One of the joys of EDH as a format is being able to throw around heavy-hitting spells that would never see play in a normal Magic game simply because no one would have enough mana before the game ended in most situations. And few creatures from Magic's early days hit as heavily as Verdant Force, the once-notorious reanimator deck target that quickly churned out veritable armies of 1/1s while being a 7/7 beater itself. More than ten years later, it became part of a cycle: the original Commander release brought the lifegaining Celestial Force and Lightning Bolt-tossing Magmatic Force. Thanks to Mark Rosewater's preview article today, we have confirmation that the cycle is being continued into black. Take a good long look at Baleful Force:
Baleful Force 5BBB
Creature - Elemental (Rare)
At the beginning of each upkeep, you draw a card and lose 1 life.
"As with any malevolent being, the trick is knowing how long you can afford to keep it in your service." - Liliana Vess
Yes, comparisons to the banned-in-EDH Griselbrand are inevitable; they have similar mana costs and are both 7/7s, but Grizz has the benefits of flying and lifelink and draws cards much faster. Baleful Force doesn't exactly come out looking spectacular there, but it does have the advantage of being a much less risky investment; putting in 1 life for one card every turn can't backfire as badly as paying 7 life for seven cards can - there's not the risk of the activated ability being countered and leaving you in the lurch, or of decking yourself. "Each upkeep" triggers are obviously much better than "your upkeep" triggers in multiplayer, and who could resist multiple Phyrexian Arenas attached to a 7/7 body? Plus, as a triggered ability, this isn't vulnerable to Arrest and its ilk. At a multiplayer table, this gives you card advantage at a terrifying rate.
This is probably going to feature in either the blue-black-red Mind Seize or white-blue-black Eternal Bargain deck; it simply doesn't seem to fit the black-red-green Power Hungry's game plan.
What do you think of this hand-filling black Elemental? Let me know in the comments.