Review: 'Commander 2018: Adaptive Enchantment' (MTG)

Review: 'Commander 2018: Adaptive Enchantment' (MTG) WOTC / JOHANNES VOSS

Magic: The Gathering takes a slightly different approach with its Commander 2018 preconstructed EDH decks compared to recent years.  How does each deck come across right out of the box?  Well, as far as Adaptive Enchantment is concerned, not too shabby.

The Deck:

If you're a Magic player who likes hitting the ground running with high offense and smash-mouth combat, then the Adaptive Enchantment Commander 2018 deck is probably not the deck for you.  However, if you're the type of player who likes to manipulate their own board state and build up towards victory with an overwhelming force, then this is exactly the type of Commander deck that you should be considering.

The face of this deck is the brand spankin' new planeswalker Estrid, the Masked and she plays directly into the deck's heavy enchantments theme.  Her first ability is quite handy if you've already established even the slightest of board presence by allowing you to untap any enchanted permanent.  This can mean quite a lot including allowing you to untap your enchanted attackers in you second main phase, getting extra use out of lands with the likes of Wild Growth or Overgrowth on them, and so on for extra uses.  Her second ability plays right into the first by putting totem armor enchantments on your creatures one-by-one.  We're not nearly as crazy for her ultimate as we are her first two abilities, but the seven-card self mill with attached enchantment recursion is something that a calculated player should really be able to take advantage of.  We don't think Estrid will see much play outside of EDH or kitchen table play, but she is an interesting card to be sure.

Adaptive Enchantment has a handful of new creatures of note.  The one that catches our eye the most is Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle.  This legendary creature is actually a land upon ETB (triggering landfall - YAY) and taps for UG.  The fun doesn't start there, however, as Arixmethes can quite easily become a 12/12 creature ready to lay the smack down on your opponent.  Loyal Unicorn, an uncommon, is also rather neat as its Lieutenant trigger can not only protect your creatures from combat damage for the turn, it also gives all of your other creatures Vigilance whether or not the Unicorn stays in play.  Then, there's Ravenous Slime.  This 2/2 for 2G cannot be chump-blocked and full-on eats creatures when it kills them, sending the deceased into exile and getting +1/+1 counters equal to the dead creature's power.  Not to shabby at all all-around.

Being that this is an enchantment-focused deck, it would be foolhardy not to highlight some of the deck's new enchantment cards.  Myth Unbound cuts the commander tax in half while also giving you some nice card advantage whenever your commander returns to the command zone.  Ever-Watching Threshold gives opponents a reason to not send attackers your way and also provides further card advantage at a fair price.  Estrid's Invocation, however, might be one of the most intriguing of the new non-aura enchantment introduced with this deck.  It's essentially a clone for enchantment cards, but has the ability to blink itself so it can clone something different down the road.  Neat, eh?

The deck doesn't have much in the way of new aura enchantments, but Octopus Umbra really got our attention.  It's one of the deck's many totem armor cards and it's the beefiest of the bunch that also fits in a little board control on the side.  Thankfully there's a nice assortment of reprinted auras.

And on the topic of reprints, Adaptive Enchantment has its fair share.  Aside from the standard Sol Ring (the deck's only artifact) and Command Tower, perhaps the most notable are Enchantress' Presence, Bear Umbra, and Bruna, Light of Alabaster.  Enchantress' Presence is probably the best of the bunch and gives players nice card advantage with all of the enchantments that come in this preconstructed deck. Bear Umbra is probably the best totem armor in the deck that doesn't have eight tentacles and Bruna, Light of Alabaster is a no-brainer for a deck like this.

Here's the thing about the included reprints, though.  Overall there's nothing much that really says "wow."  We would have loved to see cards like Ghostly Prison, Propaganda, Karmic Justice, or Starfield of Nyx.  While it's nice to see cards like Hydra Omnivore and Winds of Rath, overall, the reprints included just seem uninspired.  Nowhere is this more evident than with the deck's included land base.

Compared to Commander decks of past years, Adaptive Enchantment's land base really has nothing worth really writing home about.  Forge of Heroes, a new non-basic land, is interesting and works with both creatures and planeswalkers, but the rest of it is very "meh."  For multi-colored lands, players are given cards such as Azorius Chancery, Tranquil Cove, and Meandering River when in the past WotC would include at least something of note such as when they included Underground River in Commander 2016.  Other non-basics making up Adaptive Enchantment's land base include the likes of Mosswort Bridge, Seaside Citadel, and the ever-present Evolving Wilds.  Oh boy. 

The Value:

Commander decks have a reputation for packing in more monetary value than the MSRP implies.  In total, this is very much the case with Adaptive Enchantment.  Topping the bang-for-the-buck list are Estrid herself ($6) with a few other cards -- Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle ($6), Estrid's Invocation ($5), Tuvasa the Sunlit ($4.50), and Enchantress' Presence ($4) -- helping boost the deck's financial return.  Beyond eight or nine other $1-plus cards, however, the rest of the deck is pure bulk.  While we in no means expect for the entire deck to be nothing but money, we would have liked to see at least one card worth something around the $10 range or more and a few more in the mid-range before dropping into bulk territory.

The Magic: The Gathering Commander 2018 deck Adaptive Enchantment is available now and retails at $39.99.

For An Extra Ten Bucks:

For those looking for a quick and inexpensive upgrade to Adaptive Enchantment, improving the land base would be a good place to start.  While ten bucks won't get you too far, you could at the very least replace some of the slow dual lands with the scry lands from the Theros block ($2-3 each).  Ghostly Prison ($5) eats up half the budget, but the card would be well worth the investment.  Your best bet might be to work on the deck's ramp.  Utopia Sprawl ($3) can help you in this regard and work well with Estrid's -1 ability.  Bounty of the Luxa (35¢) is another inexpensive card that could be of some use as either card advantage or ramp depending on the turn.

Bonus Coverage:

If you want to see the Commander 2018 decks in action, check out this special video presentation from the recent preview battle royale match we held at a LGS in Las Vegas.

Wizards of the Coast supplied the deck used in this article.

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