– Betrayers of Kamigawa
December 14, 2017
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
In the past year or two, I have mostly lived under the internet equivalent of a rock when it comes to Modern. Hearing of Goryo’s Vengeance as a major combo card in that format was thus a major surprise to me, as the last I heard of it before that was as a component in Kamigawa Standard’s Gifts Ungiven decks. You would use Gifts Ungiven to put creatures in your graveyard, preferably the legendary dragons like Yosei and Kokusho, put them into play with Goryo’s Vengeance, and ideally sacrifice them to activate Greater Good before they could be exiled at the end of your turn. Nowadays, of course, competitive Modern uses the likes of Griselbrand; Greater Gifts looks downright merciful compared to him. It’s the sort of card that’s as powerful or unfair as you make it, although given its reputation, it’s often hard to imagine it outside a deck with a heavy graveyard focus. It might be a little underwhelming anyway if its only value is getting a second attack out of a random legend.
So is Goryo a character or a race? Anyways “Goryo’s Vengeance” has “Johnny” written all over it. To get this card working you will first need a way to put cards into your graveyard such as discarding or “Entomb”. Secondly you need a powerful target to ressurect such as “Griselbrand”, preferably not Phage. Bam, 14 life difference on turn 2. This is the part where I make fun of “Kodama’s Reach” and just how useless Splice Into Arcane is… except this card has crazy synergy with “Through the Breach.” The consistent printing of graveyard disruption slightly neuters this card though. Remember, if your commander dies you can choose to leave it in the graveyard. This way you can get an easy second cast. By itself “Goryo’s Vengeance” is a fun surprise but it can construct a deck that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
Goryo’s Vengeance: the linchpin of a specific deck in Modern, the infamous “Grishoalbrand Reanimator” deck. A two mana Griselbrand, it turns out, is decently powerful.
Part of the Kamigawa block was the focus on legendary permanents, and this is probably one of the most powerful tools to pair with them. An instant-speed reanimate, even if just for one turn, is very brutal, and there are plenty of legendary creatures that can benefit from it. It’s a key to one of Modern’s glass-cannon combo decks, a formidable force that can theoretically pull out a turn 2 kill if given the ability to do so.
While Splice onto Arcane, and the Arcane subtype, are hardly relevant to this card, they aren’t completely useless, and being able to reuse this effect makes it even more threatening. Unfortunately, Arcane constrains the ability for it to get a reprint, since it hasn’t shown up since Kamigawa (outside of being a small subtheme in Modern Masters); these factors make Goryo’s Vengeance the most expensive card in Betrayers of Kamigawa, and its expense and scarcity make it a major chokepoint for Grishoalbrand (along with the prevalence of graveyard hate).
We would love more volunteers to help us with our Magic the Gathering Card of the Day reviews. If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email. We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc. 😉