Gideon Jura is an epic Magic card. Sometimes it’s a white Flametongue Kavu, sometimes a one-card turbofog, and sometimes it beats you to a bloody pulp. I’ve seen him step in front of a million Faeries to win a game of Modern, and I’ve seen him get Zealous Conscripted, animated, and then blinked with Restoration Angel to permanently switch sides. I once took down a PTQ with him in an 18-land Delver deck.
With those kinds of memories to live up to, Gideon, Champion of Justice was a major letdown. It was still a passable win condition, but it lacked the utility of the original.
The new Gideon is even smaller, but comes with a much more impressive toolkit and less variable stats than Champion of Justice.
I’m going to take a moment to reflect on how awesome the planeswalker flip cards are from a flavor perspective. Flipping once certain conditions are met tells a tale on the battlefield, and adds a bit of story to the in-game experience. It’s the type of transformation that Jane Foster went through after picking up Mjolnir, or Cain Marko after finding the crimson gem of Cyttorak and reading the stone’s inscription.
Henceforth, you who read these words shall become, forevermore, a human juggernaut!
As for the card itself, it helps that Kytheon seems fine as a Savannah Lions that can turn indestructible. Early, he can attack like any 2/1 and snowball a win against a stumbling opponent, and late game he can attack into anything and live to flip into Gideon. Heck, he can even stick around as a 2/1 and block indefinitely.
His flipped name is Gideon, Battle-Forged, which fits his flip condition (essentially a battalion ability), and you literally forge him in battle.
+2: Up to one target creature an opponent controls attacks Gideon, Battle-Forged during its controller’s next turn if able.
This is a watered down version of Gideon Jura’s ability, but in the situations where you’re only facing one creature (or one creature that matters) the abilities are functionally identical.
It’s nice to be able to +2 Gideon the turn he flips, as 5 loyalty is reasonably durable.
This is more of a concern at competitive rules enforcement and up, but be sure to always announce your target! Gideon’s +2 is “up to one,” which lets you uptick it on an empty board but also means that if you don’t announce your target—even when the opponent only has one creature in play that you obviously want to target—your opponent can claim you targeted nothing if you don’t announce it. I’ve asked a few different L2s how they’d handle such a situation and gotten a few different answers, so it’s worth being careful. Hopefully, something comes out in the set FAQ that makes this point moot.
+1: Until your next turn, target creature gains indestructible. Untap that creature.
You can attack with a creature, then use this post-combat to give it pseudo-vigilance. You can also untap pingers and mana dorks, save creatures from (your own?) wrath effects, or simply use the indestructible to make attacks that are uncomfortable for the opponent.
Ordinarily, I’d expect this to be the less-used ability, but due to Gideon’s flip condition it’ll be common for him to untap one of the other two creatures that attacked and give himself a blocker.
The +1 fits the rest of the card, and I love that it’s part of his toolkit, but I can’t help but feel that buffing your own creatures is more of an Ajani thing. At least he’s giving indestructible and not +1/+1 counters.
0: Until end of turn, Gideon, Battle-Forged becomes a 4/4 Human Soldier creature with indestructible that’s still a planeswalker. Prevent all damage that would be dealt to him this turn.
And here we are, the card’s bread and butter. In comparison, Papa Gideon attacks for 6, but Papa Gideon also costs way more. 4 damage is a relevant amount, as anyone who has ever been beaten down by a big Fleecemane Lion can tell you.
GW Megamorph is the perfect home for new Gideon. One of his biggest drawbacks is that he’s a legend so you don’t want 4, but you still want to see him. Here, Collected Company ensures that you’ll see him more often and will also have more attacking buddies.
Once flipped, the +1 ability is particularly good in this deck, allowing the Raptors to both attack and defend.
I don’t think new Gideon will see much play outside of Standard (if any), but here are a couple of possible homes:
If only Kytheon were an artifact, then maybe this list would make sense.
Kytheon is a bit less egregious here, and I could see Soul Sisters taking advantage of Gideon’s utility more than most.
The flip condition is easy to turn on, and the deck is already playing Windbrisk Heights, which has basically the same requirement.