Commander Legends Review, Part 3 of 7: Blue

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With Commander Legends releasing, the format is about to see a shakeup arguably bigger than any in its relatively short history. This week, Phillip York and FromTheShire are doing a card-by-card review of the new set and what the new cards mean for Commander. Today we’re continuing our review by looking at the new Blue cards in the set.

If you missed Part 2 of our review yesterday looking at the White cards in the set, you can find it here.

Something seems off… blue number 3.  No that’s definitely wrong.  Nonetheless here’s our third installment of Commander Legends review, blue.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Amphin Mutineer

Phillip: This is an odd possibly playable meme card.  This whole thing with Salamanders is stupid, but it’s a pirate, and it exiles a creature, any creature, any toughness, like say a commander.  In return they get a 4/3.  Salamander.  Who also doesn’t have regeneration.  Okay well maybe if you have that stupid guy with protection from salamanders that’s okay.  On the other hand cards like Generous Gift and Beast Within have proven to be playable in the past, handing out a 4/3 is only slightly worse than handing out a 3/3, though the flexibility of “destroy any permanent” is in and of itself quite nice, whereas, exile any creature is just creatures.  On the other other hand, this Mutineer has encore, which means you potentially get to uptick everyone else’s commanders at once, and blow up a creature, for 6 mana.  So on balance that definitely seems possibly playable.  But why doesn’t it regenerate?  And a 3/3 that regenerates that creates a 4/3 makes so much sense in a multiplayer game.

FromTheShire: I’m all in on the Mutineer, and I don’t even think it’s a meme card to be honest. Blue doesn’t get creature exile very often, which can often make the difference between winning and losing in commander. On the whole I don’t know that it’s better than Reality Shift, being functionally a 4 mana sorcery rather than a 2 mana instant, but that is a supremely useful card that immediately went into absolutely tons of blue decks if for no other reason than it was a unique effect. It’s absolutely a strictly better Polymorph since it both exiles and also can trade with the creature you give them rather than risking popping an Eldrazi or some other horror out of their deck. It’s also worth pointing out that blue has Leyline of Anticipation so you can well play this at instant speed, in addition to which it has an absolute ton of flicker effects. Being able get the effect repeatedly through either bouncing it or using the onboard Encore cost makes this a slam dunk for me.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Azure Fleet Admiral

I don’t really like the cut of this cards jib.  If pirates couldn’t be blocked by the monarch’s creatures, that’d really be something, but having a tradeoff where you can always become the monarch again or else be the monarch seems potentially playable, but there are now so many good pirates, and pirates matters, that….

Agreed on this one, Pirate tribal decks were already not hurting for playables, and then they got some great new ones in this set. I have trouble seeing this making the cut in those decks, and monarch heavy decks aren’t typically blue either.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Body of Knowledge

The ability to draw cards whenever this creature is dealt damage is pretty huge, and having no maximum hand size pairs really well with it.  Though it costs 5, a card draw engine like that is fairly amazing.  Pair it with Pestilence or something like that for amazing results.

You can already make a fun “cards in hand” Overbeing of Myth deck, and this is a great addition. It gets big enough fast enough that your opponents have to start blocking it and dealing damage to it or else risk dying, but that just grows it, which means the next attack is even more dangerous, and so on. It even makes sure you can keep the fist full of counterspells you draw to ensure nobody is ever removing it.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Brinelin, the Moon Kraken

At 8 CMC this is a bit of a doozy, but this ability can easily go infinite with something like Palinchron or Great Whale, and it pairs relatively well with gaining cascade when you cast things with 6 or higher CMC.  Nevertheless it probably costs too much to be very relevant.

Very reminiscent of Tidespout Tyrant, except the trigger is conditional. Tyrant already doesn’t see play unless you’re going infinite as Phillip said, so I can’t see playing Brinelin outside of a Quest for Ula’s Temple sea monster deck.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Court of Cunning

If you’re playing Hard Mode with a designated mill deck, then you’re including this. If you’re playing a self mill deck that includes blue, you’re definitely slotting it on. In any other deck it’s a no-go, and that’s before even taking into account the kind of political hate mill cards can draw.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Eligeth, Crossroads Augur

At 6 CMC this is really too expensive, but turning scry into draw is pretty huge, and you could potentially pair it with a more reasonable costed partner to play it late game for value with a lot of scry effects in a deck.  I would assume this would be some sort of Simic deck, with green ramp, possibly into Kinnan, Bonder Mage, and then a repeatable scry effect so you could draw your entire deck.

Another card I love, making scry into draw is extremely powerful. From getting incidental draw off of lands, to turning Mystic Speculation into Ancestral Recall with buyback, to the crazy value you can get off of Thrasios, Triton Hero…sign me up bigtime.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Esior, Wardwing Familiar

The familiars are really odd to me, and and don’t quite make sense.  They seem more like what companions were meant to be or something else, and their partner ability doesn’t quite add up.  They should have “partner with” and then a range of possibilities or something like that.  “Partner with any wizard” or something like that would be completely apropos.  2 CMC for a relatively generic blue commander, with flying and 1/3 stat block and paying a tax to target commanders is okay, especially if your partner commander is some kind of beater you don’t want targeted I suppose.

This isn’t a bad effect per se, and it’s costed aggressively, but I don’t think having to pay an extra 3 is going to save you when someone decides your commander really needs to die. This is commander after all, big mana is kind of a thing we do a lot.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Fall from Favor

This is kind of a cool card, combing monarchy with tapping and forcing someone to untap, and punishing decks that rely on the commander solely for being an attacker.  Functionally it will generally end up being a cantrip, so in some kinds of control and enchantress decks I could see it becoming playable.

All I can see looking at this card is Icy Prison, because I am old. Neat, but doesn’t do anything to shut down the many, many commanders who will kill you without relying on combat damage.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Forceful Denial

This might be playable, especially in a vain hope to win counter wars, but 5 CMC for a counterspell, even if it has cascade, is really too much.

All of the cost of Desertion with none of the knowledge of what your upside, if any, will be. Pass.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Ghost of Ramirez DePietro

Guh-guh-guh-guh-ghost pirate!  This is a weird sort of wonky ability but works well with blues new self-mill theme (obviously blue didn’t have enough themes or combo or card advantage lines and needed another one) and he has a weird sort of evasion-esque ability, and a 3 CMC, 1 colored mana, partner commander with 3 toughness is certainly playable.  Nothing really stands out to me on this guy, but I could see building a deck around him.

Interesting for deep cut Vorthoses, this card may answer why Ramirez DePietro seemed to be one of the most flagrant instances of inconsistent story continuity between Legends I and II. I’m sure that’s what Wizards was trying to do, and not just call back to a cool old card. As for his new abilities, I guess it helps you out when you mill a card you really needed to draw? I can’t think of a way I can really use this to my advantage offhand but it’s neat regardless.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Glacian, Powerstone Engineer

The activation abilities of artifacts you control cost 1 less, and this ability thematically makes sense.  3 CMC, Partner, 2/3

Wait what the… 6 for a 3/6 that has “Tap X untapped artifacts you control: look at the top X cards of your library put one of those cards into your hand and the rest into your graveyard.  Okay this is bad, and weird templating (I thought they fixed the rules so you can’t tap tapped things to pay costs… right?)  So um, it costs too much, the only good thing is it isn’t draw, it’s put in hand.  And it’s 1 colored mana, so I guess you can theoretically get to paying for his overcostedness with his engineered powerstone

Glacian is a fun card whose biggest drawback to me is actually that his thematically appropriate partner Rebbec, Architect of Ascension is white instead of red. I’d love if they formed an Izzet artifacts pair using Glacian’s self mill and red’s artifact reanimation like Daretti, Scrap Savant, but instead they may actually be better in the 99 of an Esper artifacts build than as the commanders of their own deck.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Hullbreacher

HULLBREACHER.  Second most important card in the set.  It’s Smothering Tithe, except really better, and it has flash, and it’s blue.  Well we can go back and forth on whether it’s better, it works better in some decks like Opus Thief, absolutely ruining your opponents draw, but the nice thing about Smothering Tithe is sometimes your opponents will say “damn your tithe” and just draw cards anyway, giving you treasures.  No-one is likely to pay for card draw or cast something like Frenzied Search when it’s on the board.  Of course the thing has FLASH so you can FLASH it out in response.  Because why wouldn’t a blue card have flash.

This card will, and should, be everywhere and will be a meta defining card, and have more impact than Jeweled Lotus.

Definitely a crazy strong card. Hullbreacher is great if it’s doing nothing more than shutting off a Phyrexian Arena or Guardian Project, however it ALSO can go absolutely bonkers when someone casts their Wheel of Fortune or one of its variants. It’s like a Narset, Parter of Veils that you can flash in that also makes 21 treasures to make sure your friends hate you just that little bit extra. Bonkers.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Kitesail Skirmisher

I guess these kitesail guys are cool, flying pirates is like cool.  But paying 4 CMC to give something else flying is pretty meh.  And the Encore is meh too.  It’s meth.  It costs too much.  At 2 CMC, 4 CMC encore this would be playable.  Paying 4 for a 3/1 with flying that gives something else flying doesn’t cut it.

Yeah, too small of an effect, too many good pirates.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Laboratory Drudge

I guess like, blue needs zombies too, because blue doesn’t have enough themes, or lines of play, or combos, right?  4 for a 3/4 with this ability is okay in a slowish kind of Dimir zombie deck.

Zombies get their own River Kelpie, which is great in the kind of grindy game you need to be playing to make most tribal decks work. Also I GUESS you could use it in non-tribal decks like Izzet spellslinging to take advantage of your flashback cards etc.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Malcom, Keen-Eyed Navigator

Big card.  Big Deal.  Huge.  3 cmc, 2/2 flier with a huge ability that makes pirates matter.  Will be everywhere.  Will be a comp deck.  Will be part of the “good” pirate decks.  Huge, amazing.  Wait sirens have wings?  Wtf I thought they like sung men to their deaths.

A solid and thematically appropriate ramp card, but not strong enough to discourage you from using a better Pirate commander in favor of the Malcolm and Breeches, Brazen Plunderer buddy cop deck that fans of the Ixalan story would like to build.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Merchant Raiders

4 CMC for a 2/4 with this ability won’t cut it with how many good pirates there are.  In battlecruiser this is kind of a mean effect, since it triggers for every pirate, and you can use it to tap people down and keep hitting them and gaining treasures and taking their stuff.

If this triggered whenever a Pirate dealt combat damage it would be very strong to oppressive, as it is it provides some nice utility and sometimes will let you cast two or three Pirates and sneak through someplace you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Mnemonic Deluge

Paying 9 for really anything is a bit of a joke, if you do you better win the game.  You probably will, there are some huge things you can copy, and you “cast” the copies not put them on the stack, which will trigger cascades and I guess the really cool thing to do would be to copy it somehow and then exile it to the copy of itself to generate 9 spells at once.  Okay that’s a pretty cool wincon for a deck.

An appropriately mythic 9 mana mythic. This does require some setup, so you can’t slam it into any old blue deck and expect to win with it, but if you’re the kind of spellslinging deck that wants this kind of effect this will absolutely close out games.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Sakashima of a Thousand Faces

4 CMC, 3/1 commander that will enter as something else. I know you can break this; I’m just not entirely sure how. But breaking the legend rules out of the command zone has to be really strong. Obviously you could do something like copy Tymna, the Weaver and draw a lot.  Like keep cloning and drawing a ton.  But there’s also stuff like Alena, Kessig Trapper.  Well if you have 2 of those that each tap for the amount of red of the greatest power of a creature that entered the battlefield this turn that you control, that could get crazy.  And if you could use that mana to make more copies, and give them haste…  Brallin, Skyshark Rider would also be broken to copy, granted you can’t partner with him, but could still be in the 99 of a Brallin deck. But the biggie so far is probably Vial Smasher, the Fierce, or maybe Krark, the Thumbless.  Having like 5 copies of Krark in play would get really crazy fast. Every spell you cast you’d get 5 flips, almost inevitably putting it back in your hand and getting some copies. Spells like Seething Song would go infinite, and you could just keep casting lightning bolt.

Oh baby. As the proud owner of a Vial Smasher deck that already runs Sakashima the Imposter, I am psyched for this card. The only thing that feels better than hitting a random opponent for 10 off of Time Stretch is doing it twice, and the only thing better than THAT is doing it three times. Even if you never live the dream of having three or more copies of your chosen legendary creature, the effect is very powerful and having a second copy of it in your deck is fantastic.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Sakashima’s Protege

Erm Sakashima has a protégé and a student. Okay well, 6 CMC is a lot, but this has cascade, and there’s a way to get cascade for casting stuff that costs 6 CMC, and it copies something, and if you could ignore the legend rule… well that’s a lot of synergy, but expensive synergy. Still neat, and copying with flash is useful, can be very very powerful in a slower game.

Is Stunt Double markedly better with Cascade for 2 extra mana? My guess is no, so this protégé will be confined to Cascade decks until it becomes a master.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Sakashima’s Will

Stealing commanders can be huge, and a lot of decks don’t run other creatures, and since this spell doesn’t actually target the creature that can make it quite difficult to stop an effect like this.  The secondary ability, turning everything into a copy can go totally nutso.  Like with Krark, the Thumbless, you could rapidly steal everything in play.

The first effect will be situational, and the second effect will absolutely win you games out of nowhere. Very solid card.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Siani, Eye of the Storm

4 CMC Flying 3/2 when Siana attacks scry X where X is the number of attacking creatures with flying is useful, and neat, has partner, there’s the guy who turns scry into draw, i mean it’s okay. Very adequate. Extremely adequate.

A useful card advantage engine if your deck is all in on flyers enough to make this worthwhile.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Sphinx of the Second Sun

People have been talking about this card, and yes, it’s fairly cool, and does a huge new game-breaking thing, a thing never quite done before, essentially another untap, upkeep, and draw, which is pretty cool.  But it costs 8.  I can see cheating it out in various ways being quite good, maybe some kind of Kenrith reanimator deck.

This is a lot of mana to pay for something that is going to be kill on sight by every opponent. On the other hand, you’re going to have an extra card in hand and your mana untapped to use your counters to protect your advantage. Make no mistake, this is absolutely worth burning those cards to protect – we’ve gotten many lessons on how strong even the ‘fixed’ version of this effect is with Wilderness Reclamation.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Trove Tracker

3 for a 2/2 Pirate that when it dies draw a card, with encore 7.  In a long game, or with things like Malcom, yes, this is totally playable, if you expect to reliably be able to pull off the encore.  The nice thing about pirates is they punish opponents for letting them get through, so your opponents will want to kill the Trove Tracker, so it’ll probably pull off the intended effect.

I suspect that if your game is going well enough for you to Encore this, you’ve already stolen most of your opponents’ board states and are laughing your way to the bank with a chest full of Treasures. Pirates tend to run enough cards like Coastal Piracy that you probably don’t need the draw badly either.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Wrong Turn

I think this is actually a really cool card, really cool, political, basically moves someone’s commander to another player, lets you make deals and do weird stuff.  Also has a cool interaction with Blim, Comedic Genius.  I hope WotC keeps printing cool cards that actually work into the 4 player framework, rather than mostly ignoring it.

A fun political and/or shenanigans card that will sometimes save your bacon by removing a big attacker getting ready to murder you and shunting it off to a new controller.

 

Tomorrow: Black

Check back tomorrow when our review of Commander Legends continues with an examination of all the new cards added in Black. Until then, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

 

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