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How Good is Praetor’s Grasp in Magic the Gathering?

Praetor’s Grasp is one of a few niche rare cards from Magic the Gathering’s powerful New Phyrexia set that have found some permanent homes in decks of the Commander format. During its Standard-legal days in 2011, Praetor’s Grasp was mostly relegated to the sideboards of mono-Black decks, although it did have a few highlights in 60-card competitive Magic that year. 

For 3 mana (1BB), this Sorcery allows you to steal any one, including a land card, of your opponent’s cards right out of their deck. Not only do you exile it and keep them from playing it, but if you have the right combination of mana symbols for its casting cost, you can even play it yourself. Also, no one but you can even look at this card until it’s played.

With this Sorcery, you would get lots of information about that player’s deck, too. Praetor’s Grasp even for a time was tried out by Legacy and Vintage players. It never stuck around in those formats, though. After it rotated from Standard, Commander (EDH) players became the card’s only audience.

Praetor’s Grasp in Top 8 Magic Decks

In the Top 8 cut at competitive Magic the Gathering tournaments, Praetor’s Grasp wasn’t a common sight. But, it did appear. Its most notable Standard deck appearance at a high level was in Gregory Buchholtz’s Blue-Black Control deck that won a tournament in August 2011 at Les Hordes De Maltus. Otherwise, it was relegated to the sideboard of quite a few top Blue-Black and Mono-Black Control decks, bringing it in depending on the matchup.

But, as mentioned earlier, Praetor’s Grasp also appear in Vintage and Legacy. In Vintage, the sorcery was in a runner-up Painter’s Servant combo deck. Grasp is particularly strong in Vintage thanks to being able to steal the Power Nine mana rocks like Black Lotus, but also the key card in an opponent’s strategy. For example, the MUD deck piloted by this deck’s final opponent in that particular Tournament had a single copy of Triskelion, a key win condition, although not the only one, for that strategy.

The other deck that would play Praetor’s Grasp was Gush Storm, with a single copy in the sideboard, but this was an inclusion that didn’t go past the end of 2011. Reid Duke did include a sideboard copy in his Top 8 Storm Deck in July 2016, and a player called Buneca won a Vintage League on Magic Online with two sideboard copies of Praetor’s Grasp with his Bolas Citadel/Doomsday combo deck.

In Legacy, a copy of Praetor’s Grasp found its way into a Team America deck piloted by Morrone Mauro which made it to the Top 4 of a June 2011 tournament. The deck archetype’s name started as a joke but eventually became a top tempo deck in the format. Most Team America decks didn’t play Grasp, but this one apparently did. It made some sense, as the top decks of the time had Blue and Black cards that Team America could steal and exploit. Otherwise, Praetor’s Grasp would occasionally appear in the sideboards of Ad Nauseam Tendrils Combo decks recently as May 2014.

Praetor’s Grasp in Commander / EDH

Praetor’s Grasp offers a great deal of utility in EDH, especially in stealing someone’s key combo card from their deck. The best part about this effect is that it can be any card: artifact, creature, enchantment, instant, sorcery, or even land. If played correctly, this effect can both hurt your opponent and help you simultaneously.

The typical card you would target in EDH with Praetor’s Grasp would be an artifact, since the vast majority of artifacts are colorless. You don’t even have to know what you’re looking for when you target an opponent; you just choose based on who you think the biggest threat at the table might be. Three mana to deprive your opponent of the best card that you could also play is well worth the investment of a card slot in your deck and the modest three-mana casting cost.

You don’t even have to be a mono-Black deck to take full advantage of this card’s effect. While you may think Mono-Black decks would be the happiest to be stealing key cards from opponents, most decks that pay Praetor’s Grasp are two or three colors. Most commonly Praetor’s Grasp is included in Partner Commander decks, especially Rograkh, Son of Rohagahh/Silas Renn, Seeker Adept (three colors), Jeska, Thrice Reborn/Tymna the Weaver (also three colors), and Ikra Shiquidi, the Ursurper/Kraum, Ludevic’s Opus (four colors).

Non-Partner Commanders who make considerable use of this card-stealing sorcery include Tasha, the Witch Queen (who regularly steals instants and sorceries from opponents as part of her game plan) and Zevlor, Elturel Exile (who copies your instants and sorceries, including whatever may be stolen by Praetor’s Grasp). 

Praetor’s Grasp is a great card to pick up for your Magic the Gathering collection. As of 2024, its only reprint was in a Secret Lair drop, meaning that it should continue to be a valuable card for the long-term. This Sorcery card is a great tool to have for any EDH player dabbling in Black Magic, but its short, but significant competitive history shouldn’t be ignored, either. Because of its utility in competitive EDH, this card will always have a use to Grasp just the right card away from your opponent.

~ Amelia <3

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Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy. Personal Website: https://www.thephoenixdesertsong.com

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