Rankle, Master of Pranks
– Throne of Eldraine
November 15, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 4.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
We’ve had sets with significant Faerie elements twice in the modern era: now with Throne of Eldraine and a little over a decade ago with Lorwyn. In both cases, pranks were a major part of the Faeries’ character, although I’m pleased to note that both times, they were able to capture the sinister nature of fey behavior (at least when viewed from a human perspective). Faeries aren’t so much evil as they are unaligned with any kind of human morality, and genuinely don’t understand why you’re so upset that eighty years passed in the human realm while you waltzed with them, or that you had to sacrifice your best creature card for no reason.
Rankle reminds me a little of the famous Hypnotic Specter, but with the additional upsides you might expect of someone who can be your commander. Haste is a big deal, giving you a great chance of sneaking in a devastating hit against a removal-heavy opponent before they readjust, and continued attacks will disrupt most common game plans. (By the way, don’t misread him the way I initially did and think you can only choose one! That “or more” is one of the things that makes him so good.) The discard ability makes him great against control decks, and the draw ability makes him pretty good in control decks to keep the answers coming; in both cases, the symmetry keeps him from getting completely out of hand, but the potential power ceiling for his abilities is high.
. . . and then, of course, you get to multiplayer tables, and the “each player” stuff reaches a scale of chaos that a faerie would find downright hilarious.
Rankle, Master of Pranks is the kind of creature that’s likely going to turn a lot of heads. A Faerie legendary with haste, flying, and a rather rude combat damage trigger means that one hit can start tearing apart boards and hands. The symmetry means Rankle actually scales well with more players, and you can choose any number of his triggers when he lands…which gives you a bit of flexibility in terms of how rude you want to be.
But even if you never use his triggers, a four-mana 3/3 with haste isn’t a horrible place to be, particularly in a tribe with a lot of support as-is. I think he’s a pretty acceptable creature overall…not going to be the star of most decks, but there’s a lot of space for him as a punishing finisher to try and keep an opponent down or erode away at a hard to crack board state.
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