Hello, readers! Spoiler season is upon us, and I’m here to give EDH players a rundown on the ten new legendary creatures coming soon to a kitchen table near you. Because all ten haven’t been previewed, I’m going to cover the five champions featured in the Intro Packs for this set, for those looking at picking them up.
Quiet down, children! Adults are speaking.
Lavinia has an interesting and abusable effect not yet seen before – mass lockdown. The ability to lock down mana rocks, most of the played planeswalkers and utility creatures, as well as annoying enchantments, is a very powerful ability. I heard she was good with Restoration Angel.
I think UW flash-style decks in Standard will enjoy having Lavinia around, as she’s an excellent Restoration Angel target, can’t be hit by any half-decent removal (barring Putrefy, which only Jund Aggro lists will want to run anyway), and is basically Supreme Verdict in the right deck. She can stall your opponents’ attempts at waging a counterattack very well – a 4/4 body with protection from red is very difficult for any aggro deck in this format to attack into without backup from Wolfir Silverheart, and she’ll be a sideboard powerhouse in the right deck.
As a general, she performs a similar role to Rasputin Dreamweaver – being at the helm of a flicker engine. Being able to shut down entire strategies by herself makes her very powerful. I’m very much opposed to playing UW – I find the color combination extremely boring – but for those who are looking for a general and don’t want to play Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, I’d for sure recommend Lavinia as a starter to your 99. She plays well with Venser, the Sojourner, Conjurer’s Closet, and Deadeye Navigator, which is always a bonus.
Well, she’s at least…unique…right?
My entire argument for Teysa can be summed up in one sweeping, broad statement – why the [insert expletive here] does she cost seven freaking mana?! I really don’t understand why Development couldn’t have just opted to make her a 2/2 for 5 with the same ability. You could even have removed the clause where the destroyed creature nets you a Spirit token, and she would have been perfectly fine. But no, here we are with a 4/4 for 7.
Don’t get me wrong – she isn’t entirely unplayable – but being that expensive and not winning you the game outright is extremely detrimental to her relevance. If you can lock down the board well enough, I’m sure you can find a use for her; but really, if you’re looking for a BW general, I’d suggest dipping into a third color or playing one of the boring “Sacrifice a creature: Poop rainbows” BW generals already available to you.
Ha ha ha. Ha ha. Ha.
The first thing that came to mind was Ghostly Prison and Koskun Falls and playing new Teysa with a political edge – “Don’t attack me or bad things will happen!” You can always opt for the infinite lifedrain of Innocent Blood with Sanguine Bond or Vizkopa Guildmage. Generally, you would want to opt for a more controlling shell until you make your move with a bomby win condition like Felidar Sovereign, Divinity of Pride or Phage the Untouchable, but you can also look at the Martyr’s Bond / Grave Pact interactions with a Skullclamp engine. Maybe I’m not seeing it, but I’m throwing ideas out there if any poor soul is convinced that Teysa is their go-to general for this set (or in general wants to just prove me wrong). I’m just not sold on this incarnation of Teysa, if only because of how high my hopes were that she’d be the savior to an otherwise incredibly dull color combination.
Party in the red zone!
Exava actually thoroughly impressed me. What WotC tends to do is tack its set mechanics onto one card (usually a terrible, overcosted enchantment, ala Cast Through Time, Inexorable Tide or Rumbling Aftershocks), but what they’ve done right every now and again is put this design space where it actually needs to be – on legendary creatures. What Exava does is act as a Fervor not only to your Unleash creatures, but to any creature you manage to get a +1/+1 counter on. (Play with Rage Forger for maximum value!)
I actually think Exava has the chops to make it in Standard. As a first-striking, hasty beater on turn 4, an Unleashed Exava can spell doom for your opponents. The long-term question of whether or not to Unleash her is a testament to how well-designed she is for the current Standard metagame of creatures, creatures and more creatures (First strike obviously is a little better on defense than on offense, but 4 power on first strike offense is better at punching through a board of bears.) She’ll without a doubt replace Falkenrath Aristocrat and Hellrider when Innistrad block rotates as a 2-of, top-curve aggro finisher, and I’ll hedge my bets in that she’ll be a powerhouse in the upcoming Block Constructed format, where +1/+1 counters will be all over the place.
With the scarce (subjectively, in EDH, at least) ability of first strike, Exava can punch through most EDH board states with impunity – most of them either pack bombs that lose to Rogue’s Passage, or pack utility dorks that will never want to block Exava. I feel she’s an excellent Voltron general, but you can play a +1/+1 counter theme with Proliferate with her as well, or just play value aggro creatures and beat face. Just be careful of Wrath of God – you aren’t green or white after all, and thus are more susceptible to board wipes.
No Wrath. No counter. Smash.
Ruric Thar was the second card spoiled for the set, and justifiably had a lot of hype going for it. While the hype has subsided for the most part, there’s still a lot of argument in Ruric Thar’s favor, and it’s easy to see why.
Ruric Thar is one of the better top-end creatures for Standard. His effect is downright terrifying to face; a 6/6 with vigilance that basically gets a free attack on you for casting spells is just insane if left alone, and even if you deal with it, you just paid 6 life doing so. Midrange decks far and wide will look to this as a finisher – pack your Fiend Hunters while you can.
In the driver’s seat of an EDH deck, Ruric has a very specific purpose – telling draw-go decks to sit down and shut up. He is an absurdly powerful metagame call against decks heavy on non-creature win conditions, counterspells and Wraths alike. He makes the concept of clearing the board suddenly very difficult – if you’ve been attacking the player best-suited to wipe your board out, the question arises – is the life you’re paying to cast Wrath of God worth it? He just provides so much value just by sitting there and punching people in the face, which is how I feel a Gruul-aligned card should be designed.
“Proffalate” – Ryan MacVoy
Vorel of the Hull Clade, AKA Freaky Fish Guy (Only Simic could get away with the Human Merfolk creature type), has a very interesting niche that WotC is continuing to fill lately – he functions similar to a previously printed legendary creature (in this case, I’m referring to Experiment Kraj), but is much more politically inclined. (This is also true with Dimir’s champion, who I’ll highlight in part 2 of this article series.) Vorel’s tactics with playing with counters -mostly- shies away from infinite combos, but in general you won’t have an absolutely disgusting general who’s infinitely large in one fell swoop.
I don’t think Vorel is suited for Standard, or 60-card formats in general. There may be a cute combo with him, but I doubt it’s going to be competitive. I could be wrong, though – he doesn’t suffer from having to attack like his previous incarnation of Gilder Bairn. Time will tell, I suppose.
Like many of the guild champions spoiled so far, Vorel’s power is better exploited in EDH than in Standard. Vigean Graftmage, Thousand-Year Elixir and Magewright’s Stone are all very powerful cards for Vorel to abuse. It’s also pretty disgusting with a Gyre Sage on board. He functions well as a combo, control or aggro general – I expect to see more than a few eyebrow-raising choices with Vorel in the coming months.
Also – Viral Drake, huehuehue.
I’m actually rather disappointed that neither of my two favorite generals spoiled so far – Varolz, the Scar-Striped or Melek, Izzet Paragon – were featured in Intro Packs, but I suppose since Melek is the Game Day promo and Varolz is actually relevant in multiple formats, it makes sense.
Next week I’m going to be posting my decklist for Melek, Izzet Paragon, and taking you guys through each card decision and my thought process on the rigors of deckbuilding. Until then!