Manaform Hellkite – Crimson Vow
Date Reviewed: December 14, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.17
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Adventures in the Forgotten Realms turned out to be a set with relatively less complex cards than some of those around it, so although it had enough dragons to please most fans of the creature type, it didn’t end up showing the full range of creativity and versatility that D&D dragons are capable of. Manaform Hellkite, though, picks up with a very interesting trick: it reminds me a little bit of Young Pyromancer, but the fact that a wider set of cards trigger the token-making ability is quite welcome for casual play. You’re not pigeonholed into a conventional spellslinger deck, but can profitably fit him into a Theros-themed deck or anything else you want to. And I’m actually not troubled by the fact that the tokens are technically temporary and can be very small: flying and haste and stats equal to their cost is more efficient than a few of the creatures that social media complains about, and decks can struggle just as much with flying swarms as they do with huge aggressors. And though it may seem overly obvious, you still get the ability of the noncreature spell: you might no longer need two separate cards for Doom Blade and the attacker it’s clearing a path for.
The Obligatory Dragon of Innistrad swoops in, this time with a fun twist in playing well with decks that like to barrage opponents with spells. And, conveniently, Manaform Hellkite exists in a format with Strixhaven‘s spellcraft, the Kaldheim foretell spells, and a pretty potent deck with a foot in red. No haste is a bummer, but even if you can’t swoop with it then and there, you can raise quite an army by casting almost anything else. The wording on Manaform Hellkite is fairly interesting, since it’s caring about the actual mana spent to cast the spell, and so you can’t do things like turn pitch spells into swooping friends…but it also means a large burn spell potentially gets to burn them twice, thanks to bringing a swooping friend out to play.
Manaform Hellkite is an interesting creature with some potential to it, and it’s starting to creep into Standard as an additional axis for controlling decks to try and attack their opponents from. Giving every spell you cast an additional draconic kicker can crack a game open fast, and it’s also worth noting that you can make Dragons to block with on an opponent’s turn if you have the spells to cast. This is a potentially dangerous card, and while it wishes it had haste or more protection, it is an evasive body that demands immediate answer before it shows your opponents why swooping is, has been, and always will be bad.
Limited: 5 (big, cute, evasive flier with massive upside…seems like a winner to me)
One of the best cards printed in the set! An “arguable” debate on whether or not this is better than Goldspan Dragon but since they’re both standard legal why not have both in the same deck! The first thing that came to my mind when I read what this card did was Izzet Dragons. Sure enough, that is one of the top decks on MTG Arena that is using this card! There are so many good instants and sorceries in standard right now; Prismari Command, Unexpected Windfall, Alrund’s Epiphany are just a few that pop into my head. You’re going to swing at your opponent with an army of dragons even if some of them are going to be 2/2s and 3/3s it’s absolutely worth it. In modern, historic, and pioneer this is also great in U/R Aggro decks just think of the possibilities that you could use with this! I love it and I’m going to pick up four copies before it becomes as expensive as Goldspan Dragon, this is a great example of a multiple format card that isn’t broken. WOTC did a wonderful job printing and making this card. If you are drafting, switch your focus to splashing read so you can utilize the awesome power of this card!
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