Didn’t we recently discuss a card that could potentially be banned in Commander? Well, an article released this afternoon created a new conversation that circulated around the MTG community. Sheldon Menery, the man accredited with the creation of the Commander/EDH format, flagged a powerful card in a recent article he wrote, and it has created a new conversation about banning Phyrexia: All Will Be One’s featured card: Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines.
“Please Never Print This Card”
Menery, upon seeing Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines, during a design review process, immediately requested that Wizards of the Coast reconsider printing the card as it reads. He also reveals that others in the Commander Rules Committee shared Menery’s opinion that Elish Norn will likely be a problematic card for Commander. While the article goes into much more detail, this is the main point that the internet took away from Menery’s musings over the Phyrexian queen.
The main concerns are that Elesh Norn seems like a card designed with constructed formats in mind, while Commander is not the primary concern. Additionally, the card appears to be pushed in terms of mana value which could create design problems in the future. Finally, the card enables a one-sided advantage while locking down your opponent in a silver-bullet-like fashion, which is already a known issue in Commander. This could create unhealthy play patterns.
This creates a strange position since, to many players, including MTG 2020-2021 World Champion Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa, Elesh Norn looks like a card designed for Commander exclusively. The card’s ‘pushed’ mana value isn’t great in the current Standard and looks like a sideboard card at best. In fact, the card doesn’t look great in any competitive constructed format.
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Players are Worried About Bans
It didn’t take long for Commander players to start calling or anticipating an Elesh Norn ban. When a group of players with as much authority as the Commander Rules Committee flags a card before release, it quickly reverberates across all axes of the community.
Menery quickly spoke up after seeing the community’s reactions to the Elesh Norn article. While Elesh Norn could quickly be banned after it sees some play, it will not be banned before the card gets released. Notably, there is an exception to this school of thought when Lutri, the Spellchaser was banned before the card even had a chance to see play. The situation was a bit different, of course, but it does place reasonable concern that Elesh Norn may be removed from Commander before it sees play.
Fortunately, Elesh Norn will see an opportunity to defend itself without not getting a word in. Ironically, even though this card looks incredibly powerful, it shuts down the other two problematic cards commonly identified in the Commander format. Dockside Extortionist and Thassa’s Oracle both feature powerful Enter the Battlefield effects that are shut down by Elesh Norn’s second ability. That said, these cards tend to do their damage before a card like Elesh Norn can even enter the battlefield. Ironically, like Drannith Magistrate, Elesh Norn enables those cards under its owner’s control even more.
Should the Commander Rules Committee Be Able to Weigh in on Card Design?
Interestingly, while many MTG players were concerned about a preemptive Elesh Norn ban, more were concerned that the Commander Rules Committee actually impacts card design. To many, the Commander Rules Committee is seen as an outside governing party that has the best interest of Commander at heart. Still, they aren’t designers associated with Wizards of the Coast. A party of players seem to believe that MTG cards should be designed by card designers only, while another group of players think checking in for a third opinion from qualified players is a good thing. It will be interesting to see how players’ opinions evolve on this topic, but that may largely depend on whether Elesh Norn actually gets banned or not.