Warhammer 40K’s latest legend improves on one of Magic’s oldest cards

Magic: The Gathering‘small continuous series of creative crossovers, Universes Beyond, has turned fan favorite characters from intellectual properties such as The Walking Dead, Street Fighter, and Stranger Things in Magic cards for casual and competitive play. The latest venture into an established and beloved IP introduces the lore and carnage of Warhammer 40,000 Magic players in the form of five new pre-made decks ready to play right out of the box.

Warhammer fans can expect a variety of characters from the game’s history to appear in the upcoming release, including a specific three-handed gunner designed to activate cards in his pre-made deck, along with a ton of classic Magic basically that can build entire decks with more eligible players. Say hello to Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph.

An image of the Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph card in Magic: The Gathering.  Ghyrson Starn is a legendary creature — a Tyrant Man — with Ward 2. He has three autostubs, which also have their own effect.

Image: Wizards of the Coast

There is a lot to unpack about this card, both in its relation to Warhammer’small history and its ongoing applications Magic I am playing. To help put this card into creative perspective, Ethan Fleischer, Senior Designer at Wizards of the Coast, shared some insight into the design process and role of this card in the upcoming Warhammer 40,000 release.

“Normally, when we design a prefab Commander deck, we emphasize mechanical issues over creative consistency,” explained Fleischer. “For Warhammer 40,000 Universes Beyond Commander decks, our priorities were different. While each deck has a mechanical theme, we focused more on ensuring that each deck has a strong creative theme, with each creature belonging to one of Warhammer 40,000’s factions.

Unlike the previous one Universes Beyond editions, which were mostly small runs of many cards released in limited runs, Warhammer products arrive in 100-card Commander decks, ready to play. Commander is a traditionally casual format that does not receive Wizards of the Coast sanctioned support for high level competitive tournaments. While most of the other forms of Magic consist of 60-card decks with up to four copies of individual cards, Commander decks are only allowed to have one copy of a card in addition to the five basic lanes. Similarly, the makeup of each Commander deck is dictated by the deck’s “general”, aka the commander whose suits set the parameters for what kind of cards are allowed in the deck.

In the case of Ghyrson Starn decks featuring him as a commander, the cards cannot include colors other than red and blue, as the casting cost is based on red and blue mana. However, it is not the actual face card of his premade deck.

According to Fleischer, “Each of the Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks contains two mythic cards of rare legendary creatures designed to act as commanders in the deck. Each also contains several other legendary creatures. Many of these legendary creatures were designed to be able to be used as commanders for different deck styles. Ghyrson Starn is one such card. It doesn’t fit into the main theme of the Tyranid Swarm deck, which is all about big creatures and +1/+1 counters. However, it is functional in the deck, turning the numerous 1/1 chips that players can build in certain game situations into more credible threats.”

Fleischer adds, “Ghyrson’s real utility lies in his strength as a commander in his own right. Combines powerfully with popular 1-damage cards like Immolation Shaman, Raid Bombardment, and even really ancient cards early on Magic expansions like Prodigal Sorcerer and Quicksilver Dagger’.

If it’s 1-damage pingers that Ghyrson Starn is meant to combo with, deck designers will find a wealth of classic and perhaps even forgotten tools to design a new deck. Fleischer showed the Prodigal Wizard, a card that has been reprinted many times but first appeared in Magic‘small original release 30 years ago. Since then, similar creatures and additional combo pieces have joined the fray that can complete an entire Ghyrson Starn deck.

Assembling a 100-card deck that works against other strategies requires equal parts creativity and consistency, but since Commander decks are limited to one copy per card, one of the simplest ways to ensure some strategic consistency is to include several cards that they do the same thing. While the Prodigal Sorcerer was the first of its kind, later editions have been printed in both red and blue.

Cards like Gelectrode, Thermo-Alchemist, and Cinder Pyromancer take Prodigal Sorcerer’s ability and make it replayable, allowing you to leverage the power of Ghyrson Starn to turn 1 damage into 3 into a faster clock that can potentially destroy an entire opponent’s battlefield creatures.

Similarly, attaching equipment artifacts or magical auras to these 1-damage pingers can create additional value from their inherent abilities, creating some additional utility even if Starn is not in play.

Gorgon Flail and Basilisk Collar, for example, give your creatures deathtouch, meaning that any damage done to another creature kills it instantly, even if a single point of damage wouldn’t normally be enough. Attach a Flail to one of our tappable creatures and you can start chopping up an opponent’s board without relying on a dystopian, futuristic machine gun.

Gorgon Flail

Basilisk collar

Since you’re putting a bunch of creatures that hit for damage in your deck, why not close out games even faster with an infinite combo? With Illusionist’s Bracers and Aphetto Alchemist on the board, you can activate your creatures as many times as you want in a single turn, since Alchemist unlocks creatures and Bracers allows you to duplicate that ability to unlock another creature as well. Tap your old Prodigal Mage to deal one or more damage, activate the Alchemist to outrun the Mage, duplicate the Alchemist’s ability with Bracers to outrun the Alchemist as well, and cast the gem to your heart’s content (or until to end the game because you won ).

Illusionist's Bracers

Alchemist Alphetto

Image: Wizards of the Coast

Ghyrson Starn may not be central to this combo, but since that’s why you put a card like Prodigal Sorcerer in your deck, Starn will be happy to see that you’ve managed to get to victory with or without his help .

Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph will appear in the red/green/blue Tyranid Swarm deck, which comes out with three other Warhammer 40,000 decks on October 7th.


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