#5 Once Upon a Time
– Throne of Eldraine
December 25, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 3.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
This card was #2 on my Top 12 list.
We reviewed Once Upon a Time soon after Throne of Eldraine came out, before its recent ban – and seriously, I think most of us saw that one coming. Magic’s random element is sometimes the only thing standing between a strategy being fair and a strategy being overpowered, and Once Upon a Time does a good job at removing that random element. A deck that needs both creatures and lands is guaranteed to have that if it gets this card in its opening hand, and anyone who didn’t start with something comparable is going to have a bad time trying to catch up. It’s almost as good beyond the turns where it’s likely to be free: five cards is a lot to see, and chaining it directly into some scary late-game creature will often turn things around (may I suggest tomorrow’s Card of the Day?).
This card was 11th on my Top 12 list.
Talk about green getting all of the fun toys. Once Upon a Time was a near-ubiquitous presence before it got banned from Standard, since it simply makes every starting hand you can have leagues better. You can only cast one for free, but it takes what could be a fringe-keepable opening hand into a more-promising clutch of cards, smoothing out variance and making decks more consistent. It’s also not completely dead in your hand after that opening play: a two-mana instant that gets you the creature or land off your top five that is most effective for you isn’t a bad place to be!
And even though the ban hammer was dropped on it in Standard and Pioneer both, there’s still a home for Once Upon a Time in other formats, and it’s found a home in Legacy and Modern. Any spell you can cast for free is usually going to have some promise, and this spell has more than paid off that way. It might not look flashy, but it plays far better than it looks.
Hello Everyone and welcome back to Pojo’s Card of the Day!
We’re taking a peek at the top cards of 2019 and to no one’s surprise, it’s another green card on the list! Not that I’m complaining, it’s just an observation that Green did incredibly well this year. So let’s take a look at how WotC decided to give the Green some juice!
You know what’s a great card? Impulse. Impulse trades 2 mana for the best of the top 4 cards in your library. It can snag your land drop, put a key combo piece in your hand, in general it just cycles for one of the top 4 cards you got going on. Impulse is so good, that it’s another card WotC deemed too good for standard.
This card took Impulse and Ancient Stirrings and kinda mixed ’em together for the Green Impulse … oh and made it free if it’s the first spell you cast that game. Meaning if you get one in your opener, you basically just got a free card mulligan. It snags your shockland or maybe gets you that mana dork you needed for a turn 1 play. Digs for a silver bullet creature answer maybe?
It’s good. It’s really good. It would have been fine if it had just been impulse for creaturelands, but the fact that it could be free is what crossed the threshold to busted. You’d have thought that WotC had learned their lesson by now with Phyrexian Mana and stuff like that. But here we are. Green needed gas.
Now in Limited the power level of this card drops dramatically, it’s not as great as in constructed where you can run 4 and optimize your chances of getting this down early for free, but it’s still fine as an Impulse style card.
Commander has the same handicap as holding this as a one-of in your deck, and it’s not even as good as some of the other card-advantage style abilities that have been creeping up in Green as of late.
Constructed 5/5 – Amazing card that has the ability to turn into almost anything else from the top of your library. WotC officially made Green Free to Play! Although it definitely needed something, the green pitch cards suck.
Limited 2/5 – Not as amazing here, paying 2 mana for impulse is fine but in draft decks sometimes your spells are just as important and whiffing on that for a land is a feelbad.
Commander 3/5 – A bit better here since you’re going to have more pick and choose of creatures in deck design, but I’d still rather have something like Lifecrafter’s Bestiary for solid card advantage.
Cube 2/5 – Similar issue as Limited and Commander, Green has access to much better draw than this.
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