Elspeth Resplendent – Streets of New Capenna
Date Reviewed: April 25, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 2.92
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I don’t even know what is going on any more, when we can rightly say that one of Magic’s famous planeswalkers has both slain Olympian-style gods and become a flapper girl. Not that I don’t like it – it is, though, funny to think that it’s the same game!
What I really like about this card, though, is the return of keyword counters, and the expansion of what they can do with her second ability. If you haven’t heard, shield counters are like a “fixed” version of regeneration or a variant on totem armor – if a creature has any while it would be dealt damage or destroyed, you remove one instead. It’s one of those design innovations that seems obvious once you see it, but took a long time to arrive, and it’s a very elegant way to get that kind of ability back into new Magic sets without always having to reach for the wordy “gains indestructible until end of turn, then tap it”. And it’s potentially powerful to boot – any repeatable source of shield counters gives opponents a hard time, as do abilities like proliferate.
Elspeth’s numbers mean that she isn’t precisely a repeatable shield counter generator, being somewhat dependent on what the top cards of your deck are. But if you already have a creature when you cast her, it’ll rapidly become an unstoppable monster. She’s a little slow for the traditional low-curve white aggro deck, especially in Standard and Modern; though if a midrange deck emerges (particularly in Standard) that uses white and has lots of creatures, it’ll be hard to resist fitting her in.
Commander [EDH]: 3/5
This is certainly an interesting Elspeth, isn’t it? She still does the same things she’s been known for, providing buffs and raising an army, albeit with a twist this time. Her +1 is good for providing a permanent boost to something, potentially game-ending with the right set-up, and her -3 gets you something with a bit of protection to it. Of note is that she can hit lands, so you’ll rarely be left wanting for hits on an ability that sees 7 deep; that she only can get a three drop or less is irksome, but a fair bit of a pressure valve on an otherwise threatening ability, and this gets any permanent, not just creatures. Her ultimate is good for an immediate army, but I think her strength is more in using her +1 and -3 to populate a board and push it to the breaking point.
Five mana is a bit of an issue, as I oft say for planeswalkers, and while Elspeth Resplendent can protect herself with that -3, her impact is most felt with an established board. I think she is certainly potent if you put in the effort to make her shine, but she’s not going to warp the format around her completely.
Constructed: 3.75 (call this cautious; I think she might be powerful, but there’s enough reason to be a bit more measured)
Limited: 5 (as long as she’s not the sole threat of your deck, you should win the game handily when she drops)
Commander [EDH]: 3.5 (giving commanders ability counters sounds like fun, and she’s a good source of card advantage in a color known for lacking it)
Elspeth will quickly get overshadowed by the other planeswalkers of the set, this is the weakest planeswalker of the set for sure. Five mana for five loyalty is pretty slow, her +1 ability is nice and can turn the tide of the game into your favor but it’s not game ending. The minus three ability won’t be used unless there is a weeny strategy (or limited, see below) otherwise it’s pretty weak in constructed. The ultimate is a joke, they’re making angels really weak for flavor reasons and I’m not a fan!
Great grab in limited and a definite “build around me” card, I think that is where the design space was focusing versus constructed and commander. This will help your bad creatures get better with the +1 ability. The -3 ability is great late game when you have bad creatures with low mana cost, they can be used as blockers utilizing the shield counter. This is definitely a limited card. It’s not the best card but if you’re going with white and this is in pack one or two you can shift your focus a bit to cater to lower casting cost creatures to gain full value of this card.
Commander [EDH]: 2/5
We would love more volunteers to help us with our Magic the Gathering Card of the Day reviews. If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email. We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc. 😉