Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
– New Phyrexia
October 30, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 4.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Long before Omnath got banned after a week in Standard, Jin-Gitaxias was already prompting exclamations of disbelief that the designers would actually put certain text on a card. He was probably causing exasperated throwing of cards across rooms, too, because reducing people’s hand sizes to zero makes it so much harder to get him off the table and mount any kind of a game plan or comeback. For a creature so hard to get on the table in normal ways, that’s arguably proportionate, though I will note that he doesn’t actually give his controller a larger hand size and thus requires that they have some way to actually use those cards, be it by casting them or some way to get them back after they discard to hand size. In constructed play, people usually prefer reanimation targets that actually win the game faster than he does, as opposed to just making it difficult for the opponent/s to win. Come to think of it, that’s often more fun in casual play too, but the Praetor has a place somewhere there.
While maybe not as overtly horrifying as zombies, vampires, and lhurgoyfs would be, the New Phyrexia Praetor cycle is far more terrifying from a gameplay perspective than a lot of things in Magic tend to be. A cycle with a weird asymmetry about them and some slight bending to their color pie (outside of Sheoldred, Whispering One), all five Praetors promise to do Very Rude Things once in play.
Jin-Gitaxias hasn’t been reviewed on Pojo in nine years, and while other members of the Praetor cycle have proven themselves in Constructed formats (Elesh Norn, mostly, with Vorinclex and Sheoldred occasionally showing up), Jin-Gitaxias has mostly been confined to casual tables. He’s the most expensive of the cycle, in a color with mediocre ramping prospects, and he combines a mediocre body with no combat abilities and a brutal hand-shredding effect.
While ten mana is expensive, you get a pretty solid return on investment: Jin-Gitaxias usually offers one turn before he tears your opponents’ hands to ribbons (aside from hand-size effects), and seven cards is pretty nice to get from it. He doesn’t give you a bigger hand size, but guaranteeing seven cards is nice. Flash also lets him be used as a very expensive end-of-turn trick to bamboozle your opposition.
He’s a unique card in blue and a powerful effect, but he’s a bit weak for Constructed play; most decks will prefer to cheat in cuter things, and the rest will balk at that 10 mana casting cost. He’s notorious at Commander tables, though, and he’ll likely always do plenty of damage at those.
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