Hardened Scales – Double Masters
Date Reviewed: August 22, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 3.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
The difference between putting some number of +1/+1 counters on your creature and putting just one extra is often subtle – sometimes it’s not even enough to really make a difference in the face of your opponents’ cohorts. This can be deceptive – not only does it add up over time, Hardened Scales becomes very spectacular indeed when combined with repeatable or larger-scale effects. Consider not only the Green Affinity decks referred to below, but even something slower like Verdurous Gearhulk or Patron of the Valiant. And costing one mana means that Hardened Scales can come down early and give you enough time to make sure that advantage adds up. Since it doesn’t really affect the table in the absence of other cards or on-table abilities, it’s not for every type of deck, but those that want it will get very good use out of it indeed.
Commander [EDH]: 3/5
Hardened Scales was a card that took a while to really find its footing, but it’s gotten healthy play across all of its formats in the years since Khans of Tarkir. In particular, its interaction with creatures like Arcbound Ravager game it surprising legs in making the metal monstrosity even scarier, forming the backbone of a “Hardened Scales/Green Affinity” deck that still sees Modern play today (albeit with plenty of changes). Costing one mana is definitely a big help, getting around the usual “do nothing enchantment” issue of coming down too late to start having an impact. It’s a card that demands specific pieces to shine, but decks able to milk this for all its worth will find its rate of return remarkable and without ready replacement.
Constructed: 4 (it’s a subtle card at times, but it’s extremely strong when it does shine)
Limited: 2.25 (it’s cheap, but has trouble finding pieces to play with)
Commander [EDH]: 3 (it can shine, but it’s sort of a combo piece that suffers without redundancy, and green is rarely the preferred artifact color for those wanting to replicate Hardened Scales Affinity in Commander)
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