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A Casual Guide to Generals: Part 6

Here we are, the third and final part of our review of all the blue generals available for EDH. Once again, this is current up to the release of Dragon’s of Tarkir and so will not include cards from Magic Origins, despite its upcoming release. I may go back at the end and do a review of any legal generals from that set when this is done. Anyway, onward we go, starting with Sakashima, the Impostor!

Sakashima the Impostor

Sakashima the Impostor EDH  Commander

A strong start to our third part of blue, Sakashima is a super-clone effect for that can copy any creature on the battlefield, but the clone is still called Sakashima the Impostor, and has the ability to return to your hand for at the beginning of your next end step. This means you cannot use this to dodge instant speed removal, so it isn’t a brilliant ability but it still has its uses, meaning you can copy different creatures on the table etc. As the general of a deck, Sakashima is a fantastic reusable clone effect which means it can be reused over and over, even if you don’t use the bounce ability. Whilst Sakashima doesn’t have any really obvious synergies or build around ideas that pop out to me, it is a very strong effect, especially when reused.

General Grade B+

Soramaro, First to Dream

Soramaro just brought us down to earth with a bump, ironic for a 6 CMC Flying Legendary Spirit. Soramaro’s power and toughness are equal to the number of cards in your hand, which can be pretty awful if you are playing him later in the game or you somehow don’t have enough card draw (this is blue, what are you doing??). To help out with this, he has the ability to pay and return a land you control to your hand, and you can then draw a card. Hmmmm, that doesn’t seem good to me. Costs a lot of mana plus a land (so in effect more mana next turn) to draw one card. I think there are better generals out there, although I suppose a deck built around drawing cards and keeping a large hand might want Soramaro at the helm, as he can finish off with Commander damage if he gets big. It’s fragile but that is a strategy, just not one I want to play.

General Grade C-

Stitcher Geralf

How do you make Milling do something? By giving you a big strange, stitched together zombie token of course! Geralf allows us to mill all of our opponents for three cards by paying and tapping him. Then, you can exile up to two cards put into the graveyards this way, and put an X/X Zombie creature token onto the battlefield where X is the total combined power of the creatures exiled this way. That can get pretty big in EDH! On top of that Geralf comes as a 3/4 body for 5 CMC, so that’s pretty tough and durable. Does all of this make him a good general? I am not sure to be honest. I know I have a copy of him in my Zombie tribal deck Zombie Freebies, but I would never consider him the general of that as it is a Grixis deck. He might make a pretty good general in a milling deck, but here even in mono blue I think there are better choices. He is a really nifty role player in the 99 of a lot of different archetypes, but i don’t think he is really general material.

General Grade C-

Sun Ce, Young Conquerer

As a card, Sun Ce is a pretty decent one, being a virtually unblockable 3/3 Legendary Human Soldier for 5 CMC, with the nicely added ability to bounce a creature when it enters the battlefield. That all adds up to a very decent package all things considered. However, what I don’t think it adds up to is a decent general. It is too expensive to want to keep paying the commander tax on, and the effect can be achieved by a myriad of other creatures, right the way back to Visions’ Man-o’-War. This card certainly can find a place in a lot off 99s but I don’t think I want it as the general of my deck.

General Grade D+

Sun Quan, Lord of Wu
If Horsemanship is your thing, then Sun Quan is your man. A 4/4 Legendary Human Soldier for is a reasonable price to be playing in blue, but what he does is grant Horsemanship to your entire army, including himself. That really can be all she wrote, as you can enable an alpha strike pretty quickly once your opponents cannot block your creatures. With a little support he can become very difficult to remove too. This is obviously a fairly straightforward tactic, but no less useful for that obviousness. If you want to play a mono blue aggressive deck then Sun Quan can head that up very nicely. He might slip into the 99 of such a deck, and serve the same role, enabling alpha strikes, but having that available at all times is probably more tactically useful.

General Grade C+

Talrand, Sky Summoner

Talrand, Sky Summoner EDH Commander

Ah boy… this guy! He was the bane of my early EDH playing experience, and for good reason. Talrand rewards you for doing exactly what blue wants to do, which is to cast instants and sorceries. When you do, Talrand generates a 2/2 Drake token with Flying. Those things can really add up quickly, when every counterspell, every draw spell, every little bounce spell gives you a drake. With a little support those 2/2 tokens really become a force to be reckoned with, as they are difficult to block and multiply fast. It’s a pretty straightforward strategy but believe me, it can work. I don’t like Talrand as much in the 99, as you don’t get the reliability of making tokens all the time, but as a general I think he is pretty sweet.

General Grade B

Taniwha

I consider myself an optimist when it comes to cards, always looking for a way I can make use of something, or situations where I can build around a card; however there are limits, and Taniwha really tests those. Essentially we get a vanilla 7/7 for which sounds wonderful, but it comes with two drawbacks: it Phases out, and gives all of your lands Phasing too. No thanks. This is a great example of power creep in creatures. Nowadays, a 7/7 vanilla creature for 5 CMC seems alright with no drawbacks, but it’s not exciting and i don’t think it would be rare. Basically there is little reason to ever play this card in your 99 or as the head of your deck, unless you were purposely building a bad Phasing deck (see I knew I could find some reason to build round it… i am not saying it’s a good reason!)

General Grade E

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

Now this is a pretty powerful looking general. For our 5 CMC we get ourselves a 3/4 Human Wizard with Flash that grants all out other creatures not yet on the battlefield Flash too. Right there that is pretty decent. But then you add in the clause that only allows your opponents to cast spells any time they could cast a sorcery, and that is devastating. No more instant, no more Flash, it removes their ability to be reactive to what it is you are doing. It is no overstatement to say this can devastate a game all on its own. Wait, I can have this as my general, available at any time? Yeah, it really is that good. If you have some one else in mind to head up your deck, Teferi can go into the 99 and still be just as powerful, just not as reliable, and that’s possibly no bad thing. Top notch card, top notch general!

General Grade A

Teferi, Temporal Archmage

Teferi, Temporal Archmage EDH Commander

Now we go from creature Teferi to Planeswalker Teferi. Is it an upgrade as a general? In short, no i don’t think it is, and here is why. Whilst having a Planeswalker available all of the time is good, he shares the same issue as other Planeswalkers in that you lose the ability to deal commander damage. That isn’t the end of the world though; plenty of other creature generals never go into combat. However the abilities on this Teferi aren’t really the kind of thing I would want as a general. His +1 is nice as it acts as card draw and card filtering which can improve your deck’s playability; his -1 can allow for ramp (in blue!) or give pseudo-Vigilance, or perhaps extra activations of artifacts, creatures etc. But neither of these abilities are really game breaking; sure they are powerful and useful, but do you need them all the time? What about his ultimate? Ah.. ok. Obviously you should never judge a Planeswalker on their ultimate, but this one is pricey (10 loyalty) and the emblem it gives you can be sweet: but it doesn’t win you the game on its own, and for 10 loyalty it really should. So what do you do with Teferi? Build a big Superfriends deck of course! He can be the best friend other Planeswalkers have if you ever get that ultimate off. Load in a bunch of Proliferate and ways to protect, and go to town so you can use other Planeswalker abilties as instants, that sounds cool to me.

General Grade C-

Thada Adel, Acquisitor

If there is one thing that get played a lot in EDH it is artifacts. Look at any list of format staples and you will see artifacts feature heavily on them, no doubt due to their ability to be played in any deck. With this in mind we can view Thada Adel as a card that is very likely to gain you value if you can get her to connect. A 2/2 Islandwalking Merfolk Rogue for isn’t too bad a start and gives her a way to start looking at getting through, especially in concert with cards like Spreading Seas or Stormtide Leviathan. When she does connect you with a player you get to search that player’s library for an artifact and exile it. You can cast that artifact until the end of the turn. I cannot tell you how powerful that can be: “Hey nice Sol Ring, thanks!”. Even if you don;t have mana spare to play the card you are removing it from your opponent’s deck and that alone is pretty grand. I think in a blue steal everything kind of deck Thada Adel is great as either the general or one of the 99, and she plays well in a lot of differing archetypes as a way to disrupt your opponent’s plans.

General Grade B

Thassa, God of the Sea

Thassa, God of the Sea EDH Commander

An Indestructible 5/5 for ? Yes please! Oh, what’s that? She lets me Scry 1 every turn? And make a target creature Unblockable for ? Wow. Yep Thassa is a whole bag of value in one card, being the kind of general that is created with control in mind. Not only does she improve your card quality every turn, she allows your finisher to get through to deal damage. If you get enough blue Devotion on the go (not difficult really) she can even be that finisher. Whilst there are arguments that she isn’t all that exciting, she certainly is powerful and is perfect general material. I have her in two different decks in the 99 so clearly I am a big believer in her usefulness in a deck too. Another card I think is pretty good!

General Grade B+

The Unspeakable

Woah, a Flying, Trample 6/7 is one big creature! However it does cost , and that’s not to be sniffed at. He is a general to build around if you want to add in a whole bunch of Arcane cards to your deck, as he can keep on bringing them back, but does that make it worth building around? I doubt there are enough blue Arcane spells to make such a plan worthwhile, but he might find a place in a deck using blue and building on an Arcane theme, where upon the cards Sift Through Sands, Peer Through Depths, and Reach Through Mists should make your deck pretty quickly!

General Grade D+

Tomorrow, Azami’s Familiar

I am honestly not sure how to jazz this one up. A 1/5 for 6 CMC is plain terrible, and the ability is… unusual. It allows you to look at the top three cars of your library when ever you would draw a card, choose one and put the rest on the bottom of your library. It certainly gives you a better chance of getting what you want/need every time you draw a card, but does that make a good general? Again, I am not really sure it does. I can certainly see uses for it in quite a few decks but it so expensive that it probably wouldn’t make the cut. I think it’s about from being a decent card.

General Grade D

Tromokratis

Another general in the Big Blue Finisher model, this 8/8 monster costs to summon, but for that you get a conditionally Hexproof beater who can win the game in 3 hits unaided. What is more, it is pretty easy to make Tromokratis connect as he has an awkward ability which makes him unblockable if he isn’t blocked by all creatures defending player controls. It doesn’t care if they are tapped from attacking, blocking others etc, if they don’t block Tromokratis, then he connects. That can be pretty damned powerful, especially with a little support. I have a deck headed up by Tromokratisand he seems to sneak under the radar a little: I don’t think people get what his ability does. This beast can go into the 99 of any blue deck as a finisher, as he makes a sweet 7 CMC curve topper, and in some respects might actually be better in that role as he doesn’t really aid any deck built around him, just finishes off what ever is on front when arrives on the table.

General Grade B-

Uyo, Silent Prophet

A very cool general if you are focussing on copying spells, it is easy enough to build your deck around Instants and Sorceries. The obvious drawback is the cost of returning lands to your hand, but this can be worked on with a couple of Landfall cards, or ways to play more than one land a turn. Add in the fact that Uyo can copy opponents spells too and you are faced with a pretty powerful tool. I think Uyo would require some building around to really make work but if the spells you play are good enough then the payoff would be well worth it. Her type (Moonfolk) doesn’t lend itself to too many tribal builds, but the Wizard half can be really useful in that tribal deck.

General Grade B-

Vendilion Clique

Vendilion Clique EDH Commander

A real role player in Modern, this Faerie Wizard is a great card if you want to disrupt someones combo, or wreck someones day if they tutor a lot, giving you a sweet way to gain card advantage as they waste their tutors. However is this something you want to build your entire EDH dek around? In my mind this seems a bit too dependent on your opponents requiring certain cards to make Vendilion Clique a good general choice. If they play a deck that has redundancy, or is just a good stuff deck then your general is pretty wasted, quite apart from the fact these faeries are very vulnerable having only 1 toughness. I suspect I would far rather have this in the 99 of my deck than head it up with it, so I would probably give a miss as a general.

General Grade C

Venser, Shaper Savant

This guy is very interesting, as he has the ability to be played at instant speed to return a spell on the stack to its owners hand (or a permanent). That is not only incredibly powerful, but pretty unique too, meaning if you have 4 mana available you are pretty safe from most things. Getting him back to your hand is the only thing you need to worry about so that you can re-use him, but that should be easy enough. Venser is easily powerful enough to make the 99 of a lot of blue decks, especially Wizard tribal, but you lose a little of the surety of being able to cast him at exactly the right time. I think Venser is probably best heading up the right control based deck.

General Grade B+

Zhou Yu, Chief Commander

Oh boy… a huge 8/8 vanilla for 7 CMC with a drawback. This is pretty bad by the standards of modern creatures so I really cannot see why you would play this guy as your general. If for some weird reason you were playing a mono blue control Soldier tribal, then I guess he could act as a finisher, but honestly, why are you playing that deck??? (Is it weird I now want to go ahead and build that, just to try it out?).

General Grade E

Zhuge Jin, Wu Strategist

Our last blue card, and what a…. let down. A 1/1 for that lets me make a creature unblockable, but with a timing restriction. Booo. This shows how far we have come with creatures when you look at Thassa, God of the Sea, who grants the unblockable at a price, but at instant speed to any number of creatures that are paid for. On top of that she gives a free Scry 1 per turn AND she is a 5/5 Indestructible, all for the slightly easier casting cost of . Zhuge Jin just isn’t worth it, and is honestly one to avoid.

General GradeE

Phew! That’s the last of blue, and it feels like that was big. For the next part we will be moving onto black, and seeing what that has to offer us.Let me know your thoughts on these last blue generals, and where you think I got it wrong (or right!)

1 comment

  1. This looks like a list of my favorite “one of the 99” Blue commanders. Venser, Thassa, Sun Quan, Sakashima, Geralf, Thada Adel… Alwasys in a deck. Never the Commander. lol.

    Once again, I agree within a 1/2 a letter grade of your rankings. Well except for one. Teferi, Temporal Archmage. This guy is a solid B+. We have a guy in our playgroup that plays Planeswalker Teferi and all he does is use his -1 ability, over and over. To ramp, like you said, and untap his big mana artifacts like Mana Vault and Gilded Lotus. With all of that mana he draws cards like a boss and plays threat after threat. Sure, we can knock Teferi out a time or two, but he doesn’t care, he recasts him and uses that -1 again. and again, and again…

    Well done on your list! On to black!

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