Since the summer has begun winding down, I’ve found myself reflecting on how the landscape of the Commander format has changed over the last few months. There are scores of new commanders added to the already numerous options for brewers to build. As the weather shifts from the warm months of spring and summer to the cold months of fall, and the release of Guilds of Ravnica is just over the horizon, I have compiled my top five legendary creatures released from Dominaria until now!
This list is merely my own opinion, as there are some archetypes I do not find interesting and thus legends that support those will not be on this list. For example, the Bant Enchantress C18 deck had a couple of cool design legends that dealt with enchantments which is not an archetype that I enjoy playing. Kestia and Tuvasa are cool cards but enchantments don’t do it for me. The criteria I am working with is legends that either caught my eye due to flavor, potential power, or pure popularity.
5.Tawnos, Urza’s Apprentice
Tawnos was one of the commanders that was exciting because of his potential power. While Commander 2018 has largely been viewed as a disappointment, the set did give us some exciting new commanders that have interesting and unique abilities, the kind of creatures that get the brewing juices flowing. Tawnos was one of those for me. In fact, as I am typing this I am editing a Tawnos list I brewed with a friend. The build we are working with is a Paradox Engine combo deck, the goal is to sprint for Paradox Engine and use Tawnos to copy its trigger to gain infinite mana. I believe that it will be a rush to play but even if that doesn’t sound appealing Tawnos could absolutely head up an artifact deck. I’m thinking of effects like Planar Bridge or Spine of Ish Sah.
The fact is that there are tons of powerful abilities to copy with him; imagine if Kurkesh had blue! Yes, his ability does require tapping, but he has haste, it’s not particularly difficult to ramp out a big artifact and drop Tawnos when the table is set. If the combo route doesn’t sound fun then use him as an artifacts/abilities matter general! If keeping friends isn’t that important to you, copy Memnark’s abilities and steal everything. The bottom line is there are a ton of applications for Tawnos whether you want combo insanity or sweet value abilities the lines of play are both powerful and interesting. The card also has some historic real estate (Tawnos being Urza’s assistant), and I’m a sucker for that.
4.Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
Behold, our lord and savoir has arisen! I have been wanting to build a Nicol Bolas themed deck for a while, but the creature version from legends simply doesn’t get the job done. The Ravager was easily the most exciting card from M19 for me. The amazing part about the card is even if he is removed immediately the second he hits the table Bolas is a three for one, since he forced each opponent to discard a card. Given that he is a control focused card in Grixis, winning the card advantage battle is paramount. I have actually built my lord’s commander deck and it is a Grixis control deck with a Bolas theme. It plays a ton of spot removal, cantrips, and counterspells. The idea I had was to control the board enough to land one of the Bolas planeswalkers and have enough resources to protect them and win the game off of their abilities. Or simply flip my commander and cast Obliterate.
It has worked decently well in lower power metas however, if that does not sound like a good time (I can’t possibly imagine why) I have seen some builds centered around blinking Bolas to take advantage of his ETB trigger, which then eventually hope to flip him once your opponents are out of hand. Either way, our lord doesn’t mess around. Like in the story, he’s out for blood. There is a special kind of satisfaction you can get from activating Nicol Bolas, God Pharaoh’s ultimate in the same turn as Nicol Bolas Arisen’s. Whichever build he heads up he is a force to be reckoned with.
3.Arixmethes, The Slumbering Isle
Arixmethes caught my eye immediately, almost exclusively because of how flavorful the card is. He is literally a sleeping Kraken that has a city on his back! Also in his lore, when Kiora saw him she compared his size to that of the Eldrazi Titan Ulamog saying that Arixmethes as least the same size. It is comparisons like that the fully tell the story of how titanic this Kraken is. He is in fact bigger than the Titan on the cards themselves. If that wasn’t enough there are a few cool builds with him leading the charge. I thought of putting together a sea monster tribal deck, as the addition of green would help ramp out those massive deep sea denizens. In addition, Arixmethes is a Kraken himself while at the same time providing extra mana for more Krakens. Furthermore, there are mass unsummon effects like Whelming Wave which in this deck becomes one sided board wipes.
Alternatively, an animating lands theme is possible again Arixmethes is a land that animates himself we could run him along with cards like Sylvan Awakening, run a metric ton of rump and swing in with Arixmethes and a couple dozen lands for the win. Either of these seems like a good time I think I am leaning towards the former. The flavor of Arixmethes is simply captivating and he gives a different flair to the typical simic “big mana” game plan. I have not seen Arixmethes discussed all that much so this might be just me. However, Arixmethes certainly assisted in mitigating the disappointment I felt after Commander 2018 spoilers. The mechanics of the card blend so well with his lore I cannot help but begin brewing despite already having too many commander decks as is.
2.Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow
A friend of mine just built this deck and it’s a powerhouse. Life totals descend alarmingly fast when there are four to six Yuriko triggers in one combat. She combines small, evasive creatures with top deck manipulation; the mixture of which make for a dynamic playing experience the lines of which are unlike most other commander decks. Commander Ninjutsu dodging commander tax also gives the deck a certain element of resilience while also not being as game breaking as Derevi. As I keep saying, I am a sucker for flavorful cards. I always thought Ninjutsu as a mechanic is a flavorful representation of how a ninja would interact on cardboard. Its is the combination of both unique ability and flavor which sells Yuriko. Overall, she is an awesome card that leads a deck that is every bit as flavorful as it is powerful.
1.Muldrotha, the Gravetide
Muldrotha is not as unique as a couple of other commanders discussed above, but she did redefine the general recursion strategy. The ability to play any permanent from the graveyard each turn carries the promise of pure, sweet value. However, it is not just the power of her abilities that pushes her to the top of this list; it is the amount of applications that she is capable of. There have been several different builds with her at the helm, everything from stax to lands matter to reanimator to control, Muldrotha supports all of these builds! Her colors give her good tools to make any of these archetypes work smoothly. She is open ended enough that most ideas will thrive with her at the helm as opposed to having a commander simply for the colors. She allows Gitrog and Tatyova to team up which Lord Windgrace’s colors do not permit. She is able to break parity on stax pieces that sacrifice themselves like Stasis and the like. She is in the perfect colors for a reanimation strategy and she does it herself, and Sultai are perfectly good control colors. The amount of applications for her abilities is staggering, which is why she is my top legend for summer 2018.
I know Dominaria was not technically released in the summer but it felt wrong to write about legends released in recent memory and not mention a legendary matters set released in the last four months. I really could not think of legend that encapsulated this summer of EDH than Muldrotha. However, this is simply my opinion all of the legends mentioned were ones that jumped off the webpage for various reasons be it flavor mechanics or a combination of both. In any case that was my top 5 legends since Dominaria. Please post a comment if you wish to debate any of my choices!
I got the card images from here: http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Default.aspx
The Story that mentions Arixmethes can be found here:
Make Good reads and smart plays y’all!
-Paul of Clan Nel Toth