August 29, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 4.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Merchant Scroll’s existence means that Homelands contains more cards restricted in Vintage than most sets do – even ostensibly powerful sets like Scars of Mirrodin. That statistic doesn’t really mean much, but it’s kind of fun as trivia!
Like many cards from 1995, Merchant Scroll’s power is heavily dependent on context. In some kind of Old School Constructed format, it’s actually surprisingly fair. Unless said format also involves Ancestral Recall, it probably won’t be ending many games on the spot. In Vintage, you have access to more cards than can reasonably be remembered, and more combos than can even be counted. It even holds up well in casual formats that have different deckbuilding aims – even something like Biomass Mutation could be a viable target under the right circumstances.
One of the most notoriously-bad Magic sets of all time produced a card powerful enough to get restricted in Vintage…how about that. Merchant Scroll is not a particularly complicated card: two mana gets you any blue instant from your library. Of course, blue has some of the most-powerful instants in the game, with Gifts Ungiven, Gush, Ancestral Recall, High Tide, and Flash leading the charge in terms of absurdly-powerful spells for Vintage. Force of Will, Commandeer, and other free counterspells also can work well in that regard, and there’s a lot of chaos to be wrought for two mana.
Merchant Scroll is strongest as part of a combo, but it still can do rude things as a fair spell. It’s restricted in Vintage because of the combo, but it can help blue decks with redundancy by giving them four more copies of their best spell. It is Modern-legal if you want to try it out, but it hasn’t really made much of a splash in that format.
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