To start, we see that he’s 7 mana for 5 loyalty – and with two +1’s, he’s going to tick up to 6 immediately. The value isn’t too bad here.
He’s well out of burn range, even from the new burn card with convoke and the returning Lightning Strike.
His four abilities are pretty impressive, though.
+1: Destroy another target planeswalker.
+1: Put a 3/3 black Beast creature token with deathtouch onto the battlefield.
-3: Destroy target creature. You gain life equal to its toughness.
-8: Target opponent gets an emblem with “Whenever a creature attacks you, it gets +5/+5 and gains trample until end of turn.
His two +1 abilities are where he really shines.
His first plus that destroys planeswalkers is both fantastically playable (though it isn’t quite hero’s downfall, as this can only hit the planeswalkers) and very flavorful as Garruk is supposed to be hunting planeswalkers. Being able to kill Jace, Architect of Thought
and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion in Standard is pretty solid.
His second plus still lets you do plenty when there aren’t any other planeswalkers around. You get a 3/3 black beast with deathtouch. For a plus, that’s a fairly solid power.
His -3 destroys any creature, and you gain life equal to its toughness. With Gray Merchant of Asphodel running around, -3 to kill a 2/4 and gain 4 life is pretty good, though Gary is usually the least of your worries once you’re at 7 mana.
His ultimate, at -8, is interesting to say the very least. Target opponent gets an emblem that gives all creatures that attack that player +5/+5 and trample. This ability confused me for a little bit, but you need to think of it from a casual point of few first. The opponent gets the mark because in Commander, it’s a multiplayer format – you drop the ultimate on whoever you want off the table, and that +5/+5 and trample definitely makes it a lot easier. In one-on-one however, it’s just ridiculous. Assuming you +1 3 times to get your 3 3/3’s, after his ultimate they swing in for 24, and due to the interactions between trample and deathtouch, 21 of that damage is getting through most likely.
Now, the question is, is this standard playable? Or any other formats, for that matter?
For standard, I’m leaning towards no, but it’s possible depending on what we get in Khans.
Right now, Jund and BG devotion are both huge in standard, and this guy’s +1 bashes through the opponent’s Elspeths and Jaces handily, while pumping out 3/3 threats with deathtouch. Not to mention that his -3 is decent spot removal for bigger threats, and his -8 is game ending with enough creatures on board.
As far as other formats, 7 mana will usually be better spent than on him in competitive formats, but I definitely see him seeing Commander play, especially in Superfriends. I personally could definitely see him seeing play in a few of my decks that play both of these colors.
Time will tell if he sees play, but I personally like the direction Garruk’s been taken in, and this is definitely very similar to his player card.
In fact, it’s a fairly close mirror. 4 abilities, makes dudes, kills stuff. Fairly straightforward things. I’m glad they saved the cooler name for the set card and not for the event card.
Until next time.