One of the best parts of playing Magic: The Gathering for me? Dropping a card so annoying that you could audibly hear your opponent sigh from the other side of the table.
There’s all kinds of cards in Magic with similarly obnoxious properties. Watching your opponent’s soul leave their body as a Jace mills their deck into oblivion. The pure obnoxiousness of casting Cyclonic Rift for seven, Magic’s metaphoric equivalent of an “I Win” button. Any card that destroys all lands on the board. (Or my personal favourite — using board wipes to deal with a single creature, because you can, your opponent knows you can, but they’re secretly hoping you won’t do it anyway.)
And naturally, Magic’s latest set has some similarly annoying bombs. Originally just called Innistrad: Werewolves, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt includes a series of double-faced werewolf cards with a transformative mechanic. But today we’re going to focus on an enchantment. It’s white, it’s rare, and it loves keeping you alive.
Sigarda’s Splendor: 2WW
- As Sigarda’s Splendor enters the battlefield, note your life total.
- At the beginning of your upkeep, draw a card if your life total is greater than or equal to the last noted life total for Sigarda’s Splendor. Then note your life total.
- Whenever you cast a white spell, you gain 1 life.
Here’s a bigger version of the card in play, complete with Howard Lyon’s excellent art:
Sigarda’s main problem here is that it doesn’t directly help you win games. That alone makes Sigarda’s Splendor a tough card to play in limited formats. If you don’t have a second card that pairs well with Sigarda’s life gaining mechanic, it’s a rare that’s very difficult to extract value from. The extra card drawing is nice, but it’s also easy to negate directly or indirectly too.
But it’s other formats like standard, Modern or Commander where Sigarda’s really gets interesting. It can pair with Felidar Sovereign in commander decks to end the game very quickly. Sigarda’s Splendor can also be extraordinarily destructive in cahoots with the indestructible Heliod, Sun-Crowned, which gives the player +1/+1 counters every time you gain life. Creatures like Linden, The Steadfast Queen provides life gain whenever you attack with a white creature. (The lifegain triggers separately for every creature that attacks, so having those three cards on the board at any given time can quickly result in a frightening board state.)
If you’re thinking of Commander specifically, there’s also combos with Trelasarra, Moon Dancer, a G/W legendary creature that gains +1/+1 every time you gain life, as well as letting you scry through your deck. And what if you want to turn that lifegain into a bit more direct damage? Well, there’s always Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose, a 2B annoyance that causes a target player to lose life every time you gain life. The new Innistrad set also has the mythic Angelic Enforcer, a card whose power and toughness are equal to your life total — a total which doubles every time it attacks. You also get hexproof as long as Angelic Enforcer is on the board, which can really put a clock on your opponent.
So with some of those options combined, Sigarda’s Splendor could make for some interesting interactions. I imagine it will still be difficult to incorporate in Standard decks, if only because there are a lot of faster options to build around. I’d love to see what some professional decks built around Sigarda’s Splendor would look like, and how they’d handle faster decks that come online before the fourth turn.
But hey, not every deck needs to dominate the meta. Sometimes it’s just fun to play cards that annoy the hell out of your opponent. A deck where you continually gain life — and potentially turn creatures into one-hit monsters — fits that trend nicely.
Innistrad: Midnight Hunt’s combination of vampires, zombies, warlocks, life-gaining spirits and transforming werewolves will become available from September 23. Magic: Arena and Magic The Gathering: Online players will get digital access to the cards from September 16 internationally.