With the reprint of Solemn Simulacrum in Core Set 2021, Gavin Verhey broke down the history of the card in today’s episode of Good Morning Magic.
The Commander staple was originally printed in Mirrodin, with Jens Thoren featured in the art after winning the Magic Invitational in October of 2002. Thoren’s card joined the ranks of previous Invitational winning cards like Olle Rade’s Sylvan Safekeeper, Darwin Kastle’s Avalanche Riders, Chris Pikula’s Meddling Mage, Jon Finkel’s Shadowmage Infiltrator, and Kai Budde’s Voidmage Prodigy.
In the Invitational card deep dive, Verhey showed what Finkel and Pikula submitted if they would win again. Finkel’s was a variant on Shadowmage Infiltrator while Pikula’s foreshadowed a take on a mechanic that would take years to make it on a card.
Verhey talked with Thoren about his card and how he got the idea from a friend when they were looking for a card to combo with Astral Slide.
Thoren originally wanted a Simic four-drop that would draw a card when it left the battlefield on top of its enters the battlefield ability. He submitted the design seen above and let Magic R&D do its thing. The team tried it as a green 2/1 for three mana, but quickly realized it was too good. They switched it to an artifact creature and modified the card drawing ability to only when it died and printed it as is. Thoren said he was happy how it ended up and was glad that it was an artifact so that so many people could enjoy and play with it.
Only four other Invitationals were held after the event Thoren won. The winning cards from those tournaments were Bob Maher’s Dark Confidant, Terry Soh’s Rakdos Augermage, Antoine Ruel’s Ranger of Eos, and Tiago Chan’s Snapcaster Mage.