Ashiok, Dream Render
– War of the Spark
May 20, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
You know Modern is in a strange place when we get a new three-mana card that shuts down a variety of commonly-used cards, and people have reservations because they’re not sure it’s fast enough. Still, Ashiok has a lot of potential, and not just because new things for Modern are always just over the horizon. I am always in favor of hosing fetchlands, not to mention how Ashiok disrupts the likes of Neoform, Summoner’s Pact, and Open the Armory; that mana cost also fits easily into an enormous number of decks.
Over on Instagram, I had a discussion recently about how mill is another shadow over the Filth Casserole / 50-card singleton metagame, and Ashiok obviously shines in any format with small deck sizes. That activated ability can be hard to stop if you back it up with disruptive spells, and it even eliminates the downside against decks that can use their own graveyard!
Ashiok 2.0 is quite interesting, a sort of “fix” for the eternal problems of the Mill Deck. The usual downside of milling opponents is that the graveyard is a pretty nice place to store things for later, but Ashiok offers a way to get rid of those things for good with that -1. It even knocks away 4 cards, to boot. This makes Ashiok quite menacing in Limited (since 40-card decks are standard, so an unkilled Ashiok will take away half of their library) and not too bad in 60-card formats. Even in Commander, that exile clause is quite nice, since it leaves your stuff in your graveyard.
Turning off tutoring effects is also okay, though three mana at sorcery speed means it’s usually well-telegraphed and easy to see coming. It’s a good effect at a reasonable price, and while Ashiok is killable, 5 loyalty means they’re not going to immediately leave the premises most times, and you’ll almost always get at least a graveyard exile out of it. By no means is Ashiok a multi-format staple, but they are a house in Limited and pretty okay outside of it.
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