h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6 { font-weight: bold !important; }

«

»

Jun 24 2015

Gareth Hughes

A Casual Guide to Generals: Part 5 Mono Blue Commanders Continued

Last time out we got as far as Ixidor, Reality Sculptor in our review of mono blue commanders. So today, as promised I will pick up where I left off with Magic 2015‘s Jalira, Master Polymorphist.

Jalira, Master Polymorphist

Jalira, Master Polymorphist EDH  Commander

I think this is a general choice with some promise: she is a 2/2 for 4 CMC which isn’t ringing any bells of alarm or excitement, but we wouldn’t be playing her for her body, but for her somewhat unique ability. Jalira can be tapped for and the cost of sacrificing a creature you control: in return she allows you to reveal from your library until you reveal a non Legendary creature, put that onto the battlefield and put the rest onto the bottom of your library. I can see this being immense fun to play with a deck that is built to take advantage of this, especially as you can activate it at instant speed should a creature get targetted by a spell, die in combat etc. I am fairly certain that any deck that was headed up by Jalira wouldn’t be consistent, but it might be a lot of chaotic fun, and that attracts me as a casual player. Equally Jalira could be a hoot in the 99 of any deck built around creatures that could cast her, so that makes her a pretty decent card in my eyes, if your aim is simply fun. Overall she isn’t really a strong choice, and the grade reflects that, but she really does look a blast.

General Grade C+

Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur

Woah, this card is big in almost every sense of the word! First off it’s a 5/4 in blue which isn’t to be sniffed at, but it costs a whopping to summon, and that is big! However, it can hit the board any time you have that mana due to having Flash, and when it does, it can pretty much spell doom for your opponents, as he reduces their maximum hand size by seven, whilst allowing you to draw 7 cards at the beginning of your end step every turn. Yikes! The 10 mana to get him out is do-able in EDH, but not exactly easy, but once he is out, it is going to be difficult to shake him loose unless your opponents have the exact card they need in-hand as he enters play. Jin-Gitaxias could make a very nasty control general or could easily be the finisher in the 99 of a control deck that plays a more defensive general that would allow you to get to the required mana, perhaps someone like Ertai, Wizard Adept? This guy is a monster and I would love to play a deck with him at the head just once!

General Grade A-

Kaho, Minamo Historian

I find Kaho a difficult one to assess. Clearly, the ability Kaho possess can be very powerful, allowing you to cast instants exiled with her, and in a multicolour deck, allowing them to be cast no matter what the colour requirements. However, she is clearly a high risk card, as those spells will be lost if she is removed in any way, meaning your opponent can potentially hit you with a 4 for 1. Since Kaho is only a 2/2, she isn’t built to take a lot of pain, she needs some help the minute she is summoned in the form of Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots etc. I can see Kaho being a whole lot of fun if you build your deck around her and instants, especially if you play a lot of tutors and Long-Term Plans
but I am not sure I would bother to go to the effort, as the risk is pretty big.

General Grade C-

Kami of the Crescent Moon

Kami of the Crescent Moon EDH  Commander

This Kamigawa block spirit is a roleplayer in a number of different strategies, and even without them is a great way of drawing an extra card per turn. A lot of this demand is based on it only costing and coming in with a not awful 1/3 body. But does any of this make this Kami a good general? Not really, I wouldn’t think. Although it is a good card, it has little that says build around me, and its effect can be gained from other sources if you want it. The downside of it allowing your opponents to all draw a card before you get one is another reason this isn’t really general material, and I think this is probably best played as one of the 99 in a relevant deck.

General Grade D+

Keiga, the Tide Star

Another Kamigawa block legend that probably suits the 99 more than the general role, Keiga is a 5/5 for 6 CMC that allows you to steal a creature when Keiga dies. This is a neat effect and building a deck around that effect can be really good fun (for you, not so much your opponents), but I am not sure Keiga is the card to lead that deck. It’s too expensive to keep summoning back, and needs to die to have the desired effect. It might make the 99 but as a general it’s a bust.

General Grade D

Kira, Great Glass-Spinner

I sense a bit of a theme running here… This is a third Kamigawa legend that provides a great effect, but isn’t really a great general. A 2/2 for is ok, but hardly noteworthy, but it does have flying with it too. On top of that, Kira provides an effect which counters the first spell or ability targetted at a creature per turn. This isn’t an effect to sniff at, but it’s far too defensive for my liking to build my deck around. Once again though, this is an effect I would like in my mono blue 99.

General Grade D+

Lady Sun

A return to Portal Three Kingdoms with Lady Sun, and with it a comes a reasonable card. Lady Sun is a 1/1 for 3 CMC which is pretty bad, but she has a handy ability to bounce a creature and herself to their owner’s hand. However, it has a hideous timing restriction in that it can only be done on your turn, before attacks are declared, which takes away a huge amount of the utility. This pretty much kills it dead, both as a general and really as a card in the 99. One to avoid.

General Grade D-

Linessa, Zephyr Mage

Another general with a bouncing ability, Linessa comes with a beautiful frame thanks to Future Sight, as well as a 3/3 body for 4 CMC. However, Linessa has the slight problem that her best ability isn’t usable in EDH as it is a Grandeur ability requiring multiple copies of her. Shame really. Other than that there are better bounce generals to chose from, which relegates her to one of the also rans really.

General Grade C-

Llawan, Cephalid Empress

Llawan, Cephalid Empress EDH Commander

Well now, this one is pretty unique! Llawan comes with a 2/3 body for , but also returns all blue creatures your opponent controls to their hand, and prevents them playing blue creature spells. Against anyone playing blue that can be really powerful, obviously. However with colour changing shenanigans, it can be really horrid! If you build your deck right with Llawan then you can really keep your opponents off balance and try and control the board nicely. She would take some work to make her right but if you pull it off she can be a very powerful controlling force on the board.

General Grade B

Lorthos, the Tidemaker

Woah! An 8/8 Legendary octopus for 8 CMC! Along with an ability that costs to activate… I see what they did there. The ability once again allows for a decent amount of board control, since you can lock down permanents belonging to other players than the one you attack. As a finisher he makes a fantastic general, and can work nicely with other big blue threats like Tromokratis too. As part of the 99 he is expensive but equally powerful and I think could be a useful addition if you need a big blue beater. A pretty cool card in my opinion.

General Grade B-

Lu Meng, Wu General

This Portal Three Kingdoms’ legend is a close to vanilla as you can get without actually being vanilla! A 4/4 essentially unblockable for 5 CMC is great in Limited but it isn’t interesting or exciting to have as your general in your EDH deck. One I would avoid, but might include in some 99s depending on the theme or if I need a mid-size beater. Pretty boring in all honesty.

General Grade D

Lu Su, Wu Advisor

An answer to the question “How much is too much to pay for a card drawing general?” is Lu Su, Wu General. Lu Su is a very expensive 1/2, costing , but comes with a card draw ability, which is never a bad thing. The issue is the timing restriction: You can only draw the card on your turn, before attackers are declared, which whilst not crippling is rather a pointless addition. The same effect can be achieved by simply including an Archivist in your deck, and that card costs less than Lu Su. All in all bad as a general, and there are better choices for inclusion in your 99. Give Lu Su a miss.

General Grade E

Lu Xun, Scholar General

Lu Xun, Scholar General EDH Commander

Hmmm an essentially unblockable Scroll Thief with the ability not limited to just combat damage certainly has some applications, despite Lu Xun having a pretty puny 1/3 body. The two abilities synergise well, meaning you will always be getting your card as long as your opponent doesn’t use removal on Lu Xun, or tap him down etc. He seems like he would be a pretty straightforward card to build around, and you can certainly Voltron him up nicely, as his card draw ability will filter through your deck reliably. How exciting this is I am not sure, but it’s a viable tactic and he is a viable general it would seem. Thanks to his Human Soldier type, he could make a nice member of a Soldier tribal deck that includes blue, and with his reliable ability to get through for damage and draw he certainly has possibilities in the 99. Not a spectacular card but not bad either.

General Grade C

Meloku, the Clouded Mirror

Wow, this guy is pretty unusual for a blue card: a token producer! Meloku gives us a 2/4 Flying Moonfolk Wizard for , that comes with the repeatable ability to produce tokens at the cost of and returning a land you control to your hand. For that (fairly reasonable) cost you get a 1/1 Flying Illusion token, which is a pretty decent pay off, as there a whole host of things to do with flying tokens. This card is a real build around kind of thing, and I can see a deck foucssed on making use of the tokens being pretty powerful. Meloku is certainly a general worth paying some attention to.

General Grade B

Memnarch

As a “Steal Everything” general, they don’t come much more terrifying than Memnarch. This cost 4/5 Artifact Creature Wizard has the ability to turn into an artifact for and then steal it for . Sure that sounds expensive, but first of all this is EDH, you can get a whole bunch of mana relatively simply. Secondly, Memnarch can steal anything. Anything whatsoever! That is a scary ability, the kind that attracts instant hate when he hits the table. If you are sick/lucky enough to get Mycosynth Lattice onto the table, you can steal anything without using the first power, which gets cheap and very nasty. Darksteel Citadel too? Doesn’t look like they will be getting destroyed any time soon either. Magic Christmas Land? Maybe, but it sure is nice to dream! With the rest of blue’s artifact synergies, Memnarch is a real powerhouse of a general for an artifacts matter deck, and could be included in the 99 of such a deck with ease, as long as you can find a suitable other general. All in all I think he is a sweet, sweet card.

General Grade A

Mistform Ultimus

Mistform Ultimus EDH Commander

The Hipster Changeling General: “I was a Changeling before Changelings were even a thing!”. This guy can make for really interesting decks, as he is all creature types at all times in all zones. Want to throw in a blue Sliver to your deck? Go for it, Ultimus is a Sliver. Want a nice blue Merfolk Lord? Do it, Ultimus is a Merfolk. Have a Myr lord? Fill your boots, Ultimus is a Myr. I could go on but you get the point. If you fill your deck with Slivers and Lord effects, Mistform Ultimus just gets better and better, being the kind of general that pulls together a bunch of disparate, lacking in synergy cards into a cohesive whole, the archetypical build-around-me general. i am not sure what role he would serve in the 99, but as a general he presents some deck building challenges and that sounds like a lot of fun.

General Grade B-

Muzzio, Visionary Architect

Another contender for the general of a blue artifact deck, Muzzio allows you to cheat artifacts out onto the table by spending and tapping Muzzio. This allows you to look at the top cards of your library where is the highest CMC amongst artifacts you control, meaning that as you get bigger and bigger artifacts out, you can dig even deeper into your deck. This comes with a not-awful 1/3 body for only . Ouch, that’s a pretty cool package. I can see Muzzio heading up the same kind of deck as Memnarch, and could switch well with him between heading up the deck and being part of the 99. A pretty sweet card to my thinking.

General Grade B+

Myojin of Seeing Winds

The blue member of the Myojin cycle, it shares the same drawback as all of its compatriots, in that it cannot gain its advantage when cast from the Command Zone, so it really isn’t general material. Paying 10 CMC for a vanilla 3/3 seems a truly awful idea to me, and that is what this card is if played from the Command Zone. This card can very much be a role player in the 99 if you want an indestructible card that allows insane card draw, but give it a miss as a general.

General Grade E

Patron of the Moon

Now this is a card that I find really interesting. It looks like it could have some real fun shenanigans related to it, by sacrificing Moonfolk and playing it at instant speed, then dumping any lands from you hand onto the table for a low cost. If you add in Landfall, this could really get good fast. The difficulty comes when you realise how few moonfolk actually exist: 14, one of which is banned in EDH. When you look closer, you realise that of the remaining 13, you wouldn’t really want to play them all, so it really cuts down your options. Making the deck mono blue seems not a great plan for a Landfall deck either, so I think I would give Patron of the Moon a miss, unless we ever get Return to Kamigawa.

General Grade D

Rayne, Academy Chancellor

Rayne, Academy Chancellor EDH Commander

On the surface Rayne looks a really great card, allowing you to draw cards when you or a permanent you control is targetted by a spell or ability your opponents control. If Rayne is enchanted, you get to draw an additional card too… sweet! However, there are a couple of issues with this. One is that it is reliant upon your opponent doing something to you. If they don’t then it is a 1/1 with nothing else. The other issue is that Rayne is a 1/1, which is pretty awful and very easy to remove. If you can get over these issues then Rayne looks a fantastic card, and fun to build around. Still, I cannot shake the feeling that I would much rather have her in a deck headed up by other cards.

General Grade C

Reveka, Wizard Savant

Ahha! The return of Homelands. Only Homelands could take a pinger that deals 2 damage and make it bad! However it’s untap clause makes it very difficult to make it effective. If you do have a way to untap Reveka, then she becomes a pretty beastly pinger. Is this worth the hoops you have to jump through? Well, maybe as a repeatable 2 damage can be pretty damned good, especially if you have Thornbite Staff as your way of untapping her. Still, I would think she might make an interesting trick for a Wizard tribal deck, or in some other blue deck rather than the general of said deck.

General Grade D

That brings us to the end of this part, meaning that we should wrap up blue in the next part. Let me know your views on these generals, and if you think I have managed to get the grading on them right. It might be that I have over (or under) valued certain cards, or that I might be crazy about one you think is just garbage. Let me know in the comments below!

Share Button
The following two tabs change content below.
Gareth Hughes
I'm a longtime casual player of MtG, having started way back in 1997, and dropping in and out a few times ever since. I played for a good while during Onslaught and Mirrodin blocks, dropped at Kamigawa and came back this time round for Gatecrash. It is around this point that I discovered Commander (EDH), and I now almost exclusively build and play Commander decks, hitting the 20+ deck mark earlier this year... I think I might have an addiction.

2 comments

  1. avatar
    cailtis

    Good work, Gareth! My experience with Mistform Ultimus outside of the Command Zone has actually been fairly useful. Like you said, he aids tribal strategies fairly easily by being one of the first Changelings.

    I’ve seen him played in Derevi, Empyrial Tactician and Momir Vig, Simic Visionary decks as another changeling, as both of these generals usually like playing a mixture of tribes. The most common synergy I’ve seen him used in is being both a wizard and an elf when the player needs him to be — primarily to tap to draw off of a nasty Azami, Lady of Scrolls inclusion and an elf to benefit big-time mana dorks like Elvish Archdruid and Priest of Titania. Outside of decks that like to abuse a mixture of tribe support, he is not much more useful because of his lack of abilities and such.

  2. Wally D.
    Wally D.

    Oh man Gareth, fantastic review, but there is so much to talk about here! Let’s begin!

    First, a quick story on Llawan, Cephalid Empress. In my only experience with Duel Commander I played a guy who used this dude as his General and then put Painter’s Servant into play. It was a sad day, lol. :(

    Lu Xun, Scholar General rocks in my Sliver Deck, and I am a firm beliver in Kira (she is good at spinning glass) but agreed… not great Generals

    Attack Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur and Memnarch players on sight. No questions asked!

    Kami’s artwork. Lol. Looks like he is pouting because of that D+ you gave him.

    Finally, I was watching for your review of Muzzio, Visionary Architect and was pleasantly surprised at the B+ rating. He’s not extremely powerful, but can fly under the radar. Here’s my decklist for Muzzio Artifacts

    You still have another article for blue and already we have more than a handful of Generals that make me cringe when I see them at the table. Looking forward to the final chapter of Mono Blue!

Leave a Reply