Invasion Card Spotlight: Harrow
As an additional cost to play Harrow, sacrifice a land.
Search your library for up to two basic land cards and put them into play. Then shuffle your library.
No spot in nature is truly barren.
Illus. Rob Alexander
It is truly amazing how often a regular drafter will hear these words. Each year as a new limited environment dawns, thousands of players from around the globe are heard to be chanting those two little words: Green sucks.
For the truly diverse and creative drafter, nothing can be further from the truth. Yes, green has traditionally lacked the creature kill of black and red and the evasion of white and blue, but green has one strength that no other color has. No, it isn't fat creatures, red has that. No, it isn't broken rares, it seems like Green's the only color that doesn't have those, and no it isn't speedy creatures that can't be matched: it's mana acceleration.
Year after year, Green players revel in the fact that new, interesting and potentially explosive mana acceleration cards are going to allow them to cast their 5/5s when opponent's can only cast their 2/2s. From Llanowar Elf on down, Green has always had cards that not only sped their decks up, but also allowed them to diversify their mana.
The most basic of those cards was Birds of Paradise, the 'extra land' you could cast on turn one that gave you all the colors of the rainbow. There was Skyshroud Elf, which granted red or white mana in exchange for the generic variety. Fertile Ground gives you the colored mana you wanted so that you had four mana to use of turn three. In all though, there may be one that stands above the rest in Limited play with regards to speeding up and diversifying your mana:
This card has so much going for it, it's sick. It's an instant, so it turns opposing land destruction into card advantage for you. It sacrifices your most useless land and fetches you two needed ones. It brings the lands into play untapped, so with regard to casting other spells the turn you cast it, its cost is one. And the one other really cool thing about it is... well... its in Invasion.
When I was asked to write this article, I got pretty excited because it meant that I could be assured Harrow was back. No more boring two-color Masques Block, a format in which the three color deck is an aberration, Invasion is going to be a set in which three, four or even five color decks will be not only played, but rewarded for their creativity.
Look at what we know about Invasion. Of the cards that have been spotlighted on the Sideboard over the last couple of weeks, half have been multi-colored gold cards. Not only does that mean that one will have to try to fit those powerhouses into their decks, but also will have to make their mana capable of exploiting them. That means any way in which the drafter can improve their deck's mana, be it the new dual lands or Harrow, will be an extremely valuable resource.
One way in which Harrow will exceed those other cards is versatility. Invasion seems to be based around the idea of pairing one color with its neighboring color, meaning black should be played with Red or Blue, White with Blue or Green, etc. Harrow will be one of the few ways in which you'll be able to leave those confines in order to allow the playing of opposing colors in harmonious fashion.
Where Harrow is really strong in draft, it's a powerhouse in Sealed Deck. Back in the day, when I was still playing in Rath Sealed PTQs, I used to openly pray for a Harrow in my Sealed deck. In a format where three color decks are the norm, Harrow is the most efficient means of assuring a strong mana base, especially when players looking to prey on weak mana are wielding Stone Rains and the like.
Harrow definitely should not be ruled out in Constructed play either. With its mana efficiency being what it is, Harrow is a solid way to make sure your deck will get its mana, especially in a format where non-basic lands will be nullified by opposing Tsabo's Webs. If your Port gets tied down, you can always just sacrifice it to go get two more useful mana producers.
How much play Harrow gets in Constructed will depend largely on the metagame. With Yavamaya Elder leaving the format, Harrow may be the green card of choice when going up against Ponza style decks in Standard. You'll almost definitely see it being played somewhere in Invasion block.
So basically, with an interesting and versatile set of cards that will challenge your mana every time, Harrow is going to be your savior. If you hear the usual chants of 'Green sucks,' just nod in agreement and know that you're going to wreck house with your four-color draft decks. It's amazing what you can do when you splash power cards from three colors. When you head to your respective pre-releases in a few days, pray you open up Harrow. It will be the best card in your deck. Good luck.
To find out more about Invasion cards and Prerelease events, click here.
Tomorrow: Zvi Mowshowitz talks about Teferi's Moat.