Before I begin my series of regular draft booster openings, I wanted to highlight a card that I was lucky enough to get twice in consecutive collector boosters at the Throne of Eldraine prerelease:
Oko, Thief of Crowns is a mythic rare planeswalker that enters the battlefield with 4 loyalty. He has three abilities:
- +2: Create a food token
- +1: Target artifact or creature loses all abilities and becomes a 3/3 elk creature
- -5: Exchange control of target artifact or creature you control with a creature an opponent controls with power 3 or less
There is a lot to like about Oko, not least the fact that he synergises with himself. You can create a food with the +2, turn it into a 3/3 creature with the +1, then exchange it with your opponents big creature with the -5. This pathway is especially interesting given that it is perfectly feasible to get Oko on the board on turn 2 if your first play is a Gilded Goose1.
Even taken in isolation, each ability is very good. Consider that on the turn you play this you can get a 6 loyalty planeswalker with a food token; that is incredibly good value for 3 mana especially in Simic colours. It is easy to imagine that you could follow this up with a Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner and then a Bioessence Hydra for a 19/19 hydra with trample!
Similarly, turning artifacts or creatures into 3/3 elks is a very good ability especially as you aren’t limited to just yourself or an opponent. For example, you could nullify your opponent’s Clackbridge Troll or you could turn your Arboreal Grazer into something you can attack with. Alternatively you can turn artifacts like food and treasure into 3/3 creatures. My personal favourite is to convert creatures or artifacts that are base 0/0 with +1/+1 counters as they retain the counters. For example, you could cast Ugin’s Conjurant for 5 mana and then turn it into a base 3/3 elk; it’s now an 8/8 that won’t lose counters when it gets hit! This also works nicely with the lands created by Nissa, Who Shakes the World…
The ultimate ability doesn’t look quite as good at first blush. Paying 5 loyalty to swap an artifact or creature for a 3 power or less creature doesn’t seem great; do you really want to swap a treasure or food for a Belle of the Brawl? Maybe, but it doesn’t seem a good enough trade to put your planeswalker in easy lethal damage territory. But look again at the 564 creatures with power 3 or less and there are some gems to be had:
- Agent of Treachery
- Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
- Biogenic Ooze
- Chandra’s Spitfire
- God-Eternal Oketra
- Robber of the Rich
- Thief of Sanity
There are a great many good cards to be stolen this way, basically anything that has a static ability or a mana sink will give you a significant advantage. Whilst I’ve said I don’t want to put my Oko in mortal peril using this ability, it is also a useful cost-free way of getting out of trouble if you are in a really tight spot.
Overall I think this is a brilliant planeswalker and probably2 the best one of the three in the set. As I mentioned in my prerelease report, I managed to grab the foil versions of both the standard and borderless cards which put me in a very good mood! The borderless version is particularly nice in person and the card stock improvements that came in with Core Set 2020 are still in force with excellent print quality and an almost silky finish.
To conclude, I should probably talk a little about the person this card represents as Oko is certainly an intriguing character. He’s literally mentioned in the first sentence of The Wildered Quest and quickly uses his Fae glamer to control Garruk. He is able to shapeshift not only himself, but also other characters along the way and though there is some reason to his actions the motive is never fully revealed. I’m certainly eager to see more and speculation is rife as to whether we’ve seen him previously in some guise3. In all probability, the future storyline isn’t locked down4 and they could use him to fit any number of roles; the problem with shapeshifters is that you can never be totally sure of who anybody is!
Knowing all of the story surrounding Eldraine makes me appreciate this card even more. With the food creation, elk changing, and creature swapping, they’ve perfectly captured the essence of a shapeshifter with unknowable motives. My only comment is that we probably didn’t need to see his perfect abs on both designs…
Turn 1 forest into Gilded Goose, turn 2 play a land, sacrifice the food with the goose to get a blue mana source, and play Oko. You’ll then likely use the +2 to give it some defensive loyalty (although it’ll still die to Rotting Regisaur) and create a food replacing the one you just spent. Turn 3 you can swap that food with one of their creatures or turn it into a 3/3 elk for yourself. ↩︎
Are Lazav and Oko connected somehow? Are they the same person? Lazav did survive the War of the Spark so he must be around somewhere… ↩︎
I don’t think we’re in a 3-year story arc as we were with Kaladesh to War of the Spark. For that reason, the plots related to each set are probably a bit more standalone and can be written far closer to release. ↩︎
This post is part of a weekday series where I open up a booster pack and pick a card to discuss. Whilst these are often the best cards from the set, I'll often pick one that is a bit niche or one that has cool artwork or flavour text. If there's a particular card you want me to take a look at, get in touch or join my Discord community.