– Core 2019
July 9, 2018
Commander [EDH]: 4.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Extinction is relative. Aside from Ixalan, paleontologists believe that modern birds are distantly related to dinosaurs, and other closely related animals like crocodiles and Komodo dragons are very successful. But in Magic gameplay, we’re probably thinking more about the Ixalan variety, and Runic Armasaur is one of the strongest additions to that set of cards. Admittedly, it doesn’t have the most aggressive stats in terms of attacking, and while five toughness is undeniably good, it is not so relevant against some opponents. Standard may not have a huge number of lands or creatures with activated abilities that must be stopped at all costs – the Ixalan block’s cards that transform into lands come to mind, but they are a little slower and don’t seem to have been particularly dominating – but its ability will really shine in larger card pools. For example, Experiment Kraj Commander decks will find the Armasaur to be a real threat, much more so than Burning-Tree Shaman is in a format where people have 40 life. An opponent will also have to think twice about how and where they use cards like Azure Mage or Vulshok Sorcerer, and you even get a consolation when you’re on the wrong end of Visara the Dreadful.
One of the subtle little things of Magic 2019 is that a number of the cards in the set look very tempting and potent as sideboard cards, and Runic Armasaur is very much in that vein. Card draw is nice, and the little dinosaur offers a fair amount of it. Your opponent cracks a fetch land? You get a card! They turn on a manland? Another card for you! Add to it all of the various activated abilities of creatures throughout the game, and it’s easy to see where Runic Armasaur can provide a lot of late-game reach.
On top of that, it’s a 2/5 for three mana, a surprisingly nice stat line. 5 toughness can work well to keep opponents from blowing it up with burn spells, and it can wall a healthy number of creatures in a pinch. There certainly is no severe downside to maindecking this little guy, but it’s better suited for games that go long, where it has the chance to shine.
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