Throne of Eldraine Set Review - Multicolored, Artifacts, and Lands
(Kenrith, the Returned King | Art by Kieran Yanner)
An African or a European Swallow?
Good day to you, and welcome to the Throne of Eldraine Set Review for multicolored cards, artifacts, and lands! This set is basically Monty Python: the Gathering, so it's off on a coconut-clopping adventure we go!
There are six multicolored legendary creatures in Throne of Eldraine, four of which are the headliners of Wizards of Coast's new Brawl decks. Despite the fact that they were technically made for another format, they're still legendary creatures, so we're going to see what they've got in store for us.
Alela, Artful Provocateur
Let's start with her stats: she's a four-CMC legendary creature in three colors that's a 2/3. With those numbers, she better be bringing a lot to the table.
Spoiler alert: she does.
There's a lot of text on this card; she doesn't quite edge out Atraxa, Praetors' Voice for number of keywords, but she does technically have more "abilities". Interestingly enough, she's also one of the first five Warlocks ever printed in the game, and each one of those five is in Throne of Eldraine. With the introduction of this creature type, each color now has its own primary spellslinging creature type: Cleric (white), Wizard (blue), Warlock (black), Shaman (red), and Druid (green).
Right off the bat, there are five deck archetypes that I can think of off the top of my head that she could helm. With flying, deathtouch, and lifelink all on one card, you could put her in the running for a Voltron commander. She gives a slight anthem to other flying creatures, so flying tribal might make sense, using effects like Favorable Winds and Gravitational Shift and Sephara, Sky's Blade to power up the airborne army. She pops out creature tokens for each artifact and enchantment spell cast, so there are two more potential archetypes right there. And finally, Alela can of course helm Faerie tribal. This is an incredibly versatile commander, and I expect to be seeing her face (and her really billowy-ribbony-dress-thing that she's wearing) across the table quite a bit.
Given her diversity, this is a great opportunity to point out that EDHREC has Theme filters for commanders like these. Alela's regular EDHREC page will have recommendations for all these different archetypes, but Alela decks using Mesa Enchantress are not likely to also be running Glen Elendra Liege even though they may both show up among her most popular creatures. Figure out the direction you want to take Alela, then use the Theme filters to help curate your recommendations, and you'll have a much more rewarding deckbuilding experience.
Chulane, Teller of Tales
Yep. He's a thing.
I mean, at least he's five mana, and requires three colors. That's some kind of hindrance, right? Right?
Chulane is even more busted than Thrasios, Triton Hero; at least Thrasios didn't give you the gas to power him up, whereas Chulane is both the engine and the fuel.
If you're playing Chulane, odds are high that you're going to wind up in a combo deck, even by accident. Every Llanowar Elves you play is an Explore, so even if you're not trying to go combo, the value you accrue from this will outpace any honest Magic your opponents attempt to play. 41% of Chulane decks built so far are playing Aluren, which is so obnoxiously good with his ability that it basically just reads "you win the game". Use Whitemane Lion and Dream Stalker and Shrieking Drake to cycle through your deck in the blink of an eye. The lands Chulane plays don't even come into play tapped, so you can use them to play even more creatures. Lotus Cobra can help you out with mana too. If you're not drawing enough cards yet, Beast Whisperer and Tatyova, Benthic Druid will help you. If you need more mana, untap your mana dorks with Intruder Alarm, another popular combo piece, which is also showing up in 40% of Chulane decks thus far. If you want to try and win with God-Eternal Oketra because of all the creatures you're casting, you could certainly try, but with the number of cards you're drawing and the sheer velocity of this commander, Laboratory Maniac is probably going to get you there faster.
Chulane is beyond busted. You have been warned.
Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
While he's never going to edge out the top Jund Dragon, Korvold has already made a splash on the Aristocrats Theme page. Sacrificing your own stuff has been a good thing in Commander for a long time now; just look at Phyrexian Altar, Krark-Clan Ironworks, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, and Viscera Seer.
While you will certainly be able to make lots of creature tokens to sacrifice, a la Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest, many of the easiest permanents for you to sacrifice will probably end up being lands. Not only will the odd Evolving Wilds and Springbloom Druid buff up your Dragon man, but Sylvan Safekeeper and friends could frankly turn Korvold into a better Jund lands deck than Windgrace. Windgrace can toss one land to draw two cards? Korvold can toss a bunch of them to draw a bazillion cards. Bring them all back with Splendid Reclamation and go to town. Use Scapeshift and draw so many cards it hurts.
If you're not as keen on sacrificing lands, how about Treasure? Dockside Extortionist, Revel in Riches, you can go absolutely nuts. Oh, and don't forget that Korvold turns into a monstrous beater while you're doing this. He won't just draw you twenty cards, he'll also hit someone for twenty-eight damage (with flying) out of nowhere. Use Hardened Scales to make it happen even faster.
Korvold is utterly absurd. Though he won't unseat Prossh, he comes darn close to Prossh's power level. If you've picked up a Brawl deck led by Korvold or Chulane, and eventually convert it into a Commander deck, be prepared that people may target you as the #1 opponent right out of the gate. These commanders are so powerful that if you get to play Magic with them, others may not get to play Magic at all.
Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale
Of the four Brawl commanders, Gwyn leans the most heavily in a specific direction, though she does at least offer you the choice between Knight tribal and an Equipment theme. As a creature, I think she's fine without being amazing. Six mana is a tall order, but she does save you mana immediately after you play her, which is certainly welcome. Native vigilance and menace definitely help a Voltron build, too.
If Aryel, Knight of Windgrace didn't quite do it for your Knight deck, you've got a great new contender in the ring with Syr Gwyn. If you want to move your Equipment deck into Mardu, you'll do well with Syr Gwyn at the helm.
Grumgully, the Generous
Grumgully is fairly costed, but Gruul routinely does better things than this. The only real reason to run him as a commander is to enable a Persist combo in Gruul - for example, Goblin Bombardment and Woodfall Primus, since the +1/+1 counter and -1/-1 counter will eliminate each other. Aside from that Grumgully is just... okay.
Kenrith, the Returned King
Five mana for a 5/5. Anything after that is gravy, and boy howdy, is there a lot of gravy. For starters, none of these abilities are tap abilities. Infinite blue mana, and you deck the table. (I know, breaking news! Infinite mana enables crazy mana sink!) None of these abilities individually are broken, though I'm personally enchanted by the red one. Haste and trample? Sign me up!
Importantly, you aren't forced to make Kenrith a five-color deck. If you want to just use him for his blue and red abilities, for instance, you can make a Jeskai deck with him, no problem.
To differentiate himself from the multitude of five-color commanders we've gotten recently (Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, Morophon, the Boundless, Sisay, Weatherlight Captain, etc.), Kenrith will most likely become the default for five-color Group Hug and/or political decks. Kenrith can use his abilities on any player, after all, which means he can wield diplomacy in a way that many of his contemporaries aren't able to.
He's probably more fun than good, but it's still an interesting entry in what is now a long line of open-ended five-color commanders.
Including the Planeswalker Decks, there're four new planeswalkers to look at. We'll start with Oko. Oddly enough, I'm only interested in both of their middle abilities. For Thief of Crowns, you can quasi-Lignify a creature, which can be super useful, especially for tricky and omnipresent commanders. The Trickster, on the other hand, lets you copy one of your other creatures. Granted, you've got to pay six mana to get there first, as opposed to just three for Thief of Crowns, but in the right deck, that might be worth it. Are you going to play a planeswalker when you only really want to use one of its abilities, though?
The Royal Scions
I'm not sure how sharing a spark works, but apparently the twins make do. There's nothing new added to Izzet's toolbag here, just some regular looting and a lackluster buff ability with an ultimate that doesn't seem worth building toward.
Garruk, Cursed Huntsman
Though I know some folks who disagree, including some of my colleagues here at EDHREC, I just don't personally think the new Garruk is anything to write home about. It's a cool design, but a small stream of 2/2s just doesn't excite me. Destroying a creature is useful, of course, but the ultimate ability isn't nearly as game-winning as several other planeswalkers we know and love in these colors. New Garruk is fine, but he's not breathtaking - unless maybe you're doing some sort of Garruk tribal deck - and at six mana, these colors are capable of much better things than this.
The last mythic multicolored card of note is, again, more fun than good. Assemble the Legion this is not. You just get to randomly pop out tokens with disparate abilities.
Dance of the Manse
The Manse is hard to evaluate. The mana restriction is pretty weird to work around, and while I can see situations where you definitely want to turn the cards you get back into 4/4 beaters, I can also imagine that being a dangerous proposition, since being creatures makes those permanents susceptible to Wrath effects. This is likely to show up most in Hanna, Ship's Navigator decks, but elsewhere, its restrictions probably get in a way a bit too often.
Banish Into Fable
In Azorius, you're very likely to have both an artifact and an enchantment on board to get a total of three copies for this spell. So is bouncing three permanents and creating three tokens good enough to justify running it? The answer is... maybe? This spell is not bad. It doesn't blow me out of the water, like a great many spells in Commander tend to, but it's at an acceptable power level. It may not make the cut as you upgrade and tune your decks, but it's at least a fine card if you find the room for it.
"We're knights of the round table, we dance whene'er we're able!"
Play this in Knight tribal. That is all.
Escape to the Wilds
There're certain decks that will want this card (Mina and Denn, Wildborn comes to mind), but I wouldn't run this automatically in Gruul-inclusive decks. Between Rishkar's Expertise and Shamanic Revelation and the new Return of the Wildspeaker and The Great Henge and all sorts of green card advantage engines, impulse draw just isn't hugely necessary for a green-inclusive deck. Test this one carefully.
I like this guy. At worst it's a three-mana 2/2 with vigilance that taps for GW. I wouldn't count on this as early-game ramp, but it is ramp just the same. It's not quite Bloom Tender, mind you, but it's still a fine card if you're in these colors and like to make mana. Watch for it in Doran, the Siege Tower and probably even some versions of Derevi, Empyrial Tactician.
There's gotta be something here, right? Nekusar, the Mindrazer decks probably don't need this since they're already full to brimming with extra draw effects. Mogis, God of Slaughter punisher decks probably don't want to give other people resources even if it does hurt a little bit. I still feel like there's some future potential here, even if it doesn't shine very bright at the moment.
Tome of Legends
See that big hole in the middle of that book? That's the hoop you have to jump through to make this card worthwhile.
Okay, that's an extreme exaggeration; aggressive decks that lack meaningful card advantage will like this. It gets plenty of counters in Partner decks like Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder + Akiri, Line-Slinger decks, for instance. Aurelia, the Warleader certainly attacks quite a lot, which will rack up the counters too. And yes, Atraxa, Praetors' Voice can Proliferate these counters a lot, though her cup is already overflowing with good cards, so she may not actually need this one.
Best of all? Norin, the Wary. Tome triggers when your commander enters the battlefield, not just when you cast it. That's a lot of counters, which means Norin will never hurt for cards in hand. Gonti, Lord of Luxury players famously love to replay their commander over and over, too. Mangara of Corondor decks like to use flicker effects in response to their commander's ability, too, which gives Tome another potential place to shore up that deck's weakness with card advantage. So yes, there are some hoops to jump through, but there are plenty of commanders already jumping through those hoops, which means this can sidle right alongside them to help out the colors that need it.
Alright, elephant in the room: yes, this is a thing. There's no reason to not run this card (which, to me, kind of seems like a reason to not run the card, but maybe I'm being too 'hispter' there). Play them when they're not $30.
It almost seems like Wizards is trying to encourage people to turn their creatures sideways in EDH, and this is certainly a darn good way to do so. It can go in literally any deck (which doesn't mean that it should go in every deck, mind you), it's repeatable, and it's only two mana. Arcades, the Strategist and Doran the Siege Tower, eat your heart out.
It is a good shrubbery. I like the laurels, particularly.
This isn't Prismatic Vista, but few cards are, and that land is expensive. This is better than Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse, so when you get the chance to upgrade, take it (or, if you're in Landfall, add this to your now immense collection of available fetch lands)!
Fairly self-explanatory, but it is nice that it's not entirely restricted to Knight tribal. That being said, if you're throwing it in an Equipment deck, it does restrict you to only Mardu-inclusive decks. Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale will of course run this, and potentially so well Akiri, Line-Slinger decks paired with a black-inclusive Partner commander. It knows right where it wants to go, and while it'll be a niche space, it'll be good in that niche.
Bring Out the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch!
Whaddaya think? Did I nail my analysis? Am I way off base? This is actually my first article on EDHREC, so let me know how I did in the comments below! See you next time!
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