– Dark Ascension
July 18, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 3.50
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I really like how Grafdigger’s Cage literally does exactly what its art shows it doing. I also really like how effective it is against its targeted strategies, and how elegantly it does what it does. There are decks that literally can’t beat certain reanimator strategies without it, and so it’s good that it exists. It may not be very exciting or sexy, but it is necessary. While it doesn’t stop everything – abilities like Genesis that work in the graveyard can still be used, for example – it gives decks a fighting chance against anyone who wants to use their graveyard to cheat something ridiculous into play.
Speaking of the art, you may be aware that it’s based on a real thing. In the Middle Ages, some people actually put cages of this type around coffins in graves, because they feared the deceased rising as a vampire or revenant. The practice is a testament to how little humans understand death and other of the the biggest things in the universe (they still understand them poorly, to be honest!).
A specific hate card, but a welcome one, Grafdigger’s Cage is a way to impede graveyard shenanigans and slow down effects like Collected Company. It’s a cheap, flexibly-costed artifact that does a good job of hosing a number of decks, and while it is fragile, it’s a good failsafe option for Modern and Legacy (formats where shenanigans are, indeed, the norm more than the exception). It isn’t a bad choice in Standard, either, with Arclight Phoenix swooping hither and thither, and it does impede jump-start decks somewhat. It will never be the star of a deck, but it is a good card to have for when the format calls for some extra answers.
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