Sakashima the Impostor
– Mystery Booster
March 25, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 3.50
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I’ve often wondered how Sakashima here managed to impersonate dragons and kami and the like. It’s probably easier than Khans of Tarkir‘s Clever Impersonator standing in for Nicol Bolas, though.
Sakashima was originally intended to either give you a second of your best legend or a copy of your opponent’s best legend, in an era when the legend rule worked differently from how it does now. These days, some of us might be a little disappointed that we can’t use him to get a death trigger, but that’s not too serious as problems go. The built-in ability to bounce and thus re-cast him as a different creature is actually a nice bonus that you don’t often get on Clone effects. The mana costs involved make him a little slow for competitive decks, though he can do some pretty cool things in casual Magic.
A variation on Clone with a unique twist, Sakashima has the upside of not being a dead card on an empty board…albeit not one you’re going to want to cast outside of an emergency, as its ability relies on being able to copy a creature. But more on that here in a bit.
Sakashima the Impostor acts a fair bit like Clone, though with two unique takes: an activated ability to flee for its life at turn’s end, and retaining its own unique name to duck around the “legend rule”. This was more relevant in the days before the most recent revision to the rule; in Kamigawa, two legendary permanents sharing the same name would kill them both. But in a block where just about every rare creature was legendary, being able to take it for yourself without killing itself in the process is pretty nice and a good way to present more of a threat. It also allows for things like being able to duplicate strong legendary beaters you have already, a nice property still retained to this day.
The last trick of Sakashima is that it can pull itself off of the field for four mana, but it’s a delayed bounce that can only trigger if Sakashima already copied a creature on the board. This is why it’s not optimal into an empty board, as you need Sakashima to copy something, but it’s a nice way to copy something better if Sakashima would be better suited copying something nastier.
A fairly unique suite of effects, coupled with no reprints before Mystery Booster, led to Sakashima the Impostor being Saviors of Kamigawa‘s most valuable card. It’s a nice way to copy things, and there are lots of unique quirks and tricks it brings to the table, though it’s not without weakness overall, and a 3/1 if you have nothing better to copy is not a great rate of return.
Constructed: 2.75 (Clone effects need to be really cheap to make it in Constructed, and Sakashima is not that)
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