Curtains' Call | Illustration by James Ryman
Cost reduction mechanics like delve and affinity are usually very exploitable and devastating to competitive MTG, and they often lead to cards and decks being banned. Undaunted is one of those mechanics, but it has a clear limit to cost reduction: the number of opponents you have at a given moment.
As some say, the more the merrier. But can these undaunted cards be exploited and potentially broken in multiple formats like Treasure Cruise? Do any of these cards break competitive MTG?
Stay with me and let’s find out all there’s to know about undaunted in MTG.
Sublime Exhalation | Illustration by Lake Hurwitz
Undaunted is a simple cost reduction mechanic that reduces the cost of the spell based on the number of opponents you have while casting the spell. In 1v1 games, it’s going to cost less, and that’s usually really bad. But this mechanic shines in Commander games or casual multiplayer games where you’ll play against three or more opponents.
For example, Seeds of Renewal is a spell that costs in 1v1 and is usually cast for in a 4-player Commander game. The undaunted spells get worse as the game goes by because people leave the game eventually. At the same time, you’ll have more mana in the late game to make up for the higher cost.
Coastal Breach | Illustration by Titus Lunter
Undaunted first appeared in the Commander 2016 (C16) set, released in late 2016. This mechanic appears on only 5 cards, one for each color. The mechanic saw a return in 2022’s Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate through the card Durnan of the Yawning Portal, a legendary green creature that can give undaunted to creature spells that are exiled with its other ability.
In 2023, Commander Masters reprinted three of the five undaunted cards, showing that WotC hasn’t abandoned the mechanic. I wouldn’t be surprised if future sets make more undaunted cards. Another interesting thing is that all undaunted cards were released in 4-color decks, so all of these have only a single colored mana and have more potential for cost reduction.
No, Undaunted only counts the players that are still in the game. If you’re playing a 4-player commander game and two players are eliminated, the current cost reduction from undaunted is only 1.
No, the mana value of the undaunted spell is always the mana printed in the card, no matter if the card is cast for 4 or 6 mana.
- Sublime Exhalation
- Coastal Breach
- Curtains' Call
- Divergent Transformations
- Durnan of the Yawning Portal
- Seeds of Renewal
Sublime Exhalation is at best a Day of Judgment, and it’s useful if you want redundancy in the 4-to-5 mana value wrath. Day of Judgment already exists, as does Wrath of God or Depopulate. Sweepers have gotten pretty frequent though, and there are better sweepers than this one, so this design could cost 1 less mana or have an additional upside.
A double removal spell for 6 mana would already see play in a Limited format, but paying 3 is a steal. There’s little reason to run a card like Murder when you can get two times the effect for the same cost. Curtains' Call also helps to solve the spot removal problem in Commander games, because now you’re affecting two players at once (or really destroying an unlucky player).
All undaunted spells are costed to be reasonable cards if you play with four players, and a little bit pushed if you play with five or more players. Durnan of the Yawning Portal is, for me, the most interesting and potentially powerful design because it can give undaunted to creature spells that don’t have the mechanic, and reducing a cost of a creature by 2 or 3 can have interesting implications. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger for 7? It’s the sort of card you can build around or include in your ramp decks.
Seeds of Renewal | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing
Undaunted is a mechanic that, like myriad or melee, scales with the number of players, and it’s going to result in some design implications here and there. We can see that WotC is aiming at multiplayer games with this mechanic but without hitting the balance of 1v1 games too much. For example, mechanics like initiative or monarch are balanced in multiplayer but are very pushed for 1v1, and undaunted is almost unplayable cards unless you have many foes.
With so much going on with MTG’s power level these days, they could have pushed the power level a bit in these, because it feels like the undaunted cards are in that intro rare power level, and it’s interesting when Wizards spice things up. What do you think about the undaunted cards? Do you play them regularly in your EDH decks? Let me know in the comments section below, or leave a message at our Draftsim Twitter.
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