But oddly enough, I didn’t review Elspeth Tirel as my first card. That would come later. Instead, I pulled what at the time was one of my more exciting early pulls from a Magic: the Gathering pack.
Around my birthday, I went to the local New Phyrexia pre-release and pulled this guy, Urabrask the Hidden, in my second pack from the prize pool! (My first had Puresteel Paladin, which would turn out to be a pretty awesome card in Standard and later in Commander.) Here’s what I had to say about him.
Without a doubt, Urabrask was the best card I opened at the sealed deck this past Saturday, Urabrask the Hidden is a great card. Unfortunately, it was not pulled during the tournament, but in one of two packs acquired afterward in the prize pool. If I’d had this for my deck, it would’ve wreaked some serious havoc.
The praetors in this set (New Phyrexia) are all pretty good, but this is probably my favorite. What makes this card in particular very good is that its converted mana cost is only 5 for a 4/4 with two amazing permanent abilities. The idea that you could have this on turn 5, and possibly even earlier (especially in a red/green deck) is unbelievable. There are so many decks that a copy or two of this guy is capable of being splashed in! It’s not hard at all to produce 2 red mana, not with all the dual lands around.
This is easily one of the better cards in the set. I’m looking forward to reviewing the black praetor next, a card that I know everyone has seen already, and one that I actually think I may try to build a deck around in the near future. Let me know what you all think of this card, and stay tuned for more card reviews!
All I did back then was gush praise for Urabrask. But as we look at his abilities, we see that praise was definitely well deserved. I wasn’t incredibly well-versed in the ins and outs of Magic’s competitive metagame at the time. I didn’t realize that at 5 mana, Urabrask didn’t do quite enough to become any sort of staple. But his abilities were really solid.
First of all, a 4/4 for 3RR with Haste is plenty good. On top of that, his first ability giving all of your creatures haste, himself included, is a nice start. But it’s his second ability that stood out to me: forcing all of your opponent’s creatures to come into play tapped. Back during Shards of Alara, my first decks were red/green or red/green/white (Naya). Drawing on that experience, I obviously saw this being a super strong card in Constructed.
Of course, it didn’t fit well in the Standard meta of the time. The infamous Splinter Twin combo and Caw-Blade decks ruled the day at the time. While Urabrask, interestingly enough, actually stopped the Splinter Twin combo by making all of the “infinite” tokens come into play tapped, he really didn’t see any play. The mono-Red decks that were good at the time didn’t bother to include him since they wanted to win by the time he would even be cast. In Modern, it’s simply outclassed in the 5-drop slot by Xenagos, God of Revels and Thundermaw Hellkite. It’s a great card that just never got a chance to really shine in Constructed.
So while Sheoldred later became a Standard playable and Commander all-star, a lot of people forgot about Urabrask the Hidden. My good friend Urabrask didn’t go on to see much Standard play. However, he has been a very strong Commander card ever since his release.
He’s mostly played in Animar, Soul of Elements, Aurelia, the Warleader and Rakdos, Lord of Riots decks. Urabrask has also become a key contributor in fringe Commander decks such as Adamaro, First to Desire and Fumiko the Lowblood. Other popular Commanders that have included him more than 25 percent of the time include Gisela, Blade of Goldnight and Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer. He’s serviceable as a Commander himself, but with only about 25 decks listed on Tappedout and Deckstats, it’s clear he’s a pretty fringy choice for field general.
I don’t recall if Urabrask saw any Block Constructed play, as I didn’t know much at all about that format back in 2011, but it was still an actually supported format at the time. I’m just glad that New Phyrexia was my re-introduction to Magic. Without pulling this red Praetor, I may never have been excited enough to want to post a blog about my new Magic card adventures. I’ve had a lot of fun writing hundreds of reviews over the years, and I look forward to writing many, many more.