Welcome to the EDHREC set review for the cards in the color blue out of Battlebond, a set that asks the question “What if you made a set with all the good parts of Conspiracy and without all the bad parts of Conspiracy?” This is apparently the answer. We’ve got interesting cards with mechanics that flex easily between Two-Headed Giant and Commander, some new twists on old keywords, and a world very different from anything we’ve seen before. So let’s jump right in.
First up is a triple serving of legends that can live in the command zone. Our own Nate Burgess has already written about these three as partner commanders, but I’m going to briefly touch on what they bring to the table as simple additions to the 99.
Will Kenrith joins a bevvy of Jaces as well as Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, Teferi, Temporal Archmage, andTezzeret the Seeker in the pantheon of mono-blue planeswalkers. So do you want to run him when he’s not paired with his sister atop your deck? Maybe? Teferi is a combo machine, but if you’re just trying to play him as a superfriends commander then Will adds another body to the list, and the same holds true for any other superfriends configuration from Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain to Angus MacKenzie to Sliver Queen. He could technically also sit atop his own mono-blue deck, so that’s something.
He also protects himself with his +2, generates some nice resource advantage with his -2, and has a devastating ult at -8. That’s all useful stuff, though as we’ve seen from planeswalkers like Narset Transcendent and Huatli, Radiant Champion being a generally useful walker isn’t necessarily enough anymore.
Zndersplt, Eye of Wisdom has now firmly established that, in addition to missing an eye, homuncului also tend to miss A’s, E’s, O’s, U’s, and sometimes Y’s. Thanks, I’ll be here all week. The Zndersplt/Okaun combo is about the perfect pair to lead a coinflip deck. If you’re running one without those two at the head of the table then I’d guess you’d want Zndersplt in the 99, but I’m not sure why you’d be doing that. You could also run him as your commander in some manner of mono-blue coinflip deck, but nobody should be doing that because it’s terrible.
Toothy, Imaginary Friend probably has the most flexibility of the three outside being a commander with his partner. He’d slip right into a Bant +1/+1 counters list, a Sultai variant on the same deck, or even in a Vorel of the Hull Clade deck if you decided you didn’t want to just convert it to Pir and Toothy. He does that Simic thing they’ve been doing lately where he gets better when you do the thing you wanna do anyway (draw cards) and then rewards you for other people doing the thing they want to do (remove him). And that’s before we get into the ways you can abuse his ability. An all around effective card that will make an excellent commander with his partner and who will also work in the 99 of plenty of other decks.
Arcane Artisan has a tap ability that lets you draw a card for 2U, then maybe make a free token that gets exiled at the end of a turn when Arcane Artisan leaves the battlefield. There’s some decent value there, particularly in an Inalla, Archmage Ritualist deck where the copy of Arcane Artisan generated by Inalla has haste and can be used right away. Plus Inalla decks tend to run heavy on creatures with ETB abilities, making another way to make tokens of them even more efficient.
It also creates some janky combish interactions with Mairsil, the Pretender and probably enables Misthollow Griffin/Food Chain combos if that’s your huckleberry.
Fumble fooled me. For whatever reason, I read the ability as a choose effect and thought it got around hexproof and shroud. Alas it does not, which means it really only works on non-protected creatures wearing equpment or enchantments. So yeah, I guess you can occionally steal a Batterskull or something, but by and large anything wearing gear is untargetable. If you see a lot of kitted-out voltron commanders maybe you’re running Arcane Lighthouse or Bonds of Mortality or Glaring Spotlight, which which case this is a game-changing bomb. Without them though it probably just isn’t consistent enough.
Game Plan is one of the better uses of the new assist mechanic. Even if nobody helps pay the cost, 5U isn’t the worst thing in the world. Time Reversal is in 4,417 decks on EDHREC and it only costs one less, and requires UU on top of it. If someone helps though then you’re basically casting Timetwister.
Huddle Up like Fumble before it. I read it that both players draw two. Drawing two for 2U is pretty reasonable, and the fact that you could get the player in last place or the person about to die to pay for a chunk of the cost seemed great. I’d totally run that imaginary card that doesn’t exist. Huddle Up lets you draw one, and even if someone else eats 2 of the cost playing U for the chance to draw 1 at sorcery speed seems terrible outside maybe 2HG.
Nimbus Champion has nice art, and warriors are now relevant. Plus it’s another avatar for your avatar tribal deck. A 4/4 with flying who can either bounce a problematic body out of the way or let your partner’s useful ETB return to their hand for a recast isn’t nothing, but I’m not sure it’s edhable. It’ll be excellent in limited though.
Out of Bounds is a hard counter for 3U. That’s one more than Cancel though it doesn’t require UU. I think you’ll be able to get someone to help with this, but is it worth the risk when there are so many other more consistent cards in the commander pool to nope somebody with that don’t need help to be efficient.
Saltwater Stalwart draws you or your partner a card after dealing combat damage. That’s not a bad merfolk ability in a tribe with lords that can pass around evasion. I’m not sure where else it has a home, however.
Soaring Show-Off maybe finds a home in Kangee, Aerie Keeper bird tribal decks, or in group hug or a budget Nekusar, the Mindrazer build. Evasive bodies that draw are also always great in limited. Aside from the examples I gave though this has limited Commander utility.
Spellseeker on the other hand, is gonna wind up all over the place. It’s obviously great in Inalla or Kess, Dissident Archmage decks, but really what deck doesn’t want a way to fetch a Cyclonic Rift on a body that you can easily blink for value. Trinket Mage is in 14,778 decks on EDHREC and there’s no reason to assume that years down the road Spellseeker won’t wind up in nearly as many.
Spellweaver Duo bounces a tapped creature upon entering the battlefield. Seven mana is a ton for that kind of effect in colors that already have cheaper ways to do that exact thing. It is a wizard though, which may or may not be important.
Zndersplt’s Judgment lets your friends (you generally) make a token copy of a creature they control while bouncing a creature your enemies (everyone else generally) control back to their hand. It’s potentially backbreaking in the right deck, and also has some whiff potential.
And now, the reprints!
Mystic Confluence is an excellent card in need a reprint. There’s an existing Judge foil, but this will mark the first pack foil you can find of this blue staple.
Sower of Temptation shows up in quite a few faerie decks, and a lot of theft-themed decks as well, and the price had crept north of $10 dollars. This reprint should knock it down into a much more affordable $3 range.
Spell Snare hadn’t had a printing since the original Modern Masters in 2013, and it had begun to creep into the $5 range. It’s only in 973 decks on EDHREC but it’s a player in Modern and Legacy.
True-Name Nemesis is a Legacy boogeyman whose price has never crept below $20. This will also mark the first foil printing for everyone’s favorite merfolk slenderman.
All in all I think that makes for a pretty sold splash of cards in blue. I do wish my imaginary version of Fumble existed, as OP as that probably would be. If I was looking forward to Dominaria as a set after spoilers more than any in memory I’m looking forward to drafting this one after seeing the spoilers more than any in a long time, too. Well played, Magic in the year 2018. Well played.