Magic: The Gathering – Strixhaven Spoilers Are Here

Magic: The Gathering had a very busy 2020, and the game has already gotten a boost in 2021 with the Nordic-themed Kaldheim collection. For now, Kaldheim is in the spotlight, but some tentative spoilers for the upcoming expansion have already arrived.

The spring 2021 expansion will be called Strixhaven: School of Mages, based on the last university in the universe for students of magic. Little else is known about Strixhaven, but these tentative spoilers are promising, and a lot can be extrapolated.

Strixhaven’s Five Commands

Many Magic cards come in cycles of five, with the five Commandos from the Lorwyn set and the five Charms from the Shards of Alans set being the prime examples, among many others. Meanwhile, early spoilers for Strixhaven have revealed a very interesting cycle: five enemy colored commandos. The Dragons of Tarkir collection featured five allied-colored controllers, such as the mighty Kolaghan’s Command, and these five commandos join their new Strixhaven cousins ​​to form a megacycle of two-color commandos.

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The black and green one is Bloom’s Command, a low-cost card that can grind a player and return a land card from the graveyard to hand (a classic Golgari move). It can destroy non-creature and non-land permanents with CMC 2 or lower, but note that « converted mana cost » is now being rewritten as « mana value. » The third way is to give a creature -3 / -1 until end of turn. Lastly, Witherbloom’s Command can drain two lives from a player. Neither of these modes is game-changing, but the Witherbloom Controller can serve as a flexible elimination option, which fits well in « The Rock » black-green decks (or modern Jund decks).

The Silver Orca Command is the black-white member of the cycle, and has a CMC (or mana value) of four. It can empower a creature with + 3 / + 3 and fly, or return a creature with CMC 2 or less from the graveyard to the battlefield. This card can also draw a card at the cost of one life, or force an opponent to sacrifice a creature. This Command can be wonderfully grindy with card advantage with its second and fourth modes, resupplying the caster’s battlefield while doubling as an Edict of the Chainer.

The green-blue Command is Quandrix’s Command, with a CMC of 3. It can bounce a creature or planeswalker to its owner’s hand (the effect of Undo Summon), or it can counter an artifact or enchantment spell (something very green / blue). This Command can also give a target creature two + 1 / + 1 counters, or allow a player to shuffle up to three cards from their graveyard into their library, an effect especially useful if guardian effects are available.

Overall, Quandrix’s Controller seems rather haphazard, but its various modes can be quite useful for casual play or as sideboard material for some decks. Countering artifact and enchantment spells can work wonders against God cards or heavyweights like Walking Ballista in Modern.

Prismari’s Command is another release of three, and its first mode is effectively Shock. His second mode is Unfaithful Plunder which can target any player, and the third mode will make a Treasure token. Lastly, this Command can destroy an artifact. The Prismari Command looks good, as its various modes can easily generate card advantage in many different ways, and it can look like Izzet’s Charm and Kolaghan’s Command rolled into one. Combo decks and dedicated control decks can have a lot of fun with it.

Lastly, Lorehold’s Command is the most expensive of the five, at {3} RW. Its first mode makes a strong fighter, a 3/2 red and white spirit creature token, and the second mode grants 1 / + 0, indestructibility, and haste to all friendly creatures for the turn. The third mode is Lightning Helix, a very powerful burning spell.

Its final mode is quite unusual (and strong) for these colors. This mode will sacrifice a permanent and draw two cards. From a thematic point of view, this mode consists of a creature or an artifact (to name two examples) humbly offering its life for a greater good, and that is a rather white effect. The red and white color scheme has always been weak in terms of card draw, but Lorehold’s Command is keen to change that.

Other implications of these commands

A few things can be extrapolated from these five Strixhaven cards, aside from the fact that enemy-color pairs will be a theme in the set. On the one hand, the inclusion of artifact-based modes, coupled with Vorinclex’s presence in Kaldheim, vaguely suggests a return to New Phyrexia in the near future. Wizards of the Coast will often « seed » certain effects and abilities into one set that will be used in a future set, as those sets will be together in Standard.

Quandrix’s Command can counter artifact spells, and Prismari’s Command can make Treasure artifact tokens or destroy a target artifact. The time for an artifact-themed expansion may soon come, and it could be something like Return to New Phyrexia. Now that the game is coming out in individual expansion sets rather than entire blocks, it will be easy for Wizards to visit the dark plane of New Phyrexia, and then move on to something new.

In addition, these five commandos have watermarks, similar to the watermarks of the guilds of the Ravnica Collections or the Khans of Tarkir block or even the Scars of Mirrodin block. This, combined with the « magic school » theme, strongly suggests a faction-based scenery design for Strixhaven, which players are sure to like.