fbpx

Strixhaven Commander/EDH Set Review – Green and MDFCs

It feels like just yesterday that I wrote my Kaldheim set review, and you’re saying it’s already time for Strixhaven Commander review? Unbelievable. Obviously the passage of time is a bit warped for all of us, but set releases just seem to keep coming. Anyway, I’m pretty excited about this set for Commander – I think it has more promise than Kaldheim did, and I’m interested to see how my ratings line up with your expectations. Speaking of ratings, I don’t use numbers or grades – I use this more subjective scale.

 

Header - Ratings Scale

  • Commander: You want this card in the command zone at the start the game. Its best use is to lead the charge as the cornerstone of your deck, but it can probably fit into your 99 as well.
  • Build-Around: This card can be a huge player in the theme of your deck. It either enables the theme by itself or is something you’re looking to take advantage of over the course of your ideal game. It’s probably worth dedicating other slots in your deck to cards that work with a build-around.
  • Powerhouse: This card’s not really about synergy, but it’s good all by itself.
  • Role Player: This card might not be the cornerstone of a deck list, but it’s an important part of the engine or strong enough on its own to merit potential inclusion. This category also covers cards that look good enough to try out but don’t seem like obvious winners.
  • Tech Card: Counterplay is important, and if a card doesn’t fit into one of the above categories but is good enough at countering other strategies, it’ll be included here.
  • Niche Inclusion: This card might make your deck if you have a deckbuilding restriction, whether it’s self-imposed based on theme, a power level consideration or a card availability concern. 

As a reminder, my focus is on social Commander rather than competitive EDH. That means you’ll be hearing about cards largely from that more relaxed perspective. My goal when playing Commander is for everyone to have fun but also for me to have a good shot at winning the game, so if that’s your mindset as well, these ratings will probably resonate with you. I won’t be reviewing reprints, so you can just assume I feel the same way about Grinning Ignus as I did before we found out it was in this set. When you inevitably disagree with a rating, please feel free to tweet at @RagingLevine with your thoughts!

Two notes before we begin. First, because of the way “outside the game” effects work in Commander, you can’t use cards with learn to go get the Lesson you need. Instead, you’ll pretty much be rummaging. If your playgroup is house-ruling these cards, have fun, but my ratings will reflect the official rules. Second, this review will not include the Commander 2021 cards or any other weird stuff that won’t be in draft boosters – all that will come later.

 

 

Header - Green

Accomplished Alchemist

Rating: Niche Inclusion

The ceiling has to be pretty high for a four-mana creature to see play when its primary job is to generate more mana, and the likely inconsistency here means this one’s unlikely to see much play. That said, the interaction with Well of Lost Dreams is interesting, and of course, it’s one of the many creatures you can go off with via Umbral Mantle.

Charge Through

Rating: Role Player

One-mana instant speed cantrips simply can’t be ignored. There’s always a place for them, and with magecraft showing up in this set, you won’t have to look far to find uses for this one.

Dragonsguard Elite

Rating: Role Player

An early-game threat that grows quickly is always nice, but it won’t necessarily slot into the average counters deck since there aren’t too many instants and sorceries flying around. A Pir, Imaginative Rascal and Toothy, Imaginary Friend shell might make more sense for this one.

Ecological Appreciation

Rating: Powerhouse

There’s such a large number of false choices you can present to opponents using this card. While this requires creatures with different names (just like Commander mostly does,) enough redundancy is present that players may be forced to choose between Craterhoof Behemoth, End-Raze Forerunners, Thunderfoot Baloth and Great Oak Guardian all at once. Thankfully, this card exiles itself, because someone has heard of Eternal Witness and her many friends. 

Exponential Growth

Rating: Niche Inclusion

It’s a sorcery, but if you’re doing some power-matters shenanigans, you’ll want this. Draw your deck with Greater Good? Fling something really hard? Write the remix to Chandra’s Ignition? There are tons of possibilities, but they’re all very pie-in-the-sky and restricted to a very narrow band of decks.

Gnarled Professor

Rating: Niche Inclusion

I expect to see this in Treefolk decks thanks to the decent rate, and basically nowhere else.

Honor Troll

Rating: Role Player

It’s interesting to see this kind of effect show up in green, as it’s normally used in white – that lends more credence to Selesnya life gain decks. Essence Warden matches up with this just as well as Soul Warden would with Angel of Vitality, so if you’re going wide with tokens and need some life to trigger cards like Well of Lost Dreams, this is your Troll.

Karok Wrangler

Rating: Role Player

This goes in the same Simic spells and counters deck as Dragonsguard Elite, but instead of gathering counters on itself, it’s usually passing them out. Drop counters on your Fathom Mage and draw cards (Fathom Mage is one of the few cards that actually triggers under that condition, as it happens)! Put them on your Hangarback Walker or Chasm Skulker and reap the rewards later! Options abound.

Verdant Mastery

Rating: Niche Inclusion

I’m really only mentioning this one because I talked about the rest of the cycle. This exists somewhere between Migration Path and Nissa’s Renewal, and when both of those look better, that’s not a great place to be.

 

Header - Modal Double-Faced Cards

Augmenter Pugilist // Echoing Equation

Rating: Powerhouse

Move over, Sylvan Advocate – here’s my 8/8 trampler. Oh, and the back side is a five mana Mirrorweave that, while it’s a sorcery, lets me turn my whole board into copies of even a legendary creature. If you’re playing blue and green in a deck that just wants strong cards, this one’s a winner.

Blex, Vexing Pest // Search for Blex

Rating: Commander

I love the idea of having a sorcery as my commander. Truth be told, I think Blex makes a fun commander on the front side, pumping up some rarely-seen creature types, but a repeatable way to mill myself for five cards at a time? Sign me up – and if I occasionally want to bolt myself to snag a card, so what? Just let me mill, dredge and mill some more. 

Extus, Oriq Overlord // Awaken the Blood Avatar

Rating: Commander

Again, sorceries as commanders. Sure, Extus lets you reanimate the creatures you sacrifice to the Blood Avatar, but I’d rather just sacrifice more tokens to pay the commander tax and just make an army of 3/6 hasty attackers that dome my opponents for three per swing. Mardu’s no slouch at pumping out tokens and benefiting from their deaths either, so the Blood Avatar’s schedule of multiple wake-up calls should be no problem for our bottom line.

Flamescroll Celebrant // Revel in Silence

 
Rating: Tech Card

As with many other red hatebears that attack activations, this is playable if you’re in toolbox mode or if you have a table of opponents that routinely goes off with infinite activation combos. Revel in Silence provides a little extra value while also restricting your color choices a little more.

Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios // Journey to the Oracle

Rating: Commander

I love the idea of casting Journey to the Oracle from the command zone, Manabonding a bunch of lands onto the battlefield, and then discarding a card to bounce this back to my hand before playing Jadzi. I’m also excited about the prospect of Mana Severancing myself shortly thereafter and then blasting through my deck at high speed, casting instant after instant before going off with some storm nonsense. Sure, it sounds janky, but it’s likely to have some optimization potential, and that means a Jadzi deck could be tuned for most power levels, meaning more fun for everyone.

Kianne, Dean of Substance // Imbraham, Dean of Theory

Rating: Commander

Honestly, both Kianne and Imbraham seem glacially slow to me, but given that you can accumulate cards with study counters early using Imbraham and then convert to Kianne in the late game to generate a token army, maybe things aren’t as grim as they might seem for this pair. Plus, Imbraham is an Owlin, which means I love them. 

Mila, Crafty Companion // Lukka, Wayward Bonder

Rating: Commander

I’m not a big fan of planeswalkers as commanders, but for some reason, I love it when they sneak into the command zone on the back side of a creature card. We contain multitudes, I guess. Mila is a solid creature to drop on the battlefield when you’re ahead with an established board, and Lukka… well, a couple of activations of his temporary reanimation ability is an optimistic outcome, so hopefully whatever you’re looking at in your graveyard is huge. I’m fairly bearish on this wolf (and the human behind it.)

Pestilent Cauldron // Restorative Burst

Rating: Niche Inclusion

The cauldron itself seems to be a mish-mash of Witherbloom abilities with some graveyard hate thrown in, while the back half is an Elven Cache-style card with “everyone gains life” tacked on. Unpack your Kavu Predators, I guess. I feel like there’s something I’m not seeing here, but I feel that way about basically every card in Strixhaven I scroll past because they all have 900 words in their text boxes.

Plargg, Dean of Chaos // Augusta, Dean of Order

Rating: Commander?

Augusta is an okay go-wide commander, and Plargg’s rummage ability could help fuel some madness shenanigans, but there’s much less cohesion here than there is on some of the other Deans.

Rowan, Scholar of Sparks // Will, Scholar of Frost

Rating: Role Player

I’m most interested in bringing Rowan up to four loyalty and getting her emblem as quickly as possible, because I find Will largely uninspiring. His ultimate might turn some of your less useful permanents into 4/4s, but that’s the largest forward contribution he’s likely to make – stick with Rowan and let her unleash her Mirari-style power.

Selfless Glyphweaver // Deadly Vanity

Rating: Role Player

I’m a sucker for anti-wrath technology, hence the grade here. Deadly Vanity pales in comparison to black cards at similar cost that wrath even more asymmetrically (though this one does deal with planeswalkers) but the flexibility added by putting it on the back of the Glyphweaver is not lost on me. You can even build your own better Deadly Vanity, albeit out of two cards, using the Glyphweaver and a separate wrath!

Shaile, Dean of Radiance // Embrose, Dean of Shadow

Rating: Commander

Yet another “a, then b” commander here. Using Shaile to get counters on creatures as they enter, then letting Embrose reap the benefits as they leave seems like a solid plan, but I’d prefer to cast Embrose preferentially and let other cards like Mikaeus (either one, really) handle counter distribution. The engine half of the equation just seems so much more valuable to have consistently.

Uvilda, Dean of Perfection // Nassari, Dean of Expression

Rating: Commander

So Uvilda gives you weird, kind of bad suspend, whereas Nassari lets you have fun every turn? Well, maybe this says more about me than it does about this card, but I’m casting Nassari every time. Let’s play with other peoples’ cards and have a great time doing it! I can even use whatever colors of mana I want to pay, so no worries about that. Throw in some Stolen Strategy, call your friend Etali, Primal Storm and express yourself with the power of cards that aren’t yours.

Valentin, Dean of the Vein // Lisette, Dean of the Root

Rating: Commander

Valentin is a cool hate card that can pay off with some tokens, but those tokens really shine with Lisette in play. Truth be told, I’d rather just play Lisette and an Essence Warden or Blood Artist so I can really go off by growing my team to ridiculous sizes. The creatures gain trample too, which is an incredible way to cap off what looks like a really fun commander experience.

 

Discussion

Scroll to Top