Three Cards Deep: The Good, The Bad, and the EDH Ugly

Three cards:
• One is Rad: Surprisingly awesome card you’d be just as happy to see an opponent slam down as you would to rip it off the top.
• One is Bad: It’s a bogeyman. Take a trip to frown town with these fun suckers, whether you’re casting or being tortured by them.
• One is Sad: Often popular inclusions, these cards tend to let you down.

Although Theros dropped this past week, I haven’t seen enough of the gods to do a cycle review, and particularly I haven’t seen someone play a Theros card that underwhelmed me. Instead, let’s talk about equipment (but not Swords of Boredom and Snores).

Lots of equipment is pretty good. Even those tools that don’t impress are decent in EDH because, obviously, they provide a recurring upgrade for your creatures without costing you another card. That being said, this kind of incidental advantage is only worthwhile on the best equipment unless you focus on snowballing it, such as with a voltron deck.

The Rad – Strata Scythe

Somebody jammed this against the table in their Avacyn, Angel of Hope deck. While Avacyn couldn’t stay away from the exile zone, the player kept bringing big flying beats due to two other white players at the table. That’s the kind of value I love.

This is obviously not a “tier one” piece of equipment because it just pumps power and toughness, no evasion or anything else spicy. But there are lots of ways to leverage a steady stream of giant monsters. I could think of worse ways to use Brion Stoutarm, for example, than making every value dork into an extra ten or fifteen damage.

Verdict: Neat mechanic + value = Yeah!

The Bad – Worldslayer

So this doesn’t get played too often, mainly because what’s the point. But I’ve sat across from a few wonky and/or aggro decks that felt they needed Decree of Annihilation on a stick. And it was not cool or fun.

There are really only two possible outcomes with this. Outcome one: Everyone hates on you so you never get to attack with an equipped creature, let alone trigger the ability. It changes the focus of the game and is kind frustrating. Outcome two, a: you successfully connect, think it’s good for a laugh, and piss everybody off just because. Shahrazad is banned for a reason. Outcome two, b: you connect and it serves your strategy as an aggressive deck. With everyone on equal footing post reset, your lower-cost, lower-impact cards are again worth-while and you are relevant in the game again. Everyone is still pissed, but at least you’re not being a glib dick about it.

Verdict: It’s like the lady or the tiger, except behind every door the table punches you in the face.

The Sad – Argentum Armor

It’s sort-of a fixed annihilator. Yay! I get to blow up a problem permanent and keep the fun level high! I really want this card to work. I play it in an Aurelia, the Warleader deck that capitalizes on attack and damage triggers and I like that it fits the mechanical theme. But when faced with the 12-mana investment to get things online, I rarely opt to cast this over something else.

When I do, it’s never as awesome as I hope. People are scared of the ability to blow things up freely, so even if I manage to attack and the creature survives, I almost never untap with creature and pants intact. It should actually just have the text “spend 12 mana and jump through some hoops for a [Card]Vindicate[/Card]” and “Flashback jump through more hoops.” I don’t think many people are fooled into overvaluing this card, but it just looks so good on first glance, and then is so much less good in practice.

Verdict: If wishes were horses my EDH decks would smell like Argentum equine poop (I just have the one deck box).

Weekly Lesson: One side effect of thinking about specific ramp spells so much is that you realize how tough it is to keep up with rampy decks when you aren’t playing green (and are playing mono red), and you notice which cards from the green decks really pull them ahead. Mainly what I learned thinking about this that yes, context is indeed super important for everything. With many a non-green deck, I would probably kill for access to a simple Rampant Growth type effect to get a land instead of a fragile artifact on turn two.