September 26, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 3.88
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Archmage Ascension and the other quests were an interesting mechanic, effectively creating a game within a game as you tried to get them active and your opponent tried to prevent it if they could. It’s quite hard for a lot of decks to stop you from working towards this particular quest – they’ll probably need their own blue cards, or else something like Spirit of the Labyrinth – and the payoff is having a deck that basically runs perfectly at all times. Of course, if you’ve drawn that many extra cards, you are probably far enough ahead that you don’t need any more tutor effects, and competitive decks might not like the risk of getting their tutor capability Disenchanted (or worse, Disenchanted the turn before it comes online). I can see possible uses for it in casual settings; I’ve never tried its interaction with proliferate, for one thing, and that might add a new dimension to the whole scenario.
One of the beloved features of the original Zendikar block was the various “quest” cards, where you got exciting things to happen if you did Things. Archmage Ascension is a very powerful quest effect: six quest counters enables you to turn every draw into an unconditional tutor effect. That is, to say the least, nuts. And it’s every draw, not just the first one in a turn; if you get this turned on, you’re in good shape.
Getting it turned on is, of course, the challenge. You need to draw at least two cards over at least six discrete turns to do so. Blue is the color of card draw, but this is an effect you have to go out of your way to start powering up, either through looter effects or through other incidentals. Until this comes online, it’s a three-mana enchantment that does nothing; at least it’s not actively harmful, and it’s not like getting it online is actively bad gameplay.
The question is if Archmage Ascension is “worth” it. In most cases, probably not quite; it takes a long time and a fair amount of effort to bring online, and the effect, while powerful, is only as powerful as the cards alongside it in your deck. Definitely fun, but it’s not the easiest spell to bring online, and it does nothing until you get there.
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