Nissa of Shadowed Boughs
– Zendikar Rising
October 23, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 3.67
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Our new version of Nissa has one ability in a style we’re very familiar with, and one we’re really not used to seeing from her. What happened to you, girl?
Apart from the unusual way to increase loyalty, either consistently or explosively, the other interesting thing about Nissa of Shadowed Boughs is that her abilities are good for different scenarios. There are some opponents who simply won’t be able to keep up if you just keep sending lands (with menace yet!) to attack them turn after turn. There are other opponents who will have a hard time coming back if you reanimate something soon after casting her. On top of this, in the right deck, her landfall trigger is almost as good as a more blatant self-protecting ability.
Looks like leaving the Gatewatch brought Nissa more in touch with mana of a slightly darker bent, and this Nissa has some interesting tricks about her. She has the same animist ability she’s been leaning into of late (animate lands to smash), but her dalliances with black mana have granted her some slight necromancy. To be precise, her ultimate is your choice of reanimation or putting a creature directly into play from your hand with a bit of a power boost, if you have the lands to spare. It’s ready to go shortly after Nissa resolves, if not immediately afterwards if you play your cards right.
Landfall is what makes Nissa interesting, because it makes her able to play a long game better than other planeswalkers do. She can tick past the 5 loyalty for her ultimate almost immediately, and an extra evasive attacker each turn (or more mana) can really put the pressure on your opponent in short order. She maybe does less than other Nissa planeswalkers do on the surface, but what she does is quite impressive, and any deck with its toes in her colors has reason to consider her. Her only downside is that she can have trouble protecting herself if you cast her into an empty board, but going “Nissa -> land -> ult” is a good bit of reanimation all the same. Also note that her ultimate does not have any targets, so you should be able to get value from it no matter what.
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