Commander Spotlight: Triad of Fates [Repost]

Editor’s Note: While we never anticipated stopping the presses on Monday Magic for this holiday, we tend to be away on this day for personal reasons, as is the case here. In the meantime, enjoy this now-annual Columbus Day article, which somehow remains as true as ever…

Today in the United States many places will celebrate Columbus Day, a holiday created to highlight the significant achievements of Christopher Columbus and all of the wondrous things he did as part of his exploratory efforts.

Well, that’s the line that’s typically sold to people, anyhow.

It is admittedly a bit of a harder sell to say that a holiday exists in the country bringing undue attention to a singularly specific European explorer who was attempting to find a shorter passage to India and inadvertently ‘discovered’ North America by failing to get there. This viewpoint of course discounts the travels of the Vikings already beating him to that claim, and more importantly, the hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples already living on the American continent at the time of his arrival. A man who then went on and helped subjugate, enslave, and kill many of said peoples he came into contact with.

The point is, even for a man of his time, Columbus was an ass.

And yet we have a partial holiday for him. Some of that goes back to the country’s founding, but its modern existence and form is largely due to an early 20th century push by Italian-American immigrants wanting to champion their heritage. It was codified into a national holiday almost 85 years ago, making it seem like it’s simply always been part of the way things are celebrated. Which is why, even with a more modern take on the man – focusing on his deeds both good and bad – the holiday still exists on the books. For one, it can be hard to change thoughts and sentiments long ingrained in people’s minds that you can actually change something that’s been around so long. The status quo is the easiest path, therefore there’s no point in changing it.

For another, Americans get pathetically few national holidays compared to other nations.

Put together, this holiday still primarily exists because the idea of messing with even a tertiary holiday such as Columbus Day falls into ‘don’t rock the boat’ territory for the majority of the population. Though even now there are, finally, some signs of movement on this front.

Time and again we are exposed to similar mindsets on innumerable different fronts: why change something if the status quo is seemingly working? While there undoubtedly is always a percentage of the population that desires change solely for the sake of it, most of the time those who are advocating for Topic X to be addressed/changed/improved are doing so because they feel that it could be done better. Some areas of society are more open to opening up and addressing the idea of making changes rather than immediately digging in their heels, such as with technology. Other areas, however, such as our current abysmally-run national political system, are so fearful of change that they’d rather burn everything down rather than even acknowledge that things are not perfect for everyone, let alone try to fix them.

The concept of progress versus the status quo has beguiled and bewildered nearly every civilization since mankind started creating them; it’s an intrinsic argument that’s fought a million times a day on issues large and small. Should a company change its century-old name to stay relevant? Should a game change its rules if it’s routinely demonstrated that it would be more competitive or more fun than leaving it the same? Should laws shown to be ineffective or disproportionately affect a subset of society in an adverse way be rewritten?

Change by its nature can be scary. We cannot foresee every ripple effect of the outcome of our decisions. Sometimes making a change can indeed make a situation even worse. That prospect of taking a chance or making a change – on any level- can be so paralyzing to some that they’d rather merely focus on what they know and are comfortable with than risk the mere idea of change. To a point where the very notion of progress itself can be seen as a negative. If you can’t guarantee altering the situation will be better for them, then why would they even entertain the idea?

What such people often fail to realize, though, is that even choosing to resist change is still fundamentally a choice in and of itself. Something which in turn can cause other forces to work in opposition to their opposition.

As a result, the only guarantee when it comes to one’s own decisions, and those of the society they are part of, is that change is a given. You may be able to delay it or actively work against it, but in the end, with enough support behind it, changes will happen eventually.

Of course, none of us can tell the future, so there’s no proven way to know what path those changes will take.

Well, almost no one.

It turns out that there were a few women from ancient folklore who not only had that prognostication power to see your future, but they actively helped shape your destiny. They were the only ones to whom change was not an unknown, and it is them whom we look at this week.

Today we have: Triad of Fates

Name: Triad of Fates

Edition: Theros

Rarity: Rare

Focus: Creature Flickering / Spot Removal / Card Draw

Highlights: Triad of Fates is another in a long series of cards that explore and exploit the idea of linked abilities – where one card effect directly impacts or is tied to that of another line of text on the same or another card. In the case of the Triad, it has (naturally) three abilities that all have a relationship to one another, providing the wielder of the Fates the ability to save or condemn another creature on the battlefield as you see fit.

Borrowing from the Greek myth of the Moirai, this average-sized 3/3 creature for four mana has three different abilities you tap it to activate. Each of these three is intertwined with the other two, leading to an interesting and entertaining design. The first of these abilities is adding a fate counter to another creature, effectively marking it for future targeting. This idea of using a counter to ‘mark’ a creature for a second ability has been used time and again throughout Magic, going as far back as least to Tempest’s Bounty Hunter.

The second Moirai ability is that of life. Specifically, the ability to extend the life of a creature. In this case, for one White mana, you have the ability to insta-flicker a fated creature, thereby granting it new life if targeted by some kind of negative effect.

The third and final ability is the second’s opposite. In this instance, for one Black mana you can kill off a marked creature instead, exiling it forever and letting that creature’s controller draw two cards. This is a bit of a tradeoff effect if used on an opponent’s creature, as you’re giving them card draw in exchange for their creature, but at the same time you’re likely only going to be targeting their most powerful or advantageous creatures with the Triad to begin with, so it’s likely to have a net neutral effect. At the same time, you can also use this in response to your own creature being removed, letting it be exiled so you can draw cards rather than try to save it with the second ability.

The Triad is not a game-changing card by any means. All three of its abilities require the Triad to tap, and the ability to flicker or exile a creature is limited to creatures with a fate counter already on it, meaning that barring card combos and the like, you can only save or remove a creature every other turn at best. For some that simply may not be fast or powerful enough to their liking.

However, Triad of Fates is more suited for Commander settings than other formats because of this slower pacing, and it thrives better here even compared to other casual gameplay styles. Namely because it makes up for its slower pacing by opening up all manner of table politics. That is, the earlier you can get the Triad out, and the more creatures you can get with fate counters on them, the more useful it becomes on the battlefield to both yourself and other players. Having multiple possible targets can serve either as a valuable deterrent from attacking you on the one hand and is a means of providing political assistance in the right circumstances to another player by way of saving an important creature or drawing extra cards.

All in all the Triad is a fun card that is well suited to Commander. It allows you to weave the fate of other creatures on the battlefield in a fun and flavorful way. That is, so long as other players allow it to stay on the battlefield. While it doesn’t scream auto-remove, the Triad does have a small tendency to make people a tad uneasy if you have numerous marked creatures on the board and a creature who can easily take advantage of that fact.

What can we say? Some people fear change they can’t control, even in the course of a Magic game…

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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