It’s pretty common for MTG players to get incredibly excited about some of the more powerful cards revealed during a spoiler season. We’re three days into the Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth one, and a few standout cards are receiving a lot of attention. Orcish Bowmasters look like one of the best cards to be printed in quite some time, and Modern is getting a few new tools.
Commander, as a format, is obviously a little different from two-player ones. The length of games makes cards like Gandalf the White look absolutely ridiculous. Even though this instant-speed Panharmonicon may be one of the best things printed for Commander in quite some time, that’s not the card that most EDH players are losing their minds over. Instead, a bizarre four-mana Common card has taken that mantle. Let’s take a look at Mirkwood Bats!
An Effect We’ve Never Seen Before
Mirkwood Bats is a four-mana 2/3 flier that may have a relatively unassuming ability at one glance. This card causes each opponent to lose a life whenever you create or sacrifice a token… wait, create!?
That’s right. Every time you create a token of any kind, Mirkwood Bats dings all of your opponents. It doesn’t matter if this is a creature token, a Food token or any other type of token, Mirkwood Bats doesn’t discriminate.
The obvious and most scary implementation of Mirkwood Bats is to use it alongside Treasure Token generators. These are already one of the most broken Token types the game has to offer, giving players the option to sacrifice them for mana. When attached to a enabler that creates a lot of them, like Smothering Tithe or Dockside Extortionist, the mana advantage can quickly get out of hand.
In other words, alongside your Mirkwood Bats, all of your Treasure Tokens will generate a mana while hitting all of your opponents for two damage. This turns the best enablers in all of Commander into win conditions which, in turn, makes Mirkwood Bats a win condition!
Because of all the hype, despite Mirkwood Bats being a common, the card is already retailing for $2!
Novelty is Shocking
The potential for Mirkwood Bats in EDH has a lot of MTG players scrambling. There is a crowd who think that this card is so powerful that it should not have seen print:
“Crazy good with all the treasure and other artifact tokens running around.”trbopwr11
“Seems really strong for a common. Potential combo piece.”OK-Brush5346
“Yes, Alex, I’ll take ‘Cards that probably shouldn’t have been printed’ for $1000.”Dana Roach
We haven’t really seen a card before that rewards players for ‘creating’ tokens. As such, the huge reactions to this particular part of the text may have overhyped the card somewhat. There’s another crowd that acknowledges the card is quite powerful, but doesn’t think it’s going to be the end-all of Commander as we know it. They are probably right.
The best argument towards this card being a little overhyped are all the comparisons to Disciple of the Vault. This card has been problematic in previous formats (namely in Affinity decks), and for good reason. Disciple of the Vault has a similar with Treasure Tokens as Mirkwood Bats does, but the card only has a mana value of one. This is therefore, a lot cheaper, and potentially a lot more unassuming, to get into play. This, however, only applies if you are trying to break treasure tokens with it.
In fairness to the bat, Disciple of the Vault can only cause one opponent to lose one life for each Treasure Token it comes across. Mirkwood Bats will cause a grand total of six damage per Treasure Token assuming you have three opponents.
In other words, while Mirkwood Bats is a fantastic design for a new common card (all the attention it gets warrants that), that explores a new design space in context of Magic. The card also has the potential to be quite powerful, but, at the end of the day, it’s still a four-mana 2/3 that dies to a lot of stuff.
Commander that Want Mirkwood Bats
While Treasure Tokens appear to be the best thing you can do with this card, Mirkwood Bats still represents a design space that has yet to be explored. As such, there are some exciting applications for these bats, and that’s what has Commander players going crazy.
Should you decide to play the Food Chain infinite with Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, Mirkwood Bats becomes a win condition. Basically, thanks to Prossh creating Kobold Tokens equal to the mana spent to cast him, Food Chain creates infinite mana combined with Prossh. This occurs because, when exiles with Prossh, each token he creates will generate one mana, and Prossh themselves will generate seven extra mana.
Mirkwood Bats cares about any token being created. Since Prossh creates Kobold Tokens, Mirkwood Bats will trigger. Should you use the Food Chain combo, Prossh can create infinite tokens, which translates into infinite damage.
Of course, Mirkwood Bats is perfectly fine in a Prossh deck that doesn’t have the infinite. It still turns your Commander into a card that hits the table equal to its casting cost each time it’s cast.
Ziatora, the Incinerator
While Prossh is the splashiest place to play Mirkwood Bats, Ziatora, the Incinerator has synergies with Mirkwood Bats. Creating three Treasure Tokens at the end step when sacrificing a creature can lead to six damage each turn from Mirkwood Bats. Of course, you can also run Disciple of the Vault if you want to execute this at a smaller and faster rate.
Tivit, Seller of Secrets
Tivit, Seller of Secrets is powerful enough to be a cEDH Commander. Four mana for something that doesn’t win the game is a lot to ask for in that format, but Mirkwood Bats does threaten to, once again, deal six damage each time Tivit enters the battlefield or attacks.
This is Good in Commander, but (Probably) Not Broken
This is where I would put Mirkwood Bats in my own opinion. The card is an absolutely impeccable design for a common, but, at the end of the day, it’s still a four mana 2/3 that dies to a gentle breeze.
Mirkwood Bats does, however, threaten to be a serious threat in many different scenarios with many different Commanders. This makes the common an easily accessible, and powerful, but not broken addition to many token-generating EDH decks. Sure, there are likely some infinites with Mirkwood Bats out there (just find something that creates a token whenever an opponent loses a life), but it’s still a four-mana creature with a mediocre stat line.
This may be the best designed MTG common we’ve seen in quite some time. Hopefully, the reaction to a card like this will get Wizards of the Coast’s attention, and more cards like this will be created in the future.