Embercleave – Throne of Eldraine
Date Reviewed: August 19, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Wrought by a queen for the hand of the chosen,
From fishscale and currents, and winter’s reply.
Brought from the deep by a prophet who knows
In the arms of the water again it will lie . . .
— Heather Dale
It wouldn’t be an Arthurian set without a sword that brings victory, swift and bloody; and it’ll be a very different Standard environment once Embercleave is no longer part of it. In a deck with enough cheap attackers, it comes online very quickly, and granting both double strike and trample is no joke. It makes even small creatures hard to deal with, and mid-sized ones into instantly-lethal threats. It’s the sort of card you can’t afford to ignore, but saving your answers to deal with it can expose you to other problems (eg. holding up instant-speed removal rather than casting spells). And on top of all that, it’s sure to remain a hit in larger casual formats too, as everything from the Mirrodin sets to Modern Horizons 2 still form the basis of artifact- and equipment-heavy decks.
While it evaded review on release, Embercleave isn’t going to make it through Standard completely unnoticed, even if it has but a month left to cleave through the format! Out of the five mythic artifacts from Throne of Eldraine, this one has earned a pedigree as the most-played one; while The Great Henge goes for more, this one is certainly the one that ends games the fastest.
Like the others, Embercleave has a cost-reduction trigger, but this one is attacking creatures…and it bypasses the usual Equipment downside by immediately attaching to something on entry. The stat boost isn’t massive, but double strike and trample make it very thorny to try and beat, and flash ensures you can bring in Embercleave to force the most favorable trades. It offers enough to make the creature a massive threat, and it’s been a ubiquitous part of red-containing decks for the last two years.
Six mana does make this a bit trickier to use if you’re not aiming to swarm an opponent, and while it’s not prohibitive to re-equip the sword, you probably want to make this count when it comes in. It’s been quite a potent part of Standard for its entire run, and while it might not have the brightest prospects in other formats, I suppose Stoneforge Mystic makes many stabulous things look better.
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