– Alpha (1993)
April 5, 2018
Commander [EDH]: 3.5
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Despite Llanowar Elves being one of the cards from Magic’s initial release, and being a staple of core sets for much of Magic’s history, its return in Dominaria will see it get only its fourth different painting. (It’s had several different flavor text entries, though.) Apparently, the word that describes these guys best is consistency. Not only were they a consistent presence for so much of Magic’s lifespan, in gameplay they are about hitting powerful plays consistently early. They are consistently outstanding on the first turn, consistently good on the second, and consistently usable throughout the rest of the game.
I know that Mark Rosewater and other of Magic’s employees have commented how it’s risky to put powerful three-cost cards in Standard when you have these guys in the format, because of the risk of those cards being cast on the second turn. I know this, but I personally think it’s their job to find a way to do it right. There has been something missing all these years the Llanowar Elves were gone from Standard, and seeing them in Dominaria really feels like coming home.
Llanowar Elves is up there with Giant Growth as one of the most iconic green cards of all time. This little guy has gone through a lot of iterations. New art, simplified text, addition of the Druid creature type, and that one weird time it changed its name to Elvish mystic. While not as versatile as Birds of Paradise, the Elf creature type more than makes up for it.
Getting a turn ahead so early might not sound too bad but the power difference between a 2-drop and 3-drop in particular is significant. I’m predicting that Steel Leaf Champion combined with Llanowar Elves will see lots of play in Standard and Limited. Whether you are playing wide or tall, most mono Green decks can run a couple of these Elves.
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