Commander Spotlight: Assemble the Legion

What does it take to be the winner? If you only every believe uplifting stories and inspirational pep talks, the desire to win itself is the driving factor that’ll push you over the finish line. To many die hard competitors, winning is the result of pure effort, a combination of focus, experience, training, and dedication to the task. And to outside spectators ,being victorious is routinely chalked up to a blend of the efforts of the participants as well having chance and circumstance err in their favor.

In truth, all of these disparate angles factor into a winning formula. You can desire a win all you want, but if you don’t have the skills to make it happen, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to pull through. Likewise, your abilities can be far superior your opponent on paper but have things completely go against you in the right circumstances.

You’d be surprised how many historical battles have gone against the stronger army based solely on the weather.

Tabletop gaming, however, has fewer outside factors, aside from those that may interfere with the focus or patience of the player. Moreover, given that most games are designed with replayability in mind – usually as a result of variation and luck influencing the flow of any given playthrough – it’s not always possible to win exclusively due to your own aptitude. That is, while some games like Chess have a built-in experience advantage, most modern board games try to create a balanced playing field so that everyone has an equal shot every time they sit down.

Try as it might to present otherwise, Magic isn’t quite that egalitarian. With the volume of its card pool, the depth of its ruleset, and the amount of baked-in tactical decision-making, the game definitely rewards experience. Yet even in this game your foreknowledge only takes you so far; Magic’s inherent luck of the draw nature will ultimately play almost as big of a part in determining the outcome.

Knowing this, players spend a lot of time and effort mitigating as much luck and unpredictability as they can. This is done most by striving to give themselves as many advantages as possible to increase the odds that they’ll emerge the winner regardless of their opponent or random chance. Running land-heavy decks to ensures readily accessible mana pools. Drawing extra cards provides more strategic avenues to consider. Gaining life, countering spells, and discarding cards are all variations on negating the tempo of your opponent’s actions. And having loads of creatures provides you with plenty of ammunition to dictate the course of combat.

So, in honor of that desire to foster advantageous situations, this week’s pick looks at a card that undeniably helps with the latter most example.

Today we have: Assemble the Legion

Name: Assemble the Legion

Edition: Gatecrash

Rarity: Rare

Focus: Token Generation

Highlights: Assemble the Legion is a wonderful example of a true Red / White card, blending the effects that both colors have access to in a way that makes it familiar yet distinct. In the case of this enchantment, Assemble the Legion taps into White’s capacity to create waves of 1/1 tokens if enough mana is spent and Red’s ability to create small token creatures with haste that usually are destroyed afterwards. By putting these two effects together, Assemble the Legion removes the limitations innate to each color’s slice of the pie, leaving only the most beneficial component parts.

All that it requires is a little time.

The biggest drawback to Assemble the Legion is that it’s not a card you include to provide an immediate effect. It costs five mana to cast and takes a full round just to get your first 1/1 haste creature, ironically making it a Boros card that isn’t super aggressive on its own. However, in a longer setting like Commander where you often have the luxury of time, you will be handsomely rewarded for your patience. The longer that this card sits on the table, the more its influence will become obvious as it marshals up an army on its own. So naturally the sooner you can get it on the battlefield and have it survive a few rounds, the better. Even by its fifth upkeep trigger, for instance, you will not only gain five soldiers for that turn, but you will already have generated ten from the four cumulative turns before it, creating a massive horde for a relatively small investment. Then the switch is flipped and people start looking at it for consideration for removal.

Woe be to the opponent who doesn’t.

What you wish to do with those creatures of course is entirely up to you. Some may take advantage of them being hasty to strike at their enemy with precision attacks or to bide their time for a massive assault. Some may forgo the ‘can attack immediately’ part and principally use them for defensive advantage purposes. Others still may use them as fodder for other costs and effects, fueling advantages that way. Any and all of these are possible with this card, giving you quite a bit of strategic flexibility.

No matter what you prefer to use your growing swarm for in the end, one thing becomes abundantly clear in just a few turns: if you are looking for a numerical creature advantage, Assemble the Legion will help you answer the muster call. It may not solve every creature-based obstacle before you, but it certainly increases the odds a bit with each passing turn.

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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