Commander Spotlight: Last Laugh

For some players, there is no way to satiate their desire for wanting to know what comes next in the world of Magic: the Gathering. Whether it’s the ravenous desire to consume product, the dopamine-infused spoiler cycles, or merely a What Have You Done For Me Lately mindset, there is a not-insignificant portion of players that care more about what the next set is rather than taking the time to enjoy what they already have.

Case in point: despite Dominaria only just having passed the apex of its release popularity, Battlebond currently enticing the multiplayer audiences with its amiable Two-Headed Giant product, and the return of the summer core sets – not to mention the recent announcements of the massive 25th anniversary celebration events planned at this year’s Gen Con – there’s already players out there that would prefer to start talking about the autumn return to Ravnica than anything else.

So consider this a mild bone thrown their way. Because as it happens, the Ravnica guilds were a topic of conversation during a recent Commander game.

It was then that a discussion of guild identities was raised, given that three out of the four players were using two-colored decks. Observations were made on how closely each of them did or didn’t resemble their respective guild ideologies. The Blue / Black deck certainly fit the Dimir notion of sneaky antics and creature removal (and it certainly didn’t hurt it was helmed by an actual assassin Commander), but its mechanics differed wildly from how the Dimir usually approach things. The second very much looked like a Green / White Selesnya deck on the surface, but in actuality it cared little for token generation and focused instead on life gain.

The third, however, was a Rakdos deck through and through. This was a deck that was designed, built, and played how you’d expect a Rakdos deck would: chaotic, somewhat inconsistent, and completely indiscriminate in its punishment. Some acts hurt everyone equally, while others were heavily one-sided, although the targets for those tended to be chosen randomly – whether or not the card itself called for it. This was a deck that embodied the spirit of what you’d expect a Rakdos house party to be. It was entertaining one minute, excruciating the next, and you never knew what to expect.

Ultimately the Rakdos deck didn’t win our four-way battle, but it was easily the most memorable. Nevertheless, it helps reinforce one of the core principles about playing EDH: above all, you must remember to have fun. You can build the most structured, potent, and cohesive deck around, but if it’s not fun to play as or play against, then it’s all for naught.

And so, in recognition of this memorable deck of randomly-generated goodness, this week’s card is one that would fit right in to its wonderfully macabre party presentation.

Today we have: Last Laugh

Name: Last Laugh

Edition: Torment

Rarity: Rare

Focus: Board Wipe / Mass Damage

Highlights: Last Laugh was a continuation of a long string of Black permanents that had the ability to do copious damage to all creatures and players. The most famous of this was Alpha’s Pestilence, but over the game’s first decade it seemed like every other set had some variation on the idea (see: Withering Wisps, Crypt Rats, Thrashing Wumpus, Festering Evil, etc.) Then they just…stopped. Last Laugh was the last Pestilence-style card for nearly eight years until we got the aptly-named Pestilence Demon before going dark yet again.

Whether or not we ever get more Pestilence effects again in the future is uncertain as many can argue its’ effect is more Red than Black nowadays, but thankfully that’s also immaterial. Since EDH is an Eternal format, cards like Last Laugh can be brought to the table without worry.

What you get for doing so is an interesting variation on the Pestilence approach. Instead of sitting on mana and having to activate it multiple times to clear the board of many smaller creatures (or simply to dole out damage for the sake of it), Last Laugh instead sets itself up with a chain reaction style trigger effect.

The way this four mana enchantment works is that each time a creature dies, everything and everyone takes 1 damage. A single creature dying will be largely immaterial during the course of an EDH game, true. However, this can just as easily cascade depending on the number of creatures on the board. One creature dying could cause one or more 1/1 tokens to be killed off, which will cause even more triggers, dealing out more damage, and, well, you get the idea. Whether it’s lots of token creatures or creatures with staggered toughness sizes on the board, Last Laugh has the potential to not only cause mass creature casualties but also ensures each player loses a life for each creature dying. It’s adding insult to injury either way you look at it and could be absolutely crippling – or even fatal. Which, for just four mana, is a hell of a return on investment.

Of course, Last Laugh has its share of drawbacks. For one, unlike damage activations, there’s no means of easily controlling how many creatures will die from this, making it harder to systemically kill off smaller creatures while keeping larger ones around. Second, like all such cards, it’s destroyed if it creates a complete board wipe, which means that you can ironically lose it for being too effective. And third, because it hurts everyone equally, some may shy away from using such cards if you care about keeping your board alive – or if you have less life than the other players.

Most importantly, though, is that Last Laugh doesn’t do anything until a creature actually dies; it cannot actually kill things off initially like most of its brethren.

Still, while it may not be able to get the party started itself, once this Rakdos-friendly card is set off, it very much has the capability of taking said party to new heights of anarchy-laden shenanigans. Which can certainly be fun in its own right…if you’re willing to let 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.

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