Ah, spoiler season. A time when every night at 11:59PM Eastern, Magic enthusiasts worldwide hammer on their F5 buttons on various websites, waiting for the latest morsels to be shared from the new set. Every card is met with similar reaction: unbounded joy from one corner, unfettered disgust from another, the remaining two corners preaching rational analysis. As each card’s target market changes, the roles rotate around the room like the dealer button at a poker table.
As part of Achievement Unlocked, my regular article series here on ManaDeprived, I choose goals set by readers and by myself and then build an FNM deck to try and reach as many of those goals as possible. Despite having been a Magic player for about 17 years and a provider of content for about 18 months, I have never before had the opportunity to bring a new and heretofore-unseen card to the masses. And yet here I am, about to unveil a particularly spicy number to you. I guess that means…
With that out of the way, let’s meet our card. We’ll start with the mana cost.
Hmm. OK, for that cost we’re going to want something that has a major impact on the board Seven-drops that have seen recent tournament play include Angel of Serenity, Karn Liberated and Elesh Norn. Well, perhaps the fact that our new friend is a creature will help. What’s in the bottom right of the card?
So we have a 4/7 for 5WW? That sounds a little familiar. Although we’re going to need an amazing set of abilities to make this baby into a tournament staple. How about we take a peek at the first line in the text box:
Oh come on. They wouldn’t reprint a Phyrexian Legendary Praetor in Ravnica would they? Well no, they wouldn’t. The card IS seemingly part of a cycle though, the one that staples a powerful spell from yesteryear on to a relevant creature body. First we got Rune-Scarred Demon and Sphinx of Uthuun, now we have Luminate Primordial!
Something else I always wanted to do? Slow-roll a reveal like they do on DailyMTG.
If you’re anything like me, your first reaction to this card was a head-scratch, followed by a head-shake. A seven-drop that gives your opponent life? PASS. I was not exactly happy with KYT that the first preview card I get was seemingly unplayable. Of course I had to write about it anyway, so I started looking harder at the card. That’s when I realised that this card was Swords to Plowshares on legs, similar to how the Sphinx was Fact or Fiction on wings and the Demon was Demonic Tutor on…horns? Sure, that works.
Unlike with Angel of Serenity, Fiend Hunter, Oblivion Ring, Detention Sphere or a host of other white removal, the exiled creature is gone. For good. Permanently. It has rung down the curtain and gone to join the choir invisible. Barring Misthollow Griffin shenanigans, this is as good as removal gets: unconditional exiling. The only other card in Standard that exiles with no restriction is Trostani’s Judgment, and that costs 6 with a minor upside. I think most will agree that a 4/7 vigilant creature is a bigger upside than Populate. The vigilance and the huge backside on this baby will also virtually guarantee a stop sign on another creature, essentially nullifying two threats across the board. Oh, and it’s not an Angel, making it a perfect candidate for Restoration.
The obvious place for Luminate Primordial to see play is around the kitchen table in multiplayer variants, especially in Commander. Being able to pick off a major threat from each player and still give yourself a strong blocker for a reasonable (in multiplayer) cost is a recipe for success. Add blue to your deck for perennial multiplayer favourite Deadeye Navigator, and you give yourself an at-will Plague Wind. Sharing out a little extra life will help take the sting off things for the victims, and as long as you are judicious with the use of your death ray you shouldn’t completely irritate the table.
In limited, you really need a seven-drop to give you a swing from losing to parity, from parity to winning or from winning to certainty. Luminate Primordial does that, taking out the opponent’s biggest threat and giving you a quality offensive threat that still gets to block another big threat. He breaks stalls and provides the finishing blow you sometimes need. We don’t know how fast that Gatecrash limited environment will be just yet, but the games where this hits the board will often be resolved in its controller’s favour.
The question that many people will be asking is whether or not this card is good enough to see constructed play. I think it has a shot. In standard we are already seeing cards like Drogskol Reaver, Angel of Serenity and Craterhoof Behemoth see play. Although they are clearly at the higher end of the power scale, I don’t believe Luminate Primordial is SO much worse that it will never get a look. That it can be blinked with Restoration Angel is a definite plus here, though its lack of evasion is hurting its chances somewhat. The exile ability is relevant with creatures like Lotleth Troll, Predator Ooze, Geralf’s Messenger and even in preventing Angel of Serenity loops.
One other potential application I see for this is in Legacy. Hold on, before you scoff and dismiss me as clueless, cast your memory back to the Goblins deck played by I believe Max Tietze, which ran a copy of Angel of Despair in the sideboard against Show and Tell. Luminate Primordial has a similar effect, only better and more permanent when it comes to things like Emrakul. It’s niche for sure, but that’s better than “unplayable.”
Personally, I am already working on a couple of Achievements to Unlock with this guy/gal/genderless being. One will be to pair it with Deadeye Navigator and clear their board, which will be challenging but oh so rewarding when it happens. I also want to flash it in somehow, likely with Alchemist’s Refuge but possibly by destroying an Oblivion Ring or something, and blow out an attack.
The bottom line is that Swords to Plowshares now has legs. Big ol’ beefy legs, with cankles. And thunder thighs. And that’s a rear that Sir Mixalot would be glad to admire. Luminate Primordial will be a limited bomb, a Commander staple and might squeeze its way into some constructed decks needing powerful removal that can gum up the ground and beat for damage. At the very least, we get a creature that looks like Ultron-13, and if THAT doesn’t make you want a foil one for your EDH decks, nothing will.