– Starter 1999
July 9, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 3.67
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I’ve been playing long enough to remember the phrase “Grim Long”, which makes absolutely no sense in a vacuum. It was actually a Vintage deck based on the storm mechanic, and it needed a huge number of tutor effects to reliably win – including the then-obscure Grim Tutor from Starter 1999. Unlike its older cousins, it was never actually restricted; it’s less powerful and flexible in those huger, faster formats, but in decks like Grim Long, it helps reach a critical mass of reliability. It might be a little awkward for tournament decks, not all of which will want to use their whole third turn on just searching. I do expect it to power a lot of casual strategies once more people begin to get their hands on it, and it could have a role in formats like Brawl where build-around cards are naturally limited in number.
On the surface, Grim Tutor is a fairly unremarkable card. It’s a better Diabolic Tutor insofar as it’s one less mana; three life is a fair price to pay as part of a discount, but it’s still fairly inefficient as far as tutoring goes, and there are many cards that outclass it by being cheaper in mana cost. But decks that want consistency often like tutors, and so Grim Tutor fills a niche by being “bad, but still good enough“.
That said, Grim Tutor’s reprinting is one that’s a bit of a welcome surprise: its sole appearance was in the unpopular Starter 1999 beginner’s level product, which was not particularly sought-after until well after the fact for its mechanically-unique spells and creatures. Grim Tutor was thus pushing $200 on the secondary market until its reprint; while mythic keeps the floor higher on this card, any black deck that wants another passable tutoring effect can get one for a reasonable price.
I can’t say with certainty if Grim Tutor is good enough to see play: three mana is a better spot for a tutoring effect, and being able to curve Grim Tutor into a powerful four drop on turn 3 or 4 is a better play than having to grind out to wait for four mana. I could well see it getting some fringe play, but I do not think Grim Tutor is good enough to become a Modern, Pioneer, or Standard staple.
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. 😉