By now it’s become clear that Ixalan is all about the Dinosaurs. And Naya is their primary habitat—not the particular Shard of Alara, but rather the color combination of white, red, and green. And the card we’re looking at today contains all of those bad boys. Or ladies. Whatever colors are.
Some cards create certain expectations. Uncage the Menagerie from Hour of Devastation felt like it should search for creatures that cost X or less. It felt like it should put them onto the battlefield. Cards don’t have to behave in a certain way—there’s no right or wrong way for a card to exist. But sometimes you just get a feeling from a card.
Those feelings can lead you to play cards incorrectly or assuming they do things they don’t. Like thinking Walk the Plank is an instant, based on the close corollary being Victim of Night, which is an instant. Our minds draw these conclusions based on previous information, as well as design habits we’ve seen in practice.
The reason I mention all of this is because Gishath, Sun’s Avatar hits all of the correct marks. Every. Single. One.
This is a card that only triggers when it connects with the player, which is made easier by having both trample and haste. There are regularly played creatures that have abilities that only trigger when dealing combat damage to the player, but don’t have any way to push that damage through. For Gishath, this is not the case (nor should it be when it costs a whopping 8 mana).
The other ability that hits the mark is its triggered ability. If you were to take a cue from a disappointing card like Uncage the Menagerie, a mythic no less, this could go a couple of different ways. Often, you tend to expect a powerful ability to accomplish its least powerful iteration. There are two of these with Gishath. The first is that Gishath can only hit Dinosaurs with a converted mana cost less than or equal to the damage dealt. Not so, however! Gishath is able to hit any revealed Dinosaurs, no matter the cost. This is huge! The second caveat is that Gishath can allow you to only choose one Dinosaur revealed. Also not so! If you hit 3 Dinosaurs, you get to put them all onto the battlefield. While this requires that you run a high concentration of Dinosaurs to be at its best, this is an extremely powerful ability, even if you only hit a single Dino.
In fact, the only metric that Gishath seems to be limited on is when considering the number of cards revealed. In this way, if it’s blocked by a 3/4, for example, you’re only going to be revealing 3 cards. While this is a hindrance, you’re still revealing cards and eating a 3/4 in this hypothetical.
Gishath is at its most terrifying after a board sweeper when you can play it onto an empty board, reveal the top 7 cards, and put any Dinosaurs among them onto the battlefield. That says nothing of the 7 damage that was just dealt.
With Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger out of the picture, ramp decks will definitely be looking for more exciting top-end cards. If you’re able to find room for more Dinosaurs in the ramp lists, this could be a great choice. Additionally, if you’re able to hit Wakening Sun’s Avatar, you can wipe the board of all the creatures that aren’t yours. Let’s not forget that, aside from having awesome synergy with Dinosaurs, Huatli, Warrior Poet also has an efficient falter ability that can all but ensure that your Gishath will get through for maximum damage.
Having a package of even 4 Gishath, Sun’s Avatar, 4 Wakening Sun’s Avatar, 4 Carnage Tyrant, and 4 Regisaur Alpha could prove enough. Assuming you don’t want to hit duplicate Gishaths, that leaves you 12 other Dinosaurs to hit. It’s probably closer to 10 if you take draws into consideration, which is 1 out of every 6 cards, statistically, which means that you should almost always hit at least 1 when you reveal 7.
I don’t know about you, but I welcome our new Dinosaur overlords, and I can’t wait to ramp into new 8 mana threats, as opposed to some tired old 10-mana aliens. Let me know what you guys are thinking in terms of Dinosaurs and the new Standard. I’ll catch you next time!