Grist, the Hunger Tide – Modern Horizons 2
Date Reviewed: June 25, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
This may surprise you to hear, but I’ve always been confused by phasing. If you’re only familiar with the current version of it, I can tell you that it didn’t used to be handled quite as simply as it is now. For some reason, it would trigger leaves-play abilities (“When this card leaves the battlefield . . .”), but not comes-into-play abilities. Creatures that phased out and then back in wouldn’t have summoning sickness. I’m not sure why, but I had a lot of trouble getting my head around these things. I suppose it just didn’t feel very intuitive to me.
By contrast, Grist’s ability does feel intuitive to me – though perhaps I just like the hilarious rule-bending it enables, like putting her into play with Aether Vial or Unearth. (And since she counts as a creature at literally any time she isn’t in play, it’s technically accurate to say “I pulled an awesome creature from my Modern Horizons 2 booster!” and then show your friends Grist, the Hunger Tide.) Her loyalty abilities are fairly stereotypical Golgari stuff, though I will note that three mana plus sacrificing a creature to destroy any creature or planeswalker is comparable in quality to Abrupt Decay or Maelstrom Pulse, and you have bonus options besides that which play very well with other things in her colors.
I have a feeling there’s going to be somewhat of a mini-competition among decks in the coming year or so to figure out who can design the most advantageous (or just obscure) way of taking advantage of her being a creature when not in play. Might I suggest Living Death?
The third of the Modern Horizons 2 planeswalkers, Grist is a very unusual one because of that passive ability: in addition to being a planeswalker, she’s always counted as a 1/1 Insect creature unless she’s in play. On its own, that opens up some interesting interactions with tutoring effects, cards like Collected Company, and…commander rules, as it turns out. She can serve as your commander by virtue of being a legendary creature while not in play. Ah, loopholes.
Loopholes aside, I’d say Grist is probably the most “powerful” of the three, thanks to playing well in green/black’s proclivity towards self-mill and a suite of abilities geared towards that. She plays best with Insects as a tribe, though can function outside of it; if nothing else, nuking a planeswalker or creature is a good way to spend 3 mana. She can protect herself while gaining loyalty, and her ultimate can be a massive shock to an opponent in a late game. It’s definitely not the main focus of her, but it’s a solid finisher in a pinch.
Grist’s weird interactions are likely to make her a card with a lot of experimentation to see about making her work. I think she’s plenty powerful and strong enough to see play, though how potent she is remains to be debated.
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