I’ve got a very short one for y’all today, and Reid Duke already beat me to the punch.

[casthaven]Turn Against[/casthaven] ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, [casthaven]Ray of Command[/casthaven] is an amazing Magic card, and yes [casthaven]Act of Aggression[/casthaven] was insane, but [casthaven]Turn Against[/casthaven] is neither of those cards. While it’s still a powerful, splashable card, it’s nowhere near as good as it looks. Here’s why:

  1. Creatures have high toughness. When creatures have higher toughness than power, it’s difficult to make [casthaven]Turn Against[/casthaven] a 2-for-1. Oftentimes, you get to destroy a small attacking creature and gain a medium amount of life. That’s not a great deal for five mana.
  2. Creatures are often the same size. 2/3s are very common in this format and can’t trade for each other. In many board states, [casthaven]Turn Against[/casthaven] is just a bad fog, which isn’t worth one mana (much less five).
  3. Five mana is a lot more than three or four. There are a lot of mana sinks in this format, thanks to the Eldrazi and Awaken spells. Oftentimes, you’ll have to decide between holding up [casthaven]Turn Against[/casthaven] and committing to the board. If you do hold up five mana, you’re loudly signaling [casthaven]Turn Against[/casthaven] to your opponent, and if they spend their mana and pass the turn without attacking, you’re suddenly behind.
  4. Chump blockers are plentiful. The [casthaven]Threaten[/casthaven] mode isn’t the best option, but the versatility of [casthaven]Ray of Command[/casthaven] is what takes it from an often-insane 2-for-1 into a beast of a bomb-removal spell. In Battle for Zendikar, your opponents will often have blockers (either because of Eldrazi Scions, vigilant allies, or high toughness blockers), so [casthaven]Threaten[/casthaven] is a less effective spell.
  5. It’s at its best on defense, but many red decks want to be aggressive. If you’re attacking with [casthaven]Makindi Sliderunner[/casthaven]s [casthaven]Valakut Predator[/casthaven]s, your opponent is likely looking to block, not race you and enable [casthaven]Turn Against[/casthaven]. If you’re a slower red deck, you probably want to tap out for Eldrazi or [casthaven]Shatterskull Recruit[/casthaven] instead of hold up your mana. In neither case does [casthaven]Turn Against[/casthaven] easily slot into your game plan.

Act of Treason

Don’t take this article the wrong way: [casthaven]Turn Against[/casthaven] is a very powerful card with insane potential upside. I had the pleasure of having two copies (along with mythic uncommon [casthaven]Rolling Thunder[/casthaven]) at a draft this past weekend. It swung games to my favor, it was sometimes a 2-for-1, and it even let me swing for lethal on one occasion. However, it often wasn’t worth holding up when I could spend my mana on anything else. There are too many things to do with five mana in this format to justify holding up [casthaven]Turn Against[/casthaven] and then not casting it because the time isn’t right. And even if you can afford to hold up five mana, your opponent may be able to play around it or just won’t be badly affected by it.

So, while [casthaven]Turn Against[/casthaven] has very high upside, it’s still a situational five-mana spell in a format where most decks are already looking to spend their mana each turn and many red decks don’t want a spell that works best on defense. You should still draft it, splash it, and run it, but perhaps it’s not the mythic uncommon many expected it to be, and perhaps it’s better splashed than in a dedicated red deck.

Ray of Command

Thanks for joining me for a quick analysis of a contentious new uncommon. I’m curious to hear how your experiences with [casthaven]Turn Against[/casthaven] have gone. While its upside is exceptionally high, is the average case that good? Please share your comments below.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

—Zachary Barash


Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner, improviser, and game designer. He has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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