Dig Through Time — Saviors of Kamigawa
Today on Dig Through Time we finish up Kamigawa block with a review of—Saviors of Kamigawa. This set gave us mechanics like sweep,epic, and channel which varied from good to bad. Sweep was bad; epic, an early attempt at a legendary sorcery, was only good on two cards; channel was okay, and probably paved the way for bloodrush. One technological development in the set was a cycle of cards which included the banned Erayo, Soratami Ascendant that change card types when flipped. Previously the mechanic was only seen on creatures and those creatures flipped into different creatures. Like the two preceding sets, Saviors was stuffed with more kitsune, samurai, spirit and arcane cards for the Vorthos and flavor Jennies out there. With that out of the way, let's dig in. What gems await us? What obscure strategies can we explore? What Grixis goodies await in the Sedris, the Traitor King clones deck featured in today's Action segment? Let's find out!
Reverence is a fun bit of board control that sees play in just 277 decks. Unlike Ghostly Prison, there's no tax your opponents can pay to attack you, making this a hot piece of tech if hatebears, tokens, or weenies are popular in your meta. Why use Reverence to prevent small creatures from attacking you when you could just play Wrath of God for four mana instead? Because if creatures can't attack you, they're incentivized to swing at someone else, of course!
Queen Marchesa plays this card the most at 19 decks. This card is good for commanders like Crovax, Ascendant Hero and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, since any creatures that survive the -N/-N abilities probably won't be able to attack you. Baird, Steward of Argive is the newest card with this sort of ability. It might be fun (for you, and not so much for your opponents) to build a mono-white pillow fort deck that includes Reverence.
Descendant of Soramaro is a pretty decent card filter that sees play in 274 decks. Obviously an effect that scries is generally going to be stronger than looking at and rearranging the top X cards, but once X hits maybe five or more the effect is powerful enough that you shouldn't care so much about bottoming bad cards. Soothsaying and Sensei's Divining Top are similar effects, but Descendent has the capability of digging deeper than Top, and Soothsaying takes a lot of mana to dig in very deep.
Azami, Lady of Scrolls plays this card the most at 55 decks for that sweet, sweet wizard tribal synergy. The nice thing about Descendant of Soramaro is that his activated ability doesn't require a tap, so Azami can tap him to draw a card, and still use his card filtering ability. Any commander that likes to draw lots of cards and has a surplus of mana lying about—i.e. any Simic commander ever—will be able to put this card to good use. Try it out with the new Tatyova, Benthic Druid from Dominaria.
Ideas Unbound is a really sick card draw spell for just two blue mana that sees play in a mere 401 decks. If you're a fan of Faithless Looting or Frantic Search, you might want to try this out. Drawing three cards, and then discarding three cards is a good effect on its own, but Ideas Unbound doesn't have you discard the cards until the end of your turn. If you're able to play your whole hand out, then you don't have to discard anything! Or, maybe, you hold on to one or two cards that you want in your graveyard and put them there for free. By comparison, Divination sees play in 2,259 decks, and Divination is terrible, drawing you one card fewer and costing one mana more.
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, who generally likes filling up the graveyard, plays this card the most at 26 decks. Kess, Dissident Mage and Dralnu, Lich Lord are some other good candidates for Ideas Unbound, as they both recycle spells from the graveyard. Naru Meha, Master Wizard might not mind running this, copying it, and drawing six cards, though six mana and two cards for the effect might be a bit much.
Shifting Borders is an instant version of Political Trickery sees play in 294 decks. Dana Roach has been converting me to include more targeted land destruction in Commander. With Ixalan block came an influx of sweet lands like Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun and Sanctum of the Sun, and you can't just let your opponents control that kind of power. Ghost Quarter and friends have been finding their way into more and more of my decks. And then I found this card. And I realized something. I don't want to destroy that sweet land my opponent has. I want to control that land. Wouldn't you?
Zedruu the Greathearted, who loves trading permanents, plays this card the most at 209 decks. However, I think a lot of regular old Blue/x decks should start getting in on the goods too. Think about Baral, Chief of Compliance stealing a flipped Primal Wellspring, Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive stealing Spires of Orazca or Lazav, Dimir Mastermind stealing a Cabal Stronghold. This card only gets better as time goes on.
Footsteps of the Goryo is a pretty decent reanimation effect that sees play in 281 decks. Plenty of these effects force you to exile a creature reanimated this was at the end of the turn. With this card, you will have to sacrifice the creature at the end of the turn, but is that really a problem when you're essentially flashing back Craterhoof Behemoth, Deadeye Navigator, or Utvara Hellkite? And hey, maybe you're running Grave Pact effects to get a little extra value out of this card.
Gonti, Lord of Luxury who wants to enter the battlefield a bunch of times, plays this card the most at 43 decks. Meren of Clan Nel Toth, Sheoldred, Whispering One, and Athreos, God of Passage are all good commanders for this sort of effect, as sacrificing the creature at the end of the turn isn't generally a big downside to any of them. Whisper, Blood Liturgist from Dominaria is another commander who might be able to make this card shine in the 99.
Pain's Reward is a mini auction game for card advantage that sees play in 310 decks. Letting an opponent win the bid and then dropping a Wound Reflection or Havoc Festival can be back-breaking if it doesn't cause that opponent to outright lose the game. You could cast this and then drop and sac a Children of Korlis or Tainted Sigil to get all that life back. And of course, some life gain decks just don't care what they have to pay because they have too much life all the time anyway. There are a lot of interesting angles to take with this card.
Suffering from Same Block Syndrome, Seizan, Perverter of Truth plays this card the most at 24 decks. I think this is best in an Orzhov or Esper deck where you often just have more life than you know what to do with. Throw this in Karlov of the Ghost Council, Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim or *shudder* Oloro, Ageless Ascetic—if you can bring yourself to play Oloro, you monster. This card is the Divination you should be playing.
Kuon, Ogre Ascendant is a cheaper The Abyss-like effect that trades CMC for a little bit of extra set up that sees play in 289 decks. Triple black is very taxing on a mana base, so I probably wouldn't run this outside of mono-black or maaaaaaybe two-color, unless I had a Plan B(lack)TM. Black isn't great about recovering enchantments like Dictate of Erebos, but it is good at reanimating creatures. Using Victimize, Whisper, Blood Liturgist, or a flashbacked Dread Return to reanimate this can bring it back and flip it in a jiffy. Run this in conjunction with actual Sheoldred and/or Dawn of the Dead to mitigate your downside.
Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder who makes thrulls whenever you cast a creature, plays this card the most at 63 decks. As mentioned above, this card is going to be great in Whisper, Blood Liturgist and Sheoldred, Whispering One decks, because can you ever really get enough value? (You can't.) Ghoulcaller Gisa and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet are some other great picks, as their abilities help you flip Kuon, and give you extra bodies to feed to his essence.
Thoughts of Ruin is a pretty powerful mass land destruction (MLD) effect that sees play in 205 decks. Notably this card forces a sacrifice, so it gets around cards like Heroic Intervetion and Boros Charm. Though, if you really want to clear the board with this card, you probably can't run it in mono-red as Red doesn't usually have the most cards at the table. Rakdos, Gruul and Izzet colors all enable you to fill your hand and detonate those lands.
Zo-Zu the Punisher, who interacts with lands more than most other mono-red commanders, plays this card the most at 32 decks. This is an extra MLD spell for the Kaalia of the Vast decks of the world. It's also very playable in R/G decks now that green has so many ways to recur binned lands. Commanders like Omnath, Locus of Rage, or even Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis might have a place for a card like this. Neheb, the Eternal and Grand Warlord Radha seem like great commanders for this card, as they can keep going without lands once they hit a critical mass of either creatures or damage.
Hidetsugu's Second Rite is an oddball finisher spell that sees play in 93 decks. This card is something that Jennies and Johnnies who built around cards like Triskaidekaphobia, Axis of Mortality, or Tree of Perdition should enjoy. Cards like Forsaken Wastes and Sulfuric Vortex can help keep your opponents in zapping range once they get down there.
Heartless Hidetsugu, who specializes in halving life totals, plays this card the most at 41 decks. Mogis, God of Slaughter, Neheb, the Eternal, and Kaervek, the Merciless also keep your opponents' life totals tight, allowing you to hit someone with a surprise killing strike. This card is almost certainly hilarious in Firesong and Sunspeaker.
This week I'm showing off my Sedris, the Traitor King clones deck to highlight some self-discard effects. Geier Reach Sanitarium, Faithless Looting, Ideas Unbound, and Frantic Search are all stars, helping to cycle through the deck, picking up ramp and gas, while discarding big creatures for later use. The Clone effect cards are the secret sauce of this deck, though. Clones keep the deck flexible, allowing you to steal an opponent's strong strategy, or copy your own nasty creatures because one is never enough. Notably, copying Kokusho, the Evening Star will force you to sacrifice one to the legend rule, which is actually something we want to do, since draining the table out is one of the main wincons.