Hello and welcome back to the Single Card Discussion series! After my pieces on Zendikar Resurgent and Kalemne’s Captain, it’s time to take a look at yet another multiplayer gem that I feel has been sadly overlooked.
Today’s card is one that I’ve thought was amazing since it was first spoiled for Shadows Over Innistrad, and despite the love it’s received from Standard players, I’m shocked that more people don’t mention it for EDH. Today’s card is the transform land, Westvale Abbey. This is a great land and a huge lategame threat, and despite my general dislike of transform cards in general, I’ve added it into several of our EDH decks.
Let’s take a deeper look at this potent card!
Thus far in my Single Card series, I’ve looked at some great multiplayer gems.
• I started the series with Utter End, my favourite spot removal spell from Khans, here.
• I looked at a red card, Outpost Siege, my overall favourite card from Fate Reforged, here.
• Another red card, Greater Gargadon, a fantastic sacrifice outlet, here.
• I looked at the first monowhite card, the tricksy Seht’s Tiger here.
• The first blue card of the series, Gilded Drake, a potent thievery effect, here.
• I went over white control card World Queller and how to use its powerful effect here.
• I looked at the once-restricted blue recursion card Recall, the only blue card that can recur dead planeswalkers (plus any other type of card), here.
• I went over the first black card of this series, Commander 2014’s Flesh Carver, an excellent sacrifice outlet here.
• As part of my week-long look at Modern Masters 2015 cards, I looked at Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder, and his token-making prowess here.
• We went over the red sweeper Magmaquake, which hits all planeswalkers at once, here.
• I looked at Shrouded Lore, a strange black recursion spell, here.
• We discussed the power of tapping down opposing creatures with a trio of white cards: Glare of Subdual, Sandsower, and Diversionary Tactics, here.
• I took a look at two green recursion creatures, Hua Tuo, Honored Physician, and Loaming Shaman from Ravnica, here.
• I looked at an Innistrad favourite, Reaper from the Abyss, an excellent card for killing off opposing creatures, here.
• I looked at the powerful Magic Origins card Chandra’s Ignition, a mighty Wrath effect, here.
• I spotlighted Vorinclex’s potent new win condition and mana-ramp spell, From Beyond, and the possibilities of an Eldrazi sideboard here.
• I looked at my favourite modal spell from Commander 2014, the deceptively useful Wretched Confluence here.
• I looked at new Ally tribal leader General Tazri and how she would interact with the Allies here.
• I looked at the Mana Reflection/Soul of the Harvest love child, Zendikar Resurgent here.
• Finally, I looked at the super Purify slash big dude, Kalemne’s Captain, here.
When the Shadows Over Innistrad full spoiler first was released, Westvale Abbey was the card I initially dubbed the strongest card in the set. As a land, it could slot into any manabase, it makes token creatures for you to win longer grindy games, and eventually it turns into an enormous flying lifelink Demon. What’s not to love about this land?
Well, since this set was released, it turns out that I was right about this card being a powerhouse, as it has quietly become one of the lynchpins of Standard. G/B creature swarm decks with this as a finisher immediately sprouted up, and used the big Demon to close out games quickly and efficiently.
And yet, despite its Standard success, I have not heard anyone talk about its usefulness in EDH, which is odd.
EDH is a format often dubbed ‘battlecruiser Magic,’ for its reliance on huge creatures and haymaker spells. Beyond that though, EDH is also a format of resources, where players with the most efficient resource management have an easier time winning. As such, it’s no secret that utility lands (lands that tap for mana, and also do something else beneficial for you as the game goes on) are always fantastic in EDH, giving you a spell-like ability that you can use and reuse as the game goes on.
A great example of a powerful EDH utility land is either Volrath’s Stronghold or Academy Ruins. These lands give you mana early on, but lategame are powerful recursion tools. Other examples are the Innistrad block utility lands (examples include Gavony Township, Desolate Lighthouse, and Nephalia Drownyard), and the original Ravnica block utility lands (ie. Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree, Skarrg, the Rage Pits, etc.)
Since a utility land just gets added into your manabase, there is very little cost to you to do so (normally the only things I worry about is having too many colorless lands), and they give you more options for things to do as a game goes on.
Though its effect is less powerful in some ways than the other lands, Westvale Abbey is a different kind of utility land. It does tap for mana, can make you token creatures to chump-block with or attack with, and eventually turns into a massive Demon to smash opponents with. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the Abbey.
Tapping for mana is simple enough, as is making token creatures. Any EDH deck wants mana-producing lands, and any EDH deck can use a token-producer, especially one attached to a land. That part of this card is simple enough. It is the “sacrifice five creatures to turn this into a huge Demon” part that I find most relevant, for several reasons.
First, there are several generals in EDH that love it when you sacrifice your own creatures, and normally give you a benefit for doing so. Recently released Meren of Clan Nel Toth, Savra, Queen of the Golgari, and Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest; all of these generals love it when you kill your own creatures. Of my own EDH decks, I have added Westvale Abbey to our Kresh the Bloodbraided deck, since Kresh loves seeing other creatures die, this should be an excellent addition.
The Abbey works wonders in token-swarm EDH decks, of which I have made quite a few. If you have a lot of spare token creatures from other cards, just feed them into the Abbey, and make a much more potent threat!
(I really wanted to put this into our Kongming deck — monowhite tokens — but unfortunately, since Ormendahl is black, the Abbey has a black color identity and can only go into black decks.)
Worth mentioning as well with the Abbey is that it happens to work extremely well with Grave Pact effects, which just so haappen to be fantastic in multiplayer anyway. The cards Grave Pact, Dictate of Erebos, Butcher of Malakir, and Martyrs Bond; all of these cards love to see a land that says “sacrifice five creatures” on it, letting you nuke five of everyone’s creatures at the same time when you activate it to bring out the big Demon.
And speaking of the big Demon…
It may take a lot of work to bring out Ormendahl, but the big guy is definitely worth it. Ormendahl is, quite simply put, an absolute monster of a creature in EDH. He’s a massive 9-power creature, meaning he kills an opponent in five swings. Lifelink means that it’s nearly impossible to race him, since you’ll be gaining a huge amount of life every time he connects. Flying is also huge here, meaning that he’s very hard for certain opponents to even block.
But it’s his indestructible ability that I really like for EDH. In the Commander format, I find that there are often a lot of Wrath of God effects flying around a table to keep players alive, and creatures tend to die, a lot. Ormendahl dodges each and every Wrath effect that doesn’t exile him (including any that you play), making him very, very hard to kill in Commander games. Certain colors (I’m thinking mono-green here) have so few answers to Ormendahl available to them, that those players may die on the spot when you transform the Abbey into him.
Ormendahl is very, very strong, and I think this card will end up finishing off a lot of players for me as time goes on.
Conclusion: So there you have it, that’s a quick look at one of my favorite cards from SOI, Westvale Abbey! I’ve added this land into both our Vish Kal and Kresh decks, and I expect it to do fantastic work in both. If you have a black-based EDH deck that likes sacrificing creatures, or that makes a lot of tokens to sacrifice, or that just wants a potent giant flying Demon, take a look at this land, it’s great!