Oko, Thief of Crowns
– Throne of Eldraine
October 9, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 4.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
You may have heard that despite obviously coming from fae origins, Oko is not in fact from Eldraine. That raises a lot of interesting questions, not least about the likelihood of finding his way to another plane with a significant presence of fae creatures in an infinite multiverse. Is there some kind of connection between faeries in different parts of the multiverse? Does their otherworldly nature give them some kind of awareness of other planes? And what kinds of insane plots might they wreak when they can work across multiple planes rather than just one?
Apart from reminding us about how it’s usually a bad idea to accept snacks from faeries, Oko does a lot of useful things – more than it might seem on initial reading. A 3/3 creature is still a threat to you and to him, but it’s sometimes better than it having its original abilities and sometimes a downgrade in stats. And sometimes, of course, it’s your creature gaining higher stats than its original ones. He provides a very hard-to-stop stream of Food tokens for not only his own ability, but to work with cards like Animating Faerie or decrease Emry’s casting cost. While his -5 might be slow for formats like Modern, I’d still like to note that it can steal Dark Confidant and often Tarmogoyf (assuming Oko comes in on the early turns. Modern can get him what, like turn 0?).
“Oko” or “oh no”
Oko, Thief of Crowns has pretty quickly become the “chase” card of Throne of Eldraine…or one of them, at least. Three mana planeswalkers tend to be pretty valued for their diverse toolkit relative to their mana cost, and Oko has some really potent abilities for that mana cost.
The main attraction is arguably in his +1: turn an artifact or creature into a 3/3 Elk. Three mana to cripple an opponent’s strongest creature is pretty insane; this is a permanent effect that can do a lot to shut down strategies or cripple otherwise insurmountable creatures (hello, Questing Beast). You can also use it on troublesome artifacts, such as Embercleave or the other mythic rare artifacts from the set. It’s a flexible, powerful removal effect, though it doesn’t completely remove the creature; a 3/3 is capable of damage if given the chance, and Oko doesn’t protect himself intrinsically that way.
His +2 and -5 have a bit of synergy with one another: make a food token for his +2, and his ult allows you to swap something of yours with something of theirs…permanently. The caveat is that Oko can only take a creature with power 3 or less, but you are in blue, the color of -X/-0 effects. And Oko only checks power on targeting and resolution; once he takes the Thing, it is yours even if its power goes above 3 later.
Oko does a lot of things for only three mana, and it’s easy to see why he’s popular and sought-after. He’s not perfect, as he has a hard time really protecting himself, but he’s pretty insane if he has the space to do his thing.
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