Battlebond is about to drop, and with it come a wealth of exciting new cards, mechanics and of course, commanders. Bringing back the Partner mechanic in a new form has EDH players everywhere scrambling to brew around two new creatures and the synergies they offer.
But how viable are these new partners who can only partner with each other? Let’s take a look at each partnership and what they bring to the format.
The big shock Battlebond gave us when revealed was the return of the Partner mechanic. While the mechanic is slightly different than before, it’s still a surprise to see it here.
So, you might think one returning Commander-based mechanic was enough. And then the Planeswalker-as-Commander mechanic was spoiled with Will & Rowan Kenrith.
While it certainly is exciting to see Planeswalkers with Partner AND the ability to be your EDH general, the six-CMC price tag associated with both these cards seems like it might be more than a player is willing to spend in a deck like this. That said, the abilities on the siblings are synergistic and definitely powerful. Will and Rowan lead you to a classic Izzet strategy of copying spells & abilities, but considering Melek, Izzet Paragon is often derided for being too expensive for the decks that want him, I think Will and Rowan aren’t exactly the Izzet Commanders we’re looking for.
White and Black are no strangers to sacrifice-themed strategies that also deal with some life gain, so Krav & Regna are a great fit in this colour pair. Where you may have originally had Teysa, Orzhov Scion heading up a sac-themed value or combo deck, Krav and Regna might be a new consideration.
Let’s not mince words here though, if you were to choose this new pair, you’re really doing so for Krav and not so much for Regna. Obviously Regna gets you the second colour, and you may as well have another card in your Command Zone, but Krav is the real star here. With his ridiculous sac-outlet-card draw engine, he lends more towards a value based strategy than the combo side of things.
Zndrsplt and Okaun are officially my favourite partner commanders with the most underwhelming deck around them. The abilities these Izzet partners offer are really fun – coin flipping is a fun chaos-like mechanic that Commander players love. The only downside to this deck is that Magic just doesn’t have that many (good) coin-flipping cards.
Sure, there are enough to make a deck. However, there are some real stinkers and even when you include tall of them, they don’t really add up to support any specific strategy.
Luckily, Okaun and Zndrsplt ARE the strategy. Draw enough of your coin flipping spells with Zndrsplt and then swing in with a massive Okaun for a voltron-style win. It’s just a little bit more of a glass cannon that I would expect but then again, that sort of makes sense in a deck based around 50/50 chances of winning.
Virtus and Gorm are a neat partnership, but not because of their Lure-styled ability and sneaky attacking. Instead, Virtus and Gorm’s style of play is something we’re not used to seeing from Golgari.
Typically, Golgari commanders almost entirely care about graveyards and other death-based synergies. Virtus and Gorm are a rare green and black combo that actually care about attacking and messing with life totals in a way that still doesn’t wander outside the colour pie to get this unique effect. A+ design on these two for reaching outside the tired and tested.
I wish I could say the same types of things about Khorvath and Sylvia that I did about Virtus and Gorm. Namely that they’re a cool new pair featuring a different take on the guild’s traditional abilities. However, we’re talking about Boros here, and Khorvath and Sylvia unfortunately are pretty much par for the RW course here.
That’s not to say that the dragon-riding combo isn’t any good. It looks to me that while you could build a sweet Knights and Dragons tribal deck, you may actually want to stick to one half of the tribe. Specifically whichever one you prefer (dragons, duh). The synergy with these two is cute but ultimately not something super innovative and thus, not very exciting.
Same old same old for Boros, and at first glance, you might think the same is true for the Simic pairing in Pir and Toothy. Messing with counters. Big deal.
But in defense of this kid and his weird monster friend, these abilities haven’t been on creatures in this way ever before. Hardened Scales is already a great card, but when you make the counters it affects any type and add in the raw card advantage Toothy offers, it isn’t hard to see how powerful this duo can be. I like a lot of these partners but Pir and Toothy are the ones that get me excited to build a deck around them.
In case you can’t tell or haven’t listened to the most recent Commander’s Brew episode, I love Battlebond.
We’ve only talked about the new partner Commanders here, but there are some amazing reprints in this set as well as some really cool mechanics that are definitely relevant in a multiplayer setting. What’s your take on these new commanders? Do you think Will and Rowan are better than I think? Is there some hidden brew around Khorvath and Sylvia? Let me know in the comments and on twitter! Until then, see you guys next time.