Guilds of Ravnica: Legendary Creature Review
New sets are always great because, duh- New cards! But more importantly, new Commander cards. Even more importantly, new actual Commanders.
We EDH players were absolutely spoiled by Dominaria. We even saw some new Elder Dragons in M19, which were yet another boon to the Commander community. With the new set being multicolour AND a return to a plane known for its iconic commanders, Guilds of Ravnica has some pretty big shoes to fill. Let's see how they did this time around!
It always bums me out a little bit to see new mechanics that won't really be relevant in Commander and Mentor is just that.
With the return of Boros and their (war)leader, Aurelia (who's previous iteration was excellent in EDH), I'm pretty disappointed to see the new keyword on this new commander. Aurelia may end up being a decent voltron commander or enabler of a big creature strategy, but those effects aren't hard to come by in these colours. Unfortunately Aurelia doesn't really offer anything that Boros can't get in a myriad of other cards. Or even in other generals. Bit of a let down, but then again without a let down it just wouldn't feel like Boros, would it?
After the debacle that was creating the original Emmara in Dragon's Maze, I was thrilled to hear about a new Emmara in the works. Especially as someone with a Trostani token deck.
While this Emmara has a neat ability and is definitely playable in other formats, I don't know if Commander is one of them. As it stands, I'm not really sure what token deck wants this Emmara. The only deck I can think of that can really abuse her ability of becoming tapped and creating a 1/1 lifelinker is maybe a Derevi Untapping Matters deck with cards like Freed from the Real. Even then, Emmara doesn't have a native tap ability, so getting those tokens requires some real work. Work that other cards naturally do better.
As a Commander the best you can say about her is that she's very efficiently costed... but that's about it. VERY DISAPPOINT.
Here we go, a real commander with a crazy new ability that us EDH brewers can really sink our teeth into.
Now I will start off by saying I'm not the biggest fan of “you win the game” or “some player loses the game” text on cards. There are certainly exceptions however, and it seems like winning a game of Commander with Etrata might be harder than it looks.
When Etrata hits a player you have to shuffle her into your library, or if she is your commander, put her back into the command zone. In other words it's going to take a lot of mana and/or work and extra cards in your deck to abuse Etrata's ability. Some, like Strionic Resonator will at least help you exile two creatures with counters on them before she goes away, but what happens when your opponents aren't running creatures? Or if they have a sac outlet?
I like where the design for this Commander is heading and I think there's definitely a deck here. However, I'm not wild about her as a way of winning the game... which is the whole reason you would even have her as your commander in the first place.
Izoni may be overcosted for a Commander with this ability, and this ability may not exactly be exciting. Sure, it's pretty fair considering the set up cost, but at least I can see this deck actually working. Izoni has a clear game plan and with all the other Golgari cards we have to choose from, it's one that isn't super hard to get rolling. Magic players, your official spider spawning general has arrived.
Anyone want to pay full price to reanimate a creature in your graveyard?
No? Me neither.
This is literally why the card Reanimate exists. Or the host of other cards that give you a discount for putting in the work of filling your graveyard with creatures. Not to say this Lazav is bad, because it's not. The ability to switch which creature he becomes is nice, but its notable that you do miss out on any ETB effects you might have. Still, he's a decent choice for a self-mill reanimate strategy, just not a particularly exciting one.
Bonus: If you reanimate a different legendary creature after making Lazav become a copy of it, you get two of those creatures! That's pretty decent?
Please see Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind.
But seriously, yes this card is very similar to the original Niv-Mizzet. It is notable that it is harder to cast but comes with an excellent new ability of drawing cards whenever anyone casts an instant or sorcery. Do not underestimate that ability! All your (I&S) spells cantrip now and if your opponents ever cast any, you'll draw too. This ability might push this version of Niv-Mizzet over the top as the best for the current Niv-Mizzet deck. And that's the biggest drawback really. The main deck you'd brew already exists. But there's always storm!
At first glance I thought Tajic was just another boring Boros general that I'd never even consider running. But then it was pointed out to me that Tajic is the default leader of Earthquake tribal. And while that deck may not even be real, I want it to be real and I think we can make it real.
Aside from this imaginary damage fest of a deck, Tajic is a decent player in the 99 to protect against things like Blasphemous Act and other damage based removal. Not bad for a guy who used to be indestructible.
I have to say as one of my favourite commanders of all time, the original Trostani has provided me with hours of entertaining gameplay with big smashy tokens and gaining so much life your opponents have no idea what to do about it.
With that in mind, this new Trostani certainly does not even come close to the relevance she/they bring to EDH. Trostani Discordant is a token maker and an anthem with a random anti-steal ability tacked on because, well, it's a green ability? I gotta say I'm straight up shaking my head at the missed opportunity here. Trostani is THREE people in one. They haven't only underrepresented one person here, but three of them... connected by tree roots.
The upside I guess is that in a go wide strategy, Trostani Discordant makes sure you have a few bodies and that they get pumped. Also, she makes damn sure no one steals your... tokens? Fine in the 99 of a token deck but not an exciting option to head your deck.
I have to say it: I am disappointed by the commanders in Guilds of Ravnica. I think there are some other AMAZING cards in this set for EDH (Hellooooo Omnispell Adept!) but the legendary creatures just aren't doing it for me. I'll prbably grab Niv-Mizzet and try him out in my, ahem, Niv Mizzet deck and maybe Izoni is worth a look for Ghave. But most of these commanders aren't making the cut of their own decks, let alone anyone else's.