Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
May 10 2021 12:00pm
0
318 views


COMMANDER 2021

> summary <

 Commander 2021 follows the example of last year's annual Commander product (that is, not Commander Legends) by being strictly linked to Strixhaven: School of Mages, the same way Commander 2020 was to Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. This means all the new cards are flavored as coming from the multiverse-renowned Strixhaven University or from the plane of Arcavios where such educational facility is located. There's no modal double-faced cards in the set, but all the other mechanics from Strixhaven are present, and the five preconstructed decks that compose the product are styled to represent the five colleges of Strixhaven: Silverquill, Prismari, Witherbloom, Lorehold, and Quandrix (fun fact: the decks' names are all alliterations!).

 Notable tribal event: the Fractal creature type, introduced in Strixhaven only through tokens, gets its first actual card. For the rest, the new cards from Commander 2021 just add to the tribes that were already present in the parent set, with a few exceptions.

Let's have a look at the new creatures and their tribes. As always, the main focus is on all the Constructed applications, both in regular one-on-one and multiplayer, the tribes are presented alphabetically, and you'll find a hypertextual list at the end.

 Infodump

  • Cards: 357 (including 28 reprints from Strixhaven maintaining that set's symbol)
  • New cards: 81
  • New creatures: 44
  • Reprinted cards: 276
  • Reprinted creatures: 81
  • New Legendary creatures: 20
  • New Snow creatures: 0
  • New artifact creatures: 5
  • New enchantment creatures: 0
  • Triple-subtype creatures: 0
  • Creature types affected: 34
  • Tribes with more than one addition: Human (+11), Wizard (+10), Warlock (+7), Artificer (+4), Druid (+4), Vampire (+4), Bird (+3), Golem (+3), Beast (+2), Cleric (+2), Elemental (+2), Treefolk (+2), Troll (+2)

Advisor: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 60, online: 51

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Mavinda, Students' Advocate was the only relevant Advisor in Strixhaven proper, but she's now joined by another trope of the school genre, the Scholarship Sponsor. It's just a group-hug card that allows the players with inferior ramp capabilities to keep up with the green player at the table. Mechanically, it's a classic white action (compare with Land Tax, Gift of Estates and Oath of Lieges), but it's neat to have it grafted onto a body, one that's even decently costed – and it's not something you want to cast early on, anyway.


Angel: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 188, online: 187

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: So it turns out there are Angels on Arcavios. Or at least living statues of Angels. This one hates artifacts and enchantments hard, and it's likely to find two high-profile target to eliminate by the time seven mana to spend – or a trick to reanimate it, since it nicely places itself into the graveyard through plainscycling, so it's never a dead card. A good design, if not exactly the most impressive member of the tribe.


Archon: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 18

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: If there's an Angel, why not an Archon, amirite? The rules-setting theme is the main defining trait for the other heavy-hitting tribe in white, but this guy is just a reasonably big finisher that has a one-shot "protection from target player" for our face and one of our permanents, which probably mean the Archon itself. Good to counter one spot removal or a disruption spell, or even something nasty like Mindslaver. Mechanic-wise, I guess "secretly choose an opponent" loses a lot of its mystique in one-on-one, doesn't it?


Artificer: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 130, online: 126

 Related Tribes: Dwarf, Elephant, Giant, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Suddenly the Lorehold College trains Artificers rather than Clerics. Which makes a lot more sense, especially in the context of an otherwise not very religion-based learning institution. But I suppose the Cleric presence in Strixhaven is the price we have to pay in Standard to oblige the party mechanic from Zendikar Rising. Here on the Commander side of things, though, we're totally free from that constraint, so here's four Artificers spread among as many humanoid races. Osgir, the Reconstructor is even one of the five designated commanders, the one from the Lorehold Legacies deck. It's an artifact synergy build, and Osgir does a good job at working as a sacrifice outlet for artifacts and then copying them from the graveyard, twice per activation, which is a pretty good deal. Stats and cost are also okay. He's a build-around card for sure, but has the potential to do very broken things when paired with basically every artifact in the game.

 The other legendary, Losheel, Clockwork Scholar, is more skewed toward artifact-based aggro, since under his watch, all our mechanical critters will be free to attack without fearing for their artificial lives. Although, Losheel's most useful ability is probably the extra card per turn he almost guarantees. Digsite Engineer directly combos with Losheel's card-drawing, and generally helps with the proliferation of artifact creatures by creating "Karnstructs" (named after the tokens from Karn, Scion of Urza).

 Audacious Reshapers takes a different route entirely. It feels like a combo piece to cheat out Blightsteel Colossus in a deck that includes a lot of artifact tokens but no other actual artifact card. Except, we're dealt damage for each card revealed while seeking the next artifact off the top of the library, so not a good way to accomplish that trick (by design, I assume). It works if we can fetch the Colossus on the top, I guess. Otherwise, it's just a fun "chaos" effect.


Bear: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 27, online: 21

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: They did it in the end. After years of hearing requests about a world based around Muraganda Petroglyphs (which Mark Rosewater deems too hard to put together in a satisfying way), they at least printed a lord for vanilla creatures. This Bear professor, who looks like he's teaching a class for slow learners, provides all those "differently abled" creatures with a stat bonus, super-trample, and the chance to come back from the death. Not too shabby! Although, at the end of the day, it's still a bunch of vanilla dudes we're talking about. There's even quite a few of those in-tribe. But, eh, to build around them doesn't really look like an exciting proposition.


Beast: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 426, online: 417

 Related Tribes: Fungus

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The lifegain synergies immediately betray the fact that both these new Beasts belong to Witherbloom College (they're in fact from the Witherbloom deck). Blossoming Bogbeast gives us a novel way to engineer an Overrun. It has to sit there for at least one turn before doing anything, which doesn't compare favorably with the likes of Craterhoof Behemoth, but the effect can go over the top quickly, and it's repeatable. Even on its own, the Bogbeast attacks as a 5/5 trampler and gains us some life, so it shouldn't be underestimated.

 Sproutback Trudge is a version of Brackish Trudge on steroids (this sub-subtype of Bestial Fungi also gets the enchantment Trudge Garden). It's more heavily dependent on lifegain, and in larger doses than what a couple Pest tokens generate, but it's also a much scarier recurring threat, perfectly fitting the wider scale of a format like Commander.


Bird: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 285, online: 272

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Warlock, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Three "Owlins" of different classes. The legendary Breena, the Demagogue is the designated commander for the Silverquill Statement deck. It's unsurprisingly, a political card, but unfortunately it doesn't work in one-on-one. A player attacking one of our opponents could be us, but there won't be another opponent to compare their life total to. On the other hand, in multiplayer, the allure of drawing a card could very well encourage players to attack anybody but us, and we're even getting +1/+1 counters out of the deal, which probably go to grow Breena herself. On the same vein, and from the same deck, Combat Calligrapher tries to divert the attention away from us by giving out free Inkling tokens that can't harm the Calligrapher's controller. Unlike Breena's, this ability still works when there are only two players involved in the game. In fact, it becomes a pretty powerful 3/3 flyer that generates more flyers upon attacking. It's not as cheap as the typical "flying matters" creature, but it can impact the board right away because the attack trigger doesn't even require the Calligrapher to be among the attacking creatures.

 Curiosity Crafter looks like it would synergize splendidly with Inkling tokens, but it's from the Quandrix deck instead. Nobody's preventing us from playing it in a typical Azorius Flyers deck, where it could act as a specialized Toski, Bearer of Secrets, provided we run enough token-makers, a la Pride of the Clouds, Skycat Sovereign, or Ranar the Ever-Watchful (or maybe we're in Jeskai for Kykar, Wind's Fury). Not as versatile as the wonder Squirrel, but the resulting card draw can still be insane, and not having to worry about our hand size is a nice bonus that only blue can grant.


Cleric: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 472, online: 447

 Related Tribes: Bird, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Even if Lorehold College sort of dropped its allegiance to the tribe in this context, there's still a couple of Clerics in Commander 2021. One is the already mentioned Calligrapher, whose token production is arguably a bit harder to enable with its class than is with its race. The other is the legenary Nils, Discipline Enforcer, also out of the Silverquill deck. He's intriguing in multiplayer, playing into the political angle that's a natural fit for Silverquill-flavored cards; he's just okay in one-on-one. The basic idea is distributing +1/+1 counters so to tax the opposing creatures that want to attack you. When more players are involved, this could also create debts of gratitude or reinforce a player in a losing position, to the detriment of our more threatening opponents. But if it's just us versus one opponent, then we won't probably bother giving any of their creatures a counter, so Nils just becomes a slower Luminarch Aspirant. Which, to be fair, is still good redundancy. Plus, the taxing ability is a real nightmare for opponents that are playing +1/+1 counters synergies decks.


Construct: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 132, online: 131

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: This red robot would have really loved to have evoke. It's still decent, as mountaincycling makes it easy to ditch it for value in moments when it would just be stuck in our hand, and then maybe we can reanimate it later, to exploit it as a semi-evasive threat that does a Wheel of Fortune impression as a death trigger. Although, the opponent could easily play around that ability and fire off removal after having emptied their hand, which is not ideal. Maybe the only way for Ruin Grinder to be good is within a high-synergy deck with lots of Goblin Welder effects, so we're the ones dictating the times and terms of the Wheel of Fortune.


Druid: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 221, online: 217

 Related Tribes: Bear, Dryad, Treefolk

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Aside from the vanilla-loving Bear, the Druids get the honor of hosting among their ranks the designated commander for Witherbloom. The deck's name references witchcraft, and Willowdusk, Essence Seer is indeed styled as a traditional fairy tale witch – except she's not a Hag and she's not a Warlock, she's a Dryad Druid (like Dina), and is actually enrolled as a teacher at Strixhaven U, despite being an ancient entity nobody really knows how old. She's clearly the perfect commander for a deck that cares about +1/+1 counters and includes a fair amount of lifegain, though she can also work with "suicide" strategies. She might be a bit narrow, but at least has a reasonable cost and decent stats.

 Another legendary from Willowdusk's team is the Treefolk lady Yedora, Grave Gardener. She turns each of our dead creatures into Forests, which is cool, albeit for the same cost, Ashaya, Soul of the Wild does the same while they're still alive. I guess what Yevara does is also a form of recursion, because if we find a way to turn those Forests face up, they'll become their creature selves again. Not exactly Nightmare Shepherd or Luminous Broodmoth, but there can be something there.

 The other Treefolk, Ezzaroot Channeler, returns us to the lifegain synergies. It's more or less a heavy discounter along the lines of Strixhaven's own Accomplished Alchemist, but it doesn't necessarily need to tap itself to grant the discount, and it's applied to each creature spell we cast in the turn, which could be huge in conjunction with colorless creatures that only require generic mana.


Dryad: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 42, online: 40

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: So now there are two black Dryads. Interestingly enough, they're both described as sweet, compassionate persons. The deceiving aspect of black mana, so often misunderstood as the stuff villains are made of.


Dwarf: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 88, online: 80

 Related Tribes: Artificer

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Dwarves have been more and more developed as having a natural inclination for everything artifact (Treasures, Equipment, Vehicles, machinery in general). So the Engineer is not out of place in the tribe, but its ability is probably better served within a deck directly based around an artifact tribe.


Efreet: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 23, online: 22

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The place of Arcavios is giving us a novel depiction of Efreets, who are now these beautiful ballerinas that are caught in the act of graceful celebrating the poetry of movement and the artistry of the elements (they're Prismari all right). The tribe's portrayal has come a long way from being outright monsters, like the classic Serendib Efreet, or the weird slendermen of Tarkir, or often just Djinns with a slightly different color pattern.

 In this sense, Veyran, Voice of Duality looks a lot like Efreet Flamepainter from the Strixhaven mothership, but she's mechanically very different. She's the secondary commander for the precon deck helmed by Zaffal, Thunder Conductor, who's all about triggering magecraft. Veyran doubles all those triggers, which is very powerful. She doesn't do an impressive job of exploiting those triggers for herself, since she's just a base 2/2 with no evasion that might get temporarily bigger (at the effective rate of +2/+2 per trigger, which isn't bad); but having her out on the battlefield while playing a dedicated deck can easily lead to broken turns.


Elemental: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 475, online: 468

 Related Tribes: Octopus

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Both new Elementals are enmeshed in the Prismari deck, playing into a collateral effect of casting many instants and sorceries to enable magecraft: the fact that we'll end up with a ton of instants and sorceries in the graveyard. The legendary Octavia, Living Thesis exploits this aspect to get a cost discount, so it could become a two-mana 8/8 with a ward value so high that's very close to have hexproof. And then its own magecraft trigger potentially makes a few more 8/8s for the turn, although those won't be warded. Inferno Project is more direct: just a dumb big beater for the late game, the kind of card that makes sense to demonstrate a specific synergy in a precon deck, but wil probably never make the cut in any Constructed build.


Elephant: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 61, online: 60

 Related Tribes: Artificer

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Losheel, the solid three-drop Artificer that protects artifact creatures from combat damage and provides some card drawing, is also an Elephant. Does the tribe have any synergy with artifacts? Eh, not really. There are just a few monstrously unplayable members that hail from Mirrodin and Dominaria, namely Loxodon Mender, Ghalma's Warden, and Excavation Elephant. Sorry, Losheel, it looks like your race doesn't share your passion.


Fractal: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 1

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: First Fractal in existence, and already a legendary mythic! Incredibly, this already has the Pest ratio of one legendary mythic out of two existing members sorely beaten. Esix, Fractal Bloom, second in command to Adrix and Nev, Twincasters in the Quandrix deck, is a very impactful card for any token deck, since it replaces the token creation with a clone effect. Sort of like Divine Visitation would turn any creature token into an Angel, except Esix also works with noncreature tokens like Clue, Food and Treasure. It requires a bit more of setup, because we need something to copy, hopefully something good, and Esix is excluded from the deal (besides, it's legendary, so it would need further help to make it work anyway). The replacement also only happens once per turn and uniquely during our turns, but that's less of a concern. Ideally, Esix is followed up by a spell that creates a number of tokens at once, while there's something relevant to copy. It might appear Magical Christmasland-ish, but it has all kinds of broken potential. And we also get a 4/4 flyer, to boot.

 The lore of Fractals, according to Dean Kianne as quoted on Fractal Summoning, is that they are "pseudo-dimensional manifestations of asynchronous biosymmetries". More simply put, they're artificial lifeforms created through mathematical magic. They're at least partially sentient, it appears. I mean, Esix seems to know what it's doing.


Fungus: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 46, online: 45

 Related Tribes: Beast

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: As noted above, the Fungi from Arcavios are called "Trudges", and their defining trait is being able to self-resurrect, as we see with this big green dude as well as the monoblack Brackish Trudge. They're also all Beasts, don't have any relation with Saprolings, and are activated by lifegain, as the enchantment Trudge Garden confirms.


Giant: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 183, online: 177

 Related Tribes: Artificer

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: The Lorehold commander Osgir is also a Giant, race that wasn't encompassed by the original Strixhaven set. I don't think it's very relevant, though, Osgir just wants to be part of an artifact-based deck.


Golem: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 126

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The traditional artifact tribes (see also Construct) are losing colorlessness more and more, at least when they're not devised for Limited (as it was instead the case with all of Strixhaven's Constructs and Golems). Triplicate Titan is the exception here. It's a new take on Wurmcoil Engine but it's far from the efficiency of that high-profile finisher, mostly because the original Titan is much more impactful than the sum of its parts, so its death is still a severe downgrade, barring specific go-wide strategies. It's not even as worthy of sacrifice as something like Worldspine Wurm, but it can still make for a fun-looking playable that's accessible to any deck.

 Alibou, Ancient Witness, the first Golem ever printed in white-red (if we don't count Transguild Courier), is the deputy under the command of Osgir, the Reconstructor. It's very aggressively-skewed, giving haste to all artifact creatures, except unfortunately itself, and providing some amount of burn and scry at every attack. It seems like a no-brainer inclusion to most aggro artifact decks with access to the colors. Whereas Bronze Guardian could also fit builds based on noncreature artifacts, because it gives ward 2 to any artifact we control, regardless of its other types – it might not be enough to prevent the opponent from interacting with our key pieces, but it's something. It's also a functional finisher with some resilience, double strike and potentially high power.


Human: +11

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 2540, online: 2357

 Related Tribes: Advisor, Artificer, Cleric, Shaman, Warlock, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: As Strixhaven already showed, the Human subtype is somewhat favored by the setting, since going to school is a concept that begets indentification more than most. So the Human grand total keeps growing at a steady pace. To be fair, though, only one of the commanders and none of the vice-commanders is a Human, so they're at least trying not to give them all the key roles.


Kraken: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 20

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: Well, if somebody wanted to build a "giant marine fauna" deck (and I'm sure the idea alone is entertaining), in Commander or otherwise, this Kraken is a must-include. Sure, it just sits there waiting to eat removal, but if it doesn't, or it's successfully protected, its controller's board state can quickly spiral out of control. It plays particularly well with Serpent of Yawning Depths. The batching of these iconic blue fatties is slowly paying off.


Merfolk: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 243, online: 240

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The Merfolk tribe was already represented in Strixhaven, but mostly by excellent Limited cards like Torrent Sculptor and Quandrix Pledgemage. Now the fishpeople get a commander, or actually a couple: Adrix and Nev, Twincasters guide the Quandrix precon, and are quite simply a Doubling Season on legs, at least for what concerns the token creation side of it – so to be more precise, they're the Season's derivate Parallel Lives. This is kind of a new development, as we have seen several cases of creatures mimicking Doubling Season, or at least its little brother Hardened Scales, in regard to +1/+1 counters; but so far the doubling of tokens has never been done via creatures. Adrix and Nev even drop as fast as Parallel Lives itself, and the inherent fragility of being a creature rather than an enchantment is somewhat offset by their ward ability – a keyword which seems to be used to reinforce a creature's durability without the need to give them a larger body. These twin Merfolk Wizards are certainly going to be a prime build-around commander from now on, one that grants us the chance of starting the game with one half of Doubling Season in the command zone. The number of possibilities that this fact alone opens is just too enormous.


Octopus: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 10

 Related Tribes: Elemental

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: The Octopus tribe moves like the creatures it represents: slowly but resolutely. Their tenth member, the second legendary after the seminal Lorthos, the Tidemaker, is pretty playable, all things considered. I mean, probably not in a proper Tribal Wars format, where there's no room for all the instants and sorceries Octavia would like to see flow; but in a vacuum, it's not a bad card, and that definitely counts as a win for a tribe so small.


Rogue: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 307, online: 292

 Related Tribes: Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: The idea of "plagiarizing" someone else's feats, i.e. their counters, is certainly fascinating. The results might wildly vary, though. Our little Rogue comes equipped with flash to help catch some big counters placement by surprise, but after that, the opponents will be able to easily play around the ability. And we're not even guaranteed anything relevant is actually going to be placed on any creature at any point in the game. So not the most surefire value here, but a cool design.


Shade: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 31, online: 29

 Related Tribes: Warlock

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: This is more or less Gonti, Lord of Luxury, except nonlegendary, and it looks for a spell to steal among all opponents' graveyards rather than the first four cards on the top of one opponent's library. The difference is, of course, crucial. Author of Shadows could theoretically have many more options to choose from – but that's especially in true in the late game, and in multiplayer, where there are multiple graveyards to peruse. On the other hand, Gonti is always a good play on turn four, Author is not always a good play on turn five, as it could just be a pathetic 3/3 vanilla for five. Gonti can also take a defensive role on the battlefield, after his trigger resolved, thanks to deathtouch. In Author's defense, the graveyards get exiled, so there's a sometimes critical hate angle to be considered. Overall, I think Gonti remains the better card, but this Shade is not too shabby either, and gives the tribe a more sophisticated ability than just "spend black mana to pump this guy" (that's seriously what 28 out of 31 Shades do!).


Shaman: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 421, online: 416

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Zaffai, Thunder Conductor (notoriously misprinted as "Thunder Collector" in the rule text – I thought they could just refer to the name before the comma in these cases, didn't they pass that resolution a while ago?) is the only Shaman in Commander 2021, which is a surprisingly low turnout for one of the five spellcaster classes, but at least they get one of the precon deck commanders. The list Zaffai is given to lead is called Prismari Performance and is suitably all about triggering magecraft. Zaffai himself has a scaled set of triggers, of increasing power based on the mana value of the enabling spell. So he really feels like he's the conductor watching the spellslinging symphony unfold around him, while adding his touch to it (this is not a good metaphor about an orchestra conductor, but it's what you get. Also, did you realize the Prismari create 4/4 Elementals because that's the most common time signature in musical notation?)


Sphinx: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 65

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: There's another way to pilfer one of the opponent's spells off the top of their library – through type-based pseudo-cascade. It's what this new Sphinx does, and it's a pretty threatening ability to have on an evasive five-drop, as the average opponent is bound to have at least some instants and sorceries in their deck, even if they're running a permanent-oriented build (the fail case exists, but it's quite rare, especially in Commander). By the way, she's apparently in league with the Prismari College – it was either that or Quandrix, and she looks more artsy than science-y, I guess.


Spirit: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 499, online: 492

 Related Tribes: Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: New legendary Spirit in red (not a lot of those outside of Kamigawa), to reinfoce the separation between the tribe as it's declined in Strixhaven and its traditional Azorius paradigm. Laelia, the Blade Reforged is a very playable three-drop for aggro: she swings right away, grows at every attack, and gives us an impulsive draw that also encompasses land drops. Probably more at home among Warriors than among Spirits, though. Or just in a RDW list.


Treefolk: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 78, online: 76

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The two new Treefolk are also both Druids. They don't look like must-play cards in a Treefolk deck, although Ezzaroot Channeler has some synergy with Orchard Warden (which is not, in turn, a very frequent sight in Treefolk tribal), and Yedora, Grave Gardener with Dauntless Dourbark. Yedora is playable as a 5/5 that recycles fallen comrades to some extent, but the five-mana slot is reserved to Timber Protector first and foremost, so there might not be room for her, even if her non-Protector competition amounts mostly to Sapling of Colfenor.


Troll: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 45, online: 44

 Related Tribes: Warlock, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The school cafeteria's cook is a trope that Strixhaven sadly couldn't find space for, but Commander 2021 is luckily willing to remedy. Gyome, Master Chef, vice-commander of the "Witherbloom Witchcraft" deck, makes a lot of sense as a Troll Warlock, and brings back Food tokens in a major way, assigning one of them to each nontoken creature we have enter the battefield every turn (no soup for tokens!), and then concocting a new reason to sacrifice Food, this time to grant indestructibility. He's also a 5/3 for four mana, which are fairly decent stats, and his ability works well with the tribe's widespread hexproof.

 The other new Troll is similarly specialized, but only works within Commander formats. We had the lieutenant ability word in the past, this time the resident commander helper is not keyworded, it just provides a three-mana way to protect our valuable centerpieces at instant speed. The anthem effect is secondary, but robust enough to translate into a faster "commander damage" clock if paired with an evasive commander.


Vampire: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 265, online: 261

 Related Tribes: Rogue, Warlock, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Vampires get the last of the vice-commanders, Felisa, Fang of Silverquill. She's an aggressive creature sporting the winning combination of flying and mentor, and an ability that revives any nontoken creature with a counter on it in the form of an Inkling token. Nothing of what she does feels very unique, but all her moving parts interact well with one another. Maybe not the most appealing commander material, but a solid inclusion in any go-wide white-black list.

 We've seen the very situational Bold Plagiarist, which is surely best suited to a slower multiplayer format where broken plays are bound to happen. Similarly, Veinwitch Coven is leisurely paced, situational card advantage, although a 3/3 with menace might also have a bit of relevance if played on turn three. Marshland Bloodcaster is another late-game game-changer, potentially Channeling out a wincon on turn six – an effect that had always felt more black than green, and is now returned to the correct slice of the color pie, if in the shape of a slightly clunky creature. 


Warlock: +7

   

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 34

 Related Tribes: Bird, Human, Shade, Troll, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The Warlock tribe marches on and crosses the 30-member threshold in record time (remember it only existed for one year and a half by now). Let's see which of these new additions we haven't discussed yet. We've seen the political Bird Breena, the Demagogue; the Gonti lookalike Author of Shadows; the Food distributor Gyome, Master Chef; and a couple of situational Vampires. The Human side of the tribe offers two more legendaries: Fain, the Broker, who revisits the chain of sacrificial effects from Trading Post (something to do with commerce, I presume); and the powerful token-maker Tivash, Gloom Summoner, who's able to turn all life gained each turn into a flyer – and he's a chunky lifelinker himself, so the ability is potentially self-enabled.

 All these Warlocks describe a tribe that contains many kinds of effect and sustain a wide variety of different strategies, even if it appears more strictly linked to its defining color than any other of the spellcaster classes except for Druid, since Cleric has a sizeable black component, the Shamans appear almost as frequently in green as they do in red, and a good half of all the existing Wizards is non-blue.


Warrior: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 803, online: 786

 Related Tribes: Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: As noted, Laelia makes for a more appropriate inclusion in Warrior tribal than she does in Spirit tribal. She's also so far the only notable "fighter" among all of the cards set on the wizarding world of Arcavios.


Wizard: +10

   

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 816, online: 798

 Related Tribes: Bird, Efreet, Human, Merfolk, Troll, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: And here's the wizarding world in full bloom! The characteristic blue spellcasting tribe, which, as we can see, includes quite a few representatives from the other colors, counts the most new additions in Commander 2021, usual Human anomaly aside.

 Half of the new Wizards are in fact Humans. We've seen the Doubling Season-esque Merfolk couple of Adrix and Nev, Twincasters, possibly the most powerful new commander of the lot. Then two other very impactful dual-colored legendary with the magecraft-enhancing Efreet Veyran, Voice of Duality and the aggressive Vampire Felisa, Fang of Silverquill. Finally, the specialized card-advantage engine of Curiosity Crafter and the commander protector Guardian Augmenter.

 On the Human front, there's a rare Wizard for each color except white and green (the latter got the guardian Troll already). Blue gets another legendary in Deekah, Fractal Theorist (not hard to guess from which college she hails from). Remember how Talrand, Sky Summer (which is reprinted in Commander 2021, by the way; only in the Prismari deck, not the Quandrix one) would create a 2/2 flyer every time we cast an instant or sorcery? Well, Deekah raises that to a token as large as the spell cast was expensive. But these tokens don't have evasion, you say? No problem, Deekah can make them outright unblockable.

 Sly Instigator, by comparison, feels a lot less impressive, mostly being a political manipulator forcing one enemy creature to attack someone who's not us, but also making sure the attack won't be blocked. Of course it doesn't do anything in one-on-one, unless we're into spending mana to make sure we lose the game (yeah, even to enable suicide strategies, it's pretty sketchy). The black Keen Duelist is a Dark Confidant that also affects another player. The red Radiant Performer is a very situational copy effect that's not easy to fully exploit.

 Last but not least, Rionya, Fire Dancer out of the Prismari deck, is legendary red Wizard with a complex ability that geneates temporary token copies of another creature we control at the beginning of each combat phase in our turn. The number of copies is established through a mechanic akin to magecraft (I imagine it would have felt even harder to parse if it used the actual ability word, plus this way it can have "one" as the bare minimum of generated tokens). There are scenarios where she can be extremely threatening, as we could cast a couple removal spells first main, then copy our one big hitter three times and seal the deal that way. Many things have to align, clearly, and many others could go wrong, particularly because the ability focuses on a single target: if the opponent manages to remove it with the trigger on the stack, it'll nullify the whole routine. But even when not enabled by spells and not paired with anything more amazing than, say, a simple Solemn Simulacrum, Rionya is still able to provide a fair amount of completely free value without even having to expose herself to danger, since she doesn't need to attack to create her tokens (too bad they're exiled, though; no death trigger from that Simulacrum).


SUMMARY

> top <

 Check the Complete Creature Types Reference Table here.


THE COMMANDERS
(click on any of them to go to their review)

  

 

> top <


THE VICE-COMMANDERS
(click on any of them to go to their review)

  

 

> top <


THE ACADEMIC EMINENCES
(click on any of them to go to their review)

 

 

> top <


KUMA'S TRIBAL EVALUATIONS