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Pojo's Magic The Gathering
Card of the Day

Daily Since November 2001!

Hammer of Bogardan
Image from Wizards.com

Hammer of Bogardan
- Mirage

Reviewed June 30, 2014

Constructed: 3.40
Casual: 3.30
Limited: 4.00
Multiplayer: 3.20

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale:
1 - Horrible  3 - Average.  5 - Awesome

Click here to see all of our 
Card of the Day Reviews 

David Fanany

Player since 1995

Hammer of Bogardan

Conventional wisdom is that burn spells are less than impressive in Commander and other multiplayer settings. Conventional wisdom has clearly forgotten that Hammer of Bogardan exists. Back in Mirage, there was very little else like it, and it almost caught the world unprepared. Nothing feels worse than having a game-changing damage spell countered or otherwise neutralized; but few things feel worse for an opponent than countering or neutralizing a spell and then being asked to do the same thing again next turn. Still, I say it only "almost" caught the world unprepared because it first appeared in the same set as Dissipate. Thanks a lot, Wizards.

Still, in Commander or some similar setting (and why not - singleton style makes everything better!), you only have to worry about at most one copy of Dissipate per opponent. I like those odds.

Constructed: 4/5
Casual: 4/5
Limited: 4/5
Multiplayer: 4/5

Michael "Maikeruu" Pierno

Today's card of the day is Hammer of Bogardan which is a three mana Red sorcery that deals three damage to target creature or player and during your upkeep for five mana can be returned to hand from graveyard. This is a card that offers a bit of help for Red's tendency to run out of steam in the later game, but three mana for three damage or eleven for six is usually not worth it currently. The main benefit is being able to spread the mana cost out over turns as three or five and repeatedly cycle it every turn if eight mana total is available. That is a bit slow for Constructed, but is technically efficient in long games with lots of mana available and still sees some play in Multiplayer and Commander as a result.

In Limited this is a very useful card to have when running Red as your primary color as even with a bad draw, such as a late game land, this can still be used to run down the clock. The primarily Red casting costs keep this from being easily splashed, so usage in Sealed depends entirely on the pool available. For Booster this can be a first pick, though running mono-Red to support it is recommended.

Constructed: 3.0
Casual: 3.0
Limited: 3.5
Multiplayer: 3.0

Michael Sokolowski

We could look at Hammer of Bogardan in two different ways. We could consider how good or bad it was back when it was first released during Mirage, which was in 1996. Or we could see how good or bad it is now, in modern times.

Ah, who am I kidding. Let's do both!

Unfortunately, the answers aren't going to be all that different. Hammer of Bogarden just isn't all that good. The only real difference is that back then, it was less bad. Not "good," just "less bad." Because Magic was just starting to develop and balance itself, having realized some of its early mistakes. Lightning Bolt was on its way out, not to be seen reprinted for another 14 years. And the format as a whole was much slower. Cards were less efficient, costs were high. 3 damage for 3 mana at sorcery speeds wasn't outlandish, considering that 3 damage killed quite a large amount of creatures.

Nowadays you likely wouldn't be caught dead spending 3 mana for that amount of damage. Assuming you're not just playing Lightning Bolt itself, there are countless options for 2 mana that deal 3 damage and tend to do something else good as well. Lightning Helix, Incinerate, the list goes on. Even Volcanic Hammer is technically better, and not many people played Volcanic Hammer.

We are, of course, ignoring the elephant in the room. This isn't just direct damage, this is REUSABLE direct damage. That changes things considerably! Being able to reuse a card - any card, in any context - adds quite a bit of value. Or at least it would if it didn't cost 5 extra mana. The mana cost, both then and now, was considered a bit high. It is concievable that you might have 5 mana lying around late game that you have nothing better to do with. Or there might be some dangerous threat on your opponent's side of the field that you need to get rid of RIGHT NOW or lose the game, in which case it's worth it to lose your 5 drop (or 8 drop) in order to deal with it. The extra versatility in the card is welcome, and back then the idea of a card returning from your graveyard to your hand on its own so it could be cast again was a new and exciting concept. But the numbers just never really added up.

We're looking at 3 mana for 3 damage. 11 mana total (+8, spread over some turns if you like) for 6 damage. 19 mana for 9 damage. If you're sinking this much mana into this card, you'd have to wonder if your lack of other plays might just cause you to lose the game. You could find some tricks to generate more mana or something, but if you're going to go to all that trouble there are better cards to spend it on.

That is a pretty sweet looking hammer, though.

Overall it's slow, and it's clunky, and it's expensive. But it's from a time when Magic as a whole was slow and clunky and expensive.

Constructed: 2
Casual: 2
Limited: 3.5
Multiplayer: 2


Deck Garage
Hammer of Bogardan

Magic just can't make its mind up about how much a 3-damage spell should cost. Is it fair at instant speed for one mana? For two? Should you get an additional rider on the end if you pay two, like Incinerate? Should there be a drawback if it's one mana, like Sonic Seizure or Shard Volley? More importantly, how much of a drawback does sorcery speed count as? For a burn spell, it's relevant, as you can't play it in combat or combine it with a first strike creature (one of red's tricks).

Today's card is a 3-damage sorcery for three mana, which should be under the curve and therefore deserving of a second ability by any metric. And sure enough, it is. And what a second ability! For years, Hammer of Bogardan was the main reason Red Decks Won. Spend your first few turns burning down everything in sight, and once you get to five mana you can start bringing your used Hammers back to be re-cast. This let Red effectively never run out of burn, and forced the enemy to either draw a LOT of cards just to keep up the card advantage race, or run out of resources and succumb.

Constructed- 4
Casual- 4.5
Limited- 4.5
Multiplayer- 4.5

Deck Garage

Hammer of Bogardan
The goal of red burn decks is to throw burn spells at the opponent as fast as they can to take them down to zero life. Sometimes creatures get in the way that the red mage has to spend its cards on. Sometimes life gain makes it take longer to finish off an opponent. That's when the real weakness of burn decks starts to show up: running out of cards. 
Red has never been very good at drawing cards, so that's why something like today's card became very popular. Sure, 3 damage for 3 mana isn't the most effective burn spell, but being able to "draw" this card again and again in a game that has gone on a while is just the kind of help burn decks need. 
By the time you've emptied your hand, hopefully you have or are getting close to the 5 mana needed to bring the hammer back, so you're never left with an empty hand, lots of mana, and nothing to do.
The cards we are reviewing this week were chosen for their iconic art. Hammer of Bogardan's art depicts well the raw power that it can unleash and has become a symbol of Magic. However, I am aparently in the minority in that I never found this particular piece of art to stand out above the rest. It seems to lack the realism that most of the other greats have.
Constructed: 4
Casual: 3
Limited: 4.5
Multiplayer: 2.5
Art: 3

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