– Core Set 2020
July 16, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Books about dinosaurs often feature artists’ impressions of tyrannosaurs fighting triceratops, which makes sense – they are consistently among the most recognizable and iconic dinosaurs, and were the peak predator and herbivore of their age. I’m glad, though, that they came together to fight for a common cause in Magic. Between Shifting Ceratops and Carnage Tyrant, counterspell decks will face a seriously uphill battle (and I think we need them both right now in “Teferi and Narset: The Format”). The Tyrant can be on the slower side against fast decks, but the Ceratops is at a great cost to be strong in creature-on-creature matchups, too.
His activated ability might look kind of curious, and some people might forget it’s there on occasion, but it gives him a lot of versatility that not all four-cost war beasts have. It allows him to shift from offense to defense, ambush people out of nowhere, and stomp right over Servo tokens all as needed. He’s easily one of the best combat-oriented creatures at this cost since Guildpact and Rumbling Slum – and a great payoff for everyone who’s never stopped loving dinosaurs!
Talk about a card engineered to give blue decks the finger. Or the horn. You pick!
Protection is back in Standard for the first time since Eldritch Moon rotated out, and Shifting Ceratops is the rare member of the five-color protection cycle. And it’s clearly the strongest of the five, encroaching on nigh-unanswerable for a blue deck and still pretty good in other decks.
Just as a general rate, a four-mana 5/4 is pretty good, though green has gotten 5/5 creatures for 4 mana in recent memory. So it at least passes that test, but it gets better if you have mana to spare. It can be a five-mana 5/4 with haste (also great), and it also can grant itself trample or reach. That flexibility is a nice feature, and while Shifting Ceratops isn’t invulnerable, it does a good job of raining on blue’s parade with the ability to get reach and being nigh-unremovable once it resolves.
While the protection cycle is most clearly meant as sideboard options, the Ceratops is one that you don’t need to have as a sideboard weapon exclusively; it’s a pretty good creature with flexibility on its own, and I can see it showing up a good bit in this Standard.
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