The Royal Scions
– Throne of Eldraine
October 11, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
The Royal Scions didn’t attract as much attention during preview season as some other cards, but it turns out that a lot of good things happen when you get two knights of the Round Table onto one card. Either one of the +1 abilities can win the game when used often enough, whether they’re turning an ordinary creature into non-stop pressure or moving you towards the most perfect hand of cards imaginable. The twins’ ultimate reminds me of the Howling Mine/Ebony Owl Netsuke decks from way back in Kamigawa Standard, albeit in reverse; it’s fun to build around and can also steal games out of nowhere. In this incarnation they do seem to focus more on giving you advantage relative to the opponent, so make sure you have lots of burn spells to target creatures that can attack them (with Will drawing you lots of cards, you should have no trouble finding them).
We need more planeswalkers like this and fewer like the Mind Sculptor and the Time Raveler, and I mean that in every possible way, from game text to art to quest-driving piety.
Fun fact about planeswalkers: they have subtypes, like creatures do. And The Royal Scions is the first time where we’ve seen a planeswalker card with two subtypes; canonically, Will and Rowan Kenrith share a spark, and this card depicts them before the events of Battlebond.
Turns out that sharing a spark isn’t so bad a thing. The second three-mana planeswalker of the set, The Royal Scions offer pretty flexible abilities out of the gate in either a looting effect or a combat buff. Both are good, and both help them to boost their loyalty to further out of the danger zone (it starts at 5, which is quite high for a planeswalker!). Looting is especially nice when paired with red and blue’s “second card drawn” suite of effects in Throne of Eldraine, and the combat buff helps when your hand doesn’t need any assistance (and you want to kill).
Their ultimate is quite solid: draw 4 cards, then do massive damage to something. Like an opponent’s face. There can be times where that ultimate ends the game on the spot (if continually giving a creature +2/+0, first strike, and trample did not!), and it can get you into a good place even if it doesn’t.
The Royal Scions don’t have an easy time protecting themselves, which makes their high loyalty more a necessity than a bonus, but they offer rather good value for a reasonable mana cost. They’re likely going to see a healthy amount of Constructed play in the upcoming Standard, as they do a good amount for smoothing out decks that already were decently positioned. (What up, Arclight Phoenix.)
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