Some cards can be tricky to evaluate for Limited play, and our snap-judgments on release weekend won’t always be good enough. Dominaria has been out for six weeks now, which is enough time to get a handle on even some of the more complicated cards. One card that deserves a little more discussion is Garna, the Bloodflame.
Tips and Tricks
Garna is one of those cards I recommend rereading each and every time she makes a gameplay appearance. You know what she does and you’ve played with her before, but it’s still easy to forget a minor (and potentially deadly) detail.
Most players will remember either that Garna has flash, or that she gives haste to all of your other creatures, but it’s common to see someone forget one of those two abilities. In one of my Pro Tour Draft matches, I flashed in Garna at the end of the turn, untapped, and played Yargle, Glutton of Urborg to attack for 12 points of damage that my opponent hadn’t been counting on!
Having flash creates a lot of interesting decisions about when to cast Garna. It’s always tempting to ambush a small creature, but it’s usually safer to trade or chump in combat and then cast Garna at the end of the turn. If you’re working with an empty board, then sure, go ahead and ambush the 2/2 attacker. But what a shame it is to cast Garna before an interesting combat step, only to have her eaten by a removal spell or an Adamant Will. When in doubt, I recommend saving her until the end of the turn.
Garna creates a non-targeted triggered ability when she enters the battlefield, which means that you can take actions in between her entering the battlefield and your creatures getting returned. Want to sacrifice your Siege-Gang Commander, but worried that your opponent might Syncopate Garna? No problem! Cast her, see if she resolves, and if she does, you can respond to the trigger by sacrificing some Goblins.
This come up in conjunction with the legend rule, which happens instantaneously, before the triggered ability resolves. This means that two Garnas can loop indefinitely, protecting your creatures for the rest of the game.
Finally, Garna’s ability returns creatures put into your graveyard from anywhere, including if they’re milled or discarded. A common way for this to come up is if you have three cards in your hand and your opponent makes you discard with Caligo Skin-Witch. You can simply pick up your creatures at the end of the turn.
How Good is Garna?
Most people would agree that Garna is quite strong once you’re already drafting red-black. But is she good enough to make you move into a particular two-color combination early in the draft? My general answer is no. I would take any of the premium single-colored cards over Garna first pick, first pack.
But Garna can be a reason for me to move into a second color. If my first couple of cards are black, then I’m happy to pick Garna around pick 4 and start drafting red-black. In particular, she really shines in decks looking to grind with Dark Bargain and Ghitu Chronicler.
Once you’re already red-black, Garna has a similar power level to premium commons like Shivan Fire and Eviscerate. Under normal circumstances, I’ll still take the Shivan Fire, but if I have particular combos like Whisper, Blood Liturgist, Siege-Gang Commander, or Jaya’s Immolating Inferno, then Garna can easily get the nod.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this discussion about one of Dominaria’s more complicated cards. Let me know in the comments if you’ve had particularly good or particularly bad experiences with Garna, the Bloodflame.