Ashnod’s Altar in EDH

Ashnod’s Altar in EDH


Of the five cards in Magic’s history with the name “Ashnod” on them, one of which being an Unglued with absurd fine print, Ashnod’s Altar is far and beyond the most powerful. In fact, I’m going to argue that its versatility and power is akin to another two colorless mana-producing artifact that all EDH players love, Sol Ring. While it’s nowhere near as explosive on the early turns, Ashnod’s Altar is, nonetheless, a card I’ve slowly come to appreciate more and more over the past year. So much so that I’m now running a copy in all six of my EDH decks. The card is named after Ashnod, a sadistic human of Dominaria and apprentice to the artificer Mishra. The card’s artwork depicts a torture table with a carved out headrest. Situated in an underground dungeon laboratory. As understood in the flavor text, “The Brothers’ War scarred the land, but Ashnod left her mark in the bloodlines of those she tortured.” Everything about this card is very dark. Anson Maddocks painted the piece for this card. An artist from Magic’s early days, he takes credit for 134 total cards. Including the iconic Hurloon Minotaur. With its eerie red tint and mysterious erlenmeyer flasks, this uncommon from Antiquities is certainly unsettling. Matching flavor with function. Now, it’s common knowledge that sacrifice outlets are strong. Just look at the work Nantuko Husk is doing in Standard right now. Heck, having a card that reads: Sacrifice a creature without any bonus effect would be playable! This is why cards like Greater Gargadon, High Market, and Phyrexian Tower are commander favorites. Sacrifice outlets are just good! Although it seems counter-intuitive to sacrifice your own creatures, I’d like to highlight all of the instances that have taken place in my EDH playgroup, in which a sacrifice outlet has proved not only beneficial for me but very detrimental for my opponents. Without further ado, so begins my Ode To Ashnod’s Altar in Elder Dragon Highlander. Board Wipes. Every EDH player knows that board wipes are abundant in the format. Most, like Supreme Verdict and Wrath of God, simply say destroy all creatures. However, cards like: Final Judgement and Merciless Eviction go a step further and read “exile all creatures.” When cards like these are cast, you’d much rather put your dudes in the graveyard than remove them from the game entirely. Hence, Ashnod’s Altar. You can also sacrifice your team in response to a Decree of Pain, denying your opponents a ton of extra cards. But wait, it gets spicier! How about in response to a Living End or a Living Death? Yup. Sacrifice all of your creatures to the altar, then put them right back onto the battlefield as the spell resolves. So sweet! And my personal favorite board wipe with Ashnod’s Altar, Rout. Rout reads: 3 White, White. Destroy all creatures. They can’t be regenerated. However, the card also says: you may cast Rout at any time you could cast an instant if you pay 2 more to cast it. Without Ashnod’s Altar, this card costs 7 mana at instant speed With the Altar, however, you can mitigate the cost with three creatures—who are gonna die anyway— and spend only White White to destroy everything. A 2-mana board wipe at instant speed? So good! Targeted Effects. Sacrifice outlets also cushion against any spell or ability that says “target” on it. Path to Exile, Swords to Plowshares, and Hero’s Downfall, are ubiquitous cards in EDH. With the Altar out, however, your opponents are way less likely to target your creatures. It feels like they’re throwing away a removal spell on nothing. Another card that everyone runs, Rite of Replication. Nothing’s sweeter than making your opponents sink 9 mana into copying your creature only to forget you have an Altar, causing the spell to completely fizzle when you sac your creature away. Nice! Still, if they’re astute players, they’ll never copy your things for this very reason. And what about targeted abilites? Dragonlord Silumgar, Dominus of Fealty, and Yasova Dragonclaw are amongst a ton of cards and archetypes that steal targeted creatures. With Ashnod’s Altar you’re blatantly telling your opponent that if you can’t have your things, neither can they. On the flip side, if you’re running any of these Treason effects—Insurrection. Sacrificing all of your opponent’s creatures for extra mana before they can get them back is hardcore. Blood Artist Effects. Part of the reason Nantuko Husk is so good right now, in Standard, is because of a card called: Zulaport Cutthroat. This card is reminiscent of an uncommon from Avacyn Restored called Blood Artist. Whose drain ability triggers anytime any creature on the battlefield dies. Pair this effect with an Ashnod’s Altar and you’re set to trade your creatures for life and mana. Morbid Triggers. Along the same lines, Tragic Slip is a great card for killing indestructible creatures, like Sliver Hivelord. Relying on creatures to die, however, is inopportune. Not with Ashnod’s Altar! Marchesa. Some commanders thrive on creatures dying. Generals like Marchesa, the Black Rose, Athreos, God of Passage, and the new commander 2015 general: Meren of Clan Nel Toth, take all sorts of advantage when your creatures die. Pair these undying creatures like Geralf’s Messenger or evoke creatures like Reveillark with Ashnod’s Altar for maximum value. [LSV]: (laughing) Oh, God. X Spells. Probably my favorite use of Ashnod’s Altar is in combination with any X spell. Turn your disposable tokens into two extra damage with Devil’s Play. Force your opponents to spend a thousand mana and counter their spell with Syncopate. Turn your Gigantoplasm into a 20/20 after your Chasm Skulker explodes which, of course, you just sacrificed to the altar. But even spicier than all these things? Is dumping all your Secure the Wastes tokens into a massive Sphinx’s Revelation. Drawing two cards and gaining two life per token! Now that, is a blue mage’s dream come true. Miscellaneous. I run 2 Gods as my generals and nothing feels better than having the ability to turn off devotion on command. Without the altar, your Gods can quickly fall under a Path to Exile or Merciless Eviction if they’re in creature form. A solid sacrifice outlet also shields against opponent’s lifelink creatures. Simply assign blocks and sacrifice them before damage is dealt, causing them to gain no life and do no damage in the process. And that was but a fraction of sweet uses I have discovered so far. For the seemingly harmless artifact. I didn’t even touch upon infinite combos. The best part, this card goes in any deck. And in my eyes, definitely belongs in any deck running creatures. As such, I think I’ll be praying to and playing with my Ashnod’s Altars for many games and years to come. Thanks for watching, guys! Cheers! So what’s your favorite use of this killer card? Let me know in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter. Also, check out my other videos here on Youtube. Because Ashnod said so!