February 6, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 1.83
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
You wouldn’t guess it from the way they talk now, but back when Lorwyn came out and brought Thoughtseize into Standard for the first time, some people raised an eyebrow. “Why is Duress a rare now?” they asked. They underestimated the ability to take creatures as well as lands, and in some cases perhaps overestimated the cost of two life against aggro decks. This is on top of answering everything Duress can – anywhere you’re allowed to play Thoughtseize, it effectively gives you a set of modal spells that can (theoretically) pre-emptively answer any non-land card and thus free space in the rest of your deck. It’s no wonder that it’s been a dominant card in not one but two Standard seasons, and that it shows up in eternal formats too.
In terms of raw strength, Thoughtseize might be the most powerful black discard spell ever printed; its only real competition is Cabal Therapy, which is constrained to Legacy and more of a combo piece than pure discard. But two life is more than worth taking what would be the best card for your opponent in that moment, and it’s been a staple of every format it’s been a part of (besides Vintage, but who cares?) since its original printing in Lorwyn. Two life can be a bit of a downside in some match-ups, and it does compete with Inquisition of Kozilek in Modern (because a lot of Modern’s strongest cards come in at 3 mana or less), but the flexibility of Thoughtseize often justifies the life payment, and some decks (like Death’s Shadow) will see the life payment as upside instead of downside.
While Thoughtseize seems like the kind of card that would never get a reprint because of its power, it did make a return to Standard in the original Theros block; with the block being enchantment-heavy, a permanent type black has historically had trouble answering, they decided to give black a powerful weapon as to not get run over. It worked better than expected, and mono-black was one of the strongest decks for a fairly lengthy period after Theros came out. While black’s most powerful discard spell is unlikely to make a return appearance to Standard, thanks to how it warps the format, there’s little denying it is one of the most influential one-mana spells of alllllllll tiiiiiiiiiime.
Hello everyone and welcome back to Pojo’s Card of the Day!
Today we’re looking at a pure power card from Lorwynn that showed up in the previous Theros set (and I wish showed up in this new Standard again!)
Now don’t get me wrong, one of the most devastating feels as a control player is to face down a Turn 1 Swamp -> Thoughtseize, but I do respect that it is vital for a healthy format. So let’s dig in and see why this card is such a power house.
Prior to Thoughtseize there had not been a (mostly) unconditional hand disruption spell at the cost of B, Duress was one of the closest things but it didn’t hit creatures which was fine 10 years ago but with creature power creep the potency of a card that hit non-creature, non-land spells certainly dwindled.
In Pioneer/Modern/Legacy/Vintage, the cost of 2 life is negligible compared to what you’ll be stealing from your opponent’s hand, be it countermagic or a Jace the Mind Sculptor, the only area where Thoughtseize is exceptionally painful is if you’re playing up against Mono Red.
In Limited, this thing is also a bomb of sorts, it’ll steal your opponent’s best card in hand and sometimes it can be a clutch piece of removal or their big mythic bomb they got. Although this card’s value goes up when you have multiple copies to help guarantee a turn 1 play, it can still be devastating in a draft and in that case it’s in the ‘Removal’ part of BREAD.
In Commander and Multiplayer this card definitely tanks in value here, unless you’re playing a combo oriented Commander Deck and it’s 1v1 or you’re planning on trying to snipe the countermagic from the blue player’s hand. However Discard isn’t fun to play against, especially when it’s targeted discard and it doesn’t hit the whole table.
I run this in Cube and it’s one of the myriad of discard spells and a good reason to play Black since disruption is one of the key elements to the color.
Constructed 5/5 – Top tier Discard spell!
Commander 1/5 – Don’t do this, only villains do that.
Limited 4/5 – Treat this as removal.
Cube 5/5 – If you’re playing black this is definitely one of the cards you want in your deck.
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