Shaile, Dean of Radiance / Embrose, Dean of Shadow – Strixhaven
Date Reviewed: May 19, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 3.50
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Strixhaven‘s two-color factions are built around the conflict between the colors rather than what they share. Many of its expressions of this are subtle; for example, it might take a couple of readings to parse how Shaile and Embrose’s text boxes invert each other conceptually. In actual play, I feel like both of them can do well on their own and even better with setup. Shaile’s at her most spectacular when you’re using her with some kind of mass token generator like Spectral Procession, but it doesn’t feel too bad to just enhance one creature each turn. Embrose feels a little awkward, seemingly asking you to kill your own creatures for maximum advantage rather than taking advantage of his +1/+1 counters, but sometimes the creature was going to die anyway or is already big enough to survive. And as seems to be the case with many of Strixhaven‘s modal double-faced legends, they do well if you have two copies and get both of their faces in play at the same time. (Awkward for Commander!)
Shaile and Embrose are interesting angles to the same overall idea: using +1/+1 counters in interesting ways. Shaile’s good at buffing an army attempting to go wide in one turn, while Embrose will buff large creatures or functionally draw a card off of them. That said, he draws a card whenever one of your creatures with a +1/+1 counter dies, regardless of where the counter initially came from.
Neither half is indomitable, but it adds up to a flexible card with a lot of interesting options. Shaile works well early for providing pressure, while Embrose is good in a longer game for pumping up singular attackers. That flexibility is quite nice and makes this a serviceable card overall, even if not amazing.
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