Snapcaster Mage – Innistrad
Date Reviewed: September 9, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Every Invitational card has been powerful and popular, and Snapcaster Mage embodies most of the reasons why. For one thing, it’s card advantage even if it doesn’t look like it, giving you effectively an extra copy of a spell and a 2/1 creature on top of that. For another, it fits extremely well in almost every format you can imagine – it works equally well with hyper-efficient constructed staples like Lightning Bolt and Mana Leak, Innistrad draft build-arounds like Burning Vengeance, and casual cases like Naban, Dean of Iteration from Dominaria. The fact that the ability is still powerful on a much more expensive card like Goblin Dark-Dwellers reinforces just how good Snapcaster really is.
Snapcaster Mage is famous for being the last of the prize cards from the now-ended Invitational tournament, and its Innistrad art depicts the likeness of winner Tiago Chan. Fittingly enough, the card has been a very powerful weapon over the years, because it turns out that flashback is a powerful weapon in all the right ways to give to spells that might not normally benefit from it. Flash is just icing on the cake, as it were, because it lets you bring in the Mage as a surprise blocker and removal spell in one fell swoop. In conjunction with timely burn spells, this can make for surprisingly good trades against creatures well above its perceived weight class.
It’s comically efficient and good at almost every point in the game; even if you don’t have something to bring back, a two-power creature out of nowhere can catch people off guard rather nicely. Having earned its stripes in literally every format it’s legal in (save Vintage, where it’s definitely scarcer than in other formats, but the Vintage metagame is kinda weird to begin with), and also blessed with good creature types, the little two-mana mage is going to keep showing up wherever it’s legal, because the only thing better than one Lightning Bolt is two Lightning Bolts (and a bonus body along with the second).
Constructed: 5 (not for every deck, but most decks with blue generally are fond of this in their toolbox)
Commander: 4.25 (this is probably where being a Wizard helps it most)
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