Sorin Markov – Zendikar
Date Reviewed: October 29, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.17
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I can’t think of two planeswalkers who are less alike than Sorin and Chandra Nalaar, which makes it kind of funny that they both have the ability to take out smaller creatures on a repeatable basis. Sorin’s has the standard black pseudo-lifelink for spells, which opens up a lot of interactions with anything that cares about gaining life. Speaking of things like that, his -3 ability is not brutal just because it beats infinite life combos, nor because it breaks Commander. If the opponent’s life total starts as more than 10, setting it to 10 counts as life loss, which means that having something like Wound Reflection on the table will often kill them in just one turn. Given the mana involved, that’s more of an interaction for the casual tables, but in such a setting, it can easily blindside people who don’t see it coming.
Sorin’s ultimate is harder to exploit than the Mindslaver on which it’s based, but will often buy time for you to do something; again, the casual tables may be the best place for it, as Modern and Legacy have become very fast (and have a surprising number of decks that don’t even care about life totals in any form). Regardless, many opponents will have a sense of foreboding and fear whenever he hits the table and turns every day into Halloween.
Sorin Markov is an interesting planeswalker to evaluate; while his abilities are largely simple, he’s very powerful with them. Of course, Commander players probably most remember and fear his -3, since it sets a life total to 10 in a format where players start with 40 life and can sometimes spiral hard into astronomical totals. Being able to, for six mana, pull someone back down to 10 is a pretty solid deal, particularly since Sorin sticks around afterwards, and he’d be playable enough in Commander if he was a six-mana sorcery that did just that.
His other abilities do exist, and they’re quite good. His ping ability is a decent chunk of damage for thinning boards or weakening wounded targets and is a +2, which makes his Mindslaver ultimate surprisingly realistic. He does have to +2 over two turns, but he might not have to off himself to let you play puppet master for a turn, and Mindslaver has long proven to be one of the most-vicious effects if you can pay for it.
The main issue with Sorin in Constructed formats is simple: he’s six mana, and that six mana investment doesn’t do nearly enough on its own. He’d be vicious in Standard, but it’s unlikely that Sorin Markov will return to Standard with Crimson Vow, as most Sorin cards tend to be Orzhov-colored. Still, Sorin is a house in most Limited formats (including the Magic 2012 one, where he got a reprint), and he’s a staple of black commander decks for an effect that only a three-color artifact shares with it.
Constructed: 2 (this’d be higher if he was in Standard, but he’s very much not and is very much outclassed in deeper formats)
Limited: 5 (if you’re not in Zendikar Limited, though he’s still nasty if you live to see six mana)
Solid planeswalker, solid game turnaround card, and it’ll be the target of your opponent’s wrath as soon as it comes out. For a hefty 3BBB you get a 4 loyalty planeswalker with all around great abilities. The plus ability can help you out in a pinch but it’s ultimately to build to the ultimate where you’ll control target player during their next turn! This is big in multiplayer, casual, and limited. This could win you the game or at least set you up on your next turn to make big moves to eventually win the game. You will be the most hated person at the table while this card is out on the field, just a warning. I think the real gem is the -3 ability where target opponent’s life total becomes 10. This will wreck people in commander, period. Going from over 30 life to 10 just sets up your opponent for their eventual defeat for the cost of 6 mana. You could easily play this card, do the minus ability and swing for 10 all the while your opponent was building their win strategy and not concerned about your 10 damage on the board when they were at 31 life. In most instances, the mana value is not a hindrance because of the crazy value you get for this. Definitely recommend in most formats, at the very least it’s a sideboard slot in a primarily black strategy. Have fun casting this card in commander, your opponents surely will bring the salt!
We would love more volunteers to help us with our Magic the Gathering Card of the Day reviews. If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email. We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc. 😉