Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
– Battle for Zendikar
May 9, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
“One omen is best of all – to fight for your country. What have you to be afraid of in battle and fighting?”
Gideon, Champion of Justice may be the least powerful portrayal of the breaker of battle lines, but this one may well be the most underrated. I think I once read a description of planeswalkers as being “X-for-1 [in card advantage], where X is the number of turns they stay in play”. Ally of Zendikar’s 0 loyalty ability is way more than that. Most Ally cards, from either Zendikar block, are scary enough when they can only be triggered by Allies that actually cost mana. Even in non-tribal decks, the endless stream of creatures will overwhelm a lot of people sooner or later. And if even that somehow doesn’t work, his +1 lets him strike almost as hard as his original card.
Even just using his emblem ability immediately is more dangerous than it sounds. A Glorious Anthem analogue that can’t be Disenchanted makes the smallest follow-up creatures into stronger threats. Plus, in formats with a playset of four, you can follow it up with another Ally of Zendikar on your next turn, and have Gideon boost your Gideon so you can Gideon while you Gideon.
While Battle for Zendikar was an underwhelming set, Gideon was not underwhelming. He was the set’s “chase card” for a good while, and he was easily one of Standard’s dominant forces.
Let’s start with his ultimate, which conveniently pops at -4: all your creatures get +1/+1 for the rest of the game. This is huge, you could say; even if it’s the only thing Gideon does, you’re buffing your entire team for the rest of the game, from the lowly tokens to the great beasts. That alone is a massive threat, one that’s incredibly hard to respond to.
His other abilities are nice, as well. His +1 makes him a creature…a 5/5 that’s really only going to get popped by exiling effects. And his 0 makes a token to block. Of note is that Gideon and his token are both Ally creatures, a well-supported creature subset from both Zendikar blocks. He can protect himself, swing big, make everything bigger, and trigger synergies…no wonder he was so good.
Gideon may not be as dominant now that he’s out of Standard, but he still represents a massive threat and a clock in and of himself.
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