Card of the Week: Lotus Cobra

After a couple of cardz of the week, we’re back to a single-card column today.  I’m trying to rotate through all the colors so I don’t just talk about blue cards and artifacts all the time, so let’s move on to everybody’s favorite Commander color, green.  Today’s card is a great little mythic from Zendikar: Lotus Cobra.  I think this card is quite underplayed in Commander and I think he’s a great little dude.

Lotus CobraWhat does it do?

This little 2/1 for 2 has a rather unassuming look about him.  When you play a land, you get a mana of any color.  Assuming you make a land drop every turn, he’s a free mana, accelerating you by one turn, and he helps fix your colors in G/x decks.  But doesn’t this seem worse than a Birds of Paradise?

What’s good about that?

By far, the best part about this guy is that green rarely plays one land per turn.  Just off the top, we have fetchlands like Windswept Heath, as well as cards like Terramorphic Expanse.  The landfall will trigger twice, accelerating you ahead by two.  But with the plethora of green effects that allow you more than one land drop per turn, like Exploration, Oracle of Mul Daya, and Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Lotus Cobra will start to jump you up the curve very aggressively.  Consider, if you were to drop this guy turn 2 followed by Azusa turn 3, then played two more land, you have a whopping eight mana available to you that turn.  (Of course, 3 was spent playing Azusa, so it’s really five more, but it’s like you got Azusa for free.  Ka-ching.)  Furthermore, any spells which put land into play get proportionally cheaper.  Skyshroud Claim, for example, really costs only 2 colorless mana now … and if you consider the two you’ll get from the lands you dropped, it becomes effectively free.  Explosive Vegetation, Cultivate, and the like all get a little bit better when a Lotus Cobra is slithering around on your side.

Consider this play I made last week.  In a 3-player game where I’m piloting Glissa, the Traitor, I had Lotus Cobra, Oracle of Mul Daya, and Necropotence on the table, but I was having serious trouble drawing any land.  (Incidentally, Oracle and Necro are a great combination, as you can exile cards off the top of your library till you hit your land drops.)  I’d been stuck on 5-6 for quite a few turns and even over-filling my hand every turn with Necropotence wasn’t drawing me into any land drops.  Furthermore, my life total was getting seriously low from not only trying to draw into land, but from getting beat on by a bunch of mid-sized tokens (and rightfully so, considering how many cards I’d drawn, useless or not.)  Luckily, I drew into Avenger of Zendikar and made enough plant tokens to buy me some time.  Then next turn I hit the gas pedal.  Skyshroud Claim for free, thanks to Cobra, makes my plants grow twice, followed by a Vernal Bloom and an Explosive Vegetation, neither of which would have been affordable without the Cobra, growing my plants twice more.  I finally hit some land on the top of my deck, play two, adding two mana and growing my plants to 6/7s, and giving me enough mana to play the Akroma’s Memorial in my hand and beat down with some pro-black, vigilant, flying 6/7s.  The Kresh player with the mid-sized tokens is the first to go, and the Sharuum deck across from me doesn’t find an answer and I win it.

Granted, that story could have been about how awesome Avenger of Zendikar is too, but it’s doubtful I would have even survived much less won without all the extra grease Lotus Cobra was providing.

Finally, on top of all that, you get a 2/1 beater in the early game who can provide a little damage here and there. 

What’s bad about that?

He’s a poor top-deck late game, but this is the case with any mana card.  At least, unlike other accelerants like Cultivate and Sol Ring, he chump blocks if need be, so it might not be a total hosing to draw late.

Budget

Cobra is much cheaper than he used to be, clocking in at $5-$8, or about what you’d spend on a Commander-edition Sol Ring.  The foils are pricey, though, at $20+.

What kind of decks run this card?

Green decks.

He works fantastically with Commanders like Edric, Spymaster of Trest for extra cards and Riku of Two Reflections.  He’s good as a single, but if you can Clone him you’ll produce more mana than you could possibly need.  On the whole, though, he really should just go in any deck you have that runs green.  He’s easily splashable and helps fix multicolor decks, who tend to run more fetches anyway.  So, to make it short, he’s good in mono-green and he’s good in any multi-color deck that runs green.  I.e., he’s good.  With the primacy of acceleration in this format, it would be silly not to run him if your deck produces green mana.

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