Cease / Desist – Murders at Karlov Manor
Date Reviewed: February 13, 2024
Commander [EDH]: 3.5
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
While they first appeared in Invasion, split cards have gone on to be a pretty consistent feature of sets set in Ravnica, and this set is no different, featuring a quintet of uncommons centered around one color. Split cards have always been useful to a degree because of their role compression; if you have one mode that’s usually useful, and one that can be useful more specifically, then it’s a solid deal.
Cease is the half that’s more generally useful, an instant-speed graveyard hate spell that also cantrips and gains a bit of life. The sum of these effects is what makes it useful, and it being, at worst, a two-mana cantrip is actually really good. Desist is the more “specific” spell, but it’s a nice alternate mode that lets you have a mass removal spell for artifacts and enchantments that won’t sit dead in your hand if your opponent lacks those.
This spell is an interesting one; nothing it does is amazing, but it does what it sets out to do solidly enough and without being an egregious overpay in either mode. I do think that you’ll likely only want to play this if you’re centered in green, since I’m not enamored with needing to match colors if you’re in Orzhov colors alone, but it is an option there, and this sort of sums up the strengths of split cards in one neat package.
Constructed: 4 (a decent bit-player)
Commander [EDH]: 3.5 (you need to be in Abzan to run this, which does hurt its flexibility a bit, but mass artifact/enchantment removal is rarely bad)
This is another style of crazy mana costs that can be hard to parse; here, though, it’s expressing two different concepts aligned with specific guilds. It’s also notable that you can cast both sides with only green mana – that seems like it might come up, particularly in 60-card constructed. Either side is actually very useful, dealing with things that sometimes (often, in the case of Cease) have to be addressed urgently and doing so very elegantly. Unfortunately, the mana flexibility doesn’t apply so much in Commander, but other formats may well find they appreciate it very much: this is a split card that really lives up to the promise of having two Magic cards combined in one, with the attendant impact on saving deck space.
Commander [EDH]: 3.5
We would love more volunteers to help us with our Magic the Gathering Card of the Day reviews. If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email. We would be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc. 😉