Seedglaive Mentor
11, Jul, 24

MTG Lifegain Decks Are In Shambles Thanks To New Bloomburrow Spoiler

Article at a Glance

We’re only a couple of days into preview season, and already Bloomburrow is shaping up to be one hell of a set. The new mechanics are interesting, the potential for wacky interactions is there, and, of course, the art is fantastic. Beyond the raw novelty, Bloomburrow also appears to be pushing the power level quite high; perhaps even higher than Thunder Junction did. Many of the cards spoiled so far have potential in multiple MTG formats, and none more so than Sunspine Lynx.

Sunspine Lynx: The Embodiment Of Aggro In MTG

Sunspine Lynx MTG

This card is, in a word, terrifying. Four mana for a 5/4 is a great baseline, giving you an aggressive body that can swing in hard each turn. Lynx builds on this strong start with three very relevant, and very red, abilities.

The first two are both passive effects. While Sunspine Lynx is in play, players can’t gain life, and damage can’t be prevented. Long-time Mono-Red players will recognize these lines from the excellent Skullcrack, a tried-and-tested staple in Burn decks across multiple formats. While damage prevention is pretty rare, lifegain is not, so shutting it down is a major boost to an aggressive card like this.

The third ability on Sunspine Lynx is another MTG classic. It deals damage to each player equal to the number of nonbasic lands they control. A toned-down Price of Progress, essentially. With the increased quality of nonbasic lands in recent sets, this ability can deal a huge chunk of damage. It’ll only get better in the future as this trend continues, too.

Put all of that together and what do you have? One of the best personifications of the color red in Magic we’ve ever seen. It’s a powerful hyper-aggressive card, but it’s also inherently risky. All three of its abilities affect you as well, so you need to be mindful of that before you drop it on the board. Of course, in the decks that will most likely run Sunspine Lynx, these concerns are barely relevant at all.

Setting The Standard

Which decks are those? Why, Mono-Red Aggro decks, of course! Such lists make a ton of sense for Sunspine Lynx, for multiple reasons. Firstly, because of the two red pips in its mana cost. Playing only red means you’ll hit those on curve consistently. Secondly, the third ability puts in major work. A Mono-Red deck can get away with playing almost entirely basic Mountains as its manabase. That means less self-inflicted damage when you play Sunspine Lynx.

In Standard, Mono-Red Aggro has been a meta player for a good while now. The deck plays a lot of low-to-the-ground creatures like Monastery Swiftspear and Phoenix Chick, then follows up with pump spells and burn to close things out early. In its current form, Sunspine Lynx doesn’t seem like a great fit for the deck. Turn four is often when it plans to win a game, not develop another threat.

That said, Standard Mono-Red Aggro is losing a lot of key pieces when rotation hits. Bloodthirsty Adversary, Play with Fire, and Kumano Faces Kakkazan to name a few. The deck will need to adapt without these cards, and one such adaptation may be stretching the curve to accommodate Sunspine Lynx. In most cases, the card comes with a solid burn spell built-in, so it’s unlikely to feel bad when dropped on curve.

Even if it doesn’t make the main deck, Sunspine Lynx will certainly be a staple in the sideboards of Mono-Red Aggro lists. Furnace Punisher, a similar nonbasic land punisher card, already holds such a role, and Sunspine provides redundancy on that. Lynx also shuts down lifegain, which is crucial against Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. Combined with Screaming Nemesis, another very exciting red aggro card that will be arriving in Duskmourn, Mono-Red decks will have no shortage of powerful options in the coming months.

An Eternal Flame?

Sunspine Lynx MTG Eternal Burn Cards

Standard play is almost a certainty, but Sunspine Lynx has potential in other MTG formats too. No matter which format you play, Mono-Red Aggro is probably a viable deck there. This means that Lynx could find a home literally anywhere, provided players are willing to add a four drop to their streamlined lists.

This is most likely to happen in Pioneer. Mono-Red isn’t a huge force there, but the decks that do exist will almost certainly want this in the sideboard. Turning off lifegain essentially shuts down Amalia Combo, which is one of the most popular decks in the format. In addition, Pioneer manabases are notoriously greedy, which helps maximize the value of the damage ability.

Modern is a trickier proposition. While the damage ability is nice here, the passives just don’t do much against the kind of combo decks that are running rampant in the format right now. Four is not an inconsiderable cost, either, especially in a format where The One Ring is legal as an alternative. I wouldn’t hold my breath for Sunspine Lynx breaking into Modern, but it could well make it as a meta-call sideboard piece someday.

To end things on a more positive note, the card is a slam-dunk in Commander. Hitting each player for damage, in a format more nonbasic land-hungry than most, is a big deal. Globally turning off lifegain is also great against all manner of Commander decks, Aristocrats builds in particular. “It’s good in Commander” is hardly a compelling argument these days, but Sunspine Lynx should be really, really good in Commander. It’s rare to see a new card with so much cross-format appeal.

Read More: Bloomburrow Spoilers Gift Cards to Opponents to Take Their Games Away

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