Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher – Lost Caverns of Ixalan
Date Reviewed: December 13, 2023
Commander [EDH]: 3.75
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
One of my favorite details about Ixalan’s skymarcher vampires is easy to miss: their bodies partially turning into mist. This is, of course, a canon power of some vampires, but it doesn’t always get as much attention in popular culture. To be fair, there are a lot of storytelling possibilities related to shapeshifting into bats and wolves too.
Reading Carmen’s abilities from top to bottom is interesting because they sort of fake you out: she starts off sounding like Yet Another Sacrifice Payoff, but takes a hard left turn into a reanimation variant that is somehow still underrepresented in white. It’s tricky to get hers to really devastate an opponent, not least because she has to attack and is going to be a priority to block. Additionally, building a deck to support the first half of her text doesn’t always lend itself to supporting the second half, and vice versa. But there’s undoubtedly going to be a lot of motivation on the part of her controller, and everybody’s going to remember the time you use her to reanimate an Eldrazi.
Constructed: 1.5 (not very well positioned for Legacy)
Commander [EDH]: 3.5
Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher is from the Commander subset, so my scores will reflect her legality (Legacy, Vintage, Commander).
Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher’s abilities are very clearly meant to play well with each other. Her getting bigger lets her bring back bigger and more horrifying things, and she has a built-in way to get bigger that also pairs well with the surfeit of artifact tokens that cash themselves in. Forced sacrifices will also do the job, and the end result is that Carmen can get big with surprising speed, on top of having a potent attack trigger.
Unfortunately, it’s an attack trigger, and those stats do not look all that alluring at base. This does mean you have to commit to get a reward, but until she starts amassing counters, a 2/2 with flying, while at least not completely pointless, is still killable by at least 69% of decks in short order, either in combat or through other means. Being able to fish permanents back each time she attacks is quite a nice boon (and can be even more fun if you have her in, say, a Mardu deck that can take multiple combat steps), and her particular wording screams some kind of infinite combo that will ruin everyone’s day…but such combos tend to be far more theoretical, and she’ll have to settle or being a decent, albeit fragile, value commander with a particular punisher attached to her.
Commander [EDH]: 4
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