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Just How Powerful is Riveteers Charm?

When you’re a Riveteer, you’re a Riveteer all the way. I was eagerly awaiting the preview of the new Charm for my favorite three-color combination. And boy, it’s exceeded any expectations I could’ve had! I can already tell that I’ll be playing with Riveteers Charm in a variety of formats.

Riveteers Charm

Let’s start by going through the modes one by one.

 

 

Exile target player’s graveyard.

Okay, this one’s not new or flashy. Specifically, it’s identical to a mode found on Jund Charm from Shards of Alara.

Jund Charm

Although most decks use their graveyard in small, incidental ways, exiling a graveyard typically doesn’t give you a full card’s worth of value. Plus, if it’s an effect you really want for a given matchup, you should find cheaper ways to do it than Riveteers Charm.

That said, the presence of this mode allows you to build graveyard hate into the structure of your main deck, without needing to play with overly-specific hate cards. This is useful for Best-of-One play. It also gives you that puncher’s chance of winning game one when you do face a dedicated graveyard strategy (think Modern Jund against Dredge or Reanimator). 

In Standard and Alchemy, I can envision it coming up against Lier, Disciple of the Drowned. However, there’s another mode that’ll be strong there as well.


Target opponent sacrifices a creature or planeswalker they control with the highest mana value among creatures and planeswalkers they control. 

In essence, kill their best thing with no questions asked.

Crackling Doom

This mode reminds me a lot of Crackling Doom. I can’t say that it’s better, because I have a lot of respect for the way incidental damage can add up over the course of a game (Crackling Doom also doesn’t target the player, which can be good in corner-case scenarios). However, expanding the scope to include planeswalkers is a very good thing. Again, you can now build in answers to problematic threats without needing to play overly-specific answer cards. Your removal spell also won’t be a dead card against creatureless control decks. 

Now you can get your mileage from a removal suite that features Power Word Kill, Infernal Grasp and Riveteers Charm instead of needing to play anti-planeswalker cards like Hero’s Downfall

There will be some situations where this mode won’t kill your first choice of opposing threats. For instance, the opponent might have two threats with the same mana value, in which case they get to choose which to sacrifice. There might be times when they play The Wandering Emperor and make a token, and you’d rather kill the token than the planeswalker. It’s also not particularly good against creature-lands like Den of the Bugbear.

But Riveteers Charm more than makes up for these cases with the times that it makes things hard on the opponent. For instance, this cuts straight through hexproof, ward and protection abilities (Modern players are looking at you, Sanctifier en-Vec and Slippery Bogle). It won’t trigger Goldspan Dragon to make a Treasure. It could also care less about cards like Snakeskin Veil, Tamiyo’s Safekeeping and Valorous Stance

Snakeskin VeilTamiyo's SafekeepingValorous Stance

Finally, if you intend to kill a certain creature and the opponent tries to remove it from the battlefield in response–say by sacrificing it to Deadly Dispute, or returning it to their hand with Fading Hope–this mode will then kill their second-best creature instead. I love it when my cards leave the opponent with no good options.


Exile the top three cards of your library. Until your next end step, you may play those cards. 

Finally, we have a very nice card advantage option. This mode is like Light Up the Stage and Reckless Impulse, except that it’s an instant, and offers you three cards instead of two.

Reckless ImpulseLight Up the Stage

Being an instant is huge, because you can cast it at the end of the opponent’s turn to set yourself up. 

It’s worth noting that this effect doesn’t scale quite as well as normal card drawing. In other words, drawing three cards is more of an improvement over drawing two cards, than “lighting up” three cards is an improvement over “lighting up” two cards. 

The reason is that there’s a greater risk of cards going unused. If you exile multiple lands, you can still only play one. If you exile multiple expensive spells, you’ll be choked on mana.

Still, I want to be clear that this is a very desirable effect, particularly for a color combination that lends itself to playing on its own main phase and settling into grindy midrange games.

 

Header - Tying It All Together

Looking at each mode individually, I think the sacrifice mode is very strong, the “light up” mode is solid and the exile graveyard mode is situational. However, the key is that you get them all rolled into one card that’s exceptionally versatile, and will serve you well in basically all situations and matchups.

I’ll be starting Riveteers Charm as a four-of in Standard and Alchemy. I might scale down to three or two in Historic, Pioneer and Modern, but I’m excited to play with it in those formats as well. It’s a versatile removal spell that answers everything from Goldspan Dragon to Hullbreaker Horror to Sanctifier en-Vec to Murktide Regent. It gives you more gas in the tank when you need it. It can even give you a fighting chance in game one against niche, graveyard-based strategies.

Something else that I love about Riveteers Charm is how it will make sideboarding easier. 

I don’t want to cut all of my removal spells against control decks, since I want to cover Hullbreaker Horror, and don’t want to be surprised by Smoldering Egg or Goldspan Dragon off the sideboard. However, keeping in Infernal Grasp can be miserable in games where they play all card drawing and planeswalkers. Now I can simply keep in four Riveteers Charms and get insurance against everything while never having a dead card stuck in my hand.

On the flip side, for matchups like White Weenie where you want to bring in every single cheap card that kills a creature, Riveteers Charm helps you maintain some card advantage so you can still grind them out in the midgame.

Did I mention that I like this card?!

As one interesting postscript is that if Riveteers Charm becomes highly played as a removal spell, it will make the legendary Dragons from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty more desirable. The Riveteers Charm player won’t be able to avoid giving you powerful dies triggers.

Ao, the Dawn SkyJunji, the Midnight Sky

 

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