– Zendikar Rising
September 29, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
With all the stuff in Zendikar Rising about ancient kor technology, I almost feel like I’m playing with Ancient Aliens memes. Lithoform Engine actually calls to mind the slightly famous (and much later in the in-universe timeline) Strionic Resonator, except turned up to really high levels. Copying an ability or a spell is enough of an advantage, much less a creature with comes-into-play abilities. The costs on it are set to a point where it might be a little awkward for the current state of tournament formats, but an effect that powerful is just asking to be built around, and undoubtedly will be in casual settings.
I think it’s funny that this ability is much easier to track and monitor in digital formats, which honestly annoys me a little. I mostly play with physical cards, and while I’m lucky enough to have Terese Nielsen’s copy token from her Tokens of Spirit collection, there are going to be plenty of games in the future where people forget exactly which keywords Sphinx of the Steel Wind has. (Much less Questing Beast!)
Lithoform Engine is very interesting, featuring a new ability never seen before on a card (the ability to copy a permanent spell). Beyond that, though, Lithoform Engine is an interesting splicing of several copying abilities (Mirari, Strionic Resonator) into a flexible, easy-to-use package, and it makes for some intriguing shenanigans if you have the mana to spare. Only being able to copy one thing per turn cycle (plus the legendary supertype) does make this a bit fairer overall (potentially), and the high upfront cost constrains its Standard potency a fair bit. But there are a lot of things it pairs well with, to where it might be easier to ask what it doesn’t pair well with (usually legendary things, though there always is Mirror Gallery), and it can help do things like duck around countermagic rather nicely.
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