We’re a week into the Ixalan spoilers/leaks, so I’m going to take a look at the new Legendary creatures that’ve been revealed so far and discuss how they’ll function in Commander.

Admiral Beckett Brass

Let’s raise a glass and sacrifice some Treasure! Pirate tribal is here and it looks like a blast!  That being said, Admiral Beckett Brass is fairly weak as a commander. Pirates might be a very old tribe in Magic’s history, but they’ve appeared so sporadically that there isn’t really a deck to be had. Ixalan will bring a whole fleet of ne Pirates to the table, but I suspect we’ll need to wait for the second set to have enough options for a deck that isn’t stretched paper-thin.

Once we get that critical mass of Pirates, things are still iffy. Commandeering a permanent is incredibly powerful, but the ability only triggers once per turn and you need to be able to consistently connect with three pirates to even turn it on, and even then it only works against the damaged player. There’s potential here for sure, but I’m doubtful for the time being. She is without a doubt the best commander if you want to build a pirate deck, so there’s that.

Captain Lannery Storm

More pirates now, although Captain Lannery Storm doesn’t incentivize s tribal deck mechanically. Moreover, the good Captain seems like a textbook case of a card that was designed for Standard rather than commander. She seems perfect as a hasty threat in something like Ramunap Red, but a 2/2 with pseudo-firebreathing will just always be outclassed in the format of giant beef. Maybe there’s enough Treasure synergies to make her worthwhile in a fringe deck. Who knows?

The most interesting thing about the card is that it hints at the Legends of Ixalan falling into two cycles, with each tribe/faction getting a multicolored legend at mythic rare that and a monocolored legend at rare, with at least one mechanically careing about the tribe. That means that we’re looking at, at minimum: a W/B legendary Vampire and a monogreen Dinosaur or Dinosaur priest. (Note, I’m saying Green because Captain Storm is Red and Mavren Fein is White, so green is the logical place for the Sun Empire’s rare legend to go.)

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

Why yes, that is a feathered T-Rex. Yes, he’ll be eating your face now. Gishath is a bit expensive at eight mana, but Naya has plenty of ramp and is a perfectly fine place to cram a bunch of big stompy creatures. Gishath’s stats and combat abilities are more than respectable, and the ability to turn damage into impulsing for Dinosaurs more or less gaurentees that you’ll get card advantage one way or the other. Not as good as Mayael the Anima for general Naya goodstuff, but an absolute thunder lizard in dinosaur decks.

I’m a lot less worried about the scarcity of said dinos than I am with Pirates for Admiral Beckett, for the simple reason that you need fewer creatures to make a stompy ramp deck worth than you do for a go-wide tribal build. Plus, reasonably costed 5/5s don’t need much more to be commander viable, while pirates look like they’ll be falling in the 2/2 to 4/3 range, which need much more help to make them work.

Kopala, Warden of Waves

Fun fact, Kopala is somehow only the second legendary creature to mechanically care about the Merfolk creature type, joining Sygg, River Guide from Lorwyn. For my money she’s much better than Sygg at helming a Fish deck, although I can’t say I’ve ever seen someone try to make that deck work in Commander. Who knows? Now might be the time.

Her abilities are fine, passively protecting your creatures from spot removal and letting you save your counterspells for board wipes.

Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle

I’ll be honest, I don’t know why this card isn’t Black. Even though he triggers his own token ability there just isn’t a deck to build around this Mavren Fein in monowhite since you’re forced to send your relatively weak commander into the redzone to get the trigger. Getting a token every turn is nice, but his stats are lackluster at best and even as a piece in a multicolored deck he can only crank out one 1/1 per combat step.

Tishana, Voice of Thunder

Hoooooly crap. This round of legends has been mostly underwhelming, but Tishana is a blatantly powerful card that might’ve actually been custom-designed for Commander. U/G is an extremely potent color combination, thanks to the combination of big creatures, mana ramp and card draw, and Tishana provides everything a deck could want in spades, with her only requirement being a battlefield full of creatures.

In a way Tishana can be considered as a foil to Prime Speaker Zegana. Both draw cards upon entering the battlefield and have potentially huge power and toughness that correspond to the cards drawn in some way. The difference is that Zegana wants one creature to be as big as possible regardless of how many there are, while Tishana wants as many creatures as possible without caring how big they are. As a general rule, either Merfolk legend will function well in a deck that runs the other, it’ll just come down to individual preferences as to which gets the nod in any given deck.

All I can say is that Animar really didn’t need another card this good. That deck gets scarier with every set.

Levi Byrne has been with the game since Worldwake and has a rabid love for fantasy writing that goes back decades. Despite some forays into Legacy he plays Commander almost exclusively, and has a love for the crazy plays and huge games that make Magic what it is. He was the go-to advisor of his playgroup on deck construction for more than five years before joining Dear Azami.

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