Toski, Bearer of Secrets is a strange card.
Is it good? Well, it’s definitely not universally good. There are matchups that are easy to imagine where this card wouldn’t help you at all, so the questions we need to think about are, first, whether there are matchups where it’s good, and second, how good it is in those matchups. I guess the ultimate question to ask is, “How many games will Toski, Bearer of Secrets win you?”
What stands out about this card? Well, it can’t be countered and it can’t be destroyed, so it’s good against most forms of interaction other than exile (and negative Auras, but those rarely see Constructed play; still, if this is very good against you, you might want something like Bubble Snare to answer it). It attacks each turn if able, so that means we’re getting one good block with this card and then it’s doing nothing defensively. It’s a 1/1, so it’s not winning any games on its own. The payoff that you’re getting here is an ability that rewards going wide.
The best case I see for Toski is an aggro deck against a control deck with sweepers — you started by filling the battlefield, and now it’s your fourth turn. You don’t want to cast another creature because you know your opponent is likely to cast a sweeper, so you attack and pass to avoid losing an extra card. Alternatively, if this is in your hand you cast it, attack, and draw two or three cards, then they have to cast their sweeper, and this stays around, it attacks, and it draws another card. At that point you’ve basically won against control decks that don’t have a card like Ugin that can dig them out when they’re far behind on cards.
Uncounterable, indestructible threats can sometimes see play as the single threat a control deck is relying on — playing few threats means they want the threats they play to stick, but it’s unlikely (though not strictly impossible) that this would be the card you’d want to go to for that purpose, since it’s extremely slow if you don’t have creatures and invalidated by any creature with two or more toughness that can block it in that situation.
I think we can fairly safely dismiss this card outside of creature decks, and it’s unlikely that you’ll want it outside of decks that specifically go wide, either due to having a really high creature count or, better yet, due to making tokens.
If you’re playing such a deck, is it a maindeck card or a sideboard card? One relevant benchmark we can compare this card to is Winota, Joiner of Forces. Both are four-mana creatures that reward you for controlling creatures by offering additional resources.
Winota has two key advantages. You get the extra resources when you attack rather than when you deal damage, so the effect is much stronger against blockers. Also, the resources generated enter the battlefield attacking, which is much stronger, since it generates immediate mana advantage and damage, though it’s somewhat easier for the opponent to catch back up with a single sweeper.
Winota is a far more explosive card, with a much higher ceiling. The advantages of Toski are that it’s easier to cast, guaranteed to resolve, and able to work with any mix of creatures on the battlefield or in your library, so it comes with much looser deckbuilding restrictions.
The biggest problem with Toski is that it’s really bad against an opponent who can block. Even if you have more creatures than your opponent when you cast Toski, if those creatures are smaller, you’ll have to lose some of them to connect with the others, so you’re just converting some number of creatures on the battlefield to cards in your hand, and tapping out your potential blockers to do so.
My expectation is that the trait “not good if your opponent can block” will be sufficient to keep it out of most maindecks in most likely Standard metagames, but obviously if a deck that’s bad at blocking and bad at closing the game somehow becomes the most-played deck in Standard, this would be a reasonable countermeasure, though I think it would feel a bit like playing a maindeck Aether Gust.
To get an idea of how often Toski would be a useful card to cast, we can think about how often it would line up well against the current Standard metagame. Let’s imagine that we’re going to play a green creature deck like Gruul Adventures or Mono-Green Food and we’re thinking about whether we want this in the maindeck.
In the Gruul Adventures mirror, landfall makes blocking hard, but Lovestruck Beast makes attacking hard. In the aggregate, I think you’re not great at getting attackers through, and the game is mostly about Embercleave and generally winning the game very quickly, which means it’s usually more about battlefield presence than total number of resources drawn — one way to think about this is how often the game ends while players still have cards in their hand, and I think with Gruul Adventures mirrors it’s reasonably often. That means the setup is hard and the output is wrong, so Toski would be a substantial liability in such a mirror. The same is true against Mono-Green Food.
Dimir Rogues isn’t great at blocking, and it isn’t great at answering Toski, but it closes games pretty quickly and is good at making sure you don’t get ahead by a lot of creatures so that you can draw a lot when you cast Toski. If Dimir Rogues takes Toski with Lullmage’s Domination, you’re in a horrible position, since it does have small evasive creatures and benefits greatly from drawing cards when those connect, so this is another matchup where I wouldn’t want Toski no matter what I were playing.
Dimir Control isn’t great at blocking or countering Toski, so this is the kind of matchup where Toski should shine. The issue is that Dimir has a lot of counterplay in the form of Extinction Event, and also turns the corner and closes the game reasonably quickly with Shark Typhoon; Ashiok, Nightmare Muse; and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.
Given that Extinction Event is the best answer to Toski, you’re most likely to want Toski in a deck where most other creatures have odd converted mana costs. I do think that Toski is the best thing you can do for four mana against Dimir Control because it’s uncounterable and likely to generate at least one card a good portion of the time, but it’s not so good that I expect to win any game in which I cast it on Turn 4 or anything.
Temur Adventures is a deck with a lot of creatures, but it’s not great at blocking in general, since most of the creatures are either small or expensive. Yet Toski is very bad against Temur Adventures because Temur’s cheap interaction stops you from accumulating a lot of friends for Toski, and drawing extra cards is a horrible output against Temur Adventures, which will go way over the top and kill you no matter how many cards are in your hand relatively shortly after you cast Toski.
Against Mono-Red Aggro, I think your green deck is generally just looking to stay alive, and you expect that having bigger green creatures will result in you winning against a red deck if you can survive. However, Toski might actually be a reasonable sideboard card in this kind of matchup, as the precise dynamic I just talked about often forces the red deck to become more reactive, filling their deck with removal and leaning on four- and five-mana cards to dominate the game. When a red deck transitions to a control role against a green deck, Toski actually starts to look really good against them, but that’s not an argument for maindeck inclusion of Toski – much the opposite.
Esper Doom Foretold looks to answer all your cards as you cast them and has a lot of ways to exile your creatures or force you to sacrifice them, which get around Toski’s defenses. Toski is a functional card against them, since drawing a card is pretty good in the matchup and it’s not that rare that you’ll set up a state where you can do at least that, but I’d guess Toski is acceptable aspiring to be good, and definitely not game-breaking.
I don’t know that it would be the card I’d ever want to put in my sideboard for this matchup specifically, but if it were there anyway, I’d likely bring it in. I certainly wouldn’t include it in my maindeck if it were bad against other decks just to be able to draw it in this matchup.
I think Toski might actually be strong against Rakdos Midrange, which I can kind of think of as a red deck that has already sideboarded to take a more controlling role. It won’t always be dominant, but I think it’ll usually be worth a card unless you’re behind and it dies to Rankle, Master of Pranks or something.
Overall, I’d say the metagame looks pretty bad for Toski, and though there are potential decks that struggle with Toski, no current Standard decks are really built that way. There are a few spots where I’d be reasonably happy to have it, but I’m not sure that it’s good enough in those spots that I’d really expect to include it in my sideboard often.
I suppose the last consideration is whether there’s something we can to do go further to build our deck around it to make it stronger. For example, it could play well with Scute Swarm. That sounds pretty awesome in certain kinds of games of Commander, but don’t try to do this in Standard. Having played a good amount with Scute Swarm recently, if it gets going, you’re going to win, you don’t need Toski’s help, and the extra cards you draw won’t meaningfully impact the game.
In general, building to maximize Toski is just building to draw more cards, but if you’re in a position where you’re drawing cards and you have time to cast them and they can meaningfully impact the game before it ends, you’re already in the dream scenario for Toski and probably in good shape, so building around Toski will just make you win more dramatically when you win, but not really convert any losses into wins. As a result, I wouldn’t recommend it in a competitive environment in which you begin the game with twenty life.
Ultimate verdict: If you scroll up through this article, you’ll notice pictures of a lot of commonly played Standard cards that line up very well against Toski in a variety of colors, strategies, and archetypes. Some players love Squirrels, and in some casual contexts this will be a great way to load up your hand after investing in the battlefield to prepare to take on several opponents, but Toski will likely have narrow Constructed applications at best.