Commander Spotlight: Tamiyo’s Journal

Welcome back to week two of Monday Magic: COVID Edition. It has been 44 days since my last summoning and nearly twice as long since I tinkered with any of my personal decks. These facts are minuscule compared to the larger issues facing us presently, but it has nevertheless taken its toll on the long-running article-meets-showcase format the series has become known for all the same.

Now you might say being self-isolated in your domicile would give you an opportunity to work on some new deck ideas! And in theory that is true. In fact, due to the success of the last Build-A-Deck miniseries we did a while back, that was the initial article plan when everything started going sideways. Ironically though, (and for reasons I won’t get into here), I’m actually left with less time than normal, and that regrettably put a stop to the idea rather quickly.

However, I hope that it’s true for you. Deck building can be a pretty therapeutic and task-oriented way to pass the time, letting you dive into a self-contained project and taking your mind off of other more important things for a while.

To that end: if you have been crafting some new EDH decks or pondering deck build ideas, let us know online! In these times I’m eager to hear what you may be working on!

As mentioned last week, because the pandemic has completely sidelined normal game sessions, for the next few weeks the cards selected will be less those that tell a story or help articulate a point (in addition to their EDH merit). Instead, these will be worthwhile Commander cards that I’ve personally wanted to put in a deck but for one reason or another have yet to make it there. And this week it’s all about a book.

Today we have: Tamiyo’s Journal

Name: Tamiyo’s Journal

Edition: Shadows over Innistrad

Rarity: Rare

Focus: Card Tutoring / Card Draw

Highlights: Card tutoring has been a staple feature of the game since Magic’s very beginning, with the iconic Demonic Tutor. Yet while Black is traditionally known as the color of unrestricted tutoring, over its lengthy lifespan, Magic has sprinkled card tutoring into every color, as well as numerous colorless options to boot. Unfortunately, in recent years there has been a concerted effort to reduce cards that let you look through your deck on the grounds of trying to reduce downtime. Because apparently games of Magic can’t be short enough.

Needless to say I find the argument for doing so rather wanting. Because like most players, I enjoy a good card tutor and don’t feel they pose an undue burden on casual gameplay. Even those with strings attached.

As those strings go, Tamiyo’s Journal isn’t that bad. On the plus side, it offers unrestricted tutoring for a card, which means that unlike many of the classic color tutors you aren’t limited to a specific creature, color, or card type. This is rare to find outside of Black, and even more so without some kind of significant downside. That alone makes the Journal an appealing card. The tradeoff is it requires a little more patience to pull off.

For five mana Tamiyo’s Journal enters the battlefield ready to be used – if you can pay the requisite costs. In this case, unlike its more famous artifact brethren Planar Portal and Planar Bridge, there is no mana needed to activate it. Instead, you just need to sacrifice three Clue artifacts. In decks where copious mana can be a challenge, this makes for a nice alternative when wanting to regularly tutor for cards.

It’s also substantially cheaper to obtain than either of them.

Moreover, unlike some other cards that amp up in-block mechanics, Tamiyo’s Journal is not parasitic. It doesn’t require other cards to be effective, Instead its other ability is to generate a needed Clue for you every upkeep.

On the one hand, yes, without other cards to aid you this does effectively mean that you can only use the Journal once every three rounds, and it takes a full round to start doing so. This makes it a little slower to use and reduces its power level some. And some malicious opponents may find it simply too tempting to destroy before it can be used despite that fact. Otherwise, this slower pacing theoretically should help it stay on the battlefield for longer durations than similar cards due to it being slightly less dangerous.

And to top it all off, the Journal is not an all or nothing use. That is, you could still use the Clues if the Journal is destroyed. Or you could forgo the entire card tutoring aspect and purely focus on generating a Clue every turn, which in turn opens up various options including building up an artifact base, building up a cache of Clues to turn into cards for later use, or simply paying 2 mana every turn to draw an extra card. All of which are viable. And all of which are possible in any Commander deck thanks to its colorless nature.

Turns out Tamiyo is pretty thorough after all.

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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