Feeling a little wobbly? Are you tipping over? Maybe you need a little bit of Balance in your life.
Sadly, you can’t play this spicy white spell in Commander because of that pesky little thing called the banned list. And honestly, as much as I love the card, it’s for good reason. It’s a complete misnomer. There is nothing fair or balanced about the effect at most reasonable mana costs. And at just 2 mana, Balance is ludicrous and would lead to many non-games, especially in multiplayer. At least Restore Balance gives the table time to prepare for it while it sits suspended, but the immediate impact of Balance will cripple many opponents.
So that leads us to a question: is there any way to balance Balance to introduce it to the format? There is! Wizards has a reccurring cycle of creatures that emulate powerful spells from Magic’s history. These are the Magus cycles. Not all of the Magus cycles have been winners, but all of the effects attached to them are from some of Magic’s most fabled spells.
Magus of the Disk
Time Spiral introduced the first Magi to the game and provided an interesting way of printing powerful artifacts in creature form. Nevinyrral’s Disk, Cursed Scroll, Mirror Universe, Candelabra of Tawnos, and Memory Jar were all represented. Of these, Magus of the Candelabra is still used in some EDH combo decks from time to time. But the summoning sick aspect of these cards made their artifact versions so much better that it eclipsed these for the most part.
Planar Chaos brought us a cycle of creatures that emulated lands. Arena, Cabal Coffers, Library of Alexandria, Bazaar of Baghdad, and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale all made their comeback here. Magus of the Cabal can be seen in plenty of mono-black decks since those decks love redundant copies of “make lots of mana” effects. Magus of the Tabernacle is seen in some stax decks and is an alternative for those who cannot afford the land version of this card.
Future Sight was the last time we saw a Standard-legal version of the Magus cycle. This time, some of Magic’s strongest enchantments were brought to life in creature form, including Blood Moon (curse you), Future Sight, The Abyss, Moat, and Eladamri’s Vineyard. Magus of the Moon sees plenty of play in EDH, as well as Legacy/Modern. Magus of the Moat even pops up from time to time as a redundant or budget alternative to Moat in control or stax decks.
When is it Good?
Over the years of Commander products, Wizards has printed more Magi to evoke some powerful enchantments from the archives. Wheel of Fortune, Mind’s Desire, and Yawgmoth’s Will have all made an appearance. Today, I am thrilled to bring you our Commander 2018 preview, the fourth of the sorcery-cycle of Magi, Magus of the Balance. Here he is in all his glory…
Magus of the Balance is one of the cheapest Magi printed to date, costing just 2 measly mana. It should have been named Magus of the Grizzly Bear! Either way, that effect isn’t just fluff—it’s got real teeth. Let’s break down just how useful Balance’s effect will be.
When you’re behind on board: Magus of the Balance requires you to be able to untap with it. If you can somehow have him live the turn cycle, you will be able to equalize the awful situation you may have found yourself in. Removing creatures, regardless of their abilities, should provide you plenty of breathing room to reestablish dominance.
When you’re behind on mana: Have your opponent(s) started to ramp things up to the max? If you are falling behind in the mana game, you may eventually lose in the late game. Magus of the Balance says “No, no more, enough is enough.” Setting everyone’s mana base back to normal is a great way to not only destroy unequal resources but preemptively stop any crazy plays you may not have been ready to tackle down the road.
When you’re behind in card advantage: It’s rare for white cards to be able to interact with the opponent’s hand. With Magus of the Balance, you’re in luck. If anybody at the table (it doesn’t just have to be you) is running low on cards, everybody gets thrown in the same boat. Those were cards your opponents spent time and resources to accumulate and now they are in the bin. Bye, Felicia.
When you’re ahead: Attack them for 2!
My favorite part about this card is that it is incredibly hard to play around. Generally, you want to develop your resources so that you can pull ahead of others at the table. Because of the scarcity of this effect in the format, it is rare to be punished too hard for going ham. Additionally, if you see the card in play, it’s not like you can just hold cards back like you would versus a typical board wipe. Because Balance goes after your hand size as well, nothing is safe, nothing is sacred. All will burn! Well, you can still play out enchantments, artifacts, and planewalkers, but yeah, just let me be happy!
While there is no doubt that the effect of this card is extremely powerful, that effect is strapped onto a fragile, summoning sick body. Especially if you’re behind on card advantage, it could be very likely that someone has a way to deal with this creature if they don’t want it going off. But I still can’t wait to strap some Greaves onto this card and watch the salt flow.
The last point I want to mention is the amazing artwork. There isn’t a subpar artwork for any of the previous Balances (Randy Gallegos and Mark Poole are both extremely talented). Kev Walker calls back on his Judge Promo artwork here and the comparison is both obvious, yet not similar enough to be simple mimicry. This is a great stand-alone piece, as well as a rich piece in context of Magic’s history. I suspect the original artwork to fetch a hefty price.
Thanks so much for reading—yes, even you folks who just skipped to the bottom to see the card.
Will you be giving Magus of the Balance a spin in your Commander decks? What do you think will be the final Magus to finish the cycle? It will be green for sure, but which sorcery will it be showcasing? Magus of the Eureka? Magus of the Order? Could we possibly see Magus of the Channel? Let me know in the comments below what you think. Until next time, live your life in balance—just make sure that the scales are tipped in your favor.
Wizards of the Coast provided this preview content for free.