Commander Legends Set Review – White
(Radiant, Serra Archangel | Art by Chris Rallis)
Legen... Wait for It...
This set is the one we've been waiting for! Wizards of the Coast wants this to be the one that our parents (or significant others) wrap for us for the holidays. It's getting chilly out (laugh it up, southern hemisphere) and I love it. We get to sit by a cozy fire and brew decks. We're getting plenty of presents here in Commander Legends, and this is the set review for the white cards. So, let's let it precipitate on our Snow-Covered Plains and make Angels in a Commander Legends white set review!
Akroma, Vision of Ixidor
Howdy, Partner! That's quite the finisher you got there.
Much like Akroma's Memorial, this version of the Angel is sweeping up prize tickets as soon as she's cast. The best part here is that, unlike Akroma's Memorial, Akroma, Vision of Ixidor can be one of two cards in the command zone! Playing this Akroma doesn't mean you have to count on casting it every game. So long as you have a main commander that can keep things moving, you can keep fear in your opponents' eyes just letting her sit back and wait.
Odric, Lunarch Marshal spreads the love across the whole team, granting at least four bonus power and toughness. Akroma, Vision of Ixidor and Odric will be staples for any list with either card at the helm. Kathril, Aspect Warper will find her just as appealing as a way to either grant static benefits from the graveyard or to nearly double Kathril's power when cast. A host of other commanders are likely going to find the stats on this Angel worthwhile even if she only occasionally sees play.
Combining Akroma, Vision of Ixidor with a low-cost Partner will bring you plenty of value early enough to reach that seven mana that you need to cast Akroma. Tymna the Weaver as your Partner here makes for a powerful way to keep you alive and gain card advantage. Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder grants buffs and lets you play both Akroma, Angel of Fury and Akroma, Angel of Wrath. New Partners, like Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh and Falthis, Shadowcat Familiar, gain plenty of power, but do little else to synergize. So long as you're running creatures and many of them have keywords, it's hard to go wrong on a Partner for Akroma.
Archon of Coronation
Monarch is back, and we have a powerful mythic pushing us to run more "multiplayer matters" cards. The Monarch mechanic remains a fun way to shake up a game of Commander. With Archon of Coronation, you don't take damage while you're on the throne...
...which is good, but not great. We can still lose the crown with any damage dealt even if we don't lose life because of it. Commander damage can also kill you regardless of Archon of Coronation's ability. The upsides of this majestic bird (with a hitchhiking Ringwraith, I guess) are plenty, but the six-cost slot is full in white. I'm guessing that there won't be a whole ton of lists that want this over, say, Sun Titan, but those that do probably have a significant reason for it.
Darien, King of Kjeldor may want a redundant way to make tokens without falling too low on life. Avacyn, Angel of Hope could want some extra card advantage tacked onto a way to prevent life loss, although Avacyn lists that I've seen maintain a more victory-focused gameplan than that.
Bottom line is that there aren't many multicolored lists that this will feel like a great fit for, but it is still notable as a Monarch trigger and a generically powerful effect.
Mass recursion is fantastic, but at nine mana that ability may not be enough. Triumphant Reckoning returns planeswalkers and doesn't return creatures. This stipulation cuts it out of many lists that would have wanted it. Sharuum the Hegemon may find room here, but I strain to think of any other commander that could justify the cost. Djeru, With Eyes Open would love to cast this, but if you're not running a way to fill your graveyard, this seems like it would be very little value for such high cost.
On the other hand, if you can fill your graveyard fast, I imagine that you'd have few ways to recur a Triumphant Reckoning in a graveyard with a mono-white commander. In other colors, you're likely just going to find other ways to gain value that don't leave you with this stuck in your hand for most of the game.
Are you running 20+ creatures in your deck? Then you probably want this card. Akroma's Will is a powerful version of Make a Stand while also allowing you to Overrun in white. This card didn't need to be instant-speed to be good enough; it just makes it phenomenal. Make sure that you're not running this with lots of Auras, though: that protection ability will knock all of them into the graveyard (except two). Using this in response to mass removal feels fine, in response to blockers feels great, and with Grand Abolisher in play feels amazing.
Not only do we get more Voltron love, but this is another attempt at white card advantage, so Armored Skyhunter will find plenty of homes. Equipment-based commanders are already finding a way to slot this in, doubly so for commanders that care about Cats and Equipment, like Arahbo, Roar of the World sometimes does.
Finding uses outside Volton isn't too difficult. Grabbing Darksteel Mutation from Armored Skyhunter's ability makes for some of the best value. The word "target" also doesn't appear on this card, meaning that you can get around hexproof and shroud. Pulling protection spells in the form of Gift of Immortality or Darksteel Plate would be good enough. Curse decks likely also found new tech. Armored Skyhunter is serviceable in the lists that want it, and you probably already know whether you want it now or not.
Keeper of the Accord
Keeper of the Accord is like the time when you asked mom to get you the Game Boy Advanced SP for your birthday, but she got you the regular Game Boy Advanced (it's like the Switch versus the Switch lite for you younger players). She even threw in one of those fancy bendy lights in the clear pink color so you can see the screen in the dark. You can play all the games you want on it. It's cool! Mom may have even got you the right game! But... it's not what you asked for.
Now, don't get me wrong. This card is great! Keeper of the Accord will butt out plenty of other contenders in similar slots. It grabs lands and makes tokens. You can manage the value of this card's abilities by playing bounce lands or utility lands. The new Guildless Commons is another way to maintain a lower land count without hindering your mana production. Kjeldoran Outpost doesn't change your land count since you have to sacrifice a Plains and creates tokens at a low cost. The ubiquitous Strip Mine can be used during an opponent's turn for another land grab at the end step. Tokens provided by Keeper of the Accord can grant continuous value with sacrifice outlets. Anointed Procession or Divine Visitation in play would be gravy on top.
What's disappointing here is that you can never be ahead on mana, nor ahead on the board, a restriction we don't find on cards in other colors, like Tendershoot Dryad. Costing four mana is relatively efficient, but I increasingly find the four-mana slot to be contentious, especially, if you're running anything more than one color. This one is a wonderful new addition that doesn't live up to what white's sibling colors are doing.
Livio, Oathsworn Sentinel
Livio is what I like out of my Partner commanders. Easy to play, with a situational yet powerful ability, and he lets you stretch your creativity. Your pairing Partner can determine how you use Livio, Oathsworn Sentinel. Pairing him with Kamahl, Heart of Krosa gives you Landfall triggers. Finding a blue Partner gives you access to blink shenanigans and Counterspell. A red Partner lets you play Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker for some powerful combo shenanigans, since Livio protects that combo piece until you can find a Village Bell-Ringer or Restoration Angel. The sky seems like the limit with this one. You just need some rocket-fuel-level of mana first.
Promise of Tomorrow
Board protection is always useful, but that baseline is not where Promise of Tomorrow shines. Decks that abuse recursion, like Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero or Hanna, Ship's Navigator, will find wonderful things to do here. Sun Titan can take things to the next level. The Titan, along with any sacrifice outlet, lets you recur this thing two to four times a round.
That being said, it's not without its weaknesses. A well-timed Naturalize targeting this is bad news for you, and abuse this too often and you run the risk of getting your creatures stuck in tomorrowland forever. I would save this one for the engine decks, but you could do a lot worse if you're running this in any list that doesn't abuse the power.
Slash the Ranks
Planeswalkers are running amok ever since War of the Spark. If you have a superfriends player in your ranks, then Slash the Ranks will do you well. Commander damage generals, like Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest, will find this an easy pick for mass removal. Taking out opponents' commanders with other types of mass removal might be a vital missing component for some, though. Slash the Ranks will see niche play in plenty of lists where your commander staying alive is more important than what everyone else is doing, and even then, it still might end up being more wise to play Tragic Arrogance instead.
Soul of Eternity
Serra Avatar is back for an Encore. Bringing back your Avatar from the graveyard has been the biggest thing keeping it out of lists as of late (besides the fact that it's a seven-mana vanilla creature.) Serra Avatar still sees play in 68% of Brion Stoutarm lists and 22% of Trostani, Selesnya's Voice lists where Soul of Eternity is simply better in both places. Encore on Soul of Eternity will win games with only a little bit of help. I'm guessing that we'll see this at slightly above the 2% inclusion rate that Serra Avatar has.
Uncommons & Commons
Alharu, Solemn Ritualist
Here we have a counters- and tokens-based Partner. Counters and tokens are two of the most popular themes in EDH. Because we've seen a number of other Partner commanders tackle these themes, Alharu, Solemn Ritualist feels a little lackluster in a constructed deck, especially at five mana. They were probably designed with a Limited environment in mind. We may find them in more 99s than at the helm.
Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist
Equipment commanders have gotten a lot of love as of late. They're fun, and it's an easy way to give Boros card advantage. Ardenn is a fantastic commander in combination with other Voltron-style leaders, Akiri, Line-slinger included. He will also likely fall into many 99s. Re-attaching Auras as removal gives your Pacifism-tribal builds some extra mileage. As opposed to Alharu, Solemn Ritualist this Partner seems well-costed with a unique effect.
Keleth, Sunmane Familiar
Horse commander! We got there, folks! She is a good little horsey who can stomp face within the first few turns. We have 34 Horse cards in our format now, and obscure tribal decks have their niche. If you're looking in that direction, Reyhan, Last of the Abzan grants access to a large portion of the non-white ponies, and her +1/+1 counters theme provides synergy for one of the most well-supported playstyles.
Granting power through counters is nothing to whinny at. Voltron Partner commanders should take a long look at Keleth, Sunmane Familiar. Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh sequences very well here. I'm looking at teaming her up with the Bird familiar, Esior, Wardwing Familiar, for extra fortitude while playing the long game.
Prava of the Steel Legion
Prava is in a unique area. Every time a new legendary Cat is made, tribal synergies are discussed. Prava providing a toughness boost and vanilla Soldier tokens doesn't fit well into a Cat mold. Luckily, there are a couple Partners that seem to pair well here: Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper and Tana, the Bloodsower. Ikra cares about those big posteriors, and Prava makes them larger than most. Pumping out tokens with base five toughness could quickly gain you enough life to use Aetherflux Reservoir. Tana is a fantastic producer of tokens, and, alongside Prava of the Steel Legion, leaves you able to Anger of the Gods with a pile of tokens left over.
The most important thing here could be that Prava of the Steel Legion is a mana-sink commander. That means that any time you can manage an infinite-mana combo, Prava gives you an outlet to spend that mana on. For instance, having a Goblin Bombardment, Altar of the Brood, or Blasting Station in play with all that mana ends the game. Not always an easy ask, but I think that she will likely be an unassuming commander that should not be taken lightly when sitting in the command zone.
Radiant, Serra Archangel
A fearsome martyr who perished in a fight for Serra's domain is now relegated to draft chaff.
Hyperbole aside, she will make for a fantastic drafted commander for anyone who can find people to play with in-person. Radiant likely has too high of a casting cost to make many waves in constructed EDH, but she has a couple tricks up her sleeve. She can be paired with a red Partner, like Jeska, Thrice Reborn, to punish the board with a Blasphemous Act while keeping her in the air. Any bonus to power means that Jeska can make our Archangel a one-hit killer.
Rebbec, Architect of Ascension
Silas Renn, Seeker Adept just found a new Partner. Esper is the artifact plane, after all. If you're looking for a way to play with the same old toys, Rebbec provides some variety for you. There are a few important pieces of information if you plan on building a list with her: first, she doesn't get the protection unless you can manage to turn her into an artifact by Ashnod's Transmogrant or other means; second, her ability also turns off untapping shenanigans with Voltaic Key since targeting is restricted from the protection she gives. Outside of these restrictions, she becomes a serviceable new addition to the artifacts-matter Commander game.
This new version of Ward of Lights is quite good. Protection for Tuvasa the Sunlit without pushing off attached Auras is fantastic. Despite instant-speed protection being printed in in most sets, this still stands out as being a welcome addition, and staying on the field and providing pips for Devotion is wonderful benefit. Grab yourself a couple of these, you won't regret it.
We have plenty of good reprints here, but few stand out in white as something above and beyond, like Mana Drain does in blue. Swords to Plowshares is always a welcome inclusion (especially getting alternate art from the rarely utilized Sam Wolfe Connelly version). Slaughter the Strong at uncommon is an unexpected, wonderful change for a sleeper of a sweeper. Better avilability of Sigarda's Aid is welcome. It's nearly a staple for Equipment-based decks used at a rate of 50-80% with the commanders listed on Sigarda's Aid's page. Austere Command and Kor Cartographer have become significantly less popular in recent years, but they still remain powerful abilities to have access to in white. These reprints are good, not amazing. Pretty vanilla. In fact, they are so milky white they might just be...
With white being my favorite color to brew with, I'm always excited to see what comes out, and I sincerely appreciate the direction we're going here. We have a ways to go, but white in EDH is growing into its own, just as red did recently, and, not long ago, green, which only had Harmonize and Greater Good to push card advantage.
Let me know what y'all think! I appreciate it if you made it to the end. I'd love to hear your favorite Partner pair you're brewing with. Also, let me know if I missed anything. Catch you soon!