Pearl Medallion (and the other four Medallions: Jet, Ruby, Emerald, and Sapphire)
– Commander Masters
Date Reviewed: August 30, 2023
Commander [EDH]: 4.38
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
The Medallion cycle was conceived as a “fixed” version of the Moxes, which is why they use the same minerals in their names, for the same colors. And they are indeed much more fair in a sense – they have a mana cost, and thus also a cost in time, and if you’re going to use them, you have to commit your second turn to them. But as you might have learned if you ever played with signets in Ravnica Standard or Cube, there are plenty of reasons to do so. It’s interesting that they don’t require you to tap them for mana, or tap anything else for that matter, which can be somewhat relevant sometimes. It’s also worth remembering that they reduce total costs, which means they are a rare way to get discounts on kicker, buyback, convoke, and the like. That’s not always so different in practice than just adding mana, but again, it can be relevant sometimes. And of course, they’re a unique and stylish option for that kind of strategy.
The rules notes for these cards explain that they can reduce a spell’s cost to zero, but never below zero – I assume they’re saving that for a future Un-set!
Constructed: 2.5 (the effect is powerful, but they’re not too well positioned compared to the rest of Legacy right now)
Casual: 4.5 (once you’ve been on the wrong end of a buyback Whispers of the Muse or Sprout Swarm for two mana, you’ll have gotten a taste of what they might do if they’re ever better positioned in Legacy)
Commander [EDH]: 4
The cycle of medallions dates all the way back to Tempest and has been a casual favorite card in the years since; cost reduction can be subtly (and not so subtly) powerful when it’s enabled, and the relative universality of the effects offered by the medallions (as well as their flexibility in casting cost) have proven to be quite powerful. That said, the medallions are a step too slow for Legacy, thanks to not dropping colored mana costs and usually being hard-pressed to come out before turn 2. It’s not impossible, but in hyper-optimized formats, every turn counts, and it’s hard to justify a medallion over a more specific set-up piece or threat.
All that said, these are still extremely strong cost-reduction tools, and they shine in a wide variety of decks and archetypes for their ability to let decks extend a bit farther. While some of them see more play than others (I believe Ruby and Sapphire are the most played of the five), they’re all still powerful enough to merit consideration in a fair few decks.
Constructed: 3 (all five are just a bit too slow to cut it, but I can see them having some purchase in Legacy if you play carefully)
Limited: 3.5 (harder to make work, but they can be a nice bit of grease for a deck)
Commander [EDH]: 4.75 (unless you’re very heavily into colored mana requirements, appropriate medallions are worth at least considering in most decks)
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