Magic’s newest expansion has us journeying to what many consider the home of Magic, Dominaria, to see familiar faces and pick up old plot threads. A new set means new cards to examine, and in this article we’ll talk about the multicolor, what they mean for the game, and how they’ll play.
Last time we covered the monocolor cards, and this time as usual we won’t be looking at everything, and we’ll be doing this mostly with an eye for Commander play.
As always, this set offers a bunch of new commanders. Many of these are references to some very old cards, from the earliest sets in Magic’s existence, or the first set with Legendary cards, the eponymous Legends.
Ajani, Sleeper Agent
BPhillipyork: Compleated Planeswalkers are here to stay (yeah right, they’re going to get uncompleated) giving people poison counters is neat as an emblem, but kind of underwhelming.
Fromtheshire: Look, I could go into a whole lore thing here about Planeswalkers being able to be compleated now but let’s set that aside for the time being. The +1 is useful, but in green you could easily just have straight up card draw instead, and the minus isn’t much to write home about in EDH. On top of that, the ultimate ensures this will live rent free in enough people’s heads that more often than not this will die as soon as you cast it.
Rocco Gest: This is a great Planeswalker that I can’t wait to add to my collection. He has a great +1 Loyalty ability for creature digging. Good luck getting his emblem to be active.
Aaron, Benalia’s Ruin
BPhillipyork: A-Aron here is an aristocrats and +1/+1 themed type deal. A sac outlet in the command zone is nice, but this costs mana, and taps, so it’s not spammable or a win con. In terms of generating value this is neato, and white can do a lot of with +1/+1 counters, but it’s a lot of colored mana. 3 toughness is enough to avoid most board control based on damage, which is nice. Menace is pretty meaningless on a creature where by default you would want to keep him untapped to use his ability. Overall kind of mediocre.
Fromtheshire: Pretty slow and narrow, at least he’s a Human I suppose.
Astor, Bearer of Blades
BPhillipyork: The ETB trigger in my opinion should be a tap trigger, not an ETB trigger. Equip 1 and Crew 1 is okay, fun for a goofy kind of deck, but I wish he was a dwarf and not a human. Dwarf vehicles is fun, and it’s fine to have a non-dwarf commander I guess but it doesn’t feel very on theme.
Fromtheshire: Only getting the effect once is a bit of a bummer, but the abilities are pretty great. There’s a lot of Equipment that is balanced by having high equip costs, and dropping these to 1 offers some interesting possibilities.
Balmor, Battlemage Captain
BPhillipyork: This is a fun sort of board prowess ability. For aggro go wide decks a lot of potential in Izzet colors but those decks have a lot of trouble closing out the game.
Fromtheshire: If you think I’m not building an Izzet bird deck jamming Bird Maiden now you clearly don’t read this column much. Even in joke decks this a very solid ability to go wide with, much less once it’s something like The Locust God with real spells and a billion hasty insects.
Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim
BPhillipyork: This is a boss Orzhov aristocrats commander or trigger for aristocrats decks. WB is very affordable to get a trigger onto the board so you can start sacrificing. The fact he’s a cleric is pretty nice, for things like Orah. Deathtouch is one of the better evergreen keywords on a commander since it means if you’re forced to chump block he’ll take something down with him. The triggers are separated, which is interesting and has some weird implications, largely that if your death trigger loop requires a life payment you’ll die too, but hopefully be recovering as creatures come into play.
Fromtheshire: Having your first copy of Zulaport Cutthroat be in your command zone is excellent in the type of deck that wants it. Usually you are drowning in ways to trigger it and are searching for the few copies in your deck so the access is great, and coming with incidental life gain and deathtouch as a bonus is really handy as well.
Garna, Bloodfist of Keld
BPhillipyork: Another boss aristocrats style commander, very solid triggers for Mardu or Rakdos aristocrats style. Also potentially big for Fling-ing things after they’ve dealt combat damage or other hilarious shenanigans.
Fromtheshire: Nice flexibility and useful triggers.
Jhoira, Ageless Innovator
BPhillipyork: So this is a fairly badass version of Jhoira. There’s some fairly obvious loops, Clock of Omens and – Liquimetal Torque and Liquimetal Coating (or other artifact-ings), this will let you drop an artifact, then tap it and another artifact to untap Jhoira, which means you can drop another artifact. This means you can rapidly dump a lot of artifacts and get some big artifact into play.
Fromtheshire: Birthing Pod style decks are almost always very powerful, and working with notoriously strong artifacts while increasing two at a time should make alarm bells go off in your head, even before they get to untap shenanigans, of which there are many. Also it’s nice to see Jhoira again, continuing to be a boss.
Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief
BPhillipyork: This card is bad but fun as hell. Simic, make an ungodly number of token decks keeps getting support. I don’t know why I want like 20 copies of Ivy, but there’s a way to get there.
Fromtheshire: Very fun and encourages a slightly different approach than a lot of other Simic decks. You’re building with a lot of Auras yourself, but there’s some other tricks you can play, and once in a while you’ll get something neat from one of your opponents.
Jodah, the Unifier
BPhillipyork: Legendary Cascade is an interesting ability. For WUBRG this is an interesting commander, and it competes with Sisay, Weatherlight Captain, but in truth Sisay is just a stronger card, and this seems like something you’d add to a Sisay deck.
Fromtheshire: Free spells are obviously always powerful, and this has a nice Heroes’ Podium buff as well. Our favorite ageless wizard has clearly spent a lifetime or two working on his oratory.
King Darien XLVIII
BPhillipyork: Totally acceptable go-wide Selesnaya go-wide and tall human tokens type deck. Sacrifice for indestructible and hexproof is actually pretty boss, especially because you can then wrath and then crush everyone. The ability to generate a token on other players turn is really great, because it lets you trigger some of the new white card draw legends.
Fromtheshire: Yeah you’re here for the wrath protection. One of the most devastating things for a tokens deck is to get their board hit right before they reach the critical mass they need and this gives you crucial protection, while also giving you a mana sink and anthem the rest f the time.
Lagomos, Hand of Hatred
BPhillipyork: So this guy has “tap, demonic tutor” but only if 5 creatures died this turn. Demonic Tutor is a fairly strong card. Notably, it’s not a “sorcery” type, so you can use it when someone else loses creatures. His stat line also lets you use 2-toughness-based damaging board clears or -x toughness effects. This is quite a strong Rakdos commander. 3-mana 1/3, demonic tutor, creates elementals that get sacrificed (creating a sacrifice trigger). The whole package here. Solid.
Fromtheshire: 5 is a hefty chunk but not impossible, and unconditional tutors are obviously great. Maybe to find a way to take advantage of that constant stream of creatures dying?
Meria, Scholar of Antiquity
BPhillipyork: Like this is inherently strong. Really, sure it doesn’t go berserk with treasures, but even so, Impulse Draw is strong, especially with triggered “when you cast from exile” and this is a play, not cast trigger, and you can use your artifacts for green mana, which means both ramp, and critically, this can be used for Gruul stax. So Gruul Winterorb type deals. Which can be brutal.
Fromtheshire: Whenever you can turn a bunch of X into mana rocks that usually aren’t, there’s always something busted you can do with it. Even more so in this case since it’s artifacts.
Nael, Avizoa Aeronaut
BPhillipyork: This card’s text is bafflingly long for what it does, but it’s 2 domain triggers, Domain X dig, then tuck, and then if Domain is 5, draw a card, when it deals combat damage. 2/4 flyer. So obviously you don’t really want to run this in a Simic deck because it’s hot garbage in a Simic deck. So it’s not a real commander. IMO kind of weird, and I would be willing to bet this card got tuned down during playtesting in some way, since it really belongs in a 5-color deck.
Fromtheshire: Yeah this is clearly meant to be part of a 5 color Domain deck not its own list, but it’s a very useful piece for that deck. Hitting 5 types with Triomes existing is trivially easy so this can be grinding value for you fairly quickly.
Najal, the Storm Runner
BPhillipyork: Sorcery spells have flash okay that’s kind of terrifying. A lot of control potential there. Doubling spells on a trigger is also pretty scary on a 5/4 body, that can double extra combat or extra turn spells. So, that’s the deck. Enjoy.
Fromtheshire: Guess what’s sorcery speed most of the time? Extra combats and extra turns, which is exactly what you’re going to be trying to double here.
Nemata, Primeval Warden
BPhillipyork: Interesting saproling type commander, would’ve loved to see the death trigger be a “populate or proliferate” trigger. Oh well.
Fromtheshire: Nice call back to Nemata, Grove Guardian, and both secret Reach and hating on graveyards are good abilities.
Queen Allenal of Ruadach
BPhillipyork: Okay, so now we have like 3 separate “if one or more tokens would be created” create another token is added. Which gets rapidly out of control. This one is a lot more narrow than say Chatterfang, Squirrel General which is probably good because Chattterfang is strong. This is strong too though, but more as a utility creature in Selesnaya go-wide decks. I’m not sure I’d want to run this as a commander. I mean go wild, if that’s your thing. But I’d prefer to get a stronger value trigger in the CZ.
Fromtheshire: With enough value pieces like Ashnod’s Altar and Skullclamp I can see this ability being strong enough to stand on its own. Doubling is just that powerful.
Radha, Coalition Warlord
BPhillipyork: I like the interaction with enlist on this version of Radha, potentially you could be enlisting for 8, but like, enlist kind of sucks. These commanders that buff other people but can’t protect themselves kind of bug me.
Fromtheshire: The buff isn’t horrible but only giving it to one creature isn’t great. Hard to see it being worth a slot.
Raff, Weartherlight Stalwart
BPhillipyork: This is super strong, a 2 cost commander, 1/3 body, whenever you cast an instant or sorcery you may tap two creatures, if you do draw a card. The +1/+1 and vigilance is mostly meaningless, especially for 5 mana.
Fromtheshire: Notably not non-token creatures which is very nice. Mainly here for the card draw.
Ratadrabik of Urborg
BPhillipyork: There’s a lot of strong aristocrat Legendaries, but if you’re looking to double things like Ayara, First of Locthwain IMO a better way to go about it is to run an Esper deck and use ability that let you copy Legendaries.
Fromtheshire: Vigilance is a nice ability to give to your team, probably enough on its own to slot into a Varina, Lich Queen deck.
Rith, Liberated Primeval
BPhillipyork: I like excess damage as a mechanic, but 5 for a 5/5 flier is kind of meh to me. I just don’t get the allure of dragon focused decks, when dragons are mostly (though there are some good ones) overcost beaters. Especially given this is a your end-step trigger instead of every end-step it’s a no for me.
Fromtheshire: I like the protection it offers and I could see it making the cut, a lot of time I think it doesn’t do quite enough though.
Rona, Sheoldred’s Faithful
BPhillipyork: Yeah cool another magecraft type trigger. Blue and Black aren’t the color of copy spells, much, but there are enough artifacts and such that you could go infinite with this, which, with blacks tutors and blues general all around doing everything-ness, makes for a potent combination.
Fromtheshire: Very strong ability when you cast instants and sorceries, and being able to dodge the Commander tax down the line is great as well.
Rulik Mons, Warren Chief
BPhillipyork: Love the reference to Mons’s Goblin Raiders, I think mons means like chief or something right? Land ramp or get a goblin token is uh, decidedly okay for a 3/3 for 4 mana with ahem, menace. I guess menace is okay since Gruul has good sources of haste.
Fromtheshire: One of my favorite callbacks, in a set full of great ones. Not crazy powerful but nice, solid value, and the menace is nice to at least make you a little more survivable.
Shanna, Purifying Blade
BPhillipyork: Having an actual payoff for gaining life like this is actually pretty boss in my opinion. Like it’s just pure value. Untapping and having lifegain triggers could decidedly be a thing.
Fromtheshire: Thrilled to see Sisay’s bloodline continuing to be a badass in the right place in the right time. Incidental lifelink like this is underrated in EDH, and being able to turn it into cards is even better.
Sol’Kanar the Tainted
BPhillipyork: Love the callback to Sol’Kanar, one of the least unplayable Legends from Legends. “Choose one that hasn’t been chosen before” is a fun trigger IMO, and blue and black are colors that can pretty easily exile and return or else sacrifice and return. Building around this guy could be fun, but his abilities aren’t really that strong. Would also really like to see maybe deathtouch or haste or both on him (this would make his ping ability a lot stronger too).
Fromtheshire: I think you definitely want to be flickering him to reset your choices, and fortunately blue is great at that. The callback is great.
Soul of Windgrace
BPhillipyork: I like this a lot. Replaying lands from your yard is awesome. Some really fun ways to abuse it. Also pairs really well with something everyone hates, mass land destruction.
Fromtheshire: Yet another great callback, and obviously pairs great with Lord Windgrace decks. Very powerful to keep recurring your lands as well.
Stenn, Paranoid Partisan
BPhillipyork: Cost reduction is no joke, this is inherently abusable with any number of things, or as a combo piece. Choose-able cost reduction is huge, especially on a creature that can exile himself and return, to re-choose his card type.
Fromtheshire: Powerful ability, and being able to choose what you’re reducing means you can go in multiple different directions with your build which is great.
Tura Kennerud, Skyknight
BPhillipyork: It seems like we’re just meant to run all the Azorious commanders in this set in the same deck, letting us draw cards and create soldier tokens which we can use to tap to draw more cards to cast more cheap instants. So I guess that’s a fun thing.
Fromtheshire: Certainly seems to all fit together nicely. A solid piece for the deck at least.
Zur, Eternal Schemer
BPhillipyork: I love him. Turning weird enchantments into creatures is awesome. This is maybe not as straightforward as the original Zur, but there’s all kinds of fun things you can do with him.
Fromtheshire: Opalescence is a dope card, and being able to do it to all your enchantments as well as giving them a great suite of abilities sounds like a blast. As a bonus, it doesn’t make everyone hate you either, which is nice.
Next Time: Monocolored
That wraps up our look at the set’s multicolored cards. Join us next time as we review the sets colored cards, picking out our favorites, and talking about the future build-arounds. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.