– Ultimate Masters
December 12, 2018
Commander [EDH]: 3.50
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
That is not dead which can eternal lie,
Dark Depths is a great example of a card that is fair or even poor when viewed in a vacuum; perhaps the quintessential example, since it is much too slow to make much of an impact outside of combos that remove all ten ice counters at once. The alternative is generating a whole lot of mana, which is fragile and possible to disrupt. Braid of Fire, also from Coldsnap, is a decent option, but Standard and Extended had too much land destruction to make it competitive before the release of Zendikar and Vampire Hexmage. Nowadays, anyone who sees it on your side of the table will probably assume you’re about to do something unfair with it, so plan accordingly.
As an aside, Magic’s lore has yet to reveal who or what Marit Lage actually is. Considering that the Great Old Ones and their heralds are known to exist canonically in worlds as diverse as Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age and Paizo Publishing’s Golarion setting, I would exercise caution here . . .
From “junk rare” to “highly sought-after combo piece” in the space of one set. And it’s gotten even better since then.
Dark Depths was, on release, seen as a junk rare; it doesn’t tap for mana, it’s exceedingly slow (30 mana to crack it!), and the payoff (a 20/20 that is resistant to removal) is really not worth the fact that you are likely to have met with an unfortunate death experience before then. It was weird and janky…and, honestly, not very good. It did have one piece it paired with…Aether Snap, a weird and obscure Darksteel rare that didn’t do a whole lot besides.
And then Zendikar brought us Vampire Hexmage, which makes for a potential turn three kill. How times have changed. The kill is simple as can be: play Dark Depths and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth on turns 1 and 2, cast Vampire Hexmage, use Vampire Hexmage’s activated ability to pull off all 10 ice counters, and revel in your tentacled abomination. The thing is that Hexmage is good on its own, a 2/1 with first strike being very efficient (and its ability proving a good countermeasure to planeswalkers).
Since then, Thespian’s Stage has also emerged as another combo piece with Dark Depths, taking advantage of the legendary rule to make more tentacles. Dark Depths has proven to be a potentially degenerate weapon in the hands of those who are enterprising enough, and it’s banned from Modern for good reason.
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’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc. 😉
Visit the Magic Card of the Day Archive! Click here to read over 4,000 more MTG Cards of the Day! Daily Since 2001.