Entering the battlefield with six loyalty counters, Vraska, Relic Seeker (Amazon / TCGPlayer) can make an immediate impact on the board. Her first ability adds two loyalty counters and creates a 2/2 Pirate token that has menace. This means that Pirate must be blocked by two or more creatures.
Her second ability costs three loyalty counters, but allows you to destroy an artifact, a creature, or an enchantment. Not only that, but you get a Treasure artifact token. That token can be tapped and sacrificed to give you one mana of any color to your mana pool. Removal that also nets you a free mana for later is pretty powerful. Since you can likely get two shots at using this ability, this makes Vraska’s casting cost already quite worth it.
Vraska, Relic Seeker’s ultimate ability costs ten loyalty counters, but is very worth using if you get the chance. This ultimate ability causes a target player’s life total to become 1. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how this can be good. This might as well read, kill your opponent this turn.
The only trouble is, six mana is a lot for a planeswalker in Standard. Granted, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion was a six-mana powerhouse Planeswalker at one time - and she still sees occassional play in Modern. But the major difference with her is that she had a more immediate effect on gameplay. She could bring three tokens into play right away and had the ability to take out multiple creatures at a time. That’s why Sun’s Champion is still an EDH staple.
Plenty of Commander players are happy to add Vraska, Relic Seeker to their decks. She passes the Doubling Season test; she gets twelve loyalty counters upon entering with that Enchantment in play. The targeted removal is very useful, especially as it hits more than just creatures. The token creation is somewhat less important in EDH, but card advantage in any form is good. The ultimate is good in any format, too.
For Vraska, Relic Seeker to stand out in Standard, it seemed she’d have to carve out a niche in some type of mid-range deck. The power level of this Vraska planeswalker is obvious, though. Right away, she found more than a few mid-range homes. Early on, Reid Duke tried out the Ixalan Vraska planeswalker in G/B Energy and G/B Midrange decklists.
More recently, Vraska, Relic Seeker has become a mainstay in 4C Energy, usually with one copy in the main deck, but occasionally two. As Duke initially discovered, the sort of mana ramp that Energy decks can offer make casting a 6-mana walker a lot easier to do. But because her abilities really work within any sort of deck, even a 5-color Approach of the Second Sun deck can manage to run a couple of copies!
How do you feel about Vraska, Relic Seeker? Did you foresee her strong competitive impact? Do you think her competitive pedigree will one day extend to Modern, as well?
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