– Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths
April 23, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 3.50
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
The Sen Triplets have some of the scariest rules text in all of Magic. Just in case some of us weren’t clear, spells and activated abilities is pretty much everything you can do in Magic. And if that wasn’t enough, they get to watch you do it all instead – in the abstract, they’re the ultimate level of the deck archetype that turns its opponents’ cards against them. Note that it’s not quite like a Mindslaver effect in that you can’t force the opponent to tap all their lands (if they were allowed to – note that a mana ability is also an activated ability) and they’ll probably be furious and kill the Sen Triplets on their next turn. Best to get all such spells out of their hand while you can!
Of course, that requires you to actually target an opponent, and it’s not a given that you’ll be able to do so. If you ever cast one in a multiplayer setting, it’d require a lot of setup to deal with your inevitably becoming the number one target. The Triplets’ effect would be most effective in a 1v1 setting, but they’d need to compete with a creature that actually finished the game faster. I’m not saying never – such setup is hard, not impossible, and I think they could surprise people in Commander decks where they aren’t the general.
Sen Triplets is a unique effect that allows you to say “no” to someone while also getting a chance to abscond with all of their shiny things. Once the upkeep trigger resolves, you lock someone else out of doing anything on your turn while getting an extra hand of cards to play with. All in all, a brutal effect, especially with ways to deplete their hand in the process.
The reason they see no competitive play, though, is that a five-mana 3/3 artifact creature with no protective abilities is comically easy to kill, and their effect only kicks in during your upkeep (which means, usually, Sen Triplets needs to survive a full turn cycle without being blown up, which is rather improbable). It’s a beloved casual card for how brutal it is once it comes online, but it’s too slow and ineffectual to see play at serious tables.
Constructed: 2 (if you ever get a turn with this effect, your opponent should not be able to recover, but any competent deck in Modern or wider formats should be able to make sure that never happens)
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