Ornithopter – Antiquities
Date Reviewed: November 17, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 3.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Short of having a sorcery with no game text, Ornithopter is about as minimal as you can get while still being an operational Magic card. But its seeming ineffectiveness is misleading. People realized very early that you could use it as an emergency blocker on almost anything, and soon after that they started getting it into play on turn 1 and then casting Giant Strength and Howl from Beyond. Its opportunities only expanded over the years, when it became the easiest way to trigger Soul Warden and Equilibrium, and turned out to be a downright explosive threat in Affinity decks with Cranial Plating. I don’t know if that was exactly what they had in mind when they put Ornithopter into Antiquities, but it’s reached the point where I can’t imagine Magic without it.
Commander [EDH]: 3
Ornithopter is an interesting card to talk about in spite of its seeming simplicity, a zero-cost body with evasion and toughness but no power on its own. It’s proven a surprisingly versatile and flexible card over the years, though; while it alone is nothing special, it lends itself well to all sorts of buffs (from Auras, equipment, or static on-board effects) and tricks (famously, ninjutsu, which was part of the Mirrodin-Kamigawa format with the Ornithopter reprint from that set).
It’s always a hard card to pin down because, honestly, Ornithopter is nothing special on its own. But it’s always shone brightest when you have the ability to take advantage of it being a zero-mana artifact or being a cheap evasive creature (or both), and there have been plenty of those decks over the years.
Constructed: 3.5 (never going to be the centerpiece of a deck, but it’s a solid cog in a healthy number of shells)
Limited: 3 (not great in Limited in general, but it can help round out a deck in a pinch)
Commander [EDH]: 3
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