Claim the Firstborn
– Throne of Eldraine
October 25, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 2.38
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I fyrtio veckor på åttonde år,
Allt under den linden så grön;
så länge ska du med det barnet gå!
For forty weeks in eight years,
All under the linden so green;
So long shall you with that child go!
— “Den förtrollade barnaföderskan” (The Enchanted Midwife),
Swedish folk song
Like many faerie bargains, Claim the Firstborn reads very interesting but has hidden dimensions to it. For an Act of Treason effect to cost this little, it would have to have a serious restriction like this one. You can’t get the kind of attack triggers you sometimes see on big creatures, or combine it with a sacrifice effect to kill some kind of huge creature the way you sometimes do with the effect. But as you move into older formats where the average cost of creatures gets cheaper, it gets kind of interesting. Death’s Shadow, for example, is a prominent card in Modern, and it’s well within the range of what this card can take. Phyrexian Dreadnought shows up occasionally in Legacy. And right now someone, somewhere is probably stealing Marit Lage with it and winning a game they had no right to. It’s not as strong a way of dealing with them as outright stealing them, but some decks may have little other recourse against cards like that.
I have no idea how that third one is justified lore-wise, but hey, it’s earth magic – as the Swedish folk song tells us, you don’t want to mess with things like that.
Claim the Firstborn is a card that’s a bit intriguing; while it’s a variation on an effect that often is a bit underpowered in Constructed formats, it has a real chance of doing work here through it being 1 mana. It only hits small creatures, but that’s a fair downside, and it is decently positioned in formats like Modern (which tend to run creatures fairly low on the mana curve to begin with)…and with threats like Death’s Shadow, stealing them for a turn can be a pretty potent trick. I think it’s not a good mainboard card; even at 1 mana, it can pretty easily whiff against a subset of decks. But there are decks where this will be a house, and I think it has a good amount to offer overall.
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