Strixhaven Limited Guide: Lesson 3 – Prismari
Lorehold? More like Borehold, am I right? Prismari leaves history where it belongs and focuses on bold new creations. But this is no ordinary art school, as Prismari portrays powerful expressions that come to life and obliterate its rivals.
You will find Wizards and Elementals here, as you might expect from Blue-Red. But where Izzet overwhelmed with the tempo of many small spells, Prismari focuses its energy into larger demonstrations of power. Just look at their Magma Opus (lol):
This card exemplifies most of what Prismari is about. Damage and card advantage are to be expected in these colors, but 4/4 creatures have been less prevalent lately. 8 mana may seem insane for a UR spell, but Prismari utilizes treasure to generate the mana it needs. Let’s see some more cards:
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The main thing that stands out to me is Prismari has some serious synergy at Uncommon. As a thought experiment, let’s say you curve out Apprentice into Rootha into Maelstrom Muse. On turn 5 you could then pull off a double cast of Practical Research (see below), generating a pair of +1/+1 counters on your Apprentice in the process. This would also work with Elemental Summoning (see Commons), creating 2x 4/4 Elementals instead. Pulling these off turn 5 is obviously a dream scenario, but they are powerful plays representing huge advantages at any point in the game.
Rootha in particular feels hugely impactful, blocking early and doubling stuff late. I won’t be double-dipping and putting signpost cards in the Best Uncommons section, but Rootha is an example of one you can definitely imagine being there as well.
As mentioned earlier, the Uncommons in these colors are great. Both Prismari ones represent great card advantage, and Mentor's Guidance continues that trend as an upgraded Divination. Most creatures you are going to run in these colors qualify you to double-Opt with this spell, which triggers all of your Magecraft stuff twice. Doing so with a Storm-Kiln Artist in play for instance generates a pair of Treasure tokens, powering it up and enabling a huge turn later. Both Learn spells in these colors are excellent.
Igneous Inspiration is perhaps the best Uncommon in the set, and while Divide By Zero notably misses creature tokens (mascots), it still presents a crucial tempo swing which enables you to spend that extra turn to safely cast the Lesson it fetches.
Taken as a whole, these effectively extend the synergies present in the signposts. If the format ends up being as slow as it appears to be, Prismari is situated really well to capitalize. Every college can generate card advantage from the Learn/Lesson mechanic, but none like Prismari. Pure card advantage spells can be an insurmountable boon in slower formats, and Prismari is stacked in this regard. Even more, where Izzet could often draw a bunch of cards but fail to find something substantial enough to actually win the game, Prismari does not look to have this issue. We need only take a glance at some of its Commons to find strong evidence of this:
4/4 Elementals are going to be a force to be reckoned with in this set. Strixhaven is a format with fairly weak creatures, and many decks are going to need to stack-block to deal with 4/4’s. Green decks have a few options as expected, but their best options aren’t ideal:
Master Symmetrist is a premium Uncommon, and still trades with Elementals. Bayou Groffis looking to be one of the best Commons and costs 5 mana or a creature to cast, only to trade with an Elemental. Quandrix’s Fractals are the only mascot which can go bigger than Prismari, but even then they need 6 mana to match the Elementals.
Let’s be honest though, Elemental Summoning is likely to be a premium Common and difficult to find multiples of. Even so, Prismari has other finishers at its disposal. Spectacle Mage and Frost Trickster are two good options, as Wind Drakes tend to do well in slower formats. I thought Frost Lynx was already pretty good and now Wizards has seen fit to give it flying… seems pretty pushed to me.
Prismari Pledgemage also seems great to me, and I think some may sleep on it. It’ll be pretty easy to attack with in this format but that isn’t really the point. Any slower deck is going to love a 3/3 wall at 2-drop. The mana cost doesn’t even preclude other colleges from taking pledges. We’ve already seen Lorehold looking fairly durdly, and perhaps Quandrix will want to buy some time as well. Prismari Pledgemage is unsurprisingly a good fit for Blue-Red of course, which wants to set up a huge turn at some point.
I am pretty high on Prismari! I think it has some of the best synergy of any college, and card advantage is always a luxury in Limited. On the creature front, 2/2 flyers and 4/4 Elementals are looking like the board to beat. If the format ends up being really slow I think Prismari will be the best archetype to be in.
You knew there was a but or however coming though, didn’t you? The next college we will visit (Silverquill) has a chance of being a dominant force in Strixhaven. As an Aggro Black-White archetype featuring a 2/1 flying mascot, it looks to be a solid foil to Prismari, and certainly to durdly archetypes like Lorehold. Join me again soon for a deeper look into this powerful college which wields the magic of words.
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