Please consider supporting us by adding EDHREC to your adblock's whitelist.
Commander Legends Set Review — Precons
Commander Legends: Precons
Welcome to another installment of the mega-set review for Commander Legends! In this article, we’ll be taking a peek at the two preconstructed decks that are released in tandem with the set, itself.
Similar to the Zendikar Rising preconstructed decks Sneak Attack and Land’s Wrath, there are two preconstructed decks that accompany Commander Legends. According to the lead designer for the set, Gavin Verhey, these were designed to a) help replace the planeswalker decks of yore, and b) provide a more accessible means of getting newer players to get into the Commander format. Each of the 100-card decks will contain:
- 97 reprints
- Three new cards, including:
- One foil ‘face’ Commander
- Two non-foil cards at ‘rare’
- A cardboard rotary life-counter
- A cardboard deck box
- An assortment of deck-themed tokens
So what are our two decks? We have Arm for Battle, a Boros deck centered around Equipment and Auras, and Reap the Tides, a Simic deck themed around big creatures. Let’s suit up and dive in to take a closer look!
Arm for Battle
Without further ado, let’s begin with the decklist for Arm for Battle:
Arm for Battle
Equipment cards have long found themselves a home in the Boros Legion (e.g., ), and Wizards is showing no signs of stopping this trend. Looking at this list, one notices something right off the bat: there are 14 Equipment, but 22 instants (40 lands also seems a tad high). It looks like a deck more than an Equipment deck, despite what the commander would have you think.
We can see the design team seems to have leaned heavily intoas the glue (if not the entire basis) of the deck, which is curious since instants and packages can be difficult to navigate without detailed knowledge of the deck, particularly for new players. My guess is the deck wants you to: 1) suit up with Auras and/or Equipment, 2) attack and draw cards, 3) use the grip of cards you acquired to interact with threats at instant speed, 4) rinse, repeat. Let’s take a peek at the new cards and see what direction they point us.
In a similar vein to(a.k.a Akiri 2.0), rewards you with actual card draw for leaning into Equipment and Auras. While Akiri 2.0 and both grant card draw in a color combination typically not associated with retaining a large hand size, their differences are noteworthy.
The way thatis worded means that her ceiling for card draw is based on 1) the number of creatures you control that are Equipped and able to attack, and 2) the number of opponents that you have. ‘s ceiling, however, is as high as… well, the armory. In a four-player game, Akiri can draw you a maximum of three cards, and that’s if you attack all three opponents with Equipped creatures, whereas Wyleth can you draw you the same if you attack only one opponent with the same number of Equipment, and more for each Equipment or Aura after that.
Akiri lends much-needed protection with her second ability, but Wyleth also helps to mitigate some of the downsides of Voltron — notably, putting all of your eggs in one basket, only to have your basket go tumbling and eggs go all Humpty-Dumpty after a— so long as you get to attack. Wyleth lets you replace all those resources you’ve invested into him with more cards, and the trample is another nice inclusion, as Equipped creatures tend to get big, fast. Cards like and will be key to keeping Wyleth safe so that you can move to combat and start drawing cards.
Bothand synergize well with low-cost Equipment or ones that skirt the Equip cost (e.g. or ), and Wyleth only brings more versatility in expanding his card advantage to Auras as well. Cards like also can help to replace themselves quickly, which, when paired with or the recently reprinted , means you can churn through your deck quite quickly. Cards like can begin to net you even more cards, while seems just nutty enough to consider. Even though Treasure and/or Gold tokens won’t give him a power boost, they are free to Equip (since their CMC is 0), which allows you to draw cards equal to the number of Treasures you control. Heck, you can make your own pseudo- in Boros by having , , and out!
I also want to make a note of extra combat effects for. The deck includes one , likely because his draw ability triggers on attack, which means each successive combat will allow you to draw cards equal to his suit of armor and Auras. We’ve seen how powerful even just a few of these effects can be with commanders like , or , and their inclusion in a deck like this one might be able to reliably refill its hand with each successive combat.
As for, an Aura that grants a creature indestructible at instant speed seems decent, even if it does only target a commander. I think outside of this deck it might well find a home in Voltron-centric strategies or even some ‘enchantress’ builds like who, thanks to the templating, can even draw you a card! That’s a nice , but I think I’ll protect my commander, draw a card, and give her +1/+1 in response, thanks.
Finally,is really interesting, if a bit wonky. While 1R is an efficient cost for a scalable power boost, the Equip cost is not cheap, and the power boost actively gets worse as the game goes on and as more opponents are removed — something Voltron and Equipment strategies tend to have to resort to by sequentially removing opponents. The second ability also doesn’t synergize all that well with a lot of other Equipment that grant first strike or double strike (e.g. , ), since the Equipped creature won’t typically be receiving damage, just dealing it. The second ability is far more interesting in a or even an Enrage-themed deck, where you can redirect damage or benefit off of pinging your creatures.
While the stock deck may be laden with instants, some like, , and are nice inclusions to help with interaction and keep their price down, even if they are reprinted in the main set as well.
Additionally, had been steadily climbing up.is a welcome card to any Equipment or Aura strategy, coming in at a low cost in colors that tend to need it, shirking additional costs, and allowing for instant-speed levels of play. The notable , itself, got a reprint, though was also just reprinted in Double Masters. Finally, many have championed as their mono-white cantripping cavalier for some time, and his reprint is a delightful one as his price
Reap the Tides
With the Boros deck out of the way, we’re moving on to the Simic deck, Reap the Tides. Like Kevin Costner’s deep-dive into the mile-high city of submerged Denver, CO, let’s dive head first into this sea-centric deck:
Reap the Tides
A mix of sea-creatures and Landfall, these deck seems to do exactly what it wants: ramp, play big creatures, and continue to accrue value through more ramp-based Landfall triggers. While simple in design, the execution will likely be effective, with each successive land inching you towards another big threat, granting you tokens, growing your creatures with +1+1 counters, and drawing you cards. Here, 44 lands are welcome to help keep the engines going and consistently hitting land drops.
Let’s start with the
elephant Serpent in the room: the commander and face card, . Seasoned players will note that this creature hardly differs from the uncommon all-star from Dominaria that currently sits as the third-most popular commander from the set: . Playing Aesi will cost you literally the same, mana-wise, as casting and , while granting you the same effect, and an additional +2/+2 power and toughness. Notably, you do lose out on the life gain, which can be particularly potent with , or even a win condition in its own right with . Frankly, both are good commanders, and one can always be slotted into the 99 of the other’s for redundancy.
Okay, so the commander may have a slightly generic design, but I think that’s just fine for a precon like this. The set, itself, has new interesting Simic commanders (e.g.), and I think helps to lend additional support to those who are always looking to improve their 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea decks. More importantly, it’s likely to get some people interested in Commander, as I think the art of Aesi certainly imposes a sense of unfathomable scale. You know, like Gyrados. Aesi and Tatyova’s decks will end up nearly identical, and their overall popularity may do the same.
Wow, is this card cool. With, we get a 7/7 Kraken for a total of seven mana, with an interesting set of abilities. The first allows us to return a land to our hand at instant speed to give our big cephalopod hexproof and untap it. The ‘cost’ of returning a land is hardly a cost at all: there’s a reason that (10,488 decks), (1,413 decks), (1,911 decks), and (1,863 decks) all see play in over 1,400 decks each. Bouncing a land can be a boon to ‘lands matter’ engine-based decks, similar to how ‘enchantress’ decks enjoy (1,573 decks) to be able to restart the draw triggers when you just can’t seem to draw any more enchantments.
Granting it hexproof at instant speed means it’s likely to be sticky once it hits the field. Frankly, the untap just puts it over the top, as now your opponents always have to consider whether your tapped squid that just smacked them last turn is going to suddenly become a viable blocker for the ‘cost’ of bouncing a land to start the Landfall shenaniganry all over again next turn.
As if this wasn’t enough, the card even has its own Landfall payoff, by allowing you to semi-Goad an opponent’s creature in blue, similar to the mold of, , or .
unlike many other Hydras that have X in their casting cost and an accompanying base power and toughness 0/0.covers the other classic Simic strategy of +1+1 counters. Its enter-the-battlefield ability allows you to modularly decide if you want to grow your commander, provided you have the mana to sink into it. Since has a base power and toughness of 1/1, this means you can sink mana into its casting cost, place all the +1+1 counters on your commander, then bounce the Hydra to do it again as it won’t actually die from entering with zero counters,
While not entirely exciting with
dentist : .
Simic is known as the color-combination for ‘value’, and this deck is continuing said trope in regards to reprints.hasn’t seen a reprint since — well, ever. This is its first reprint since its release in Hour of Devastation, which is most welcome given its a on a snek-like body and the popularity of Landfall decks have driven it to high demand.
Plesiosaur might not boast as much popularity (leads 191 decks, in 10,342) as its Tyrannosaurus (leads 655 decks, in 9,238) or Spinosaurus (leads 498, in 16,120) Elder counterparts, the latter two have already seen reprints, and I’m excited Nezzy got the same treatment. Once it hits the board, it’s particularly annoying to try and remove.also hasn’t seen a reprint since its debut. While the
Finally, there are a few other notable cards like, , , and . Additional staples like , alongside neat cards like the enigmatic , also play into the deck’s Landfall and big-creature sub-themes.
Conclusion: Pros and (Pre)cons
As far as the precons are concerned, Simic appears to be ‘doing Simic things’ once again, emphasizing ramp, lands, card advantage, and +1+1 counters, yet I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, especially considering that these are decks aimed at getting new players interested in Commander, as well as giving us some new toys and some needed reprints. Sea creatures may not be the most popular theme, but that doesn’t take away from people’s fun experience with them or their potency in a game for that matter. My significant other’s sea-themed deck literally drowns me in value weekly, and the top-end potential paired with the unique synergies of sea creatures (e.g. making nigh-unblockable) can more than compensate for their mana investments.
While Boros does continue to lean into its combat roots, I think WotC has done interesting work in expanding the color combination’s potential for staying power and card advantage. I’m really pleased with the versatility of Boros Equipment and Aura support we’ve gotten of late. Feeling more aggressive? Maybeand (cliffside excavations? #lifegoals). Want to be more resilient and reactive? Maybe this game. Or maybe ‘more smash = more cash’? can provide some of the Voltron feel while also snowballing into more card advantage. Plus, all of these cards synergize well together in the 99, smoothing out Equip costs, adding resiliency, and granting card advantage in colors that have historically struggled with them in a four-player free-for-all.
But what do you all think? Do you prefer the power of the seas or of steel? I’d love to hear your votes and comments below!