Erayo, Soratamai Ascendant's Ban in Commander

Why is Erayo, Soratami Ascendant Banned in Commander?

Jacob LacknerCommander

While Commander’s grassroots origins make it different from many other Magic formats, it still has a ban list like the rest of them. However, since Commander is not a format with tons of tournament data to back up banning certain cards, some players are unsure why certain offenders end up on the list. Today, we’re going to look at Erayo, Soratami Ascendant and examine whether or not it would be safe to unban.

Kamigawa Block featured 20 creatures that would “flip” into a different card after meeting a certain condition. This was the first time Wizards of the Coast experimented with cards that could “transform.” 

In 2004, they didn’t have the technology for the double-faced cards we’re so used to today, so both cards appeared on the front side instead. This means you transformed the cards by rotating them 180 degrees. 

Erayo starts out as a Legendary, two mana, 1/1 flier. When the fourth spell in a turn is played, you flip Erayo into Erayo’s Essence. This powerful Legendary Enchantment counters the first spell each of your opponents play each turn. This makes playing Magic incredibly difficult for them, as they will find themselves having to throw away a spell simply to resolve something else. 

In two-player formats, transforming Erayo is fairly difficult. There just aren’t that many turns where four spells get cast, and Erayo is incredibly vulnerable before flipping. This kept Erayo from ever being anything too impressive in 60-card constructed formats. 

However, Commander is a different story.

Why is Erayo Banned in Commander?

Once there are more than two players at the table, it becomes a lot more likely that four spells will be cast in a single turn. Even if players are doing their best not to cast too many spells, it isn’t like they can stop casting spells entirely because they would fall very far behind. 

If Erayo’s controller has 1-2 instants in their hand, they can very easily pick a moment that will result in Erayo transforming and shutting down the game. 

Destroying Erayo’s Essence is doable, but the best case scenario is someone has to fire off two spells, since their first one will get countered. Even then, Erayo simply returns to the Command Zone, meaning it is very difficult to ever be entirely free from her tyranny.

This resulted in Erayo being “Banned as Commander” in 2011. This is now a defunct type of ban, but it allowed players to still run Erayo in your deck. This type of ban was retired in 2014, at which point Erayo was completely banned.

Should Erayo be Unbanned?

No. Erayo is too easy to transform in Commander and it makes games absolutely miserable. If Erayo is your Commander, she effectively starts every game in your opening hand and she’s also very easy to recur. 

However, I do think Erayo is a fair card when it doesn’t start the game in the Command Zone. In past articles in this series, I have advocated for a return of “Banned only as Commander,” and this is another situation where I think that would be preferable. The more cards Commander players have access to, the better.

End Step

What do you think? Should Erayo be unbanned? Is this another case where it would be better if they brought back “Banned in Commander”? Hit me up on Twitter with your take, and any cards you want me to look at in the future.