Defense of the Heart
– Mystery Booster
March 26, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 4.88
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
In addition to having one of my favorite card names in all of Magic, Defense of the Heart probably would have been a Story Spotlight, if Urza’s Legacy had had those. We see Urza being confronted by Multani at the Heart of Yavimaya; the part we don’t see is the innovative tactic Multani and the forest used, namely sealing Urza inside a living tree for years. During this time, he dreamed of Argoth’s destruction and felt the forests’ pain, and came to understand the consequences of his past actions.
While Defense of the Heart is a little slow for competitive formats, it is often an effective warning sign in more casual settings. Even in 1v1 games, where the right play will often be to attack regardless, it induces fear in opponents because they don’t know exactly what is coming. With no restrictions on color or creature type, you could pull out anything from Blazing Archon to Caldera Hellion to Akroma to Griselbrand, or an instant-win combination like the new Heliod card and a Walking Ballista. That kind of mind game will sometimes give you a winning edge, even without you having to do anything else.
It’s also worth noting how effectively it foreshadowed the recent popularity of Commander, by talking about opponents in the plural. Not only does that give you more chances to get your favorite creatures into play without paying their mana cost, but it might also win you some friends when you stop the guy with the token deck from running away with the game. Or it might get you some enemies when the guy with the token deck realizes what you’re doing and convinces someone else they’re next. You take the good with the bad sometimes.
Defense of the Heart is arguably, at its core, a “fairer” Oath of Druids. Of course, a fairer version of a broken card still has room to itself be broken, and Defense of the Heart is a good way to say “I win” against decks with creatures. If you resolve Defense of the Heart against a deck with a lot of creatures in-play already, you’re likely going to get it to pop immediately; three creatures is usually a lot less than it sounds like, and you can often get the pair of creatures best-suited to bring the game to an inglorious end, like Craterhoof Behemoth and another friend or Mikaeus, the Unhallowed with a pinger.
Defense of the Heart is powerful, but not without its weaknesses, as it pops during your upkeep and can be played around. If an opponent doesn’t already have three creatures, they’re going to try and keep you from seeing the effect resolve. While it’s definitely too slow for Legacy, as relying on a four-mana enchantment to resolve and survive is rarely an optimal gameplan, it’s a beloved Commander card for its ability to end games in short order.
Constructed: 2.5 (if you can get it to pop, it’s back-breaking, but good luck)
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