Gideon, Champion of Justice
May 11, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 3.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Gideon, Champion of Justice is arguably the “forgotten” Gideon planeswalker, and for fair reason. He’s unique mechanically, but has a number of issues that keep him from really shining like he should.
His +1 and 0 want to play well together: the +1 buffs his loyalty, and the 0 allows him to jump into the fray anew. But unlike every other Gideon, the Champion of Justice is as strong as the number of loyalty counters on him. Starting as a 4/4 (of course), but likely swinging for the first time as higher than that. This Gideon is likely going to be more swole than the other Gideons in combat, and it only takes a couple of creatures to make him a massive hunk of man to smash in some faces.
The complicating factor is that his +1 really only gets you a lot of loyalty when staring down a large army…and he has no way to affect the board outside of his ultimate, which pops at a painful -15. It’s an extremely powerful ultimate: wipe everything out, leaving nothing but Gideon, but coming in at 4 and having no real protection means that you need to pull off a minor miracle to make Gideon’s ult happen. You also want him to live afterwards, so you need to get him to 16 loyalty for that to happen. He also needs to take a turn off to pump up, leaving him exposed in the meantime.
Gideon 2.0 is an interesting idea with underwhelming execution; his abilities have synergy, but not in a particularly effective way, and he lacks the ability of the other Gideon planeswalkers to protect himself. It’s possible to make him work in the right deck, but he’s weaker than other four-mana Gideons, and it hardly seems worth it as a result.
Champion of Justice is a good example of how a card with abilities that are very powerful in some abstract sene doesn’t always end up getting significant use. He has the standard zero-cost ability which makes him become a creature, but it can make him much stronger than his other incarnations under the right circumstances. He can build up to an Obliterate effect – and a “real” one that also affects lands – given enough time and enough opposing creatures. The problem, of course, is that if your opponent has enough creatures to make him a 15/15, they might well have enough power to knock him back down to a 1/1. And he’ll be at most a 1/1 or 2/2 after you do set off that Obliterate effect. Granted, that will likely be enough (and really you should be conceding if your opponent manages to fire off his -15).
I think there could be a niche for him in multiplayer. You can take advantage of the guy who’s playing Saproling tribal to help Champion of Justice hulk up to some ridiculous power and toughness, and then threaten a third player. Of course, Saproling guy will be even more afraid than usual of his ultimate, and it’ll be hard to make alliances. There’s always the “Gideon tribal” deck, too (Gideon of the Trials’ emblem doesn’t care which version you control to prevent you from losing the game!).
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