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The Legends Worth Revisiting

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One of my favorite things that Wizards of the Coast has been doing over the last decade or so is going back and digging up old characters to breathe new life into them. For some, this might mean giving characters cards that simply never had them before. For others, it provides a new way to give them something new where their original card was awful or simply hadn't aged well. Commander Greven il-Vec was awesome when I was a kid, but he's not nearly as good nowadays and I'd much rather have the newer Greven, Predator Captain instead, in all his Hatred-bearing glory.

Jeska, Thrice Reborn
Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero
Barrin, Tolarian Archmage

One of the more famous examples of a bad legend was Gerrard Capashen, redeemed by the newer Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero. Similarly, Jeska never really got her due as her only true card, not counting Phage the Untouchable and Karona, False God, was kind of bad. Sorry, Jeska, Warrior Adept! Commander Legends fixed this by giving her the proper planeswalker treatment she so rightly deserved being the character who brought about the Mending - arguably the single most significant event in the Magic lore. Others still had their access restricted by the reserve list, and new versions of characters like Barrin, Radiant, and Multani allowed them to continue to show up today in modern-day Magic.

With the recent announcement of the Legends Retold cards in Dominaria United, it got me thinking about what other cards and characters could benefit from a new version. My love of the game's history as well as my recent dives into Classic Commander with its focus on older characters really fueled this, as pouring over those old legends often frustrates me. I want to sit here and be able to tell you how I want to make one of those lists around the Weatherlight Hero Gerrard Capashen, but he's too bad to do anything with for the most part. What if I shined a spotlight on some characters who did deserve this bit of a face-lift?

Let's go down the rabbit hole and see exactly what cool options are out there. As a small guideline first, I'd like to note that I'm going to be avoiding anything from Legends itself as I'll be making my predictions for Legends Retold in a future article yet to come. With that, let's look at some old legends!

Ihsan's Shade, Eron the Relentless, and Autumn Willow

Ihsan's Shade
Eron the Relentless
Autumn Willow

Starting us out are some of the earliest of Magic's legends: the creatures of Homelands and the plane of Ulgrotha. To date, only a single one of these creatures has been printed in a new form: the mighty Baron Sengir. This should hardly be a surprise as he's frankly been one of the most iconic creatures in the game's long history. Even though the card itself isn't that great and there were very few vampires in the early days of Magic, it was hard to not lose yourself in the hype and the appeal of Baron Sengir.

What many people gloss over, however, is just how many other awesome creatures and characters there were in the set and on Ulgrotha. Many of them weren't that great even at the time, and only some have any amount of serious historical pedigree. Despite that, I can almost guarantee that for the majority of these characters, there's someone who has fond memories playing with these cards or just enjoying the design of the characters themselves. Here I wanted to focus on a couple particular notable ones, though I imagine most people have a different one they'd want tossed in as well.

First would be Ihsan's Shade. That artwork by Christopher Rush is nothing short of iconic. It made you want to know more about the character and even more wanted you to play the card itself. As it happens, the card sucks. That didn't stop it getting a cool reprint and a fresh coat of paint in Masters 25, however. Even though the card was ultimately bad, there were tons of players championing it as a stellar reprint and a great way to see a classic character make a return. Making a new version of the shade or even making a card of Ihsan before he was cursed by Sengir would be really awesome to see.

Unlike that card - which most people only remember for the coolness factor - the cards Autumn Willow and Eron the Relentless both share some degree of tournament play. As they were some of the earliest legendary creatures to actually make an impact on the tournament scene, they're remembered by old fogies with a sense of nostalgia and love. Eron was cool for being a big hasty beater that could be made to survive rough blocks while Autumn Willow had one of the earliest versions of hexproof in the game. Most newer players wouldn't know either one, but I have to imagine there would be a ton of love from longtime players to see new versions of any of these.

Grandmother Sengir

Grandmother Sengir

There's one other character from Ulgrotha who deserves a special shoutout: Grandmother Sengir. You see, Grandmother Sengir isn't quite who she appears to be if you only know her by her card. Even if you did know her only by her card, her character design is so cool you can't help but wonder why she doesn't have a better one. Then you discover that she's actually a planeswalker driven to insanity to the point that she's forgotten who she even is and is adopted by Sengir as part of his family.

In another life, the planeswalker Ravi was a kind soul who helped a young Sengir kill his vile black magic practicing father. She hesitated during their confrontation, but lost control in a fit of rage when she realized the senior baron was experimenting on her deceased mother. In the ensuing battle, Sengir died and his distraught father revived him through undeath as a vampire - allowing Ravi to kill him.

In her later life, once she accepted her life as a planeswalker, she was gifted the mighty Apocalypse Chime by her master. She rang it, not knowing the might of the artifact, and obliterated Ulgrotha, sending shockwaves throughout the multiverse. She sealed herself away for protection, but not knowing how to open it, she was slowly driven mad over a millenia locked away. Eventually, she was freed by Sengir, though neither recognized one another, with Ravi still retaining her affiliation for the chime and taking the name of Grandmother Sengir. All of this makes her a really cool and interesting character and would make for a great new planeswalker card. Even though the actual Apocalypse Chime card is terrible, implementing a wrath-style effect on her in the vein of this would be extremely fitting and could make for a cool modern commander.

Lord of Tresserhorn

Lord of Tresserhorn

These days, there's so many cool and unique commanders out there that something older like Lord of Tresserhorn gets pretty overlooked. If you ask people who've been playing for 20-25 years, though, you'll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't fondly remember the old Good Buddy. Nowadays, Tresserhorn is pretty dull. His intense drawback was cool and unique once upon a time when it made you work for a cool gigantic creature. Nowadays, though, the drawback would be smaller or there might even be some kind of upside besides simply getting a gigantic beater out of the deal.

A big downside to this card - as with many of the legends on this list - is that you can't just do a straight reprint of this card thanks to the reserved list. Almost every legendary creature back in the day ended up on this list if they were rare. As such, you can't do a straight reprint of Lord of Tresserhorn even if he'd be a fine and neat card to bring back now, so why not make an all-new version instead? You can find interesting new ways to utilize drawbacks, provide better upsides, or make him an even bigger monstrosity. The sky's really the limit, but it would be really awesome to see this guy make a comeback.

Phelddagrif

Phelddagrif

Phelddagrif is a really weird and unique card, and it's well known for creating really fun group hug decks. Sheldon Mennery, the godfather of the format, is especially known for running the big purple hippo and had it as his avatar on the old Commander website forums back in the day. Today, it's harder to get this thanks to the reserved list and the only other Phelddagrif we've seen since - Questing Phelddagrif - isn't legendary. While that one's been printed again recently thanks to Secret Lairs, it's the last original one printed in over 20 years, long before the popularity of Commander as a format. It's high time we brought back this majestic beast and give players a sweet new group hug creature to build around as well as introduce a whole new generation of gamers to its glory.

Gallowbraid and Morinfen

Gallowbraid
Morinfen

Of all the cards on this list, you'd be forgiven if you were scratching your head as to why I included these cards. These legends are so bad, they're more in line with cards from the set Legends itself than they are other legendary creatures that already existed at this time. They're dull, uninspired, and offer none of the uniqueness that other legends had. So why bring them up now on a list of creatures that deserve new versions?

It might strike you as somewhat crazy, but these two creatures were actually somewhat important in the early Weatherlight saga! They were among the first phyrexians to show up on Dominaria following the climax of the Brothers' War and tormented Crovax to no end. With the help of the Weatherlight crew and Selenia, the monsters were defeated, but they killed Rofellos in the process. Yes, that Rofellos who showed up later in Urza's Destiny through flashbacks. Ultimately while their role was somewhat minor in the grand scheme of things, they played an important role in laying some of the saga's groundwork and are absolutely deserving of better cards. Perhaps bring them back as one unique card this time ala Gisa and Geralf or Halana and Alena, Partners.

Crovax

Crovax the Cursed
Ascendant Evincar
Crovax, Ascendant Hero

Speaking of Crovax, he's one character who is dying for a better card. Just look at what he's gotten thus far. Crovax the Cursed is easily the most interesting of the bunch and it still isn't great. I think more people fondly remember Ascendant Evincar for how it was splashed across the Nemesis marketing and reprinted several times, but it's just not that great. It's made even worse when you consider that Crovax was such a major character in one of the earliest arcs the game's lore had to offer. To have such middling cards feels borderline insulting.

Unlike a lot of cards on this list, I think there's tons of ways to redo Crovax. You could lean into his post vampire role in several ways. Do you focus on the sacrificing aspect that he utilized frequently? What about the massacre-style effect of Ascendant Evincar but done differently, taking on his devouring the life essence of those around him for more power to kill opposing creatures? You could also instead focus on his more pre-curse tragic hero side at the start of the Weatherlight saga and present a different look to his character instead. Whatever the case, Crovax deserves far more than what he's gotten so far and should get one if not more new cards in the near future.

Selenia

Selenia, Dark Angel
Sword of the Chosen

Much like Crovax, the Phyrexian angel Selenia deserves some far better treatment. Her card actually isn't that terrible compared to a lot of early legendary creatures and can be somewhat decent by way of using her classic bounce ability to avoid hate. Despite that, she's still remarkably weak being a five-mana 3/3 flier with nothing else relevant apart from her bounce ability. We get this now in one color with flash on non-legendary creatures at common, and while her bounce ability would still likely put her at rare today for Limited considerations, she's still not great taking Commander into consideration.

More egregiously, the card just doesn't really do enough to depict the flavor of her character. I see what they're trying to do, insinuating that she keeps coming back and that's what her bounce ability is for. But she does actually die for real and curses whoever inflicts the killing blow, which is Crovax in the normal timeline and Mirri in an alternate Planar Chaos timeline. I think we should absolutely see a card that better depicts this, perhaps as a double-faced card with the backside being a curse of some kind. She was also a servant controlled by the Phyrexians via a sort of mechanism, and you could probably find a way to incorporate this into her front side somehow. No matter how you slice it, though, there's a myriad of ways that Selenia could be done better.

Oh, and while we're talking about her, I've got to mention Sword of the Chosen - the sword of Selenia. I loved legendary nonsense as a kid and bought this card out of a $.25 binder at my local shop in 1999. The card unequivocally sucks, though, and given that they gave the sword an actual card here, it too could probably stand to get a new version as well. If Selenia gets remade, this should come along in the same set with her.

Sliver Queen

Sliver Queen

Most of the cards on this list are pretty bad and their inclusion on this list is to highlight some great or otherwise interesting characters that deserved better treatments on cards. Sliver Queen is very much the exception to the rule here. The card is iconic, cool, actually playable (and goes infinite with Mana Echoes), and is worth a pretty penny. The problem with Sliver Queen isn't so much the power but the accessibility to her. The Queen absolutely rules and is without a doubt one of the coolest cards I've ever seen or owned, the first five-color card in the game, and one many wish they could own.

The problem is, though, that she's on the reserved list. While there's been some methods of skirting around this list, such as the oversized Commander Arsenal version, there really hasn't been any other way of seeing her come back. We've seen many other sliver legends over the years and it's arguable that most of them are better for the purposes of Commander. I personally feel Sliver Overlord is the best of the bunch, but that's just me. What I do think, though, is that it's high time we got a new version of Sliver Queen the next time we get slivers. It's been a few years now with the last one showing up in Modern Horizons in 2019, so we're probably a few years away from seeing more. When that time comes, though, I hope we can get a sweet new Queenie spitting out an endless slew of sliver tokens, Aliens style, for a whole new generation of players to enjoy.

The Otaria Cast

Lieutenant Kirtar
Ambassador Laquatus

Cabal Patriarch
Kamahl, Pit Fighter
Thriss, Nantuko Primus

I've made it no secret how much I love the Odyssey and Onslaught stories - and boy do I. They were among the first Magic stories I got to read growing up and gave me a deeper love for the game's lore. I quickly fell in love with many of the characters and loved getting their cards. The only problem is that, frankly, the majority of them sucked.

Sure, there were some good ones in the mix. Chainer, Nightmare Adept was always awesome and Llawan, Cephalid Empress saw a decent bit of tournament play for a while. That's to say nothing of cards like Kamahl, Fist of Krosa; Akroma, Angel of Wrath; Phage the Untouchable, and Sliver Overlord in the block that followed. For every playable legend, though, there were two really bad ones. It's a shame because several of them are excellent characters well deserving of their own cards and what we got instead was just awfully bland.

At the time, this made sense. Commander was still a ways' away from becoming popularized and - at least according to this article on the mothership - was only just starting to form among a small group of players. As such, most creatures were either big, dumb creatures meant for the newest players or slightly pushed for tournament play with little to no room in between. Going back, though, there's a noted dearth of interesting legends from this era that I'd love to see remedied and to have some get their time in the sun. I especially want to see major players like the Cabal Patriarch and the barbarian version of Kamahl (who's largely been eschewed in favor of his later druid iteration) show up. There're other characters like Zagorka, Sash and Waistcoat, and the three Numena I'd like to see as well, but given this is focusing on returning characters, those ones are probably for another article.

Bosh and Slobad

Bosh, Iron Golem
Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer

Bosh and Slobad are really interesting on this list because I'm not entirely sure I'd say they're terrible cards. Both have seen reprints in the last decade and honestly have a place. You can run competent decks around Bosh and you can easily run Slobad in a 99 but he's probably not the optimal solution for a Commander. The issue I have with them is that I feel like they could be so much more and deserve to be better. They were the companions of Glissa Sunseeker, the legendary hero of Mirrodin before she was compleated by the Phyrexians.

Glissa's card also was serviceable but ultimately not great, yet she got a second chance at glory thanks to Glissa, the Traitor. In the story, however, Bosh was killed in the struggle against Memnarch and Slobad supposedly died when they reached the surface following the epic battle for Mirrodin. And that's what gets me: the cards are fine, but for being such major characters they deserve so much more than what we ended up getting. I really hope that we can see new versions of them eventually.

I'm particularly interested in seeing a new Slobad for a number of reasons. The goblin famously became a planeswalker for the briefest of moments and it would be cool to see that on a card. What's more, the story bits we got about what happened when Glissa, Slobad, and Geth exited Mirrodin's core is a bit on the vague side, and I suppose there's always a chance we'll see him in a new compleated state. Regardless of how it happens, both Slobad and Bosh deserve more, and I want to see them come back.

Ashling

Ashling the Pilgrim
Ashling, the Extinguisher

Lorwyn and Shadowmoor blocks were home to several interesting characters, and the books followed a number of them around as opposed to focusing on a single main character like many other previous books would. Most of these characters got some pretty cool and interesting cards. Rhys got a sweet double whammy in Rhys the Exiled and Rhys the Redeemed, Maralen got Maralen of the Mornsong, there was the Vendilion Clique, and of course Oona, Queen of the Fae. There was one who never really sat right with me, though: Ashling.

Ashling was one of the key protagonists of the Lorwyn books. Now I'll admit, I never actually read the Lorwyn and Shadowmoor books, so looking up story synopsis now I feel like I got this bit wrong, but when the sets were coming out I saw her as the main character of the block's plot. As such, I always saw her as this cool epic character, and indeed that is in fact true. She sought to rise among the flamekin, achieved her goal, partially brought about the Great Aurora that turned Lorwyn into Shadowmoor, and became a monstrous force as the Extinguisher there.

In truth, there's more to it than that. Multiple characters played into the greater story that weaved together these many characters of different races and backgrounds to take down Oona and end her schemes and bring about a natural day/night cycle to the plane once again. That doesn't change the fact that I remember Ashling as being this really awesome badass character. So why is it that her cards are so boring? I know that Ashling the Pilgrim plus 99 Mountains is a fun meme, but it's just so meh otherwise. And then there's Ashling, the Extinguisher. Ashling here is supposed to be this horrifically destructive force of nature that threatens the very plane, yet despite that this card is downright pathetic, destroying only one creature if you can hit an opponent first. For me, that's not fitting of the power her character is supposed to represent here. As a result, I feel like Ashling deserves better, and I'd love to see her get a new set of cards in a future release.


I'm going to leave it there for now, but in truth I could go on and on and on with this. The spellshaper legends from Prophecy could all easily be here. Legends like Cho-Manno, Balthor, Rayne, Urza as the Blind Seer, Eladamri, Iona, Karona, and more all deserve new versions. That's not to say anything about the myriad of legendary creatures that come out of the Kamigawa block either. I could easily do another of these at a later time and talk about several other legends who deserve a second chance. Whatever the reason, it's clear Wizards is continually making an effort to revisit tons of classic characters and I love it. It gives me hope that many of my childhood favorites get their time in the sun once again.

What legends do you want to see make a new appearance?

Paige Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: TheMaverickGal

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