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News — Change to the legendary rule
The Bearer of News
This week we were hammered with a barrage of Magic-related news ranging from changes to the banned/restricted list for Vintage to coverage of the Ixalan leaks from earlier in the summer. Snuggled cozily in between all of that, however, is probably the most EDH relevant bit of information:
"Starting with this set, all planeswalkers past, present, and future will have the supertype legendary. They will also be subject to the "legend rule." The "planeswalker uniqueness rule" is going away. What does this mean? In short, everything that's true about legendary permanents will now be true about legendary planeswalkers. Also, note that this does not mean legendary planeswalkers can be your Commander unless an ability says so."
So that's a big change and it will impact quite a few things when it goes live with the release of Ixalan on September 29. I'll go into why a bit further down. First, though, let's go over what exactly has changed in case the post from senior editor Matt Tabak wasn't clear enough.
The Rule of Law
With the introduction of the planeswalker card type during the Lorwyn block the following rule was introduced:
- 704.5j If a player controls two or more planeswalkers that share a planeswalker type, that player chooses one of them, and the rest are put into their owners’ graveyards. This is called the “planeswalker uniqueness rule.”
Planeswalker type essentially means "character". The character of Jace is a planeswalker type, as is Gideon, Nissa, Liliana, etc. Any Jace could coexist with any planeswalker who isn't Jace, but if you had a Jace Beleren on the battlefield and you cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor you couldn't keep both should the second spell resolve. You needed to pick and destroy one of the two Jaces.
That rule has been deprecated. By making all planeswalkers legendary permanents the legendary rule applies to them instead of the now defunct "planeswalker uniqueness rule". From the Comprehensive Rules (Commander 2017 (August 25, 2017))
- 704.5k If a player controls two or more legendary permanents with the same name, that player chooses one of them, and the rest are put into their owners’ graveyards. This is called the “legend rule.”
With this rule change Jace Beleren and Jace, the Mind Sculptor can both coexist simultaneously on the battlefield under your control since they have different names. So why is that a big deal beyond letting you play more planeswalkers simultaneously and thus making your Jace tribal dreams a reality? Well, it affects a lot of things.
The Power of Friendship
First, it increases the power level of the superfriends archetype. Numerically speaking planeswalkers are the card type with the second fewest choices after tribal. To date, there are a mere 97 unique planeswalker cards, and a handful of those are intentionally nerfed intro deck variants. On top of a limited selection of choices, superfriends decks were further handicapped by only being allowed to play one of a particular character. Being able to simultaneously have multiple variants on a single planeswalker in play should significantly increase the archetype's power level. Atraxa, Praetors' Voice is the most common commander heading superfriends builds, but there are hundreds of lists for Progenitus, Child of Alara, Cromat, Sliver Queen, and Narset, Enlightened Master, and all will see a boost from this change.
The Leaders of Armies
Beyond those previously mentioned, there are six commanders in particular who will be affected:
- Captain Sisay: There are currently 640 Sisay-led lists on EDHREC, and she has a home in an additional 704 decks. Why does it affect her? Well, Sisay taps to search your library for a legendary card that you put in your hand. Prior to this rule change that meant she could grab creatures, lands, artifacts, and enchantments. With this change she can now tutor planeswalkers, making her both a viable superfriends commander and a much more desirable inclusion as a creature in superfriends deck like Atraxa, Praetors' Voice or Angus MacKenzie.
- Reki, the History of Kamigawa: Reki currently heads just 88 decks on EDHREC, though he has a home in another 613. Reki is basically an enchantress for legendaries; he draws a card whenever you cast a legendary spell. This change makes him somewhat viable as a mono-green superfriends general, but it also strengthens him overall just because any planeswalker spell you cast cantrips with him on the battlefield. Like Sisay, it should also make him a more desirable inclusion in existing superfriends archetypes.
- Teferi, Temporal Archmage: Teferi leads 522 decks and does support work in excess of 4,500 additional builds. Prior to this change the only planeswalkers available in a Teferi superfriends lists were Karn Liberated, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, Tezzeret the Seeker, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and seven different Jace variants. Over half your available planeswalkers couldn't be on the field together. Now you can have in play as many of the Jace planeswalkers as you wish. I'm not sure it makes for a great deck, but it's more viable than it was prior to the change.
- Djeru, With Eyes Open: Djeru is even less popular than Reki leading a mere 44 decks with a home in an additional 212. Djeru benefits the least of the three as he doesn't really care about legendary permanents, but his viability atop a mono-white superfriends list increased slightly as you can now play multiple versions of Gideon, Ajani, and Elspeth simultaneously.
- Yomiji, Who Bars the Way: This one is interesting. Yomiji has a home in only 330 decks, but with this rule change dead planeswalkers bounce to your hand with this spirit in play. I don't know if that offsets your opponents also getting their legendaries back but it certainly makes the card more playable than it was previously.
- Empress Galina: Her ability to gain control of legendary permanents now hits planeswalkers making her significantly more interesting both as a commander and as part of theft package.
The Call for Help
Some little-seen support cards, particularly from the Kamigawa block, also gained a boost, and an Amonkhet sorcery got weaker:
- Honor-worn Shaku: The Shaku has always been somewhat playable in niche situations. In a deck where your commander has no tap ability and won't be attacking or blocking often like Baral, Chief of Compliance it has been basically a Worn Powerstone that came into play untapped. With this rule change, you can now tap planeswalkers to untap the Shaku. Have three planeswalkers in play? The Shaku can tap for four colorless. That may not be as useful as colored mana in a five color deck but it's not nothing, particularly when attached to a three CMC rock.
- Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper: I'm not sure how much of a boost Untaidake receives from the change. The density of legendary spells you need to have in order to justify running it won't be increased very much in most decks. Still, it's probably worth a look in some lists that run enough legendary spells to make is a second Ancient Tomb
- Minamo, School at Water's Edge: This can now untap a planeswalker. Not sure why that would be a thing worth doing, but you can now do it.
- Lay Bare the Heart: You can no longer force your opponent to discard a planeswalker. This single-target discard spell has a slot in a mere 79 decks, and this change isn't going to help that number.
- Thalia's Lancers: These knights from Shadows over Innistrad will now fetch planeswalkers in addition to their former targets making them a much more interesting support card in superfriends decks. Djeru, who is in the colors with access to blink effects and who also triggers a search upon blinking, might be particularly interested in finding a home for this tutor.
- Ayumi, the Last Visitor and Livonya Silone: Since Song of the Dryads makes the enchanted permanent lose any card types or subtypes it previously had you can't legendary landwalk to victory after Songing someone's planeswalker. Sorry. These two are still bad.
The Lay of Legends
If there are wonky interactions I've missed please let me know in the comments below. I think I found most of the changes but it's possible something odd slipped through the cracks. We've got 31 days until these changes go live, so start your brewing!