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Bundled in the scrum of red and colorless cards from Oath of the Gatewatch — for the four hundred twenty-third and most recent episode of Top 8 Magic begins that venerable podcast’s world famous set review sequence with the aforementioned red and coloress cards — is the heretofore unheralded Reality Smasher.
To begin with, Reality Smasher is a 5/5 creature for five mana (5<>). There was a time when the stats alone would give a player pause. And Reality Smasher has not one, not two, but three abilities (one unique).
Compare to Baneslayer Angel:
Baneslayer Angel had four abilities, with flying and lifelink insanely relevant; and first strike and protection from demons and dragons somewhat less so. We’re not saying that Reality Smasher is necessarily as good as Baneslayer Angel, but Baneslayer Angel was declared the best large creature “of all time” by Pro Tour Hall of Famer (and two-time PT Champion) Brian Kibler as he used it to win an Extended Pro Tour. Baneslayer Angel was not only also the apex of Andre Coimbra’s Naya Lightsaber pyramid, but the pivot point around which large format creature fights revolved for several large events.
So for context’s sake Reality Smasher is similar size (5/5) for an [essentially] easier cost (4<> v. 3WW). It has only three abilities to Baneslayer Angel’s four abilities, but two of those abilities are haste and trample!
To begin with, haste is maybe the strongest of the default keyword abilities (competing, probably, with flying). And while Reality Smasher doesn’t have flying, trample does a nice proxy job (especially when combined with haste here). Of course it is the third, unique, ability that makes Reality Smasher interesting to talk about:
Whenever Reality Smasher becomes the target of a spell an opponent controls, counter that spell unless its controller discards a card.
Here is something that Reality Smasher has, that Baneslayer Angel always took criticism for lacking: Some amount of resilience. No, this isn’t hexproof; the opponent can, in fact, target Reality Smasher with the veritable Doom Blade and force you to put your five drop into the graveyard. On balance, it can be costly for the opponent to do so because it is not one Doom Blade but two total cards that will be required… Meaning that disruption — specifically hand destruction — can be an effective setup strategy for this big creature. Think about how Reality Smasher might work well with Duress, Demonic Pact, or Thought-Knot Seer.
… The opponent might just not have the materiel to fight it!
Of course they did all the red and colorless cards, of which Reality Smasher was just one 🙂
Listen to “Top 8 Magic #423 – Oath of the Gatewatch Complete Review: Red & Colorless” now: