I'm surprised it took us this long to get around
to reviewing this one. In Limited, Nessian Asp
IS green decks. If you don't get an Asp, you're
not really running Green. Why is that? What
makes the Asp so great? Well, first of all, it's
a common. In Limited, commons are the backbone
of everybody's deck. They're the only cards you
can rely on seeing, and the only ones you can
realistically hope to get multiples of. Second,
the Asp is big for the format. A 4/5 is
significantly bigger than most things in Theros
or Born of the Gods, since the block is all
about Bestowing onto smaller creatures. There
just aren't many ways to deal five damage to a
creature without spending multiple cards. Third,
it has reach. Not usually such a big deal, but
flying is actually fairly rare in Theros block.
If you can nab a few solid flyers, you can win
with them alone and many opponents simply won't
have an answer. Having an Asp on the board means
you can block flyers, and usually kill them--
like I said, a 4/5 is hard to cope with for most
creatures in Theros block without help. The
Monstrosity ability helps keep the Asp ahead of
the game-- a Bestowal or a combat trick might
get an opposing creature up to dealing with a
4/5, but an 8/9?
Sadly, none of this holds up in Constructed
formats. Even in the very last set, there's
enough removal to make a non-evasive 4/5 for
five a joke, and there's creatures with more
impressive abilities to be cast for 4G. Nessian
Asp may be king of the green commons, but any
format that lets you run as many uncommons and
rares as you want will find plenty of answers
In real-life Europe, not many snakes live in
trees. In European mythology, the trees are full
of snakes for some reason - the garden of the
Hesperides had one, Jason had to get the Golden
Fleece from a tree guarded by a snake-like
dragon, and there were some in Norse mythology
too. Theros was almost as full of anti-air cards
with monstrosity; while Nessian Asp is not quite
as powerful as Arbor Colossus, I actually like
it better. I mean, come on - a giant snake in a
Today's card of the day is Nessian Asp which is
a five mana Green 4/5 with Reach and Monstrosity
4 for seven mana. This isn't a card that
is likely to see serious competitive play in any
Constructed format as Green has many large
creatures with Trample or other offensive
effects for a similar mana cost. Reach is
primarily defensive and even with Monstrosity
this doesn't offer enough to be a popular
addition to any particular theme.
For Limited this is a major threat, particularly
as a common, and both the casting and
Monstrosity costs are manageable for any deck
with even a splash of Green mana. It can
stop or trade with almost anything that isn't
Indestructible and easily growing into an 8/9
provides a difficult to remove bulldozer
offensively. A strong second or third pick
in Booster even if not already drafting Green
and a very compelling reason to splash or run
Green in Sealed.
First off, I jumped in last week without
introducing myself. I've been playing Magic off
and on since about 1996. With my off years, I've
probably compiled about 10 years experience in
the game. My favorite part of the game is
creative deck-building, so in addition to doing
card of the day, I also am taking your deck
submissions in my deck garage. Click the link on
the left to learn more about that.
Now to the card at hand.
There's a lot to like about this asp. A 4/5
with reach will stop all but the biggest threats
coming your way. 5 mana is a bit high for most
constructed decks, because there are so many big
threats at 5 mana, and unless your deck is built
around it, you're rarely going to have 7 mana to
make this guy monstrous.
In casual, you're more likely to be able to
afford the 5 mana casting cost and the 7 mana to
make him an enormous 8/9 snake, but beyond being
huge, there's nothing particularly splashy to
make him a big part of your fun deck.
Limited is where this guy really shines.
There are very few creatures that can get past
him, and while reach makes you think of him as a
defensive creature, he can be a dominating force
on offense as well.
In multiplayer it's more important to have a
strong defensive presence so people will find an
easier target elsewhere. I wouldn't be ashamed
to have Nessian Asp scaring attackers away.
Then, once he's helped you stall the game, you
can make him monstrous and go on the attack!
This card just really doesn't do a lot to get
me excited. In its base form, it's a 4/5 for 5
mana. That's a little below that green is used
to, though just barely. It must make up for it
with some pretty neat abilities though, right?
Well, let's take a look.
Reach is an ability that really never resonated
with me. It's technically better than nothing,
but it 1) relies on your opponent having
creatures with flying in the first place, and 2)
requires you to not attack with your big green
creature if you want to block with your fancy
So let's take a look at the other ability. Maybe
we'll like that one better. Well, for 7 more
mana, you can give it four +1/+1 counters. I
shouldn't need to tell you that 7 mana is a lot
of mana. Cruel Ultimatum costs 7 mana. All is
Dust costs 7 mana. Platinum Angel costs 7 mana.
7 mana can do some pretty impressive and
powerful things. What it does here, essentially,
is give you an 8/9 for a total of 12 mana. With
Reach, of course.
The thing is though, this isn't a TERRIBLE card.
It's just not an optimal card. It doesn't have a
lot interesting going for it, but that doesn't
mean it's entirely unplayable. In limited, a 4/5
for 5 isn't the worst. And games can reach the
point where you might have 7 mana laying around
with not much to use it on, especially if you're
running green which is THE colour of mana accel.
Casual players also might like it for
Snake-themed tribal decks, and I'll be honest,
that double-headed snake art is pretty cool.
Imagine a giant, monstrous one of those things
coming at you! You will never ever see this card
in older, faster formats though. It's just not
In the end, Nessian Asp will almost always be a
4/5 for 5 with Reach. Which is fine in limited,
but is overshadowed by other, more efficient
creatures - or at least ones with more
interesting abilities - in most other formats.