Sometimes, you just need to kill a permanent or two, and it doesn’t really matter how much it costs.
More accurately, if you’re doing it right, it really doesn’t matter how much it costs.
…and when that’s the case, it’s perfectly acceptable for the solution to cost eight mana.
The Legacy Combo Deck “Everything” Tool
One thing I always want in a dredge deck is an “everything” out. That’s a universal tool that will keep me from losing to stupid things like a stable [card]Solitary Confinement[/card] (or, God forbid, [card]Elephant Grass[/card]) from an Enchantress deck in game one. Given that one of the things Dredge does best is reanimate giant monsters, for the longest time my “everything” tool was this nice lady:
She’s a reasonable choice in pure Reanimator decks as well, and in the last year she gained some extra life as an awesomely unexpected sideboard card in Goblins decks. Just in case you missed out on that one, the goal is to have an Angel in hand when your opponent resolves their [card]Show and Tell[/card]. It goes something like this:
Them: “[card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul![/card]”
You: “Sweet. [card]Angel of Despair[/card]. Kill your [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card]. Swing with my free 5/5 flyer.”
I’m sure there are other contexts where it’s convenient to have a [card]Vindicate[/card] attached to a giant body—pretty much any time you can get it for free.
Sadly, the lady may need to hit the bench now.
Yes, You Might Cast this in Standard
There may be some circumstance in the new Standard in which I’ll pay eight mana to throw a lady on a flying lion into play, but I’m not going to focus on that today.
However, for those of you who have Standard on your minds, consider that Angel of Despair saw play in Solar Flare decks back when Ravnica was legal the first time around. I could easily imagine an updated Esper list running a few Riders as finishers:
Ashen Flare[deck]4 Azorius Charm
2 Far Away
2 Azorius Keyrune
2 Detention Sphere
2 Dimir Keyrune
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
4 Supreme Verdict
1 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
1 Obzedat, Ghost Council
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
3 Ashen Rider
4 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Godless Shrine
4 Hallowed Fountain
2 Temple of Deceit
4 Temple of Silence
4 Watery Grave[/deck]
That requires a deck that can stall long enough to hit eight mana in a near-honest fashion (in this case, accelerating a bit via Keyrunes) and a Standard environment that makes that deck a plausible option.
Alternately, there may be some fun options available with [card]Whip of Erebos[/card], if you can figure out how to ditch the Rider into your graveyard.
For One (Inconsequential) Mana More
Let’s compare my old standby, [card]Angel of Despair[/card], with our potential new lady, [card]Ashen Rider[/card].
In terms of the underlying body, they’re obviously the same. A 5/5 flyer is a solid option for a reanimation target—it’s too big to [card lightning bolt]Bolt[/card] (or [card lightning helix]Helix[/card]) and tends to finish games quickly even if it’s (somehow) the only creature you’re swinging with.
Both effectively “kill” any one permanent of your choice on the way in. That’s the main reason to run these cards in a deck such as Dredge or Goblins.
In almost every real-world case, exiling that target permanent is simply better than destroying it. A destroyed [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card] shuffles back into your opponent’s deck. Almost no one runs any way to recover an exiled card. So if your [card]Ashen Rider[/card] takes out that Emrakul, it’s gone forever. This is especially handy if you were facing down an opposing Reanimator deck which could just bring that [card elesh norn, grand cenobite]Elesh Norn[/card] right back to kill all of your Zombies, Goblins, or whatever.
I’m sure we can all think of edge cases where it’s better to destroy than to exile, such as the occasional instance in Dredge where we might need to kill one of our own creatures and somehow don’t have a sacrifice outlet.
Like I said, edge cases.
Everywhere else, exiling is superior.
…and with that in mind, how awesome is exiling twice?
In a Goblins or any other deck running [card]Ashen Rider[/card] as a one-of sideboard defense against sudden [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card]s, the second exile effect on death isn’t such a big deal.
In Dredge, there are so many ways and reasons to sacrifice one of your creatures. Just think about the joy of sacrificing some creatures to [card]Dread Return[/card] an [card]Ashen Rider[/card], exiling one of their permanents… and then flashing back [card]Cabal Therapy[/card], stripping key cards from their hand while you exile a bonus permanent.
Then, if you’re feeling especially cheeky, you can [card]Dread Return[/card] that [card]Ashen Rider[/card] again and cycle through the entire process one more time.
These Are the Easy Deck Lists to Make[card]Ashen Rider[/card] is the new [card]Angel of Despair[/card]. With that in mind, here are two Legacy lists featuring our new favorite lady of permanent removal:
4 Golgari Grave-Troll
4 Stinkweed Imp
3 Golgari Thug
4 Bridge from Below
4 Putrid Imp
2 Careful Study
4 Faithless Looting
2 Dread Return
4 Cabal Therapy
1 Flame-Kin Zealot
1 Ashen Rider
4 Cephalid Coliseum
4 City of Brass
4 Gemstone Mine
4 Lion’s Eye Diamond
2 Pithing Needle
4 Chain of Vapor
3 Surgical Extraction
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Ashen Rider
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria[/deck]
4 Aether Vial
4 Gempalm Incinerator
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Goblin Matron
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Ringleader
1 Goblin Sharpshooter
4 Goblin Warchief
3 Mogg War Marshal
2 Siege-Gang Commander
1 Skirk Prospector
1 Tin Street Hooligan
3 Bloodstained Mire
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Rishadan Port
3 Scalding Tarn
3 Relic of Progenitus
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Tin Street Hooligan
2 Krosan Grip
3 Ashen Rider[/deck]
Maybe Good in Standard, Definitely Good in Legacy
Time and the full spoiler will tell if [card]Ashen Rider[/card] is going to have an impact in Standard. In terms of Legacy, though, the card’s role is clear.
Ashen is the new Despair.
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