Ajani, Sleeper Agent – Dominaria United
Date Reviewed: August 26, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 3.25
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
And suddenly, things somehow turned even uglier.
As I recently said elsewhere, I have a lot of story questions about this, mainly because Ajani seems to have become a sleeper agent off-camera in the Dominaria United story articles. Also, I didn’t think you could become a sleeper agent, only an assimilated horror-hybrid in the style of Ezuri – the Phyrexians must have develped that technology while we were away.
We’re familiar with at least one of Ajani’s abilities, his -3, and it probably makes some sense that this version has something like that; it’s still as useful as previous variants in games when you can cast the Sleeper Agent in a way where you can use it. Therein lies the kicker: this incarnation of Ajani has low loyalty compared to his abilities whether or not you pay life to cast him. Still, his +1 is a good way to get card advantage in a properly constructed deck, and there will be plenty of situations where it’s a good idea to slam him down on turn 3 (or turn 2, with a Llanowar Elves or such) and outdraw your opponent. And despite what I said before, his four-mana “mode” starts him fairly close to an ultimate that can destroy an opponent very rapidly – I wonder if it foretells a mechanic from Phyrexia: All Will Be One?
Commander [EDH]: 3/5
Phyrexia seems to be moving to take center stage in Dominaria United, adding Ajani to their ranks and making him into one bad kitty. Unfortunate though it may be for him (and others), his newest card offers a more brutal, vicious twist on his colors that wouldn’t be out of place in New Phyrexia. Selecting whether to bring him in as a four-mana, four loyalty planeswalker or a three-mana, two-loyalty planeswalker is an interesting decision, but it’s made easier by that his abilities are both pretty impactful. Scrying and/or drawing a card is quite nice as a way to get a leg up in Selesnya, and buffing your team for a swing keeps in with his usual “go wide” approach. You might be taken aback by his ultimate, which is another poison reference right as the one we have leaves; it’s certainly in the usual space of “planeswalker ultimates rarely make or break a card”, but it presents a very quick clock in colors that do love their creatures.
Ajani, Sleeper Agent has the usual Ajani issue of protecting himself poorly, if at all, but he’s quite nasty if he has room to do his thing. Even one activation of his -3 can be enough to crack a game open, and if you have enough creatures, potentially drawing cards each turn is quite a nice spot for a three-mana (or four-mana) card in green/white. I doubt he’ll make it as an all-star, but he is very flexible for what he potentially offers, and the bad kitty will bring opponents to their knees between his card advantage and his continual buffing.
Constructed: 4 (I think he’s more likely to be played at three mana, because a poor man’s Phyrexian Arena is still a solid way to spend three mana in Selesnya colors)
Limited: 3.75 (he’s less self-sufficient than other planeswalkers, but if he’s not answered in a timely fashion, he’ll still win games)
Commander [EDH]: 3.5
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