Urabrask, Heretic Praetor – Streets of New Capenna
Date Reviewed: May 11, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 3.92
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Well, this is interesting. I remember a time, years ago, when I was assured by an “expert” on a forum that Urabrask was dead. I use quotation marks because this was based on a throwaway line in a story about Elspeth, which could have been interpreted more than one way; it also seemingly disregarded the fact that Wizards had recently demonstrated their penchant for retconning things that don’t fit with what they want to do in the current set. Regardless, I’m sure there will be a lot of excitement at his return – the non-black Phyrexians were the most interesting element of the Scars of Mirrodin block.
Urabrask’s abilities are definitely an advantage for you, and sometimes a disadvantage for the opponent. You’ll note that it in fact replaces their usual draw for the turn (or an cantrip they play in their upkeep, I guess), which will deny them a card completely a percentage of the time and be almost unnoticeable in some decks. I wouldn’t rely on that to disrupt an opponent, but it will certainly make them think, and you can mess with opponents in larger formats by combining him with something like Spirit of the Labyrinth. For a format like Standard, his stats are good and the additive advantage is good; it might, though, be hard for the rest of this year, while he shares the format with cards like Goldspan Dragon and Crackle with Power.
Commander [EDH]: 4/5
We’ve now seen three of the Praetors appear in recent sets – I’m anticipating and dreading what Elesh Norn is going to do when she shows up. Not only have they hinted that she’s the new Mother of Machines, her level of nastiness at least rivals that of Bolas (though it’s a close call between her and Jin-Gitaxias’ medical-based horrors).
Urabrask 2.0 is interesting enough in that his body is nearly the same as it was the first time out: a 5-mana 4/4 with haste. His ability is the new wrinkle, and it’s a bit of an interesting take on red’s impulse drawing mechanics. You get one in addition to your turns, while you turn your opponents’ first draws each turn into an impulse draw, which can be quite potent if you have ways to constrict their hand otherwise or lock them out of casting spells. Drannith Magistrate comes to mind, but what cards does that annoying little human not work well with?
I feel like Urabrask is sort of weird in that it’s more “value” than it is an unbeatable ace. The body’s not so bad, of course, but it’ll have a hard time winning you games on its own unless you’re in a position to really tighten the screws. A 4/4 with no protection baked in isn’t the hardest thing to kill, and while red decks will adore that extra card each turn, I don’t think it constricts tightly enough to be as formidable a hate card as it could be. He’s definitely not bad, and red loves having a card advantage engine with marginal upsides besides, but I’m a bit leery of Urabrask 2.0’s efficacy without pieces to really milk it for all it is worth, and decks that draw a lot of cards anyway will see Urabrask as more of a minor speed bump than anything else.
Constructed: 3 (a bit high for mono-red decks, and I’m not sure where else it’ll have a home)
Limited: 4 (not an unbeatable bomb mythic, but it’s a big body that can force opponents into weird positions)
Commander [EDH]: 3.75 (I think this shines best in mono-red or red-white builds, since their card draw is lacking compared to other combinations)
I like this version of Urabrask better than I liked the one from New Phyrexia. Five mana for a 4/4 haste is pretty good right off the bat but you can play the top card of your library (and you still get to draw a card) which can put you at an advantage if you need mana or you need your aggro deck, to put it literally, be more aggressive and cast more creatures and spells.
The second ability is intriguing, your opponent’s draws get exiled but they can still play them that turn. This is unique and a pretty big deal I think because it prevents them from hoarding cards and having card advantage that way. This forces them to use the card that turn or lose it which can put them on an edge they don’t want to be on. I’d almost say this ability allows Urabrask to be in a control deck more so than an aggro deck.
Commander [EDH]: 4
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