Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate Set Review - Blue
(Volo, Itinerant Scholar | Andreas Zafiratos)
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Gold I | Gold II | Artifacts & Lands
Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate Set Review – Blue
Hello, everyone! I'm Andy, and I'd like to welcome you to the Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate Blue Set Review!
As someone who started playing Dungeons & Dragons within the last five years, I've learned about an entire world I wasn't familiar with. This past year we got Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, which was full of iconic characters and spells, and I'm sure the same will be true as we dive into what Blue has to offer this time around.
We're seeing more iconic Dungeons & Dragons characters and spells come to life this set, so let's take a look.
Ancient Silver Dragon
Ancient Silver Dragon contains some of my favorite words: "draw cards" and "you have no maximum hand size for the rest of the game." This card is another option for Scion of the Ur-Dragon decks that aim to benefit from dealing combat damage. The average die roll for a d20 is 10.5, so you can expect to draw enough cards to keep your hand full of gas. Draw cards? You don't have to tell me twice.
The next commander I had in mine is The Ur-Dragon. Ancient Silver Dragon fits here, but being reduced by one mana still leaves it costing seven mana. I expect to see it hitting the battlefield off of a card like Quicksilver Amulet at the end of someone's turn so it can swing in as soon as possible. Tiamat is another great five-color option if you're looking to jam all of the new Elder Dragons. Throw in cards that can grant haste, like Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei, which already pairs well with Dragons, or Zirilan of the Claw, which can tutor it up right from the deck. I wish you all above-average die rolls!
At six mana and instant-speed, this card looks like a lot of fun for spellslinger decks.
I'm seeing Adrix and Nev, Twincasters immediately. They like to make a variety of tokens, and having access to your opponents' creatures that aren't just in blue and green is powerful. If you're running cards like Mirror Box, Sakashima of a Thousand Faces, or Mirror Gallery, you won't have to worry if you choose a legendary creature. You'll get double without the trouble.
If you're running a deck with Clone effects, making copies of your opponents' best nonlegendary creature and then getting additional copies of your own is a cool strategy, but let's be real here: Hinata, Dawn-Crowned players are prepared to spend three mana when each of their opponents have a creature.
Font of Magic
I appreciate that we continue to receive cards that benefit from the number of times you've cast a commander from the command zone. Font of Magic gives me big experience counter vibes and will do some serious damage in decks aiming to cast their commander multiple times. Partner decks in particular will help push the count on Font of Magic for major cost reduction.
X spells, like Comet Storm in a Kaza, Roil Chaser deck or Occult Epiphany in a Millicent, Restless Revenant, want this. Perhaps a Partner combination with Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh for free cost reduction immediately?
This card works well with pretty much all instant and sorcery spells and slots easily into a variety of strategies. You shouldn't have trouble finding a home.
Volo, Itinerant Scholar
Get in, loser, we're going cataloguing! This is one of the first characters I learned about when I started playing Dungeons & Dragons, and this iteration of Volo is an interactive card that will make both building and playing the deck fun.
If you're like me, you want to build this around as many unique creature types as you can just to note for Volo's Journal. Creatures like Mothdust Changeling, Orvar, the All-Form, and Universal Automaton have Changeling, so they're all creature types at all times. Each time you cast one, you can name creature types like Camel, Eye, or even Orb as created by Phantasmal Sphere. The number of Changeling cards you could play changes if you pair Volo with a specific Background. While we're at it, Maskwood Nexus does a lot here.
Step 1: Volo, Itinerant Scholar
Step 2: Maskwood Nexus
Step 3: Profit?
Volo, Itinerant Scholar provides card advantage, and it only increases with the more unique creature types you play. I promise you, he wrote the book on it.
Can you say comboooo?! This card is fantastic and can enable some really powerful plays in decks that want to blink their creatures. Commanders like Brago, King Eternal, Roon of the Hidden Realm, and Aminatou, the Fateshifter are all going to be able to take advantage of this effect that already aligns with their gameplan.
Okay, hear me out: start with Emry, Lurker of the Loch, add in a few rocks and a haste-enabler, like Swiftfoot Boots. There's something there for sure, I just haven't put my finger on it yet.
Gale, Waterdeep Prodigy
I'm ready to cast multiple cards in a single turn. I'd pair Gale, Waterdeep Prodigy with a red Background. Izzet spellslinger decks fuel their graveyard pretty quickly. We've got instants like Big Score and Unexpected Windfall that both draw cards and discard cards alongside sorceries like Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion. Once you've got a good combination of both in your graveyard, you shouldn't have to worry about running out of gas in the late game.
I also see Gale, Waterdeep Prodigy slotting into established spellslinger decks and Wizard tribal decks. Give them a spin in a Mizzix of the Izmagnus, Rielle, the Everwise, or Melek, Izzet Paragon deck for best results.
Gale's Redirection will synergize well in Commander draft but probably fits best in dedicated dice-rolling decks. I see this slotting into Farideh, Devil's Chosen. While this effectively counters a spell and replaces your card with the card you exiled to cast potentially for free, I'm not sure this card is going to be seeing much play at five mana value.
It's great to see Adventure cards back. This is an excellent addition for the Rhoda, Geist Avenger and Timin, Youthful Geist Partner decks and a slam dunk for Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer Morph decks.
Illithid Harvester seems solid for any blue-based control deck looking to tap your opponents' creatures down, and when it enters the battlefield it turns any number of tapped creatures face down, like Ixidron.
Robe of the Archmagi
Blue as a color is such a difficult context in which to evaluate combat-based Equipment, but I'm thinking Galea, Kindler of Hope will benefit from the free Equipment. Lu Xun, Scholar General plays with Equipment, or you could try to pair this with a Partner deck featuring Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist.
This is our first Background in blue! What's better than the ability to have any creature on the battlefield as your own? Watch out Sakashima, the Shameless Charlatan is coming for your job. Perhaps you pair it with Erinis, Gloom Stalker to ramp lands, or Amber Gristle O'Maul if you want to swing with haste and turn your commander into another creature during combat. We've got a lot of options here.
Or perhaps we want to play with cards that target our opponents' creatures, like Dismiss into Dream. "All your creatures are belong to us," says Willbreaker. This might not be the most popular strategy, but it's one that we know works.
Tomb of Horrors Adventurer
Blue is ready to take the initiative with Tomb of Horrors Adventurer. Six mana is quite the cost for a mono-blue creature that focuses on spell casting and completing dungeons. I don't expect to see this in many Commander decks, but if you're building around Imoen, Mystic Trickster, you probably want to include this card.
Wizards of Thay
Immediately a 3/3 body for four mana is fine. A static cost reduction on instant and sorcery spells is great, and allowing you to cast sorceries at instant speed means you can play a play on your opponents' turns. Cards like these always lead to bluffing games and lead your opponents to play differently. Do I have a Counterspell, or am I planning to cast a sorcery just before my next turn? If they play around your spells, you'll pull ahead.
Myriad on this creature is great, but I'm not sure how often I'll be swinging this creature in for damage unless I've got a spicy sorcery lined up for combat.
Alora, Merry Thief
Alora, Merry Thief enables some cool plays with cards that provide benefits when they enter the battlefield or deal damage to an opponent, like Aerial Extortionist or Vengeful Ancestor.
Candlekeep Sage is probably the strongest of the uncommon blue Backgrounds. I'm envisioning Deadeye Navigator paired with my commander. There are plenty of ways to flicker creatures. If you add in infinite mana, you're going to draw your entire deck.
Dungeon Delver gives your commander Hama Pashar, Ruin Seeker's text box. Seeing as we're getting more dungeon support, this gives us more options to mix and match our dungeon commanders.
Feywild Visitor is a Background that will likely see the majority of play in the draft format. It's limited by the "one or more" clause, which I think holds this back from being a more popular Background.
Imoen, Mystic Trickster
Imoen, Mystic Trickster really takes initiative. They can be your commander and their end step trigger provides card advantage, which could prove useful, as initiative normally checks when you take it or at your upkeep.
Renari, Merchant of Marvels
Renari, Merchant of Marvels is budget Vedalken Orrery for your Dragon tribal or artifact decks. I'm a big fan of playing at instant speed and could be a unique commander depending on the Background you choose.
Sword Coast Sailor
Sword Coast Sailor encourages you to swing with a commander at your opponent with the highest life total for evasiveness. This is a great way to get in with commander damage.
Vhal, Candlekeep Researcher
Vhal, Candlekeep Researcher is a new creature that taps for colorless mana based on its toughness. This could slot easily into an Arcades, the Strategist deck that utilizes cards to boost toughness.
Uncommons and Commons
- Aarakocra Sneak is a sneaky little Bird Rogue that introduces the initiative to games. I'll happily add this to my Kangee, Sky Warden deck. If venturing into undercity plays as well as the monarch, I'll lead the party on the descent.
- Bane's Contigency is a strictly better Cancel that provides upside if you use it to protect casting your commander.
- Blur is a colorshifted Acrobatic Maneuver that can be used to blink creatures. I vote that you play both in Lavinia of the Tenth or Ephara, God of the Polis decks.
- Candlekeep Inspiration reminds me of Biomass Mutation but with some additional hoops. It helps creature decks that leverage instant, sorcery, and adventure cards. I'm looking at Edric, Spymaster of Trest or even Raffine, Scheming Seer.
- Cone of Cold is a solid sorcery for Rhoda, Geist Avenger and Timin, Youthful Geist and for decks that want to focus on dice-rolling. None of the results are bad if your plan is to swing out for the win.
- Irenicus's Vile Duplication is reminiscent of Stolen Identity or Saheeli's Artistry but at uncommon for four mana. I think the cost is perfect for this effect and will be great in both Commander draft and decks that want tokens. Add in cost-reducers and get this for a little as one blue mana!
- Lapis Orb of Dragonkind is part of a cycle of mana rocks that provide benefits when spent on Dragons. Of all of the cards in the cycle, I think you might opt for another Orb, but scry 2 can help you dig for your important Dragons.
- Modify Memory is a new Switcheroo that draws me three cards if I mess with my opponents' boards only. Slice me a piece of that cake!
- Moonshae Pixie is a shoo-in for a Tibor and Lumia deck. Granting one creature flying on cast and then lifting three more into the air when you send it on an Adventure is a great way to prevent your creatures from taking damage when you cast your red spells that turn.
- Sapphire Dragon is a Negate when it goes on an Adventure that's a decent blocker later in the game. Dedicated Dragon decks might find this useful.
- Tymora's Invoker might not be the best card in the set, but it slots very well into a "stylish hats" theme deck.
Time to Choose A Background
That's going to wrap up this set review.
I'm all in on the Volo, Itinerant Scholar train. I live and breathe Azorius, so I'm probably going to check out the Backgrounds that white has to offer, although green gave us Master Chef, which allows us to include the OG Volo, Guide to Monsters.
I anticipate Displacer Kitten will propel several engines and might be one of the most impactful blue cards this set offers. Meow, that's what I call value.
Overall this set has provided us lots of new tools to build some unique decks and I hope you find a few hidden gems.