Serra’s Sanctum – Urza’s Saga
Date Reviewed: December 15, 2022
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Serra’s Sanctum never quite reached the tournament heights of its famous cycle-siblings, but it has a unique niche all the same. There was an early analogue of the prison decks we talked about when we reviewed Dovescape recently, known as “Parfait”. It relied on the likes of Moat, Blood Moon, and later Parallax Wave to control a game, and when you take advantage of that to generate three or four extra mana a turn, you’re in good shape. Serra’s Sanctum also obviously has a major pedigree in casual Magic, where Enchantress has always been a popular archetype in some form. Whether you’re playing the aggro, combo, or control versions of that deck, there’s always a use for approximately infinite mana.
Serra’s Sanctum is, of course, on the Reserved List; we did eventually get a card with similar function, in the form of Modern Horizons 2‘s Sanctum Weaver. Considering how popular Enchantress decks have historically been, it seems curious that it took so long.
Commander [EDH]: 4
Part of a legendary land cycle whose members ranged from “bad” to “busted”, Serra’s Sanctum is in a bit of a weird spot. It’s an extremely powerful effect, as Gaea’s Cradle and Tolarian Academy both proved over the years, and the decks that this goes in can make use of it to turbo-charge their plays to a comical degree. But compared to the other two, it’s always felt a bit lacking somehow; enchantment-based decks tend to be a bit weaker overall than creature- or artifact-based synergies, which explains why the Sanctum hasn’t ever quite hit the highs of its contemporaries.
Weaker is still “good”, though, and Serra’s Sanctum has always been a card on the cusp of splitting Legacy in half. Its main issues are mostly a mix of white being a color that’s hard-pressed to slam Legacy on its own, particularly white enchantment decks. Still, this little Reserved List land is one that might just crack a format open some day, and it’s a phenomenal play in Commander decks built around stupid numbers of enchantments.
Constructed: 3.75 (it could be great, but it’s never quite made it to the big leagues)
Limited: 3 (despite Urza’s Saga ostensibly being an enchantment block, you may still not be able to get this as live as you’d want it to be)
Commander [EDH]: 4.75
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