Is Viridian Revel Good Yet?

Jake FitzSimons • April 27, 2022

Viridian Revel, by rk post

Streets of New Capenna is fresh from the printers and flying off the shelves, and if there's one thing it has in overwhelming abundance, it's Treasure. Those pesky things we used to call Gold back when King Macar and Gild were young, that some particularly elderly players even think of as Lotus Petals. I'd say they're back, but they never quite left since they became ubiquitous around the time of the first Commander Legends. What matters is that in order to make a shard-themed standard set work (hoping to avoid the mistakes Tarkir made with fetchlands), the streets are awash with Treasure.

What that means for you, dear Commander player, is you'll be seeing an awful lot more of it at your tables. It's early days yet, and I'll have clearer thoughts in my set review later this week, but I see four key cards from New Capenna making their way to a cEDH pod near you. Those are An Offer You Can't Refuse, Professional Face-Breaker, Sticky Fingers, and Smuggler's Share, with some chance we'll see Goldhound and Seize the Spotlight in specific decks. Whatever you think of my assessment, I'm sure you can agree that at least one of these cards will see widespread play, and like it or not, Treasures are here to stay. We can only assume Commander Legends 2 will be more of the same.

Keeping The Treasure In Its Trove

Knowing that mana-producing sacrificial artifacts are now a major part of Magic design, one wonders what to do. The strongest, or at least most binary solution, is making those artifacts useless. Collector Ouphe, Null Rod, Stony Silence, and Karn, the Great Creator have never been quite so good as they are now, and I encourage you to run them whenever you can. Crucially though, the first three of those are symmetrical effects. Shutting off artifacts entirely is no doubt a powerful lock, but it's one that you either need to play around, or build your deck around.

Just in case you forgot what it looked like.

What if you'd like to run artifacts and even Treasure-makers so Ouphe and the like are out of the question, but you want to take advantage of the fact that nearly everyone else is doing the same these days? I suggest one answer is the overlooked Viridian Revel, a three-mana enchantment that will sometimes draw you as many cards as a Rhystic Study. Hell, the way we're headed, that might become most times.

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We've Been Here Before

We really have. Viridian Revel reminds me a lot of Compost, Verity Circle, and Runic Armasaur: an incredible source of card advantage if your opponent happens to be doing the thing. The problem being that you can't always be sure someone at the table will be doing the thing.

Compost has fallen in and out of vogue, but Armasaur and Circle were flashes in the pan, rarely showing up today outside of flex slots in decks that know precisely what sort of meta they're playing into. While there are no shortage of non-mana activated abilities (everyone plays fetches at the very least) for the Dinosaur and plenty of mana dorks to trigger Verity Circle, there are pods where they simply won't draw you enough cards. As I see it, they cost too much for too little return, even in ideal pods. Three mana is a fine rate for a source of card advantage, but you really want that advantage to be reliable. In my experience, Compost, Verity Circle, and the dino always fall short of the bar.

Revel is different because while you can find a pod with no black decks, one with no dorks, or one with no activated abilities outside of lands, you'll be terribly hard pressed to find one that isn't sacrificing Treasures - let alone artifacts, but we'll get there - in some capacity. If you don't believe me, let's begin by looking at every Treasure-producing card you can expect to run into at a cEDH table.

The Usual Suspects

First, the commanders. There are three powerful and popular commanders that will feed Revel by themselves; they simply don't have a choice. They are: Prosper, Tome-Bound, Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator, and winner of the largest cEDH tournament to date, Magda, Brazen Outlaw. It goes without saying that resolving a Viridian Revel against any of these commanders will lead to massive draw triggers, both over the course of the game and when they eventually pull the trigger and go for the win.

Viridian Revel can be removed (albeit not easily in black in red, the worst offenders when it comes to Treasure abuse), but it cannot be easily played around. If I'm playing Prosper, I could choose to do nothing and never crack a Treasure, but I'd be shooting myself in the foot completely, and if were to play that way, sandbagging until Revel gets removed, the card would have already done its job, crippling my development and gameplan. The same is true of Prosper and Malcolm. It's even true of Oswald Fiddlebender and Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle, who, while not being Treasure commanders, sacrifice artifacts like they have personal vendettas against anything and everything artificial.

But of course, a card that only works against certain commanders isn't good enough. For an engine like this to be worthwhile, it needs to be preying on the meta at large. Thankfully - or unfortunately, your opinion may vary - the meta right now may as well be guarded by Smaug: its Treasure as far as the eye can see.

Goblin on the Dock

The most obvious is Dockside Extortionist, a Goblin who needs no introduction. But it surprises some people to learn that Thassa's Oracle is not the most played creature in cEDH. Dockside is. This is because while there are blue decks that eschew Thoracle (it's not a great card without forbidden tutors), there aren't really* red any decks that say no to Dockside. It's just that good. More importantly, it produces an utterly terrifying amount of Treasures at once, and if you've resolved a Revel, a single Dockside is going to make your Viridian investment a lucrative one.

*Yep, I know there are red polymorph decks that don't run it. 

You won't just draw a fresh grip of cards from the average Dockside, you'll actually make their combo incredibly risky to execute.  Dockside loops typically involve infinite Treasure production, and executing such a combo puts the looper in a position where they risk the Revel player drawing into interaction. And that's just when it's used for a game-winning loop.

But again, being great tech against one card specifically does not a good engine make. So where else might we find Treasures in cEDH?

*Gestures broadly*

While their overall meta share might vary, we already have a bevy of Treasure-producing cards, some of which are incidental value generators, but many of which are key tools in game-winning combos. The value pieces cards like Grim Hireling and Smothering Tithe  produce Treasures at such a massive rate that they'll single-handedly justify the inclusion of Viridian Revel, never mind what the rest of the table is doing.

Played in near every deck that can run it, even the humble Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is a solid Treasure every turn, which a Reveller should read as a card per turn. Hell, I'd let the Ragavan player hit me for Treasure if I knew they'd use it immediately and draw me a card. Point is, the number of decks that rely on sacrificing artifacts is on the rise, and I can't see Wizards of the Coast pumping the breaks on the Treasure train anytime soon.

Is There Such A Thing As A Non-Treasure Artifact?

So I'm told. I've talked about the inexorable proliferation of Treasures as a mechanic, but it's easy to forget that are plenty of other artifacts that need to be sacrificed. Most obvious and popular are the lotuses.

Sitting at #7 and #22 on the cEDH staple list respectively, these are some of the most popular cards in the format, and they don't do diddly squat until they're sacrificed. This is only a drop in the bucket, and admittedly a card like Jeweled Lotus will likely be popped before you can land a Revel, but it's nice to know that the majority of decks in cEDH naturally have two artifacts they have to sacrifice to use.

Far more significant are the artifacts used to create infinite or psuedo-infinite loops. I'm talking about Grinding Station and Lion's Eye Diamond, often paired with Underworld Breach and a host of other enablers in order to combo off and win the game.

As with Dockside loops, executing one of these combos can be quite perilous. Every iteration is another chance for us, the Reveler, to draw into a piece of interaction that will not only stop the loop, but leave us with a hand so full that we're all but assured victory when our turn comes back around.

Beyond that, cEDH has plenty of incidental artifacts running about. Hope of Ghirapur will likely silence you, making the draw a tad pointless if you're hoping to interact, but it's one of couple of artifact creatures you can expect to see in decks like Winota, Yuriko, or Tymna & Jeska. And who could forget the best card in white's arsenal, Esper Sentinel? It's not like you need another reason to remove that pesky Esperian, but it's pretty cool to draw a card when he dies.

Isn't This Contingent On Specific Cards?

It is. The specific cards are ubiquitous, but the natural variance in a multiplayer singleton format means that there will still be times that Viridian Revel goes wanting. This much is a shame, but there are no shortage of playable cards that we can level the same accusation at. I've certainly had a Carpet of Flowers do absolutely nothing for turns at a time, even in pods with blue decks.

Now, I'm not going to claim that Revel is on par with Carpet, I only bring it up to illustrate that situational responses to meta trends can actually be quite good. I would also point to the fact that unlike Carpet or some of the value engines we spoke about, Viridian Revel players are able to guarantee their engine actually gets them somewhere.

Targeted artifact removal is no stranger to cEDH. Most decks looking to play anything other than a hardcore turbo gameplan will pack cards like this. While blue can rely on bounce spells - the most prominent type of removal in the format - the other colors aren't quite as lucky. This means two things. For one, you turn your own spot removal into card draw. Cantripping for doing what you already would have done isn't game-breaking, but it's certainly nice. For another, you stand to gain from your opponents interacting with each other.

Which is to say nothing of Culling Ritual, one of the most fearsome wipes in cEDH and an absolute pearler paired with Viridian Revel. Now, Culling is already powerful, it doesn't need any help. But it won't say no either. It doesn't matter who casts it, a resolved Culling Ritual with a Viridian Revel in play is going to lead to buckets of draws. Even better, costing 3 mana, Revel will survive the wipe.

Take It From A Pro

I'm open to the possibility I've jumped the gun a little early here. I've had my eye on the card ever since the D in cEDH started to stand for Dockside, but I've lacked the courage to go against the grain and test something that looks as meta dependent as Revel does. Or at least, as meta dependent as it did look. For the moment, this is theory crafting on my part, and I encourage you to pick apart my thoughts and give me your own.

If you'd like to hear the thoughts of someone who's actually good at Magic, take it from Jaaku. Winner of January's r/competitiveEDH cEDH league with Yeva, Nature's Herald and famed mono-green pilot, I asked them what they thought of Viridian Revel. Turns out they were a step ahead of me; they've been playing Revel for months!

Jaaku told me "I believe Viridian Revel should be in at least every mono green list. We've had great results in Yeva so far. Dockside just isn't as scary when it makes you draw a new hand." If it's good enough for someone that's really tried their hand at the C part of cEDH, it's good enough for me.

Revel in Review

Whatever you think, my hope is that this piece ages well. I've harped on about the saturation of sacrificial artifacts, and while we've seen a scintilla of self-awareness with cards like Gala Greeters and Ognis, the Dragon's Lash, I think Wizards is just getting started. Even with a rapid change of direction, it's only in the last two years Treasures have become so ubiquitous, and the gears of design turn slowly.

We'll have to wait and see what Commander Legends 2 has in store for us, not to mention the return to Dominaria and The Brothers War, but I look forward to coming back to this piece in a years time and exulting in my galaxy brain prediction (it's not mine at all, I'm far from the first to pick up on Revel) or laugh at just how foolish I was.

Until then, if you can't beat 'em, join em. With a few notable exceptions, I'd say in cEDH you have to fall into one of two camps right now; you're either abusing Treasures, or you're protecting them from abuse via stax. Viridian Revel may well prove a sweet spot between the two. If you end up testing this card, or you've already been trying it out, please reach out to me on Twitter, I'd love to talk about it!

Jake FitzSimons is a writer from Sydney and a Magic fiend. He's either the johnniest spike or the spikiest johnny, nobody is sure which. When he isn’t brewing or playing cEDH, he can be found writing, playing piano, and doting on his little cat.