Commander Legends and Piping Hot Effects
Commander Legends is the next in a long-standing list of supplemental products Wizards has been releasing as of late. A lot of people are losing their mind over the newest addition to the wonderful format of Commander; The Prismatic Piper. The return of the Partner mechanic has many sighing at the thought of their opponents having more options. However, let’s go over some of the spoilers this far and why we should respect their existence or discuss if they’re even playable.
The Piper Themselves
The Prismatic Piper is certainly a curious one for many Commander players. Many are viewing it as an excuse to add a third colour to decks like Vial Smasher, the Fierce increasing their power level but that is just looking at Prismatic Piper as an additional card. To evaluate how this card will affect the format, we have to look at why this card would be run. At first glance, this card costs five mana for a vanilla 3/3. Past that, the only relevant text on this card is the fact that it carries the creature type of Shapeshifter helping with potential tribal strategies.
Overall the cost for this card is absurd. We should be asking: “Why play this card as opposed to any other Partner Commander available?". The only logical answer is if you intend to take advantage of the Shapeshifter creature type on the card. Otherwise, it's just a bad card with incredible art from Seb McKinnon. In nearly every deck variation that requires another colour Partner, there are just better options to grant you that one additional colour and from the looks of Halana, Kessig Ranger, Alena, Kessig Trapper and Sengir, the Dark Baron, we should be expecting a full cycle of mono-coloured Partner Commanders that should all be more powerful or efficient than The Prismatic Piper.
The last component we need to establish is “Why does this card exist?”. The answer to this one is actually quite simple; the Limited formats regarding Commander Legends. A Partner card that allows you to play any single colour in your pool at common rarity is undeniably a component that can help bring a pool together. Don’t expect this card to make much of an impact in the constructed format but expect to be considering this card a fair amount in Limited if you need to expand your colours.
The Mono-Coloured Commanders
So far, three new mono-coloured Commanders have been spoiled with two out of three at uncommon rarity. The first of which we’ll be looking at is Halana, Kessig Ranger. A Human Archer that costs three and a green, Halana likes big creatures, as the card itself stands to be used as a consistent removal spell in green. On their own, the card doesn’t do a whole lot as it is a card that's based around reactionary gameplay. Without any sort of card advantage, board presence or otherwise game swinging effect on their own, you’re simply left picking off your opponent’s creatures one at a time. It’s not a terrible card but not a high power effect. I would say to expect this to be reasonable in the draft environment for green though. Granting mono-green consistent removal will likely be a strong effect.
Next up is the mono-red Alena, Kessig Trapper. Offering tons of mana in red decks and having easy infinite mana combos with Umbral Mantle, this has a stronger footing to start off with than Halana did. Cards like Assemble the Legion or Krenko, Mob Boss will quickly and consistently help this card generate an absurd amount of mana to dump into a Comet Storm or another X spell like it. I expect this card to see play but not necessarily in the Command Zone. Various builds of Commanders like The Locust God will profit greatly from seeing this card in the 99. From the perspective of Limited, you shouldn’t hold your breath too much on the ability.
The last of the mono-coloured Partner Commanders that have been spoiled is Sengir, the Dark Baron. A pretty typical mono-black card that carries a high upside to creature deaths. The mechanic of players losing the game always results in an interesting card. Similar to Elbrus the Binding Blade, it creates an incredibly high upside to taking players out of the game but one always must ask how often you’ll be able to take advantage of this. While this is on the field, your opponents are not likely to help you take other players out. When evaluating this card for your deck, you should likely just be paying attention to the first two abilities. Flying and getting bigger whenever a creature dies. This will likely be a solid inclusion for token and aristocrat decks. From a draft perspective, I expect this to be a pretty big hit. A Partner Commander that’s a 4/4 flyer and is only going to get bigger? Sounds excellent and if you can pick it up with a Prossh in your Command Zone, you’ll be laughing all the way to value town while your opponents weep.
Mono-White Catching Up
As is the new norm, Wizards continues to print new cards that hope to bring white to the forefront of Commander, this time with Keeper of the Accord. While this card isn’t bad, it certainly plays into the current issue that white has where it’s constantly behind their opponents. This card only serves to help you try to catch up, not get ahead. As a result, an over-reliance on this in deckbuilding and gameplay will only get players so far. When you can’t rocket ahead of your opponents, you likely can’t win the game. This card isn’t the worst when you’re far behind your opponents, but it doesn’t do enough to really bring you back ahead or really at parity. In draft, I expect this to be more powerful than it is in Commander. It will constantly be spawning chump blockers for you in a much slower and more forgiving format while offering you a way to catch up.
The Battlebond Cycle
The cycle of Crowd lands has finally received the enemy coloured portion of the cycle. The completion of the cycle is a huge boost for multi-coloured decks in the format. If you haven’t played with them before, let’s go over the benefits of playing them. They’re simply duals that reward you for playing multiplayer games. If you find yourself frequently playing in groups, there is no cost to including these. If you play in primarily one on one games, these cards will likely be useless to you. The Theros Temple cycle would be better tap lands before you consider these.
That’s it for new card spoilers from Commander Legends so far! Not a whole lot new so far with a handful of choice reprints. It’s looking like it will be an exciting set to draft for both regular drafters and those who prefer Commander! As more news comes from the set, I look forward to breaking down the new cards for the lovely format of Commander.