Orcish Bowmasters
Orcish Bowmasters

Orcish Bowmasters

Date Reviewed:  June 23, 2023

Constructed: 4.63
Casual: 5.00
Limited: 3.50
Multiplayer: 4.50
Commander [EDH]: 4.63

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below: 


I probably should have been explicit about some of my past sidelong comments about decks that draw lots of cards, sometimes at the expense of everything else. The problem is that there has not always been enough counterplay against that style of deck. The assumption seems to have been that faster decks will inherently punish them by winning before all that card-drawing makes a difference. The quieter assumption behind that is that Magic players like drawing cards – sometimes I feel some of them like like drawing cards – so why give it a drawback, just like they stopped doing expensive creatures with drawbacks?

The reason is that in the wrong environment, it takes over games and leads to patterns of play that players don’t like, by Wizards of the Coast’s own assertion. And that’s where Orcish Bowmasters comes in. This is one of the most effective hosers for mass card drawing I’ve ever seen; for that matter, it’s one of the most effective hosers for incidental card drawing I’ve ever seen. The damage hits them from one angle, and the token hits them from another because it quickly gets bigger than a lot of aggro and tempo creatures. Even if they’re playing the highly resilient Delver / Xerox style decks we’ve seen recently, the standard strategy of cantripping into an answer will hurt them – perhaps directly to their life total, perhaps clearing their side of the table – and they’ll still need something to deal with both the archer and the army. This card isn’t just powerful by the standards of a Universes Beyond tie-in draft environment; it’s powerful by the standards of Magic in general, and I welcome it.

Constructed: 4.5
Casual: 5
Limited: 3.5 (there are a surprising number of pseudo-Opt cards in the set)
Multiplayer: 4.5
Commander [EDH]: 4.5

 James H. 


Orcish Bowmasters has quickly risen to being the competitive play chase card in this set, and it doesn’t take long to figure out why. It’s a pair of 1/1 bodies that pings for 1 when it comes into play, at flash speed…but it’s also a very effective way to punish draw effects. This hits all opponents, regardless of how they drew the cards (outside of that first draw), and it quickly becomes a question of if they can find the removal they need to take out the annoying archers before they stare down a massive orcish army or just die.

As a quick reminder, amass means that you make an Army token if you don’t already have an Army token, and then you put +1/+1 counters on it equal to the amass value. Amass Orcs is this set’s sub-variant, which functions just like the War of the Spark version did except for making an Orc Army token at the start of the amassing. So this means that if you use this to respond to, say, an opponent’s Brainstorm, you’d spread three damage among their board and have a 3/3 Orc Army creature token.

This isn’t to say anything of its interaction with wheel effects and symmetrical draw effects, which both give Orcish Bowmasters a terrifying amount of power. What makes Orcish Bowmasters far more potent than other draw effects is that you both get a growing body and the ability to spread the damage out, to thin out a board or to just bring down a pesky creature in a pinch. This is rightly one of the set’s big chase cards, and while it is just a 1/1, it’s a 1/1 that needs to be answered for how it wreaks havoc if left alone.

Constructed: 4.75 (if this doesn’t see play in Modern, Legacy, or Vintage, I’d be surprised)
Casual: 5
Limited: 3.5 (it is a 1/1 that makes another 1/1 and pings for 1, but getting the most value out of it might be a tricky task)
Multiplayer: 4.5 (it’s each card each opponent draws outside of their draw step, so drop a Wheel and have some fun)
Commander [EDH]: 4.75 (even if you’re not wheeling yourself, this is a good response to a wheel)

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