Pushed colorless cards are dangerous. They’ve historically gotten Wizards
of the Coast into a lot of trouble, causing bannings and boring and
When a powerful card can go into any deck, it often becomes too widely
played. Colorless staples become a necessary card for most, if not every
deck. We’ve run into problems when the best card in the set, which is often
a sleeper pick overshadowed by more expensive colored cards, is a flexible
or cheap artifact or otherwise non-colored card.
Smuggler’s Copter required you to have other creatures to make use, as did
Skullclamp and Umezawa’s Jitte. That just meant there were more small
creature decks… and they often valued their linchpin card highly. Games
were determined who got their good card and who didn’t. People played
Umazawa’s Jitte just to legend rule the opponent’s Jitte away when the
legend rule worked like that.
Rishadan Port only asked for a durable enough manabase to add a few
colorless producing lands. Manabases stretched to incorporate Port and
“Port your Port” was a common occurrence.
All four of those cards have been banned.
Walking Ballista and Hangarback Walker each started as one-dollar rares
during preview season before slowly gaining value and play as people
identified the usefulness of a card that can be played during multiple
stages of the game for increasing value.
It looked like Emrakul, the Promised End only went into high-end delirium
decks. Eventually people learned that Emrakul could go into a variety of
decks and the condition to cast was simply to “play Magic.”
Let’s look at the next example of a pushed colorless card that goes into
We’ve come a long way from Ivy Elemental.
Heck, we’ve come a long way since Ugin’s Conjurant in War of the Spark just two sets ago.
Let’s break down the abilities on Stoncoil Serpent.
Not as good as flying, but good on defense. You can typically size your
Stonecoil Serpent to match up well enough against as opposing flyer… that
is unless it’s multicolored. In that case a 1/1 might be enough. I expect a
lot of Healer’s Hawks and other nonsense Azorius Flyers in Throne of Eldraine Standard.
Not much to see here with trample. The more you invest into Stonecoil
Serpent, the better of an attacker it will be. Reach is often relevant
early while trample is better late. Having two keywords that are better at
opposite (usually) ends of the spectrum makes for a more complete Magic
The hardest line of text to parse. Throne of Eldraine looks to be
quite mono-colored centric. Will protection from multicolored even be
useful? Throne of Eldraine is just one set. We have all of Ravnica block to play with. Have you played against any of these
I’ve included creatures you’re likely to brawl against as well as some of
the constructed-rate removal spells. Some haven’t seen Standard play in a
while, but after rotation we’re going to have some shake ups. It’s clear
that “protection from multicolored” is more than just trinket text to be
I believe that Stonecoil Serpent will go into a large range of Standard
decks. The power level of an X/X for X with three relevant abilities is
quite high and hasn’t really been seen before. Examples of Hangarback
Walker and Walking Ballista are cards that “do a thing quite well and
scales too.” It looks like Stonecoil Serpent will do a lot of things well
and scale for just X instead of XX.
There’s a hidden element that has me very curious and perhaps even slightly
concerned. There’s a density of these X/Xs for X in Standard now. Maybe
enough to build around.
Ugin’s Conjurant and Chamber Sentry are much weaker than Stonecoil Serpent,
but that’s not the point. You can cast these creatures for zero mana,
plopping them straight into the graveyard. Why is that useful?
You can create and chain if the combo elements are dense enough… and we’re
getting pretty darn close.
With what feels like a critical mass of these effects, it’s worthwhile to
at least explore how Stonecoil Serpent might actually be a combo card
rather than a rate monster.
- 3 Beast Whisperer
- 4 Midnight Reaper
- 4 Chamber Sentry
- 4 Paradise Druid
- 4 Cruel Celebrant
- 4 Ugin's Conjurant
- 4 Gilded Goose
- 3 Rankle, Master of Pranks
- 4 Stonecoil Serpent
The list is as rough as they come but shows an example of what could be.
We’ve seen Command the Dreadhorde, Kethis, the Hidden Hand, Nexus of Fate,
and Wilderness Reclamation slip through the cracks to be combo elements
that were unexpectedly strong. Stonecoil Serpent is unassuming but actually
quite strong on its own. The best combo pieces work well individually.
Sacrificing a creature is the most important of Rankle’s abilities when you
want your creatures to die anyway. You’re pretty dense on combo elements so
any interaction is pretty welcome here.
Command the Dreadhorde can bring back all of your 0/0 with a cost of zero life. Realistically, you’re bringing back a lot of good
things because Cruel Celebrant gains you life.
Here are a few more cards to consider if you want to explore the build
A continuous source of 2/2 Zombies, Open the Graves is a good way to
immediately impact the battlefield when comboing off. Drawing cards is
good, but battlefield presence is better.
Converting 0/0s into 4/4s is quite nice, though double white mana can be a
Kill a creature or planeswalker and lose a creature you wanted to die
anyway for a trigger. Synergistic cards that interact are quite useful.
Can create a huge threat quickly when you start going off by cycling your
0/0s. Probably short on raw power level.
Great for pings and pumping your small creatures. Needs another color,
which can be tough in a world without checklands.
Are zero mana 3/3s worth it? If you invest actual mana, they’re even bigger
and likely bigger than the opposition which may not have +1/+1 counters.
Probably worth looking into, although six-drops are in high demand when
compared to Liliana, Dreadhorde General and Command the Dreadhorde.
Throwing a bunch of 0/0s into the graveyard is a quick way to switch The
Cauldron of Eternity from a twelve-mana spell to a two-mana spell. But what
would you bring back? Perhaps a piece to a different shape of this puzzle.
The Next Great Colorless Card?
Truth be told, Stonecoil Serpent doesn’t need to break a format to be good.
It’s going to block flyers like Feather, the Redeemed and Hydroid Krasis
quite well. It’s doing to be a great late-game mana sink that tramples.
It’s going to annoyingly dodge removal spells and give the opponent fits.
History has told Magic that pushed colorless cards, especially artifacts,
that scale well as the game goes on are very dangerous and initially quite
underrated. Stonecoil Serpent has my eye on it as the next target of a
potentially overpowered and ubiquitous card with high potential to warp the
format and end up in nearly every Standard deck.
I hope I’m wrong on this one.