At last, Magic’s newest expansion has us reaching the climax of the 4 part story arc with the Phyrexians as Elesh Norn’s forces spill out into countless planes, bringing together strange allies and forever altering the fabric of the multiverse. A new set means new cards, and we’re continuing our review with the monocolor cards.
Last time we covered the multicolor cards, and this time as usual we won’t be looking at everything, and we’ll be doing this primarily but not exclusively with an eye for Commander play.
BPhillipYork: Creating Soldiers and making Angels is all find and dandy, but Angels as a tribe is so-so at best, and creating a mere 1 Soldier is also not really going to move the dial much. However returning all nonland permanents while only needing 2 counters is big. A proliferate and a Lae’zel Vlaakith’s Champion in play when it enters and you can insta-replenish with this.
TheChirurgeon: I like the go-wide opportunities this Elspeth creates with her +1 but her -2 and ult just leave a bit to be desired, particularly when you compare her to the original Knight-Errant variant that was such a pain to play against. Returning stuff from your graveyard could be really solid but I’d have liked to see more synergy between her three abilities.
Marcy: Hi I’m the ‘not exclusively’ part of the intro; I only play Standard, Modern, Explorer, and Historic primarily! I think Elspeth here will see some play in Standard, especially in Mono-White Midrange or the like, but currently fights against the absolute queen of White Planeswalkers at the moment: The Wandering Emperor. That isn’t to say Elspeth doesn’t have a spot; there’s a conceivable W / UW Soldiers variant with her in as a token generator, and when Emperor finally rotates out, Elspeth might take her spot in the 4 drop category.
Dusk Legion Duelist
BPhillipYork: A pretty solid payoff for +1/+1 counter decks, and really cheap to get early before your engines are in play. It’s also a Vampire, which quite a few things care about.
TheChirurgeon: I really like this goober and this mechanic as a way to do card draw in white and white/green.
Marcy: This might be the card I’ve seen people try to make ‘work’ the most since pre-release. It feels like a natural in Soldiers, but there is a lot of competition in the 2 drop slot between Thalia, Valiant Veteran, and Resolute Reinforcements, and that isn’t even before dipping into Abzan with Dennick and Harbin; suffice to say, 2 drop is a tight spot. Card draw is nice, but I’m not sure where this card fits. Maybe after Thalia rotates, the spot will be less choked up.
FromTheShire: Very nice card draw engine for doing what you already want to be doing in counter decks, with two relevant creature types as well. Solid.
Elesh Norn / The Argent Etchings
BPhillipYork: Playing this for the board clear seems like the way to go, but having to pay 4, then sacrifice 3 creatures, then pay 3 more mana, it’s probably just too much to make it worthwhile, especially as anyone can just blow up the etchings before it goes off.
Marcy: Speaking of crowded 4 drop spot, I suspect Norn will start popping up in a lot of UW Control / Token decks. Even unflipped, Norn is a scary card able to stop damage based board wipes like Brotherhood’s End, and flipped, she can turn a comfortable board state into a dominant one with a 3 turn countdown (or less, if you’re using any proliferate tricks).
FromTheShire: A little bit niche but this is excellent for warding off go wide decks or providing a huge boost to your own go wide strategy, and can get pretty heinous with token doublers.
Essence of Orthodoxy
BPhillipYork: For incubate decks this is really good, really really good, if that’s a thing you want to explore. Unfortunately incubator tokens were framed well enough they won’t enter play as Phyrexians, or this would be incredibly dangerous. For a weird populate deck though this might do the trick, and of course it would be doubled by Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines
Marcy: I’ve seen this card pop up in the B/W Phyrexian deck that is floating around, but that deck is so odd that I’m not sure exactly where or how it will shake out. It seems like a slow deck, but if it gets to go first and draws perfectly, this card can become an absolute menace.
FromTheShire: Great token generation for Phyrexian decks, whether you want the bodies themselves or the sac fodder it’s super useful.
Guardian of Ghirapur
BPhillipYork: Another nice flicker effect on a pretty standard body, though 3 for a 3/3 flyer with flicker built in is a bit cheaper than prior flickers.
FromTheShire: Cheap and hits artifacts as well as creatures, mostly value based since it returns at end step which is still solid.
Heliod, the Radiant Dawn / Heliod, the Warped Eclipse
BPhillipYork: Really solid annoying Azorius Commander or inclusion in the 99, expensive but combos really well with Rule of Law effects, of which there are now 7. Locking people out of spamming but having flash yourself with cost reduction is very solid.
FromTheShire: Always love ways to give flash since it’s so powerful in Commander to see what the other 3 people are doing before taking your turn. The cost reducer is solid as well even at baseline, much less if someone else has a draw engine going.
Invasion of Theros / Ephara, Ever-Sheltering
BPhillipYork: A new enchantress on the back and a tutor on the front is pretty solid. Battles for Commander seem more meaningful and less of a hassle. In Standard a 4 defense battle is a 20% increase in your opponents starting health, but in Commander, a 4 defense battle is only about 3.3%, so far less meaningful. Tutoring for the original Helios, a very solid win con, is a big upside here.
FromTheShire: Really like this as well, a solid tutor backed up by a lifelinking indestructible creature with an engine stapled on. Tons of Bant and Azorius enchantment or Aura based Voltron decks that will love it.
Knight-Errant of Eos
BPhillipYork: These things that grab things of Eos are all okay, for a weenie deck this is big card advantage, and having convoke is really solid, and I like the interplay between convoke X and a payoff for that. 5 for a 4/4 and potentially 2 more 5 cost creatures is good, if you can consistently hit that, but that seems really hard to hit all the time.
FromTheShire: Not having this be combined mana value X or less is a tiny bit surprising but very welcome. I think this slots into Human and Knight decks extremely well since they generally want to be committing a lot of creatures to the board anyway, I’m less sure on it in general decks.
BPhillipYork: Well, this is potentially a ton of incubator tokens, if you have a ton of mana or ways to double things or pay X costs. Progenitor Exarch doesn’t share many colors with the things that typically do that but the ability to also transform tokens is okay, if you were going some kind of populator route this might be a way to pay for the transformations each turn as you keep populating incubators.
FromTheShire: Right at home in Phyrexian decks but I struggle to see it outside of those, I just don’t think Incubator tokens do as much as you want in Commander compared to other token generators.
BPhillipYork: So this is really good, it’s an unconditional exile all for only 5 mana. The progression of board wipes maps fairly well onto how pushed cards are getting. The payoff of creating a big huge incubator makes perfect sense, compare this to Phyrexian Rebirth, it’s cheaper, and it exiles.
Marcy: This is a pretty solid board wipe, making Mono White control even stronger if played on tempo with cards like Depopulate at the low end and White Sun’s Twilight at the top end. The exile effect is great, though, and could be good as a 2 of in Monowhite between Depopulate and Farewell, or in a sideboard against decks that go very wide.
FromTheShire: Mass exile for only 5? Yes please! Even better that it leaves you a creature behind, and obviously I love the callback to Rebirth.
Chrome Host Seedshark
BPhillipYork: Sort of a creature based version sharknado, nice to have the option of playing some kind of control deck and then generate tokens off of it, but in a 4-player environment this is generally a losing proposition.
Marcy: This is a card that I kind of wish worked but I haven’t seen enough of it to make a lot of proclamations about. I do think this card has a potential home in Mono Blue Djinn as an alternative win condition, and could certainly find some spots in Izzet decks like some of the token generation shells currently out there. It’s a fun card, but not an amazing card.
FromTheShire: Not bad in a few spellslinger decks with token elements maybe? Those aren’t terribly common to begin with, and you still have to pay to make them into creatures, so I think I’m passing on this more often than not.
Complete the Circuit
BPhillipYork: Weird card that is basically set up to let you combo off on your opponents turn, the obvious target would an extra turn spell grabbing 3 extra turns to give you 4 turns in a row. Other than that you’re in semi hilarious territory doing something like copying a Rite of Replication or something like that or maybe one of the ultimatums. So a huge haymaker, that you copy repeatedly. The other more competitive possibility would be Demonic Tutor or Grim Tutor, anything that isn’t to the top, (or if you had a way to force a draw) essentially grabbing both or all 3 combo pieces to win the game.
FromTheShire: Absolutely a game ender, this is a card you aren’t casting until you’re doing something massive with it. Extra turns or huge X spells most likely and I’m a big fan, the convoke so you actually have the mana to do it is particularly outstanding.
BPhillipYork: I kind of hate the world champion cards because they are so blatantly pushed. This thing should cost like 4. Maybe 3 at most. Flash, Flying, 2/1, and a draw trigger? And the built in ability to force a draw thus forcing the trigger?
Clever cards – I like to make cards where both pieces of the trick are on the same card (such as Urza’s Destiny’s Yavimaya Elder or Odyssey’s Stone-Tongue Basilisk). R&D likes to kid me about it so they came up with this sarcastic nickname.
FromTheShire: Strong disagree, I’m extremely happy to see the championship/ invitational cards return and I love that they have frequently become format staples like Solemn Simulacrum, Dark Confidant, and Snapcaster Mage. Power creep is a steady grind in Magic anyway, and since the idea is to reward someone’s massive accomplishment with their face on a card, it’s much, much more special to put it on something that is going to see play for years and years than something like Avalanche Riders (with all due respect to Darwin Kastle.) If you’re putting in the time and effort to become a world champ, you deserve it.
BPhillipYork: Shouldn’t this be multi color, red, white, blue and black? Green didn’t have a mascot, or was it the Pests. Anyway, fun to see more Fractals, a 5/5 that you can potentially convoke out and then look at the top 4 and grab one, which is solid, if you definitely will have the creatures to convoke it out. Ward 3 on a 5/5 is pretty respectable, the biggest place I would see playing this is in a Brago, King Eternal deck or similar flickering deck since you can flicker your creatures back into play, untapped after attacking, then use them to convoke. The mascot itself will benefit from flickering repeatedly too.
FromTheShire: Even with convoke this still feels pretty expensive for a 5/5 with no evasion that gets you a card. The ward would be more impactful if the card did more once it was in play – how often are you spending targeted removal on a vanilla 5/5? Things have gone terribly wrong if you’re at that point. Still cool though, and I can certainly see it in Elemental decks. If you’re looking for a flicker target, just play Mulldrifter instead.
Invasion of Arcavios / Invocation of the Founders
BPhillipYork: This is hugely expensive and takes 7 to kill but of course auto copying spells is the sort of big flashy things that a lot of Commander players adore so I could see this being everywhere. Basically 5 for a tutor is probably not good enough, though if you just want to copy a bunch of stuff then, fairly solid.
FromTheShire: Little bit of a bummer that in Commander you can’t do outside the game unless your playgroup is cool, but at least you can still get what you want from your library or yard, and then once you flip….oh baby. Doubling all of your instants and sorceries is obviously what you’re here for.
Invasion of Segovia / Caetus, Sea Tyrant of Segovia
BPhillipYork: Meme card I guess, though giving convoke to everything is potentially quite strong.
Marcy: Battles are such an interesting new addition. I think a lot of them are junk, but this one has a lot of promise. It’s fairly easy to flip, cheap to get down, and the effect it has in decks that run a lot of tokens is quite interesting. Turning your 1/1s from Wedding Announcements into free counter play mana, AND always gives you 4 ‘mana’ at the end of your turn, means that Wandering Emperor can be a constant threat, as can almost any counter or removal at instant speed.
FromTheShire: Another really nice piece for a tokens and spellslinging deck, comes down early and takes buffs well since the tokens trample, and then you can start using your tokens to cast big spells to make more tokens which let you cast even bigger spells for for even more tokens. Depending on what you untap things can get even spicier too.
Jin-Gitaxias / The Great Synthesis
BPhillipYork: This card is the epitome of “win more” though I could see potentially playing it with Cecily, Haunted Mage, once you synthesis then you can attack and get a spell for free, that spell could be an extra combat, and untap Cecily, lather, rinse repeat to win the game. Could be extra turns if you have some way to manipulate counters and or get Cecily back into play with haste, not that difficult.
FromTheShire: Fantastic draw engine that also protects itself somewhat and flips for more draw, mass bounce, and a bunch of free spells? Hell yes.
Rona, Herald of Invasion / Rona, Tolarian Obliterator
BPhillipYork: This is super fun, especially transformed Rona seems bonkers if you just use her to fight things, you’ll get cards from your opponents hands, also nice for turning over battles since they will really not want to protect them.
FromTheShire: It takes a little bit to get there, but what a delightfully nasty ability on something built for suiting up and smashing in for Commander damage kills. Bonus points for giving it vigilance.
BPhillipYork: This seems like you should get both sides almost all the time, which is potentially really strong, and could let you set up an infinite combo. Grabbing a Dualcaster Mage copy or something like that, or even just a really powerful spell like Jeska’s Will, and there’s always Dockside to get a copy of.
FromTheShire: Two super useful modes that you will likely to get to choose both on pretty frequently.
BPhillipYork: 4 blue is so much blue, if you have some reason to believe you’ll have absolute scads of blue creatures, I could maybe see this being doable. This is quite a long way from spells like Braingeyser, with convoke and instant speed making it much more palatable to include and not go “shields down” completely.
Marcy: An edge case card, but go read what I said about Invasion of Segovia, and then imagine drawing like a billion cards at the end of your opponent’s turn off the UW tokens you’ve got all over the board.
FromTheShire: Love this addition to the big blue draw X cards repertoire. My only minor complaint is it isn’t target player so you can’t kill people with it. Still fantastic.
BPhillipYork: I like these convoke payoffs, potentially getting 4 flying tokens is pretty solid, Pirates in particular need evasion, so this plays fairly well into that archetype.
FromTheShire: Very solid way to hand out permanent flying for up to 4 creatures.
Archpriest of Shadows
BPhillipYork: This is a pretty solid backup ability, 5 cost is a lot, but it’s a 4/4 that will return something every time you deal combat damage with it, on top of handing that ability off to another creature (probably with evasion) the first time it hits the board. You probably want to cheat this into play, and then the 5 Mana value becomes a lot less unpalatable.
FromTheShire: Love forcing the tough choice between letting you reanimate something or losing whatever they block with due to the deathtouch. Once you give it evasion this becomes a must kill problem.
Ayara, Widow of the Realm / Ayara, Furnace Queen
BPhillipYork: I kind of liked the old triggered Ayara better. Fine for sacrificing stuff, but 3 mana for that, potentially targeting battles is interesting. Her return trigger is nice in a certain way, it has a delayed exile attached but if you say sacrifice the creature instead before you get to your end step (or it dies) it won’t be exiled. So potentially you could be say returning Kroxa, Titan of Deaths Hunger every turn, or something like that. Also you could be flinging them over and over. There’s also using her trigger to grab something like combat celebrant then sacrifice it. Boom, infinite combats. There’s several creatures that will allow this combo.
Marcy: I really want there to be some spot for this in a Rakdos style sacrifice deck, but I’m not seeing it yet. I feel like perhaps it could be fun to play around with, though, the only issue is one of the best sac outlets in Standard is Oni-Cult Anvil, which produces 0 CMC tokens.
FromTheShire: Love having a good fling Commander that also gains you life. More often than not I think I’m not flipping her, but at least you can cheat the exile trigger.
BPhillipYork: A conditional sac outlet, if you know you’re creating Phyrexians, but other than I don’t see a ton of impact.
FromTheShire: More conditional than a Carrion Feeder but it also leaves a big body behind when it dies. Instant speed free sac outlets are super valuable in the right deck and if your Phyrexian deck isn’t built to be one are you even doing Phyrexia justice? Love this for the deck.
Breach the Multiverse
BPhillipYork: 7 mana is quite a lot obviously, but everyone mills 10 and you grab a creature or planeswalker, and it doesn’t have to be one of the milled 10, which is nice. Also turning them into Phyrexians has some potential upside with things that kill all non-Phyrexians.
FromTheShire: Pretty cool, with the mill giving you a higher chance of having good targets. Most of the time I think I’d rather pay 2 more for a Rise of the Dark Realms but maybe both will fit in the same deck.
BPhillipYork: Creatures that can return themselves from the yard are always interesting, though 4 mana is probably too much.
Marcy: This card is a lot stronger than it seems, and has been seeing a lot of play since pre-release, essentially a Phyrexian lord. The menace effect is interesting too, and the ability to return the lord to the battlefield on your turn can make it extremely annoying and feels like a waste of removal.
FromTheShire: Love, love, love this card. Lord effects are great, handing out menace is great, sacrificing this to a Bloated Processor to return again over and over is great.
BPhillipYork: I feel like the lede is a bit buried on this card. Spells you cast from exile have convoke is a pretty powerful ability. Granted it’s a full 8 mana, but it tutors for something then lets you convoke it out. 8 mana you are probably not paying, so if you’re cheating it out you don’t care how much it costs.
FromTheShire: The tutor and body are nice, giving out convoke is even nicer. Some super powerful things this enables.
Invasion of Fiora / Marchesa, Resolute Monarch
BPhillipYork: The conditional for Commander is very meaningful, the number of new legendaries being printed every year is crazy, and you know Commanders are going to be in play, so it’s not a real sweeper in the sense you’d want. Nonetheless a battle with a board clear is okay, and the flip side will instantly remove all the defense counters from other battles, which is a way to power them out battles, if that is your thing. Can also be used to reset sagas.
Marcy: A much needed black sweeper in Standard that isn’t extremely conditional. Path of Peril was good but only hit small creatures without splashing, Drag to the Bottom didn’t work in mono black, and Malicious Malfunction couldn’t hit anything above 2 toughness. It’s an extremely expensive sweeper, but it can certainly get the job done, with options; Marchesa is probably inconsequential to this equation, though.
BPhillipYork: This is probably not good enough removal to be worth running, surveil and convoke are nice but there’s so much good removal already.
Marcy: Black is flooded with cheap single target removal, and while I don’t think this is better than Go for the Throat / Infernal Grasp, I do think it could have a place perhaps as a 2 of solely for the Surveil, as Mono Black suffers from flooding out.
Sheoldred / The True Scriptures
BPhillipYork: This seems fairly solid, you’d need to force some milling, to be sure, but if you mill it then reanimate it then instantly transform it, you’re destroying two creatures from each opponent, turn 2 forcing 3 discards each, and then reanimating everything. That’s pretty solid. Yes, it is 5 + 5 mana, so you need to have some way to slow the game into a grindfest, but once you do, wow.
FromTheShire: Solid. Nothing as brutal as the original, but good steady advantage throughout the game.
Terror of Towashi
BPhillipYork: Another every turn reanimator, 4 mana is a lot, this one won’t give you haste and put it in attacking, so you probably want to be reanimating something for value or something very fat. 4 for a 4/3 deathtouch is fine if you can be burying and grabbing stuff out of your yard each turn.
FromTheShire: Reanimating straight to the battlefield is extremely powerful with the kinds of massive creatures we have in Commander, and the deathtouch means they can’t just block this for free with something larger which excellent.
BPhillipYork: This is a really solid phoenix. I like Phoenixes.
FromTheShire: In the litany of Phoenixes, this is a damn good one. It feels like it wants go in something like an Arclight Phoenix deck in other formats but I’m not convinced it quite gets there.
Chandra, Hope’s Beacon
BPhillipYork: Auto-copy of sorceries is really something, thankfully it’s only once per turn, then grabbing instant or sorceries off the top is solid, but it just doesn’t seem like it can go the distance and survive like it needs to, unless you’re using her ability to aggressively board wipe repeatedly.
Marcy: A 6 Mana planeswalker that could, conceivably, end the game by just hitting your opponent in the face for 5 OR doing something else means Chandra probably has some spots in Red and UR decks as a finisher, and with a Chandra, Dressed to Kill could even hit the board on turn 5.
City on Fire
BPhillipYork: Triple damage is uh, a lot of damage. But 8 mana is uh, a lot of mana. If you can convoke this out, potentially in in like a Goblin deck, could be fairly devastating quickly.
Marcy: People spent a lot of time trying to make Mechanized Warfare work only to have it flop out with just better burn. In Standard, anyway, I can’t see this card doing anything dominant, but assuming it hits the table, it could be funny. But frankly if you’re playing Red in Standard and hit a point where you have 8 mana and didn’t win something went really wrong and this card isn’t fixing it.
Etali, Primal Conqueror / Etali, Primal Sickness
BPhillipYork: So Etali’s front face is actually pretty scary, if you can get a flicker spell out of your deck, then the process will repeat itself. Combo this with Displacer Kitten and you might well be able to storm off completely. Oh yeah, transform into uh, more or less secondary Blightsteel Colossus.
Marcy: Why Blightsteel Colossus, what big teeth you have. There are a lot of options for reanimating at the moment in various formats, but it’s hard to say if Etali is worth it versus Atraxa, and even if you did, you probably aren’t flipping it.
Into the Fire
BPhillipYork: Pretty solid, flexible, modal spell that is a way to clear out battles, though unhelpfully this could clear out your opponents battles as well.
Invasion of Kaldheim / Pyre of the World Tree
BPhillipYork: This is a dangerous battle I’d say, especially for Prosper Tome-Bound and other things that care about casting from exile. Discarding lands to generate even more exile is really solid too, though I think really the big upside is the exile draw on the front face.
Marcy: I really want to find a way to make this card work in Mono Red or perhaps Gruul, solely because I think chucking a hand full of lands to kill your opponent is really funny. Land destruction indeed.
Invasion of Karsus / Refraction Elemental
BPhillipYork: Another pretty solid AOE effect for a 4 player game, and yet another essentially magecraft-esque trigger, though this is on any spell. Really pretty solid battle.
Invasion of Regatha / Disciples of the Inferno
BPhillipYork: For Commander the main upside here seems to be slamming out a different battle quickly without attacking it. The backside’s a 4/4 prowess with additional damage on noncreature sources is really solid too, if you can get this battle out.
Marcy: Aside from the returning Stoke the Flames, Invasion of Regatha may be the best new card added to Red Burn in this set or even in general. For three mana you get four damage to the dome of your opponent OR a battle, and then 1 extra damage to ping a creature. In most cases I’ve found the 1 damage to a creature to be inconsequential, but Red Burn with a Prowess tint really, really loves this card. I’ve actually gotten very little use out of the flipped side, but again, 3 mana for four damage to your opponent with slight benefits is a 4 of in my deck any day.
Invasion of Tarkir / Defiant Thundermaw
BPhillipYork: The front side deal X damage damage is pretty funny, but the payoff (and having Dragons should make killing battles effective) getting a 2 ping off each Dragon attacking is actually quite solid.
Marcy: Grixis (Plus White) Dragons seems like a really fun deck in Standard and really stokes those Timmy desires. I don’t know if the card is strong, or good, but it is VERY fun to play with.
BPhillipYork: More excess damage, which is a nice mechanic IMO, so creature removal with an exile and play trigger is really pretty solid. The fact it’s not an instant limits it’s somewhat, but again it’s a nice way to clear a battle and grab a card.
Marcy: This card is sorcery speed, and I think that’s to prevent it from being absolutely insane. As it is, the card is an amazing value for 5 damage that can, if overspilled, lead to card advantage, filtering, and more. It kills a Sheoldred, The Apocalypse, and sometimes that’s all that matters in Red burn these days.
Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink
BPhillipYork: Well this is definitely battlecruiser bait, but making token copies of creatures you control is quite nice, 4 mana is steep to get it into play and then wait and then pay 2, so you’d need a real pay off, but something like Battle Angels of Tyr would get really crazy if you had 2 each turn.
BPhillipYork: So this is like Questing Beast for red, sort of, not quite as good, not quite as much text, but still a really solid mid range creature.
Urabrask / The Great Work
BPhillipYork: For Commander this card is pretty bonkers, it both generates mana and does pings each time you cast, slots really well into Izzet, Jeskai, and other spellslinger decks. The backside isn’t that special, until you get to part 3, but if the game goes long it’ll let you cast from your yard.
Marcy: This is the single card that I see people wanting to make work; it’s already selling for like 20 dollars a piece and yet every deck I’ve seen try it, and every deck I’ve tried it in myself, he either does nothing, dies immediately, or I won anyway. I don’t get it, at all, but I’m curious to see if anyone makes something out of it.
BPhillipYork: I like the idea of using this to let something else more or less self fling, in a deck that is cheating things out. Especially if you want to avoid end of turn exile triggers, sometimes killing the creature off earlier can prevent that, letting you cheat it out again.
BPhillipYork: Dinosaurs keep getting the potential to be bigger and bigger, which is fun. Convoking out a potentially huge trample ward 2 Dino is pretty fun.
Marcy: There is a really, really funny fling victory waiting for someone with this card.
BPhillipYork: Solid solid creature, returning lands from the yard to play tapped is really good. 2 for a 2/3 with this ability and surveil 1 is really something. At 3 mana this would still be good, at 2 it’s just really strong. Grabbing back fetches and such, really monstrous IMO. Also amazing way to recur Wasteland or Stripmine.
Marcy: Green ramp is in a decently strong spot at the moment but I feel like there’s a possibility this card could see some use in more aggro focused ramp decks. It’s an interesting ability at the very least, meaning that a land gets filtered right out of your deck and onto the battlefield.
BPhillipYork: Another solid midrange creature, 4 for a 4/4, trample, and a card draw trigger, and the backup to give it some oomph on entering.
BPhillipYork: If you’re incubating or populating decent card, especially if you have some way to generate more tokens like doubling seasons.
Invasion of Ikoria / Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria
BPhillipYork: Front face is a solid creature tutor, to the field, so a way to grab End-Raze Forerunners or something like that is always welcome. The backside is almost meaningless, though it is a funny 8/8 with reach and basically Thorn Elemental ability.
Invasion of Shandalar / Leyline Surge
BPhillipYork: Returning 3 permanents from your yard is strong, and having a put into play trigger on upkeep is potentially crazy. Dumping out something like The Temporal Anchor is pretty solid, if combined with mill or bury effects this could be a way to cheat out big creatures, or powerful enchantments, but it’s a bit of a long way to go.
Ozolith, the Shattered Spire
BPhillipYork: This is a really solid green counter generator, a lot of times with things like Atraxa it can be hard to get the first +1/+1 counter going on something you want (like Atraxa) so having this to both start the chain and double the effect is really good. The floor is really low with this Ozolith since it has cycling if you really can’t keep it.
Marcy: Green stompy decks seem to love this card so far and frankly I can’t blame them. It does so much for 2 mana that it almost feels a little too inexpensive for the impact it has on the game. Draw it early, and start pumping creatures on turn three, or draw it late and get a cycle draw? Either way, this card is value.
Polukranos Reborn / Polukranos, Engine of Ruin
BPhillipYork: Making 2 token Hydras every time a Hydra dies is pretty crazy. I would think the most broken thing you can do with this would turn other things into Hydras, or else turn everything into a Hydra, but also just for upside for when your Hydras do die.
Surrak and Goreclaw
BPhillipYork: Trample is getting fairly easy to hand out, but handing out haste and a +1/+1 counter on top of it is quite strong.
Tribute to the World Tree
BPhillipYork: Really solid card, GGG is a bit rough, but this either nets you card draw or makes your creatures minimum 3/3. Really solid for Selesnaya token decks, 1/1 Soldiers entering and immediately getting 2 +1/+1s is a really straightforward way to make tokens much much more threatening. Combined with other things, like the OG The Ozolith this plays really well with counters and also nets you card draw.
Vorinclex / The Grand Evolution
BPhillipYork: Get 2 forests is kind of meh for a Praetor, though it is not basic forests, so you can mana fix with this. A lot of hoohah on the backside, and yes, let’s fighting love is pretty funny, dumping out +1/+1 counter is neat, but not hugely impactful if you paid 13 mana for the privilege (and waited a turn).
Wrenn and Realmbreaker
BPhillipYork: This is pretty meh to me, especially for something that was so story impactful. It does let your lands mana fix, obviously, and the emblem is nice, but you’re talking protecting Wrenn and Realmbreaker for 4 turns to get the privilege, and there’s so many other sources of play lands from your yard now.
Marcy: I really want to find a cool way to use this card. The big issue is that while the mana ability is interesting, it’s hard to find a spot where this Planeswalker can protect itself. There is a big push in red and green cards to interact with land cards in the graveyard, and in a perfect world there’s a way to chain this with the Pyre of the World Tree, but it seems fragile.
Next Time: Colorless
That wraps up our look at the set’s monocolored cards. Join us next time as we review the sets colorless cards, picking out our favorites, and talking about the future build-arounds. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.