Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate Set Review - Artifacts and Lands
(Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate Concept Art | Art by Kamila Szutenberg)
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Baldur's Gate Has Landed!
Hello, everyone! It’s your friendly neighborhood Jesguy here, and welcome to the Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate Artifacts and Lands set review! Goodness, that was a mouthful.
Today, we'll be looking through all the awesome new artifacts, Equipment, and lands from the latest Commander Legends set. I won't be covering any of the reprints here, so if you're looking for data on those cards, feel free to go look at their pages on EDHREC proper, cuz we've got plenty of data on them all!
Without further ado, let's take the initiative, and see what treasures await us!
Mythics and Rares
Vehicles really need to pull their weight in order to be worth inclusion, and I think Nautiloid Ship clears that hurdle just fine. Four mana to obliterate a graveyard is hefty, but the ability to hit opponents in the air for five damage and then steal a creature out of the exiled cards is sweet. Crew 3 is a lot to ask, but if you crew it once, each hit with the ship makes crewing it again even easier! Yeeting an entire graveyard into exile is always potent, and if you have any blink, like Teleportation Circle, you can even reset the graveyard you exile, though you will lose access to the previously exiled cards, so keep that in mind!
Vehicles decks, Theft decks, or any list that wants a huge flying beater that steals opponents' creatures will love Nautiloid Ship. I know I'm adding this to at least one of my own decks sometime soon. It's just way too cool!
All I'm going to say is that if you equip Pact Weapon to a creature, that creature's name is officially Bob, the Lich. Sorry, I don't make the rules.
Pact Weapon is neat and flavorful, and it reminds me of Cloudsteel Kirin, which I reviewed for Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. An Equipment that prevents you from losing the game is really cool, but if you drop below zero life, all your opponents have to do to is remove this artifact or pick off the creature, and you auto-lose. Part of the appeal of the card is the risk, of course, but that's a scary downside. Conversely, if they can't deal with the creature or the Equipment, you're in business and you're not going anywhere!
Greven, Predator Captain seems like the perfect home for Pact Weapon since they synergize well together. The extra card draw and stat boost are nice, but like with many other lich-like effects, this weapon can get real spoopy, real fast, so use it at your own discretion. All I know is that this is another way for Ad Nauseam players to try and go off, so I'm sure they're happy about it!
Right off the bat, this is a shoo-in into any dice-rolling deck if they have a couple powerful artifacts in their deck. Same goes for the likes of Osgir, the Reconstructor and Orvar, the All-Form, or Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer if you can make a token of the Puzzlebox! The more copies of Vexing Puzzlebox, the better, since they all see one another and will put oodles of charge counters onto themselves in no time flat!
I've also seen people talk about ways to move copious amount of charge counters around, like using Dismantle to destroy Vexing Puzzlebox to then put all the counters onto Darksteel Reactor. That's a bit too janky for my tastes, but it's interesting stuff for sure. I'll stick to using this as a mana rock in decks that can take full advantage of it, like Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients, and I'd suggest you do the same! I adore seeing all of these crafty three-mana rocks, it's so nice!
Altar of Bhaal
Altar of Bhaal is a little awkward and a little clunky, but the option of creating a decent creature and having a repeatable reanimation spell is still good, right?
Well... only kind of. One of the worst things an Adventure spell can do is have its spell half and permanent half be "backwards". For something like Bonecrusher Giant, the plan is obvious: cast the Stomp half for two mana, then cast the Giant for three mana on the following turn. This is much more important in 60-card formats, but in the early turns of an EDH game when you're trying to use all of your mana efficiently, getting a 4/1 Skeleton for three mana and then casting the Altar for two mana can make for some awkward sequencing, unless you have cheap spells to help utilize your available mana. That isn't even taking into account the fact that the Altar has to exile a creature for its reanimation effect!
This is one of the weaker versions of this effect, even if it's repeatable, so include it in your decks at your own discretion.
Wait, hold on, is that...?
...Is that a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, but for GATES?? My goodness!
While it may not be as overtly powerful as Nykthos, Baldur's Gate is an incredible pick-up for any Gate deck, not only adding to your Gate count, but also letting you ramp with the best of 'em, from the aforementioned Nykthos to Cabal Coffers! Baldur's Gate is no joke. It won't show up outside of Gates decks, but it's one of the best available options for those decks, and it helps provide budget mana bases with a powerful ramping option. Overall, this card is wonderful to see!
I am always down for more colorless board wipes, and Fraying Line is a welcome addition to this suite of sweepers!
You'll always be able to save a single creature of yours, which makes Fraying Line a bit more palatable over something like Perilous Vault, which wipes everything away, whether you like it or not. Even if Fraying Line lets your opponents save their best creature, once it gets back to your turn, you're able to clear the board of all the other pesky creatures, which isn't something to overlook.
Divine Reckoning and Single Combat see play in abut 18,000 and 14,500 decks, respectively, so there is certainly a desire for more "contained" board wipes. Along with this, if your opponents want to save a creature, they're being taxed two mana for their turn, which can put you ahead on your following turn or whenever you decide to blow up the board. This is even discounting times where they will blow up the board for you, meaning some of your opponents might not even get the chance to save a creature!
No matter how you slice it, Fraying Line is an awesome iteration of a board sweeper that plenty of decks will be interested in. While Oblivion Stone may still be the gold standard for colorless wipes, I don't think Fraying Line is that far off. I like it a bunch!
Horn of Valhalla
If Shivam Bhatt ever got to design an invitational card, I bet this is what it would look like.
A spell that can create a ton of Soldiers, and an Equipment that can pump a single creature for a ton? What's not to love here? Being a sorcery hurts the Adventure portion a bit, but having both these cards stapled to one another more than makes up for it. Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, Jetmir, Nexus of Revels, and Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second are all natural homes for this awesome split card.
Aggressive go-wide decks sometimes struggle with rebuilding from a board wipe and tussling with larger creatures, two things that this card does incredibly well. If you find yourself needing an army-in-a-can and an Equipment to go with it, look no farther than Horn of Valhalla!
Mighty Servant of Leuk-o
A 6/6 with trample for three mana is a steal, but I don't see the Mighty Servant of Leuk-o living up to its name.
Fellow EDHREC writer Benjamin Nichol had an excellent article back in March going over the viability of Vehicles in Commander, and his closing statement has stuck with me:
Unfortunately, the math is currently not in favor of Vehicles in EDH... There is no clear-cut equation for when to or when not to play Vehicles. The only thing I can say for certain is that you shouldn’t be playing Vehicles to help in combat... However, we can leverage Vehicles for what they can do outside of the combat step, whether that is synergizing with our commander or helping us recover from board wipes.
Mighty Servant of Leuk-o is basically just a pile of stats that can sometimes draw two cards. Tapping two creatures with at least 4 power total can be a lot to ask, even if the pay-off is drawing a couple cards. Vehicles really have to impact the board if they're going to succeed in Commander, and I don't know if even dedicated Vehicles decks, like Greasefang, Okiba Boss or Depala, Pilot Exemplar, would want this.
I'd say pass and just include real card advantage if you need it.
Mirror of Life Trapping
A mix between Panharmonicon and Portcullis is an odd card indeed.
Mirror of Life Trapping will eventually double your ETB effects, which is neat, but it will also count your opponents' ETBs too, which is... not so great. This is just a very strange card without a lot of application. Portcullis only sees play in about 600 decks, and the most interesting commander I saw for it was Ranar the Ever-Watchful. Ranar is probably a really cool and niche home for Mirror of Life Trapping, but I don't foresee this card getting added into many decks. It's too narrow of an effect to be broadly useful. If I'm wrong, or if you can think of a really cool commander for it, I'd love to hear your suggestion in the comments below!
A harder-to-kill Elvish Piper that also comes with a free sorcery attached? Sounds good to me!
Elvish Piper sees play in nearly 8,000 decks on the site, the majority of which are big, stompy lists like Xenagos, God of Revels or Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund, and Monster Manual will find a home here as well, if not outright replace Piper. Piper dies to board wipes. This booklet outlives Wraths. What a lovely new card!
There isn't a whole lot to say except if you are looking to cheat costs on creatures and have access to green, you should give Monster Manual a look. I think it's better than both Elvish Piper and Quicksilver Amulet, so don't be afraid to include it in lists over those other two.
Robe of the Archmagi
I just added Mask of the Schemer into my Equipment deck, and now you're telling me it's almost obsolete one set later?? 😫😫
Joking aside, with this set, I feel like Equipment decks have reached a saturation point with their card draw attachments (which I will also talk about later). Between Puresteel Paladin, Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain, Mask of Memory, or Sword of Fire and Ice, Equipment decks have nearly as much card velocity as Enchantress decks, and I've only scratched the surface of their card advantage options!
While none of the Equipment decks on EDHREC can take advantage of the reduced equip cost that Robe of the Archmagi provides, there are plenty of ways to cheat the cost and equip it for free, like Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist. Sigarda's Aid, and the aforementioned Puresteel Paladin who can strap the robe to a creature and draw you a boat load of cards for free!
Decks whose commander have the proper creature types, like Damia, Sage of Stone, Rielle, the Everwise, and Zegana, Utopian Speaker, can also take advantage of this powerful Equipment, and it may surprise folks to see which of their blue commanders just accidentally happen to be Wizards, Warlocks, or Shamans, and would benefit from this card. Though, ironically enough, I'll place my money on Equipment decks running it more often than their magically-inclined counterparts.
Wand of Wonder
Aside from the extra red pip in its mana cost, Wand of Wonder is basically an upgrade to Chaos Wand. Nice!
Sure, having a color identity prevents it from being in decks like Gonti, Lord of Luxury or Tasha, the Witch Queen, but plenty of decks will want to trade the old Wand for this one, or even run both! Prosper, Tome-Bound, Bell Borca, Spectral Sergeant, and Nassari, Dean of Expression all adore having a secondary effect like this, since they can take advantage of both exiling cards and casting them!
While it won't fit into as many decks as Chaos Wand, Wand of Wonder is a fantastic and powerful second option to run in decks that can utilize it. This seems like the appropriate amount of power bump to add to a card that is now restricted by a color identity. I dig it!
Uncommons and Commons
- Basilisk Gate is a fantastic tool for Gates decks to try and close out games. Target a Gatebreaker Ram or Gate Colossus with the pump ability and go to town! Seems like a great tool for Gates decks to have!
- Campfire is a neat way to negate commander tax, similar to Command Beacon. This will probably be best in decks with cheap commanders that die multiple times, since it already requires a three-mana investment to play and activate. It's also great toy for Phage the Untouchable and Haakon, Stromgald Scourge decks, who are always looking for new ways to get their commanders out of the zone.
- Dungeoneer's Pack is a cute, albeit slow, way to nab a handful of value off of a single card. Taking the initiative will net you a basic land from your deck, you'll gain three life, draw a card, and get a Treasure. This is a solid amount of material to work with, but it costs five mana broken up over two turns, since the Pack enters tapped. It's a nice option to have, but I'm not even sure if Sefris of the Hidden Ways will want this.
- Ghost Lantern is a lovely little Adventure that is part Disentomb and part Blade of the Bloodchief (albeit, a very small part of the latter). If you're an Aristocrats deck that also cares about counters, like Ghave, Guru of Spores, you might be interested in Ghost Lantern. Otherwise, I think it's perfectly fine to pass.
- Goggles of Night is another Equipment in the realm of Mask of Memory and Rogue's Gloves. If you're an Equipment deck in blue that needs more card advantage, this seems like a lovely little inclusion. Otherwise, there's a surplus of cards like it that have been printed in recent sets. It's a lovely option to have, but nothing new.
- Gond Gate is in contention for one of the best Gates ever printed. An Amulet of Vigor for Gates on a land that can also tap for extra colors depending on what other Gates you have? A+. This is a Gates deck staple forever.
- Heap Gate is another awesome pickup for Gates decks. While a Shimmering Grotto is nothing to write home about, one that can produce Treasure every turn is substantially better! Not much else to say!
- Iron Mastiff is a temperamental little mutt, but I wanted to include it on my list since it could be a cute inclusion into Voltron lists. At best, it's a Hydra Omnivore; at worst, you hit yourself for a ton, but on average, it will deal a handful of damage to an unlucky opponent. Suit this dog up to increase its power, and throw on a Shadowspear or Basilisk Collar, and you're in business! It seems like a lot of extra work, but free damage is still free damage, even if it doesn't happen 100% of the time!
- Mystery Key, like Goggles of Night, is yet another tool in Equipment deck's arsenal to draw cards. We're reaching a critical mass of these effects, so be aware of how many of these you run. They don't often provide stat boosts, so don't accidentally prioritize card advantage over winning the game!
- Navigation Orb is a very expensive Cultivate, but it is another way for nongreen decks to ramp/fix mana, as well as a way for Gates decks to find the most important Gates in their deck! I don't think this is going to do anything big, but this is a lovely little option to have access to!
- Nimblewright Schematic is another version of Servo Schematic. While Servo Schematic only sees play in about 1,500 decks, it is a nifty little tool for Artifact decks to use in order to have cheap, sac-able material on board, and I expect this to follow suit.
- Noble's Purse does a very good impression of Sphere of the Suns while also being strictly better, since it can produce its own artifacts over three turns. Like its predecessor, this is a nifty little rock is a great to Proliferate in Atraxa, Praetors' Voice decks, great in Zedruu the Greathearted in order to donate it once you've used it up, or just a sweet inclusion to artifact-centric decks, like Breya, Etherium Shaper. Sphere of the Suns sees play in almost 4,000 decks, and with all the artifact and Treasure support recently, I'll guess that Noble's Purse will have a much higher adoption rate.
- The Orbs of Dragonkind seem like super neat mana rocks for any Dragon deck. While they do cost three mana, I think the additional bonuses they provide in these decks are worth it. A mana rock that can provide haste is awesome. One that can scry and set up your next turn is sweet. One that can give a Dragon an additional counter and temporary hexproof can be a genuine game-changer. They aren't the most efficient forms of ramp for Dragon tribal decks, but they provide a nice bit of utility, and I like that a lot. Thumbs up on these! The green one is especially good, and if your commander happens to be a Dragon, like Beledros Witherbloom for example, this is pretty clutch.
- Patriar's Seal is an excellent addition to nearly every deck whose commander has a tap ability. Roon of the Hidden Realm, Svella, Ice Shaper, Feldon of the Third Path... the list goes on and on. Other commanders who love being untapped, like Dragonlord Ojutai or King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, will also want to add this to their lists ASAP, so be sure to include them whenever you get your hands on one!
- Prized Statue is another version of Mycosynth Wellspring that instead produces Treasure instead of fetching out basic lands. Mycosynth Wellspring sees play in a whopping 10,500 decks, all of which adore sacrificing artifacts. Since this not only fixes mana, but also produces artifacts outright, I could see its numbers steadily climbing to meet its predecessor's.
- Rug of Smothering is a niche, anti-Storm creature that can fit into any deck. It isn't outright powerful or useful, but it is a nice option to have for any meta where Spellslinger or Storm decks run rampant.
- Stonespeaker Crystal is a fantastic upgrade to Hedron Archive. While it might not draw you the extra card, like Archive does, being able to exile all other graveyards while still netting a card is huge. I would replace every Hedron Archive or expensive mana rock with this thing. I think the utility here is just that good.
- "Thriving" Gates, as they're being called, are great additions to Gates decks and budget mana bases everywhere. The least-played of the original Thriving lands still sees play in over 15,000 decks, while the others see adoption rates of close to 18,000. Since these have Gates synergies, I can only expect the numbers on these to quickly follow suit. These build-your-own Guildgates are excellent options for Gates decks and budget mana bases alike.
- Two-Handed Axe is an excellent pickup for Equipment decks. A spell that can give double strike on the front, and an Equipment that can double power? This is AWESOME. It will actually stack with commonly played double strike Equipment, like Lizard Blades or Embercleave, too. Two-Handed Axe will definitely bring the pain, and I'll be adding it to my own Equipment deck, and even to my Dragonlord Atarka list, once I pick up some copies!
Done-geons and Dragons
Goodness! That was a lot of dungeon delving, but we've finally made it back out! While I'm not a huge D&D nerd, I always enjoy sets like Adventure in the Forgotten Realms and Battle for Baldur's Gate. Even if these sets aren't the most powerful, they are packed to the gills with flavor and plenty of references.
Overall, I'm quite happy with the options presented to us from this jaunt into the Forgotten Realms. From powerful Vehicles, like Nautiloid Ship, to spicy Equipment, like Pact Weapon, to the best dang Gates you've ever seen, this set has a bit of something for everyone!
What about all of you out there? Which of these cards are your favorite? Do you feel like any of my thoughts on them were off the mark? I'd love to hear your thoughts down in the comments below, and if you'd like to see more Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate content, make sure you check out all of our set reviews! EDHREC is covering one half, while our sister site, Commander's Herald, is covering the other, so be sure to visit both sites to read them all!
Until next time!
You can reach me on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.