Commander has been an extremely popular format for many years. The format allows players to utilize cards that they wouldn’t necessarily get to play with in competitive Constructed formats. Players get the opportunity to build a unique deck around a specific Commander, which is a very cool concept. While Sheldon Menery was not entirely responsible for the creation of the Commander format, he truly was a driving force behind the format’s success.
Unfortunately, Sheldon Menery passed away recently on September 7, 2023, after a seven-year long battle with cancer. He will always be remembered for his immense influence on the Commander community. He even altered the rules to allow any legendary Creature to function as a deck’s Commander! Sheldon Menery will surely be missed, and his impact on MTG cannot be overstated.
To remember Menery’s legacy, there will be a specially designed MTG card artwork showcasing Menery himself. While there isn’t a ton of information about this card, the artwork has been revealed, and there is certainly some speculation to be had.
From the look of the artwork on the card illustrated by Donato Giancola, it appears as though the card is quite reminiscent of various designs of the Silverquill Colleges associated with Strixhaven. Silverquill is specifically centered around the Orzhov color combination. One particular Orzhov card from Commander 2021 as part of the Strixhaven: School of Mages Commander decks has artwork that is quite similar to the artwork shown above. That card is none other than Inkshield, which is one of Sheldon Menery’s favorite cards of all time, and his favorite Commander card of 2021.
Inkshield is a cool card that has a similar effect to Arachnogenesis. Arachnogenesis allows you to create a number of 1/2 Spider Creature tokens with Reach equal to the total number of attacking Creatures. Then, you prevent damage that would be dealt by non-Spider Creatures, allowing you to potentially ambush some of the Creatures that are attacking you. Inkshield also helps prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to you. However, instead of making Spider tokens for each attacking Creature, you get to make a 2/1 Inkling token for each damage prevented this way. This card can singlehandedly swing a race in your favor in Commander.
Beyond Inkling’s impact and Menery’s general appreciation of the card, however, Menery was even involved with the design of cards from Commander 2021. It would be very fitting to see Menery’s personal card closely resemble Inkshield.
It’s absolutely incredible to see Menery’s personal card’s artwork this fast. We know very little information about the card itself or how it will be designed, but even getting to see the artwork this soon is impressive. Of course, it’s theoretically possible that this artwork was previously in the works prior to Menery’s passing, but chances are this card’s artwork was commissioned and finished in a very short amount of time.
Notably, the artist, Donato Giancola, is a relatively prolific MTG artist who has illustrated over 170 MTG cards. A lot of these cards have a large Commander focus as well. Cards like Command Tower from Commander Masters and Court of Ardenvale from Wilds of Eldraine Commander showcase artwork from Donata Giancola.
A Lot Still Unknown
In addition to the card’s text, we also have little information regarding how and when this card will be released. Many players are hoping for a Secret Lair release that helps fund cancer research. Given how much Sheldon Menery meant to the community, this would be a kindhearted response. Given that a portion of the My Little Pony Secret Lair proceeds is donated to Extra Life to benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital, this idea is not far-fetched.
It will be interesting to see if this card is, in fact, a reprint of Inkshield, or if it’s an entirely new card. With artwork so closely resembling Menery’s favorite Commander card of 2021, it wouldn’t be surprising. It could easily be another Orzhov card with a similar theme and even function, though. Only time will tell, but it’s nice to see Menery’s legacy live on.