Volrath, the Shapestealer
– Commander 2019
August 30, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 4.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Our only previous depiction of Volrath on a card was in Nemesis, and that was after he’d been ousted from the throne of Rath. The Shapestealer seems to show him at the height of his power, both political and magical. Even in Commander, there are plenty of targets for him to take out with just one upkeep trigger. I think, though, everyone is here for his activated ability – it gives you access to creatures that are outside his color identity, and its low cost means you can put together huge turns where he wears five different faces in turn and does something bizarre and cool. He probably won’t be as strong a call in more competitive formats, but he’s a great alternative or complement to The Mimeoplasm in Commander decks of these colors and theme.
Another character from the long-running Weatherlight arc to get another card, Volrath at least had a usable, albeit underwhelming, first outing to his name. This Volrath is a lot better at the whole “mimicry” angle, able to wear many faces and wear down opponents in the process.
Being able to become any creature with a counter on it (regardless of type) is a powerful effect, and while Volrath needs to target to wear their face, there are plenty of ways to dodge protective effects and get Volrath shifted. It’s a cheap and reusable effect, he can do things before copying a creature, and he comes with a solid body; a 7/5 for 5, even in three colors, is a pretty solid deal.
Volrath can do a lot of interesting things with copying effects, weakening creatures, and destroying faces. I do think he’s a card unlikely to show up outside of Commander, though he might make a cameo or two in Legacy from enterprising players…but there are plenty of Sultai decks he can serve a solid role in, since those colors tend to spread the most counters out.
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