Elenda, the Dusk Rose
– Rivals of Ixalan
January 31, 2018
Commander [EDH]: 4.25
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
The contrast of Elenda’s beautiful sobriquet and the ageless horror she represents is really striking to me. It’s too bad they don’t do the novels any more – or at least had more room for flavor text on her own card – because there’s obviously a story here.
In gameplay terms, Elenda has some scary potential for Commander in particular, where you can cast her more than once without using any additional cards. To be fair, it’s not like other casual settings have any shortage of white and black cards that return things from the graveyard. Black also has any number of ways to sacrifice your own creatures and not have to rely on your opponent doing anything, especially since the first thing they’re going to target will probably be Elenda herself. That last point makes me unsure what exactly she’ll do in constructed, although it does occur to me that there are not too many things in Standard that can deal with her quickly for less than four mana themselves.
The proverbial queen of the Vampire decks, Elenda is an interesting piece to the deck. As a four mana 1/1 with no combat abilities (lifelink really isn’t a combat ability), she relies on a little help to get going, be it through sacrifice outlets to bin your other creatures or merely killing your opponent’s creatures. But all it takes is a couple of deaths for Elenda to start snowballing; three deaths puts her at a 4/4 with lifelink, which already is a formidable threat capable of swinging the game wide open, and anything past that is gravy. The question for her is simple: how quickly can you get her out of being a 1/1? I think she’s suboptimal as a drop on curve, since she’s exceptionally fragile, but she plays well into a populated board where things can start dropping.
Of course, that’s not all she does. Her death gives rise to a horde of Vampire tokens with lifelink, replacing her one body with a lot of smaller ones. If she dies at anything above her starting power, she’ll likely have done her job, as a token army is pretty nasty to try and outrace. But even dying at base means she effectively has to die twice.
Elenda has potential. How much, I can’t say. But she has a lot going for her and might make decent sense as the curve-topper in a Vampire deck, and she does profane things in Limited and Commander.
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