Ashiok, Dream Render Stops Each Opponent From Searching Their Deck
The first ability on this Ashiok planeswalker 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 EDH format for this reason. Previously, that ability was only available in Red; 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.
This Ashiok Planeswalker 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 a 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 planeswalker 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 was a Standard Esper combo control deck that puts this combo into practice called Ashiok Thran Combo. It never became a top deck in the format, but it was definitely a great interaction that can shut opponents out of the game.
While there are other Ashiok planeswalkers in other formats that fill spots in a mill deck strategy, Ashiok, Dream Render is a good option to consider in such a deck. Being an uncommon, it’s certainly a more budget-friendly option to other mythic rare Ashiok planeswalkers. .
Is Ashiok, Dream Render Good in EDH or Oathbreaker?
This Ashiok planeswalker is obviously good in EDH thanks to that Stranglehold ability. In fact, Ashiok, Dream Render sees play in about 9 percent of possible decks cataloged by EDHREC. Shutting down tutors and fetch lands is very powerful in EDH. It also offers another way to exile an opponent’s graveyard. While Ashiok is limited to color combinations that include blue and black - which isn’t the case in regular 60-card Magic - there are plenty enough decks happy to include this Ashiok card.
In Oathbreaker, Ashiok, Dream Render can be a competitive planeswalker to use as your Commander. This is because of the Stranglehold ability, which shuts down opponents’ fetch lands, very popular in the Oathbreaker format. A good Signature Spell to pair with Ashiok could be Yawgmoth’s Will, the powerful sorcery that allows you to play cards from your graveyard as if they were in your hand - the caveat being they are exiled if you play them.
Where Else Can Ashiok, Dream Render Fit in Modern and Pioneer?
The War of the Spark Ashiok planeswalker has become a valuable sideboard card in Modern. Ashiok, Dream Render can be found in the side decks of Jund, Bant Snowblade, Grixis Death’s Shadow, and other competitive Modern decks. At only three mana and a hybrid mana cost of blue or black mana, Ashiok can fit into a variety of archetypes without putting any strain on the mana base. Ashiok, Dream Render has also been found in the occasional sideboard of Pioneer Sultai Inverter of Truth decks, as have other Ashiok planeswalkers.
Unfortunately, Ashiok would come down too late to be viable in Legacy, especially since the graveyard hate ability is at sorcery speed. The static Stranglehold ability can be useful, but not quite enough to be put in a Legacy 75. In any case, this Ashiok has seen plenty of play, especially in Standard against Arclight Phoenix decks. This Ashiok is easily one of the best uncommon planeswalkers we will likely ever see.
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