Nissa, Ascended Animist – Phyrexia: All Will Be One
Date Reviewed: February 27, 2023
Commander [EDH]: 3.88
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I think the last time we had four green mana symbols on the one card was Throne of Eldraine‘s Feasting Troll King, and Nissa similarly awards you with absolutely massive effects. Not so much on her -1, although we’re in a period when it can hit things ranging from a mana rock to a big creature. No, I’m referring to the way she can create a token ranging from big to ridiculous on casting, the way her ultimate can be used the turn you cast her if you waited until you could pay seven mana and zero life, and the way she has surprising strategic depth and versatility. I think she’s the best massively mono-green card since . . . well, since Feasting Troll King.
If you’ve been reading the web stories, you might recall that Nissa was compleated “off-camera”, as it were. It’s definitely just as well that we’ve been avoiding the Phyrexia torture porn that characterized J. Robert King’s Invasion block novels; yet it doesn’t help the argument that she became a Phyrexian to set up a particular confrontation which is almost certainly in March of the Machine. Not that that confrontation isn’t going to be interesting, mind you.
Commander [EDH]: 4
if it ain’t green I’m not interested okcurrrrrrrrrr
That is a lot of green mana symbols on Nissa, so let’s get to it. If you do pay seven mana for Nissa, she has the unique ability to immediately activate her ultimate to grant a massive swing to your board; while her being a planeswalker means she’s less of a “game over” button than something like Craterhoof Behemoth, the fact remains that you can just spend seven mana to try and swing for lethal. This makes her full mana cost version a lot more interesting out of the gate.
Her other abilities are a bit more “sedate”, but still pretty potent. Her +1 means you’re going to produce a body to defend her (or attack on a future turn with), though it’s worth noting that these are creatures with static defined stats, and the utility of her -1 is still good. I will say that the five-mana, three-loyalty version of Nissa might be a trap unless you need the spot Naturalize; her +1 makes you a 4/4, and while I don’t think that’s bad, you had better be sure that the 4/4 you’re making is worth it that turn. Spending six mana to get a 6/6, by contrast, seems a bit better as an ability, though it’s also worth noting that burn spells in response to Nissa’s +1 would ding the overall puissance of your new friend.
Nissa, Ascended Animist is interesting; she can churn out a steady stream of creatures en route to a back-breaking ultimate swing, and she offers utility beyond that. I think she’s in an interesting place by virtue of being a planeswalker with two Phyrexian mana symbols and a suite of abilities with some synergy. She’ll likely make a splash in Standard, but I suspect you’ll usually want to wait to cast her for six mana than just springing into action at five mana.
Limited: 5 (probably one of the biggest “kill me now or perish” planeswalkers)
Commander [EDH]: 3.75
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