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Ugin’s Insight – A Magic the Gathering Card Review

Ugin’s Insight from Magic the Gathering’s Battle for Zendikar set is a particularly useful sorcery card with significant draw power. At the time of its release, Insight was called the “fixed” Dig Through Time. Unlike the spell card that would inevitably be banned in multiple competitive formats, Ugin’s Insight is not at instant speed and doesn’t have the advantage of being able to Delve away your graveyard to cast it for cheap. 

Still, five mana to draw three cards is a perfectly acceptable rate to invest in a card slot. This effect alone was fine on Jace’s Ingenuity, a card that has seen play in past Standard Control decks. But, Ugin’s Insight has an additional effect to purely drawing cards, letting you first scry X, where X is the highest converted mana cost among permanents you control. On turn five, the earliest that this sorcery would ordinarily be cast, that X could easily be 3 or 4. Scry 3 and drawing 3 cards seems pretty decent.

Where this card really becomes powerful is when you have much larger permanents on board, such as Ugin the Spirit Dragon himself (with a mana value of 8) or any of the bigger Eldrazi cards. You can dig deep for helpful pieces with this card by sending away anything you’re not going to want to draw to the bottom. Dig was strictly better during its time in Standard, but Ugin’s Insight would later show itself to be a decent card to help you dig for combo pieces or otherwise set up your draws in the late game. The only drawback was needing a decently sized creature on board already to get the full power out of this card.

Fortunately for Ugin’s Insight, the sorcery did find a few homes in Standard, particularly four and five color Bring to Light decks, including this Top 4 Control list. With the four-mana Siege Rhino being a staple creature at that time, scrying 4 and drawing 3 was an acceptable use of the single copy of Ugin’s Insight; the presence of the five-mana Dragonlord Ojutai and six-mana Silumgar, the Drifting Death also helped its efficacy.

The only other decks playing Ugin’s Insight that gained much competitive traction in 2015 were Enchantment Control and Esper Control. The Enchantment Control deck actually played the full four copies of Insight, thanks to running a great many high mana value Enchantments, therefore making the Scry ability consistently useful. 

The Esper Control decks which used Ugin’s Insight typically ran only one copy and were typically of a Planeswalker heavy build. Unfortunately, this is about as popular as Ugin’s Insight ever got. Even after the January 2015 ban of Dig Through Time in Modern, Ugin’s Insight never really caught much attention in that format, either.

In the long run, the best applications for this sorcery, like many cards in Battle for Zendikar, are in Commander. Two Commanders that made good early homes for Ugin’s Insight were Braids, Conjurer Adept and Narset, Enlightened Master. With Braids, you’ll get to at least Scry 4 and make sure you’re drawing better artifacts, lands, and creatures than your opponents. 

Narset has a bit better synergy with this draw engine, as she’s a 6-drop, getting you Scry 6. You can try to draw 3 cards that you don’t really want to hit with Narset. Then, you get to maximize her ability to cast any of the top four cards for free as long as they’re non-creature spells. It’s powerful card filtering that can simply win you the game. Other commanders would take advantage of this draw power, of course, but those are the most obvious two.

However, in the Commander Legends set, Ugin’s Insight would find a permanent home alongside one of that set’s Partner Commanders. Eligeth, Crossroads Augur. This Sphinx has a unique ability: “If you would scry a number of cards, draw that many cards instead.” With a 5/6 Flying body and being able to Partner with the likes of Siani, Eye of the Storm, Kyle, Chosen of Kruphix and several others, Eligeth is a niche, but consistent Commander thanks to turning the typically utilitarian Scry ability into straight draw power. 

Basically, in any deck in which Eligeth is a Partner, Ugin’s Insight is practically a staple. Five mana to draw at least 6 cards is pretty busted, but thanks to the Scry and card draw effects being separate, you’ll draw an additional three cards. This means you could pay five mana for at least nine cards. How can you say no to that?

Ugin’s Insight may not be a valuable card, but what it does is fairly unique, offering superior card selection to many other card-draw spells. Thanks to the existence of Eligeth, Crossroads Augur, this sorcery card will always find a home, especially as more Partner Commanders are printed in the future. Thanks to Ugin the Spirit Dragon being a colorless Planeswalker, and still popular even in 2023, his Insight being able to Scry 8 with himself in play is something flavorful and powerful Magic players will enjoy for all time.

~ Amelia Desertsong

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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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