Ashiok, Dream Render Stops Opponents From Tutors and Searching Libraries
The first ability on Ashiok, Dream Render is especially important in formats like Modern because opponents can’t even activate their fetch lands! The best part about the ability is that you are unaffected and can search your library freely. Dream Render’s ability is also powerful in EDH where people are constantly searching their libraries with Tutors and similar abilities. Stranglehold is a powerful card in the format for this reason. Previously that ability was only available in Red and now it’s available in Blue & Black decks thanks to this planeswalker. This is an ability also relevant in formats like Legacy and Vintage, although it’s hard to say that Ashiok, Dream Render would see play in those older formats simply based on this ability.
Ashiok, Dream Render Exiles Your Opponents' Graveyards
Ashiok, Dream Render also has a second ability that could prove even more relevant than his Stranglehold-type ability. His minus-1 loyalty ability puts the top four cards of target player’s library into the graveyard, then exiles all cards from opponents’ graveyards. The wording of that is very important, because you can actually mill yourself, then Relic of Progenitus/Tormod’s Crypt just your opponents. Relic of Progenitus and Tormod’s Crypt see a lot of play in Eternal formats because of how powerful exiling the graveyard is against certain decks such as Phoenix, Reanimator, and Dredge decks. Because this Ashiok enters play with 5 loyalty counters, this is an ability that can be used a few times. Interestingly, this Ashiok planeswalker may be good in the very decks he’s good against.
Does Ashiok, Dream Render Work With Any Combo Deck?
While Ashiok, Dream Render doesn't currently combo with anything specific, there has been an interesting interaction found with the Dominaria Saga Fall of the Thran. That six-mana enchantment costs 6 mana to cast and destroys all lands. But, for the next couple of turns, each player puts two land cards from his or her graveyard back onto the battlefield. What makes this card even more powerful with Ashiok is that you can mill your opponent - or yourself - while exiling your opponents' graveyards along with all of their lands.
Basically, because Ashiok allows you to purge your opponents' lands from play, Fall of the Thran becomes one-sided and extremely hard for opponents to come back from. There's a Standard Esper combo control deck that puts this combo into practice called Ashiok Thran Combo. We'll see just how competitive this combo becomes in the format, but it is definitely a great interaction that can shut opponents out of the game.
Where Else Can Ashiok, Dream Render Fit in Modern, Standard, and Beyond?
It’s likely that Ashiok, Dream Render becomes a valuable sideboard card in Modern and perhaps even Legacy. At only three mana and a hybrid mana cost of blue or black mana, he can fit into a variety of archetypes without putting any strain on the mana base. He may come down too late to be viable in Legacy, especially since his graveyard hate ability is at sorcery speed, but he could still be relevant because of his static Stranglehold ability. In any case, he will see play, especially in Standard against Arclight Phoenix decks that he absolutely destroys if there are copies of Phoenix in your opponent’s graveyard. He may even come into play in Izzet Phoenix mirror matches. This is easily of the best uncommon planeswalkers we will likely ever see.
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