Toshiro Umezawa – Betrayers of Kamigawa
Date Reviewed: July 29, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 3.38
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Toshiro has a very strong ability, which is balanced by it being rather context-dependent. In, say, Kamigawa draft settings, you are highly reliant on combat to trigger it and have a limited number of game-breaking targets to recur. (Unless you also managed to draft his Jitte, in which case you can kill everything multiple times over anyway, and his ability will give you enough things to kill everything at the next table too (if somehow you were able to do that)). In Modern or Legacy, there’s lots of tasty instants to re-cast, but a lot of those same ones will be aimed at Toshiro by your opponent, possibly before it comes up. But in casual settings, where he’s probably seen most often nowadays, he really finds his place to shine. He’s more than strong enough to invite building around him, and his ability is exploitable but fair enough to make games interesting for anyone who does build around him. There’s probably even some kind of combo deck based on self-milling something interesting and ambushing your opponent with it.
His signature weapon might be what his name is known for these days, but Toshiro Umezawa isn’t half bad himself. His effect is fairly unique in black: creatures your opponent controls dying enables you to cast instants out of your graveyard. You still have to pay any costs associated with them, but the “obvious” thing is to use a kill spell to start chaining more kills spells, until nothing remains. It’s a unique effect with interesting applications (and you don’t even need to be responsible for the kill!), which almost makes up for his fairly mediocre body. He’s a card that needs to be built around, but offers quite a payoff if you can get the pieces together.
Constructed: 2.25 (a bit too fiddly for Modern and Legacy, though I suppose he can catch lots of people off-guard)
Limited: 3.5 (not a bomb, but he can definitely make things happen)
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