Preview seasons ebb and flow throughout the year, but for me, this preview season for Commander Legends is the best one in a long time. Every new card I see is more and more exciting, and I’ll be drafting this set as much as I possibly can – first online, then in paper when it’s safe for me to do so. I’ve been lucky to write about a few preview cards in the past, and this time around, I have not just one, but two Commander Legends cards to reveal today. Many thanks to Wizards of the Coast for sending these cards to ChannelFireball for us to preview!
Let’s start with the opening act. Earlier this year, Gavin Verhey showed us a brand new kind of foiling that’s going to debut in Commander Legends – the “foil-etched” treatment, which will appear on every Legendary creature in the set. Gavin showed off a foil-etched Prossh, Skyraider of Kher in a game at CommandFest Online 2, and just yesterday, it was announced that Prossh is one of a class of 32 reprint legends receiving this treatment along with the 69 legendary creatures in the main set. (The planeswalkers get border extensions instead.) Today I’m excited to reveal another one of those reprints: Tymna the Weaver!
Tymna is a cEDH stalwart, of course, but she’s also one of the original Partner Commanders, so it makes sense we’d see her in this group, as Partner is such an important part of Commander Legends. She’s often paired with Thrasios, Triton Hero in high-speed combo decks that rely on win conditions like Thassa’s Oracle, Hermit Druid, and Protean Hulk, and her ability to reliably generate card advantage in the early game is prized in decks of all power levels.
There are plenty of great ways to use Tymna outside of high-power decks; for example, I’ve seen her used as a role player in a Cleric deck helmed by someone like Orah, Skyclave Hierophant or just as a card advantage engine in a deck that wants to attack multiple opponents simultaneously with small creatures or creatures with myriad.
Tymna has been around for a while, though, having been released in Commander 2016, and this next card is all new. Let’s take a look at a card that incentivizes you to build very differently:
I’ll give you a minute to get all of the Dr. Strangelove jokes out of your system. Good now? Okay. Let’s analyze what we’ve got here. War Room incentivizes you to play a deck with a limited color identity in two ways – first, it’s a colorless land, meaning the more colors you play, the more of a strain it is on your mana base, and second, the more colors in your commanders’ color identity, the more life you’ll pay to draw cards.
I’d be most comfortable playing War Room in a mono-colored deck, though obviously it’s an amazing addition to any fully colorless decks you might have, as that mitigates the life loss downside entirely. In two color decks, I’m a little skeptical of a cost of four mana (remember, you’re tapping a mana producing land as part of the cost!) plus two life per card when cards like Greed are readily available. Shoring up card draw in something like mono-White or mono-Red is a big deal, though, and a Boros deck might even be willing to accept this cost for card draw.
Let’s take a look at some similar cards and see how War Room stacks up!
While it takes some time to get Arch of Orazca going, it’s not often you want to activate it before you’re able to do so. That said, six mana per card is a pretty steep cost – if you’re playing just one color, War Room saves you two mana at the cost of one life, which is an interesting bit of resource equivalence – that’s on par with shocklands and Phyrexian mana, so I’d say it’s a fair deal. That also provides some additional clarity to how much worse War Room gets in two color decks – you’re now down to the same bulk rate as Channel provides without the ability to go all in.
These cards are very much cut from the same cloth, aren’t they? 3 mana, tap, and an extra restriction gets you a card draw. It’s certainly harder to make Bonders’ Enclave happen, as it relies on a particular board state that’s not too hard to disrupt, and times when you have no creatures are often times when you need card draw the most. Bonders’ Enclave is fine, but when War Room is good, it’s the better choice.
This one’s only available if you have black in your color identity, but on the plus side, it produces black mana. That said, you are likely to be losing more than one life per use on average, which means it’s a little rougher in mono-black, which, given the activation cost of 1BB, is its most likely home. If it didn’t produce black mana, it would be the unquestioned loser here. I think the comparison between this card and War Room shows how well War Room is balanced against current cards.
You need specifically colorless mana to activate this, and it only works if you’re hellbent. War Room is a pretty big upgrade over this for decks that aren’t in the mono-Wastes realm, whereas in a specifically colorless deck you’re likely to play both.
I know this one isn’t a land, but it’s an interesting comparison. You pay the three mana up front, one time, and you’re only losing one life per activation, but you also put a second card at risk, making your land much more attractive as a target for opposing Ghost Quarters. That said, in a Rakdos deck or similar, I might favor this aura over War Room.
I think I’ve made a pretty good case for War Room’s strength in mono-color decks. That said, many of us will be trying out multicolor decks with the new Partner Commanders, so don’t go slotting this into decks willy-nilly unless you’re prepared to face the consequences of life loss. This leads me to a related question: What will this card be like in Limited?
Well, it’s hard to say without seeing the whole set. That said, a card draw engine that can go in manabases and isn’t color-dependent is something to look out for, and I’d be more likely to put War Room in a two color deck in Limited than in Constructed. (It is crazy, by the way, that I can now say this about Commander! What an incredible new world!) Having talked to a few people who played in Boxing Leagues, which might theoretically resemble this kind of limited format, I would guess games of this format will be fairly slow, which leaves more room for cards like this. Honestly, just thinking about it makes me want to take a week off work when my Commander Legends boxes come and just play sealed deck via webcam non-stop.
If you’re as hyped about Commander Legends as I am, I strongly recommend preordering now – we’ve got Draft Boxes available now for just $139.99 each, with Collector Boosters, preconstructed decks, and singles to follow. You can follow the set as cards are previewed on the official ChannelFireball spoiler site – bookmark it now!