with something blue, and be buried in card advantage or landfall triggers shortly after the East Tree falls onto the table. I wish this wasn’t a card, or only triggered on cast. Hope it doesn’t wreck your day.
With only one Partner in each colour at both Mythic and Rare, this column ended up being a top ten. They all made it, hooray! I think the Rares are probably better than the Mythics outside of possibly the Planeswalkers. Both red cards look totally capable of terrible, terrible things. Whatever your opinion of the Partners, their contribution to deckbuilding is vast and awesome. The power level is fairly high overall, and the combinations are looking endless. Thanks for reading! Your life matters. Black Lives Matter!