Commander Spotlight: Pyrostatic Pillar

There are innumerable repeating aspects of everyday life that you can point to as a means of denoting – and celebrating – the passage of time. Regardless of whether it’s how long you’ve been in school, your wedding anniversary, or the number of seasons of Survivor you’ve watched, the more frequently you partake in a recurring shared experience, the higher the likelihood that you ascribe some level of importance to it. Just as a singular moment in time can be a momentous and life-changing event, so too can the annual reminder (or repetition) of that event have an impact on your life and those around you.

That’s pretty much how history and tradition works, really.

Take the Declaration of Independence. While it’s a watershed moment for Americans as the formal creation of the country, we also place a heavy significance of celebrating that fact every July 4th – the accepted anniversary of that event. For many, developing a personal attachment to the ramifications and impact of that original date can be difficult some 241 years removed from its occurrence. The annual celebration of that event, however, can be just as resonant.

As humans it’s hard for us to avoid having any such annual reminders, be it something as important as the birth of a child or something as geeky as personal Magic: the Gathering milestones.

For instance, I maintained weekly Magic gathering with friends nearly every Tuesday night at a local pizza shop for nearly 14 years before it finally petered out at the beginning of 2017. The number and faces of the attendees fluctuated wildly over those years, but it was always a good time for some multiplayer Magic fun.

When it ended, I found myself torn. On the one hand, I was rather disheartened that a guaranteed social gathering – for Magic no less – had come to an anemic end. It was sad to see it go, both because it meant less chances to see the people involved on a regular basis, but also because of the significance I had inadvertently placed on its longevity. Still, on the other hand I couldn’t help but be proud we were able to keep such a tradition going nearly every week for over a decade.

Moreover, as the CR inches closer to its five year anniversary, and in turn, nearly five years of championing the accessibility of the EDH format in these articles, that wistful focus on anniversaries brings us to today’s card pick.

I could wait for a few more weeks to do so officially, but I thought it would be fun to celebrate the 212th Monday Magic article with a card that brings the spirit of EDH to a boil in almost any table setting.

Today we have: Pyrostatic Pillar

Name: Pyrostatic Pillar

Edition: Scourge

Rarity: Uncommon

Focus: Damage Dealing

Highlights: Pyrostatic Pillar does one thing and one thing only: punish players who cast cheap spells. It has been a perennial favorite of casual and competitive players alike who wish to slow a Magic game down and hurt opponents who only want to cast the cheapest spells possible. Which, in a Commander setting, makes total sense.

Commander is the epitome of a format that both caters to and rewards slower games that use costlier and more powerful spells. This card fits right into that philosophy. It’s not that small aggressive style decks can’t work, but with multiple opponents and 40 life to contend with, such decks usually have an uphill battle to climb. Especially with this on the battlefield.

However, even with decks full of expensive creatures and spells to sling around, there are usually plenty of cheaper spells to offset the mana curve – many of which cost three mana or less. Whether it’s cards that mana ramp, provide utility, or provide useful defensive answers, even the most robust Commander decks are going to contain cards to cast before your fourth turn. And Pyrostatic Pillar can be there to greet them.

By doing two damage any time a spell of CMC 3 or less is cast, the Pillar provides a flavorful answer to players trying to shave their EDH deck’s mana curve down significantly. Although two damage at a time doesn’t sound like much in games with larger life totals, these dings can certainly add up over the course of lengthy bouts – especially if you can cast it early. Given its mere two mana cost, that shouldn’t be an issue.

Whether the Pillar will be welcomed in your games or not will largely depend on the group, however. This cheap enchantment does affect all players equally, which usually diminishes players’ desire to remove it somewhat. In addition, it has the added benefit of punishing players who have that nagging habit of choosing cheap Commanders for their decks. With this out, anytime someone casts a Commander under CMC 4, they get penalized for it.

That being said, such a card doesn’t make friends easily. Although its potency is halved compared to normal games due to EDH’s higher life totals, for many players it’ll only take a few instances of being damaged simply for playing cards in their deck before the novelty wears off. In that sense, it’s political benefits can be rather fluid and unpredictable. Or, in other words, a quintessential Red card.

Which, in the end, is a very traditional thing for Red to embody.

Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.

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