What Number Should You Choose With Talion, the Kindly Lord - EDH, Modern, & More

Genoslugcs August 20, 2023 6 min
What Number Should You Choose With Talion, the Kindly Lord - EDH, Modern, & More

We recently got our first look at Wilds of Eldraine spoilers, which looked awesome! One card in particular Talion, the Kindly Lordimage I found particularly interesting. Not only does it look like a lot of fun, but it got many people wondering - What's the best number to name? Well, that's what we're going to find out today.

Of course, the answer will somewhat depend upon which format you're playing and your meta. That said, I've looked at the top-played cards in Commander, Modern, Pioneer, and Standard to figure out what number to name with Talion, the Kindly Lord.

I want to preface that my data won't be perfect; There are a lot of numbers to crunch, and things like power/toughness defining abilities make things hard to get an exact number. However, the article will paint a nice picture of what you'll want to choose under most circumstances within your given format. I'll review the numbers by format, how I compiled my data, and refresh on how mana value works. So, with that out of the way, let's get started.

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How I Gathered Data And Understanding Mana Value

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My Criteria

First things first, let's talk about how I got the numbers I'm going to give you. Anything I could find online talking about this was using the total number of cards in existence at a particular mana value, power, and toughness and using that as the best numbers to pick with Talion, the Kindly Lord. So, for example, 6,049 spells could trigger Talion if you picked one when it entered the battlefield.

While this is an ok start, looking at the numbers for the cards people are actually playing is much more accurate to the best number to choose in a game of magic; So, that's what I did. I looked at the top 50-100 cards for Standard, Pioneer, and Modern from MTGgoldfish and tallied the cards at each number. I say 50-100 because the amount of overlap between the top 50 overall spells and the top 50 creatures (looking at p/t as well as mana value if they weren't already counted in the first category) differed from format to format.

To elaborate, each card was only counted once unless it triggered two different numbers. So, Llanowar Elvesimage was counted in the "triggers with Talion on one" category only once. In other words, I didn't double count cards because they triggered off of mana value and their power and toughness.

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However, Griefimage was counted toward the "triggers with Talion on four" category (for its mana value) and the "triggers with Talion on two & three" category for its power and toughness. And Polukranos Reborn // Polukranos, Engine of Ruinimage was counted toward the tally for three as well (for its mana value), four (for its power), and five (for its toughness).

I counted x spells for most numbers. Walking Ballistaimage can reasonably be cast at 1-5+ mana value. However, I didn't count things like Chalice of the Voidimage for the higher mana value numbers because it doesn't get cast for six mana+ often enough to make a difference.

I did the exact same thing for Commander, but I looked at the Top 200 cards from the last two years on EDHrec. And while the numbers where pretty clear, EDH is a wild format, and depending on your meta or how competitive you play things could change. For example, suppose your pod has an Atraxa, Grand Unifierimage player, an Eldrazi tribal deck, and someone building around Grozothimage. In that case, these averages won't apply to you; by all means, pick 7-9 as needed.

Understanding Mana Value

Before we get into the numbers, I would like to briefly explain how mana value works in a few tricky situations. Talion, the Kindly Lordimage says mana value. So, if you're wondering how this works with x spells, adventures, cost reduction like convoke, evoke, or delve, and commander tax, this section is for you.

Object Quality When On The Stack Examples
Cast using an alternate cost, or other cost modification (includes CMDR Tax) Original unmodified mana cost Murktide Regentimage, Furyimage, Ragavan, Nimble Pilfererimage
Cost Containing X  X counts as the value chosen when cast Engineered Explosivesimage, Walking Ballistaimage
Split Cards Value of whichever side was cast or the sum of the sides if cast "fused" Wear // Tearimage
Adventure Cards Value is equal to whichever side was cast Bonecrusher Giantimage
Prototype Cards Value is equal to whichever side was cast Phyrexian Fleshgorgerimage, Steel Seraphimage, Arcane Proxyimage
Modal Double-Faced Cards Value is equal to whichever face was cast The Omenkeelimage, Plargg, Dean of Chaosimage, Emeria's Callimage

Ok, with everyone clear on how mana value works, here are what the numbers say.

The Best Number To Pick With Talion, the Kindly Lord By Format

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The short answer is 2. Of the formats I looked at, choosing two with Talion, the Kindly Lordimage is most likely to yield you triggers the highest percentage of the time. Considering Talion triggers for mana value, power, or toughness, two seems to be the sweet spot. Here is a more in-depth breakdown.


Of the top cards played in Standard, here is how many cards at each number (up to five) will trigger Talion, the Kindly Lord. Standard has many one- and two-mana interaction spells and well-costed creatures with solid power & toughness that make the lower numbers where you want to be in the format, most of the time. However, in 1v1, you've got to remember that if you cast Talion on curve on the draw, you may have missed a lot of the low mana value triggers already.

  • Number Chosen: One - Number of Cards: 18
  • Number Chosen: Two - Number of Cards: 27
  • Number Chosen: Three - Number of Cards: 19
  • Number Chosen: Four - Number of Cards: 16
  • Number Chosen: Five - Number of Cards: 11


Pioneer is a bit lower to the ground than Standard, but overall the numbers are similar.  Choosing two is still the best bet in terms of sheer numbers. That said, considering you see slightly fewer plays at the top of the curve (particularly the four drop/power & toughness spot), you can feel a bit better about casting this on turn four and naming two or three.

  • Number Chosen: One - Number of Cards: 19
  • Number Chosen: Two - Number of Cards: 25
  • Number Chosen: Three - Number of Cards: 18
  • Number Chosen: Four - Number of Cards: 11
  • Number Chosen: Five - Number of Cards: 11


Modern has a very low average mana value. That said, this is the only format where the number two didn't outright when the tally. In Modern, the "triggers with Talion on two" and "triggers with Talion on three" categories have a tie. I think this is because of the high power and toughness compared to mana value of many of the formats cards.

Also, the format averages can depend hugely on what deck you're playing against. Murkide Regent decks, for example, are mostly all one mana value or p/t cards. Living End, on the other hand, has zero. You'll have to pick three in that match-up as that's their lowest mana spell and will trigger for the power or toughness of many of the creatures. So, keep that in mind.

  • Number Chosen: One - Number of Cards: 20
  • Number Chosen: Two - Number of Cards: 30
  • Number Chosen: Three - Number of Cards: 30
  • Number Chosen: Four - Number of Cards: 12
  • Number Chosen: Five - Number of Cards: 9


EDH is probably the most fun place to play Talion, the Kindly Lordimage for a few reasons. You'll have multiple opponents to get triggers off of, and you can do all sorts of shenanigans to flicker the card and choose a new number as needed. You could even pick the mana value of a particular opposing commander.

That said, the numbers still hold, in general. From the numbers side of things, picking two is your best bet. There is a lot of powerful interaction, utility creatures with two power or toughness, and key mana rocks at the two drop slots in commander. I would add the caveat that the more casual players of EDH may experience their group playing more cards that trigger on three just because less competitive decks tend to have slightly higher curves and play more three-mana ramp.

  • Number Chosen: One - Number of Cards: 50
  • Number Chosen: Two - Number of Cards: 76
  • Number Chosen: Three - Number of Cards: 55
  • Number Chosen: Four - Number of Cards: 28
  • Number Chosen: Five - Number of Cards: 16


So, there you have it, folks - If you were curious about the best numbers to pick with Talion, the Kindly Lord, the numbers are in, and your answer is two! While that is true, I regret to inform you that there will be some variance depending on your format, meta, and even who goes first.

I like janky builds, though, so I'm 100% going to build around this card. Do you think the card looks fun? If so, comment below, and I'll share my list with you when it's finished. Until next time, get out there and play some MTG.


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