Be’lakor, the Dark Master – Warhammer 40,000
Date Reviewed: October 14, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 4.50
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Here’s something I thought I’d literally never see. The issue isn’t a tonal shift – some iterations of Warhammer have, essentially, my complaints about Phyrexia’s edginess turned up a notch. It’s more that both Games Workshop and Wizards of the Coast have always been extremely protective of their intellectual property. The latter kept mind flayers and beholders out of the Open Games License, forcing Pathfinder and others to find substitutes; as for the former, some fans have speculated that one motivation behind the Age of Sigmar shift was their seeing a chance to rebrand ogres as “Ogryn” and orcs as “Orruk”, and thus have names they were in full control of. Still, I have no doubt that the Warhammer Commander decks will find an audience, as the visual appeal of their factions has always been obvious, and they actually have some interesting things to offer the format.
Demons tend not to get much in the way of tribal support, as they are usually more about individually powerful cards. But if you’re looking to make such a deck, Be’lakor is a great place to start, especially if you start with him in the command zone. His colors give you lots of strong options for creatures and support cards, and while his effects are mimicked by various cards in this color combination, there’s an obvious power-up when they come on your commander. He also boosts a lot of cards that share his creature type – it’s not like, say, Malfegor needed much help to begin with, but you might need help taking down the table faster. And with the kinds of creatures and card advantage that some decks play now, you might need every little thing you can get.
If you’re confused by Hasbro’s sudden willingness to do outside collaborations, the upcoming Lego X DnD product that’s just been announced will make your head spin. But if you like either of those things, go and look at the projects, comment on them if they appeal to you (and have/want to make an account), and vote when the voting opens. Personally, I’m angling for something involving minifigures – or, in the long run, Dungeons and Dragons becoming a recurring thing in Lego (ideally with something involving minifigures). Obviously you can already use their minifigures to make characters and bricks to make settings, but it’d be nice to get more explicit help in that regard!
Commander [EDH]: 4.5
Cards from the Warhammer 40k Commander decks won’t have Limited scores, and their scores reflect their legality in Eternal formats.
Setting aside the trappings and the lore of the crossover, ad I literally have never played Warhammer and have little knowledge of the lore, Be’lakor, the Dark Master is actually quite a nice card for Grixis Demon decks. Warstorm Surge for Demons, on top of a draw effect when Be’lakor comes out, is a pretty solid pairing of abilities, though it makes for an interesting bit of tension between playing Demons early for the refill or playing them late for the damage. But making all of your Demons a 2-for-1 is a good way to put a game out of reach, and that’s before we touch on Be’lakor having a sufficiently solid body on its own (a 6/5 with evasion).
If you’re fine with the Warhammer cards, this will be quite an effective Demon commander if you’re in Grixis, giving both a bit of resource replenishment and a bit of late-game reach to close out games with. He does plenty of interesting things, and I’d say the enterprising builder can milk the big bad demon for a lot.
Constructed: 1 (demands too much set-up to work, and also doesn’t do enough immediately to justify cheating him into play)
Multiplayer: 3 (only hits one opponent at a time, but it’s still solid for value)
Commander [EDH]: 4.5
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