Glimpse the Unthinkable
September 7, 2018
Commander [EDH]: 3.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
You’d think that a card like this would be valued a lot higher by competitive players. Unfortunately, in high-pressure environments, it doesn’t quite do what most decks need: milling might remove threats and/or answers from your opponent’s library pre-emptively and theoretically get you closer to a win by decking or “count-out”, but it doesn’t do anything about whatever they already have on the table or in their hand. The best library-depletion strategies actually focus on effects that are continuous and/or harder to interact with using counterspells (Howling Mine, Ebony Owl Netsuke), exploiting or stealing things from your opponent’s graveyard (Lord of Extinction, Extract from Darkness), or milling yourself (Ire of Kaminari, Golgari Grave-Troll).
As it happens, though, Glimpse the Unthinkable does fit into two of those categories, so it’s a great choice for casual Magic and the occasional outsider tournament deck. As long as your strategy doesn’t rely on it getting lucky and hitting the things your opponent might want to use to stop you, it’s a really efficient card and can change a game’s complexion in one shot when one or more of the decks involved cares about graveyards. It’s also a much more serious threat in formats where deck sizes are smaller and you might actually run out of cards – mill is much more competitive in any kind of draft or Cube, much less Pack Wars / Mini-Master where it’s basically a one-shot kill. (Plus, as seems to be kind of a subtheme this week: Filth Casserole. I’m picturing Glimpse alongside Twincast, maybe Snapcaster Mage . . . time to do some brewing!)
Fun fact: Glimpse the Unthinkable was pushing $40 dollars before its reprint in Iconic Masters! While that may seem absurd for a card that sees pretty much zero competitive play whatsoever, being a very efficient spell in a popular (if not bad) strategy that had not seen a reprint since Ravnica: City of Guilds would do that to you.
And speaking of that, Glimpse the Unthinkable was the most powerful mill card printed to that point. While other spells would be “flashier” (like Traumatize), the sheer efficiency of “2 mana, mill 10” in one card is hard to beat. And it still is! Other cards can do a better rate of return, but this is one of the fastest ways to load up a graveyard.
Mill is not, frankly, more than a fringe competitive strategy. A number of decks have synergies and strategies that play well with cards in their graveyard, and so putting cards into their graveyard risks giving them more things they can do. But in less-cutthroat environments, this spell is fine, and wiping away a massive chunk of an opponent’s deck makes this a limited bomb.
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