Karn, the Great Creator
– War of the Spark
May 21, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Karn, the Great Creator is one of the cards from War of the Spark that has gotten the most attention, and a lot of it is due to that passive ability. Null Rod and Stony Silence are sideboard staples in the formats they’re legal in, and Karn offers a one-sided version of that effect for a quite reasonable four mana. It’s more expensive than the predecessors, but it makes up for it by doing more things. And more dangerous things, at that.
By and large, Karn’s +1 isn’t great. It’s a nice callback to the original Karn (pre-planeswalker), and it can do fun things like kill Moxen dead. For the most part, though, it’s not great and really needs synergies to take advantage of it. (A lot of artifacts you’re casting before Karn are on the cheaper side.)
His -2 is where things get crazy, and it’s where the card really shines. That -2 allows you to tutor an artifact out of exile…or from outside the game. In particular, there are a couple of artifacts that synergize well with that lock effect of the Great Creator; namely, Mycosynth Lattice. Mycosynth Lattice turns permanents into artifacts…which includes lands, and there is not a non-land clause on Karn. So there’s that! Trinisphere and other lock artifacts are also great, and being able to fish an artifact out of exile is pretty nice besides.
So, yeah. Karn is pretty scary in deeper formats, but Standard can be a fun place for him if the right tools come around. He’s definitely one of the chase cards of the set, and for good reason.
I feel like this version of Karn wouldn’t have been out of place in Dominaria, considering how effectively it acts as a tribute to his past cards – much more so than his first planeswalker card from New Phyrexia, and arguably more so than Scion of Urza. For example, his +1 is simply an encore of Karn, Silver Golem’s activated ability, which is cool in casual decks (try it on Akroma’s Memorial!) and even has pedigree in high-level play. People used to use it to destroy opposing Moxes by turning them into 0/0 creatures, and Modern has cards like Chrome Mox and artifact lands to target. His “wish” ability is great for fun decks, making combos like Darksteel Reactor even harder to stop, and could make an impact on tournaments considering how many artifacts have found a calling as sideboard cards.
Of course, Null Rod was one of the components of the Legacy Weapon which Karn shepherded for many centuries, and I suspect that some decks might even be tempted to use him just for his static ability that calls back to it. Turning off a herd of Arcbound Ravagers or a manabase made of artifact lands is probably worth about four mana in itself, much less when it comes with other abilities the way Karn does.
I wonder what’s going to happen if people decide that Karn, the Great Creator goes well in decks with a lot of artifacts, and that one way to fight him is . . . playing him yourself. After all, the planeswalker uniqueness rule has allowed each player to control exactly one planeswalker with the same name for a few years now. It’s basically Magic’s version of the meme with the two Spider-Men pointing at each other.
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