Abaddon the Despoiler – Warhammer
Date Reviewed: October 26, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Some Warhammer 40,000 fans consider Abaddon to be somewhat of a figure of fun. He’s very strong on the tabletop, but in the lore, he’s launched no fewer than thirteen Black Crusades and been beaten back every time. I understand the point the mockers are trying to make, yet at the same time, it’d be kind of hard to keep the setting going after the triumph of Chaos, which by definition involves the dissolution of the universe as we know it. Not only would that be Game of Thrones edginess turned up to an alienating eleven, but they probably fear it’d be hard to sell models based on people who have been canonically ground into warpstuff.
Also, they went “Dark Gods win, everyone dies” on Warhammer Fantasy and fan demand forced them to bring it back not only in the PC strategy games, but also the upcoming Old World project. Something to reflect on, perhaps.
Before I get too far down that tangent, let’s consider what Abaddon does in Magic. Though he only has a few lines of rules text, he actually portrays the “greatest threat to the Imperium” thing reasonably, at least if you build around him. You’ll have to be more proactive than his color combination sometimes implies, but you can engineer a situation where every spell in your deck is a two-for-one. I know that Grixis control decks already do stuff like that, but the ability to do it while actually pressuring the table like Jund/Rock decks adds a new dimension to the color combination. Come to think of it, he’d probably go well with a card like Thraximundar (and that name is tailor-made for a Champion of Khorne!). A deck like that probably needs to use Abaddon as its commander, so plan accordingly.
Commander [EDH]: 4
Cascade has always been a very dangerous mechanic, and while Abaddon the Despoiler lacks it himself, giving it to all of your other spells (potentially) is very nasty. In particular, if you can get a small bit of life loss to happen, you can use small spells to cheat on things like Living End, which is certainly exciting. There are plenty of guard rails to keep Abaddon from being too powerful, limiting the cascading to your turn and to spells that already are in your hand, but there’s potential for onw advantageous swing to break a game wide open. I think he won’t make it in Legacy, owing to costing five mana and having weird types that preclude a lot of extant tribal support, but this is a fun, scary card to experiment with all the same. And, of course, being a trampling 5/5 means he can make the pain train leave on schedule all on his own.
Commander [EDH]: 4.5
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