Essence of the Wild – A Magic the Gathering Card Review

Essence of the Wild is a very fun mythic rare card from Magic the Gathering’s Innistrad set. When it was first released, it was a card with plenty of potential. Considering this card automatically makes every creature that hits the board under your control into a 6/6 Essence of the Wild Avatar, there seem to be plenty of ways you can abuse it.

One interesting deck-building option when Essence of the Wild was in Standard was to use it as a 6-drop option in Birthing Pod decks. The Avatar makes all of your little utility creatures into big beaters, so short of a board-wipe, it could be game over for your opponent. Honestly, this wasn’t a popular strategy, but there are those who used it with some modest local tournament success.

The better option I once considered was to play Essence of the Wild in a token-based deck, like with Hero of Bladehold and any other strong token generating cards. It would’ve been especially fun with planeswalkers such as Garruk, Primal Hunter and Garruk Relentless, whose tokens would then become 6/6. Needless to say, having 6/6 beaters is pretty fun, even if they are simply big dumb dorks.

There are two main issues with Essence of the Wild. First, its 6-drop cost with a triple Green requirement is reasonable, but awkward for many decks that run colors other than Green. The other main issue is that while turning every creature you bring into play into a copy of Essence is powerful, it removes any other abilities that those creatures would otherwise have. If you’re focused on bringing in otherwise vanilla creatures, that’s fin. But, in the decks that could play it best, such as Birthing Pod strategies, you’d lose the enter the battlefield abilities if you have the Essence or a copy of it in play.

Still, Essence of the Wild would seem especially fun in Commander, with all of the token creation available in the format. However, Essence hasn’t seen much play in the EDH format, at all. While it’s effect is neat, in practice, you have to build your deck entirely around this gimmick, something that’s simply not feasible in a format with 99-card decks.

Naturally, this was never the mythic rare card you wanted to pull out of Innistrad; all pack openers would ask is why couldn’t it be a Liliana of the Veil? So, while it’s a powerful mythic rare, and perhaps some Legendary Creature will make this viable in the future, it’s more of a curiosity than a playable card.

Writing words, spreading love, Amelia Desertsong primarily writes creative nonfiction articles, as well as dabbling in baseball, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and whatever else tickles her fancy.
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