Favorite PDH Cards of 2021
24 Dec 2021 - 10 min read
Welcome! To cap off this truly insane year that has given PDH oh so much, we thought we’d go back and hit on some of our favorite new cards from the last 12 months. (We’re trying to avoid using the term “best” since there’s some subjectivity there but like, we’ve never been wrong before so….) Anyway, here are some of our favorite PDH Picks for 2021!
Favorite Removal Spell
Chev: Talk about utility, Eaten Alive is far and away my favorite form of removal for 2021. And this is the year we got Bone Shards !! What I believe sets Eaten Alive apart from its cousin in crime are two simple things: 1) Exile is becoming more and more important to the format for permanent removal. In this year alone we saw Koll, The Forgemaster , Barrowin of Clan Undurr , Blood Fountain , and Draugr Recruiter proving that even in PDH the graveyard is becoming less and less of a safe space to store your opponents’ most vile creatures. Not to mention strategies like Tormod, the Desecrator and Syr Konrad, the Grim that benefit from cards moving from the graveyard…no, we’re better off sending their stuff to the shadow realm. 2) While Bone Shards might feel more immediately castable with an alternate cost of discard as opposed to sacrifice…I really like Eaten Alive’s mana-intensive alternative for the PDH late game. More than anything else in long PDH games I’m suffering from an empty grip, so the last thing I would ever want to do is lose two cards for the price of one. Unless we’re talking an Azra Oddsmaker Deck. But we’ll get to that.
Julian: Excellent pick, Chev! Looking back at this year, we got a lot of good removal across every color. Naturally, black got the best haul: things like the phenomenal Bone Shards and Bleed Dry , and something like Demon Bolt in red seriously tempts me… but not enough. Because if you thought I was going to give this category to anything other than Ravenform , you’re dead wrong.
First off, Foretell has become basically my favorite mechanic of all time. Blue is already my favorite color and one of the best colors in PDH for its versatility, velocity, and sheer number of combo cards. And now you’re telling me I can flip the bird (literally) to all those color pie purists (hey Chev, suck it) and Exile, with a capital “E”, creatures AND ARTIFACTS?? ‘Tis truly the season of giving thanks. God bless our mighty Alrund for allowing such debauchery. Nothing and no one is safe, not even your Viridian Longbows and Honored Heirlooms .
Favorite Sleeper Hit
Chev: While the term “Sleeper Hit” might be subjective, the sheer badassitude of Deepwood Denizen is not. Card Advantage in PDH can get tight in the late game, especially if you’re not in blue or black so having a repeatable source can be HUGE. We’ve seen the Campus lands from Strixhaven ( Quandrix Campus ) gain some adoption due to their utility and while the Denizen might not fit into eeeevery green deck, it can sure as heck fit into a lot of them. Of course, once you add that +1/+1 counter synergy…as someone with a budget Hamza, Guardian of Arashin build will tell you, this card feels almost like magical Christmas land. Consistently providing card draw for less than 3 mana a turn in Selesnya?! Godly. I mentioned Hamza as the perfect commander for utilizing Deepwood Denizen, but if you’re interested, also give Arcus Acolyte a look…
Jules: Honestly, I’m just in love with the amount of white cards that were printed this year with the magic phrase “Draw a card” on them. For me, Search Party Captain is the best of these. It encourages attacking, which is always a plus, and it’s so easy to play this for a single white mana. Maybe I’m dating myself with what gets me excited in a Magic card, but… If you want to talk about the unsung heroes, the simple blue-collar workers who make a format like PDH possible, it’s the Search Party Captains of the world.
Favorite Card Playable in PDH and EDH
Chev: While PDH might be the focus of this article, we’d be remiss to not share our favorite cards that cross the format boundaries, consistently providing value regardless what color your mana symbol is. For me, that’s Reckless Impulse. We highlighted this card when it came out in Crimson Vow, and since then it’s found a home in two of my red EDH decks ( Tovolar, Dire Overlord , Prosper, Tome-Bound ) on top of literally any red PDH build I’ve made in the last month. We’ve come a looooong way since Act on Impulse introduced Red to “Impulse Draw” and boy howdy does it make most any deck run quite a bit smoother. Two cards for two is fantastic value and should be on the top of mind for any aggro-leaning build.
Jules: Turns out when you make a nearly strictly better analog to an already (dare I say) ubiquitous card in both PDH and EDH, it’s going to be good. Ardent Elementalist , the younger sister of Archaeomancer , gives redundancy to the quintessential recursion of spellslinger decks. Often these decks are Izzet, so congrats you get to play both, but for those who want to forego the stigma or bounty of blue, Ardent Elementalist gives much needed support in other color combinations. Whether you need to get back a crucial combo piece, a removal spell to stop an opponent’s impending win, or just to get a draw spell back to dig for gas, the elementalist is here for you. She’s easier to cast than Archaeomancer, and with the inverted stats might actually trade with something, only upside.
Favorite New Commander
Chev: While 2021 has seen a massive influx of viable PDH commanders, none have spoken to me more than the potential of Koll, the Forgemaster. One of my earliest PDH memories was trying to convert my OG 2018 Brawl Valduk, Keeper of the Flame deck to the format and just loving the jankiness of common equipment. Throw in White + Aura synergies giving you everything from Ancestral Blade to Reprobation and you’re taking one of the archetypes that made me fall in love with this format to brand new heights. In fact, Koll inspired the entire RW archetype in the PDH Cube that Julian and I spent the latter half of this year developing. It’s hard to say any other potential commander can top that honor.
Julian: I too chose a #Aggressive commander because sometimes even I need to just play magic as Garfield intended and enter the Thunderdome (though Gretchen Titchwillow was my second pick… yikes). Killian is actually disgusting just because of the sheer amount of mana he can save you starting as early as turn 3. All of your removal (and oh boy does black have removal, see literally any of our articles) is now 2 generic cheaper which means it’s probably on par with 60 card format efficiency. But that’s just scraping the surface, because Orzhov control is so last year. We only need those discounted removal spells to move blockers out of the way so that our Killian who’s suited up with designer auras that he got on sale can come through and crash the party in the best way possible. Finally, the oft-maligned aura card type can shine in its true potential - aka when it’s not as overcosted as any item of fashion Kanye has ever put out.
Favorite Interactions/New Tech
Chev: This category was a biiit more open-ended, but coming from the guy who came up with it - the topic came after I decided I wanted to talk about these cards. Really, how Modern Horizon sets continue to provide key format and strategy pieces without so much as batting an eye. Specifically, Azra, Oddsmaker and discard shenanigans. One of my favorite PDH memories this year is helming Alkadron’s Azra list in our Community PDH episode, using a Hell Mongrel on the battlefield to dish out insane amounts of pain at a fraction of the cost. Nothing has come close to giving me that feeling of glee.
Jules: This pick is actually a jealousy pick because one of the coolest decks I’ve seen in action is a Tormod, the Desecrator and Ghost of Ramirez DePietro deck that Chev picked up from the cPDH Database. One of the main things that makes the deck so potent is it has ways to exile or return cards from its graveyard to generate an army of zombies. Now, with Honored Heirloom , that deck has a perfectly reasonable mana rock that also doubles as a way to generate a zombie every turn cycle, at instant speed no less. When we saw the Heirloom spoiled, Chev and I both knew this would be a format staple, but especially in a Tormod style deck (also works well in Syr Konrad), and I was even more jealous because he was going to get to play this sick synergy and I would have to suffer at the hands of it.
You know damn well why. It’s an absolute fluffball of destruction. 10/10.
And that’s what we got! Thanks for sticking around this long, and Happy Holidays! Let us know what cards from 2021 you think deserve a shoutout!
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