Force of Despair
– Modern Horizons
June 18, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 3.67
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
This card is a lawyer’s delight: it’s worded so carefully that it does exactly one specific thing, even by the standards of Doom Blade variants. It is in fact a mass removal spell and doesn’t have a target, and it’s actually quite effective at it. The alternate casting method is arguably less important than for, say, a blue card, as people have a slightly different mindset when it comes to playing around Doom Blade variants, but it will also let people steal a lot of tempo from opponents who cast one or more haste creatures in a turn. Not to mention buying a turn against Vengevine; that doesn’t sound like much, but Vengevine is so hard to stop that you can’t hold it against any card that isn’t entirely effective in such a situation.
An interesting mix of references, Force of Despair, in part, hearkens back to an obscure and, frankly, bad card from Planar Chaos, Cradle to Grave. The former would kill a nonblack creature that came into play that turn, part of a block-long cycle to kill creatures from the past, present, and future.
Force of Despair is already a bit better, even without the alternate casting cost. Three mana to kill every creature that came in that turn, regardless of color…not a bad rate of return. It’s not a perfect answer, but it’s a good way to try and suppress a massive token onslaught (like infinite Squirrels, to give an example) or a very large swing from go-wide strategies. It can also pair well with blink effects on your opponent’s army.
The alternate casting cost is also pretty nice, though how it works makes it more of a defensive tool than an offensive one. But being able to cast it for zero mana is still extremely nice, and it’s a nice option to allow you to get out of a sticky situation if one comes up. Force of Despair seems like an ideal sideboard card; it’s a bit clunky, but not targeting lets it dodge hexproof/protection abilities, and it has a number of things it can play well against.
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