Faerie Mastermind: How Good Will It Be In cEDH?

Harvey McGuinness • March 30, 2023

Faerie Mastermind | Illustrated by Joshua Raphael

March of the Machine spoilers are now in full swing, but perhaps one of the most interesting and important cards the set brings to cEDH has already been out in the public for a while now: Faerie Mastermind.

The Breakdown

Faerie Mastermind is an efficient blue creature that brings with it three key components: it has flash, it has a static ability with the key line of text "draw a card," and it has an activated ability which can serve as an infinite mana sink when the need arises. So, let's break down this card line by line so as to understand just what exactly Faerie Mastermind has to offer.

First, on to the castability of Faerie Mastermind, at just two mana - one colorless and a blue - Faerie Mastermind has a casting cost that is on the more flexible end of playable utility creature effects; it certainly isn't a free spell to cast, but neither is it a particularly difficult mana investment. Dark Confidant, Ledger Shredder, Gilded Drake; these are all examples of creatures which share a similar cost structure as Faerie Mastermind and have been able to flourish as a result. Faerie Mastermind may not be as efficient as an Esper Sentinel, but that extra generic mana in its cost brings with it quite a lot of value.

There's also the crucial timing component to evaluate when casting Faerie Mastermind. At two mana and in blue, Faerie Mastermind occupies the same mana value of the most expensive counterspells (that you'll be spending mana to cast, at least), making the flash ability incredibly important here. This means that while you're holding up two mana, the rest of the table has to play around the possibility that you'll cast a counterspell in response to their threats. As such, while it may be a better value play to cast a Faerie Mastermind in response to an opponent drawing their second card of the turn so as to trigger its effect (more on that part of Faerie Mastermind in a bit), the ability to bluff interaction is as valuable, if not more so, than a single Faerie Mastermind trigger. Faerie Mastermind is a card that's going to be cast in a lot of opponent end steps, and its color identity makes this one of the card's greatest strengths.

Next up, on to the reason we'll be casting Faerie Mastermind: the triggered ability.

"Whenever an opponent draws their second card each turn, you draw a card."

Faerie Mastermind is going to be drawing us a lot of cards. Theoretically, this triggered ability represents the opportunity to draw twelve cards per turn cycle, assuming each player is already drawing two cards a turn, that is. While this ceiling is something I doubt many people are ever going to see in a game, it is worth noting just how easily Faerie Mastermind's ability can trigger. Mystic Remora, Esper Sentinel, Rhystic Study, either of Blue Farm's commanders (Tymna the Weaver and Kraum, Ludevic's Opus) - all of these are permanents which can repeatedly meet Faerie Mastermind's trigger requirement, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Any wheel also draws us three cards from each opponent triggering Faerie Mastermind, highlighting how we can also force our opponents to trigger Faerie Mastermind, netting us some excellent card draw so as to break parity.

Finally, the infinite mana outlet. For four mana, we can have each player draw a card. This is an ability which I doubt anyone is ever going to activate, unless they have mana sufficient to go infinite. Providing our opponents with a collective three cards against our one per activation at the cost of four mana is just not worth it even in the best non-infinite scenarios. Maybe, just maybe, could I see someone activating Faerie Mastermind in a turn where each opponent has drawn exactly one card, netting Faerie Mastermind's controller four cards total after all the triggers have resolved while our opponents draw a sum of three, but this condition isn't realistic.

Now, with infinite mana, things become a bit more interesting. Depending on how the game is gone, having each player draw cards equal to the number in your deck (more or less) may end the game for a couple of opponents along the way, before you drop your Thassa's Oracle, but even this is tricky because chances are your opponents will draw into some form of interaction. Dumping infinite mana into Faerie Mastermind is a dangerous bet, but one I can see some players making.

The Comparative Perspective

Faerie Mastermind is certainly a strong and versatile card, but there are plenty of creatures with flash in cEDH and plenty more that say "draw a card" somewhere in their rules text, so let's take a look at the two creatures which seem to give Faerie Mastermind the biggest run for its money: Ledger Shredder and Archivist of Oghma.

First up, Ledger Shredder. This blue bird brings with it the same mana cost as Faerie Mastermind and a similar keyword of "twice" in its trigger condition, making it the most direct card comparison to Faerie Mastermind. The two play very differently, however. While Ledger Shredder gives us card selection off of an arguably easier trigger condition (especially in the very early turns of the game) through its Connive condition, Faerie Mastermind provides us with extra cards in our hand, no strings attached. Think of it this way: would you rather draw an extra card each turn rotation, or loot twice per turn rotation? These are some terribly quick estimates for the relative frequency with which each card will trigger (something which I hope to have more data on as Faerie Mastermind hits release this April), but it nonetheless conveys a rough sense of what to expect when debating between if a deck should run one card or another.

Outside of trigger conditions, Ledger Shredder has the up on Faerie Mastermind in one other way: usefulness as a blocker. As Ledger Shredder triggers, it gradually grows in size over the course of the game. While this isn't immediately relevant, it does mean that Ledger Shredder can easily profitably block a plethora of key creatures currently running rampant in cEDH battlefields, providing a potential defensive shield against aggression from the likes of Blue Farm or Winota, Joiner of Forces. Faerie Mastermind, meanwhile, will always be a 2/1. This makes it weaker to removal like Lightning Bolt and Toxic Deluge, while also holding it back from most defensive combat engagements. This is a real weakness for Faerie Mastermind in comparison to Ledger Shredder, but the opportunity to bluff interaction due to flash plus the benefits of card draw in comparison to Conniving are reasons enough to heavily consider Faerie Mastermind, either along with or instead of Ledger Shredder.

Next up, Archivist of Oghma. While Archivist of Oghma is in a completely different part of the color pie, it's actually the better comparison for Faerie Mastermind than Ledger Shredder when it comes to play patterns. Both cards have flash, both cards are weak to the same removal, and both cards provide card draw as opposed to card selection. Similarly, while fetchlands are incredibly prevalent, I'd argue that players search their library (on average per turn) less often than they cast two spells in a turn. In any game that goes long, players will eventually start to run out of fetch lands, just as players may have turns where they draw fewer cards.

The early-turn explosiveness of cEDH isn't exactly in the favor of Archivist of Oghma or Faerie Mastermind when it comes to sustaining triggers throughout the course of the game, meaning that both of these cards are relatively comparable in terms of average number of triggers per turn cycle per game. Given all these similarities and the relative success of Archivist of Oghma in cEDH, the question for players evaluating playing Faerie Mastermind (after moving past any color identity issues, that is) shouldn't be "how do I like this in comparison to Ledger Shredder" but rather "how much would I like a blue copy of Archivist of Oghma."

Final Thoughts

Faerie Mastermind will make waves in cEDH. Since being initially revealed at MagicCon Philadelphia earlier this year, the community has been abuzz about this efficient, speedy, card advantage machine, and for good reason. Blue may have just gotten its Archivist of Oghma, and there are plenty of decks and players out there - myself included - who are going to be more than happy to slot this card into their cEDH decks come April.

What do you think? Am I overestimating Faerie Mastermind, or is it secretly bonkers and going to be everywhere when it's out in paper? Let me know in the comments!



Harvey McGuinness is a student at Johns Hopkins University who has been playing Magic since the release of Return to Ravnica. After spending a few years in the Legacy arena bouncing between Miracles and other blue-white control shells, he now spends his time enjoying Magic through cEDH games and understanding the finance perspective.