Appetite for Brains
– Avacyn Restored
Date Reviewed: October 31, 2018
Commander [EDH]: 3.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Appetite for Brains is one of many variants of Duress and Thoughtseize with conditions of some type, and it’s one of the stronger variants, with its only restriction being converted mana cost and no additional payments. You won’t always see it in competitive decks for Modern and other formats, because many competitive decks skew towards the fast side of the spectrum and taking cheap cards is often sufficient (cf. Inquisition of Kozilek). However, there are certain matchups where casting it early can be just as devastating as its more expensive cousins: note, for example, that the key parts of reanimator decks often have converted mana costs of four or higher. Black was not very strong in Avacyn Restored limited, but this card is stronger there than others of its color, as there are a lot of mid- and high-cost finishers and game-changers like Wolfir Silverheart and Deadeye Navigator.
Om nom nom, and stuff. Appetite for Brains is the mirrored counterpart to Inquisition of Kozilek; where the Rise of the Eldrazi uncommon looked for cheap cards, this one looks for expensive ones. Notably, Appetite for Brains puts them into exile, which provides a nice out to recursive threats, Eldrazi titans, or whatever may impede you.
The issue is simple: for the most part, you want to be removing the cheaper threats or having the option to remove any threat. Which is why Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize are multi-format all-stars: it holds your opponent in check early or whenever you need it to happen. Appetite for Brains can rip away their big bomb, but the risk of it whiffing isn’t great, and it does little to help you in the early game.
I can see a world where this carries its weight; exile is potent, and a lot of decks do go to 4 mana (or higher) for their threats. But the weakness of this card is that it rarely keeps your opponents from going off when you’re most vulnerable, and there will be the decks where this spell is a dead card.
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