July 10, 2017

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Jeskai Commander Review

The series continues! Today I'll look at every three-colour Jeskai card in Magic the Gathering and judge them based on their relevance and ability in Commander. I wish this could have come out on July the 4th so that our American friends could really feel the patriotism from a Red, White, and Blue review.

A quick reminder of how this will work:

We're looking at each card’s multiplayer effect, its power level, and whether or not it’s playable in a multitude of decks or just one. For legendary creatures I’ll still assign one letter grade, but also talk about the card’s viability as a commander or in the 99.

The grading looks like this:

A: Bombs/broken cards and excellent commanders. A lot of fun with unique design and interaction. Will effect the board in a big way in just about any deck or will allow for a very strong deck to be built around it if it is a commander.

B: Very good cards in most decks or total bombs in only one particular deck. Solid commanders but perhaps not the best in the colours.

C: A playable commander card, not great, maybe you're running it because of budget reasons. This card may be perfectly good in a specific deck yet not playable in others. An average commander, the abilities make for a mildly interesting/fun commander.

D: Not really a playable card in EDH except in some corner cases and specific builds. Generally not good. A commander that has no relevant abilities or is just not very fun.

F: Unplayable in a commander deck or as the commander itself.

Here we go! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Catch // Release – D

Catch and Release is a textbook D. I don't see many decks running this for a number of reasons, the cheaper side, Catch, is too small of an ability, Release is an unreliable spell that costs a lot, and on top of those things it can only go in a Jeskai deck. The restrictions are too great and even if you do, for some reason, want to fuse these together it's too expensive for too small an effect. Something might want it, but I haven't seen that thing yet.

Efreet Weaponmaster - D

A great limited card from Khans of Tarkir, the Jeskai morph at common doesn't have a ton of use in EDH. Maybe a five colour morph deck just needs everything it can get it's hands on, in which case the +3/+0 might be decent, but in the end a 4/3 first strike isn't really worth the investment.

Flying Crane Technique – C-

Look, when it comes to acting like a cool water bird, I'm generally all in. And on paper Flying Crane Technique seems quite good. It's even playable in a bunch of decks. But at six CMC, and as a one shot use, you need a lot of other support to make this card worth it in Commander. Hopefully you've also got a [/c]Bident of Thassa[/c] or something around to make it really shine. High set up cost makes this one less than desirable for a lot of decks.

Jeskai Ascendancy – C+

I'm going to say this, I wanted to give this card a B but I realized that would just be untrue. That said, Jeskai Ascendancy is a pretty underrated card in Commander. There have to be a bunch of awesome combos with this deck, tapping creatures, casting cantrips, and so on that would fully make this worth it. I'm a big fan of the ascendancy cycle, and I think this is actually one of the more commander-relevant ones. Not for every deck, but it can be an amazing build-around.

Jeskai Charm – C-

Jeskai Charm in commander just screams at me “MEH”. It's playable yet not flashy and there are just better options out there. That being said, making an army gain +1/+1 and lifelink, or tucking a big tough creature can be very relevant when behind, which you so often are in EDH. I sort of like it for the sheer surprise your opponents would show if you used this to deal the last four points of damage to them.

Lightning Angel – D

Despite the classic RK Post artwork, Lightning Angel fails to spark my EDH, uhh... voltage meter? Whatever. It's a French Vanilla card you would only ever include in Jeskai Angel Tribal? That's not even real.

Mantis Rider – D-

More efficient yet less tribal synergistic Lightning Angel gets a worse grade oddly enough. These creatures are just going to get outclassed very quickly.

Narset, Enlightened Master – A+

Want to know why Narset gets an A? Oh, I don't know, maybe because Narset is just one of the most powerful multiplayer commanders around? Maybe it's because she has a unique ability with great keywords, and excellent flavour, and Vorthos aspects to boot? How about the fact that you can build the crazy spike version of her with Jokulhops and Armageddon, or a Superfriends list, or even go budget and just cast big fun things like Mind's Dilation and Omniscience? She's a great general worthy of a high grade.

Numot, the Devastator - B-

Not a lot of the Planar Chaos dragons hold up as A-class commanders these days, but I must say I really like Numot's ability to mess with land destruction but not seem totally oppressing. Generally land destruction can get a little messy to deal with socially in EDH, but I think Numot is reasonable. Not a great card for the 99 but a fun commander to work with.

Odds // Ends – D+ (Fun Grade: B!)

Odds and Ends is the Jeskai split card that does not have the Fuse ability, so really you have to evaluate each of these spells on their own. Odds is the Izzet side, which is fun and a 50/50 shot on whether or not it will stop something big or also give you one, and Ends is the more straightforward Boros side that affects attacking creatures. Neither side is particularly strong and this card is a weird mix of Boros and Izzet which tend to not share many similarities. Yet I think it's a fun card that if you ever get to cast, you'll be happy you did. Obviously it's not great but I'd encourage you to include a few cards like this as a laugh.

Ruhan of the Fomori - B

I feel like the idea behind Ruhan is a great one; chaotic, random damage going all over the place. And if that is the way you build your Ruhan deck, I think that's a lot of fun. But too often Ruhan just turns into the Jeskai voltron commander, which to me is a lot less inspired. I like Ruhan, but he falls short of an A in my books.

Sage of the Inward Eye - D+

Jeskai has a very weird combination of Boros wanting to attack, Azorius wanting to control, and Izzet wanting to cast spells. So you end up with things like this, a creature that wants to attack, with an on-colour ability that gets triggered by a spell. So attack, cast, gain life. Seems fine, but in Commander you either want to do this with a huge army, or it isn't worth it. Sage is something I'd consider for Jeskai token decks, but it's far from an auto-include.

Warden of the Eye - C+
Speaking of something of some sort of Eye, Warden of the Eye is a creature I can get behind. Basically just falling short of an Eternal Witness for Jeskai, upon ETB the good Warden will pull you an Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact or even a Planeswalker! Not bad for an uncommon. As good or better than things like Izzet Chronarch or Mnemonic Wall, I like Warden of the Eye as a nice budget include in most Jeskai decks.

Zedruu the Greathearted - A+

I suppose we've saved the best for last. Zedruu the Greathearted is truly one of a kind. Donating as a mechanic in Magic is very rarely used and if you plan on doing any of it at all, Zedruu is the goat you're looking for. With a unique ability that can be built around or just used as a general card draw engine for any Jeskai deck, Zedruu is what I think of when I think iconic commanders that make the game feel fresh and different. Truly one of the GOATs.