After I subbed Elesh Norn in favor of Nahiri, I built a new Commander Lite deck relatively quickly. The lucky (again) gal was Narset. But will she be long for this world?
You all know why I changed Elesh Norn to Nahiri, and how her Blade caused some ruckus, so I won’t go into that anymore. Instead, I want to talk about Narset. She’s my fourth Commander, the third blue and red one. She was one of the cards of Khans of Tarkir that spoke to me the most, so that’s why I chose her. And hey, free spells can’t hurt. Or can they?
Hexproof is a powerful ability – we didn’t ban Uril and Archetype of Endurance for nothing. That’s why I was hesitant at first to try out Narset. Changing a card in your deck that might be too powerful is no big deal – your Commander, on the other hand, isn’t changed all that easily. I probably swapped more than twenty cards when Elesh became Nahiri.
While Elesh didn’t give me a whole lot besides empty victories, she did give me a crucial insight into the powers of a Commander. Let’s compare.
Elesh versus Narset
While the mana cost is the first head-to-head Narset wins, it might also be the last. Elesh Norn had an immediate effect on the board and a paralyzingly effect on opponents thereafter. Her seven toughness is a natural defense against most toughness-based removal, and a strong suite of creature protection ensured that opponents usually needed at least two removal spells to kill her. Did I mention that she also pumps my creatures to become monsters?
Narset, while she is safe from targeted removal, has just two toughness. Recently, in a multiplayer game, she was killed by Fleshbag Marauder, Leonin Blade Trap, and Marsh Casualties, all in the same game. In another game, she fell to Wing Shards. Twice. She takes a bit more protecting, and I might have to revert to some toughness-pumping effects (I already have cards like Boros Charm and Jeskai Charm) for sweepers, and attacking with more tokens for Wing Shards. Maybe that new Fate Reforged card, Valorous Stance?
To sum things up, Narset might have hexproof, but she also has just two toughness. Narset doesn’t hurt the opponent’s game plan, and what she does do only happens when she attacks: giving me free cards, four at the most. Those four pale in comparison to the virtual card advantage Elesh Norn accrues over the course of the game. Yes, Narset triggers every time she attacks, but take into consideration that opponents keep drawing cards that Elesh Norn would preemptively blank.
Ooze #1: Narset
The deck I’ve built has a lot of mana: 39 lands and 10 mana artifacts. It plays just two creatures and has a token theme; that’s why those creatures are Young Pyromancer and Blaze Commando. For the rest, I play some ways to buff my tokens, versatile cards like Charms, expensive draw spells, to-the-top tutors like Mystical, Enlightened, and Long-Term Plans, and of course ways to manipulate the top of my library. I stayed away from annoying cards like Steel of the Godhead – combining a good Commander with a card that makes her nigh unbeatable is not fun. I think a valuable aspect of our format is that picking a powerful Commander is okay, als long as you don’t play cards that demand an answer from your opponent immediately.
So does Narset ooze with power? Why yes, she most certainly does. But is she too good? I think not. I think our metagame is at the point where we adapt our decks to beat eachother. People are starting to pick up on mass removal, and that’s a good thing in general. In the good games, playing with Narset feels like playing with Elesh Norn – when everything just comes together, this deck can be unbeatable. But there are other games where it’s just hard to gain any ground. I think that’s for the best, and it’s one of the things that will keep her off of the ban list.
Ooze #2: Volcanic Wind
This card is bonkers powerful. Probably. And we just discovered it over a week ago. I saw it and just could not believe my eyes. But maybe we have to ban it. I will order a few the next time I need more cards (which can’t be too far into the future, given that Fate Reforged is just a week away) and will test it in my Riku-deck and in Narset (maybe Marchesa too, but I think she wants either Whipflare or Spontaneous Combustion more). We could preemptively ban it, but we won’t. Just like Wizards of the Coast wants to see how a given format plays out first before taking action. It’s oozing with power, that’s for sure, but just how much, we’ll have to wait and see.
Ooze #3: Tasigur, the Golden Fang
I quite like the term ‘ooze’ for a powerful card, and I have another one for you. My last two Commander decks were built in relative quick succession, so this one will have to wait it out for a while. ‘This one’ is Tasigur, the Golden Fang, a Commander in Sultai-colors from Fate Reforged.
The only deck I feel that’s lacking from my collection is one with a lot of black in it. I think Tasigur can provide that. Also, black and green are the only two colors that are in just one of my Commander decks.
I talked to Rick about Tasigur, and we disagree. He thinks this guy is just okay, while I think his ability will be absolutely devastating. Tasigur costs less because you delve (you can even delve the cumulative death tax), and you delve away useless cards to make the choice not really a choice at all. But Rick disagrees, and I’d love to prove him wrong. I think Tasigur oozes with power.