Knife-Ear is a derogatory term for the elves of Dragon Age. The elves of Dragon Age fall into two basic categories: redlined city serf elves and wild Dalish elves whose culture is an echo of their grand past.

Sera is basically the best NPC you get all game. But, then again, there are three women in the nine NPCs, so that’s a little shady too.

So let’s talk about echoes of the past. This week we’re finishing up our in depth look at what I did to the Commander 2014 precons. This week, we’re discussing [casthaven]Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury[/casthaven].

I could probably figure out Freyalise’s backstory with about ten minutes of dedicated googling, but it’s worth mentioning what I thought of this character before she became a planeswalker. I always thought that Freyalise was of the knife-ear persuasion, one of those inhuman looking elves living in a tree fort perched on top of an old-growth forest that slowly got overrun by slivers.

What a terrible Vanguard card! Also, I have no idea if this is actually her Vanguard card, since they don’t seem to be on Gatherer.

Fucking slivers, they ruin everything.

I was surprised, to say the least, to see that my relatively low-information mental image of her was so off. [casthaven]Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury[/casthaven] looks like Callisto from the Morlocks. You know, the one that fought Storm in a pit for control of the Morlocks, before getting a ridiculous tentacle secondary mutation?


She’s a Morlock because her facial scars make her too ugly for the surface. Lovely message, Marvel!

Anyway, point is, Freyalise may look more like a badass than I had envisioned, but she’s still going to preside over elves from atop her Skyhold (another Dragon Age reference, for those who enjoy such things). So that monogreen deck, with all the weird lands and the backup general, just became a reconstitution of my old Elfball Commander deck… but since it’s Freyalise and not [casthaven]Ezuri, Renegade Leader[/casthaven], I cut down on the game ending balls.

If you meet Ezuri, kill him…

Is it still Elfball without the haymakers? This was more an attempt to do a value elf deck, although the inclusion of [casthaven]Thunderfoot Baloth[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Beastmaster Ascension[/casthaven] certainly give the deck some legs to end games.

This lovely lady is fairly sweet when you have a non-creature commander.

Here’s the list:


[casthaven]Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury[/casthaven]


Creatures (44): [casthaven]Arbor Elf[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Elvish Mystic[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Elvish Skysweeper[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Essence Warden[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Joraga Warcaller[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Llanowar Elves[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Bramblewood Paragon[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Elvish Visionary[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Gempalm Strider[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Priest of Titania[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Sylvan Ranger[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Thornweald Archer[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Wellwisher[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Wirewood Herald[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Nissa’s Chosen[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Elvish Harbinger[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Farhaven Elf[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Imperious Perfect[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Reclamation Sage[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Timberwatch Elf[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Wood Elves[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Yavimaya Granger[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Yisan, the Wanderer Bard[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Elvish Archdruid[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Ezuri, Renegade Leader[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Immaculate Magistrate[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Ivy Lane Denizen[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Keeper of Progenitus[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Selvala’s Enforcer[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Sylvan Messenger[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Wren’s Run Packmaster[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Chameleon Colossus[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Lys Alana Huntmaster[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Masked Admirers[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Skyshroud Poacher[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Silklash Spider[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Grave Sifter[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Primordial Sage[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Realm Seekers[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Soul of the Harvest[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Thunderfoot Baloth[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Regal Force[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Genesis Hydra[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Lifeblood Hydra[/casthaven]

Permanents (14): [casthaven]Skullclamp[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Crown of Doom[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Beastmaster Ascension[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Song of the Dryads[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Vernal Bloom[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Garruk Wildspeaker[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Greater Good[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Nissa Revane[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Hibernation’s End[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Nissa, Worldwaker[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Garruk, Primal Hunter[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Caged Sun[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Loreseeker’s Stone[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Obelisk of Urd[/casthaven]

Spells (4): [casthaven]Elvish Promenade[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Collective Unconscious[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Green Sun’s Zenith[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Sylvan Offering[/casthaven]

Lands (37): [casthaven]Dryad Arbor[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Evolving Wilds[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Ghost Quarter[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Haunted Fengraf[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Havenwood Battleground[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Jungle Basin[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Myriad Landscape[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Oran-Rief, the Vastwood[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Pendelhaven[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Slippery Karst[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Terrain Generator[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Terramorphic Expanse[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Tranquil Thicket[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Wirewood Lodge[/casthaven]; 22 [casthaven]Forest[/casthaven]s


I know, I am running one of the shittiest cards to see play in a Commander deck: [casthaven]Nissa’s Chosen[/casthaven]. It is interesting to me that [casthaven]Nissa Revane[/casthaven] is so mediocre, particularly compared to Freyalise, God of Awesome, but who knows what evil lurks in the heart of (designer) men?

But a lot of the inclusions are obvious, once you lean into the tribal theme. [casthaven]Silklash Spider[/casthaven] is because the deck is awful at dealing with fliers, the [casthaven]Genesis Hydra[/casthaven] and the [casthaven]Lifeblood Hydra[/casthaven] give me something interesting to dump my mana into, and [casthaven]Elvish Promenade[/casthaven] is going to be neat with [casthaven]Collective Unconscious[/casthaven]. And [casthaven]Shamanic Revelation[/casthaven] is definitely going to come in, since it’s not unreasonable to think I might have elves that can trigger those effects, what with my lords and [casthaven]Beastmaster Ascension[/casthaven].

OMG so brutal in decks that go wide!

Look, if you want your tribal elf deck to win, run [casthaven]Ezuri, Renegade Leader[/casthaven]. [casthaven]Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury[/casthaven] is all about value, and the deck has a ton of it. She’s not as good of a tribal elf general as [casthaven]Rhys the Redeemed[/casthaven], [casthaven]Rhys the Exiled[/casthaven] (okay, maybe better than the Exiled one), or [casthaven]Edric, Spymaster of Trest[/casthaven], but if you’re looking for a monogreen commander to help your tribal deck, you could certainly do worse than Freyalise, hanging out in her high tower, warming her dying tribe with the dying embers of the spark she gave away to save their world.

Anyway, enough with Commander 2014, it’s 2015 now and spoiler season for Fate Reforged. This is the set in which we make the sacrifices of old planeswalkers like Freyalise completely pointless by fucking up the timeline again, but hey, if people were clamoring for Return to Time Spiral (RTS), this certainly leaves them with an opening to do so. Two fates battle against one another. Will the Khans win?

No. Of course not! Obviously no. It’s like Mirrodin Pure; obviously, based on the basic elements of the story, the Khans are not going to win the day. This time. You know, because time travel.


I’ll be getting more into that next week, when I try to start a dialogue about how Fate Reforged has me rethinking some of the Commander format’s restrictions, but as one last thing: I want to shout out Wizards for including a woman on the design team for this set.

But! Realistically, every set should have at least one, and maybe even two women who are working on it. It’s outrageous, that in what is supposed to be a more enlightened age of Magic: the Gathering, the story and the characters are all being thought up by a bunch of men. I mean… do you even care about expanding your demographics? No business survives on core customers alone!

Thank god that the Supreme Court basically gutted employment discrimination cases based on statistical analyses, or else Magic would be up there with the tech industry in deserving an askance glance. Because of the 25 or so named employees on Khans of Tarkir block, only one of them represents the 52% of the population that Magic really needs to reach!

There’s research that suggests women are better at creating culture for men than men are for women (like My Little Pony, perhaps?), and that women improve collaborative work environments. I don’t believe any of this shit comes down to nature, or that the addition of more women is going to magically solve the problems of representation in the card art, sexualization of most female characters, the toxic competitive environment, or any of the other social ills befalling the game, but Jesus fucking Christ, make the effort!

This is the “let’s ask our friends to design some cards” fiasco repeating itself. Diversity makes things better. Magic should have more of it behind the scenes.


Jess Stirba is curious as to why the design team doesn’t do more recruiting from art schools and literature graduate programs.

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