19, Jun, 23

MTG EDH Rules Committee Shows Concern Over Two New Cards!

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Article at a Glance

The Lord of the Rings Prerelease has just passed, which means players finally have a real first impression of how these new cards function. While most of this weekend’s gameplay is likely to hold a Limited nature, thanks to MTG Prereleases being Sealed events, players had many opportunities to try the newest Lord of the Rings cards in MTG’s most popular format: Commander.

Players trying these cards in competitive settings will likely need to wait a week (all the new cards are legal, just finding events may be tough). Still, since Commander is a predominately casual format, the only thing holding players back from trying them is access to the cards themselves.

In terms of Commander viability, there are a lot of cool cards to try, but, coming off spoiler season, only two cards were cited by multiple Commander players to be an issue. Both of these cards got such strong reception that they have even caught the attention of the Commander Rules Committee, a group of MTG personalities who monitor the health of the Commander format. They are also responsible for potential Commander bans!

A Cautious Watch

It has been quite some time since Commander got a new card banned. Because the format is predominately casual, Commander bans can become a really awkward affair. A majority of players aren’t playing the format with the primary goal of winning the game at all costs.

There are definitely some problematic cards that threaten to upset the balance of a game at most tables, like Dockside Extortionist. Rule Zero, however, has done a good job of allowing players to create their own custom games of Commander, usurping the need for most bans.

The top competitive tables of Commander is basically a different format. Occasionally, some cards are even too powerful for these tables, and those are the cards that, generally, will end up getting banned. Flash and Hullbreacher were two examples of this.

On other occasions, cards that are warping casual EDH gameplay on a much too consistent level can get the banhammer. This, once again, doesn’t really happen too often since Rule Zero has allowed most Commander players to monitor their own games. That said, Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, and Paradox Engine are two examples of more recent bans of this nature.

Both of the Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth cards can potentially threaten, in some shape, to upset one of the two above categories. As a result, the Commander Rules Committee’s latest quarterly report has these cards on watch.

Orcish Bowmasters

Firstly, before discussing either of the two cards that are on Commander players’ radars, it’s important to get out of the way that no new bans have been announced as of this quarterly report.

That said, there is a lot of feedback from the MTG community stating that Orcish Bowmasters should have been pre-banned. While this is likely a bit of an overstatement, many players who have tried the Bowmasters for themselves are stating that, even with all the hype, it may still be underrated in Commander.

For reference, Lutri, the Spellchaser was the only card to-date that was pre-banned in Commander. Companions being potentially broken shouldn’t be news to many, allowing an extra card for players to start with in exchange for three mana and a deckbuilding restriction.

Because Lutri’s deckbuilding restriction wasn’t really a restriction for Commander players (a singleton deck), it gave any decks within Lutri’s color identity a strict advantage over decks that did not have it. Therefore, the card got pre-banned. Notably, at the time of Lutri’s pre-ban, pre-errata Companion rules were in play, which made the card even more powerful.

If you’re wondering why players are so afraid of Orcish Bowmasters, we’ve already written two articles covering what the card is capable of (this one details it in Commander from a spoiler point of view), so we encourage you to read those and see why this card is so powerful. Orcish Bowmasters is even seeing Legacy and Modern play right out of the gate, as predicted. For all these reasons, it’s absolutely no shock that the Commander Rules Committee has this card on its watch list.

Is Orcish Bowmasters Getting Pre-Banned?

While this card is undeniably powerful and potentially format-altering in various formats, pre-banning Orcish Bowmasters may be a bit extreme. Commander creator Sheldon Menery, as seen above, agrees to this, and, while the Advisory Group has every intention of watching this card for abnormalities, Orcish Bowmasters will not be bowing out of Commander just yet.

As stated earlier, however, Orcish Bowmasters is unquestionably powerful. Regardless of whether it ends up being ban-worthy or not, the Commander Rules Committee will be keeping an eye on it. For what its worth, buying one right now is going to cost $30!

Read More: One MTG LOTR Commander Deck is Much Worse Than the Others!

Mirkwood Bats

I don’t think anyone who loves these goofy bats is going to have to worry about this card getting banned for power-level reasons. That said, Mirkwood Bats is a very easily accessible Common card from Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth that threatens to do some serious heavy lifting. For that reason, it could theoretically get banned if it impacts too many non-competitive Commander games in a negative way. That said, I do not think this card is powerful enough to warrant a ban.

For the most part, The Commander Rules Committee seems to agree:

“We’ve been following the community’s discussions and concerns surrounding Orcish Bowmasters, and – to a lesser extent – Mirkwood Bats. With the help of the Commander Advisory Group, we’ll be observing how and if those discussions change over time as people play and play against these cards.”

Commander Rules Committee

We’ve never seen a card that synergizes in this way with token creation before. As discussed previously, this means that the potential power in the form of novelty that Mirkwood Bats creates can be perceived as being more powerful than it may end up becoming.

The card is a serious threat, though. One game with the card alongside a Smothering Tithe will reveal that this can be a nightmare. That said, Mirkwood Bats is hardly a game-breaking effect when compared to the likes of Dockside Extortionist. For that reason, the only situation where this card may get banned is if too many players are playing it (like Golos), and even that, in my opinion, is a stretch.

There is another real argument that the cards enabling Mirkwood Bats are the cards that should get banned and not the bats themselves. Sure, Mirkwood Bats is a house alongside Smothering Tithe and Dockside Extortionist, but the ladder two cards seem like the problem here.

Next Steps?

Regardless of my opinion on Mirkwood Bats’ dubious reputation, there is a real possibility that these two cards could get banned in the near future. Orcish Bowmasters’ first impression is incredibly intimidating, but we will obviously need more time than just a few days to decide whether these cards are too powerful.

I think the move to not pre-ban any of these cards is correct, and the move to watch the Bowmasters for the near future is also a decent shout. Part of me does think, however, that this card may just fall in line with Dockside Extortionist. At a high-power table, this can do some cool things, but Rule Zero may just turn this card into a groaner at casual tables.

Read More: MTG Lord of the Rings Misprints Reveal Potential Foiling Problem!

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