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Sep 30 2014

Uncommon Sense – Burnished Hart

Welcome back to Uncommon Sense! I’m excited today to be talking about not just a great uncommon but a great card, a real stand-out among utility creatures – the Burnished Hart! One of my personal favourite cards from Theros block, and in fact one of my all-time top cards, the poor unfortunate Hart gets nowhere near the love it deserves. I’ve had games against friends where I’ve played this card, only to find the responses are inevitably both puzzled and negative. Why are you playing that? It’s rubbish! A clunky little artifact in a format fuelled by huge creatures and crazy combos? It’s a wasted play.

burnished

So reader, answer me this; what makes this card so good? If you answered “Um…not a lot?” then fear not – you may be wrong, but you’re certainly in the majority on that count. Like so many of us I originally picked up Magic in a 60-card format, and all too often struggle to shake off habits of thought learned during that time. Looked at through those eyes, Burnished Hart really is nothing special. It’s land ramp, but it’s slow and expensive land ramp, costing a total of six mana for two (tapped) basic lands. The cost is not worth the investment.

But this ain’t your grandpappy’s Magic. This is Commander. We can’t simply splash green and run four copies of Rampant Growth for our ramping needs. It’s a slower format that demands access to far more mana than an average 60-card game, and it’s here that the Hart finds a perfect home. I honestly don’t run a single deck that dislikes this card; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled is an impressive mana-hog and is built around a sacrifice theme, making the Hart a two-for-one that both drops land and triggers a variety of useful effects. Sharuum the Hegemon uses it to ramp far ahead of the curve by blinking herself and ressurecting the Hart repeatedly for two additional land drops per turn. Even Nylea, God of the Hunt, which is essentially a ramp-ramp-ramp-SMASH deck, runs the Hart because even in mono-green the opportunity for two forests going directly onto the battlefield rather than into the hand is worthwhile. The card can slot into literally any deck, thanks to its colourless nature, and there are very few decks that wouldn’t welcome two additional lands for a six-mana payment.

So, to sum up;

  • Colourless, allowing it to slot into any Commander’s deck
  • Activates any number of death triggers when ramping (Harvester of Souls, Falkenrath Noble, Death’s Presence) for additional utility
  • Can be used in the endgame as a chump blocker if necessary
  • Both a creature and an artifact, neatly fitting into the two cards types most easily recurrable to allow repeated usage
  • Ramps for not one but two basic lands, and puts those lands directly onto the battlefield
  • Cheap enough to be a potential turn three play with a turn four activation, making for a possible seven mana on turn five even without the use of other ramp cards
  • Works like gangbusters in any deck exploiting Landfall triggers – Rampaging Baloths on the board will pay out with two 4/4 tokens in addition to lands, and that’s no bad thing for only six mana

How many decks are there that really wouldn’t want to accelarate two turns ahead? One of Magic’s major limiting factors is the one-land-per-turn cap, and Burnished Hart busts right through it, whatever the deck. Give it a try, and when opponents try to sneer at you for wasting a card slot, just smile and think of your incoming turn five Giant Adephage.

 

4 comments

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  1. Kuchisama

    Hey Tom, thanks for another interesting card review!
    I also like the Hart but I can also understand people who don’t. I mean, you have to pay 6 mana in total for just two lands – compared to other cards with similar effects that’s quite a lot.
    When it comes to my own decks, Burnished Hart always finds its way in if I’m not playing green, so Kaalia, Gisela and a few others embraced it quite happily. The green decks though? They eschew it with a passion… 😉

    1. Tom Dawson

      The thing of it is, I do see why some people reject the Hart as too expensive, I just don’t think they’re fully considering how powerful it is once all factors are taken into account. Compared to similar effects, yes, 6 mana is expensive for two lands – except that those lands go directly onto the battlefield while the vast majority of ramping spells will simply put them into the hand, keeping you restricted to your single land drop per turn (barring cards like Exploration and Oracle of Mul Daya, which still only increase your land drops by one per turn). The only spells I can see from a quick flick through Gatherer that do the same for less-or-equal mana are Explosive Vegetation, Nissa’s Expedition, Ordeal of Nylea, kicked Primal Growth, entwined Journey of Discovery, Khalni Heart Expedition and Far Wanderings (assuming the Threshold is met, which in the early turns it may not be). That’s seven cards with identical-or-better effect, and only ONE of them – Explosive Vegetation – doesn’t require additional investment via playing other spells, attacking, earning +1/+1 counters etc before the effect can trigger.

      Additional to that, those cards are uniformly green. So out of the 8 cards that provide this effect within the relatively low mana range, only the Hart can fit into a deck that isn’t splashing green. More than that even, the Hart can go into literally ANY deck and still provide the same ramping effect that green decks have access to. That’s very powerful, in fact so much so that I run the Hart in mono-green decks to provide redundancy. It’s simply easier to trigger than many of the previously mentioned cards, and much, much easier to repeat, which brings me to my next point;

      Burnished Hart is a creature. We can do soooo much more with creatures than with anything else. If you’re really desperate for mana, you can Clone the Hart for additional lands. We can use it as an emergency blocker or even attacker. We can search it out much easier than other card types with the variety of creature-specific tutors. Most importantly, creatures are by far the most easily recurrable card type, allowing us to sac-and-trigger the Hart’s ability only to bring it back from the graveyard and do it again. The second most easily recurred card type? Artifacts. With the right cards we can sac-and-back Burnished Hart all day long for constant value. The bulk of mana ramp spells that use the same qualifiers – multiple lands, played direct to the battlefield – are of the instant/sorcery/enchantment variety and, while it’s not impossible, they are much harder to recur.

      When the whole package is considered, I think Burnished Hart is an incredibly powerful utility piece, so while I do understand that many players will dismiss it after just a glance – taking in cost and P/T before judging it unworthy – I think that with proper reflection many of those players would find their minds changed.

      Thanks for the comment!

    2. Wally D.

      Interestingly enough, there have been a few times when I have played Burnished Hart on turn 3 that he did not live long enough to sac and reap the rewards. Some of my playgroup has identified that ramp he provides and proceed to take him out in the early game. 🙁

  2. Wally D.

    Great article Tom!

    Although I prefer Solemn Simulacrum I still have quite a few decks that run Burnished Hart as well. Let’s face it, Hart will always be waaaayyy more budget friendly than Sad Robot and honestly, if he resolves and survives, Hart can actually work better!

    Oh, and I have to include the old saying…

    Burnished Hart… goes great with Sun Titan!

    Looking forward to future articles!

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