Legendary creatures are the defining attribute of Commander and the bane of my existence in many respects. I don’t mean that I think we should remove the rule that defines which creatures are legal to define as generals; but that as I watch cards get previewed during the release of each set, I’m often left displeased that some creatures are not given the legendary supertype. From a holistic standpoint, it’s easy to see why some of the best and most unique designs simply can’t be narrowed to legendary status. These cards are needed as roleplayers in Limited or Standard and having a restriction on how many could be in play would hamper what they can do. In fact, if everything were legendary, it would mean nothing.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t imagine a world where some of our favorite cards are repurposed. Today I want to highlight a few of the cards I have put into decks as role players but very strongly wished could simply be my general. It’s possible that the cards as they are currently templated or costed might be too good. I’m just concerned with their function, whether it be as an answer a tribe’s shortcomings or offer something new to the color identity. My list is in no particular order.

Deathbringer Liege

Easy candidates for this list are any of the Liege cycle from Shadowmoor. A bit of history lesson, as the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor era was a decade ago, the mini-block of Shadowmoor and Eventide saw Wizards going big on hybrid mana and by extension, color matters themes. Mark Rosewater has since said on Drive to Work’s Lesson Learned 4 that they went too far with hybrid, in part because he looked at the mechanic as something that allowed for more monocolored play, whereas the audience saw multicolor. The Shadowmoor allied cycle of Lieges are simply color identity lords, but the Eventide enemy paired cycle have more additional bonuses to committing to their colors. While all ten have their merits and would all be welcome additions to legendary status, Balefire Liege and Deathbringer Liege are the high points, as they go one step further and enhance our future spells as they are cast. But for me, Deathbringer Liege is easily my top pick.

Deathbringer has two abilities that work as a one-two punch to be hard removal if we are willing to sequence our spells effectively. A card like Seek Vengeance can be removal for a creature that has not yet been tapped and Tragic Slip can have morbid turned on with little set up. What I like most is that a Deathbringer Liege deck would simply open up deck design space that has only been explored with Tetsuo Umezawa. My biggest strike against Tetsuo is that he is not in the colors that really support the strategy, which is fair since he was printed in Legends. In my dream world, it would be really nice to see a deck that looks to threaten creature removal in a way akin to Royal Assassin instead of Avatar of Woe. It would elevate Righteous Fury, Aether Shockwave, and Sunblast Angel in the format through a change of context; and I would love that.

Selfless Squire

Next up I have a creature that was rather unassuming when it came out in Commander 2016, but instantly got my deck designing sensibilities flowing. Selfless Squire has an interesting design that makes for something different in Commander: a damage prevention deck with a payoff to preventing damage that can move the game towards an end. Wiser deck builders than me will uncover a better strategy than simply looking at Angelsong, Channel Harm, and Holy Day as Time Warps that buff our general, but I think that simplicity has merit.

When a player enters the format, sometimes all they are looking for is a deck that can use cards they aready own but have no use for currently. Turning the white Fog spells in Magic’s history into the first pieces of linear deck skeleton is positive and helps to bridge gaps to entering the format. The next step is the exploration of older cards that haven’t seen play since they rotated out of Standard—or possibly never saw competitive play—like Scarecrow or Mourner’s Shield. Maybe it’s just a personal quirk of mine, but I love finding a deck I really like and then spending time finding upgrades over time as I figure out what the deck does and doesn’t need.

Wren’s Run Packmaster

As I discussed early on in my time with Hipsters, I really like the idea of a wolf tribal deck and eventually landed on Yasova Dragonclaw as the best fit to answer my compulsion. The path to wolf tribal goes all the way back to when I first saw Lone Wolf and was immediately intrigued. I was new to the game with 7th Edition and Lone Wolf paired with my mild obsession with wolves drew me to green. I had to collect four of them as my first card hunting quest.

Since that time, wolves have seen a few solid cards printed and even some tribal support with Immerwolf during Innistrad block. Unfortunately, nothing ever made them mainstream to most of the playerbase of any format and the tribe is remembered more as a compliment to Werewolves than anything else. I never lost my love for them, celebrating my small victories as Wolfbriar Elemental saw print in Worldwake and Raised by Wolves in Born of the Gods.

In Wren’s Run Packmaster, I always saw the template for a solid wolf tribal general. In a perfect world the color identity would be expanded and champion might not be sustainable on for a general—though I can see how it makes for a cheap general who has some restriction to cast. But the concept is sound: a token maker that supports the tribe by giving them a keyword that is not commonly granted to a whole team. Even if this was just a direct upgrade to legendary status and we had to play solely in the green color identity, I think there is a deck that could thrive. I might request that Wizards be kind enough to give some other pieces of support to fill in the gap made from losing both Immerwolf and Pyreheart Wolf, even if it was just a version of Wolf-Skull Shaman sans kinship or tribe-shifted version of Caller of the Claw.

Prince of Thralls

I love It That Betrays. Unfortunately, making that legendary would not be very satisfying because you’d be stuck in a colorless color identity. But then there is Prince of Thralls. I’ve looked at this card and just assume that it must be legendary because it looks like it has to be. This kind of deck probably exists somewhere out there and might be closest to an Athreos, God of Passage with some roles reversed; but this ability feels so unique and so powerful that creative people should be able to find a way to build around this. So commonly with certain color identities we see them fall into the same designs over and over again, and this feels like an unique Grixis archetype that would thrive if only there was the right tools.

Unlike some of my other suggestions, I don’t know that you would need to make too many other cards from whole cloth to make this be a well-established deck. Built like a different version of the Athreos, God of Passage that can’t run the Shadowborn Apostle/Edgewalker combo, it would instead play interestingly with Rakdos the Defiler, All is Dust, Death Cloud, and Dire Fleet Ravager.

While most of the players at the table are losing resources, another player will be building up steam and moving towards victory—unlike other Stax decks that look to utilize resource denial, taxing effects, and sacrifice enablers to lock down games. The deck can be balanced by Trostani Discordant or use of Homeward Path in the metagame. It just might get me to play Grixis.

Soulfire Grand Master

While I knew this list was not going to be a true top five, I think this might be the one card that I have heard the most that people wish was legendary. In some respects we got this recently with Firesong and Sunspeaker, but I might contest they were closer to Balefire Liege than Soulfire Grand Master. What always made this card so exciting to me since it was previewed in Fate Reforged was its ability to grant a pseudo version of buyback. And unfortunately this color combination, which admittedly has not been deeply explored, really doesn’t have something like this. Though I wish it did.

I have not dived too far into spell-based decks that don’t win through storm, possibly because the red-blue color identity has always felt shallow in terms of what it was looking to do. But I want a deck where I could back up my general’s ability to grant buyback to any instant or sorcery by running Taigam, Ojutai Master or Cast Through Time to grant rebound. And I think that brings to light my most desired aspect of this proposed archetype: a spells-matter deck that has access to white for recurring Swords to Plowshares or lifelink-enabled Brightflame. With what we’ve seen in Guilds of Ravnica and what we’re likely to see in the next two sets, I believe that a Jeskai deck with this shell would be very appealing.

By the nature of the list this is an incomplete and subjective list. In fact between the point of finishing this article and sending it to my editor, I’ve already thought of another handful of cards I would want to include in a follow-up article. There are so many cards in the history of Magic that it’s almost impossible for me to look at every non legendary creature—maybe enchantments and artifacts that could take creature form—to try to answer the creme-de-la-creme of wish-they-were-legendary lists.

It’s pretty clear that this will not be my only time discussing this topic. Because of the subjective nature of the list I also believe that this might be a great talking point to send out to the masses and ask the question: you, dear audience member, what do you think should be legendary? Let’s talk about over on Twitter.

Ryan Sainio is a Graphic Designer who writes about EDH, the story of Magic and the EDH community in his down time. He has been playing Magic: The Gathering since 7th Edition in 2002 and values flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks.

Pet Deck – Shattergang Eldrazi

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