Commander 2018 Set Review – Gold (Pt 1)

Commander 2018

It is finally that time! Commander 2018 is here! I’ve described this release as a Commander player’s Super Bowl, and this year’s new legends don’t disappoint. In the first five years of its lifetime, the Commander products were done in full color cycles. After that, with Commander 2017, the product was reduced to four decks rather than five. With this new setup, the decks would be based around themes, and in 2017 we received a set of tribal-themed decks. This year, these decks were part of a “feedback-driven” set, whose themes and cards were driven by common requests for new commanders and archetypes. Additionally, we see the return of planeswalkers as commanders! Today, I have the honor of reviewing each of the commanders who are able to lead these new decks.

On a personal note, I’ve kept a list of archetypes and their colors that I’ve wanted to see on a legendary creature, and this set released six legends that fulfilled those wants. To say I am excited about these new commanders is an understatement.


Exquisite Invention

Among this year’s archetypes, Izzet Artifacts has been the most sought-after for several years. I still remember people getting antsy for a legend during spoilers for Commander 2015. It wasn’t until Commander 2016 came out that we saw Breya, Etherium Shaper in blue and red, but also black and white. Many people were satisfied, but there was still a vocal population who still wanted a specifically blue-red artifact commander. Skip ahead to Dominaria with the release of Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain, whereupon many people were ecstatic. “We finally have our blue-red artifact commander!” they proclaimed. Others (including myself) weren’t satisfied. I won’t hash out the arguments from both sides, but some of us were still hoping for more. Now? Now we have three new options for the archetype, and all of them are incredible legends to helm a deck. I have seen excitement for all of them, which shouldn’t be surprising as there are 12,000 artifact decks registered by EDHREC’s theme pages.


Saheeli, the Gifted

Coming off her appearance in Kaladesh, Saheeli, the Gifted is here to helm your blue-red artifacts deck… as a Planeswalker! Unique among this year’s planeswalkers, Saheeli is the only one to break the trend of having a plus, minus, and ultimate ability, possessing two plus abilities instead. Let’s break her down.

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Her first plus is pretty standard for planeswalkers nowadays. She creates a token to protect herself from attacks while ticking up in loyalty. While creating a 1/1 Servo artifact isn’t the most impactful ability, it still helps to fuel her other more powerful abilities.

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Her second plus is where she gets both more interesting and incredibly powerful. Effectively, she gives the next spell you cast “Affinity for artifacts.” Affinity is one of the most powerful mechanics in Magic, and Saheeli makes great work of it.

It’s not crazy to think of cheating out a Blightsteel Colossus early, or turning the mana reduction into a massive Saheeli’s Directive or other X-cost spell. I think this ability is going to win games just out of sheer advantage, as artifacts don’t have a problem with swarming the board. In fact, I think this ability is the primary reason you’re playing Saheeli, as it allows you to ramp massively in colors that are not known for ramping, but are known for synergizing generically with artifacts.

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Lastly, her ultimate. I love this callback as her ultimate is a nearly identical version of her previous incarnation’s minus ability, but for your entire board (Saheeli Rai, for reference). Creating a copy of every artifact we control is sure to make an impact, even if there’s only a few to copy. Otherwise, this will be the push that’s needed to end a game. For you combo players out there, there’s a nifty combo where Deepglow Skate and Mycosynth Lattice allow you to infinitely copy your board state. I’m sure there’s a win condition there somewhere.


Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer

Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer wins the award for weirdest replacement commander for the set. Referenced only once on Sarcomite Myr, this Artificer brings a whole new strategy to the game. I forget that it gives creature tokens haste, but we’re playing it for the second line of text anyways.

At the beginning of combat on your turn, create a 2/1 blue Myr artifact creature token. Then you may choose a token you control. If you do, each other token you control becomes a copy of that token.

This is one of the craziest abilities printed in recent memory. Not only does Brudiclad itself create tokens, but it can then turn every token we control into a copy of the chosen token. Notably, despite being in the artifact deck, Brudiclad’s ability isn’t limited to artifact tokens. Creature tokens, artifact tokens, token lands, everything is fair game. If we want to live our best life, we can equip it with Helm of the Host and go crazy. Beyond that, Brudiclad has many avenues to play. Brudiclad is actually one of the most popular commanders on many polls I’ve seen conducted after release, and those fans have produced many different takes.

You have access to cards such as Mirrorworks, Genesis Chamber, and Mechanized Production to create tokens at varying speeds. You can live the Powerstone Shard dream if you want as well. Additionally, since Brudiclad forces homogeneity from its tokens, you can include buffs such as Shared Animosity or Coat of Arms to bring the pain. Really, Brudiclad is one of the most open-ended commanders from this set, and I’m excited to face off against it one day.


Tawnos, Urza’s Apprentice

Tawnos, Urza’s Apprentice is my personal favorite of the new Izzet legends. As I mentioned earlier, I was one of those people that wasn’t satisfied with Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain or Breya, Etherium Shaper, but Tawnos has finally fulfilled my wishes. Not only is the card itself sweet, but it also depicts one of the heroes of The Brothers’ War.

Tawnos himself is a the lovechild of Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient and Strionic Resonator. While not as consistent as the Ogre, Tawnos still has a lot of game. Coming down as a two-drop is great for keeping our commander in the game even after being killed multiple times, and haste means he can immediately contribute. So what exactly can he do?

Well, as it was pointed out almost immediately, Tawnos loves Paradox Engine. I won’t enumerate the combos, but they’re about what you can expect from the engine nowadays. After that, we can look at other abilities to copy for value. On the low end, we have cards like Trading Post and Tamiyo’s Journal in which we can double up on the incremental value. Tawnos not only speeds up the Journal by a turn, but he can also copy the tutor ability. In effect, Tawnos can help accomplish in two turns that which would normally take six turns. Wurmcoil Engine is one of the poster children of artifacts, and creating double the tokens with our commander screams value.

Beyond that, Tawnos is exciting to me because I just get to include so many artifacts that I’ve always loved into the same deck. Prototype Portal has always held a dear place in my heart, and this is the deck for it (and it even comes in the precon)! Then, you can also play the likes of Kuldotha Forgemaster to set up any two-card combo you want, Mirrorworks for double the copies if you have the mana, Blinkmoth Urn for more usable mana, and more. Personally, I’m most excited to use Azor’s Gateway and Liquimetal Coating. While the Gateway is always a risk, this is the format where dreams can come true, and I want to flip it into Sanctum of the Sun one day. Liquimetal Coating is here to turn any relevant creatures or planeswalkers into artifacts. Once that happens, Tawnos can then double their abilities as well. Goblin Welder can recur two artifacts, or we can tutor two artifacts into play with Tezzeret, the Seeker.


Nature’s Vengeance

With Omnath, Locus of Rage being the most played red-green commander on EDHREC with 2150 decks, and The Gitrog Monster being the second most played green-black commander with nearly 1700 decks, it’s no wonder that Jund lands was picked as one of the archetypes to represent Commander 2018. In fact, the day that the archetypes and their colors were announced, I talked about my Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper article and my desire for a Jund lands-mander on Episode 16 of EDHREC’s podcast.


Lord Windgrace

Say hello to Lord Windgrace, the first ever proper Jund lands commander. If you’re a Vorthos like me, you had to have been ecstatic to see the second of the Nine Titans to get a black-bordered planeswalker card. However, does his card live up to his legacy?

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Starting off at five loyalty, Windgrace can immediately use his plus ability to go to seven loyalty. That’s a lot of beef to protect himself, even before considering what that ability actually does. His plus lets us discard a card to draw a card (aka ‘rummaging’). Additionally, if the card we discarded is a land, we get to draw an additional card. In the mid-game, this lets us turn our unwanted lands into card draw, and it allows us to turn on graveyard synergies such Ramunap Excavator, Crucible of Worlds, and the new Turntimber Sower. Add in The Gitrog Monster and suddenly we have an incredible draw engine at our disposal.

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What good are land cards that we’ve pitched to the graveyard? Windgrace answers that question as well. For the cost of three loyalty, we get to return any two lands in our graveyard to play. Not just basic lands. Not into play tapped. It doesn’t even conflict with our land play per turn. This ability perfectly hits another aspect of land strategies by enabling both ramp and Landfall abilities. Triggering Landfall twice with our wealth of payoffs is just insane. Khalni Heart Expedition and Lotus Cobra allow us to ramp even more. We get two tokens from the likes of Nesting Dragon, Rampaging Baloths, or Omnath, Locus of Rage. Then, we can can even gain card more advantage through the likes of Tireless Tracker and Seer’s Sundial.

Beyond gaining advantage through those means, this is also a way to recur powerful lands that may have been destroyed. Recurring Command Beacon, Wasteland, Cabal Coffers or any other powerful lands becomes a bonus feature on an already impressive ability.

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Destroying six nonlands and creating six 2/2s is powerful, but the ultimate does feel disconnected from the rest of the card. While this can certainly pull us ahead and close out a game, it strikes me as a last resort. Not to say this ability is bad, just that the first two are very synergistically powerful. Basically, unless this ability can immediately end the grind, I think I would be likely to continue grinding with Windgrace’s first two abilities. Still, this ability will cause havoc and carnage if allowed to go off. Overall, Windgrace doesn’t reinvent the wheel or the lands archetype, but he himself is an engine that does everything this deck will want to do. I’m personally very excited to build him. If you’re someone of a more vicious playstyle, you can use him as a mass land destruction deck as his ability will help break parity immediately. I know I’m going to include at least a Ruination or Wildfire to give that playstyle a shot.


Gyrus, Waker of Corpses

Sigh.

Disclaimer, I like Gyrus. I think it’s a great design overall, especially since you never have to use the “X” in its casting cost. This mirrors the Commander 2013 legends like Marath, Will of the Wild, and I think it’s a nice touch to make it more relevant in Commander. Also, the artwork is metal. However, let’s get the “bad” out of the way. Gyrus, Waker of Corpses is so close to being insanely good, but I think the general consensus seems to be that its fairly lackluster. Its ability feels hamstrung by a number of riders; a little tweak here or there could’ve made the difference almost anywhere in the text box. I could enumerate those, but I don’t want to waste your time on my musings. If you’d like to discuss it though, leave a comment below!

So what does Gyrus, Waker of Corpses have going for it?

Whenever Gyrus attacks, you may exile target creature card with lesser power from your graveyard. If you do, create a token that’s a copy of that card and that’s tapped and attacking. Exile the token at the end of combat.

Despite my brief negativity, I do like Gyrus a lot. I think there is something to be said for a free reanimation effect, even if it comes at the price of exiling our own cards. All Gyrus needs to do to gain value is attack, and its size determines what we can bring back. I think there’s a lot of value from sacrificing ramping creatures like Wood Elves or Sakura-Tribe Elder early. Combining it with a sac outlet like Dark-Dweller Oracle or Evolutionary Leap lets us double dip on these small value creatures. Combining it with Parallel Lives lets us keep the extra token copy. Beyond that, Gyrus can bring back heavy-hitting ETB effects for free. Do we need a card right now, but don’t have a reanimation spell for Rune-Scarred Demon? Gyrus can bring it back for one last hurrah.

Additionally, Gyrus likes +1/+1 counters just like Reyhan, Last of the Abzan, Kresh the Bloodbraided, and Death’s Presence. While it may require a bit more digging than the other legends, there’s still power in this Hydra’s ability. I’m sure you’ll see it reappear on a future Underdog’s Corner from yours truly.


Thantis, the Warweaver

Beyond the land theme of Windgrace, we have a strange inclusion with Thantis, the Warweaver. Not only is Thantis a Jund spider for the fans who wanted Dragonlair Spider in their Ishkanah, Grafwidow decks, but she’s also a “combat matters” commander, which is a brand new archetype for the colors. And by “combat matters,” I mean “everyone is attacking.”

All creatures attack each combat if able.

Luckily, Thantis gets to play offense and defense, thanks to vigilance. This forces even lowly utility creatures to attack. Soul Sisters like Soul Warden? More like War Sisters. Commanders that don’t want to get anywhere near combat, like Mizzix of the Izmagnus? Yea, you’re going to fight like the rest of Goblinkind. Thantis is all about making everyone attack, which definitely destabilizes decks that like to sit back comfortably. Plus, even if our general isn’t around, we still have redundancy. Avatar of Slaughter, Fumiko the Lowblood, Goblin Diplomats, Rage Nimbus, and Goblin Spymaster all help keep the war going. If we’re feeling really aggressive, we can also bring out War’s Toll.

Whenever a creature attacks you or a planeswalker you control, put a +1/+1 counter of Thantis, the Warweaver.

Additionally, not only does Thantis act as a Warweaver, but she also acts as a rattlesnake by incentivizing our opponents to not attack us. Growing by a +1/+1 counter for each attacker doesn’t seem like much, but it’ll add up once a full turn cycle has gone around. If we need more ways to defend ourselves, we have access to Crawlspace and Kazuul, Tyrant of Cliffs to stack up some pillows.

One card that I think is humorous with our Spider is Trove of Temptation. We gain advantage on each of our turns by creating a Treasure, but we also get to force at least one creature into the maw of our defenses, and thus, to their doom.

Adaptive Enchantment

Enchantments have always been in green and white’s wheelhouse with the printing of various “enchantress” effects such as Mesa Enchantress, Argothian Enchantress, and Satyr Enchanter. Blue has powerful enchantments such as Propaganda, Mind’s Dilation, and Rhystic Study to help grind out advantage. The Bant color combination has always been a popular choice for three-color enchantments despite not having a true commander for the archetype, but now we have three fantastic legends to choose from. Notably, there are currently 3500 Aura decks and 3300 Enchantment decks listed on EDHREC. I’m sure we’re likely to see those numbers go up by a thousand very soon.


Estrid, the Masked

A personal favorite of Jason Alt, Estrid, the Masked is the planeswalker face of the Bant Enchantments deck. She more Aura-focused than I expected her to be, but her take on it is powerful and all it’s own.

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The words “untap each” on any text box should bring caution to whoever is sitting across from it. Normally, Auras in past contexts have focused on stacking them onto a single creature. For example, take a look at Uril, the Miststalker, Valduk, Keeper of the Flame, and Bruna, Light of Alabaster. Unlike those commanders, Estrid favors a more “go-wide” approach. Untapping a single permanent is ok, but what happens when we start untapping three or more? At a glance, Estrid seems to favor Auras that can enchant lands, to create mana advantage from them. Enchanting lands with Utopia Sprawl or Wild Growth helps us generate two mana from a single land, one from the land and another from the Aura. As many people have pointed out in the online communities, this interaction works incredibly well if you are also able to enchant The Chain Veil. However, there aren’t many “enchant artifact” cards out there.

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That said, Estrid gives us a way to fuel her plus ability by enchanting any permanent with a Mask token. Totem armor is one of my favorite mechanics in the sphere of enchantress. Calling back to the frailty of auras, Totem armor fixes those issues by helping to keep our creatures alive. Totem armor enchantments only ever enchanted creatures in the past, but Estrid can put her Mask tokens on any permanent. This flexibility can’t be understated. With a simple minus, she protects key pieces from destruction (but not exile). For example, most average decks don’t run much in the way of land destruction, so a single Mask token can almost perpetually protect Serra’s Sanctum from harm. That’s crazy.

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Since enchantments try to stay on the battlefield rather than play around in graveyards, Estrid gives us an built-in way to fuel her ultimate. I’ll use Jason Alt again for this section because he gave the best description I’ve heard for this ultimate.

“It’s a draw seven Replenish.”

Hopefully that extra bit of context points out how powerful this effect can be. Once we start adding cards to the mix, things get a bit silly. For example, an Enlightened Tutor now tutors any enchantment straight into play with Estrid’s ultimate. I typically don’t count on ultimates, but from how defensive I’ve seen some Bant decks, I can’t imagine it being that difficult to get Estrid to seven loyalty, especially in the best planeswalker support colors. This is a potent ability and anyone looking to face down Estrid needs to be prepared to deal with her. I really like Estrid, and I think she’s going to have a home in the format for a very long time.


Kestia, the Cultivator

Kestia, the Cultivator definitely wowed me the most on first read. There’s a lot going on with her that I just found super interesting. First, not only is she an enchantment-focused creature, she is also an enchantment herself. More so, she has a Bestow cost that definitely earned some style points from me. While most of the previous gods of Theros didn’t care about enchantments outside of being one, Kestia actually does fit that criteria. While I don’t think my initial reaction has held up, I think she brings an awesome potential playstyle to the table.

Just like our previously-discussed commander, Kestia brings a go-wide strategy to Auras, as well as rewarding the inclusion of enchantment creatures. Every time either an enchanted creature or an enchantment creature attacks, we draw a card. Notably, and sadly, an enchanted enchantment creature only draws one card according to the Release Notes. This gives us a powerful aggro draw engine, which is something we have never seen before for this archetype. Drawing cards by attacking with enchantment creatures immediately turned my eye towards one of my favorite enchantments in all of Magic: Starfield of Nyx. Now all of our enchantments become a powerful draw engine as well as a win condition!

One thing I love about Kestia is her redundancy once you consider her Bestow ability. As long as she’s on the battlefield, whether as an enchantment or creature, her effect is active. If we Bestow her onto a creature and that creature is removed, then Kestia remains, which saves us from having to recast her. I’ve happened to thus far ignore that she’s also a 4/4 for four mana and conveys that power and toughness as an Aura as well. That’s a hefty amount of stats.

I’m not sure what type of shell Kestia will eventually settle into, but I’ve seen a few discussions revolving around her and the Bogles archetypes. Regardless, I’m excited to see what people come up with!


Tuvasa the Sunlit

If you had asked anyone before this set what was the minimum they wanted out of a Bant Enchantress commander, I’m sure the most common response would be, “Enchantress in the command zone.” Not only does Tuvasa the Sunlit do just that, but she also is a Yavimaya Enchantress! One thing to note: unlike most proper enchantresses, Tuvasa can only draw one card per turn. Ethan Fleischer, one of Wizards’ designers, commented that the single draw incentivizes playing “sweet enchantments” whereas as drawing a card per enchantment incentivizes you to play one-mana enchantments. I like this reasoning, as we’ve seen how easily that type of wording warps a commander’s strategy into min-maxing rather than playing big, fun cards.

Tuvasa is incredibly versatile, enabling any archetype under the sun as long as it involves enchantments. While Kestia and Estrid point you towards Auras and enchantment creatures, Tuvasa gives you boundless options. You can pick and choose any enchantments you want, and she’ll be good. I wasn’t impressed by Tuvasa at first glance (I considered her to be relatively bland) but the more I’ve considered her, the more I’ve grown to like this Merfolk. There’s beauty in simplicity. Her buffing ability will be more relevant that you think. I will say that if I were to build Tuvasa I would be hard-pressed to not at least try Helm of the Gods, Ethereal Armor, or Ancestral Mask as a beatdown backup plan.

Praise the Sun(lit)!


Subjective Reality

Unlike the rest of their peers, the commanders of the Esper deck are not focused on a card type. Instead, they are focused on a zone: the top of your library. With the ability and power to shape fate and the future, there’s no hoping for a miracle if we can make it come true. The name of Subjective Reality really fits with its theme. Since the announcement of this deck, I’ve had a suspicion that because of this unknown design space, each of the commanders would be some of the most unique of the set, and Wizards did not disappoint.


Aminatou, the Fateshifter

Standing in as the face of Subjective Reality is the young and unpredictable planeswalker, Aminatou, the Fateshifter. At eight years old, she is also the youngest known planeswalker in the Multiverse. Despite her age, Aminatou has powers that can shape and alter futures and fates, and she should be considered a force to be reckoned with. One thing that stands out is that Aminatou herself has the least cohesive design among the other planeswalkers. Her abilities are individually powerful, but they don’t mesh together.

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Drawing cards is always a good thing, but this ability is more akin to Brainstorm. Drawing a card and then putting our worst card on top is a viable strategy if we’re playing plenty of shuffle effects to get rid of our unneeded resources. Otherwise, this can be used to set up Miracle spells like Entreat the Angels. However, that requires us to wait a full turn cycle to take advantage.

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While I have some reservations about Aminatou’s first ability, I have zero issues with her minus. Blinking any permanent? Sign me up. Coming into play at three mana and three loyalty, it’s likely that you’ll be able to use her plus the turn she comes down, and after that, blink a permanent for four turns. Really, I think this is why people will be building her, myself included. Blink is an incredibly popular and powerful archetype, with Brago, King Eternal sitting on a throne of 2130 decks and Roon of the Hidden Realm commanding 1550 decks. Let’s start piecing some synergies together, namely Oath of Teferi. Since Aminatou can blink any permanent, that includes planeswalkers. Combined with Oath of Teferi, this means that we can generate six loyalty abilities per turn from a planeswalker besides Aminatou. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion suddenly wraths the board, creates fifteen 1/1 white Soldier tokens, and ends the turn with six loyalty. That’s crazy.

Additionally, she can abuse effects like Whip of Erebos and Dreams of the Dead to not only permanently recur creatures, but also double down on their ETB effects. Any enters-the-battlefield effect becomes crazy with Aminatou, and I know I personally can’t wait to blink Gonti, Lord of Luxury over and over again. For those facing Aminatou down, beware: she has combo potential with this ability. Felidar Guardian and herself create an infinite loop. Combined with any effect that triggers on creature or permanent ETB (like Altar of the Brood) will end the game.

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This is the weirdest ability of Aminatou, and I’m not sure how often she will get to it, or if it’s worth using. Rotating the nonland permanents of all players is chaotic, but I’m not sure how good this is as an ultimate. Scot Sutton, the writer of The Knowledge Pool series, pointed out that if we get to the stage in the game where we have been able to protect Aminatou for three turns, it’s very likely that we’re in a strong enough position to not want to swap our board with another player. You can use her minus ability to blink your permanents back to your side, but it’s an extra hoop to have to jump through. Unless we’re able to subvert this drawback with Teferi’s Protection, I think we’ll be better off using her other abilities.


Varina, Lich Queen

And here we thought that we were done with tribal after Commander 2017 and Ixalan block. Really, I won’t complain as Esper Zombies was one of those six archetypes mentioned above that I was eagerly hoping to see. I just didn’t expect the answer to come this soon. Varina, Lich Queen is a powerhouse of legend, and with Zombies being the most popular tribe on EDHREC, there’s no doubt that she’s going to be one of the most popular commanders from the set.

Whenever you attack with one or more Zombies, draw that many cards, then discard that many cards. You gain that much life.

This is either going to be incredibly powerful or it’s not going to trigger that often. Looting and gaining life per each attacking Zombie is powerful, but you need to consider when you’ll be attacking. Zombies tend to swarm, so attacking with one or two won’t often be an optimal route, but it’s not hard to see how this can be a loot for eight or thirteen with Josu Vess, Lich Knight or Army of the Damned. However, some of these concerns can be alleviated with a card only available thanks to the addition of white: Reconnaissance. Not only do we get to loot at maximum efficiency, but we also get to protect our board if combat isn’t favorable.

With a free method of discarding multiple cards, it enables cards with Madness like From Under the Floorboards, as well as discard-matters cards like Drake Haven and Archfiend of Ifnir. The Demon in particular is disgusting as it acts as an asymmetrical board wipe with enough Zombies.

{2}, Exile two cards from your graveyard: Create a tapped 2/2 black Zombie creature token.

This is exciting, since Varina only looks at cards in your graveyard rather than creature cards (which is typical for Zombies), akin to Sigarda, Heron’s Grace. This Delve-like ability lets us put out tokens when we lack another way to do so at the low cost of exiling cards we don’t need. I know it’s probably not good, but I would love to try out the new Desecrated Tomb with this ability. While we don’t get to benefit from the full effect of Training Grounds, even a one-mana discount changes the math of this ability dramatically. Plus, we get double usage out of it if we want to include The Scarab God. There are a lot of directions to take Varina, and I’m excited to see what synergies haven’t been unlocked yet. I know I’m definitely excited to have a swarm of Zombies benefit from Anointed Procession.

One last note, there’s been a few people online who have made the case that Varina doesn’t need to be a “Zombie” general to be good. The argument is that she can lead an Esper control deck on her own. I think that type of outlook is great for the format, as it shows we can always evaluate a general beyond its most obvious direction.


Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign

Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign is an odd card. Literally. Before we get into the details of the card itself, lets briefly review how much effort Wizards put into that fact.

  • Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign is a three-word title. Each word is also an odd-number of letters.
  • She costs five mana and she’s a 3/5.
  • She has three keywords.
  • Her text box has thirty-three words in it.
  • Not only is her flavor text nine words long, but each word is an odd-number of letters.
  • Her collector number is 051.

After that you can examine her art for all the other little Easter eggs, as well as anything else I missed. Why all of this set-up? Is the payoff worth it?

Whenever Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign attacks, reveal the top card of your library. If that card’s converted mana cost is odd, you may cast it without paying its mana cost. Otherwise, draw a card.

There’s no reason Yennett shouldn’t be attacking every turn. Flyers are already tough to block, but a menacing flyer? Our opponents can try their best to stop us. At minimum, Yennett is drawing us a card if the top card of our library has an even converted mana cost. Otherwise, we’re casting a card with an odd converted mana cost for free. One card that works incredibly well with Yennett (and which is notably included in the Subjective Reality precon) is Enigma Sphinx. Beyond that, you can basically pick and choose which bombs and spells you want to cheat. A lot of people I’ve seen discuss her have basically decided to windmill slam Void Winnower. More power to them.

However, if reality really is subjective, we’re going to be doing our best to control our fate. You’ll want to include a number of Brainstorm effects, Soothsaying, Sensei’s Divining Top, Scroll Rack, etc. to manipulate the top of your library. There’s a ton of them so I think the hardest part is going to be finding a balance between those manipulation effects and the stuff you want to cheat out. Let’s be clear, though: you don’t need to cast five-, seven-, or nine-mana spells to get value from Yennett. Even casting a three-drop is still good value. Don’t get too greedy. Despite not being the face of this deck, Yennett actually strikes me as the commander that is most attuned to the deck’s theme of top-deck manipulation. She cares and rewards you for sculpting the top of your deck, and I’m so excited that Wizards took a risk with such a nebulous design.


Commanding Attention

Phew. That’s all twelve of our deck-colored legends! Wizards brought us a wealth of new commander options for the colors, and many of them are truly impressive. In terms of new legends as a whole, this may be one of the best Commander sets ever. I’ve seen lively discussion and excitement for nearly every new commander in the set. Time will tell how these will eventually stack up to past competition, but if the earlier Commander products are anything to pull data from, we can expect these commanders to have a lasting impact and an important spot within the format.

Theme-wise, this product was a dream for me, and I am excited to build at least four new decks from this set. I think there is something for everyone here. Are you planning to build any of these new legends? If so, whom? Let us know, and thank you for reading!

Mason is an EDH player from Georgia, who is a self-proclaimed Johnny and Vorthos. His MTG career started with a casual lifegain deck with only a single win-condition. When not consuming MTG, he spends his time being a full-time student, an avid sports fan, and a dabbling musician.