Looking at a Random Card: Suncrusher
(What am I doing here? Read here!)
Suncrusher: Here we have one of those ridiculously expensive rares which tend to elicit the comment “good in EDH” on the MTGSalvation boards, usually implying that it sucks everywhere else. I already explained that I’m not rating cards for multiplayer formats, so it will not come as a surprise that I haven’t a lot of good things to say about this Fifth Dawn rare.
The design of Suncrusher, however, just baffles me! What is the point of this monster? On one hand, it uses the sunburst mechanic which rewards you for being able to spend as many different colors of mana as possible. On the other hand, it requires a whopping NINE mana to cast. Encouraging you to play a multicolored deck, but also to ramp up your mana that far seems somehow excessive to me. In any case, I’ve found that nine mana is to high a cost for a card in ANY environment I enjoy playing! Any card you can count on to sit uncastable in your hand for the first 10-15 turns of a game (assuming a reasonable mana ratio and no combo approach to generate lots of mana fast) is simply annoying. I grant that at least this is not one of those absurdly overpowered creatures which wreak havoc if cheated into play via reanimation or similar means, since it is useless without the counters it only gets when being cast. However, I never understood the appeal of absurdly expensive cards with absurdly powerful effects: Most 6-mana-creatures already dominate the battlefield pretty impressively, and going up to 7 and 8 mana explores the realm of rewarding you with excessive power for patiently waiting well enough.
I don’t even think that the card plays well once cast. If it is big enough – say, 7/7, or 8/8 – you will probably just swing with it to end the game fast, something you could have done better with creatures hitting the battlefield much earlier. Otherwise, you’ll use it to remove your opponent’s creatures slowly one by one, and refilling its counters by bouncing if necessary, and I just don’t see that this is what you expect from a card you already waited so long to cast for, or that it would be especially enjoyable for either you or your opponent. The line between a satisfyingly strong effect on a very expensive creature and a card which stupidly and immediately wins you the game as soon as it enters play is admittedly thin, but there are a few examples proving that such designs are possible in the 7- and 8-mana area, like Angel of Despair or Scourge of Kher Ridges.
So what vexes me about this card are the following things: Being expensive AND asking you to play many colors is excessive; 9 mana is simply too much anyways; and even on the battlefield it is kinda unexciting, yet annoying for an opponent powerless to stop it. Oh, and concerning its flavor: I have no clue how these mechanics relate to any not entirely abstract concept.
I don’t think Suncrusher would ever be missed in any format (possibly – but really just possibly – with the exception of some multiplayer variants). On the plus side, it is at least not overpowered in any way and thus unable to ruin any environment. That fact keeps it from getting an F from me (it’s just fair to be as stingy with Fs as with As). So here comes another well-deserved E.