Welcome back to week thirty-eight of Monday Magic: COVID Edition. As it’s been 303 days since my last summoning, we have officially crossed at least one major threshold this week, amounting to more than 10 months since the last time I have sat down with friends, in person, to play a game that has (for better or worse) become a sizable part of my gaming identity over the course of my lifetime.
Which makes the predicament we all find ourselves in all the more melancholy. It’s tough to not see friends for leisurely activities for months on end in good times. To endure it under the conditions that we currently only redoubles that loss. Especially of late.
As grateful as most of us are that we have slipped over to 2021, it is no mystical panacea for the situation of the country at the moment. Indeed, the first week of January appears to be more like the 2020 post-credit scene no one wanted or asked for. Memes abounded towards New Years with January somehow resetting back to the previous year or the month of December taking on a suddenly expanded series of days. And while entertaining and even cathartic to see in a way, like all good comedy there is a kernel of truth to it. We have not flipped a switch and suddenly found ourselves back to normal. Experts have warned for months that the winter months would get worse before they’d get better. Vaccines and administrative change are on the way, but they will take time. Until then we’re asked to continue to be stalwart in our perseverance.
The events of the last week certainly tested that resolve. COVID rates are at all-time highs, reaching daily human losses in the thousands. For all the reverence we give to the loss of life to dates like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, many practically seem to willfully ignore similar numbers happening on a daily basis. We have been losing more than a 9/11’s worth of people a day for weeks. Weeks. And yet those who object to even common sense precautions, let alone low-level public crisis restrictions, continue to be as plentiful as ever. Obstinate in their defiance. In their misguided rectitude. In their self-centered focus as the only real matter at stake. Thousands a day. Still, we must persevere.
The motes of 9/11 imagery were compounded further last week with a brazen and historic assault on the US Capitol by far-right extremists hellbent on overturning the ceremonial acceptance of the 2020 election by force – the full gravity of which will likely take months to fully process. Indeed, as of this writing these events which occurred less than 48 hours previously haven’t fully sunk in, except to say that they were jarring, disheartening, and sadly, ultimately predictable. Predictable not in how maddeningly close it came to being successful but that such a move was actually attempted. This is neither the right topic nor platform to go into depth on this particular incident, but suffice it to say that it is another in a long line of events during the pandemic era that compound the truly challenging period of history in which we find ourselves.
And yet, still, we must persevere.
Persevere, because we must. Endure we shall. Because there is no other alternative. With hardened resiliency, we will come through it. Calm will return. And we will get back to doing all the wonderful, pointless, time-wasting socializing with a degree of collective exuberance not seen in many, many years.
Including silly little things like a particular card game.
Throughout this series’ COVID-based interim, most of the Commander cards for the weekly article are those I’ve personally wanted to put into an EDH deck for quite some time but haven’t for one reason or another rather than being about a Magic-centered topic. This week’s admittedly is another in a very long list of those. While I have some thoughts about the latest plane of Kaldheim, none of it is fully formulated in detail at the moment – with one stray thought. And that is the continued tendency within the game of Magic to restrict card tutoring even on higher rarity cards to the Top X cards rather than to search the entire deck (Kaalia, Zenith Seeker as just one of many examples). It’s a deliberate move to cut down on card shuffling that has been ongoing for some time now, and outside of commons it’s not one I’m personally all that fond of.
Me, I’d much rather have some flavorful variants, such as this this one.
Today we have: Jarad’s Orders
Name: Jarad’s Orders
Edition: Return to Ravnica
Focus: Creature Tutoring
Highlights: I’ll admit that of all the Ravnican guilds, the lore behind the Golgari is among the least followed on my end. Despite the color pair being a personal favorite and several mechanics being rather innovative in the way they play with the graveyard, the Golgari story I’ve never found all that interesting beyond their central tenant of the endless cycle of rebirth. YMMV of course, but I never really paid much attention to the Stone Sisters, to Vraska, or to the plight of Jarad. His cards, on the other hand, very much so.
For all intents and purposes, Jarad’s Orders is a Golgari-themed tutor, reflecting both its Green and Black mana. It states that for four mana, you may search your library for up to two creatures. Of those, one of them goes into your hand, while the other goes directly into the graveyard. At its most basic function, it is a multicolored Diabolic Tutor, except you can only search for creatures. And that is where you will find the only real grousing as to its supposed inferiority: to some the card isn’t worth using. After all, why would you opt for this over a baseline tutor that can search for anything?
In truth, if you were using it solely for the purpose of just getting that single creature into your hand, you probably wouldn’t.
But that’s also typically not how Black/Green decks behave.
Indeed, if you opt for Jarad’s Orders, there is a deliberateness to slotting it. In this case, the card isn’t solely just to tutor a card into your hand – it’s also to intentionally put a creature in your graveyard. Depending on the mechanics and theme of your deck, there are a number of useful reasons for doing this as the game continues to expand out the breadth of graveyard manipulation. Some creatures provide passive or activated abilities if they are in the graveyard. Others can be exiled to provide a de facto spell effects. Some players may have reason to care about having a particular type or amount of cards in it. And, of course, is the old tried and true reason: dumping a massive creature into the graveyard and then reanimating it for a fraction of its cost.
Whatever the reasoning, Jarad’s Orders provide ample flexibility and strategy in letting you choose which creatures are bound for which destination. It’s a quick, simple, and versatile way to set yourself up for a subsequent move – be it your next action or several turns from now. Just like any good tutor should.
And hey, when our own metaphorical rebirth arrives in the coming months, you’ll be all the more ready for it.
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.
You can discuss this article over on our social media!