I love Magic the Gathering’s Commander format. As such, I always find it fun to look at upcoming Legendary creature cards to see what potential they might have as Commander cards. Is it worth trying to build a deck around some of these cards? Are they worth hunting down?
Lets look at each new Legendary creature as I give some of my initial knee-jerk thoughts on the card. You may see something in these cards that I don’t but it’s always fun to ponder new Commander deck possibilities.
General Tazri immediately screams “build an Ally deck around me” — and why not? His color identity includes all five colours thanks to his activated ability. This allows you access to the entire colour pie and all of the available Ally cards from the Battle for Zendikar block and the original Zendikar block. You can support the deck with the best support spells available regardless of colour. Building a mana base for a five colour Commander deck isn’t too hard. If you like Tribal and Theme decks, this could be a lot of fun.
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is inexpensive to cast for the abilities he brings to he table. If you wanted to go Zombie tribal, there may be better Commanders but he could fill the spot in a pinch. He will help fill your board with zombies while sending your opponents’ cards into exile (preventing graveyard manipulation). Black decks seem to be all about killing your opponent’s creatures while pumping out plenty of yoru own and Kalitas plays well to this strategy. The added graveyard hate shouldn’t be ignored either. He’s pretty solid as a Commander and would work well in many decks that use black.
Linvala, the Preserver is not terribly impressive. She’s not bad, but she’s not fantastic either. In a multiplayer match up, there is a good chance you’ll be able to pull off one or both of her enter the battlefield abilities. If you can blink her, you may even be able to trigger her effect a few more times. That said, 5 life in Commander isn’t a lot and a 3/3 Angel token is alright but not great. Her biggest problem is that there are simply better Angels available that play better with the other cards you’ll have in your deck. Still, a 5/5 flying Commander isn’t bad but it only takes her dying once or twice before you’ll give up on recasting her from the command zone. I think there’s simply better cards in white and certainly better cards that allow you access to other colours.
With the addition of Wastes as a new basic land type, colourless decks are now easier than ever to build. Eldrazi have often been the Commanders of choice for these decks. You’ll have to ram up hard to cast Kozilek, but he’ll fill your hand when you cast him and allow you to counter any spell provided you have a card with a matching casting cost in hand. As a 12/12, it will only take two hits for him to kill an opponent with Commander damage. Still, he’s seems like he could be a bit clunky to build a deck around and he’ll sit in your command zone for a while before you can cast him. There are certainly more interesting Eldrazi to choose from, but he’s there if you want the challenge of building a colorless deck but none of the other big Lengendaries. That said, if you have the cards to consider a colourless deck, Kozilek will not likely be your first choice as a Commander.
Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim is probably hands down the most promising Legendary of the bunch. She’s very low costed for what she offers meaning you will be willing to cast her again and again. Her abilities are interesting and she plays well in a lifegain themed deck. The ability to exile any nonland permanent is a powerful one. She could be a lot of fun to build around though she will take some work and some thought to get her to work well. I think she as a lot of potential. That said, it’s entirely possibly that your opponents will do everything in their power to guarantee you never see a 10 life lead.
Jori En, Ruin Diver is overshadowed by many other red/blue Legendary creatures but Jori En can help with creature based strategies as much as spell based ones. I don’t think she’s fantastic as a commander, but I wouldn’t pass up adding her to a deck as one of the other 99.
Like Jori En, Mina and Denn, Winldborn is an interesting card with an interesting ability. The card may come into play a bit late to significantly boost your ramp and Xenagos does the trample thing a bit better. The card carries a decent cost, but as a commander it falls just a bit short.
So in short, that’s the list of new Commanders you might draw from that have been added as part of the Oath of the Gatewatch expansion. Out of the bunch, Ayli and Tazri both look like cards that people will build decks around. Kalitas is also a solid choice but I think he’ll be overlooked. The others bring some interesting abilities to the table, but I think they’ll be overshadowed by more potent options in their colors.