Recurring Nightmare – Exodus
Date Reviewed: March 4, 2021
Commander [EDH]: N/A
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Longtime players may recognize part of what was once a devastating and traumatizing combo for tournament decks, alongside Survival of the Fittest. Even on its own, Recurring Nightmare takes over games in a way that’s incredibly hard to stop even if you see it coming. Its “fair” use is making your normal creatures unable to die, and it wasn’t uncommon to see third-turn Verdant Forces and the like in the late 1990s. Legacy is no longer very favorable to Recurring Nightmare, which tells you more about the blood-fever that characterizes that format than about Recurring Nightmare; anywhere else, you’ll have a better-than-great chance to win any game where you use it, but be prepared to be the Archenemy for a few games (or years).
Recurring Nightmare is…to call it “obnoxious as all hell” is maybe putting it lightly. While it seems like a 1-for-1 trade at first glance, timing rules mean that the time to remove Recurring Nightmare is before it ever resolves, as most players will immediately activate the ability to put the spell well out of reach, back into their hand. As a repeatable reanimation spell, it’s hard to stop once it gets started, and a carefully-built value engine will make sure, in conjunction with something like Priest of Gix and death triggers (or Kokusho, the Evening Star), your opponents are in for a bad time.
As is, Recurring Nightmare is banned in Commander; it’s not too powerful for Legacy, probably owing to the ubiquity of Force of Will and the challenge in setting up a Recurring Nightmare engine. It’s more annoying than it is insurmountable, but it’s a card that can set up for a win on the spot if you’re careful with how you build your deck.
Limited: 3 (Tempest block wasn’t the best place for this card)
Commander: N/A (probably a 4.5 or so; the loops are hard to stop once they get going, but a prepared deck can keep it from snowballing out of control)
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