– Zendikar Rising
September 15, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 3
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I know that the Zendikar setting was originally inspired by Dungeons and Dragons, but surely the cards with the party mechanic are basically a preview of the upcoming Forgotten Realms set, right? There’s no way they’d miss such an obvious mechanic to use in that crossover . . . is there?
Let’s get the truisms out of the way first: the maximum number of tokens you can get from this card is four, and that’s presuming you played three other creatures before that, which had to have the missing types between them. That probably won’t be happening on-curve in constructed as often as you might hope, making Squad Commander a later-game play than its mana cost would imply and also not so effective at coming back from a Wrath of God effect. If you can pull it off, and keep the original party in play, you’ll absolutely dominate combat, and I expect to see that happening a few times at casual tables in the coming months.
No party like a Zendikar party, right? Party is the big new named mechanic, and it rewards you for playing creatures across many different specific types.
Squad Commander, on its own, represents 4 power and toughness for 4 mana, which is…okay. It scales up well if you can get the squad put together (which white can have trouble with alone, but good thing this has a single white pip in its cost, right?), and a combined 7 power (over five bodies) can be nifty. That combat trigger is also hugely threatening, and it’s not too hard to end a game if you can get one or two turns with it. He doesn’t even need to attack to get the trigger, but all of those tokens do pair nicely with it.
I feel like Squad Commander’s strength will be tied to your ability to reliably assemble a party by the time turn 4/5 rolls around and he wants to attack. Even if you can’t get it together by the time he drops, attacking once with his full party trigger is no joke. I’m not sure how good he is, but his fates will likely be tied to party as a whole, and he might be a good payoff for the deck.
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