Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Collaboration and why I dislike General Tazri

My initial workup for Karona, False God was done before Oath of the Gatewatch game out. As such, it was packed with virtually every Ally that had an ETB effect and anything I felt could be cheap. Back in December, I was playtesting this deck with Jason a little bit and while I liked it, I couldn't always find my tools and there wasn't an Ally that let you search for another Ally.

"But you can search for a creature, dude," Jason said.

"Not with Allies."

"Eladamri's Call!"

Oh. Well yes, of course.

I like this story because it shows how important outside viewpoints are to improving. I was so focused on having another Ally in the deck and holding to 'theme' that I just didn't even consider using what I consider to be one of the best tutors in the game. I get to have these moments a lot, especially from Fuz, Jason and Noah but to a lesser extent, everyone I play with (or who comments here) helps out. Which is a pretty cool aspect of the bigger Magic playing community.

But let's talk about General Tazri.

Building a five color Commander deck has a great many challenges, not the least of which is choosing your Commander. There are thirteen five color legendary creatures out there and of those, four of them are Slivers. Four others reference specific creature types-scarecrows (which I hope they bring back in Innistrad. C'mon, it's a creepy goth set. Gimme scarecrows!), atogs, dragons, and elementals. Genju of the Realm is only a creature by technicality.

That leaves four possible creatures as Commanders.

It also provided an opportunity for Wizards to make a new five color Commander, in Oath of the Gatewatch, as this creature type is one of the few that runs across all colors, right? And yeah, this Commander would be Ally-centric, but we'd have a new one!

Instead, WotC went with a white legend that has a five color ability.

Now, part of me thinks this is an elegant way out of this problem. It's a clever solution and it shows that WotC is paying attention to the Magic scene (as much as we like to complain that they don't). Of course someone wanted to play 5C Allies in Commander and of course it would be cool if we got one. As a way of getting around Commander's color requirements, having a 5C activated ability is smart.


Man is this creature boring. Even though when I saw it, I thought; Hey, cool, this is just what I need! It functions as a second copy of the best tutor in my deck!

And I think this is because of the Planeswalkers, but I also think it's because WotC has difficulty with understanding their colors philosophies from positive and negative views.

There are no less than five 'heroic' legends in this block that are white. Of the three black legends, one is a traitor, the other is mixed with white, leaving only Drana to represent the heroic side of black's philosophies. There isn't a single mono-blue or green legend. And why do that? Probably because Nissa and Jace are there.

If the Planeswalker can represent the color, why bother with a character from that plane? This isn't always a bad thing; design space is finite, even in storytelling, and having characters you can spotlight and reuse is good. Nonetheless, I still feel like this is a missed opportunity. As though they could've given us an actual 5C Ally and just decided it was too much difficulty.

Secondly, that hero is in white and as a result, it's activated ability is probably the dullest one you could ask for. Yes, mechanically it does show the "all for one, one for all" idea, it just shows it in a very white manner (creature pump) that just happens to require five colors. You could just as easily have made this creature green without changing a single line of text. Look at Might of the Nephilim or Infuse with Vigor as places where green easily overlaps.

Why not give us a blue or red one? Why not show us how black unites the colors? Why does this card feel so timid?

The other thing I dislike here is that the General makes Ally Commander selection easy. I know, I know, I just said they could have made a 5C one and it would've fallen into the same trap as most of the other 5C legends but because this is a white-centric card with a really pedestrian ability there are few challenges to think about. A deckbuilder using Cromat or Progenitus has to work with something different!

Hell, I swear by Karona now. Its ability is so strong that using anything else just seems incorrect.

Mostly, though, I wish they'd taken a bigger chance with General Tazri.

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