– Throne of Eldraine
October 10, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 3.88
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
When Reaper King was first released, Commander wasn’t yet as big a deal as it is now, and people used him in silly Johnny-style 60-card decks, to varying degrees of success. Now that Commander is a thing, though, creatures like him read very differently. As a general, he gives you all five colors and a reusable way to answer other commanders, disrupt people’s mana ramp, and deal with that guy who thinks it’s clever to play cards like Ghostly Prison. In addition, note that he doesn’t care whether or not you actually cast the Scarecrow, only that it comes into play. That means you can load up on flickering and reanimation and other nasty tricks like that – and give yourself a solid plan B involving Patriarch’s Bidding into Chameleon Colossus and Mirror Entity.
Reaper King has long been an attractive potential Commander for Commander decks, and it’s not hard to see why. Vindicate whenever a Scarecrow hits play, coupled with a static stat boost and a decent body on a flexible enough mana cost, is pretty scary indeed. While his CMC is a painful 10, you can still pay less if you have more colors to work with. And considering that almost every Scarecrow is a colorless artifact creature, that gives you a lot of flexibility in making the deck and getting it in a place to wreak the most havoc.
The major downside is that Scarecrows themselves are not a particularly deep tribe, numbering 35 creatures…and a lot of the Shadowmoor-era Scarecrows are powerful only if you can get colored creatures to play alongside them. Not a problem with Reaper King, but a problem until then. And you want to keep making a steady stream of Scarecrows, which can be a challenge; there are options like Changeling creatures and things like Birthing Boughs to fill in the gaps.
Reaper King is powerful if built around, make no mistake. The downside is that he’s hard to build around, and he’s not going to surprise anyone with what he does. He’s a bit too clunky for Constructed formats these days (it’d be different if you got the Vindicate effect when he came into play), but casual formats are still a lot of fun for him.
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