Life Gain is Not A Thing.

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So... Youtube is a thing... and you know, player of cogs that I am, I noticed an intense savings on CMC if you casted Give and Take on Fanthom Mage, when compared to casting the same cost with a Sphinx's Revelation. Because, you know, I like 6+ cards for 6 mana. How about you?

Oh no. Apparently the Revelation is the most superior card, because it's one card (Okay, got me there. Good job.) and it GIVES YOU LIFE. LIFE!

No... Life means nothing. Gaining 6 (or 11, or whatever) life when your opponent is swinging in for 12 or more a turn is nothing. You timewalked yourself. Good job!

No, Sphinx's Revelation is great because of Card Advantage. Period. Because of the density of answers in a Revelation deck, the actual life gain is irrelevant. If it had no life gain, you'd still be playing it. Why? Because it gives you more CA than your opponent, and CA lets you win.

Which, of course, brings up why did no one play with Blue Sun's Zenith? My answer is because Consecrated Sphinx was a thing. It was a powerhouse right up until Delver was solved, and then blue just left behind control and big card advatage for tempo and aggression.

Meanwhile, Magic World Turned Upside down, people are concentrating on life totals as a reason why people are losing games. Which of course is stupid, because what is losing them games is... Card Advantage! Oh No, they played Thragtusk. They focus on the fact that they just saw their opponent gain a life total. They don't focus on the fact that their opponent just played two cards (One 5/3. One 3/3 later)

I am going to kill thragtusk! Oh No! Resto Angel saves the card... look, more card advantage. Now my opponent has used one spell to gain TWO more cards.

My opponent just played Sphinx's Revelation. They gained X cards. Say 3. Now they Supreme Verdict. There are players focusing on the life gain, when they should be going OMG, they have gained SO MUCH card advatage!

There is this generation of Spike players are focusing on life gain. No. That's not what is winning you games, you control freaks. YOu seriously don't understand the card your playing!


My point of this arguement is that card advantage is signifigantly better than not having it. Life gain (a tempo play) is insignifigant to the amount of cards one draws, because every card drawn gives you more information that you can attack your opponent with. Cards that gain you signifigant advantage for little investment are profitable.

Simic thrives on the need to play more cards to generate more threats. It is a completely logical and desirable line of play for the Midrange Simic Deck to want to draw cards. Give//Take lets Simic do so much. It's resouce tapping. It's a Titanic Growth. It's going to let you steal creatures. It's going to let you draw cards. It's going to let you regenrate creatures. It's going to do so much for your decks.

Is it the best card for the job of Card Advantage? Probably not. However, if I am runnig Simic Manipulator, or Fathom Mage, or even Renegade Krasis, I'm running Give//Take over Sphinx. It's just better for what I'm trying to do.
Sphix's Revelation is exactly why Dispel is in my sideboard.
-NW "Behold blessed perfection!" --Sheoldred, Whispering One
Life gain is more relevant than it ever has been before. I'm not saying its the sole reason Revelation is being played while BSZ wasn't (BSZ would have seen play in this format as well, I imagine) but the life gain buying you that extra turn after you draw 5 cards is far from irrelevant.

Important to point out, Renegrade Krasis doesn't trigger from Give // Take.


Oh, for sure it doesn't trigger... but drawing cards by sucking the counters off it, so you can evolve again with the cards you just drew *is* something you want to do.

Honestly, are you telling me after you draw 5 cards, you don't have solid control over the game? If you have solid control, does having an extra 5 life actually matter?
Well, the majority of creatures in the format have 2 power. And thundermaw has 5 power. So yea, I 'd say 5 life matters.


Cards that gain you signifigant advantage for little investment are profitable.

That pretty much summarizes Magic the Gathering in one sentence. Life gain is an advantage. Drawing cards is an advantage. Multiple advantages are better than one. CA is great and all, but I'm always disappointed in people who solely focus on card advantage. There's way more to magic than just card advantage, but some people seem to forget that.

"This list much made Niche barf a lil' in his mouth, so I can be proud of that." -rstnme

No, in this format, life gain is absolutely a thing. Revelation only sees play because of it, and Thragtusk is much the same.

See, control spells and removal have been slowed considerably, and Aggro decks sped up, to the point that just surviving the initial onslaught isn't good enough because you're in too precarious a position against Hellkites and Aristocrats.

Gaining life in small increments like Extort still doesn't go very far, but large chunks of life do because they essentially buy you turns, even when you draw or cast them relatively late.

It's basically the only avenue to non-Emissary decks to actually stay in a game past Turn 5, spamming chunks of "free" value lifegain so your cards have time to work.
The life gain is absolutely good. Drawing a ton of spells is only good if you can live to cast them.


against Aggro, lifegain is definitely a thing. If you can stall out till turn 6-7 you've pretty much won because their hand is empty and you've picked apart their initial onslaught. Life is a resource like anything else. I don't have Sphinx's Revelation but if I did, it would be for the card draw. You are right about CA being the most important part of any game.

EDH decks I play:






Kaalia (the beats)


Zur (disgusting combo)


Damia (Bug Elf deck)


Numot (Stax)


Griselbrand (French)


Ghave (Uber combo)


Muzzio (Oops, Blightsteel)

KO- Life is a resource, and in formats with shocklands especially, the ability to adjust that resource carries some amount of strength. Life does matter, but not as the fractal "avoid loss"  type of deal. Life is simply a resource you can't afford to run out of without some sort of rules-changing effect. The trick with lifegain as a strategy though is to have it glued to other things you want anyways as either a bonus or an option. Cardless Lifegain is a hallmark good effect because it lengthens your opponent's clock on you.
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Of course, sometimes the lifegain will be important.  Sometimes the extra life will be the difference between a death to burn and a ride to victory on the back of overwhelming card advantage.  But I get what you're saying, sometimes there are more important things than lifegain, like, for example, being able to cast at instant speed, being able to scale depending on your available mana, not getting blown out by removal, not relying on having a specific creature on the battlefield when you draw your spell, and not having to play fathom seer.  Yeah, now that I think of it, the lifegain is pretty irrelevant in comparison.
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