Yisan, the Wanderer Bard – Core Set M15
Date Reviewed: July 22, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.38
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
While he’s always been just a bit too slow for Constructed formats, Yisan has long been a notorious Commander card for his tendency to do Very Rude Things in a reasonable amount of time. His susceptibility to kill spells and slowness is largely what consigns the bard to the format, but that activated ability is what makes things entertaining enough in a short amount of time.
The idea is always to build in a way that lets you keep tutoring out creatures, and Yisan’s ability to find any creature of a particular mana cost is rather lovely; if he gets a chance to fire repeatedly, you’re getting a lot of value, and he has a tendency to pay for himself. Of course, that ability to enable consistency is what drives a lot of the competitive EDH decks he finds himself at the helm of, and decks able to fire him repeatedly and get him higher than my receding hairline in a reasonable amount of time help to drive a lot of carnage in future turns.
In all, he’s a card that wants particular demands, but his repeatable tutoring is what makes him a threat at Commander tables. He’s most famous for being absurdly good in the right shells, but he’s a fine enough “casual” Commander all the same. I doubt he does a lot in Constructed, even if you go out of your way to build around him; while he has no particular restrictions regarding color, a combination of sub-optimal creature types and general slowness do not help, along with a remarkably squishy body.
Limited: 3 (the tutoring is nice, but making Yisan work in Limited can be quite the chore)
Yisan is not the fastest card, and is perhaps one of the least broken tutors of all time, but he’s exactly the kind of interesting legendary creature I like to see (not to mention proof that a creature doesn’t actually need a bunch of comes-into-play abilities to be good!). His ability is, of course, derived from Coldsnap‘s Hibernation’s End, but it uses less of your mana each turn – and, of course, he can be your commander. Mono-green is often known more for impact creatures being the kind that kill the opponent/s on the spot, so it’s pretty cool when it gets one that pulls you further and further ahead in a characteristically green way. He’s even a great card for Johnny/Jenny, with his built-in deckbuilding puzzle about the best card/s of each cost to include.
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