Steel Leaf Champion
April 18, 2018
Commander [EDH]: 3.83
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Despite the wildly different mana costs, this guy is clearly a reference to Invasion‘s Steel Leaf Paladin, and that ornamental eye patch is a tribute to Llanowar’s most famous citizen, Freyalise. I think it’s generally more powerful, too, and if you consider that the older card was fighting the Phyrexian Invasion, how much more dangerous must Dominaria have become in the past three hundred years of their time?
Still, I am a big fan. Nobody likes summoning a 5/4 for three mana, perhaps using an old-is-new-again card like Llanowar Elves, only to have it held off indefinitely by Saproling tokens. Or worse: by Wall of Frost or Sedge Scorpion. In Standard, it’s basically a mono-green-only creature (well, unless the next plane is Ravnica, but even then it’d be tricky to engineer), though that’s not necessarily such a bad thing. The decks will be faster, more consistent, and in recent sets, the parts of the color pie you lose wouldn’t necessarily be a part of this card’s game plan anyway. You’ll still have card-drawing and the fight mechanic (this isn’t Kamigawa Block Pauper Tiny Leaders, after all); and in bigger formats, you can combine it with devotion. I wonder if that kavu he’s riding would get along with Polukranos . . .
Leatherback Baloth is a pretty solid card. Impressive stats for just three forests. Steel Leaf Champion by comparison blows away all expectations of what a three drop can be.
A 5/4 for GGG is great. Make him an elf and give him access to a plethora of tribal support. Now give him an ability that prevents chump blocking. All these elements combine to great a darn good card. But the fun doesn’t stop here. Llanowar Elves in Standard and Limited means this guy can drop on turn two and be essentially unblockable for a turn or two. Three Forests might seem like a draw back, but this is amazing in any mono-green deck that uses Chroma or Devotion. Lastly, Steel Leaf Champion isn’t Legendary, so feel free to run a full playset.
If it ain’t green, I’m not interested.
That’s maybe not true…I play a lot of cards that aren’t green. But it’s an appropriate statement to start off talking about Steel Leaf Champion, which is a very green creature. It’s very aggressively costed: a 3 mana 5/4 is nuts. And it’s a 3 mana 5/4 that’s hard to chump block, since it ignores anything with 2 or less power. Its low mana cost actually gives it a potential home in Elf decks in Modern (with a very fringe chance of seeing Legacy play).
It’s not a flashy creature, but it is a very good creature, and I expect it to get played in many formats.
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