– Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths
May 20, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 2.42
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Neutralize is basically the embodiment of the joke being told by the Bear with Set’s Mechanic playtest card – not flashy, but reasonably functional. As a counterspell, it doesn’t really offer much over other three-mana options like Didn’t Say Please, and though you can cycle it when it’s less useful, blue has stronger ways of drawing cards (or looting, for that matter). Of course, it could always turn out that Hollow One or some similarly ridiculous card is in the next Core Set!
When it comes to countermagic, there’s a big difference between two mana and three mana. Three mana to counter something is usually seen as not a good return on investment unless you get some upside besides the countermagic effect, which is why spells like Disallow and Ionize see play while Cancel only shows up in very narrow circumstances.
With cycling payoffs running around, Neutralize is a pretty decent way to threaten an answer while still having utility if your opponent never plays something you want to counter or can counter, and a low mana cost to cycle helps it not be a dead card. It’s basically “Cancel with upside”: unlikely to be the star of Ikoria constructed, but it’ll grease the gears better than it might initially look.
Hello everyone and welcome back to Pojo’s Card of the Day! On the line-up today is a juicy little bit of flexible countermagic. So does it cut the mustard? Let’s find out!
On the base Neutralize is basically cancel with upside, counter target spell with Cycling (2), basically Dismiss but split in half. Now this card is fairly intriguing because it’s showing that WotC is finally taking another step towards making Countermagic more flexible.
Now unfortunately the problem with this card is quite similar to Thassa’s Intervention, normally when you’re using a draw spell you’re usually digging for an answer in the form of countermagic as defense or an answer to a threat on the field. For this card you’re going to rarely want to cycle it simply because what are you going to draw that’s better than a counterspell?
Now there is the argument that towards the endgame this card gains a lot of value after you’ve successfully locked down the board and you’re just waiting for your finisher, that’s where this card will shine and I think that’s where the true strength of this card lies.
Now while this card is fairly flexible a lot of formats probably aren’t going to look twice, cancel is still a very tough sell especially in formats where you have straight up counterspell and mana leak, there is possible room for this in Pioneer but Absorb’s healing salve is incredibly useful at keeping back the Mono Red decks.
This card actually might make it into the cube permanently as part of a variable for control decks being able to dig for a finisher rather than hanging on to countermagic after the game has basically been locked down. But we’ll see!
Constructed 3/5 – Has potential but right now the format seems dominated by Companions.
Commander 1/5 – Dismiss does both and for only one mana more.
Limited 2/5 – Straight up countermagic can act as removal and there’s a lot more targets for this to hit.
Cube 3/5 – I think it’s worth testing.
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