February 13, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 3.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
The card name “Hero’s Downfall” kind of sounds like it should be cheaper when cast on a legendary creature, or something of that type. But I suppose that any creature can be a hero in the right circumstances, and planeswalkers are certainly the most exceptional beings in the multiverse. While this spell didn’t win (and won’t be winning) any awards for being spectacular or breaking new design ground, it’s exactly the kind of spell you need to have around in modern Magic. It’s reasonably cost-efficient, flexible, and universal in what it hits. When you just need something off the table now, there are few better options.
Simple, elegant, and powerful, Hero’s Downfall is a flexible kill spell that helped contribute to Mono-Black Devotion’s powerful position in Theros Standard. Three mana is a reasonable price to pay for instant speed and flexibility; it’s one mana more than Dreadbore, but Dreadbore is a two-color sorcery spell (and thus not always better). It’s not particularly intricate, but it’s a powerful tool in black decks, and it has a home in Pioneer and a small foothold in Modern for being a flexible, efficient version of an effect black loves to have.
Hello everyone and welcome back to Pojo’s Card of the Day, today we’re looking back to the past and we have a juicy rare that appeared in the first Theros set, Hero’s Downfall.
Now at the time Planeswalkers were very powerful and it was a difficult question as to what color could answer them specifically. White had the option of Oblivion Ring as a cure-all to any permanent, Dreadbore had come the set before which targeted Creatures or Planeswalkers as well, but that was in Red Black. Abrupt Decay could hit any non-land permanent 3 or less, and Maelstrom Pulse would hit any non-land permanent. So when this card came about it was a firm flag in Black’s color pie. Black would be the color that dealt with Planeswalkers and this card would start the tradition that it has followed since.
The card is simple in it’s design but the flexibility is key, being able to hit a creature or a planeswalker means that it will almost never be a dead card in your arsenal, instant speed is also pretty awesome. You may recognize a variant of this card in the form of Murderous Rider, who taxes you for 2 life but in a lot of ways is superior to this card due to it being able to become a creature in addition to it’s cast.
So let’s dig a bit deeper as to where this card functions.
In Constructed, it is unfortunately outclassed right now by Murderous Rider, but that is to be expected as the Adventure mechanic is one of the most powerful abilities that WotC has created in years. It can function in spots 5 through 8 if you really want to hit everything and anything in your path but I could see this as more conservative spell in the UB/x builds where 2 life can be a bit too much of a cost to bear.
In Limited, if you’re playing Theros Draft, this is definitely first pickable. There are a lot of big ol’ bombs in Theros and this is able to hit most of them, and one of them in particular, Elspeth, is a game-ender unless you can deal with her that turn.
In Commander and Multiplayer this is okay at best, it is going to hit a lot of threats and the mana cost isn’t directly prohibitive, but 1 for 1 isn’t always the best when you have a format that demands direct advantage for each spell, especially in a multiplayer pod.
In Cube this thing is still a star, sure it contends with Murderous Rider, but after that it’s the top of the heap for these kinds of spells (Ruinous Path, and Never // Return are both Sorcery Speed).
Constructed 3.5/5 – It’s currently outclassed by Murderous Rider but it’s a strong enough spell that it can see play again.
Commander 2/5 – There’s more valuable ways to get rid of Planeswalkers that also provide an advantage.
Limited 4/5 – While BREAD demands a bomb before this card, passing a way to hit a Planeswalker would be a mistake in a format where answers are few and far between.
Cube 4/5 – It’s a solid pick, not first pickable but you need ways to react in Cube and this is a great card that answers multiple threats and will never be in your sideboard. Unless you cut black.
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