Aether Channeler – Dominaria United
Date Reviewed: September 21, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Somehow I managed to go all the way through Kaldheim‘s review cycle without ever mentioning the Great Heathen Army. Perhaps it was never going to be possible to cover the Viking Age comprehensively in just one Magic set – I’ve seen this discussed elsewhere, and I agree that it could have had at least a two-set block. (Or maybe another whole set or two, perhaps after Wilds of Eldraine?) Regardless, you may be aware that the name “Great Heathen Army” is somewhat of a misnomer. It didn’t actually start off as the kind of army with organized recruiting and chains of command and such. It began with smaller, independent bands of raiders seizing whatever opportunities came to them, with their successes attracting more and more vikings who started raiding more and more parts of the British Isles, and then many of them joined forces to seize and hold territory. It’s a great example of how small things add up to become something bigger.
There’s a strategy that operates much the same way in Magic, and while it’s most exemplified by the Rock and Jund decks of the past and present, any color is capable of doing it, and Aether Channeler is a great card for such a strategy. All of its abilities are relatively small but useful in at least some circumstances, and on top of it always being a creature you can attack and block with, it will fit in a dizzying number of decks. Much like with the Great Heathen Army, your opponent may not always be aware of just what they’re facing until they’re already far behind. Taking the little steps to someplace big is a good strategy for Magic (and in quite a few parts of our own lives, come to think of it).
Commander [EDH]: 4
As always, flexibility is sometimes underrated as a tool for decks; while efficient threats are always worth inclusion, there’s still plenty of intrigue to be had with cards that do more things at once. Hence, Aether Channeler: it’s either a bounce spell attached to a 2/1, 3/2 split up over two bodies, or a cantrip attached to a 2/1. For three mana, that’s a surprisingly nice deal that helps advance your board, and it also even has a relevant typeline and a color-light mana cost. This is a solid workhorse card that will rarely be dead in your hand, and it’s going to pull a lot of weight in Standard through its entire run; it does a lot of things pretty well, and even just going for a cantripping 2/1 means pretty decent things.
Commander [EDH]: 4
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