Commander Legends isn’t quite a masters set, but the presence of several multiplayer focused mechanics means that the new commons have power levels that are more powerful than many new printings in standard sets. There are three main abilities, which all offer some variety of card advantage intended for play in multiplayer games, but potentially still valuable for analysis in head-to-head duels.
Encore, a variant on the unearth ability, creates a token of the creature for each opponent when a mana cost is paid. The token is then sacrificed at the end of the turn. The creatures mostly have enter the battlefield or dies triggers that are worth less than a full card on their own, but might dissuade the use of a kill spell.
Cascade is a returning mechanic that, essentially randomly, potentially casts another spell from the top of your deck with a lesser converted mana cost than the spell with cascade. All star creatures like Shardless Agent can essentially draw an additional spell and the mana for it. Cascade results in some deck building constraints and is high variance in limited play. When your cascade spell costs 7 mana, you can still end up unintentionally flipping over a one-drop spell, for only a small rebate, creating moments that actually feel quite bad in play.
Monarch is our second returning mechanic, and is currently included on a card in the cube. A player with the monarch status draws a card at the end of their turn, and the status may be gained by either playing your own monarch card or dealing combat damage to the player who currently has the monarch. Incidentally, the ability is the cornerstone of an archetype in Constructed Pauper.
Note: Due to some unusual scheduling issues, this Quick Hits contains committee commentary only from Phizzled. Feel free to provide second opinions via the Discord, so he doesn’t stick with his original impression. While the Quick Hits article is being posted in November, our current expectation is that the Commander Legends cards that will be added to the Cube will be rolled in with Kaldheim’s release, in February of 2021.
Phizzled: I really like the flexibility of Blessing the more I think about it, but the two closest cube analogs seem like Gods Willing and Shelter, and each help you see more of your library faster. Blessing might be a counterspell, or might help your aggro creature sneak past whatever blockers exist. Or, if your opponent saves only one untapped blocker at end step, you might flash it in for the alpha strike and be able to give yourself more options with an untapped board and draw step. I don’t think this is better than Shelter, in particular, but a permanent effect has appeal to me.
Phizzled: At the three, a 2/1 is technically undersized. But I’ve enjoyed Sandsteppe Outcast for a long time, and on an empty board, both are potentially just 3/2s. We gain the ability to support your turn one Fairie Guidemother or turn two Stormfront Pegasus and if Courier dies, the flashback has haste and provides a second buff. This just feels like another nice, efficient white threat, albeit in a crowded slot.
Phizzled: Conditional removal isn’t my favorite, but the scry and instant speed are both reasonable. I think I’d prefer if white had to play threats rather than answers, but I won’t begrudge anyone who wants to pick up another fairly clean piece of removal. I do note that, while white relies currently on pacifism variants for creature control, non-permanent removal spells could reduce the need for Heliod’s Pilgrim or other aura tutors. I’m interested to see how the rest of the community views the set of auras we have compared to this type of kill spell.
Phizzled: Blue is the color that least needs the monarch as the Cube is currently constructed, but here was have another “must kill” creature that plays painfully well with blue’s flicker effects and Ninja of the Deep Hours. I expect this to be a house in constructed pauper, and I’ll likely seek out a foil copy, but I”m hesitant to add such a monarch creature while we are trying to dial back some of the kill spells that are likely necessary to stop a creature like this.
Phizzled: With only a single blue pip, Fall is the cheapest monarch effect at common, on a removal spell, and it’s both splashable and resilient. As uncomfortable as I feel with the idea of the Admiral, every color currently has a way to kill that right now. Fall reads as the most efficient version of Claustrophobia available for both tempo and control decks. My guess is that, despite the monarch being an ability that can inherently be interacted with, Fall from Favor needs for blue decks to slow down in the cube or for aggro decks to be a touch faster on average than they are.
Phizzled: Our first cascade spell, Denial is likely a two-for-one in the late game, and “draws” a card. Chances are anything you might choose not to cast with the cascade trigger is something you won’t want to draw anyway, so even if you only get the Counterspell effect, I suppose it’s technically “good enough” but I don’t know if my reactive deck needs this particular effect the most. And as Pauper Cube Progenitor the Stybs reminded me: the higher the casting cost on the card with cascade, the less predictably satisfied you’ll be with the spells you hit. Warping your cube deck to reliably hit what you want (creatures, I’m assuming) is going to be difficult.
Phizzled: This is a downshifted uncommon that, honestly, I’d forgotten about. Every time I read it, it says “tapped” and I am not expecting it to. I love the tempo opportunity it offers, but I feel that way about Repulse and Arrester's Admonition and Drag Under, as well. If something in blue’s bounce suite isn’t working right now, I would consider this for inclusion, but I’m not sure that anything currently isn’t performing. I’d be interested in hearing if the sorcery speed bounce is underwhelming the community as awhole.
Phizzled: 3/4 for five mana isn’t especially aggressive or especially embarrassing. Repeatedly shrinking a creature or killing a 1/1 token isn’t a bad effect, but the Adept has to be put at risk in order to get the trigger. Encore is aggressively priced, and that’s really the reason to consider the Adept. I’m eager to hear what the rest of the community thinks about it.
Phizzled: This is a Ravenous Rats with a dies trigger instead of an ETB. The downside is that you opponent can control when the discard happens and potentially remove the cost to themselves. But Commander Legends offers a non-elf sweeper and having creatures that survive it is potentially appealing.
Phizzled: 4/2 is a fragile body, but getting a 1/1 back when it dies is a reasonable rebate, since some of our other 4/2 like Wicked Guardian can completely whiff on any return value. The encore ability at 5 won’t create the army of elves like it would in multiplayer, but between the first death and the encore death, we get more bodies and more power on the table than Boneclad Necromancer. I think this is north of fine, though not a slam dunk. If we really want a body that creates more creature tokens to be fed to Carrion Feeder, I could see forcing this in, but it doesn’t feel like black is currently hurting for playable token generators.
Phizzled: Sweepers at common are rare, and with the plurality of token supporting strategies, maybe worth splashing for. This doesn’t seem like it replaces Pestilence or its tribe, but it’s a nice tool to have available. I do like, incidentally, that this helps make green’s early creatures a bit more appealing as early picks and plays in the blind.
Phizzled: Another downshift, I’ve strongly loved Marauder and its kin in multiplayer magic. Where I’m more often trading my own token for only one token from my opponent, I’m not as excited, and that assumes I have the token to trade. A three mana, sorcery speed edict isn’t what we want right now, so the only reason to add this is if the 3/1 is likely to survive the trigger.
Phizzled: Red is a color that could make use of the monarch, and at four mana, I wouldn’t be embarrassed even if the commodore immediately eats a removal spell. Trample is fine evasion, since you’re likely trying to regain the monarch rather than have the commodore survive. Did I mention that this is fine? It’s fine.
Phizzled: I’m still waiting for Pyroclasm but a three mana instant speed effect isn’t a bad consolation prize. We do actually have a few pirates who would live through the sweeper, but I think this is going to be worth discussing as we assess how red-X decks are handling opposing creature rushes. (I’ve also been pointed to a few draft decks of the cube that are essentially creature-less that would love this.)
Phizzled: Goblin Bombardment this isn’t, but as a fairer mana-intensive version, this offers the kind of reach that both Stybs and the committee have been encouraging for the last few years. I wouldn’t be upset if the community asked to include Munitions, even though I personally like current enchantment Raid Bombardment a bit more for encouraging attacking. If we can finagle an underperforming three or four drop out of red, we could play this and Bombardment.
Phizzled: Seven mana is a lot, but trample on a big beater is acceptable. There will be times where Altisaur cascades into Rampaging Hippo, but sometimes you’d top deck this into Rampant Growth in the late game and, I think, be very disappointed. Points for a top notch name, though.
Phizzled: This is a heck of a creature typeline. The lack of trample is disappointing, but the encore implies it is likely to trade with two meaningful creatures your opponent controls, if it doesn’t just eat a Doom Blade. I don’t know if this is the card that will bring green up to snuff for most of the cube community, but I like that the space is being explored.
Phizzled: We’ve discussed helping selesnya with a +1/+1 counters theme. This is maybe not the best card for it. (After all, we could use the frequently more efficient Thrive). But it’s a tool to keep our eyes on if we do want some team buffs.
Phizzled: Gaining life is not as good, generally, as your opponent losing life, and I think I’ve picked every pack containing both Pierce Strider and Peace Strider with that thought in the back of my head. Familiar gains less life, but comes on board earlier and draws a card when it trades or acts as a speed bump. Can you guess where my head is at for a potential swap?
Phizzled: This is one of those cards I mentioned to Stybs as a potential top end for ramp decks. HIs reminder that the cascade is more likely to whiff on comparative value has since soured my original expectation, and the lack of other keywords (read: evasion) was already a concern. I’m less in love with Colossus now, but I still want to discuss it.
Phizzled: This seems like they took all the concerns I had about Palace Sentinels in the Cube and made it easier to splash in Dimir control decks, while basically giving it protection from red removal (Abrade can ignore this). I really like this card. I think this is a potential gift to control decks and I haven’t convinced myself that they need that gift right now, despite wanting to see more monarch cards that Green and White can play.