Up to now, we’ve had a good run with the Planeswalkers. Many of them have been strong in play, such as Liliana Vess or Tezzeret the Seeker. Others may have been more marginal but still useful cards such as Ajani Goldmane. Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker and Elspeth, Knight-Errant have been simply awesome.
In Chandra Ablaze we have a planeswalker card that is just rotten. Firstly, she costs six mana to cast, two of which must be red. Chandra Ablaze enters the battlefield with five loyalty counters and has three abilities.
Her first ability adds a loyalty counter and obliges you to discard a card. If the discarded card was red, you deal 4 points of damage to target creature of player. In grand melee, the ability to deal direct damage to any of the four opponents around you is good, and often strong. But this could usually be achieved by casting the kind of card you would instead have to discard to Chandra’s first ability. Not good.
The second ability continues with the discard theme, and to be fair supports use of the first ability. At the cost of removing to loyalty counters, each player discards his or her hand and draws three cards. This is pretty good if you are the only player with an empty hand. The chances are that by the time you cast Chandra Ablaze many other players will be sitting on reduced hands too, or a hand of cards they can’t cast. Any opponent in this position will positively welcome your use of Chandra’s second ability. Doing your opponents a favour is rarely the path to victory in grand melee.
Chandra Ablaze’s final ability, the one you are working towards with all this discard, costs the removal of seven loyalty. It allows you to cast any number of red instant or sorcery cards in your graveyard without paying their mana costs. Nice, assuming you are still alive to use it.
This is Chandra Ablaze in a nutshell; an expensive spell bank. Each turn, you deposit a red spell card into the bank, until the time comes when you can make a withdrawal and use all the cards you’ve previously dumped. You sacrifice spells now for the chance of spells later.
The problem is this is simply too expensive in terms of cards. You will gain more by simply casting your red spells anyway. Chandra Ablaze forces you to stop playing your game and play her game instead. You’ll be pitching cards rather than casting them, while around you your opponents continue on.
Verdict: Useless. A deck based around Chandra Ablaze will not perform at the melee table, and this card will not strengthen decks it is added to.
Connections: Like Chandra Ablaze? You may also like [Sorin Markov] [Koth of the Hammer] [Karn Liberated]
Don’t like Chandra Ablaze? You may prefer [Elspeth, Knight-Errant] [Chandra, the Firebrand] [Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded]