Magic the Gathering players gained plenty of new Elves cards to play with in the Kaldheim set. But, none may be as truly impactful as Lathril, Blade of the Elves. As the lead card in one of the two Commander decks released with Kaldheim, the four mana Legendary creature instantly appeared an obvious choice to lead a new breed of Elf deck in Green and Black. Despite Lathril looking like a monster in multiplayer, though, she could well be a monster in one-on-one, too.
Lathril costs 2 colorless mana, 1 Green, and Black mana to cast. She has menace, meaning she can only be blocked by two or more creatures. When she deals combat damage to a player, you create a 1/1 Green Elf Warrior token for each point of damage. Also, Lathril has a tap ability where you tap ten untapped Elves to deal 10 damage to each opponent and you gain 10 life.
Kaldheim introduced three new cards poised to be strong allies for Lathril. The first is Canopy Tactician, a super mana dork that taps for 3 Green mana and also pumps Elves by +1/+1. The second is Elven Ambush, an instant speed Elf token generator for 4 mana. The third is not technically an Elf at all, but rather a Changeling that counts as an Elf (and every other creature type at once for that matter) in Realmwalker.
In particular, Realmwalker helps the Lathril plan by allowing you to cast Elf creatures from the top of your deck. An Elf deck that doesn’t need to play creatures from the hand is pretty scary, allowing you to swarm the board even more quickly. Getting to that ten Elves that you can tap for Lathril’s incredibly powerful drain ability (a twenty point life total swing) is a major win condition.
Unfortunately, Kaldheim Commander cards exclusive to the decks aren’t playable in Standard or Modern, nor Historic on Magic Arena. Imagine if Lathril was legal in those formats; Elves would be a top-tier deck for sure. Of course, Lathril is doing just fine in Commander, being among the Top 10 Commanders in early 2022 according to EDHREC.
With all of the token doubling effects and creators available to Lathril, Blade of the Elves in Commander, Elf Tokens seemed to be the most potent build of the deck. Yet, as creative Commander deck builders can get with building around their favorite Legendary Creatures, most Lathril decks end up just being solid Elf Tribal. Considering Lathril is a Top 10 Commander overall by EDHREC’s ranking, it seems that this is the correct choice.
Unfortunately, Lathril isn’t even available in Brawl. While the Commander-like format hasn’t become as popular as Commander, it does have its fans, especially on Magic Arena. It’s bad for Lathril, though, as it includes only cards legal in the current Standard environment, which Lathril is not. Even in Historic Brawl on MTG arena, Lathril is nowhere to be seen.
That being said, some players play Brawl outside of Arena and MTG Online, and in those cases, the Commanders from the pre-constructed decks released with Standard-legal sets are often allowed. It does seem odd that Wizards wouldn’t allow these Commanders to be legal in just Brawl or Historic Brawl, but they were designed specifically for legacy Commander. As someone who was excited by the draw of the Brawl format, this is a major point against it. Since I no longer play Magic Arena in any way shape or form, and is basically a dead format on MTGO, I can’t pretend to know the format. What I do know is that Lathril would be a heck of a Commander in the Brawl environment, which is currently dominated by just four decks in early 2022.
On a positive note, Lathril is one of my favorite Commanders of all time. Despite having pulled away from the game proper, as the Wizards push towards making Arena the competitive future of the game to my great distaste, I will always have my Lathril deck built and ready for a game (along with Bruna, Light of Alabaster). What could have been a very strong Brawl Commander could have actually brought that format a ton of popularity; Ranar the Ever-Watchful would’ve been so much fun in Brawl, too.
These Standard-set related Commander releases should have been a great thing for Magic, and why they didn’t use them to drum up what could be the most accessible format in history with Brawl baffles me. C’est la vie, as they say. At least now we have one of the best Elf Commanders, if not the greatest Elf Commander, of all time.
How would you play Lathril, Blade of the Elves?