- Geological Appraiser’s chaining ability with clone effects allows players to quickly build a dominating board presence.
- The card’s reliability and speed make it difficult for opponents to interact or disrupt the combo.
- While banned in Pioneer and Explorer, players can still use Geological Appraiser in Modern, Legacy, and Standard, as well as digital formats.
Every now and then, Magic: The Gathering releases a card that requires immediate action to be taken. From Lost Caverns of Ixalan, one uncommon has caused some particularly problematic interactions to take place in various constructed formats.
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Geological Appraiser quickly went from being a regular old uncommon to dominating multiple formats for its unique abilities and as such, found its way into the Banned and Restricted Announcement shortly after its release in Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Let’s take a look at this little uncommon creature and why Magic chose to ban it from both Pioneer and Explorer formats.
What Is Geological Appraiser?
What’s This Rock Worth?
Geological Appraiser is a fairly average card on its own. This four-mana 3/2 Human Artificer red creature is a little below what you might expect from a creature with that cost, but it comes with a powerful ability. When Geological Appraiser comes into play you get to discover for three, but only if you cast it before it enters the battlefield.
Discover is a new mechanic that debuted in Lost Caverns of Ixalan that functions similarly to cascade. When you discover, in this case for three, you exile cards from the top of your library until you find a nonland card that has a mana value of three or less.
You then cast that card without paying its mana cost. If you don’t, you still get to put that card into your hand, so you’re always getting something out of the ability, whether its a free spell or an extra card in hand. Your opponent gets to see what spell you hit so that information is open, but it’s still a great ability.
The fact that you only get to discover 3 if it was cast helps to prevent players from putting it into play either from the graveyard, directly from your library, or from your hand since you won’t get the benefit otherwise.
Why Is Geological Appraiser Good?
No Card Is An Island (Except Islands)
On its own, Geological Appraiser is a solid card and an almost guaranteed two-for-one anytime you cast it. What makes this card good is its ability to chain itself time and time again thanks to a few clone effects that have been printed over the years.
When paired with creatures and spells that clone other creatures you control like Glasspool Mimic and Mirror Image, you can chain triggers until you have an overwhelming board presence.
What happens with Glasspool Mimic is that it enters the battlefield as a copy of Geological Appraiser, and since the discover ability has you cast the card you discover, in this case, Glasspool Mimic, it will still trigger its copied Geological Appraiser trigger, letting you go get another three mana or fewer spell, likely another clone effect.
You can then build your deck so that the only spells that you can discover 3 into are clone effects, or Eldritch Evolution, a card we’ll cover in just a second, you’ll have yourself an army of Geological Appraiser and its clones.
Eldritch Evolution is a unique card that lets you sacrifice a creature to go get another creature with a mana value equal to up to two more than the one you sacrificed, or a creature with less mana if you want. With this, you can go get another powerful discover creature, Trumpeting Carnosaur, which lets you continue your discover chain since that creature has an enter the battlefield trigger without the cast clause.
Once you have a dominating enough presence on the battlefield, you use an Eldritch Evolution to go get a third creature, Doomskar Titan. This creature from Kaldheim gives all creatures you control +1/+0 and haste for the turn. Since you spent all that time building up your board state with cloned Humans and Dinosaurs, you’ll be able to easily overwhelm your opponents in just one attack.
Why Was Geological Appraiser Banned?
Combo No More
Geological Appraiser was banned partly because it is too fast to interact with, and partly because it is so reliable. By using cards like Creative Outburst and Magma Opus, you can creature a Treasure Token on your second turn, and then on turn three combo off and likely win the game. If you go first, you can easily be comboing off during a time when your opponent might be playing their second tapped land, leaving very little room for them to interact with your board.
There are a few ways to interrupt the combo for a turn or two, destroying Geological Appraiser in response to the first clone’s enter the battlefield trigger to copy Geological Appraiser, playing enchantments like Roiling Vortex to deal five damage to your opponent for each spell they cast without paying mana for it, or even holding up counter spells to stop the initial card from being cast. But all these cards just force the meta to only play these in response to Geological Appraiser.
The other way this deck becomes a little too consistent is with the recently promoted planeswalker Quintorius Kand, which has a static ability that deals two damage to an opponent whenever you cast a spell from exile and then you gain two life. Since the discover ability has you exiling cards from your deck before casting it for free, Quintorius can seal the deal that much quicker. And since the deck is designed to chain discover triggers over and over again, you can easily deal an impressive amount of damage before your opponent can really do anything to stop you.
Can I Still Play Geological Appraiser?
Still Plenty Of Space To Play
You can absolutely still play Geological Appraiser in other formats, but just not in Pioneer or Explorer, which makes since Wizards of the Coast is looking to make Explorer the digital version of Pioneer.
Thankfully for all you combo-centric Magic players out there, Geological Appraiser is still legal in Modern, Legacy, and Standard, as well as the digital formats of Alchemy, Historic, and, as far as we know, Timeless, though we won’t have confirmation until the format releases in late 2023.
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