Commander Spotlight: Hymn of Rebirth

If you’re a grizzled veteran to Magic, chances are as you’ve seen the game evolve you’ve either heard the lamentations as to why color X can’t do ability Y, or you’ve been the one spouting it. Whether it is clinging desperately to the notion that a color can or cannot do something based on the past, or that it should be able to do something because, well, you want it to, these conversations seem to resurface just about every new block:

“Why can’t other colors get counterspells?”
“Why doesn’t White have more draw effects?”
“Why shouldn’t Red have more cards like Chaos Warp?”

These lines of thought come about due to one of three things: desire, ignorance, or nostalgia.

With regards to desire, this is a player wishing a color could be doing something it isn’t able to currently do on its own. Players often have a color that they gravitate to at any given time, and the decks that they play reflect that. If you’re playing mono-Red all the time, it probably does suck that there’s some indestructible creature you can’t burninate out of the game, and out of that frustration, or want of not having to splash another color, you suggest that maybe Red should have an answer to it.

But to pull Rosewater-like response: Ok then, why not just let all colors be able to do everything?

No one actually wants that, as the game would cease being interesting. What keeps Magic dynamic is that each color has advantages and disadvantages. Sure, Blue does have powerful control spells, but it also has generally weak creatures. Red has almost nonexistent land fetch (it has two), but it’s designed to be fast out of the gate anyway. I’ve long held the mantra that the day Black gets enchantment destruction is the day I quit Magic. Overall, the colors are balanced against one another, but it’s true that they each can do individual things that others can’t. If you want to bleed abilities, consider splashing colors. Or use artifacts. Mono-Black loves it some Ratchet Bomb.

As to ignorance, this is merely a lack of understanding of how color philosophies exist. Or that they exist at all. The philosophies do fluctuate a little over time, but more often than not it’s newer players unsure how or why certain mechanics work they way they do that cause them to make color-based statements. Given that this is less about the rules of the game and more of the spirit, it’s understandable and easily solved by short explanations when prompted.

Nostalgia is generally the arena of those who remember playing on Dominaria before they partially wrecked the world in Apocalypse. They look at old cards and demand to know why a color still can’t do certain things. Why can’t White do damage and creature bounce opponent’s creatures a la Witch Hunter? And by gum, whatever happened to Dark Ritual? Most old timers have moments like these now and then, myself included. The response to this mentality, though, is simple understanding and acceptance. Finely managed color philosophy didn’t always exist, and things color-wise in the early years were haphazard and unrefined. A good rule of thumb: don’t base your opinion of whether a color should or shouldn’t be able to do something from any non-core set prior to Urza’s Saga. Likewise, ignore Planar Chaos if that’s the only time it showed up.

That said, that doesn’t mean we still can’t use and appreciate these cards, even if they aren’t “correct” by the powers that be.

Today we have: Hymn of Rebirth

Hymn of Rebirth

Name: Hymn of Rebirth

Edition: Ice Age

Rarity: Uncommon

Focus: Creature Reanimation

Highlights: The first thing that gets noticed with Hymn of Rebirth is its colors. It’s Green and White, yet it does what has long been a distinctly Black effect. Black has been able to steal anyone’s creatures since Alpha. So, is this a case of distinctly being out of today’s color pie? Well, not as much as you’d think. See, White also has been able to revive creatures since the beginning of the game (see Resurrection), and while it isn’t as commonly seen in White, it’s still very much a supported thing. The difference is that White only gets to return its own creatures.

Green, as most people know, is second only to Black in manipulating the graveyard. So one can see the logical conclusion on how we got this card. Resurrection + Green = Manipulate creatures in any graveyard. Seems pretty simple. Unfortunately, it would seem that it’s not an effect currently being explored in this color combination; instead R&D prefers to mix different iterations of Black and White. Still, it isn’t necessarily out of possibility.

What this gives you, though, is a non-Black way of stealing an opponent’s hefty creature carcass to fight anew for your site. Few people are going to expect it from a non-Black deck. Unlike certain enchantments that require staying out (and thus being targetable), the Hymn can be timed for maximum usefulness and surprise.

Hymn of Rebirth is a card that is a worthwhile tool not because of it’s combo potential or because it has a big splashy effect. Rather, the card is simple, effective, and often potent when used on the right creature. Commander can be complex enough. Sometimes it’s nice to simply have a straightforward tool in the arsenal to use. Especially if that tool isn’t the brand many come to expect.

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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