Terror of the Peaks Is Core Set 2021’s Most Overlooked Card

Terror of the Peaks is a one-sided Pandemonium on a stick, and Patrick Chapin sees its potential in Standard! See what “The Innovator” brewed up!

Terror of the Peaks, illustrated by Andrey Kuzinsky

Look, obviously the world we live in is a little crazy right now. The format is a little bit of a strange alien planet birthed from chaos, a large fragment broken off a theoretical paradise intended by The Designers that was struck by a number of balance-problem asteroids large enough to shatter the world into pieces.

The planned paradise was built around different rules and assumptions regarding companions, as well as numerous powerful cards now banned.

Agent of Treachery Field of the Dead Veil of Summer

Once Upon a Time Oko, Thief of Crowns Fires of Invention

Who knows what the Future Future League decks even looked like?

It does mean that this world will be a little less planned than usual, and that can lead to some exciting discoveries, some really unexpected new places. Or it could be busted.

One card that really embodies the strange direction Constructed Magic has gone with regards to what the game is being balanced around is Terror of the Peaks.

Terror of the Peaks

Lots of people are lamenting that this card should be busted, but probably isn’t even playable. Why are they saying this? Because the game has shifted so dramatically in what’s relevant, when people encounter a card with an absolutely incredible rate that doesn’t actually match up well with those things, they aren’t necessarily going to be as optimistic as they’d otherwise be.

Basically, stuff that’s good in a new way is hard to evaluate, and even if a card is good in ways that would have been really good for most of Magic, if it’s a new way compared to what’s been getting played, it’s gonna be hard to evaluate.

What’s my evaluation of the card? I think it’s strong.

I think its rate is high enough that it will demand homes for it be created. I think people are really underestimating just how incredibly this card will take over games.

Skarrgan Hellkite

Just starting from a theoretical standpoint, let’s break it down. It’s a 5/4 flyer for 3RR, so already it’s got to clear Skarrgan Hellkite to even be in the discussion (a card that seems only fringe play right now). So, how do Terror of the Peaks’s abilities compare to an extra point of toughness, the Hellkite activated ability, and the option to instead be a 4/4 flying, haste creature?

Terror of the Peaks has a more profound ability with a high ceiling and another ability that’s more reliable but modest, helping raise the floor on the card’s impact.


Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, Terror of the Peaks deals damage equal to that creature’s power to any target.

Obviously times change, but Pandemonium has seen play, and it’s symmetrical, plus it doesn’t have a Dragon attached to it for only one more mana.

To try to get a sense of how powerful this ability is, consider the case where you cast only a single creature after Terror of the Peaks. If you cast Gruul Spellbreaker, you’ll get to deal four damage to a creature, planeswalker, player, whatever you want.

At this point, we are way ahead. Compare this situation to Enter the God-Eternals.

Enter the God-Eternals

A 4/4 plus four life and milling four cards just can’t compare to a 5/4 Dragon with Pandemonium and three life tax for spells targeting it, and that’s to say nothing of the possibility of going upstairs with the damage!

You know how Baneslayer Angel dies to countless kill spells, but is still a good card?

Baneslayer Angel

If Baneslayer Angel lives, it can completely take over the game. As much as a 5/5 flying lifelink threat dominates a lot of positions, I think you’ll find TotP to also dominate a lot of positions. I would be careful about the head-to-head, though…

Yeah, Terror of the Peaks isn’t necessarily set up to naturally line up optimally against Wilderness Reclamation or Growth Spiral or Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, but it’s not like its a dead card, and that amount it gives you against creature decks is so massive, you might be able to tune your deck more aggressively against ramp decks.

As for the three damage? That’s the cantrip aspect of the card. It’s kind of like Terror of the Peaks draws you a card when it dies, and that card is Lava Spike.

Lava Spike

This is true regardless of whether you counter their spell or if it’s a bounce spell, and it’s even doubly effective against people who use two Shocks on it or something like that. It does have a blind spot to planeswalker abilities, but that’s far from a kiss of death. And yeah, it’s not the most impactful ability (certainly not compared to that monster other ability), but it’s nice to have the extra reliability, the extra damage to help seal the deal.

This is an attempt at a Gruul Monsters sort of approach, a little lower to the ground that you’d sometimes see with Monsters decks, as a concession to the realities of the format. As you can see, we don’t need to overload on anything crazy to make Terror of the Peaks very effective. While Umori, the Collector is certainly not necessary, having access to the extra high-power threat to reliably be able to follow up your Dragon seems a nice dimension to experiment with.

Cindervines Domri's Ambush Vivien, Arkbow Ranger

That said, there’s also nothing wrong with taking advantage of the noncreature options available to Gruul if that’s more appealing to you.

Llanowar Visionary

Maybe it’s too grindy of a card for a deck like this, but a Borderland Ranger that actually taps for a mana seems amazing to me. Sometimes they just make Jadelight Ranger and you just go with it.

Growth-Chamber Guardian

Remember, you can Adapt the Guardian in response to the Dragon trigger for extra damage.

Flame Sweep Storm's Wrath

Lately, a lot of people have been using Flame Sweep instead of Storm’s Wrath. If Storm’s Wrath does come back into fashion, we may need to rethink our creature-base a little.

Rotting Regisaur

Rotting Regisaur is not a hard splash and has often been used to good effect in decks like this, plus it combines absolutely excellently with Terror of the Peaks. One possibility would be to just add the Regisaurs and some Blood Crypts, Overgrown Tombs, and a Swamp, and then call it a day. Alternatively, we could build a little more with the Dinosaur angle in mind. For instance:

Of course we don’t need green. We could even build to Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger and have some seriously large creatures to trigger our Dragon. Here’s a sort of Rakdos Monsters list as a thought experiment:

That said, maybe we’re just supposed to stick a little closer to a Rakdos Sacrifice shell, since that strategy can incorporate Rotting Regisaur easily (and it’s not like looping Cauldron Familiar is “bad” with the Dragon).

Obviously, this is a strategy that can be built with Kroxa as well, but it is interesting experimenting with Fiend Artisan here.

Fiend Artisan

It’s a great card in the strategy anyway, and here, it can really help us get extra mileage out of relatively few copies of Terror of the Peaks (not to mention potentially coming down for a ton of damage after).

On the topic of slotting Terror of the Peaks into existing decks, we really do need to try building with it in Mono-Red. Yeah, this isn’t how these decks have been built recently, but it is very much in-line with ways they’ve succeeded in the past.

Anax, Hardened in the Forge

You gotta admit, Anax, Hardened in the Forge plus Terror of the Peaks is a good time…

While we could also reimagine our red deck to go bigger, we might also just want Terror of the Peaks as a sideboard card for creature matchups, such as Mono-Green Aggro or any white aggro decks that may pop up.

Terror of the Peaks isn’t just for playing “fair,” however. Like Pandemonium before it, it has combo applications.

Dragonstorm Lathliss, Dragon Queen Scourge of Valkas

Yeah, technically it is a fine option to consider for Dragonstorm, since three copies will win, but finding Lathliss, Dragon Queen and two copies of Scourge of Valkas already won with a storm of three, so it’s not like this is a revolutionary option.

Maybe Terror of the Peaks ends up proving slightly better on the backup plan or something, but it’s not like Dragonstorm is a mainstream deck in any format at the moment, and this seems unlikely to be what it’d need to get over the hump.

Sporeweb Weaver

More exciting is the interaction with Sporeweb Weaver. If you give Sporeweb Weaver indestructible, you can create a loop where Terror of the Peaks deals damage to Sporeweb Weaver, which makes a token and gains a life, which makes the Dragon trigger, so then the Dragon deals one damage to the Weaver…

The third piece of our combo can be any of Selfless Savior, Fight as One, or Heliod, Sun-Crowned in this build.

Selfless Savior Fight as One Heliod, Sun-Crowned

Selfless Savior lets us go faster, doesn’t need mana that turn, and is a cheap creature to find with our selection cards. Fight as One gives us some instant-speed defense and interaction against removal-heavy opponents. Heliod is a durable, added angle that might be too clumsy here, yet could also be the beginning of going down some really crazy path with Benthicc Biomancer and Glint-Horn Buccaneer (another combo with Heliod that wins).

Benthic Biomancer Glint-Horn Buccaneer

While the list above can give us as many tokens as we want and as much life as we want, that might not always be enough. If we want to go even bigger, one of the sweetest options is Chance for Glory.

Chance for Glory

Chance for Glory can serve as the indestructible part of the combo, albeit slower, but it also gives us an extra turn, letting us win on the spot. If nothing else, this could be a really sweet sideboard card.

Heroic Intervention Assure

If we decide to streamline the mana, we can use Heroic Intervention and Assure for our indestructible. They’re slower than the white options, of course, but we would get incredible mana in exchange.

Unlikely Aid Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose

Another option is to splash black. Once we’re supporting a third color, Unlikely Aid could easily be better for us than Assure, and Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose can let us win on the spot. That said, it does seem a shame to not play Vito and Heliod in the same deck. I wonder if there’s some super-greedy version we could play that does all the things…

The landscape looks pretty hostile to Terror of the Peaks out of the gate, but I think it’s a strong enough card that it will make some openings for itself. It’s also the type of card that could take on a radical new role post-rotation.

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