“In a world destroyed by a large quantity of Cats stand two men from Theros who turned the tides of history forever. One was sworn to protect those who cannot protect themselves. The other had a gift for making himself indestructible. They could change the fates of time by leading the rebellion against Nicol Bolas and his unrelenting attempts at total domination. All that stands between them and victory is only their ability to work together in….
“Two Brothers: The Gideoning."
We all knew this day would come. When Wizards decided to go back on their three-block rotation in Standard, we knew it would cause some issues down the line. Amonkhet had been designed under the impression that Battle for Zendikar block would be rotating prior to its inclusion in the format. The abandonment of this new cycle would punish us until sets were printed once again for the old/new rotation cycle. “The Gideoning” is just the first instance of us seeing these effects.
Luckily for us, it shouldn't be that bad. We all know Gideon doesn't like to share the spotlight, making it difficult for me to believe he will work well with himself. That leaves the only question on everyone's mind: which Gideon is better?
I would call you a liar if you haven't played with or against this card in the past two years. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar has been a staple since its printing and has even been in the finals of every Pro Tour since then. It would blow my mind if this card didn't see play after the printing of Gideon of the Trials.
Well, that's if Gideon of the Trials didn't “Fatal Push” Gideon, Ally of Zendikar out of the format unfairly.
There's a good possibility that Wizards decides to just go ahead and ban Gideon, Ally of Zendikar this month just so that we have an opportunity to play without it. Like I said earlier, the card has been more dominant since its inclusion in Standard than any card before its time. It sees play in aggro, midrange, and control strategies, and it can even be found in the sideboard of most white-based decks that normally wouldn't want that effect. It's just that good!
In all honesty, the only reason I was saddened by the decision to go back to an eight-set rotation in Standard was due to having to deal with this stupid planeswalker for another six months! If Gideon, Ally of Zendikar does get banned, however, the replacement of Chandra, Torch of Defiance in a Mardu Vehicles shell will probably be close to the same power level. It's a great day to be a Mardu Vehicles player!
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 2 Glorybringer
- 4 Thraben Inspector
- 4 Toolcraft Exemplar
- 4 Veteran Motorist
- 1 Kytheon, Hero of Akros
- 1 Pia Nalaar
Now, saying Gideon, Ally of Zendikar will get the axe is just conjecture, making it irresponsible to assume the world will no longer feel his mighty wrath. We must understand what the world would look like if “Gideon and Gideon” set up shop in Standard.
Let's start with what Gideon of the Trials has going for it that Gideon, Ally of Zendikar doesn't. For starters, it's a cheaper card, which is obviously better, given how important it is to curve out in Standard. Sometimes just being on the draw left Gideon, Ally of Zendikar as effective as a bucket with a hole in the bottom.
Gideon of the Trials, on the other hand, can get onto the battlefield more quickly, increasing its chances of survival. It also has the ability to protect itself from even the most powerful of cards in the format, like Heart of Kiran. Gideon of the Trials will be more effective on the draw than Gideon, Ally of Zendikar more times than not. We may even see decks that play Gideon, Ally of Zendikar maindeck and swap them out for Gideon of the Trials when on the draw.
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 3 Walking Ballista
- 4 Thraben Inspector
- 4 Toolcraft Exemplar
- 2 Archangel Avacyn
- 2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Gideon of the Trials is also interesting when combined with Heart of Kiran. His loyalty isn't as important as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar's, since there is no ultimate that comes with a reduction of cost/resources. This allows you to let Gideon of the Trials lose loyalty without feeling like you're losing options. Also, the ability to protect yourself from their Heart of Kiran can win some difficult battles when they were planning on trading Heart of Kirans. Not only that, but the race will sometimes be won by Gideon of the Trials, thanks to its ability to minimize the effects of one permanent on the other side of the battlefield each turn.
The ability for Gideon of the Trials to protect itself can also play towards specific battlefield positions that Gideon, Ally of Zendikar cannot. We all know that allowing a planeswalker to live is the easiest way for a game to go poorly, so most opponents will put their focus into killing them. This one, in particular, is difficult to kill, making it something certain decks might be interested in. Very few combinations of cards can actually take down Gideon of the Trials when it's cast on turn 3 on the play, only absurdly powerful starts or simply cards like Ruinous Path.
Not to say building around Gideon, Ally of Zendikar won't be more impactful in the end, but you never know, given the full listing of Amonkhet isn't out yet. Maybe there's a Mardu Midrange deck that wants to play this card more, given how good it can be as a permanent that also plays for defensive battlefield positions. Who knows? We might see a U/W Control deck sprout up that uses Gideon of the Trials to keep Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in check. Anything's possible after you realize someone built Lantern Control!
Outside of that, sadly, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar has Gideon of the Trials trumped on all metrics. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is just too good at exploiting opponents who stumbled or aren't good at rolling dice. The card has proven itself to be the best card in Standard for over a year now. I don't think Gideon of the Trials is willing to attempt to fill such big shoes, even though technically he has the same-sized feet. It's kind of crazy to think about, since nothing actually sits on top of Gideon of the Trials as a three-drop. If Gideon, Ally of Zendikar didn't exist, we would be blown away by this card, but (again) that's a product of Wizards going back on their rotation decision. Gideon of the Trials may just have to wait until Gideon, Ally of Zendikar to naturally or unnaturally rotate out of this format to begin to see substantial play.
One thing that Gideon of the Trials has over Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is its unique third ability. Not being able to lose the game doesn't seem like that insane of an ability until you realize you've become a jaded Magic player. Not being able to lose the game as long as you control a Gideon card is pretty flipping awesome! I mean, they have to get it off the battlefield if they want to win, and at the low cost of one activation. That's for sure going to come in handy in more situations than you can think of off the top of your head. For instance, everyone's favorite legendary Spider doesn't have an easy route to victory on a clogged battlefield anymore.
“And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you wannabe Avengers!”
If this ability doesn't seem that great in Standard to you, just think about all the crazy implications it will have in older formats. For example, this emblem is just game over against a deck like Ad Nauseum…or even in Ad Nauseum as a replacement to Phyrexian Unlife! Okay, so that's probably a little too far-fetched, but it is great against the deck at least! There are countless decks in Modern that play white and also have a very difficult time against certain combo decks that Gideon of the Trials would most assuredly be willing to help out against.
“My day has finally come to protect those who cannot protect themselves against actually playing good decks.”
- 4 Ajani's Pridemate
- 2 Gideon's Lawkeeper
- 1 Kytheon's Irregulars
- 2 Martyr of Sands
- 2 Ranger of Eos
- 3 Serra Ascendant
- 4 Soul Warden
- 3 Soul's Attendant
- 4 Squadron Hawk
Gideon of the Trials doesn't actually seem like that bad of a Modern card, if you think about it. The planeswalker can protect you from a Death's Shadow, which can be very difficult to defend against, but also could be an aggressive element against other, more controlling strategies. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar has seen some sideboard play in the format, which means there's no reason why this card couldn't. It might not be the most powerful thing in the format, but all three abilities seem to be good, given the circumstances of the format. I just wish his first ability didn't target so we would have another answer to those pesky G/W Hexproof decks!
Honestly, I have high hopes for this card, but I'm not overly confident in its initial impact on Standard unless Wizards decides to ban some more cards. It seems like it was intended for Constructed play and will see it once Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is out of the picture, but that might not be in the next couple of months. Luckily, this card is going to be around for eighteen months, so we will have plenty of time to get sick of Gideon yet again!