Wow. Witherbloom’s Elder Dragon does not disappoint. Seven mana is a steep price tag, but Beledros delivers everything you want in a top-end win condition. Let’s go through the important qualities.
First, you don’t want your work to be undone by a single removal spell. If I cast an Enormous Baloth and you answer it with Heartless Act, you’ve earned a massive profit in terms of mana and I have nothing to show for casting my big creature.
Beledros combats this problem in two ways. First, she generates tokens every upkeep (note: not just your own upkeep), which means that you’re getting an irreversible advantage every turn the opponent waits to remove her. Second, you can untap all of your lands right away in order to continue hammering your battlefield advantage. In the best case scenario, you could even use your extra mana to protect Beledros, like in a Sultai deck with permission spells.
Next, you want to stabilize the battlefield immediately. This is important because decks with higher mana curves might find themselves behind on the board by the time they’re resolving their big spells. Again, Beledros accomplishes this by generating a life-gaining token right away. One common pattern would be your token blocking their biggest creature while Beledros herself makes a safe block and picks off a weenie creature. And while you might not be excited to pay 10 life against Mono-Red, there are certainly matchups and situations where that can be a useful option. Maybe you cast Beledros, untap and clear their board with Shadows’ Verdict. Maybe you feel safe with the option to access mana for instant-speed removal against an Embercleave or Maul of the Skyclaves.
Beledros Witherbloom makes for an incredible combo with one of Standard’s hottest cards.
You’re probably winning if you can cast an Elder Dragon and Alrund’s Epiphany in the same turn, especially if your deck is designed to maximize such moments. Unfortunately, Beledros isn’t a natural fit with Emergent Ultimatum, since it only finds monocolored spells. Nonetheless, I’m excited to try out some Sultai control and ramp decks with the new toys from Strixhaven. I also like the idea of Beledros in any deck with Turntimber Symbiosis.
Beledros also becomes better the more life gain you have in your deck, since she offers you the ability to exchange life for other resources (mana, tempo, whatever you like to call it). Maybe a Golgari-based creature deck with Scavenging Ooze and The Great Henge could be interesting? Henge helps you reach seven mana while buffering your life total if you want to spend 10 on a key turn.
I’ve only scratched the surface of what you might do with this exceptionally powerful card. Let me know in the comments if there’s a shell or a combo that makes you excited to play with Beledros Witherbloom.