Diplomacy is the art of restraining power.
So by this point, I think it’s safe to say everyone has had the pleasure (depending on what side of the table you’re on) of facing against the newest kid on the block for Commander: Leovold, Emissary of Trest. To me, this is the perfect example of a General. By himself, he is not really a problem. Sure, he’s annoying as all hell since you are stuck to drawing one card at a time with your 99 (less 7 in opening hand) deck; but he’s still within Lightning Bolt range as well as spot removal. However, it’s when he brings his friends that he becomes a real problem; but I can’t help but feel many players are missing out on maximizing his flavor, basically abusing his ability to add nothing but salt to a sodium rich meal is no way to go and encourage friends to keep playing against him without putting a giant ‘KILL ME FIRST’ sign on your head. That’s been my struggle: I’ve been trying hard ever since seeing this card first previewed to figure out a way to keep this a deck that is not only competitive but also doesn’t get me murdered the minute he sees play and I think I figured it out.
It’s so simple! It’s in his name! Leovold, Emissary of Trest is the diplomatic replacement for Edric, Spymaster of Trest who was killed between the events that took place during ‘Conspiracy’ and ‘Conspiracy: Take the Crown’. So naturally, rather than just having someone that can spy (UG), we need to send someone that has some staying power and knows how to pit his enemies against one another (BUG) for his benefit. Now for some dictionary work, an ‘emissary’ is essentially a diplomat. Someone sent by a neighboring country or republic as an envoy of (outwardly) goodwill. Flavorwise, Trest is a city-state neighboring Paliano on the plane of Fiora (the plane that Conspiracy takes place on). Based on the other cards we’ve seen referencing Trest, it’s pretty safe to assume they are BUG (black/blue/green) aligned as compared to the predominately RWB (red/white/black) aligned city-state of Paliano. So how would an envoy of a place that is attuned to that shard of the colorwheel interact with Paliano? By spying, misinformation and spreading distrust among the populace without any of it coming back on you; of course!
With those facts in mind, it absolutely makes sense that Leovold (Leo to his friends) has the abilities that he does. He needs to manage the information others get from him all while still empowering and ‘kind of’ protecting those that think he’s their patron. Now how do we do that without making everyone realize that’s what we’re doing? Easy question. We don’t. Every player on the board is capable of reading and knowing what Leo can do once he sees play. The trick we’re going to do with our deck is take those expectations and use them to our advantage through spycraft and misinformation. With that in mind, allow me to present my personal take on Leovold, Emissary of Trest; the man, the myth, the Commander.
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
Card Interactions and Diplomatic Relations
Flavor-wise, Magic the Gathering games are essentially two (or more for Commander) Planeswalking mages locked in battle. This is exactly the kind of thing a good diplomat tries their best to avoid, but when it does happen they do have some options available to them in the forms of sanctions which is how I build the card interactions in this deck to work.
- Sanction 1: Economic-The best way to slow a rivaling country (player) from building up an army is to remove the assets they need to build that army in the first place. For this sanction we would look to pairing Leovold with cards like:
- Anvil of Bogardan- Removes the maximum hand size for all players and allows them to draw an additional card on each of their draw steps at the cost of discarding one card. With Leovold out, this becomes draw and discard (or just put the top card of your library into your graveyard for our more aggressive enemies).
- Sanction 2: Reputation-Another way to prevent an enemy from wanting to invade or attack is by making every other country think that person wants to invade them instead. So here is where cards such as: Lantern of Insight, Seer’s Vision, Telepathy and Zur’s Weirding come into play. By being able to draw your opponents attention to one another’s (definitely) more threatening cards in hand or soon-to-be-in-hand they are definitely not going to worry about that Demonic Tutor or Reflecting Pool you’re about to draw.
Another benefit of being a diplomat is that while in a foreign country, you have what is considered ‘diplomatic immunity’; this doesn’t actually work like they portrayed in Lethal Weapon 2, where you can get away with anything you damned well please; but rather, it allows you to not be susceptible to a foreign countries laws although you can still be expelled and sent to your home country to be tried there. To represent this form of protection, I included cards like: Diplomatic Immunity, Dissipation Field, Crawlspace and Mind’s Dilation.
Winning the Diplomatic Game
Now let’s talk about this deck in general. As you can see, there really isn’t a win condition outside of pairing Anvil/Puzzle Box with Leo and just locking the board out. That’s the idea though! What good diplomat comes to a meeting (in this case, a game) with their knives visible? One that wouldn’t last very long at all, that’s who! In this build, Leo and by extension; you will use your opponents strengths against them. Use their strategies to win! With cards like Villainous Wealth, Mind’s Dilation, Hedonist’s Trove and Shared Fate; we can take our opponents win conditions and make them our own. In fact, at first your opponents may welcome a card like Shared Fate after a few rounds with Leovold since it gets around his ‘opponents cannot draw more than one card a turn’ ability by replacing the draw effect and it’s all to your advantage! Use cards like Telepathy, Seer’s Vision, Zur’s Weirding and Lantern of Insight to know when it’s safe to play your pieces and you’re almost guaranteed to be the last diplomat standing!
In case any of your pieces get sent to the graveyard or you need just that one, there are plenty of tutors and recursion to help them find their way to your hand. Cards like Chromatic Lantern and a plethora of color-fixing land help make sure you can maximize what your opponent has even if it’s off color (thanks, layer seven ruling!). So there you have it, a good diplomat is at all times a spy, a friend, and most of all a knife in the back. For those of you that want to add more money to this deck, I would recommend some of the dual Ravnica lands, pain lands and more color fixing.
Enjoy! Feel free to leave any comments below!
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