When it comes to games of Magic, you can consider me a pessimist. I tend to think “how can this go wrong?” rather than “what happens if this goes perfectly?” As a result, I prize flexibility more than most people, which is part of why a card like Verix Bladewing is so interesting to me.

At four mana, Verix is a respectable card, but it’s not great. It is worse than other 4-drops that you could play. Namely, Rekindling Phoenix, but also sometimes Chandra, Torch of Defiance or Hazoret the Fervent in a more aggressive deck. At 7 mana, it gives you a much more powerful effect—Broodmate Dragon was a good card at 6, but one that is still weaker than most other 7 mana cards (compare it to, for example, Darigaaz Reincarnated).

The caveat here is that Verix isn’t a 4-mana card, and it isn’t a 7-mana card—it’s both. Yes, at 7 mana it’s weaker than other 7-drops, but what 7-drop sees play? The only one I can think of in Standard is Approach of the Second Sun, which is not at all the same type of card. In a lot of games, you don’t even get to 7 mana—you just die with that card in your hand, or the game is already won by then. That’s not to say the game doesn’t get to 7 mana a lot of the times too—it does—but people don’t play 7-mana cards because a card you can only play in half your games isn’t good enough. 7 mana cards rarely see play not because they aren’t powerful enough, but because they’re too risky.

With Verix Bladewing, there’s a lot less risk, because if it looks like you aren’t going to be playing a 7-mana game, you can just play it for 4. That’s a huge benefit from your 7-drop! Sure, you get a slightly worse-than-normal 4-drop, but if you have access to 7 mana, then it becomes much better than the other 4-drops you can play. Broodmate Dragon is a powerful card in any sort of stalemate or attrition matchup, and giving your 4-drop the ability to be that is probably worth making it slightly worse as a 4-drop.

Does that mean it’s better than the other 4-drops you could have? I think it’s different. In most decks, Rekindling Phoenix is still going to be better. But you can only play four Phoenix, and you could easily play two or three Verix Bladewings on top of those. You might be worried about Glorybringer killing it, but remember that Glorybringer says nonDragon, and both Verix and its token are Dragons. In the end, Glorybringer will be better than the 4-mana version but likely worse than the 7-mana version (which just makes sense given that it’s a 5-mana card).

I’m also particularly excited about the synergy between Verix Bladewing and the newly reprinted Llanowar Elves. Llanowar Elves is a very powerful card that wants you to play more 3- and 4-drops, and it always leads to more mana sources in a deck. You might cut one land for four Elves, but you’re certainly not cutting four lands for four Elves. This means that a deck that originally had, say, 24 mana sources, might end up with 26 or 27. For those, you need mana sinks, and Verix Bladewing is a way to use your excess of mana sources in the late game. With Llanowar Elves, the R/G Monsters deck can skip on some of the 2-drops it currently plays, and instead play bigger cards.

This is how I’d try it to start:

R/G Bladewing