I hate to refer to cards like this as things
like "this year's Tarmogoyf", because it makes
me uncomfortable to think about how long a
shadow that card casts over all of Magic.
Fortunately, it's much less overpowering than
that Modern benchmark, but hitting for four
damage on turn three is not entirely out of the
question with this card, and turn four is even
easier to achieve thanks to the Flayer's damage
trigger. It can also be used as a combo card,
setting up your graveyard for future plays with
simple attacks, and that versatility means that
we should definitely think of it as more than
just another Tarmogoyf.
A 2/2 for 2 with trample is
already a decent enough deal, but the real value
of Grim Flayer is that it gets very easily to
delirium; on dealing damage to a player, you get
to filter through the top three cards of your
library, which helps load the graveyard up even
more to potentially turn on delirium by the next
turn. And a 4/4 with trample for 2 mana is
absurdly good in any format.
Grim Flayer isn’t flashy,
but it’s absurdly powerful and crazily
efficient, which gives him a home in Standard.
It’s not as ideal in Modern or Legacy, given
that its color requirements make it a harder
sell and it's crowded out by more efficient
creatures still (like Tarmogoyf), but this
creature is quite nasty indeed.
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