A new take on a classic cycle of powerful spells is coming to Magic: The Gathering. The Ultimatums are back in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, and this time, they are the wedge colors. Just like their Shards of Alara counterparts, these powerful spells all cost seven mana and can quickly turn the tide of a match.
Only four of these spells have been spoiled as of this writing. Let’s break down which of them is the best so far.
The spell tentatively reads, “Target player gains 5 life. Immaculate Ultimatum deals 5 damage to any target. Draw 5 cards.”
Immaculate Ultimatum is a little like the opposite of Cruel Ultimatum, just less powerful. Gaining five life is not terrible, and it can help stabilize against an aggressive board state. The five damage can help take out any problematic creatures or planeswalkers that your opponent might have. It can also target your opponent for some extra damage to their life total. And drawing five cards is always good.
This Ultimatum could work very nicely in an Ikoria version of Jeskai Fires. It would also fit in a deck that utilizes the freshly spoiled Narset of the Ancient Way. A Jeskai Control list would also want at least a couple of copies of this card in their lists. It plays very nicely with Dream Trawler, pumping up your Trawler’s attack for a powerful swing while providing a ton of card advantage.
The Mardu-colored Ruinous Ultimatum is very straight forward. You just destroy everything you don’t control. Blow it all up. This spell is the equivalent of flipping the table over on your opponent. There isn’t even a downside to this spell. It’s a one-sided board wipe with no drawback.
Ruinous Ultimatum would also work well in Fires of Invention-based deck, with the Ultimatum topping off the list. It can also fit pretty well into a Mardu or Four-Color planeswalker control list. Any type of Mardu Midrange deck can take advantage of this one-sided removal and use it to create openings for attacks.
Giving your opponents options is never good in Magic, but Ikoria‘s Sultai-colored take on an Ultimatum is the best players can get. Players search up to three cards, and while your opponent gets to choose one to put back, the rest can be cast for free. The strangest aspect of this card is that players can only search for monocolored cards. In a set that emphasizes multicolor strategies, this may feel a little out of place.
Emergent Ultimatum might feel more at home in a Commander deck than it would in a post-Ikoria Standard. Still, getting two free spells is never bad, and there could certainly be a place for Emergent Ultimatum. Having to choose between a Questing Beast, Omniscience, or Liliana, Dreadhorde General makes for a difficult choice for an opponent.
Eerie Ultimatum might seem more at home in a Commander deck, given that it requires creatures with different names. But with its ability to return so many permanents, this Ultimatum’s power can’t be ignored. Eerie Ultimatum is similar to Seasons Past. That control list was popularized by Jon Finkle and was a dominating presence thanks to its ability to recur cards continuously.
Whether or not Eerie Ultimatum will find a place in the Ikoria Standard meta has yet to be determined. Being able to bring back a wide range of creatures, enchantments, artifacts, and planeswalkers is incredibly powerful, though, so it will be hard to turn down the allure.
Ikoria releases on April 16 in Magic Arena, and May 15 in physical stores. Let us know in the comments below which of these spells you’ll be dominating FNM with. For more Magic news, make sure to follow Daily Esports.