*Editor's Note: Due to its inclusion among the promo previews, we received permission to show off our preview early. We'd like to thank Wizards of the Coast for this free preview content. We hope you enjoy!*
Karn has changed a lot since we have known him. When we started with Karn, he was just a Golem on a Ship:
From the very beginning, you can see how Karn is different. He is a golem with a conscience. He's not a pacifist because he was programmed to be, but he decides to be one.
See how Karn's pacifistic nature is a weakness here when the Weatherlight Crew arrive on Rath? Karn is very much someone who won't fight to save himself.
Where does this come from?
Karn says that you cannot cleanse the wounds of failure. What happened? Where did he fail? Where does this Karn come from?
Here! As you can see, it comes from guilt. Karn's rage caused him to kill an innocent. That is a life-changing experience. Karn has vowed to never again be the cause of innocent death. Anger is fleeting, but remorse? It never dies. And it hits Karn's soul with a pang of silvery guilt.
After being captured, Karn is hit with some deep spiritual torture by Volrath. He knows that the best way to hurt Karn is to attack his spirit. Even if you could hurt him physically, that would likely only increase his resolve. In fact, Karn will be tortured by Volrath by having him placed into a room where his body would tumble around and kill Goblins. Volrath knows how to get you.
Karn is freed, and will eventually reunite with the Legacy and the Weatherlight, all happy and stuff.
We get our first chance to see Karn in card form in Urza's Saga:
He is our first colorless legendary dork, and he's led many a colorless EDH deck over the years. He plays into the pacifist role, because if he engages in combat, he won't deal damage. Karn loves. He doesn't want to hurt.
We find out that Karn was created by Urza to help guard the Weatherlight project and to fend off the Phyrexian invasion. Urza fuels Karn up and he turns into a planeswalker at the end of the Invasion storyline, and heads out.
Karn creates a plane called Argentum, that we know as Mirrodin. It was warped by the Mirari that became Memnarch and was the antagonist of the plane and the story line. Unfortunately, Karn had a small amount of Phyrexian oil that oozed out and eventually turned it into New Phyrexia, thus Karn was the unwitting architect of destroying his own plane.
Karn became entombed as the leader of the Phyrexian part of the plane. Koth would lead a multi-planeswalker party against the Phyrexians. Venser reached Karn, and then chose to sacrifice himself in order to end the Phyrexian Taint, thereby freeing him. And we get the first planeswalker version of Karn.
Karn Liberated is here. He will travel the multiverse seeking a way to end the Phyrexian threat once and for all.
And that leads us to our recent storyline on Dominaria where he helps out his home and assists the Gatewatch on the plane while getting ready head back to Argentum/New Phyrexia and end the threat there.
Throughout it all, Karn has suffered loss that he mourns and regrets. The innocent who died? His friend Venser who sacrificed himself to help Karn break free? His entire plane that fell to the very enemy that he was supposed to defeat? Karn has a lot of regrets. He protects. He gives.
And that's where today's preview comes from!
Karn loves you. He will protect you, if he can. That's who he is!
And he will give you a mechanic that was previously associated with the Phyrexians. Maybe he learned how to use their tools against them while a part of them!
This card is amazing. There are so many ways to use it!
Take Commander as a good example. This is exactly the sort of card that will make a huge impact in Commander. This is going to be a staple land moving forward. Any deck with a planeswalker Commander leading their deck will want it. Any deck with planewalkers or counters on various sources will want it.
Compare it to Oran-Rief, the Vastwood, which is also a major staple. Karn's land is one that's arguably a lot better in a counter build. It compares strongly with lands like these. It has no mana identity so you can toss it into any shell regardless of color. It works with counters that aren't merely +1/+1 should you want them. It works well!
Now, let's take a quick tour of EDHREC.com
According to EDHRec.com, Atraxa is the most popular commander ever printed. There are 5538 decks that list it as their leader. The next is Meren of Clan Nel Toth at 3741. Only two other leaders have 3000+ builds registered. That's how beloved Atraxa is.
And all that it does is bring a single proliferate engine to the battlefield each turn for free. That's pretty minor, right? Nope! Proliferate is that useful; that good. It's iconic.
Karn loves Atraxa. Every Atraxa deck is going to want Karn's Bastion.
And that ain't all!
Outside of Commander we have a lot more places to consider!
Standard? It may be a bit pricey, but just one or two could really make a Super Friends deck sing.
Cube? It's an obvious card to toss into many Cubes and their Fun Times
Modern? Other Formats?
Does this help an infect deck get over the top?
The love is strong with this card.
Let me toss a deck or two your way to show you what I am thinking about:
Karn Is Still Under Phyrexian Sway! | Casual | Abe Sargent
- Creatures (33)
- 2 Birds of Paradise
- 2 Blight Mamba
- 2 Core Prowler
- 2 Elves of Deep Shadow
- 2 Llanowar Elves
- 2 Putrefax
- 2 Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
- 3 Corpse Cur
- 4 Glistener Elf
- 4 Hand of the Praetors
- 4 Phyrexian Crusader
- 4 Viridian Corrupter
- Instants (3)
- 3 Vines of Vastwood
Here we go! This deck wants to grow an infect theme. The proliferate of the Bastion can help to finish off someone who has been infected earlier, and then gained control of the board. We have 27 dorks with infect here, including infect lords like Hand of the Praetors, and everyone's favorite Infect-a-saurus Rex - Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon!
Because these infect bodies will be putting -1/-1 counters on dorks during combat damage, you can also put more on them with proliferate such as Karn's Olde Tyme Bastion and finish off any damaged dorks. Infect moves to proliferate for winning the game!
What else jumps out at me?
How about a Standard build?
Let's be Honest, We All Knew That Karn Was Deeply Simic | War of the Spark Standard | Abe Sargent
- Creatures (26)
- 2 Aeromunculus
- 2 Galloping Lizrog
- 2 Herald of Secret Streams
- 2 Hydroid Krasis
- 2 Incubation Druid
- 2 Shapers of Nature
- 2 Zegana, Utopian Speaker
- 4 Benthic Biomancer
- 4 Biogenic Ooze
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
- Planeswalkers (2)
- 2 Karn, Scion of Urza
Here's another deck for your perusal. Standard counters matter for the win!
Note that the proliferate of Karn's Bastion works very well with Simic Ascendency. You'll get many a growth counter by doing the following:
- Targeting dorks that have +1/+1 counters on them already to get more, thus triggering the growth counter clause.
- Targeting Simic Ascendancy itself to get another growth counter too,
It'll be so easy to win with the Ascendancy!
We have fun cards here like Hadana's Climb and Zegana, Utopian Speaker that are very much on the top end of power punchers. Get counters on things to trigger effects like Benthic Biomancer's card drawing good times.
I don't want to spoil the Karn show too much, but I am sure that you'll agree that Karn, Lover of Bastions, loves almost every deck ever played.
Karn loves you.