Elminster– Baldur’s Gate
Date Reviewed: June 13, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 3.50
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
For the record, technically Elminster didn’t steal Gandalf’s look; both of them borrowed the look from Merlin and/or Odin, and they in turn may have borrowed it from someone even older whose name we don’t remember any more. I guess Elminster also borrowed game text from other Magic cards, but you don’t always see all these abilities in just the one card. That allows for some slightly unusual combinations, like reducing mana costs in eyebrow-raising ways – for example, Sphinx’s Revelation doesn’t need any help, but he can take it to downright unfair places without extra mana investment. Having said that, tournament decks might not want to invest in a card that only does things that powerful in the right environment, or does them as inconsistently as his -3 can. There’s definitely a place for him in the theme-based side of Magic, and the fact that he can be your commander adds options for control and combo decks in the 100-card arena.
Limited: 4/5 (card advantage and/or evasive fliers win)
Commander [EDH]: 4/5
Elminster is an interesting enough planeswalker, and he’s in one of the spellslinging-inclined color combinations, so there’s that. He presents an interesting sort of “scrying matters” commander, with his +2 (Serum Visions) giving a two-mana discount on your turn’s next instant or sorcery and letting you set up for his -3 on another turn. Using his -3 blind is not ideal, but the upshot of being able to flood the board with a horde of winged abominations is a massive bit of payoff.
Elminster is a bit too pricey to ever make it in Legacy, but I think he’s plenty dangerous in formats that are slower. His +2 and -3 have plenty of in-built synergy, and even if you just have him there as a Serum Visions each turn, the threat of being able to randomly cheat on a massive spell is very much an attractive thing. Also note that he has neither a once-per-turn or a limitation on his coat reduction, so this means you can cheat on as many spells as you want if you have the means to keep pondering your orb. He’s subtle, but dangerous.
Constructed: 1.5 (best-case scenario is a bunch of Faerie Dragons, which probably isn’t good enough to offset his lack of speed)
Limited: 5 (he’ll win you the game if unanswered, and being able to be a Commander means opponents can’t just answer him once to be done with it)
Commander [EDH]: 4.5 (weirdly dangerous whether you build around him or just build with him in mind)
Unless you’re really heavy into scrying this is a hard pass for me. It’s a nice way to make instants and sorcery cards cheaper but are we really going to be making a scry tribal deck? Waste of a mythic slot if you ask me, it costs way too much mana to play this card. I know you get to draw a card every turn but besides that there isn’t much to this card.
I like the second ability and knowing what the cards on top of your library are helps but how many times are you going to get this to go off? Once? Your opponents are going to attach this and attack it hard so you can’t make several creatures. If this was two mana cheaper I’d be all about it but it’s too expensive.
Commander [EDH]: 2/5
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