Ankh of Mishra – Alpha
Date Reviewed: November 24, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 3.50
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Ankh of Mishra is a curious relic of Magic’s very earliest days. Based on how Mishra was portrayed in later sets, he doesn’t seem like the sort of person who would have used a magic ankh. But the simple fact that it pre-dates Antiquities might imply that they already had an idea of some of the characters and stories that were coming up . . . unless they simply chose names from popular cards to expand on, as people sometimes do. I am not sure which way it went, and have not been able to find much information to help decide.
This card seems like a prison card, designed to stop things from happening (or at least discourage them). In practice, it tends to be used more in burn decks, where you turn their attempts to turn things around by accelerating or playing bigger spells into even more damage. You see it doing that in Premodern, and occasionally in Legacy, though I don’t think it’s as big in that latter format as it used to be – there are decks that don’t really need lands, and don’t really need life totals either. But it will still do a lot of damage to people who aren’t prepared for it, and it’s very hard for a lot of decks to interact with.
Limited: 3 (though it hasn’t been in core sets since Sixth Edition; was that drafted much?)
Multiplayer: 3 (be ready to become a target)
Commander [EDH]: 3.5 (burn decks need all the help they can get here)
A classic reference that only hinted at things to come, Ankh of Mishra is a simple enough punisher card meant to put the screws in to an opponent, and an early Ankh is surprisingly good at pushing damage out. Decks need to play lands more often than not, and the two damage a turn (or more, if fetchlands enter the equation) adds up very quickly. It’s definitely a card you need to put out as soon as possible, because it does little to punish an established opponent, but it’s definitely a fun tool that can make opponents panic nicely.
Of note, while Ankh of Mishra was (by my count) last reprinted in Sixth Edition, it did have a successor in the form of Zo-Zu the Punisher, who adds his own unique spin on things.
Constructed: 3 (hasn’t been a Legacy staple, but I could see it doing damage in some kind of low, to-the-ground burn deck)
Casual: 3 (there are two kinds of people: the ones who won’t care, and the ones who will focus you down for playing this)
Limited: 3.25 (not awful, but decks are oddly optimized in Limited, and this is symmetrical)
Commander [EDH]: 3.5
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