Lightning Rift – Dominaria Remastered
Date Reviewed: January 25, 2023
Commander [EDH]: 3.15
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I remember being on message boards a lot in my college years – not even as much as some people I knew, but more than I probably should have. One of the most infuriating conversations from the late Ravnica: City of Guilds Standard season was about how multicolor was at risk of disappearing because two-color decks were only keeping half their dual lands. This, despite the fact that we had recently seen a red-white cycling-themed deck which had no specifically colored dual lands at all.
The deck in question was powered by the celebrated duo of Astral Slide and today’s card, and since it had approaching twenty cards with cycling, it could be very hard to stop. It drew a lot of cards, and a cheap triggered ability for extra damage adds up fast. Technically, Lightning Rift could even be used as an anti-cycling sideboard card, but it doesn’t deal damage or do much unless people are actively cycling things, so it hasn’t been popular in that role; but you could always use it in something like Two-Headed Giant game. You might have a teammate where every single spell in their deck has cycling and they don’t have to devote space to the payoff card.
Commander [EDH]: 3.5
Lightning Rift is one of the original payoff cards for the “cycling deck”, as it was known, and while it certainly pales in comparison to the more infamous payoff, Lightning Rift can do a good job of both pushing your gameplan forward and punishing an opponent who cycles their own cards, either incidentally or as part of a devoted strategy. Tacking a Shock onto a cycling effect is nice, made even nicer by Lightning Rift and cycling being abilities and much harder to answer. That said, this requires a lot of set-up to work, and while an early Rift can pummel an opponent rather nicely, I think the demands it makes to make this work are a bit high, and the cheap investment of Lightning Rift still means little unless you can parley it into a bunch of shocking moments.
Limited: 3.5 (it’s cheap enough to be useful even if you’re not all-in on cycling)
Commander [EDH]: 3 (I think it’s a bit too unreliable to work, but cycling is certainly not unpopular in Commander, so you may find opportunity to shower shocks on everyone)
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