As an enfranchised player with lengthy gameplay experience, it becomes easy to sit back and chide some of Magic’s direct avenues of gameplay. The longer you play, the more you take for granted what other players will know and understand about its functionality, how fast they’ll learn new mechanics, and how quickly they can adapt to the ever-changing landscape Magic creates. In time this has a nasty habit of creating biased mindsets that not only is the game actually easier than it is, but that newcomers should be able to intrinsically learn many of its more complex aspects. Most players don’t fall into this mentality willingly. In fact, many aren’t even cognizant of their elevated knowledge tier, especially when you spend a lot of your time talking to other equally skilled players.
The truth is that even a moderately experienced player has a significant advantage over someone just starting out, and we as players should be mindful of that as often as possible. Just because you think Suspend is simple and Storm decks are easy to follow doesn’t mean that the player trying to figure out how to cast a Grizzly Bears for the second time ever is going to know what the heck you’re talking about. What’s worse, trying to demonstrate advanced decks or concepts can often be off-putting, driving newcomers away before they become comfortable with the game. In a very real sense, this is player privilege. The more time you have under your belt with the game, especially against challenging opponents, the more adept you become. But this happens slowly. If Magic were a real battefield, your 15 years of experience would make you a pretty high ranking officer.
So, you know, remember that when addressing the latest news or cards to come out of a Magic set.
Try to remember that for all of the things you’re looking for as a tenured player, there’s plenty of others out there looking at those same cards with newly-sparked planeswalker eyes. Magic has to continuously balance the needs of keeping existing players interested in fresh content with offering enough basic material such that someone new will not be completely lost when sitting down for the first time. Unlike a traditional board game where the gameplay is largely the same every time, every Magic set behaves slightly differently. Therefore, most sets must have established guideposts to help new players along – even if doing so means enduring the 27th reprint of Mind Rot.
These guideposts are the types of cards that teach newcomers some of the more distinct aspects of the game. They instruct how each color functions, how each card type works, and how to go about compiling cards together to make a deck. These cards also provide not-so-subtle hints as to the untold synergy and combo potential the game offers. It’s why, for instance, some cards require effort to puzzle out their usefulness while others are so blatantly obvious as to their purpose that it’s almost painful. While the old fogies amongst us may occasionally roll our eyes at such clear-cut card designs, those just getting into the game are quite grateful for powerful cards of a less confusing nature.
Plus, no one said straightforward cards are necessarily boring. In fact, many are down right impressive – such as this week’s pick.
Today we have: Righteous Authority
Name: Righteous Authority
Edition: Return to Ravnica
Focus: Card Draw / Creature Buff
Highlights: Card complexity exists on a wide spectrum. Some cards want the player to do some mental gymnastics to make them work. Others hand you the grenade with the pin already pulled and only ask you where you want to lob it. Righteous Authority is on the lower end of that spectrum. This enchantment serves two purposes in a single card, which when combined, can turn even the most benign of creatures into a stalwart champion.
The first half of the card bestows a static buff to the creature, the effect of which is direct descendant of cards like Empyrial Armor. In games of Commander it’s not uncommon for players to sit on a handful of cards. This is doubly true for Blue / White decks which often tend to be more reactive in nature anyhow. As a result, you can expect to consistently get +3/+3 for your troubles at a minimum. In many cases, that number will be far higher. It provides a healthy battlefield bonus that can be hard to resist taking advantage of. And given the volatility of creatures in EDH, you probably should.
The second half serves two purposes. First, it allows a repetitive, unconditional, one-sided extra draw every turn. Card advantage is always useful to restock your options, regardless of the format. This aspect alone almost makes the five mana investment worth it. Of course, then this card goes and combos with itself, fueling the aforementioned creature buff without having to lift a finger. There are no hoops to jump through here: simply throw down Righteous Authority and reap the rewards.
The one catch to this card is its card type. At five mana, Righetous Authority starts to creep up on the higher end of what many consider acceptable for an Aura in Commander due to the format’s penchant for creatures dying fairly regularly. The last thing many players want – new or old – is to invest in an exciting creature enchantment only for it to be killed off quickly.
Yes, this card is the type that just begs to be targeted, but it’s still totally worth the risk. And you won’t need to be a veteran player to realize that.
Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.
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Do you have a particular Commander card to suggest for us to shine a future Spotlight on? You can send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org