PUBLISHER: WIZARDS OF THE COAST | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW Magic the Gathering is easily the world’s biggest collectible card game and has been pretty unstoppable since the first starter set came out back in 1992. Though a lot of the action is currently online, the paper version has an entirely different vibe to it, being more social and relaxed than the tournament environments found on the internet.
By far the most popular way to play the game is Commander; it’s a ‘last person standing’ battle royale mode in which players duke it out against each. You only have one copy of each card in this format (except for lands) so every card counts. It’s a fun way to play and very, very social.
Elven Empire is a pre-made Commander deck set in Kaldheim, Magic the Gathering’s new setting heavily inspired by Norse mythology. This of course means that the elves aren’t your fluffy fantasy fare, nor are they particularly Tolkien’s semi-angelic warrior poets. These are vicious and alien immortal beings who would sooner stamp on you than look on you. Predictably, the pre-made deck for them is Green (representing chaotic nature) and Black (death and necromancy).
We get 99 cards, a life wheel (for keeping score), some tokens, a box to store the cards in and of course a single foil card which is our titular Commander, a legendary hero who leads the battle. In this case it’s Lathril, Blade of the Elves. The art on the card is lovely (and quite gothic), but her main power is drain an opponent of 10 live and gain ten herself, provided you have ten untapped elves in play. Which means if you have a strong defence of elves and choose to do nothing but defend with them, your opponent grows weaker as you get stronger.
Other cards new to the game include Bounty of Skemfar, which lets you pulls Elves and land card from your deck faster. Crown of Skemfar buffs your elves and returns to your hand with a touch of necromancy if needed. Elderfang Venom lets you gain life force when your Elven brethren die. Pact of the Serpent and Serpent Soul Jar allow you to benefit from the death of your allies in a slightly more complicated way, but they are both quite neat and heavily themed.
Other cards that are reprinted here include Miara, Thorn of the Glade, another card that lets you profit from death by letting you draw more cards as your pointy eared warriors die. Skemfar Hall is a land card that lets you cripple an opponent creature for a turn, which is handy if you need to take down something big. (Such as Godzilla, for example).
Overall, this is a nicely creepy set and one to look forward to springing on fellow Magic players when you can.