Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines
– Phyrexia: All Will Be One
Date Reviewed: February 6, 2023
Commander [EDH]: 5.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
And suddenly, things turned really ugly.
Elesh Norn’s return was telegraphed just about as hard as Cody Rhodes’, and her impact might be just as great. She has one of the most powerful asymmetrical Praetor effects on any of the ten cards, working just as well as a combo piece for your own triggers and a critical mass addition in a “haterator” style deck. Five mana is pretty cheap when you consider all the things she can do, and all the things she can prevent your opponent from doing, and there are ways to get her out even earlier than that if you really need to. She reminds me, in a way, of Blazing Archon in Ravnica: City of Guilds Standard, in that she turns off something most opponents of the era want to use and is hard to kill (seven is a rare number on red cards, even now).
I think we’re also almost at the point where people can no longer justifiably junk up social media with “omg white bad”; maybe just in Commander, but that’s always been more of an issue with Commander than with white.
Commander [EDH]: 5
Phyrexia: All Will Be One is here, and Elesh Norn is back in her role as the would-be unquestioned leader of the Phyrexian faction. Her original outing became infamous as one of the all-time great reanimation targets, thanks to completely stuffing creature decks, and while this Elesh Norn isn’t in the same vein, the Mother of Machines is certainly a massive threat.
Panharmonicon and Torpor Orb stapled to one creature is nasty, and it’s made even more fun by the asymmetry inherent to all the Praetors. This turns off comes-into-play triggers for your opponents entirely (or, at least, it keeps their things from being triggered), while it makes yours even stronger. Even taking something as simple as a Suture Priest alongside Elesh Norn, that represents a lot of life loss/gain. There are ways to make it so that every play they make with Elesh Norn is a horrible one, and she’s also not completely made of glass. 7 toughness and vigilance let her put in a surprising amount of work in that regard. (Amusingly, she has the same combat stats as her first version.)
I think Elesh Norn is a very plainly vicious card, though she’s naturally dependent more on deck building than a lot of the Praetors are. She’s merely acceptable as a body, but when you factor in her asymmetry, letting her live may well be a fatal mistake your opponents come to regret in short order.
Multiplayer: 5 (this shuts down a surprising swath of decks)
Commander [EDH]: 5 (I feel like this might be one of the more infamous cards to come out in recent memory, and she’ll likely be a hated presence in the format for years to come)
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