Vivien on the Hunt – Streets of New Capenna
Date Reviewed: April 20, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 4.17
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
“Burning the ground, I break from the crowd;
I’m on the hunt, I’m after you . . .”
We’ve seen a number of planeswalkers without a “conventional” ultimate, but Vivien is particularly eye-catching because hers mimics a famous card that’s banned in Modern. And on a +2 loyalty ability, no less. That’s well worth getting to six mana for, though the kinds of decks that can combo with that ability don’t generally want to wait that long, and it’s not always reliable in every format. Her +1 ability is actually quite good too, but I feel like it’s mostly going to be overshadowed by that spectacular +2; her -1 is useful as a backup, but you wouldn’t feel good if that was the only thing you could get out of her. I think she’ll get her best showing in formats that operate at the right speed to make using her as a one-card combo worth it (including Commander, I’m quite sure).
Commander [EDH]: 4/5
I imagine alarm bells went off as soon as Vivien on the Hunt was spoiled, thanks to the text of her +2: it’s the same effect as the infamous Birthing Pod, a card banned in Modern because of how viciously it can spiral out of control. That’s easily the main attraction; while we’ve seen cards in that same space over the years, there’s never been a card with the infamous artifact’s exact text since then, and it coming on a hard-to-kill planeswalker isn’t so bad! Of course, Vivien is no Birthing Pod; the artifact was functionally colorless and could come online on or before turn 4, while Vivien is limited to green decks and will probably come out around turn 6, which goes to making her a lot fairer, as does the inability to fire her a second time in a turn outside of blink effects (which was something Birthing Pod could do viciously well with the right cards).
Vivien isn’t just her +2: her +1 lets you get a lot of creatures, and her “ultimate” makes a decent body. Even if you need to -1 her immediately, a Rhino blocker helps protect her from a few things (though 3 loyalty opens her up to a lot more removal than 5 or 6 does). All of these are meant to play well with her +2, and I’d say that they generally do.
The main sticking point, of course, is that Vivien on the Hunt is six mana. She’s worth it, but into an empty board, she’ll need to scramble to establish presence. I think she might not see the most play of the planeswalkers of the set, but she’ll see a healthy amount of it in Standard because of how Birthing Pod enables shenanigans wherever it’s legal.
Constructed: 3.5 (might be low, but 6 mana is definitely enough of a sticking point to where I’m not sure if she’ll have a sustained impact)
Limited: 4.5 (her +2 is a harder sell here, which actually is where her +1 and -1 abilities have room to shine)
Commander [EDH]: 4.5 (another Birthing Pod? sure, why not)
Vivien is about one generic mana too expensive but outside of that, this is a fantastic planeswalker. The +2 ability is birthing pod, literally birthing pod! This alone will make Vivien the target of your opponent’s creatures and spells to avoid you getting a stronger beefier creature. This is a game winning ability and it is a plus ability at that! The second plus ability gets a little overshadowed by the +2 ability but it is still very good, getting cards into your hand in green isn’t easy but this makes it possible also while stacking your graveyard (useful if you’re in Golgari colors). It can set you up to get a creature then on your next turn (assuming Vivien lives that long) you can use the +2 ability to get a bigger creature.
The minus one ability is good as well, not game breaking but still good. In a jam, or to protect Vivien, you can get a 4/4 rhino creature. A 4/4 is nothing to scoff at, it can do some damage and pose as a significant threat. I think all in all this should have had the abilities reversed but lets see how this plays out in standard and other formats!
Commander [EDH]: 4/5
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