Lightning Helix
Lightning Helix

Lightning Helix – Ravnica: City of Guilds

Date Reviewed:  February 15, 2024

Constructed: 4.63
Casual: 5.00
Limited: 4.63
Multiplayer: 3.75
Commander [EDH]: 3.88

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below: 


I read an interesting take on Lightning Bolt recently: that it helps control decks at least as much as the aggro decks it’s supposedly “intended for”. The rationale goes that three damage hits an awful lot of things, and one mana is very easy to keep up (recall the successful histories of Force Spike and Spell Pierce). If that perspective is hard to get your head around, the same statement about Lightning Helix would probably be easier to understand. Three life can help slower decks stabilize, and it adds insult to injury if they use them to take out the aggressive decks’ planeswalker value engines.

But that’s not to say that Lightning Helix is an entirely different type of card than it reads, or that it’s a one-archetype card. Three damage is, after all, three damage, and almost everybody can use that. Three life is just as relevant in aggro mirrors as it is in control and midrange decks. It’s a blunt-looking tool for Boros colors which has an outsized impact on the game state. I’m glad to see Lightning Helix back in Standard again, and even though black removal has gotten shockingly better even compared to when that Doom Blade Guy Twitter account was active, this is still an elite-tier card.

Constructed: 4.5
Casual: 5
Limited: 4.5
Multiplayer: 4
Commander [EDH]: 4

 James H. 


Hailing all the way from Ravnica: City of Guilds, Lightning Helix is one of those simple cards that’s beautifully elegant in both how it’s designed and how it plays out. It’s two spells (Lightning Bolt and Healing Salve) stapled together, more or less, and it turns out that that’s more than enough to see play (and a lot of it). Three damage has long been that sort of “magic number” in terms of killing things dead, and the life gain stapled to an already good effect helps a lot more than it might appear initially. It doesn’t look special, but it plays far better than it reads, and it’s held up surprisingly well over nearly two decades of play.

Speaking of which, this actually is the first time since the original Ravnica block that Lightning Helix has returned to Standard; in the past, it’s been considered too good a tempo swing in various formats. While I’m not too dialed in to how Standard looks, I imagine Lightning Helix will probably be a decent contributor overall. Maybe it won’t prove to be enough of a handful to be kicked out of Standard for two decades after this, but who knows?

Constructed: 4.75
Casual: 5
Limited: 4.75
Multiplayer: 3.5
Commander [EDH]: 3.75

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