– Dark Ascension
September 10, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 3.67
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
You don’t often see common cards get banned any more. Then again, you don’t often see a common card that provides as much advantage as Faithless Looting does. By itself, it’s not so much literal card advantage, even when it’s cast twice in a game, although it’s worth noting that getting rid of cards that aren’t useful in the current context can be much more helpful than it first sounds. In a properly constructed deck, it sets up much bigger plays as early as the first turn of the game. For certain archetypes, the graveyard is pretty much a second hand, and that’s before you even get into the whole Goryo’s Vengeance issue. It’s also not often historically that we’ve needed to go into red to get this aspect of a combo, and I’m very happy to see the color doing that in modern settings – not that I’m happy they felt the need to ban a card, but rather that we’re getting a more diverse range of abilities. (You can really see the difference if you go back and look at Block Constructed decks from Onslaught and Mirrodin, much less a format like Kamigawa Block Pauper Tiny Leaders.)
Never underestimate the power of card filtering. Faithless Looting is a red version of the Odyssey card Careful Study, albeit upgraded (thanks to flashback). The real value for Modern, though, is that it gets two cards into your graveyard for future use for one red mana…and it also gets you two cards deeper. It’s a very efficient form of card selection, and the graveyard-heavy nature of Modern made it a brutally efficient spell in the format and an enabler for all sorts of shenanigans (Dredge, Hogaak, Arclight Phoenix builds, Reanimator).
The flexibility and efficiency of Faithless Looting is what got the Dark Ascension common banned from Modern. It did a lot for many decks (and flashback made it even better and gave it some late-game reach), and the idea was to ban it to force graveyard decks to look somewhere else for their proverbial engine oil. It doesn’t kill the decks, of course, but Faithless Looting was rather common (heh) in the Modern format across a crazy number of decks.
It’s playable in Legacy, of course, but the format tends to have more pressure-release valves, so I doubt it will be as meaningful to Legacy overall.
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