Sure, he’s passably interesting. He plays okay. He’s fine. Will won’t disappoint. But he’s a little underpowered as a six-mana planeswalker and doesn’t bring anything really new to the Blue Based planeswalker conversation. Nuking two dorks for a turn really isn’t that much different that tapping them for a turn. His draw two isn’t backbreaking at 6 mana and -2 loyalty. Will Kenrith is breaking any doors down . . .
I adore Rowan
On the other hand, Rowan plays very well at the kitchen tale, particularly in Commander where your color options are more limited. What Rowan brings to Red is very interesting, as she’s basically a Mono-Red version of Gideon Jura.
Gideon has a +2 that forces everyone to swing with their team. And then a -2 to punish them for swinging by hitting a tapped dork. Where Rowan is more interesting is that she can hit a lot of stuff, but just for 3 damage a pop. But her ability to enrage a team and then burn them for their attacking is really cool.
Now she slides perfectly into one of my Mono-Red planeswalkers decks, and I want to share with you some really cool cards, both there and elsewhere, that can really help to make Rowan sing.
Are you ready?
10. Powerstone Minefield / Circle of Flame
And to a lesser degree, Caltrops. You can punish your foes for attacking en masse, and then kill them immediately rather than waiting around a turn. You don’t want to force folks to attack, and then you are forced to take a bunch of damage. Clean out those dorks. This is especially good against a go-wide strategy like tokens.
Oh, and a quick shout out to Rock Slide.
9. Barl’s Cage
Barl's Cage is great because it gives you a tool to keep tapped something particularly annoying. All you have to do is feed it some mana. I like using it on a pesky Commander to prevent Commander kills or Voltron shenanigans. It also is remarkably useful for stuff like Zur the Enchanter, Kaalia of the Vast, or Brago, King Eternal. It’s almost better than killing them and letting them come back via the Commander tax. Meanwhile, it also works to lock down annoying junk your foe might be throwing at you that normally is immune to Red answers, such as indestructible creatures that are hard to burn to death.
8. Glacial Crevasse / Sunstone
I don’t need you to deal damage to me or my stuff when you swing after I blow up Rowan. I just need you to tap, so you can be punished by Rowan. I also don’t want to force you to swing into Rowan and then kill her before I can use her. How do I protect her? She’s Red, not in colors that have damage prevention?
That’s okay! A long time ago, Wizards didn’t care about the color wheel. They liked fun, wacky, zany cards that actually made flavor sense, even if they didn’t fit the wheel. That’s why Blue can destroy Mountains and cause mass damage with Volcanic Eruption. That’s why Red can prevent damage with Glacial Crevasse. You were launching an attack! And then, all of the sudden, you came across an unexpected and un-traversable Crevasse where there once was a Mountain pass, and now you have to head back home. That requires you to sacrifice a Snow-Covered Mountain to create the situation to force the assault to fail, so it makes flavor sense all day long. But it’s not Red mechanically.
Does this feel Blue mechanically? Destroying X Mountains and dealing X damage to dorks and people? Of course not! But it’s good flavor. Oh, by the by, while on the topic, here’s how bad the color wheel was in the early days.
Here are Blue direct damage spells and effects from the first set:
Blue has 8 cards and effects that deal direct damage to a creature or player. This include direct burn such as Psionic Blast, and mass damage like Volcanic Eruption and dorks that tap for damage like Prodigal Sorcerer to things that punish players for doing things like tapping a land with Psychic Venom on it.
And Red Spells/Effects that deal damage:
That’s right, Red also has eight direct damage abilities as well. Some of them are iconic and well known, like Fireball or Lightning Bolt. It also punishes using lands with Manabarbs. It also has a tap dork with Orcish Artillery. It also has a sweeping spell with Earthquake, etc.
And that’s not just damage either. How about flying?
Here’s Blue’s Flyers from the first set:
So Blue has five flyers, one of which is a Wall that can’t attack, as well as stuff like Jump to give something flying.
Red? Red certainly isn’t the color of flying, right?
Red’s Flyers from the First Set:
If you count Goblin Balloon Brigade, then Red has five flyers. Red also has tricks that can give flying to something, such as Stone Giant. And while they can trade with each other, certainly the Shivan Dragon is considered a more powerful card that Mahamoti Djinn, that color made out more than you’d suspect.
In an era of Blue direct damage and Red flying, Red’s Fog Machine certainly feels on target.
Oh, and if you have the money, and you don’t mind dropping the damage you take to a single damage per unblocked dork, then what about Forcefield?
7. Ben-Ben, Akki Hermit
You are welcome Magic. Yes, Ben-Ben exists. He is awesome at punishing someone for bringing the heat your way. The cool thing about Ben-Ben is that you can kill something that swings at a completely different player. Did your Rowan just force Natalie to attack? Great! When she does, even if she attacks Jacob, you can still Ben-Ben one of her attacking dorks. I love Ben-Ben! And if you don’t? That’s just sad. Because how many Goblins are wearing Octopus Hats out there?
I mean, seriously!
6. No Mercy
No Mercy is great here. You can force folks to attack, and when they invariably hit you, you can kill that dork dead. Thou shalt not touch my personage. I have No Mercy for those who would think of themselves as my better. I will kill you to signify how I treat those who would deign to touch me.
Also, No Mercy is just a really good card generally. You are not going to find yourself sad that you control and cast No Mercy! The only reason it is hitting back here at #6 is that it doesn’t protect Rowan, just yourself.
5. Disrupt Decorum
There are two major issues with the “One person swings” ability of Rowan. The first of course is that It only impacts one player. Everyone else keeps their shields up. The latter issue is that they can attack you and your ‘walkers. Namely Rowan Kenrith. And that’s where Disrupt Decorum comes into the conversation. Not only do all of your foe’s bring the heat, but none of it comes your way. You can target the one that has stuff left that will die to the -2 ability with your Rowan. Plus, you can swing into newly denuded boards.
4. Slumbering Dragon
The great thing about Slumbering Dragon is that it’s a powerfully intoxicating 1-drop for Red multiplayer decks. Just generally, it shuts junk down. Note that, if someone attacks you and puts that 5th counter on it, you can block right then and there. That’s strong. It also gets stronger for each creature that attacks you, so it’s particularly punishing against decks that go wide with cheap dorks or tokens. It keeps getting bigger, even when it has five counters on it, so you can swing with your 8/8 or 9/9 and people will still fear it getting even bigger. Because Rowan can force folks to attack, you can force folks to counter-up your Dragon. In a duel, they have to bring the heat, and you can swell your Dragon. In multiplayer, they might attack elsewhere because they don’t want to see your Dragon get too big to handle.
3. Gisela, Blade of Goldknight and Dictate of the Twin Gods / Furnace of Rath
Aren’t you going to be sad when you activate Rowan and only deal 3 damage to a dork, and a creature with a butt of 4, 5 or 6 isn’t going to die? Sure! We all will be! But, Red has the cure for you. There are a number of cards out there that will double all damage that gets dealt. You can make sure that your Rowan has the reach to smash and kill double the number of creatures! And that makes her a much more powerful board-wiper. The more dorks she kills with her-2 effect to tapped creatures, the more powerful and board-dominating her presence will become.
2. Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
The problem with running Gideon Jura in White alongside things like Ghostly Prison is that your foe can just not pay the cost for the Prison and then not swing. They weren’t “able”. This works especially well in duels, where there are no other options to attack. In those duels, run this guy. Kazuul is so much better. They have to swing and nothing is stopping them. Anything that heads in your direction forces a tap down or a 3/3 Ogre. Even in multiplayer, they might not even attack you because they don’t want to give you Ogres or tap out, and so your foes take that Rowan smash instead of you.
Also, check out:
Hissing Miasma isn’t the best option here as it doesn’t protect Rowan or other ‘walkers you might control, like the others do. If you are only going to run one, then the Decree with Monarch and card drawing that it brings would be my choice.
Meekstone is one of the cleverest companions to Rowan out there. If you don’t see it, that’s okay! Let me help out!
Imagine you control Rowan and Meekstone
- You activate Rowan’s ability, on Your Turn 1.
- You force Steve to attack with his stuff on Steve’s Turn 1.
- Steve attacks on Steve’s Turn 1. He might swing at others, or you, with his stuff.
- Steve casts a creature so he is not vulnerable to counter-attack now that he is open, and passes.
- You take Your Turn #2. You activate Rowan’s -2 ability to deal 3 damage to tapped stuff Steve is controlling. You kill two of Steve’s dorks. You pass.
- Steve goes to untap. The only creatures that Steve can untap are:
- Creatures with a power of 0-2, AND
- Creatures with a toughness of 4+.
Creatures with a smaller butt were killed. Creatures with a bigger power can’t untap anymore. That leaves a small window of dorks that are fine, and most players don’t have a lot of 2/4 or 1/7 creatures in their deck. Take Commander. Most people either run utility stuff like Acidic Slime, Solemn Simulacrum, Eternal Witness, and Mulldrifter that you just killed, or bigger threats like Indrik Stomphowler, Woodfall Primus, Deadeye Navigator, Consecrated Sphinx, and more that you just locked down, and they aren’t untapping. There is a very small window of stuff like Commander Eesha or Silklash Spider that gets played and will see people survive.
So forget that Will guy. Meekstone and Rowan are Best Friends Forever!
And there we are! Are you ready to unwrap Rowan for Commander and other formats? Me too! I hope that you enjoyed our little trek. Thanks for reading!