Category Archives: card discussions

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Announcing Magpie: Finally, a better way to monitor Magic Cards

Power9Pro has focused on player needs since 2008. Our first product the Dragon’s Egg is still the premier Magic/CCG carrying case, and we’re quite proud of its continued success in the market.

But carrying cards to/from tournaments and friends’ houses isn’t the end-point for Magic players.

Playing the game is only half of the picture: Many of us spend a tremendous amount of time monitoring the value of our cards–the “Collectible” aspect of our favorite Collectible Card Game.

From my own personal experience, monitoring card prices and trying to make sure I get the most value from my collection is a tremendous and unbelievably time-consuming challenge.

From talking with hundreds–if not thousands–of players over the years, I know this is a problem shared by nearly everyone in the Magic community. There are entire collections of articles written on the tedious, time-consuming techniques for trading, value-collecting and just getting the most from our cards. Talk about a dizzyingly complex game environment to find yourself in!

With that said, Power9Pro is thrilled to announce the release of Magpie, a web-based service to help players track the value of their collections and maximize trade value relative to their collection.

There are plenty of free services that players can use to look up prices, but there are none that will tell at what price a player acquired a card. There’s no service that lets players track card value customized to their collection. (As we’d expect. Free is typically fairly limited in value.)

For example, say I was able to trade a foil Vendilion Clique for a Bob and some other things (true story)…was that a good trade?

If we look at straight card prices, maybe, maybe not—”clearly depends on what the other cards are,” you might argue.

Turns out that is generally irrelevant. What actually maters most is the acquisition cost for my Vendilion Clique. If I got the Clique for $10, then the trade is phenomenal. If I got the Clique for $60, then the deal starts looking a bit more break-even. As with stocks/equities, the only thing that matters is the marginal gain in value.

Magpie helps players eliminate the ambiguity in card pricing by providing players with the tools they need to protect and maximize the value of their collections.

I like to think of myself as a fairly informed consumer but the complexities and ever-shifting ground of card value makes staying informed a very difficult challenge. Magpie simplifies all this and does the heavy analysis and tracking for you. Magpie will even tell you what cards in your collection have gone from $1 to $10. Magpie will even suggest ways to optimize your trade binders. No more lugging around unwanted cards in your trade binder!

In a world where none of us have copious amounts any free time, freeing up just an extra hour or two per week can make a tremendous difference. For me, an extra two hours per week actually means that I can play in a draft, workout or go on a date with my wife. Perhaps equally important is that I won’t have to worry about whether I’m entering a bad trade. Magpie provides all the information I need: acquisition cost, current appreciation/depreciation on a card-specific levee, and trend information. Plus it’s all relevant to me and not some unknown “market price” (set by one or two online stores I might add…).

Think about it:

  • How would you use an extra two hours per week?
  • How does an extra dollar or two gained (or avoided loss) on each trade affect your wallet or your ability to play in competitive tournaments?

For me and the hundreds of players I’ve personally spoken with about this problem, I know it can make a big difference.

Magpie is simply a better way to monitor cards.

Magpie has three plans available to meet the needs of each player: Limited, Basic and Pro.

I’m a perfect example of someone who would need/use the Basic Plan. I don’t trade frequently but do want to keep an eye on specific value cards and tournament staples. The Basic Plan allows me to track and monitor up to 100 cards—and to change the monitored cards at any time to suit my needs. Additionally, I can do an unlimited number of searches when I am trading.

Other players may be more suited toward the Pro account which allows for unlimited monitoring. I think of a few “power-traders” I know who would fall into this category.

You can learn more about Magpie here.

Happy trading,

James DiPadua

p.s. I will be at GP Vegas. If you’re interested in getting a demo of Magpie, look for the guys wearing Magpie t-shirts. :)

td60_cobraSplash

Tales From Nationals Qualifiers: Bant Caw Blade (Top 8)

This past week, myself and 4 other friends made the 3 hour drive from Edmonton to Calgary for one of the 4 8-slot nationals qualifiers. In the weeks beforehand, I was testing every variation of Caw Blade possible, and I knew I wanted to play the best deck for this event. However, I was quite wary of the fact that I would be paired up against the mirror several times, and wanted to have an edge in that matchup.

On the Wednesday beforehand, I played a variant of Gerry Thompson’s Darkblade, which I liked. However, I lost in the finals to blue/white because I didn’t have a good plan for sideboarding, that is, I had lots of cards to put in, but so few to take out. This is an example of how not to give yourself the best shot at winning. I really liked the black splash for Inquisition of Kozilek and Creeping Tar Pit, but it still felt like the edge I had wasn’t enough to make the matchup decisively in my favour.

Sometime about midweek, my good friend (and recent PTQ winner) Brian told me of a Bant Caw blade deck that splashed green for Lotus Cobra and Explore. Apparently normal cawblade was one of your best matchups, because a turn 2 Cobra is so much better than a turn 2 stoneforge.

I kept the idea in the back of my mind, knowing that I really didn’t want to audible at the last minute, as I had been practicing with Darkblade and felt more or less comfortable with it, once I had wrinkled out the sideboard plan against blue-white.

On Thursday, I netdecked Gerry’s list for straight blue-white and went to another tournament, which I 3-0ed. The competition was not exactly fierce, and so I took my results their with a grain of salt. I liked hwo the deck played, but I still was unsure.

The one thing I knew I had going for me was that whatever I had been practicing, it had been some form of Caw-Blade. I knew how the mechanics of the deck worked, and despite the differences in colours, I knew I was a competent pilot who could do well with it. However, I did have to make a decision.

Friday night was a draft at Wizard’s, my local store. We had about ~20 people in the smalls store, but the draft fired with 8. The rest of us were testing for the day after. Since I was spending the night with some friends before we drove down the night before, I had brought my 2 binders of standard rares and of tournament-quality commons/uncommons. These binders effectively let me build any deck I need to on the fly. I tested the various cawblade mirrors and got to understand them more, and then Brian asked me if I had done anything with the bant deck. I told him I hadn’t, and that I was probably going to play Darkblade. He said I should sleeve it up and give it a few games just to try, and so I built the deck.

I was pretty amazed.

We started out testing against RUG. I was on the play. I cast a turn 2 Lotus Cobra. He cast a turn 2 Lotus Cobra. I cast Explore into a fetchland and a normal land, cast Preordain, cast Stoneforge Mystic, fetched and cast Mortarpod and killed his cobra. The game was won shortly thereafter.

Now obviously this was an example of a nut draw, but that in and of itself speaks volumes. The one thing that normal caw blade doesn’t have is a ‘nut draw’. Rather, you have a very consistent deck that does powerful things, but not absurdly powerful things. The Cobra package changes that. At the heart, you’ve still got the same old cawblade shell, but you’ve added more speed and explosiveness to the deck.

So I was really happy with that game. Obviously I realized that I wouldn’t always draw like that, but that fact that it could happen was what attracted me to the deck. We played some more matches and drew up the sideboard and this is what we came up with.
Snakes on a Blade


Sideboard

Besides the green splash, there are a few things which make this deck stand out from your typical cawblade deck.

Frost Titan is a card which was in the original version of the list that Brian had found, and after trying it out I was happy to leave it in. Being able to tap down opposing titans, Creeping Tar Pits, or even Gideon Juras proved to be invaluable, and the demi-shroud certainly helped as well. Some lists run Sphinx of Jwar Isle, but I’d much rather have a guy which can do combat with titans, and tap stuff down than full-fledged shroud. As well, who doesn’t love a Titan wielding a sword?

Instead of a second Sword in the mainboard, we run a Bonehoard. Because we run 7 more creatures than normal (4 Cobras and 3 Titans), Bonehoard is more effective. It also helps a great deal in the mirror if I need to take down a Gideon Jura in the late game, or if I just really want another sizeable blocker against aggro decks.

The deck’s mana base is a little awkward, if only because we have so many green sources and not a ton to use them for, but it works out reasonably well. Because of the mana acceleration provided by Lotus Cobra and Explore, this deck is less weak to Tectonic Edge than say Darkblade.

The sideboard is pretty straightforward, but one thing I like is the pair of Tectonic Edges. Note that we don’t ever board out lands for these; rather you treat them as spells so that our mana is still consistent. They’re obviously good against Valakut but also can be very helpful against control decks like Darkblade, espeilly if their game plan involves manlands.

So, after switch to the Bant version of cawblade, I was ready to go crush the tournament the next day.

Other than myself, the group that we brought down had a Valakut player, a blue-white caw blade player, a RUG player (who top 8ed) and a mono white eldrazi player. As soon as I heard about one person playing mono white, I tried to convince him to play Caw Blade but to no avail. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all.

Round 1: vs Michael (Tezzeret Caw Blade)
In game 1, I never saw any extraneous artifacts so I assumed he was on plain old Darkblade. I get an early Stoneforge Mystic but he Inquisition of Kozileks away my Sword of Feast and Famine. However, I soon cast a Frost Titan and tap down his Tectonic Edge so that he can’t take me off double white for Gideon Jura. He then punts by casting a Squadron Hawk, which resolves, and then attempting to Go For the Throat my titan with no mana up. I cheerfully indicate that it’s countered and he succumbs to the combine power of Titan and my follow-up Gideon.

Sideboarding: Caw Blade
In this matchup, I board out Mortarpod, a Mana Leak, a Frost Titan and a Day of Judgment. Aside from Mana Leak, these cards don’t do nearly as much as some of the cards I have post-board, and in this style of deck I’d rather play more spells than leave leak mana open in this matchup.

I board in the second sword, because they’re most likely bringing in Divine Offerings or something like that, as well as Voltion Reins for either their sword or their planeswalkers, as well as Into the Roil and Condemn. Spot removal is very useful in this matchup if you can get them to spend their early turns on equipping someone with a Sword, and then you can prohibit them from untapping and get ahead.

On the draw, you can board out 1-2 more leaks for Tec-edges if you feel they’re warranted. In this match I brought 1 in.

In game 2, Michael leads off with a Stoneforge Mystic for Sword of Body and Mind. Because I can’t see him boarding in body and mind against me, I just assume he’s playing a 1/1 split and has Sword of Feast and Famine in his hand. I play a turn 2 Lotus Cobra, hoping to explode on turn 3, but to my surprise he plays a Contagion Clasp[. I didn’t know he was Caw-Tezz at that moment, so I concluded that he might have seem green mana game 1, and inferred that I would have Cobras and then have boarded in Clasps. Of course, he was not next-leveling me, and jut never drew them in game 1. He establishes a board of Squadron Hawks and starts pecking me to death, and when I finally land a Gideon he simply kills it with birds and a Celestial Colonnade. I can only survive being hit with sworded birds for so long and I fold without dealing him any damage.

In game 3, I keep a hand with double Lotus Cobra. My opponent, conveniently enough has double Go For the Throat to dispatch them. He tries to Memoricide me, and while I tank as to whether or not I should counter it he announces Frost Titan. Seeing as I have a titan in hand I snap counter. If any of you are playing with Memoricide, know that you don’t name a card until the spell has resolved, so as not to give away any extra information to your opponent. I stick the titan soon after and he resolves a Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas and starts using the +1 ability. He whiffs for several turns in a row while I add a gideon to my team, and tap down his Creeping Tar Pit. When Michael lands a Tumble Magnet and makes it a 5/5 with Tezzeret, I happily force the magnet to attack Gideon and ride my titan to victory.

1 – 0

Round 2: vs Chris (Black-Red Vampires)

Chris is one of the better players in Alberta, so I knew this game wasn’t going to be easy. In game 1, I have double Stoneforge Mystic, which fetch Mortarpod and Sword. The first mystic gets hit by a Lightning Bolt, while the second one sticks. I flash in the Sword and equip it to the germ token and bash in, untapping and forcing a discard. Searching for an answer, Chris activates Viscera Seer, saccing itself to scry. He scrys first, and then attempts to nug me for 2 with Kalastria Highborn. I call a judge and the judge tells him that he can’t do that. This is because you activate the seer’s ability by paying the cost (sacrificing a creature) and putting the ability onto the stack. Highborn triggers and its ability is put on to the stack above the scry ability, and must resolve first. Because it’s a may ability and Chris scryed first, it’s assumed that he didn’t pay for the highborn and by the time he’s already scryed, it’s too late as the ability has already resolved. With an active Sword, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference anyway and and I quickly take the game.

Sideboarding: Vampires

Against vampires, I board out Cobras, 2 leaks and a jace. They have so much removal that Cobra will die almost instantly, and it trades poorly in combat with things like Bloodghast and Viscera Seer. Leaks sometimes don’t do enough, but since I had seen Captivating Vampire in game 1, I reasoned that keeping one in would be better than the 4th Jace.

I boarded in the 2 Kor Firewalkers, the Sylvok Lifestaff, both Ousts, the Condemn, the Day of Judgment and the Into the Roil.

In game 2, I mulligan and keep a slow hand. Chris punishes me with a bunch of vampires, and I can’t stabilize. My notes show him going to 18 and then to 21, and me getting slaughtered, so it wasn’t very close.

Game 3 was where I determined I was running good enough to top 8. I’m on the play and I mulligan down to 5, and all those 5 cards are land. Begrudgingly, I keep 5 land, reasoning that I could hit an absolutely unplayable 4 and at least this way I can play most everything I draw. Chris starts off fast with a Viscera Seer, Kalastria Highborn and a Captivating Vampire. Luckily, I hit a Day of Judgment and reset the board. I then draw into a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, which brainstorms into a Kor Firewalker and Mortarpod. I suit up the firewalker, content to sit back and brainstorm for a few turns, and when Chris attacks me with a 2/2 vampire (I forget which one), I promptly block with my 2/3. To my chagrin, Chris casts a Crush. to force the trade. Eventually I hit a Squadron Hawk and Gideon, which gives me enough card advantage and firepower to win the game. If I could get there off of 5 land, there was nothing that could stop me on my way to nationals.

2 – 0

Round 3: vs Chris (different guy; Valakut)

In game one, Chris misses his 5th land drop with no Overgrown Battlement nor Lotus Cobra. This lets me get a Sword of Feast and Famine online pretty quickly, and force him to start discarding. He manages to eventually resolve an Avenger of Zendikar, but I force the attack with Gideon Jura, and since he doesn’t have a land immediately, I strat killing off plants with Squadron Hawks. I Assassinate the Avenger with gideon on the following turn and he has no gas to stop me.

Sideboarding: Valakut
Against Valakut, we want to be boarding out Squadron Hawks, because not only do they have Inferno Titan and perhaps Slagstorm, but they have enough pressure that you can’t just sit back on massive card advantage from Jace and Hawks and hope they run out of steam. We also want to board out the Bonehoard, as it really doesn’t do anything, along with a Frost Titan and a Gideon Jura. It might be correct to board out the second Gideon and keep in all the Frost Titans, but being able to soak up a hit from Avenger and friends is relevant enough that I don’t mind the 2/1 split postboard. The reason we board out some top-heavy cards is that the only way they really have to interact with our finishers is through their own finishers. If we focus more on ensuring that they don’t stick one of their bigger threats (or if they do, that they are delayed), we really only need 1 or 2 threats to finish the game. Finally, we board out Mortarpod if we don’t see Lotus Cobra, but if we do we leave it in.

From the board we want to add in all the copies of Flashfreeze, both Tectonic Edges, both Ousts, and the second Sword. The first two are pretty obvious, but Oust is really good against either their cobras or battlements, as it not only slows their mana production, but it gives them a semi-dead draw in the later turns. A turn 4 Overgrown Battlement is a lot worse than one on turn 2. The sword is good because they might bring in something along the lines of Natures Claim, and because we’re boarding out 2 equipment and we don’t want extra Stoneforge Mystics to not give us advantage.

In game 2, Chris misses his 5th and drop before drawing and casting a Cultivate. He then resolves a Primeval Titan, which is a lot less effective when his lands at the time were 5 forests and a mountain. He grabbed double Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, and I happily locked down his Primeval with a Frost Titan. Not to be outdone in the haymaker department, Chris threw down an Avenger and dropped a land. I Ousted the avenger and then Stoneforged for a Sword, and attached it to Frosty. Unable to deal with my 8/8 titan, he quickly packed it in.

3 – 0

Round 4: vs Andrew (UW Cawblade)

Andrew leads off with a turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic for Sword, while I have a turn 2 Lotus Cobra. He quickly Mortarpods away my snake and I have to play my own Stoneforge for sword. I resolve my first hawk and get in good with my sword after chumping his, and although he has an Elspeth Tirel and triple Gideon Jura, my collonades and titans manage to take it down.

I sideboarded in much the same way as in round 1.

Game 2 was an interesting affair, with me having turn 2 Lotus Cobra, although it got Ousted twice. Andrew then cast a Gideon Jura and double Tectonic Edge me. I played a Gideon of my own but then he bricked on land and I was able to stabilize of my lands and lotus cobras to eventually kill him. I’m sorry if my notes were a little sparse but the matches were more intense than the brief notes I’ve marked down. However, this game does showcase one awesome thing about this deck. The cobra plan is so different than the stoneforge/squadron hawk plan that you have opponents who bring in things like Oust which while fine against the cobra plan, isn’t nearly as good against stoneforge, hawks, or various planeswalkers. The only card that’s really good against the cobra plan while not being totally divergent from their normal plan is Mortarpod. However, if your opponent fetches Mortarpod to deal with cobra, it means they’re not gettinf a sword to put pressure on you, and when you drop your own stoneforge you get to be the aggressor.

4 – 0

Round 5: vs Michel (UW Venser Control)

I’m excited, because a win here means I can double-draw into top 8. I start off with a strong opener: Lotus Cobra into Stoneforge Mystic, which gets Mana Leaked. Unfortunately I don’t hit my 4th land drop until several turns and Preordains have elapsed, while Michel is more than content to accumulate card advantage through a Jace Beleren while sitting behind a Wall of Omens. Once I get a Squadron Hawk online and equipped, Michel has a Tumble Magnet to stop me form getting it in. He finally resolves a Venser, the Soujourner, and continues to Flicker out his magnet, ensuring I can’t get in an attack. When he finally ultimates venser and starts casting a bunch of spells, while his Celestial Colonnades get in for damage, I know it’s game over.

Sideboarding: Non-Caw based control
So for this matchup I board out pretty much all my creature removal, as the only creatures I saw were Wall of Omens and manlands. So I bring out Mortarpod, Day of Judgment, as well as Bonehoard and one Stoneforge Mystic in favour of Voltion Reins, the Into the Roil, and 2 Tectonic Edge.

In game 2 Michel keeps a land-light hand and has no outs to me swining with unsworded hawks. Not much of a match.

In game 3 we have a slow control match, where I manage to stick a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and start fatesealing. When Jace gets to 13 loyalty, I put a Preordain on the bottom and Michel rips the [card]Jace Beleren to stay alive. He eventually gets a Venser the Soujourner and goes ultimate. This game was about as “draw-go” as you can get, and in the end the deck with 7 Jaces won the Jace war, and by extension the game.

4 – 1

Round 6: vs Mat (Aggro Valakut)

We both have relatively slow starts, and Mat misses his 4th land drop. I try and get ahead with a jace but it quickly dies to a burn spell. Mat hits his 4th land drop, but he only has one forest, and I cast a Frost Titan to lock him out of his only green source and the game.

For sideboarding, I boarded the same way as round 3, except I took out Explores and 2 leaks for Kor Firewalkers, Condemn and the Sylvok Lifestaff. These cards are much better agains the aggro plan while shaving off some of the slower, less effective cards.

On the draw in game 2, I mullligan to 5 and get hit by Lotus Cobra into double Hero of Oxid Ridge. Again, not much of a match.

In game 3, I mulligan to 6 and keep possibly the ideal 6 card hand. I keep Seachrome Coast, Razorverge Thicket, double Oust[card], [card]Kor Firewalker and Stoneforge Mystic. I throw down an early firewalker, and hit my land and Oust his [/card]Lotus Cobra[/card] and fetch Sword of Feast and Famine. I put the sword on the Firewalker, and start swinging in for huge value. He eventually draws a Tumble Magnet to stall, but I eventually just wear down the counters and get through for my souped-up firewalker.

5 – 1

Round 7: vs Adrian (Valakut)

I’m in 6th, paired against the 5th place guy and we intentionally draw. I’m reasonably confident I’m in for top 8.

5 – 1 – 1

When everything is said and done, Jason Ness (the TO) informs everyone that one person at 5-1-1 did not make top 8. He reads them off in descending order and slowrolls us on the 8th seed, by thanking the judges and players and doing announcements just before he makes the announcement. Thankfully, he calls my name and I’m headed for nationals this summer in Toronto.

Because this was a large nationals qualifier, we didn’t play out the top 8. My good friend Attila also made top 8 with RUG, so we were happy that we’d have 4 people from our store headed to nationals this summer.

The deck played very well, and my only loss was to a great player with a great deck. I’m certainly looking forward to trying the Venser deck out once I can get some Vensers of my own. I felt noticeably ahead at almost all times in the mirror, and Frost Titan did more than his fair share of work. If I could change anything, I would probably cut a green source, most likely a Verdant Catacombs for another white source, perhaps a Stirring Wildwood or just another basic plains. Other than that, the deck performed extremely well and I highly recommend it to anyone playing in their local nationals qualifiers in the coming weeks.

I’d love to give a shout out to my testing group from Wizard’s Comics: Attila, for grinding MWS matches with me for hours on end in the preceding weeks; Brian, for convincing me to try the deck and helping me with the sideboard; Stephen, for driving all of us down to Calgary despite the horrid road conditions, and everyone else for helping me along the way – you guys are awesome.

If you have any questions about Bant cawblade, or anything else, feel free to post in the comments below, or email me at zak-AT-power9pro.com or via twitter at www.twitter.com/zturchan.

Cheers,

Zak

Mythic Rare Review – Top 10 Worst Mythic Rares

Ban Jace!   This was the cry from magic players across the Twitterverse after the amazing showing JTMS had at the Grand Prix in Dallas.  If you haven’t heard by now, 32 copies of Jace the Mind Sculptor were in the top 8 (yup that’s four copies per deck).  The top 8 included various Caw-Blade and RUG builds all sporting the mightiest of Planeswalkers.  Personally, I don’t feel that it is necessary to ban Jace at this time.  The last time a card was banned in the middle of it’s Standard heyday was the super powerful Skullclamp.  Many people have been comparing ‘Ol Blue Eyes with the clamp but I feel that this comparison doesn’t hold water.  At the time when Skullclamp was running rampant everydeck was running four copies no matter what color.  “But Justin, every top deck at the Grand Prix was running Jace.”  That’s true, but this is only the most recent tournament.  Is Jace an incredibly powerful card?  Yup.  Are Mythic Rares supposed to be really powerful? Yup.  Did Wizard’s not realize how powerful JTMS would be? Yup.  Is Jace more format defining/powerful/broken than Skullclamp?  Not really.  I want to leave the discussion to those who are more qualified, but I feel that this topic will ignite debate until Jace is a small speck in Standard’s rear-view mirror.  All of the debate started to make me think about Mythic Rares.

Wizard’s went to the four tier rarity system in the Alara block and since then 158 cards have been printed at or reclassified as Mythic Rare.  With the release of Duel Decks and the From the Vault series (not FtV Dragons) many cards were pushed up to Mythic status; that’s right, Aether Vial is considered a Mythic.  For the purpose of this article however, I will not include the special promo releases.  I know that the term “worst” is very subjective.  I am basing my assessment on tournament impact, casual experience, and limited applications.  I am also influenced by the flavor and complexity of the card.  If you disagree just let me know in the comments below.

Honorable Mention

The “fixed” version of Lord of the Pit never had any impact on Standard and his drawback was difficult to mitigate in Limited where loosing a creature every turn is devastating.  I feel that the biggest problem with the Demon was that his casting cost did not allow him to fit into Jund, the most dominant Type 2 deck at the time.

#10 –

Obsidian Fireheart has a very unique ability.  His ability is quite expensive for the return you get.  Blaze counters do not stack so your value drops mid-to-late game.  7 mana is a large investment to have a small amount of return over time.  The triple red in his casting cost almost ensures that the Fireheart will have to be played in mono-red which seeks to maximize resource development and generate advantage through sheer power.  Obsidian Fireheart causes the mon-red deck to loose tempo because of the awkward activation cost.  At 1RRR I would rather cast Cyclops Gladiator.  At the time Obsidian Fireheart was released it was just too slow to compete in Standard.  Fireheart does have the coolest reminder text ever.

#9 –

A 6 mana, life-gain, artifact (life gain for all intents and purposes).  I have seen this card get used in EDH hand in hand with Necropotence.  EV can make you near unkillable under the right circumstances.  The problem with the vessel is that it just prolongs the game without impacting the board.  It is a safety net.  EV is a good card, but it does not deserve the mantle of Mythic Rare.  For one thing, you can never gain more life than you had when the vessel came into play making it very awkward for Standard play.  I think EV will be seen casually in Commander but not very often.

#8 –

When I first saw this card I thought it screamed Commander.  It is obvious from the casting cost that this 8 mana spell will never see serious play.  For 8 mana I want win now.  What the Praetor’s are Counseling is to wait until late in the game to get back some powerful spells.  The problem is that while you are spending your turn getting stuff from the yard, you are not actually doing anything to change the board.  The secondary ability of not having a maximum hand size for the rest of the game will not matter very much because it will probably be towards the end of the game when it is necessary to cast the Counsel.  Maybe in a G/R EDH deck with Lands Edge and Life from the Loam….  

#7 –

Good Stats and one very risky ability.  This Demon wants to be able to combo with something.  I have seen a casual Hellcarver list and it looked pretty fun.  My biggest problem with the Demon is to potential to totally wiff and take yourself out of the game.  “Free” spells are powerful but consistent library manipulation is necessary in order to make it work.  If only there was something in Standard that let you have a Brainstorm effect every turn…. All kidding aside, Hellcarver would still have a rough time even if he was paired with JTMS.  The 3BBB casting cost is prohibitive in an environment without vivid lands and Reflecting Pool.  I want my Mythic Rares to advance my end game without the potential to end my fun.  OH! How about Praetor’s Counsel to counter-act the sacrificing?  We might have something there.

#6

Some of you might remember that I am not a fan of “level up”.  Very few creatures are worth the trouble.  At first glance the Master seems pretty sweet since his level cost is only 1, but you need to get him to level 6 in order for his fist ability to take effect and he needs to hit 12 before he turns into a beast.  That is a fifteen mana investment. 9/9, lifelink, indestructible is nothing to sneeze at but  the master is still too slow for Standard.  What would I rather have for 15 mana?  Emrakul, the Aeons Torn seems good.  I know that it is not a fair comparison but the point still remains.  You need to be able to maximize you resources throughout a game of Magic and the Master is far too slow to have the impact you want outside of kitchen table play.

#5 –

Yeah, he swings for nine.  He can gain some life if you need to be on defence.  You will probably need to be on defence if you are relying on this Sphinx to end the game for you. 4WUUB is not a very friendly casting cost.  The biggest problem with the Sovereign is his big brother Sphinx of the Steel Wind.  5WUB is a tad bit easier but look at the abilities that impact the game.  Steel Wind is offence and defence.  Steel Wind also shrugs off the two colors that hate on artifacts the most.  Sovereign just doesn’t compare to the other Mythic Sphinxes (Sphinxi? Sphinx?) available. 

#4 –

Junk Mythic Rare?  Every time I saw someone open this card they looked sad.  “Awww I wanted Emrakul.”  A 4UUU enchantment that does not impact the board right away.  What do you really want to have rebound in blue?  Card drawing?  Maybe.  Bounce?  Seems better.  It doesn’t work on Jace.  I would almost rather play anything than this card.  Red gets the most mileage out of rebound but the tripple U in the casting cost makes that a pipe dream.  $1.99 on SCG.

#3 –

This guy could easily be in the #1 slot.  His ability was largely irrelevant when he was released.  In sealed he was a picked up only as a big flying body.  There was never a home for him in Standard when Jund was running wild.  He could not deal with the best cards in his own block: Bloodbraid Elf.  The Defiler was more of a Mythic fail.  His art is really cool (glass half full).

#2 –

 I am always reminded of when I was trying to get Final Fantasy one to start up in the old Nintendo.  You had to keep hitting the Reset button over and over again until it worked.  This seems like a good safety net, right?  You get to start all over.  You don’t loose!   So what’s the problem?  Think about it for a second…. I know you need to ready the card again….  Yup.  Your opponent is still at the same game-state that killed you in the first place.  Yup.  Sword equipped Hawks, Titans, Valakut and whatever else are still sitting across the table and you have nothing in play.  That turn one Inquisition of Kozilek aint looking so good now.

Drum Roll

#1 Worst Mythic Rare

What’s that?  His expansion symbol is gold and not orange?  That’s right.  Protean Hydra got bumped off of the Mythic squad.  In M10 Wizard’s felt that this hydra had strong Mythic potential.  Then they realized that it was just a very complex creature that required players to do extra math and need to remember to manipulate counters.  This was a Mythic in the same set as Baneslayer Angel!  I like the idea but Protean Hydra fell flat.

I know that there are some other Mythics that can make a good case for being on this list (Mirror-Sigil Sergeant comes to mind), but these are all cards that have disappointed me in the past.  I know that Wizard’s can’t make all of the Mythics at the same power level as Jace and the Titans but these really fell short of the mark.  Some poor Mythics just never found a good home.  Remember Novablast Wurm?  What about Comet Storm?  Let me know what you think should have made the list.

The spoiler for New Phyrexia just popped up as I was finishing this article.  Which mythics from the newest set have the best chance to  make it on this list?    

Jace, the Mind Sculptor.full

Jace the Mind Sculptor: Ban-Worthy?

Shortly after the culmination of GP Dallas-Fort Worth, a plethora of magic players expressed their concern about the perceived dominance of Jace decks in standard.  For those of you who were not aware, the top 8 of this most recent GP boasted a top 8 which contained 32 copies of both Jace, the Mind Scluptor and Preordain.

The presence of 32 copies of a card in the same top 8 is something that happens very rarely.  In fact, there have only been 2 large events where such a thing has happened before.  The first was GP Kuala Lampur 2010, where the top 8 was comprised of 6 Jund decks, 1 Boros deck, and 1 Mono-Red deck, which eventually won.  Each of these decks was packing a full set of Lightning Bolts, one of the most efficient removal spells ever printed.  The second time was in a Magic Online Championbship Series tournament (which are in essence the most competitive tournaments on MODO) which had 32 copies of Bloodbraid Elf in the top 8, as Jund was almost certainly the best deck in Shards of Alara block constructed.

Let’s examine these two previous incidents.  In the first instance, I don’t think anyone was ever calling for the banning of Lightning Bolt, and we certainly didn’t have #banbolt as a twitter hashtag like #banjace has become.  In the case of 32 Bloodbraid elves, Alara block constructed wasn’t exactly a popular format, and as such didn’t get the attention that a large standard event would.  While there were most certainly people calling for the banning of Bloodbraid Elf in standard, there was always at least one non-bloodbraid based deck in every top 8.

So what makes this instance of 32 Jaces different?  Why has this one event created a huge cry for the banning of the blue planeswalker?  We all know that Jace is extremely powerful, but all of a sudden people are saying that it should be banned in standard.

So let’s run through the case that the #banjace team has put forward.

1. Lack of viable competitive archetypes

The top 8 of Dallas contained an even split of RUG decks and UW Caw-BLade decks.  Previous to this top 8, the best decks in the format were generally assumed to include those 2, in addition to Valakut and Boros.  However, many people are now discounting non-jace based decks for competitive play, and might stop attending standard tournaments if they either don’t have Jaces.  The pro-ban argument likens Jace’s dominance to Affinity back in the original Mirrodin Block, where affinity had a stranglehold on the standard environment.

2. Price

It’s no secret that Jace is the most expensive card standard has seen in recent memory (I can’t speak for the early days of type 2, as I wasn’t there).  He was initially sold at $25, and then worked his way up to the $90-$100 interval that he now rests at.  Some blame this price on mythic rares, some blame it on a conspiracy by Star City Games, while others have their own theories.  Regardless, many people believe that it’s not in the best interest of the game to have to pay $400 for a set of cards to be competitive, especially when they will rotates in the fall.

Taken together, these arguments form a syllogism with the following premises and conclusions.

1. Jace is prohibitively expensive.

2. Jace is necessary to win at competitive standard.

Therefore:

3. People who can’t afford Jace can’t win at competitive standard.

Finally, the supposed solution to this problem is to ban Jace from standard play.

The magic community is pretty firmly divided on this issue, and I’m going to outline my views on why Jace should not be banned.  There are some problems with what the #banjace side is arguing and I’ll address their points one by one.

1. Jace is prohibitively expensive.

I agree.  That’s right – as someone who owns 4 Jaces, I’m disappointed that a Jace costs $100.  I acquired my jaces at varying price points: opening 1, buying one at $35, trading for one at $50 value, and buying one for $85 worth of store credit.  Now I have $400 worth of Jaces, and I don’t think they should be worth that much.  This is a problem, and I wholeheartedly agree that something needs to be done.

I propose a promotional reprint of Jace 2.0.  Similar to the situation in legacy with Candelabra of Tawnos, there are many players who can’t afford to play the decks they want because they are priced out of them.  While I have several hundred dollars worth of Jaces, I would be terrifically happy if they reprinted him and he tanked to $20-$30.  Why?  I’m a magic player at heart, and the more people that cna play magic and play the decks they want, the happier I am because it means the game will survive longer.  I’ve seen new players leave my local game store because they hate getting beaten by a card they can’t afford.  This game should be first and foremost about the players, and you have to cater to them.  The problem with this is getting the right number of jaces out to the right people.  We can’t do an FNM promo, because that only rewards players who have them already, and a judge foil is even more limited.  I think something like a duel decks would be perfect, but produced in numbers to satisfy demand so that stores don’t artificially jack up the prices a la From the Vault.

The reason that the idea of a standard format is so good is that new players can break into competitive magic relatively easily, without having to put down a huge investment.  Once a player is sufficiently immersed in the game, then they begin to invest in older formats like legacy once their tournament winnings keep them more or less self-sufficient.  Thus, it’s in the best interest of the game to reprint Jace, and slightly upset a few players but make it possible for those who understandably don’t want to invest $400 in a set of cards which will rotate in October.

Some of you are probably saying, “But a mass reprint will make people who did pay the $400 angry!”  While this can be true, I don’t think anyone who wants this game to grow can say that having to pay $400 for playset of Jaces is a good thing.  If we consider the option of either reprinting or banning Jace based on price, we realize that we’re going to piss someone off.  If you ban jace, not only has a great deal of value been lost, but now people can’t even play with the cards they worked hard to obtain.  Rather, a reprint would allow more people to play with one of the most powerful cards in magic’s history.

In short, people need to be able to take a hit to the value of their collections for the game to grow.  The same argument could be made about the reserve list, but that’s a topic for another day.

2. Jace is necessary to win at competitive standard

Yes, there were 32 Jaces in the GPDFW top 8.  However, one event is a very small sample size and we cannot draw this conclusion from one top 8.  Yes, Jace decks are dominant, but that doesn’t mean they’re unbeatable.  Remember when Jund was super dominant?  How did the magic community begin to beat it?  We learned to attack the mana base, and I top 8ed provincials with a Gerry Thompson list that was designed to utterly destroy jund by exploiting that weakness.

Similarly, jace decks are weaker to creatures with haste and/or shroud, because they usually only pack a few board wipes and their creatures aren’t very beefy.  A card like Vengevine does very well against Jace because he comes out of nowhere and is very resilient.  With the prevalence of UW Cawblade in lieu of the UWb variant, creature based strategies are more powerful, because you blank your opponent’s Spell Pierces.

Recently, over twitter, director of Magic R&D Aaron Forsythe has been discussing with LSV and others about what would happen if a card like Lightning Greavesor Fires of Yavimaya were to be reprinted.  Of course myself and certain others realized that reprinting Greaves would be very dangerous, as giving Titans haste and shroud is ridiculous – especially when you have Stoneforge Mystic in the format.  Something like fires is more reasonable, because not only does it not work well in a Jace deck, it lets you push through for (hopefully) enough damage to kill Jace.  Unfortunately, neither of those cards are legal in standard, but we do have an effective haste-granter who shines against jace decks.

That’s right, a turn 2 Renegade Doppelganger can be used not only with Vengevine, but a great deal of other creatures to put large amounts of pressure on the opponent.  The synergy it has with Hero of Bladehold is phenomenal, and with a turn 1 Birds of Paradise, you can be attacking for 7 as early as turn 3.  Even with just a Vengevine, having a Doppelganger is an aggressive play that can help pressure a caw-blade opening.

As well, Doppelganger invites Fauna Shama, giving you a tutor as soon as you drop Ms. Survival-on-a-stick, which helps mitigate the shaman’s vulnerability to removal.

I don’t take credit for this deck idea; rather, it was my good friend Attila who brewed up these synergies into a deck that has been performing very well against various cawblade variants.  This deck is very fast while also being able to play a long game with lots of pressure.

Standard Bant Aggro by Attila Fur

Sideboard

While this deck is still undergoing development, it gives you an idea of how one can do well at a tournament when they build their deck with the cawblade matchup in mind.

Consider how many hours have been put into the development of Jace decks.  A deck like caw blade has been played and developed so much that not only are most lists close to optimal, but the actual gameplay has been developed extensively.  In addition to the sheer number of hours that have been put into developing Jace-based decks, these hours have come from the best of the best.  Many pro players test Jace decks because they are both powerful and mesh well with their playstyle.  This high-quality testing results in Jace decks that are extremely powerful when played by the best.

However, compare that amount and quality of testing with the amount of testing put into beating Jace decks.  Because all of the pros have advocated using Jace (mostly by playing it themselves) many people are going to simply do that – play Jace.  Hell, even I would play a Jace deck if I were going to a standard tournament.  However, that’s chiefly because I am a control player, and I like that style of deck, which is where jace fits in perfectly.  Were I an aggro player at heart, I might sleeve up something like the bant deck above, or maybe Boros, or even mono red.  Because I have jaces, I haven’t spent a great deal of time trying to beat jace decks – I won’t sugar-coat it.  However, if I didn’t have them, I’d be brewing and testing against jace decks a lot more than I test right now, simply because new decks have to prove themselves against the field, which at the moment contains several jace decks.

I think it’s very possible to have a favourable matchup against jace decks, but it means that players are going to have to accept that pros will not do their work for them and they will have to build their own decks and test them out.  This is not a simple task, as many deck ideas flounder after their initial draft.  However, tight play and a solid game plan against Jace can be enough to take it down.  One thing I’ve been wanting to try is a red/green aggro deck with both Koth of the Hammer and Vengevine to ensure that you’re attacking for 4+ damage on turn 4.  However, I haven’t started sketching out a list yet, but it’s ideas like this that that need to be thought of and collaborated upon by the magic community.

3. Jace needs to be banned

Banning a card is a very serious thing, and is not something that should be done lightly.  Tom Lapille of Wizards R&D has said that they will not emergency ban Jace – something that has only been done once before, with the absurdly broken Memory Jar.  Rather, any announcements will be made on June 20th as scheduled.  Lapille has addressed many of the arguments for not banning Jace, such as the faith that people have when they buy modern boosters that they will be able to play what they open.

However, one thing that Lapille neglects to mention is that, as a company, WotC has an enormous stake in Jace.  Let me elaborate.  The planeswalkers are a new card type, and have been integral in the re-branding of magic over the past few years.  Specifically, they have used Jace as the poster boy for magic.  He was the subject of the first planeswalker novel, and is the first person anyone thinks of when they hear the word ‘planeswalker’.  Because of this notoriety, banning a card with the word ‘Jace’ on it is much different than banning ‘Gideon’ or ‘Chandra’, because you’re banning the face of magic.

Banning cards sets a dangerous precedent, especially if Jace is simply one of the best cards in the format, and not the be-all end-all.  Again, comparing Jace to the affinity menace from the original mirrodin block – our standard seems varied and diverse.  Will every “best deck” have its linchpin card banned?  I’m a member of the camp that thinks that valakut would dominate a jaceless standard, and that it would be even less fun than some people say current standard is.  I for one enjoy the jace-mirror much more so than the valakut mirror.  The reason being that Valakut is a deck which attempts to ignore whatever your opponent is oding in favour of just killing them.  In, say, the caw-blade mirror, the matchup is very interactive and skill intensive, with players needing to evaluate threats and decide which answers they should use and when; when to tap out and when to leave mana up; when to play around certain spells and when to go for it.  I find the matchup very enjoyable, but that’s just me.

After everything’s said and done, I agree that the current situation of standard is not ideal.  However, I think there are numerous things that can be done to address this without resorting to banning Jace.  On the part of wizards they can either reprint Jace in some form (but not in a regular expansion), or they can print  more answers to planeswalkers that aren’t too narrow.  Something like Oblivion Ring is an excellent example of a card that is well designed and can answer planeswalkers but can do so much more.  While Hex Parasite from the New Phyrexia is promising, I hope to see some more answers as well.  On the part of the players, new decks need to be built and tested, and players must not simply say: I don’t have jaces, I’m not going to bother testing.  If you brew a deck and don’t test it and go into a tournament and get smashed, is it really the fault of jace?  Or is it your fault for not testing against that deck, not sideboarding correctly, or not knowing what’s important in the matchup?

A lot of the players I see who get smashed by players with jaces are players who don’t practice outside of tournaments, and players who do said smashing are usually those who spend a great deal of time researching the meta and practicing outside of tournaments.  I’ve seen players with Jaces lose games to worse decks because they aren’t as experienced with the card, the deck, or even the game in general.  All in all, I don’t think we’ve reached the circumstances where a jace ban is warranted quite yet.

As always, feel free to post in the comments below, or message me on twitter (twitter.com/zturchan) or via email (zak-AT-power9pro.com).

Cheers,

Zak

Duel Decks: Knights vs. Dragons Decklist Announced

symbolToday Wizards announced the decklists for Duel Decks: Knights vs. Dragons. The expansion symbol is pictured to the left. (I’m seeing a dragon… but a knight? Hmm.)

Notably, knight of the reliquary, with its ~$10 pricetag should cover the knights’ half of the $19.99 MSRP all by its self. Plus, she has some sick new art, which Monty Ashley showed us back in February:

New Reliquary Art

You’ll also get a loxodon warhammer, along with a number of other decent rare knights:

On the dragon side, the previously hard-to-find Thunder Dragon arguably pays its team’s half of the price tag as it tends to run around $10 as well, and you’ll get a slew of junk rare Dragons to boot:

Here’s the alternate artwork on the dragon side, for Bogardan Hellkite:

hellkite

The decks will likely be fun to play against each other, and I’m pretty sure the fanboys will grab this product for the new artwork. The price seems to be just about right, making this duel deck a deal deck to boot. Expect to see the old knights reliquary popping up in a trade binder near you!

Innistrad announced as 2011′s September large set

The large set codenamed “Shake,” due to be released September 30, 2011, has officially been announced on the mothership. Computer dorks out there might be amused that they used Magic Arcana number 666, as can be seen in the URL string. Was this coincidence, or did WotC dorks save this announcement for this particular issue of Arcana? I suspect, based on this amusing feature, on the image below, and on the tagline “Horror Lurks Within,” that the set will be Transylvanian / Vampire themed, sort of a Ravenloft of Magic. As such, I’m certainly excited. It might be time to dust off the old Baron Sengir EDH deck.

Innistrad

Chaos Drafting: Starting from Scratch

A few months ago I was lucky enough to score an invite to Tristan Shaun Gregson’s Historical Draft at Mythic Games in Santa Cruz, California.  Mythic is a great new store that just opened up and they’ve got a nice space to play.  Maybe 40 seats or so, give or take, with some sweet leather couches and some of the best Pizza in Santa Cruz right across the way at Woodstock’s. TSG, is, well, TSG and I’m very greatful for the opportunity to play in that draft.

The historical draft is essentially a pack of every set Ice Age and forward, and sans Scars block, – essentially a 60 pack Chaos draft.  I’m a pretty huge fan of Chaos Drafting (drafting from random sets as opposed to Block Drafting), so I jumped at the opportunity, and I’ve run my own 50 pack draft since then as well.

If you build it, they will come…

On the drive down to Santa Cruz from San Francisco, my friend Sean asked me if I had any tips for drafting a format where you’re opening such random packs.  You could start with spirit dragons in Kamigawa and end up with a five color disaster in Ravinca.  Do you try to get Rhystic cards from Masques block to work?  What about all the cards you’ve never seen before?  How do you evaluate them in a vacuum?    Was there any strategy to Chaos drafting at all?

Well surprisingly, I actually did have a strategy.  Now, before I move forward I should be honest – I’m not a master drafter.   My limited rating’s in the lower 1700′s, meaning I generally win more than I lose, but I’m not a 3-0 baller and you won’t see me outside of the 4-3-2-2 queues on MTGO.   I’ve also drafted a decent amount of random pack drafts, and the advice I came up with was useful to both Sean and myself, and we finished with pretty solid decks.  I even placed second in the draft (out of 12 players) with a fantastic mono red deck.

One thing to keep in mind is that the historical draft had a larger number of packs going in, (5 packs each) so unlike most chaos drafts where you might be  scouring for value, it actually felt more like a cube where you had an abundance of cards in your pool and the deck building was more about getting down to the right 23.  Despite these differences,  I’m of the opinion that the basic theories that I had for the Historical draft apply to regular chaos drafting as well.

Theory 1: There are less bombs available in a chaos draft than in a block draft.

I came to this conclusion because there are sets with rare bombs that are good only if you could build synergy around them (Mirrodin and Kamigawa block come to mind) or that you’ll have access to mana fixing (Invasion and Shards) In addition, the further you go back, the more likely you are to open sub-par cards in the rare slot – cards that used to be good but have been outclassed (Chronicles comes to mind) .  For example, In Mirrodin block draft you have been VERY happy to see this guy.  In chaos draft, you’ll have to polish very hard before this particular turd will shine.


Corollary:  With less powerful bombs available, creating a consistent deck is more important than a powerful deck.

Having the leisure to draft more than three colors has always been format dependent, and in Chaos I judge it too much of a risk to purposefully draft that way.  It’s far less risky to just try to go with a single strong color base and splash for a second color as needed.  This also means if you start with a mono colored deck that looks a little underwhelming, you stick with it rather than screw up your mana base trying to fit in something that’s marginally more powerful.

I actually put Balance in my mono red and it did win me a game, but I also lost my second game in the finals because I was short a land. – I actually had a fetch in play that was there to get my plains, but with my plains already in play it was a dead card.  If it just been a flush of mountains I would have won with my disintegrate.  But Balance is a pretty loose example – it’s practically Power and you won’t have the opportunity to draft a bomb that solid very often.   (Fireball is one that’s been reprinted enough times to bring up.  And yes, I would splash for that. But that’s an exception, not the rule.)

One of these cards is not like the other….


Corollary: Pick your archetype early, and stay in it.

In short, the basic archetypes for Chaos are:

Aggro (weenies, removal, individual and mass pump, discard if applicable)

Skies (flyers)

Stompy (efficient, undercosted fatties)

Ramp (early elves and mana fixing into huge monsters)

Control (removal, counters, discard, turtles, late game finishers)

Rock (Fatties + removal, with an emphasis on card advantage)

Tempo (usually blue based aggro/control, with an emphasis on bounce or removal – essentially get a creature down, and deny your opponent attack and steps by bouncing, tapping, or killing opposing creatures, so that your creatures can go all the way)

To be honest, I’d be happy with a deck of any single color (even mono green)  as long as the archetype was clear.  But jumping in early and staking your claim is foremost – cutting out a color from a pack if you can goes a long way.  You don’t want to switch colors just to get a slightly better card.  If I’m  already heavily into green and my choice is between a late pick Llanowar Elf and a late Doom Blade, I’d probably stick with the elf –  Taking that Doom Blade might makes your deck better given the cards that you’ve picked, but if you’re clearly passing black and cutting green, you’re that much more likely to end up with more solid green picks (or even a bomb) on the pass back.  I’d  rather have options in my deck building  rather than cobble together a deck that is half decent and half horrible because I sent bad signals.

If, however, there really isn’t a compelling pick for your deck, you’re not going to send a bad signal, or it looks like your original color is drying up, then by all means take Doom Blade.

Theory 2:  Quality at common goes out the window in a chaos draft


… Though it’s not as bad as you might think. It’s not all a bunch of 1/1′s for 3 out there.  Actually it’s for the same reasons as listed above.  There are going to be a ton of creatures at Common that are meant to be role-players in a synergy deck that just get worse when you take their set away.



Yes, there will be uncommons and rares with better stats for their cost but we don’t get as many chances at those. Obviously good cards will almost always get picked, so it’s critical to have a strategy when drafting the Commons – which is:

Corollary:  Hill Giant is king.

Or: the power to toughness ratio vs. casting cost of the creature can be more important than the creature ability.  This a gross oversimplification of draft theory, but a drafter with knowledge reaching back over the years starts to see a pattern – the same creatures always show up in some form or another.


the 2/2 for 2 (the grizzly bear!)
the 2/2 for 2 with a drawback (usually in red or black)
the 2/2 for 3 (the grey ogre or scathe zombie, usually bad enough now to get an ability)
the 1/4 for 3 (the horned turtle)
the 2/2 flyer for 3
the 3/3 for 4 (the Hill Giant)
the 3/3 flyer for 5 (most recently sky-eel school.  But wizards has gotten better at hiding them – in Shadowmoor it was Merrow Wavebreakers- In Dissension it was Helium Squirter, in Lorywn it was Plover Knights.  My personal favorite “flyer” is Elven Riders :D

So why the Hill Giant?  Because at its commonality, it’s consistently the best power and toughness for its cost.  And there are a lot of them out there.    Yes, you’re going to draft creatures of all shapes and sizes and powers and toughnesses, but at Common, which is where the majority of our bread and butter creatures are going to be, toughness and power usually max out at 3 unless you’re Green.  Regardless of what archetype you’re in, stalemates start to occur, (or break down) when you start hitting this size of creature.  If your deck is all speed and gas, you want evasion and removal to get past these monsters.  If you’re the heavy, you want acceleration in order to plop down your big guys and outrace the speedy deck. And if you’re both at the same class and hit a stalemate, you’ll do better if you have more Giants to throw away, vs. waiting for that bomb, removal, or evasion.

Speaking of stalemates:

Corollary: Overcosted removal is still removal, and overcosted evasion is still evasion.


This was my first pick in TSG’s Historical draft.  I can’t really remember much of what else was in the Visions pack, but it wasn’t anything outstanding – there was a single Breezekeeper in the pack if I wanted to cut blue, and evasion is evasion…

But then I realized that this guy would probably make my deck regardless of what archetype I built out – He’d be another flyer to deal with in skies, for example, or an evasiony creature in basically any deck that wanted to attack..  and 59 cards later, he made my main. I think there is tendency to look at this guy and think it’s not worth the pick, because he’s slightly overcosted (we’d expect him to be at least a Wind Drake) but as it turned out, this guy was fine. Given the scope of creature availability in a Chaos draft, he either traded with creatures that posed more of a threat than him, or ate a piece of removal.  The Chimera just added to the overall aggro strategy of my deck and got in some crucial damage, or best of all – they had no answer and he went all the way.

Don’t forget that card draw and filtering is still really good as well – people constantly underestimate looters and draw spells.

A decent start..




Drafting a deck full of removal or evasion is still a great plan, if you can manage it.  But even if you’ve accomplished building a great deck, you need to carry that momentum into the battles themselves.  Which brings us, finally to:


Some Magic Basics:

Misassignment of Role = Game Loss
(A Mike Flores Classic)

In short, know what your role is going into the game.   If you’re the aggro deck, then choose to play first, and try to end the game as quickly as possible.  You generally want to utilize your removal in a way that will maximize damage dealt. If your opponent has a creature that slows you down (like a wall), calculate whether you want to just get it out of the way in exchange for dealing more damage in the long run, or whether you want to save your removal for a true threat.  Can your opponent wrath you?  Maybe you want to get in there asap.  Could your opponent play a big dragon that you can’t deal with?   Maybe you just want to swarm around the wall and save your removal for when it really matters.

If your opponent has the capability to race you, evaluate the board state – given what you’ve seen, can they beat you in a straight race?  Can they kill you before you kill them?  If not, then get your guys in there.  Take whatever they give. Don’t save guys to chump unless you’re about to die. Do the math!  Your chump block could be dealing damage!!

If you’re an aggro deck that’s been outclassed by bigger threats, don’t give up.  We’ll get to that in a sec.

If you’re the “control” deck (i.e. the other deck is more aggro then you), or your deck isn’t consistent, or you don’t have enough information about the other deck to know what to do, choose to draw first – your plan against the other deck is to exhaust them of threats and leave them in topdeck mode while you still have threats.  Your life is a resource.  Don’t chump block unless they’re about to hit you for lethal damage (or might be threatening lethal damage with pump spells or direct damage)

If your path to winning isn’t obvious, that doesn’t mean you’ve lost.

I’ve been watching so many players just sort of give up mentally before they’ve actually lost the game.  At this level or play, they understand how to win and are engaged in the game for as long as they are ahead – but if they reach a stalemate or fall behind they lose interest or just give up “because the game was already over.”

This is usually far from the truth.  Start trading creatures, wear them out, picture what you need to draw in order to stabilize or even win the game.

If you can’t figure out how to beat your opponent, keep a steady head.  Remember that your opponent still needs to figure out how to beat YOU. If you can make that process as difficult as possible, force bad trades, use tricks to win in combat, kill evasive creatures that can go all the way, then you can still win it.

And with that I’ll finish up.  I hope that some of this strategy is useful to whoever reads it.  Questions/comments/vehement disagreement is welcome. ;)

Oversized Threats: Optimizing Planechase

Editor’s Note - I’ve linked the cards into the title of each plane, if you highlight the title the plane should appear.  I did resize some of the planes and put them into the article for emphasis.

We’re about an hour into our Chaos multiplayer game, and we’re Planechasing it.  Our playgroup is a big fan of Planechase, but we’ve abandoned the idea that specific sets should go with preconstructed decks.  Instead, we’ve mashed up all our planes into one massive 50+ card Communal Deck, customized for fun and balance factor.  Currently, we’re slumming it on Mirrodin, in the  vast expanse of the Glimmervoid Basin

At the moment, there are four players left standing – Vlad is running a 60 card, four color casual deck that  runs Tamanoa and damage dealing effects to secure a high life total.  I’m playing my own Green/Black Commander deck (my EDH general is shuffled in). Peter isn’t really prepared for the long game with his 60 card Vampires, and Ian is playing a 60 card U/R deck built around Wee Dragonauts that really isn’t built for multiplayer matches, but he’s doing his best.  We’ve been trying to knock out chunks of Vlad’s life total with varying degrees of success…


Vlad’s turn.  He draws and casts a very timely Lighting Helix, and since it’s multiplied by Glimmervoid Basin, the Tamanoa carries him into into a rather fat life total of 99.


Vlad decides he’s finished sucking away all all our life and passes the turn to Ian.


Ian untaps Gelectrode and Dragonauts (alive only because of Clout of the Dominus)  , draws for his turn, frowns, and picks up Glimmervoid Basin for a bit.   You can tell that he wants to do the math but he’s not really up for it.  He shrugs his shoulders, and puts Glimmervoid Basin back down.
Ian announces “Fire” (of Fire/Ice). (with one target for the two damage)

Twincast it …. and…

Twincast it.
After doing all the math,, there are 42 copies of Fire on the stack.

This allows Ian to activate Gelectrode 43 times, wiping out both Peter and myself, and knocking down Vlad enough to finish him with a 88/6 Dragonaut.

The Case for Planechase

Planechase can certainly be an interesting beast – on the one hand it can create some absurd  game states but on the other hand it can be a huge amount of fun.  While our playgroup didn’t find the deck-specific plane set up that Wizards sold us all that interesting, the Communal Deck optional format proved itself as  a much needed equalizer to multiplayer when decks misfire or a deck starts to rule the casual circle.  By slowing down the game at points it can help mana light players get to the mana they need, or provide a random, huge boost to an underdog deck. In addition, planes can allow for political maneuvering where the effect can be used to hinder the most threatening player on the board.


One criticism about Planechase is that it can make your multiplayer games a bit slow.  Honestly, your mileage may vary.  I would hazard a guess and say, depending on the planes you wind up with, it can add anything to half an hour to an hour to your average four player game, or even more if you’re playing EDH with a full 40 life.

One fix for this has been to make the “free” roll mandatory every turn.  This does two things – for one, people can’t plan on sandbagging on a deceleration plane for too long. Secondly, it reinforces the idea that a player MUST roll every turn, so that people don’t randomly forget to roll.

Speaking of customizing the play experience – I’ve been hunting for the various promo planes on the net, and they tend to be a little difficult to find.  Since I’m on the various online stores anyway,  I decided to pick up extra copies of the planes I like and lead to serious tweaks to the Communal Deck. For example we have an extra Celestine Reef in the deck which has created some hilarious situations, (Let’s roll off the Reef into… Reef?!)  but the sky is the limit on how any particular group would want to customize the deck.   There’s even software online that allows you to build your own planes, if you wanted to go that route.


Even if you only have the original planes, you can break them down into four basic groups – Acceleration, Deceleration, Finishers, and Miscellaneous.

Acceleration Planes at a glance

These planes are the meat and potatoes of the Planechase experience.   I think everyone can agree that it’s cool to see your deck operate in “turbo mode” sometimes.  The effects are strong, but fair – on a related note one of the criticisms we had of the Archenemy set was that some of the cards were just ridiculously over the top, and that sort of thing just doesn’t happen here – after all, even if you managed to get a free spell or extra turn, it’s just a likely that someone else might get the same effect – thus it’s still important to maintain and manipulate your political ties.

On to the planes:

Eloren Wilds

Your classic mana flare plane.  Everyone loves the flare, and  it also creates an interesting game state where YOU would like to take advantage of the flare but you also don’t want your neighbor to get it  The Chaos ability is a little mismatched, because if someone can’t cast spells, they’re just going to spend all that mana on getting off the plane.


Feeding Grounds

I tend not to like asymmetrical planes that give one particular color or deck type a boost to the exclusion of everyone else – I wouldn’t want more than one of these, if any, in my Planechase deck.

Horizon Boughs


The static ability does create some interesting attack decisions since creatures get pseudo-vigilance.  And the chaos land searching is absolutely huge, though it may create some monsters, kind of like dropping a mega sol ring out before anyone can do anything about it.

Krosa

Since all creatures get the bonus, it doesn’t really change the game state except for those players who have little or no defense (who will then be much closer to dying next turn. ) The chaos is really solid, you really feel like you hit the jackpot when you get it, but it balances out since you usually have to commit a permanent to the board as a result.

Llanowar

Most  times this plane’s been a blank for us.  Multiplayer, especially EDH, doesn’t really support hordes of dudes to abuse this unless they are a green token deck, which is really the last deck that needs the extra mana.


Minamo

The chaos favors blue, but the core ability is great.  Like Eloren, everyone loves drawing cards.  You could change the Chaos to allow any player to get any nonland permanent back (we haven’t done it yet, but I’m sure it would be fine.)


Murasa

Both abilities are good – if you have a creature, you’re getting ahead, and if you don’t happen to have a creature, Murasa will give you a solid man that’s good on offense, or you can change a pesky nonbasic into a guy and kill it.

Naya

Favors a color, and the main ability can push one player too far ahead, or do nothing at all if the plane shows up late. This plane is probably cut.

Panopticon

Howling Mine plane makes everyone happy.  Nothing to complain about here, but then nothing super splashy either.


Pools of Becoming


Lots of insane stories from this plane – it’s an interesting take on Randomness –  Whereas Mirrored Depths is a griefer’s view of  randomness (Will anything you do actually work?), Pools of Becoming creates a far more interesting decision tree (if I don’t use it now, I’ll lose it, so I might as well cast it.)  The Chaos is totally insane and elicits so many emotional responses –  from groans to cheers to collapsing into fits of laughter.  (Okay, I have no hand size limit… then I draw cards equal to the number of lands I control?  AWESOME!  Then I…  discard my hand?! FUUUUUUUUUUU!)

The Aether Flues

Polymorph plane is great, though I notice many players (especially new ones) will pass on the trigger because they don’t really understand how it works.   They just see a big wall of text and figure they’re safer not doing anything.  Too bad for them!


The Maelstrom


Possibly broken depending on the deck –  I’ve seen turn one Emrakuls into play.. but it’s a good story when it happens.  No one is ever sad to see this, it’s just a great Timmy plane overall.

Turri Island

It’s a modest card, and sometimes irrelevant. The 2 generic doesn’t always help you cast many creatures, and if you need to get a noncreature spell, Turri’s not much help to you. The chaos is solid though.

Undercity Reaches - Ophidian plane is pretty decent.  The chaos isn’t crazy, but it’s not horrible to have sometimes.  This plane is kind of a finisher plane as well since it encourages players to unturtle a bit.

Overall thoughts:

If could have to have doubles of any Acceleration plane, I’d go with The Maelstrom, Pools of Becoming, Panopticon, Eloren Wilds, and possibly  The Aether Flues. Horizon Boughs is really strong, and I would put another in if my games tend to go too slow.    The other planes are okay, but they either aren’t truly symmetrical or strong enough to make me want to have more than one. Feeding Grounds and Naya are out of the deck entirely.

Deceleration Planes at a glance:

In some ways you could argue that the deceleration planes are the worst part of Planechase – they just make the game last longer – but I’ve noticed that there are certain types of players that  enjoy turtling behind the cover of a plane, or enjoy using the breathing room it gives them to set up their combos.

Agyrem

Agryem makes combat a mess, since  it rarely gives anyone a reason to attack.  And it favors white too boot.  The Chaos is pretty irrelevant since everyone (except for the white player) wants to move on to more interesting pastures.  We’ve seen this do some silly things with [cardTeysa, Orzov Scion[/card as well.  For the moment it stays in, but we could probably figure out a better effect for it (global creature reset?  Bubble Matrix?)

Celestine Reef


What an effect. Half the time it elicits groans and the other half it has its own cheerleading squad.  In any case, here’s the insidious game mechanics at work – if you’re the player in the lead, you want off the plane because you can’t attack – so instead of developing you’re trying to roll off the plane.  But every other player is going to defer their rolls, because they want to draw into their mass removal or their own bombs. So instead of playing Planechase, we just take a long vacation on the [cardCelestine Reef[/card until someone resets the board or the strongest player rolls us off of it. Considering the game condition it creates, the chaos ability just seems tacked on (or maybe it’s there to stymie the skies players who’d like to abuse the plane)
(This has been fixed somewhat by forcing the chaos at least once during a turn.)

Fields of Summer

The first ability isn’t that bad. It’s the chaos that can just make the game longer than it needs to be – or maybe it’s just my group, but we always get thirty or forty extra life added the game which makes the game that much longer.

Goldmeadow

Not a Celestine Reef, but it does gum up the ground game for a bit.  People in my playgroup love the Goat Plane and we’ve got a stack of goat tokens to go with it.  My favorite story of this plane was watching thirty-some-odd goats get made among all the players, then the Planechase went to Velis Vel, where a massive Goatacalypse ensued.

Immursturm

I guess this could be a finisher plane, but often times it just turns all your creatures into 187s for whatever is the most annoying creature on the board, creating a massive political chain reaction until you’ve nothing left but scorched earth and the desire to move on to another plane.


Mirrored Depths


Possibly one of my least favorite planes from a design perspective.  Essentially you have a lot of text in the text box, which in short says “It’s not worth casting spells here, so it’s a better use of your time to move to the next plane.” I’ve also heard other opinions about it being a semi-prison plain (like Winter orb or Armageddon) – whoever is ahead already will probably finish out the game at this point.


Raven’s Run

More for the chaos – the Wither usually isn’t much of a game changer, but the incremental blight is always solid.  (Might be CRAZY good if the wither was changed to infect, but I’m not that brave)


Sanctum of Serra


As awesome as this plane is, if you’re playing multiplayer you probably have enough sweepers by default.  I like having one of it in the deck, because it gives losing players something to roll for (if I can just get to Sanctum of Serra and roll off it, I’m still in this game!) – but I don’t think I could handle multiples, as it would slow the game down too much.  And it’s kind of like Celestine Reef or Mirrored Depths where no one wants to play anything into it.


Sea of Sand

Yes, there is life loss here, but the chaos is a basically a timewalk against whoever is in the lead, and the life gain doesn’t hurt either.  for EDH decks you’re about 40 lands anyway.

Skybreen

Sometimes does nothing, other times stops the game entirely.  You’ll never kill anyone with this plane, unless it hits early, but an early skybreen can just put the breaks on the game, and the more players you have, the more obnoxious it gets.

The Eon Fog

Another groaner –  You just want to get off this plane as soon as possible, but it does create some interesting stories.  The chaos is perfectly balanced against the ability though.


The Fourth Sphere


Dislike. Someone blew the chance to have a functional Abyss plane, and instead decided that everyone except the black player gets screwed.  Probably the best example of an asymmetrical plane, because you lose so much.  At least with The Dark Barony you have to roll chaos and it doesn’t affect you.   The zombie is even more of an insult, since you can’t sacrifice it.  I’ve since errata’d this so it works like The Abyss.  It’s not like black creatures don’t get recycled (Reprocess, ironically enough, which is what the art for the plane is based on)


The Hippodrome

Usually this is enough to stop most decks in their tracks, and the chaos is great for political hits on players who’ve gotten too far ahead.  This is a great plane mechanically, unlike the Reef everyone’s motivated to risk rolling out, since they can possibly kill a general or some other annoying monster here.

Overall thoughts:

I enjoy the two Celestine Reefs already, and on reflection I don’t see any reason not to add another Hippodrome. Mirrored Depths is definitely out though..  Everyone loves Goldmeadow, so that’s another possibility, at least for my playgroup. And like I said, I’m putting errata on The Fourth Sphere.

Finisher Planes

I had an interesting discussion with a few weeks ago about what I call the Finisher planes – personally I love them, because they speed the game up, but my friend didn’t find the experience of dying to a plane very fun, since it’s out of your control.  In my humble opinion, I think they’re probably the most exciting thing about the game, since they put a clock on everyone, they force players into making commitments, and ultimately they make for great stories.

Cliffside Market


Technically it’s a miscellaneous plane, but it’s a great way to turn a totally dominant player into a throw rug.  Plus hilarious political hijinx interactions.  Sometimes it’s actually best to NOT go after the highest life total, or even the second highest life total.

Glimmervoid Basin

I think the story above says it all, and the chaos ability helps with balancing out the game.

Lethe Lake

We had a concern that 60 card decks would be disadvantaged when playing against 100 card decks, but what tends to happen is that the highlander deck gets hit with the chaos every time, which balances things out.  Love this plane, since it creates a lot of anxiety as people try to escape it, or find some gem in their yard to reanimate and win.

Naar Isle

This is the plane my friend specifically had an issues with, but I ADORE the Hot Potato plane.  At first no one pays any attention to it, and there’s always the revenge factor of people just handing off the plane to their neighbor so they take a few points – but what if it comes back around and gacks YOU for 6 or 10?   I like card decisions that create tension, and Naar Isle is famous for this.  This card can and will result in a TPK, so I’m not sure if I want to have more than one in the deck though.

Shiv

This plane is much more for the chaos, as 5/5 red dragons tend to end games pretty quickly. The core ability is nothing to write home about – to be honest, I’ll probably errrata this to read “all creatures have 2: +1/+0” on top of the base red ability. –   I’ve played mono red decks in Shiv and never used the ability, probably since those decks are already pretty mana hungry,  but in any case I don’t see an issue giving everyone dragon enginebreath.

Sokenzan

Haste has a subtle effect of getting people to go in the red zone when they otherwise wouldn’t, because they know they won’t always get the chance to sneak attack people.  The promise of a chaos fueled Alpha Strike right afterwords doesn’t hurt either.  This plane is worded perfectly since there’s no way to benefit from it without taking the plunge.  Just perfect.


Stronghold Furnace

I’ve had several games end on this plane.   Not much to write home about.  It’s crazy, but it’s symmetrical and has never created a complaint.  The chaos ability is useful as well.

Tazeem


I have two of these – Tazeem is definitely a monotony breaker and punishes the Fortress McDoNothingPants players (usually me) by letting an army in through the gates for the finishing blow. The chaos is totally over the top.  I can’t believe that it’s commanding the price that is on Starcity – none of the other planes even come that close, and I got mine for free since my store had a bunch of extras lying around.

Overall thoughts:

Two Tazeem: check. Furnace seems like a solid, if blander pick, and maybe another Glimmervoid.  Shiv errata’d.

The Miscellaneous planes

These planes don’t  necessarily  move the game in any particular direction but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be in your Planechase deck.

Academy of Tolaria West

The core ability doesn’t seem that relevant, but the academy can depants you pretty quickly – dropping your hand of gas by accident because you don’t find the plane that interesting tends to happen once or twice.  In the long run, you’re almost never motivated to roll because usually your hand is better than the next seven, bird in the hand and all that.  Sometimes it works out, though.


Bant

The core ability usually only helps token planes, and it’s asymmetric.  The worst part about this is that the chaos isn’t optional, and it doesn’t make sense that as the controller of the effect, you might be forced to hand out indestructiblity to your opponent’s creature.  At the same time, the ability is cool.  Maybe reword to a “may” and be able to give thetoken to any creature.

Grixis

Asymmetric but fair.  I don’t want more than one but at least the chaos does something.

Isle of Vesuva

Good all around plane that everyone likes. You can hand out tokens to all the players that are behind, and it kills Commanders as well.

Izzet Steam Maze

The main ability just pales next to Glimmervoid, and the chaos is pointless most of the time. This is a pretty easy cut.


Otaria

A Grixis for spells, and the extra turns are awesome.  Good story telling plane, like the time I used it to get two attacks and take out two players, or how I started three lands ahead of everyone else on my first turn.

Tember City


Another hard to find plane, it’s a strange  cross breed between a finisher plane (life loss) and Deceleration Plane (wrecks permanents).   It’s a good package – it’s strong, but it doesn’t have an overwhelming effect on the game like the other promo planes tend to have. (those are Reef, Tazeem, Mirrored Depths, and Horizon Boughs)  You can plan around it, and in Commander games the life loss it pretty marginal.


The Dark Barony

Like the Fourth Sphere, if you take out the word Nonblack, I’m of the opinion that it would be a much more interesting plane, but I’ve left it the way it is

The Great Forest

Kind of a snoozefest – Neither of the abilities really justify running this plane.

Velis Vel

Could be jank, or it could cause the Goatacoalypse.  It’s worth its inclusion, but it makes people do a lot of math.

Overall thoughts:

The Great Forest and Izzet Steamvents are out.  Vesuva and Otaria[card]are pretty cool so maybe doubles of those.  And errata on the [card]Dark Barony.

Chasing into the Unknown

As I mentioned earlier, there’s really no limit to what you can do with the format – If you can get your hands on the correctly sized sleeves, you can make proxy planes, or you could even insert some Archenemy cards into the stack for some interesting effects.  I hope that by writing this I’ve inspired some people who were on the fence to check out this product, or reignited a player’s  passion for this often overlooked and under-appreciated format.
If you’ve enjoyed this article or this format, or if you have your own stories about it, or if you’ve made your own tweaks or planes, feel free to chime in on the comments section.

Mirrodin Beseiged Prerelease Albuquerque Tournament Report

War!  Mirrodin is under attack and this past weekend was the first chance players had to finally pick a side in the war.  The Mirrodin Beseiged Prerelease was very different from any event Wizards has ever organized before.  Players were asked to pick a side in the Mirran v. Phyrexian war, and that side would determine what packs the players would have access to.

ThrunIwantyou

Chatting with other players around the hall it quickly seemed that the sides were evenly matched.  People went with Mirran because of better spot removal, better mythic rares, deeper card pool from Scars, and the more expensive prerelease foil.  People joined Phyrexia because of better sweepers and of course infect.  “It seems good when your opponent starts at 10 life,” one player told me, making the argument for infect.  The consensus was that If you picked Phyrexian you would be playing infect.  I decided to go Phyrexian because I want the third set in the block to be a dark evil place, entirely a flavor choice.  I loved the Phyrexian threat from the entire Weatherlight Saga and I was glad to see their return to Mirrodin.

For the sealed pool each player got three packs of Scars of Mirrodin and three faction packs based on their choice of allegiance.  No matter what faction a card belonged to you could play it if it was in your pool.  Here was my pool:

Artifacts

Colored

The first thing I looked at was how many creatures with infect I had; nine. Nine? Really?  I was sure that if I went Phyrexian I would end up with a solid amount of infect creatures.  Too bad.  Trying to keep my dream alive I looked at all of the the other cards that added poison or proliferated; seven more.  I realized that if I stuck with the infect game plan that I would force myself to play cards that were not good.  I usually do not try to force an archetype.  I decided to go back to square one and evaluate the cards the way I always do.

Bombs.  I was lucky to crack two bombs that can end the game on their own.  Carnifex Demon can wipe away the opposing board with ease.  This monster is also awkward for other infect decks to play against since any block he makes will reload him for more devastation.  Myr Battlesphere is a giant threat that will win you the game without too much effort.

Removal.  I was lucky here with plenty of good choices for spot removal and a Wrath-like effect in Creeping Corrosion (Foil).

Monsters.  I had a mixed bag of infect and non-infect guys that were all over the mana curve.  Flyers in white, but not much else.  Four mana myr would go nice with my Battlesphere.

Goodies.  Darksteel Axe was going in no matter what.  Livewire Lash too.  Other than that I was pretty flexible.

Colors.  Carnifex Demon ensured I would play Black.  I also had three Black removal spells.  Virulent wound is great at killing mana myr and opponents little infect guys.  I liked the game swing that Creeping Corrosion offers so I decided to go Green.  White was cut after that since the most important cards required WW and even though I had mana myr I did not want to loose out on black mana.  Blue was not deep enough, only Corrupted Conscience had game changing potential and I wanted to be as aggressive as possible with my curve.  I only had four Red cards  total and two Red mana myr, but those cards were all removal (one on a stick) so I decided to splash Red.  Deciding on Jund, here is what my deck looked like.

It seems like this build is not focused enough on one game plan but I just had to change my mindset.  My goal was not to poison out my opponent but rather to use my infect creatures as a from of removal.  I wanted to force my opponents into bad blocking situations to eliminate the threats from their guys and then break through with one of my bombs or equip a smaller guy to go to work.  I tried to maximize the value of each one of my cards with symmetry.

Virulent Wound can reload Carnifex Demon, can kill an Emissary to tutor up a missing land, and is removal.  Bloodshot Trainee, once equipped with the Axe or the Lash can deal with almost any threat.  Lash on any one of my infect creatures is extra awesome with Untamed Might.  Viridian Emissary was awesome for me since people would take the damage early thinking I was infect.

Took this build to a 4-0 finish at the tournament.  I won with poison counters twice and with good ol’ damage the rest of the time.  I only lost one game with it all morning.  The lesson here is to not be distracted by forcing an archetype.  Going into the tournament it was a given that if you were picking Phrexian you were picking infect.  In sealed format, it is more important to evaluate which cards have the most value through symmetry.  In draft it tends to be easier to force a specific build since you have control over what cards you will take.  I hope you all had fun at your prerelease tournaments over the weekend.  If you have any cool stories just leave a comment below.

Mirrodin Besieged Set Review

Hello hello. James and I talk about all the new cards in this set review. It’s lengthy, so let’s jump right in.

Land (2)

Name:Contested Warzone
Type: Land
Rules Text: Whenever you are dealt combat damage by a creature, that creature’s controller gains control of Contested Warzone.
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{1}, {T}: Attacking creatures get +1/+0 until end of turn.
Rarity: Rare

(Joe) I think we should talk about these lands first. This one seems like a quirky one to try. The next, however, seems very cool indeed

inkmoth nexus

Name:Inkmoth Nexus
Type: Land
Rules Text: {T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{1}: Inkmoth Nexus becomes a 1/1 Blinkmoth artifact creature with flying and infect until end of turn. It’s still a land. (It deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
Illus. Jung Park
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #145/155

(Joe) Blinkmoth Nexus is a respectable pedigree here. This land will prove to be an important factor to consider when evaluating the new infect creatures in this set. In Scars of Mirrodin, there were not yet enough Infect creatures to make a viable standard deck. That may be changing soon in large part due to helpers like this one. Having an evasive man-land that also creates a temporary artifact creature is a very good set of abilities and will synergistically power up every infect deck out there. Not only that, but this land can potentially interact with shape anew to create a sort of artifact creature polymorph deck. Luckily there’s another infect take on a classic mirrodin era card in blightsteel colossus waiting to fill the 1-of role once more, only this time he’ll be capable of winning with a single hit. Anyway, I’m highly anticipating this card.

Name:Accorder Paladin
Cost: 1{W}
Type: Creature – Human Knight
Pow/Tgh: 3/1
Rules Text: Battle cry (Whenever this creature attacks, each other attacking creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.)
Flavor Text: “I fight for the suns, the surface, and everything in between.”
Illus. Kekai Kotaki
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #1/155

(james) This is an extremely aggressive card and will be a great addition for Boros/White-Weenie-esque deck strategies.

(Joe) Agreed, though personally I’m not seeing how Battle cry can make much of a splash in constructed. In limited, this is indeed like the aggressive bear model.

ardent recruit

Name: Ardent Recruit
Cost: W
Type: Creature – Human Soldier
Pow/Tgh: 1/1
Rules Text: Metalcraft – Ardent Recruit gets +2/+2 as long as you control three or more artifacts.
Rarity: Common

(Joe) Whoa nelly, 3/3 is serious beef for a one drop. At first blush, this common looks to enable some interesting archetypes in limited, and potentially even some metal weenie standard deck. But it seems rather unlikely that you’ll have the requisite artifacts by turn two even under the best of circumstances. I’m guessing that outside a very narrow setup, this should usually be evaluated as a 1/1.
(James) Maybe there’s room for this kind of card in Legacy? a 3/3 is really good for one mana and Legacy seems to have a lot more artifacts…
(Joe) Perhaps. But even then, three is a lot of artifacts. At least you have the artifact lands there. You’d need to play the artifact land, plus some kind of mox, plus one more artifact… top or vial maybe… and only then do you get access to this 1-drop 3/3. I dunno. Zoo will probably give him a shot somehow.

Name: Banishment Decree
Cost: 3{W}{W}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Put target artifact, creature or enchantment on top of its owner’s library.
Rarity: Common

(Joe) I was always a fan of Plow Under, and while this is clearly no plow under, it’s got the same kind of tempo play feel to is. This spell specifically can’t mess with your opponent’s mana development, but it will still prove to be annoying and tempo swinging. Some times it can be game winning, as when you return the clutch blocker to enable an alpha strike. Being an instant helps with the surprise factor as well allowing for end of turn shenanigans.
(James) Seems like a very expensive card for what may simply be a minor tempo play. Certainly can win games but seems really narrow. I’m not an immediate fan…
(Joe) It is expensive, that’s for sure. But that’s kind of relative. If you play this late game and the thing you return costs more than 3WW, then you’re ahead.

Name: Choking Fumes
Cost: 2{W}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Put a -1/-1 counter on each attacking creature.
Flavor Text: “Fall to your knees and welcome our embrace.”
-Qal-Sha, Priest of Norn
Illus. Scott Chou
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #4/155

(James) Sexy-time! I think this is much better than Marsh Casualties which was a staple first pick during Zen drafts. Instant speed, easily splash-able, potentially devastating. Man…minus one counters…destroys myr & poison decks.
(Joe) Wow, you’re right, this thing is a beating of an uncommon. Very one-sided.

Name: Divine Offering
Cost: 1W
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Destroy target artifact. You gain life equal to its converted mana cost.
Rarity: Common

(Joe) This is an awesome reprint, and should help give white a tool to combat the ever-more-likely ascendancy of whatever artifact deck emerges from this block.

Name: Frantic Salvage
Cost: 3W
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Put any number of target artifact cards from your graveyard on top of your library.
Draw a card.
Flavor Text: “We will mourn when there is time. For now, we survive.”
Illus. Scott Chou
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #6/155

(James) This is pretty interesting. Helps combat mass removal. I have a feeling it might be a little too high on the mana curve for standard but maybe not. Can I put them back in any order? Or the order in which they are in the graveyard? The draw is what makes this pretty cool.
(Joe) You’ll get to choose the order in which they go back. I agree that the draw part is clutch. It really pushes this card into decency. I like that you can play this on your opponent’s EOT, and return a single artifact to your hand without missing your draw step, or you can stack two on top, and have both in hand for the next turn.

Name: Gore Vassal
Cost: 2{W}
Type: Creature – Hound
Pow/Tgh: 2/1
Rules Text: Sacrifice Gore Vassal: Put a -/1-1 counter on target creature. Then, if that creature’s toughness is 1 or greater, regenerate it.
Flavor Text: “Rid them of their unfaithful organs. Bring new hearts to the unbelievers.”
-Tome of Machines, verse 1703
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #7/155

(James) This is really interesting. On the one hand you could use it as spot removal for pesky cards like plated geopede’s but you could also use it regenerate one of your creatures (as in an anti-Day of Judgment situation). It’s interesting for sure. I think I would pick this up as a potential removal card in limited but I don’t see it fitting into a constructed deck.
(Joe) Agree. He can also chump block something huge and leave them weakened, or set them up for proliferation. Cards like this improve if you already have a contagion clasp or whatever.

hero of bladehold

Name: Hero of Bladehold
Cost: 2{W}{W}
Type: Creature – Human Knight
Pow/Tgh: 3/4
Rules Text: Battle cry (Whenever this creature attacks, each other attacking creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.)
Whenever Hero of Bladehold attacks, put two 1/1 white soldier creature tokens onto the battlefield tapped and attacking.
Illus. Austin Hsu
Rarity: Mythic Rare
Set Number: #8/155

(Joe) This guy is like the knight titan.
(James) I’m pretty sure this will make constructed. It’s a great card advantage piece, creating two 2/1 attackers per turn. (1/1′s plus the +1/0). Seems like a card I will immediately put into a deck with Eslpeth or Ajani as a token-like strategy. I’ll probably go Mirrian during the pre-release just to pick up my first copy…
(Joe) He’s definitely strong, and if this Battle cry mechanic makes any kind of splash, it will be with the Hero, I think. You’re right, this thing just blasts out attacking savannah lions all day long.

Name: Kemba’s Legion
Cost: 5{W}{W}
Type: Creature – Cat Soldier
Pow/Tgh: 4/6
Rules Text: Vigilance
Kemba’s Legion can block an additional creature for each Equipment attached to Kemba’s Legion.
Flavor Text: The squabble over succession was quickly replaced by the struggle to survive.
Illus. Anthony Francisco
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #9/155

(Joe) Multi-blocking is flavorful and cool, but it’s seldom a strategic asset of much worth. I’m tempted to call this an exception, however, since this guy has vigilance and will be powered up by the equipment you would presumably be running alongside him. Still, seven mana is a ton, and I’d want a little more bang for my buck than a 4/6 vigilance with a provisional ability with a provisionally useful effect.

Name: Leonin Relic-Warder
Cost: {W}{W}
Type: Creature – Cat Cleric
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: When Leonin Relic-Warder enters the battlefield, you may exile target artifact or enchantment.
When Leonin Relic-Warder leaves the battlefield, return the exiled card to the battlefield under its owner’s control.
Illus. Greg Staples
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #10/155

(James) I don’t see this as a main deck strategy for constructed, though there are some interesting SB options–such as when decks rely on enchantment removal (Journey to Nowhere). I think this will be a pretty good role player pick in limited…there are a lot of very difficult to deal with artifacts and this would be a good card to pick up early in a draft (since we start with expansions before main sets now during drafts).
(Joe) Good analysis.

Name: Leonin Skyhunter
Cost: {W}{W}
Type: Creature – Cat Knight
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: Flying
Flavor Text: “The infection has spread farther than we could glimpse from the heights of Taj-Nar.”
Illus. Jana Schirmer & Johannes Voss
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #11/155

(James) 2/2 flying for 2 mana in the common slot? Seems like a good common to pick up during pack one; it will certainly provide a few more options to the U/W archetype. I don’t find this as exciting for constructed. It’s no Stoneforge Mystic, that’s for damn sure…
(Joe) This is a reprint from Mirrodin, and is definitely awesome in the UW skies approach. Pushes the bear / knight envelope for sure. A quality 2-drop. I think white weenie ran this guy back in mirrodin standard.

Name: Loxodon Partisan
Cost: 4{W}
Type: Creature – Elephant Soldier
Pow/Tgh: 3/4
Rules Text: Battle cry (Whenever this creature attacks, each other attacking creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.)
Flavor Text: “This war is not about loxodon or leonin, Sylvok or Auriok. To defeat these rotters, we must do it together.”
Illus. Matt Stewart
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #12/155

(James) Battlecry seems like it’s going to be a pain the rear. A few low-cc creatures curved out to a Battlecry will be difficult to deal with. What would be interesting to see is how many cross-color variants we start getting in limited. Infect cards with Battlecry will be very scary to deal with…
(Joe) Infect / Battle cry is actually an interesting take. I’m not terribly convinced about battle cry though. Usually you should still be able to chump block and kill the same creatures you’d be able to otherwise, since Battle cry doesn’t pump toughness. If the Battle cry player can punch through the defenses, or faces a defenseless foe, then sure, they can punish them more, and win more quickly. I guess that’s a decent aspect.

Name: Master’s Call
Cost: 2{W}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Put two 1/1 colorless Myr artifact creature tokens onto the battlefield.
Rarity: Common

(James) I see this as borderline. It will help hit an early metalcraft so if you’re thinking you might push the metalcraft, then go for it. It also has the surprise blocker factor, so you might be able to consider this a “weak removal” spell. But that’s stretching it a little…
(Joe) I would definitely consider this as soft removal… but this is also a way to blast out some early dorks to battle cry with, isn’t it?

Name: Mirran Crusader
Cost: 1{W}{W}
Type: Creature – Human Knight
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: Double strike, protection from black and from green
Flavor Text: A symbol of what Mirrodin once was and a hope for what it will be again.
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #14/155

(Joe) Seems like sideboard fodder.
(James) I wonder if there’s any room for this in Extended. Pro-Green/Black seems pretty strong…adding double strike makes it really strong. I’m imagining a Jitte attached to this guy. Dang. So far as standard, I also see this being a potential include for sideboards. Well, for limited too. I would even consider running it main since it does have double strike. Pretty neat. Unless I’m not in white at all, I would be pretty happy to see this card.
(Joe) Well, he does dodge black removal. I’m sure the knights tribal deck will appeal to a lot of players. He’s definitely no slouch in limited.

phyrexian rebirth

Name: Phyrexian Rebirth
Cost: 4{W}{W}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Destroy all creatures, then put an X/X colorless Horror artifact creature token onto the battlefield, where X is the number of creatures destroyed this way.
Flavor Text: As long as one drop of oil exists, the joyous work continues.
Illus. Scott Chou
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #15/155

(Joe) WHAAAA? This is an insane wrath of god variant. Doing a take on wrath has become a bit of a tradition, and this one is superb, with a built-in board position re-establishment clause.
(James) So I pay 2 more mana and then get a X/X in return? This is really interesting and probably worth looking at for standard U/W builds. It’s the mainboard Day of Judgment that you’re not constantly playing around. Pretty cool

Name: Priests of Norn
Cost: 2{W}
Type: Creature – Cleric
Pow/Tgh: 1/4
Rules Text: Vigilance
Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
Flavor Text: “May our blessings sever the tongues of the forsaken.”
-Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Illus. Igor Kieryluk
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #16/155

(James) White’s getting infect now. That’s really weird but I guess it’s the “result of the corrupting affects of Phyrexia.” This is also an infect that looks about as difficult to deal with as Tangle Angler due to the vigilance.
(Joe) Yeah, this guy can hold the fort, alright.

Name: Tine Shrike
Cost: 3{W}
Type: Creature – Bird
Pow/Tgh: 2/1
Rules Text: Flying
Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
Flavor Text: A new bird of prey – one that hunts sentience.
Illus. Adrin Smith
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #17/155

(Joe) Hmmm… white infect is hard to judge, and infect loves evasion, but I have a hard time embracing a 4-drop 2/1, flying or not.
(James)I’ve won a few games on the back of a Plague Stinger so this is pretty interesting. By going white we get access to battlecry. A 3/1 infect (due to battlecry) removes 33% of your “non-poisoned life” which is hardcore. I’m sensing a w/b draft archtype emerging…
(Joe) I definitely missed the infect + battle cry thing at first, but I think you’re right: that’s a nutty combination.

Name: Victory’s Herald
Cost: 3{W}{W}{W}
Type: Creature-Angel
Pow/Tgh: 4/4
Rules Text: Flying
Whenever Victory’s Herald attacks, attacking creatures gain flying and lifelink until end of turn.
Flavor Text: The corruption stirred the heavens above, awaking a shining champion.
Illus. rk post
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #18/155

(Joe) Angels are always fun, and this one doesn’t disappoint, as a 4/4 flying proxy of noble purpose and levitation.
(James) This is niffty but I’m not seeing this as a good constructed card. Too conditional for my preferences. I mean, would I rather pay 6 for a 4/4 lifelink or 5 for a 5/5 lifelink, first strike (Baneslayer)? I will pretty much always go with the 5/5… (I’m assuming a vacuum here, not the “ideal situation” with lethal on board because of the levitation affect–Ben Lundquist pretty much drove this method as a must-use for card evaluation).
(Joe) Yeah, she’s no baneslayer, but she’s still a pretty good bargain for all her various effects. In Magic, there are several tribes of Johnny collectors… some collect dragons, some legends, and some angels. The angel geeks will be happy, that’s mainly what I was getting after. It won’t disappoint them. And in limited, assuming you’re in white, she’s obviously sick. But I agree about constructed.

Name: White Sun’s Zenith
Cost: X{W}{W}{W}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Put X 2/2 Cat creature tokens onto the battlefield. Shuffle White Sun’s Zenith into its owner’s library.
Rarity: Rare

(Joe) One of the worst zeniths, and yet it’s still very strong. Obviously a heavy white bomb in any limited format, and the kind of thing you might see as a redundant or budget copy of Decree of Justice.
(James) Looks great for limited…but a bit expensive for constructed. 4 for a single 2/2, 5 for 2 2/2′s…it doesn’t get really interesting until around 8 mana (5 2/2′s).
(Joe) Good math skillz. I concur.

Blue (19)

Name: Blue Sun’s Zenith
Cost: X{U}{U}{U}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Target player draws X cards. Shuffle Blue Sun’s Zenith into its owner’s library.
Flavor Text: “The Origin Query will wait. We must ensure we survive to return to it.”
-Pelyus, vedalken ordinar
Illus. Izzy
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #20/155

(Joe) Instantly I think of Stroke of Genius, which was a more splashable version of this same spell, but which didn’t re-shuffle itself. The predigree suggests a bright future for this Zenith. Occasionally you can exhaust a deck with this, too!
(James)Just like mind spring except an extra blue for instant. I think that makes it much more playable for control decks. They can keep the mana open for counters, then draw x cards at EOT and put the spell back in the library. Neat. Question is how many to run? Two?
(Joe) Yeah, it’s pricey, so it probably takes the slot previously held by the odd Jaces Ingenuity.

Name: Consecrated Sphinx
Cost: 4{U}{U}
Type: Creature – Sphinx
Pow/Tgh: 4/6
Rules Text: Flying
Whenever an opponent draws a card, you may draw two cards.
Flavor Text: Blessed by the hands of Jin-Gitaxias.
Illus. Mark Zug
Rarity: Mythic Rare
Set Number: #21/155

(James) That’s fun…really fun. This is worth toying with on the constructed side but certainly a very strong pick for limited.
(Joe) Yeah, EDH loves to play this kind of beast too. I’m with you on the fun factor. I can’t wait to play a prosperity with this guy on the board.

Name: Corrupted Conscience
Cost: 3{U}{U}
Type: Enchantment – Aura
Rules Text: Enchant creature
You control enchanted creature.
Enchanted creature has infect. (It deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
Flavor Text: Karn’s creation is now his master.
Illus. Jason Chan
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #22/155

(Joe) This is an interesting take on Mind Control, though often you’ll wish that this didn’t grant Infect… I think the creature you steal with this may often sit back on defense. Still, this will swing a lot of games, simultaneously giving you an extra creature and removing the most problematic creature your opponent controls.

Name: Cryptoplasm
Cost: 1{U}{U}
Type: Creature – Shapeshifter
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: At the beginning of your upkeep, you may have Cryptoplasm become a copy of another target creature. If you do, Cryptoplasm gains this ability.
Flavor Text: “If left in the enemy’s shape too long, it might be lost to them.”
-Vy Covalt, Neurok Agent
Illus. Eric Deschamps
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #23/155

(Joe) Vesuvan Doppelganger was one of my favorite cards when I got into magic back in the Revised era. It was the last card I lost to ante, deciding I’d had enough of that gambling. This version is similar, but doesn’t acquire a copied form upon entering the battlefield. That seems like a fair trade for the full two colorless mana that have been shaved from the casting cost. I think this will be an interesting Clone variant, but like other such cards, it won’t be as effective as Spike demands, but may still be as cool as Timmy and Johnny hope.

Name: Distant Memories
Cost: 2{U}{U}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Search your library for a card, exile it, then shuffle your library. An opponent may have you put that card into your hand. If no player does, you draw three cards.
Flavor Text: “The fleeting shadows of his primitive self have all but vanished.”
-Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
Illus. Karl Kopinski
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #24/155

(James) Hmmmm, I’m not sure how I feel about this. It wants to be like a gifts ungiven but it’s just not as good. I’d like it more if it were instant I think…but even then it’s value is dubious.
(Joe) I don’t think it’s really like Gifts as much as a weird modal card that’s either concentrate or slightly worse diabolic tutor. That said, I don’t know that I’d play either of those in constructed. Aside from the spell’s ability, this artwork is pretty interesting, with Karn flashing back to Venser, the last person he spoke to before disappearing, and Urza behind him.

Name: Fuel for the Cause
Cost: 2{U}{U}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Counter target spell, then proliferate. (You choose any number of permanents and/or players with counters on them, then give each another counter of a kind already there.)
Flavor Text: Your ideas will be discarded and your will repurposed.
Illus. Steven Belledin
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #25/155

(Joe) Infect is an interesting mechanic, and as I’ve said, I think the time has come, and that some kind of deck will emerge. However, I’m not entirely sure it will be of the blue proliferate variety. I could be wrong though… Throne of Geth and Steady Progress maybe?

Name: Mirran Spy
Cost: 2{U}
Type: Creature – Drone
Pow/Tgh: 1/3
Rules Text: Flying
Whenever you cast an artifact spell, you may untap target creature.
Flavor Text: Accurate information is a precious commodity in times of war.
Illus. Dave Kendall
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #26/155

(Joe) Hmm… not bad in limited, as it’s evasive, decently tough, and sometimes effectively has vigilance. Nothing spectacular, but a roleplayer in some limited archetypes probably.
(James) I like this card for limited. Not enough big butts on the U-team…

Name: Mitotic Manipulation
Cost: 1{U}{U}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Look at the top seven cards of your library. You may put one of those cards onto the battlefield if it has the same name as a permanent. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
Flavor Text: “They can’t even comprehend nature. How could they improve it?”
-Venser
Illus. Dan Scott
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #27/155

(Joe) This, to me, is a very interesting spell. Decks with 4 Jace the Mind Sculptor may consider this as a way to blast into legend-rule pseudo-removal copies of the planeswalker in mirror matches. Otherwise, this can produce some interesting momentum. Even if all you get is a land, you’re still gaining some tempo and card advantage. It seems like a space for some innovative thinking and perhaps some unorthodox applications. Sometimes, though, it’s a win-more kind of card that won’t do a lot all on its own, or when you’re behind and desperate.

Name: Neurok Commando
Cost: 1{U}{U}
Type: Creature – Human Rogue
Pow/Tgh: 2/1
Rules Text: Shroud
Whenever Neurok Commando deals combat damage to a player, you may draw a card.
Flavor Text: “There’s no more time for secluded study. Answers are there only for those with the courage to take them.”
Illus. Matt Stewart
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #28/155

(Joe) Ophidian type card drawing is an ability with a precedent for being better than it might initially seem. This guy’s not terribly evasive, however, and despite the shroud, he dies to any kind of combat. Shroud also means you’ll never be able to buff this guy, either with spells or equipment. I’m giving him the thumbs down in the end.

Name: Oculus
Cost: 1{U}
Type: Creature – Homunculus
Pow/Tgh: 1/1
Rules Text: When Oculus is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may draw a card.
Rarity: Common

(Joe) I don’t see the point of this guy outside of a combo designed to loop him through the graveyard. Otherwise, even with cantrip, I’m not interested in a 1/1 for 2 mana.

Name: Quicksilver Geyser
Cost: 4{U}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Return up to two target nonland permanents to their owners’ hands.
Flavor Text: “Phyrexians are tenacious. That’s not the same thing as clever.”
-Tezzeret
Illus. Erica Yang
Rarity: Common

(Joe) This common will win games. Super awesome in limited. Very splashable. Very flexible.

Name: Serum Raker
Cost: 2{U}{U}
Type: Creature – Drake
Pow/Tgh: 3/2
Rules Text: Flying
When Serum Raker is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, each player discards a card.
Flavor Text: The serum from the blinkmoths they gather greases the joints of witch engines.
Illus. Austin Hsu
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #31/155

(Joe) I like a 3/3 flying for 3U. When it’s less splashable, weaker, and potentially has a downside when my opponent top-decks removal, but I still have cards in hand… well, then I’m not as enthusiastic. Still, in an evasive aggro-control kind of limited deck, sometimes a critical mass of fliers is needed, and quantity makes up for quality.

Name: Spire Serpent
Cost: 4{U}
Type: Creature – Serpent
Pow/Tgh: 3/5
Rules Text: Defender
Metalcraft – As long as you control three or more artifacts, Spire Serpent gets +2/+2 and can attack as though it didn’t have defender.
Flavor Text: A mirror to draw its eye, a rod to rouse its rage, and a sword to break its bonds.
Illus. Johann Bodin
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #32/155

(Joe) He seems passable when you don’t have metalcraft, and pretty awesome when you do. Seems like the main requirements of a limited-playable metalcraft card… mostly that it doesn’t suck all on its own. This doesn’t suck terribly on its own. I think it sees some play. Obvioulsy you won’t want more than one or so in your deck, but it’ll stall whatever little guys are on the board when it hits, which is what you want this kind of card to do. Then, it has the bonus of being useful later, when you’ve established better control.

Name: Steel Sabotage
Cost: {U}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Choose one – counter target artifact spell; or return target artifact to its owner’s hand.
Flavor Text: “You are hopelessly obsolete, my brothers. Come and join the Great Work.”
-Rhmir, Hand of the Augur
Illus. Daarken
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #33/155

(James) I’ve yet to see someone playing counters in Scars limited and I’m not sure this is something that would help with that. At its best, I could see this being a SB option if artifacts start running rampant in constructed. I will admit that having two options makes this card potentially useful.
(Joe) I guess I disagree, though you hedged a bit at the end there. I think this is plenty useful. You can counter something devastating, or you can bounce it if you drew this later… and if all that fails you can always use this to bounce your own trigon or whatever to reset the charge counters. And in constructed, this seems really decent as well. Annul saw play, and seldom countered any enchantments in mirrodin. It’s not extremely good, but it’s decent enough.

Name: Treasure Mage
Cost: 2{U}
Type: Creature – Human Wizard
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: When Treasure Mage enters the battlefield, you may search your library for an artifact card with converted mana cost 6 or greater, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. If you do, shuffle your library.
Illus. Ryan Pancoast
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #34/155

(James) Neat twist on the Trinket Mage. I bet people start running this in EDH (Commander) decks. Could also be pretty high utility for limited since it does tutor and there are some pretty powerful 6cc cards in Scars.
(Joe) Tutor up wurmcoil engine seems fine. Yeah, this guy is awesome. EDH loves to riptide laboratory this guy every turn.

Name: Turn the Tide
Cost: 1{U}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Creatures your opponents control get -2/-0 until end of turn.
Flavor Text: “Let their mindless armies come and face the might of genius.”
-Varil, Neurok Partisan
Illus. Jason Felix
Rarity: Common

(Joe) I’m not a fan of this kind of effect. If I ever feel insomniac, I’ll just contemplate a deck built on this kind of card and… zzz ZZZ zzz.

Name: Vedalken Anatomist
Cost: 2{U}
Type: Creature – Vedalken Wizard
Pow/Tgh: 1/2
Rules Text: {2}{U}, {T}: Put a -1/-1 counter on target creature. You may tap or untap that creature.
Flavor Text: “Specimen 211 examination report. Observation: graft sublimation incomplete. Result: death. Prepare specimen 212.”
Illus. Greg Staples
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #36/155

(Joe) My guess is that this handy wizard will be a big deal for many proliferating limited magi.
(James) Wowzas. -1 counters and tapping. Well worth the cost. Probably worth picking up a copy even if you’re not a poison/proliferate deck.

Name: Vedalken Infuser
Cost: 3{U}
Type: Creature – Vedalken Wizard
Pow/Tgh: 1/4
Rules Text: At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a charge counter on target artifact.
Illus. Ryan Pancoast
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #37/155

(James) This seems way too narrow to be playable.
(Joe) Well, it definitely won’t be played outside of a deck that specifically wants to get bonus charge counters…. so it’s indeed narrow. But even in that kind of deck, why the heck would you run this instead of any given proliferate card? Maybe because he doesn’t require additional mana, he’ll be good with lux cannon or titan forge or something. Use him and proliferate, each turn.

Name: Vivisection
Cost: 3{U}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: As an additional cost to cast Vivisection, sacrifice a creature.
Draw three cards.
Flavor Text: Phyrexians research with the grace of surgeons and the finesse of butchers.
Illus. Anthony Francisco
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #38/155

(Joe) If this were an instant, it would be insanely good. As a sorcery, you’ll never be able to use a graveyard-bound creature. Also, if this spell is countered, you’re still out the creature. Luckily creature removal won’t suffice to two-for-one you, it will require a real counterspell. I don’t know… I can see how this might help replace early game creatures with relevant mid and late game ones, but I still think I’ll shy away from this and let someone else try to prove how awesome it is.

Black (19)

Name: Black Sun’s Zenith
Cost: X{B}{B}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Put X -1/-1 counters on each creature. Shuffle Black Sun’s Zenith into its owner’s library.
Flavor Text: “Under the suns, Mirrodin kneels and begs us for perfection.”
-Geth, Lord of the Vault
Illus. Daniel Ljunggren
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #39/155

(Joe) I really like the zeniths, and the black one is no exception. What a beating! This can be a tailor-made Damnation. Alongside man-lands, this will really shine.
(James) One sided mass removal. Very hot. Paying 3 for X @ 5cc will probably end most opponents’ game plans.

Name: Caustic Hound
Cost: 5{B}
Type: Creature – Hound
Pow/Tgh: 4/4
Rules Text: When Caustic Hound is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, each player loses 4 life.
Flavor Text: At first, the Mirrans aimed for its exposed gut. The survivors quickly learned to do otherwise.
Illus. Dave Allsop
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #40/155

(James) Good 22nd or 23rd card if you don’t have anything beefier. Just want to make sure you’re not in lethal territory if it hits the graveyard!
(Joe)

Name: Flensermite
Cost: 1{B}
Type: Creature – Gremlin
Pow/Tgh: 1/1
Rules Text: Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
Lifelink (Damage dealt by this creature also causes you to gain that much life.)
Illus. Dave Allsop
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #41/155

(Joe) This creature sucks, IMO. Infect wants evasion, especially on a 1/1. This is pointless. Instead of lifelink, he ought to suck poison out of his master… so you should have “poison-counter-lifelink” where you lose poison counters when he deals damage. I dunno… this card just seems dissonant above and beyond just plain sucking.
(James) I can’t add much to that.

Name: Flesh-Eater Imp
Cost: 3{B}
Type: Creature – Imp
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: Flying
Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
Sacrifice a creature: Flesh-Eater Imp gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
Illus. Johann Bodin
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #42/155

(Joe) This imp is more like what you want in infect. Evasive and with the potential to pump. Awesome.
(James) Nantuko Husk (sort of) plus infect? Wow. Could end games very quickly.

Name: Go for the Throat
Cost: 1{B}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Destroy target nonartifact creature.
Flavor Text: Having flesh is increasingly a liability on Mirrodin.
Illus. David Rapoza
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #43/155

(Joe) Now where have we seen this before? Obviously awesome, as Zak sez.
(James) Ah! the Power9Pro preview card! Def’ playable. (We wouldn’t unveil a non-playable!). ;-)

Name: Gruesome Encore
Cost: 2{B}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Put target creature card from an opponent’s graveyard onto the battlefield under your control. It gains haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step. If that creature would leave the battlefield, exile it instead of putting it anywhere else.
Illus. Adrian Smith
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #44/155

(James) Sweet. Steeling people’s cards and smashing them with it is so much fun. Just make sure it will win you the game!

Name: Horrifying Revelation
Cost: {B}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Target player discards a card, then puts the top card of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
Flavor Text: “Ours is a glorious transmission! Behold a future where all bow to the Father of Machines!”
-Isila, Priest of Sheoldred
Illus. Shelly Wan
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #45/155

(James) Interesting. This is kind of interesting around turn 5 – 7 when the hands are thinning. Probably a “wow, I have 22 cards here and need another…” sort of include.

Name: Massacre Wurm
Cost: 3{B}{B}{B}
Type: Creature – Wurm
Pow/Tgh: 6/5
Rules Text: When Massacre Wurm enters the battlefield, creatures your opponents control get -2/-2 until end of turn.
Whenever a creature an opponent controls is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, that player loses 2 life.
Illus. Jason Chan
Rarity: Mythic Rare
Set Number: #46/155

(Joe) This Mythic seems pretty neat for limited, but I doubt it’s got much of a chance at seeing standard play. This guy might just Blistergrub your opponent out of the game on the spot.

Name: Morbid Plunder
Cost: 1{B}{B}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Return up to two target creature cards from your graveyard to your hand.
Flavor Text: Even the dead are raw materials for the Phyrexian vision of perfection.
Illus. Mike Bierek
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #47/155

(Joe) Solid in limited right about the time you start to reach top-deck mode to refill your hand with the best candidates in your yard.
(James) You do get two cards back so it’s a pretty nice recharge. I’d probably pick up a copy for a limited deck but I don’t see much advantage in more than one.

Name: Nested Ghoul
Cost: 3{B}{B}
Type: Creature – Zombie Warrior
Pow/Tgh: 4/2
Rules Text: Whenever a source deals damage to Nested Ghoul, put a 2/2 black Zombie creature token onto the battlefield.
Flavor Text: “The chest cavity is cleared of useless meat. I know just what to do with the space.”
-Gyed, Vault Priest
Illus. Dave Kendall
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #48/155

(Joe) If you randomly end up with Prodigal Sorcerer and this guy, it might be cute. He does at least replace himself with a 2/2 most of the time.
(James) Yeah, the best way to look at it is, “he died and now I have a 2/2 to replace him,” which isn’t necessarily bad. There is something to be said about “two creatures for the cost of one.” I just think this is pretty expensive. An X/2 isn’t that impressive.

Name: Phyresis
Cost: 1{B}
Type: Enchantment – Aura
Rules Text: Enchanted creature has infect. (It deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
Flavor Text: “Perfection is at hand. You have been freed of weakness and made compleat.”
-Sheoldred, Whispering One
Illus. Izzy
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #49/155

(Joe) Hmm… pretty damn boring. Once in a blue moon, it might just enchant a big flier that goes all the way in a few swings. Even then, it’s probably better off being a removal spell instead of this weirdness.

Name: Phyrexian Crusader
Cost: 1{B}{B}
Type: Creature – Zombie Knight
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: First strike
Protection from red and from white.
Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in form of -1/-1 counters and to players in form of poison counters.)
Illus. Eric Deschamps
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #50/155

(James) A very good infect card; not the best, but still pretty good.

Name: Phyrexian Rager
Cost: 2{B}
Type: Creature – Horror
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: When Phyrexian Rager enters the battlefield, you draw a card and you lose 1 life.
Flavor Text: “I believe many worlds will bow to Phyrexia. Mirrodin is merely the first.”
-Sheoldred, Whispering One
Illus. Stephan Martiniere
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #51/155

(James) Sweet. Very well costed. I would pick these. Splashable, balanced and not an x/1.

Name: Phyrexian Vatmother
Cost: 2{B}{B}
Type: Creature – Horror
Pow/Tgh: 4/5
Rules Text: Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in form of -1/-1 counters and to players in form of poison counters.)
At the beginning of your upkeep, you get a poison counter.
Illus. Stephan Martiniere
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #52/155

(Joe) Interesting. I think 4 / 5 is about the right size to be worth the upkeep poison counter.
(James) Just pull this out if you’re playing against poison? So long as you’re bashing in with 4 poison, it’s probably a fast enough clock that it wouldn’t matter. Poison can be so explosive so I’d hesitate to keep this in against another poison deck.

sangromancer

Name: Sangromancer
Cost: 2{B}{B}
Type: Creature – Vampire Shaman
Pow/Tgh: 3/3
Rules Text: Flying
Whenever a creature an opponent controls is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may gain 3 life.
Whenever an opponent discards a card, you may gain 3 life.
Illus. Igor Kieryluk
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #53/155

(Joe) Wow. I love this guy in limited… you won’t gain much from discards, but you’ll probably get 6-9 life on average if this guy sticks around. Plus, he’s a flying Hill Giant.

Name: Scourge Servant
Cost: 4{B}
Type: Creature – Zombie
Pow/Tgh: 3/3
Rules Text: Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
Flavor Text: “The union of the oil and necrogen has produced many pleasing reactions.”
-Sheoldred, Whispering One
Illus. Daarken
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #54/155

(James) Nice and big but damn expensive. 3/3 infect will be tough for non-infect to deal with so keep an eye out for this if you’re leaning toward B/x infect.

Name: Septic Rats
Cost: 1{B}{B}
Type: Creature – Rat
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
Whenever Septic Rats attacks, if defending player is poisoned, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
Illus. Cos Koniotis
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #55/155

(James) Also very interesting and the same note about the 3/3 being difficult to deal with applies here as well.

Name: Spread the Sickness
Cost: 4{B}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Destroy target creature, then proliferate. (You choose any number of permanents and/or players with counters on them, then give each another counter of a kind already there.)
Flavor Text: Life is ephemeral. Phyrexia is eternal.
Illus. Jaime Jones
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #56/155

(Joe) Yup, quality removal and proliferate in black. This will be backbone material to limited decks. Deck vertebrae.

Name: Virulent Wound
Cost: B
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Put a -1/-1 counter on target creature. When that creature is put into the graveyard from the battlefield this turn, its controller gets a poison counter.
Rarity: Common

(Joe) In limited, this surely gets some mileage, even solely as soft removal. If you’re playing infect anyway, so much the better. In constructed, I think this may be a sideboard option similar to the role played by peppersmoke in faeries decks. If you’re proliferating anyway, this thing can kill even 2/2 stuff like fauna shaman, all while accellerating the poison kill. It will probably prove useful in mirror matches as well. That is, if the deck has legs. I’m interested to see whether Infect will “have the goods” now that this infusion of cards joins the pool. I guess I tend to be hopeful about such things. I want the deck to succeed in some form. I think poisoning people is cool.

Red (19)

Name: Blisterstick Shaman
Cost: 2{R}
Type: Creature – Goblin Shaman
Pow/Tgh: 2/1
Rules Text: When Blisterstick Shaman enters the battlefield, it deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
Flavor Text: A productive warren requires a good deal of prodding.
Illus. Svetlin Velinov
Rarity: Common

(Joe) This is like flametongue kavu, jr. But junior is a bit of a fatty… a big mouth to feed, having half the power and toughness and doing half as much damage as daddy, but eating (costing) only 1/4th less. Boo-urns to that. But it’ll still be good. 2 power for 2R is still in the traditional gray ogre ballpark. This guy can hit players, too.

Name: Burn the Impure
Cost: 1R
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Burn the Impure deals 3 damage to target creature. If that creature has infect, Burn the Impure deals 3 damage to that creature’s controller.
Flavor Text: Flame doesn’t kneel to Phyrexia.
Illus. Nie Klein
Rarity: Common

(Joe) Neat, a little infect hoser. This is sure to be played in limited, as it’s highly decent creature removal. The only way this sees constructed play is if the Inkmoth Nexus and friends find a solid home and become widely popular. Will it happen? Fingers crossed! “If y’all believe in faeries, clap yo hands!” -Peter Pan (paraphrased)
(James) I like this.

Name: Concussive Bolt
Cost: 3RR
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Concussive Bolt deals 4 damage to target player.
Metalcraft – If you control three or more artifacts, creatures that player controls can’t block this turn.
Rarity: Common

(Joe) I think this is an awesome way to alpha strike. This metalcraft card has a very high disparity between the power levels of its enabled and disabled metalcraft states. But even when disabled, it’s still on par with a fireball to the dome, though to be fair, worse than ye olde lava axe. So while clearly you REALLY want this to be played with metalcraft, it does do more than nothing even when it’s not, which is the main requirement.

Name: Crush
Cost: {R}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Destroy target noncreature artifact.
Flavor Text: A golem’s hands know no tenderness.
Illus. Matt Stewart
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #61/155

(Joe) Sure to be a set staple across formats.
(James) Wow. This is a (sort of) red version of Deathmark at instant speed. Top pick removal for sure.

Name: Galvanoth
Cost: 3{R}{R}
Type: Creature – Beast
Pow/Tgh: 3/3
Rules Text: At the beginning of your upkeep, you may look at the top card of your library. If it’s an instant or sorcery card, you may cast it without paying its mana cost.
Flavor Text: It chews open Mirrodin’s husk and feeds on the outpouring of energy.
Illus. Kev Walker
Rarity: Rare

(James) Um, okay. I’m wondering if this will make it to constructed. Being able to cast spells for free off the top of a library is pretty powerful for burn strategies…For limited this seems too conditional. Meaning, I don’t think you’d be able to draft enough cards to enable this card to do anything spectacular.

Name: Gnathosaur
Cost: 4{R}{R}
Type: Creature – Lizard
Pow/Tgh: 5/4
Rules Text: Sacrifice an artifact: Gnathosaur gains trample until end of turn.
Flavor Text: Mirran creatures that could withstand the Phyrexian oil found an abundance of crunchy snacks.
Illus. Jason Chan
Rarity: Common

(James) Boy, I hope I don’t have to run this during the pre-release. 6 mana for a 5/4? Lame.

Name: Goblin Wardriver
Cost: {R}{R}
Type: Creature – Goblin Warrior
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: Battle cry (Whenever this creature attacks, each other attacking creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.)
Flavor Text: “A true warrior fights with whatever’s handy.”
-Qerk of the Secret Warren
Illus. Chippy
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #64/155

(Joe) I’m not sure I fully understand the ramifications of Battle Cry, because several of these leave me unimpressed. I think I may need to see this in action or something. Even when you have two or three of these guys out, you’re not really in that wildly-advantageous of a spot. Three of these could attack as 4/2s together. Perhaps there’s a critical mass that this bear-knight-guy can be a part of. He is still a bear, to his credit.
(James) That’s an interesting perspective. I think enabling an extra +1 to “all the other dudes” makes battlecry really strong. If you’re swinging with 3 dudes, that could easily be 6 damage to the dome. A pretty hefty clock for say…turn 4. I’m also perversely interested in using battlecry with some infect creatures. lol.

hellkite igniter

Name: Hellkite Igniter
Cost: 5{R}{R}
Type: Creature – Dragon
Pow/Tgh: 5/5
Rules Text: Flying, haste
{1}{R}:Hellkite Igniter gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is the number of artifacts you control.
Flavor Text: Its flight sets the sky itself on fire.
Illus. Jason Chan
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #65/155

(Joe) I am going to hate the punk who sits down across from me and whoops me with this thing. I can see it coming. Hoard-Smelter Dragon is superior. Still a bomb in limited.

Name: Hero of Oxid Ridge
Cost: 2{R}{R}
Type: Creature – Human Knight
Pow/Tgh: 4/2
Rules Text: Haste
Battle cry (Whenever this creature attacks, each other attacking creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.)
Whenever Hero of Oxid Ridge attacks, creatures with power 1 or less can’t block this turn.
Illus. Eric Deschamps
Rarity: Mythic Rare
Set Number: #66/155

(Joe) I like how this guy nullifies walls, but I’m still not sure I grasp how this mechanic is going to blast off. He doesn’t hold a candle to Marton Stromgald, that’s for damn sure.

Name: Into the Core
Cost: 2{R}{R}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Exile two target artifacts.
Flavor Text: “They believe they are driving us back, but we’re leading them to their doom.”
-Kethek, furnace stoker
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #67/155

(Joe) Yow! I’ll buy ten shares of this stock. This will ruin some afternoons.
(James) I like the exile bit the most. Destroying is good but there’s a lot of ways of getting pesky artifacts back.

Name: Koth’s Courier
Cost: 1{R}{R}
Type: Creature – Human Rogue
Pow/Tgh: 2/3
Rules Text: Forestwalk
Flavor Text: Koth sent partisans into the Tangle to bring survivors to the safe haven of the tunnels beneath Kuldotha.
Illus. Wayne Reynolds
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #68/155

(Joe) Well, it’s a fine sideboard card for limited red decks.

Name: Kuldotha Flamefiend
Cost: 4{R}{R}
Type: Creature – Elemental
Pow/Tgh: 4/4
Rules Text: When Kuldotha Flamefiend enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice an artifact. If you do, Kuldotha Flamefiend deals 4 damage divided as you choose among any number of target creatures and/or players.
Illus. Raymond Swanland
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #69/155

(James) This is interesting. I’m not a huge fan of sacrificing my own stuff but I suppose if I can remove a creature or two of my opponents, it might be worth it. Something tells me that destroying my things to kill someone else’s does not work in my favor (i.e. there’s no real card advantage).

Name: Kuldotha Ringleader
Cost: 4{R}
Type: Creature – Giant Berserker
Pow/Tgh: 4/4
Rules Text: Battle cry (Whenever this creature attacks, each other attacking creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.)
Kuldotha Ringleader attacks each turn if able.
Flavor Text: Being surrounded by goblins is less objectionable when they’re fighting for you.
Illus. Greg Staples
Rarity: Common

(Joe) This guy survives long enough to make his Battle cry ability pretty annoying I guess.
(James) Staple battlecry for limited.

Name: Metallic Mastery
Cost: 2{R}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Untap target artifact and gain control of it until end of turn. That artifact gains haste until end of turn.
Rarity: Uncommon

(Joe) Nice. So we continue a theme with red that includes Mark of Mutiny and Act of Treason in Standard. Again, under the right conditions, this could definitely have a 15 minutes of fame in any given format. It just requires a fairly popular baseline of desirable targets in one’s metagame.

Name: Rally the Forces
Cost: 2{R}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Attacking creatures get +1/+0 and gain first strike until end of turn.
Flavor Text: “Drive them back! Make their underworld into their grave!”
-Koth of the Hammer
Illus. Steven Belledin
Rarity: Common

(Joe) I can dig it. I feel like a party pooper cause I’d rather pump my guys like this than use the Battle cry. I’ll be battle crying myself to sleep tonight.
(James) This is a good way to finish a game but why not use battlecry and this together? Now that’s tits. ;-)

red sun's zenith

Name: Red Sun’s Zenith
Cost: X{R}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Red Sun’s Zenith deals X damage to target creature or player. If a creature dealt damage this way would be put into a graveyard this turn, exile it instead. Shuffle Red Sun’s Zenith into its owner’s library.
Illus. Svetlin Velinov
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #71/155

(Joe) Yes, this zenith is insane! Such a bomb in limited. I’ll also hate the punk who burns me out with this. This will make the rounds in EDH for sure too. It’s just unfair in limited though. I’ve won tons of games in limited on the back of fireball. It’s often easy to splash into decks that nobody expects the late game blast from. I’m a zenith fan.
(James) Cool. Always nice to see mega-big burn spells.

Name: Ogre Resister
Cost: 2{R}{R}
Type: Creature – Ogre
Pow/Tgh: 4/3
Flavor Text: He didn’t have a word for “home”, but he knew it was something to be defended.
Illus. Efrem Palacios
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #72/155

(Joe) Such sad flavor text… I think old Rei Nakazawa must be going soft. This guy’s a good size for the price.

Name: Slagstorm
Cost: 1{R}{R}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Choose one – Slagstorm deals 3 damage to each creature; or Slagstorm deals 3 damage to each player.
Flavor Text: “As long as we have the will to fight, we are never without weapons.”
-Koth of the Hammer
Illus. Dan Scott
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #75/155

(Joe) Fabulous. Flamebreak, which this sort of reminds me of, still seems a bit better in my mind, but also costs a full three red. Given mana to play either, Slagstorm is only barely worse, since it will usually do less, and never do more, than its predecessor in the same situation. Both are solid cards. This is mass removal, and will win games in limited, and can do so in constructed as well. Firespout comes to mind there, too.
(James) Holy cow. Amazing card for limited and I can see this being playable in constructed (Burn, not RDW).

Name: Spiraling Duelist
Cost: 2{R}{R}
Type: Creature – Human Berserker
Pow/Tgh: 3/1
Rules Text: Metalcraft – Spiraling Duelist has double strike as long as you control three or more artifacts.
Flavor Text: “I never move the same way twice. These rotters can’t grasp chaos.”
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #76/155

(Joe) He seems fragile and conditional. I’m not sure the upside is entirely worth the fragility. Maybe in the right deck, with lots of removal to clear the way, but also a suitably high metalcrafting artifact count.
(James) The ‘duelist’ meme is typically pretty weak on the butt. The issue I have is that this doesn’t even have first strike without metalcraft. I feel like it’s just a rip-off.

Green (19)

Name: Blightwidow
Cost: 3{G}
Type: Creature – Spider
Pow/Tgh: 2/4
Rules Text: Infect, reach
Rarity: Common

(James) I like spiders and this one is pretty good. I’d pick it up even if i weren’t going Green.

Name: Creeping Corrosion
Cost: 2{G}{G}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Destroy all artifacts.
Flavor Text: “We will reveal the futility of their heresy by showing them how fragile their relics are.”
-Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
Illus. Ryan Pancoast
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #78/155

(Joe) A green udate to shatterstorm, and I must say I think it’s more at home in green than in red. Flavor disputes aside, the effect is obviously situationally insane in an artifact heavy set. Nice reset button, eh? Wish we’d had that back in our first journey to the plane of Mirrodin. Guess the corrosion hadn’t crept so far back then, eh?

Name: Fangren Marauder
Cost: 5{G}
Type: Creature – Beast
Pow/Tgh: 5/5
Rules Text: Whenever an artifact is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may gain 5 life.
Flavor Text: “The fangren fight without comfort of any kind. We can ask no less of ourselves.”
-Tilien, Sylvok Partisan
Illus. James Ryman
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #79/155

(James) Not the worst 6-drop I’ve seen previewed in this set…but not the best (by a long shot) either.

Name: Glissa’s Courier
Cost: 1{G}{G}
Type: Creature – Horror
Pow/Tgh: 2/3
Rules Text: Mountainwalk
Flavor Text: “So, the survivors from Oxid Ridge are on the move. Let them come and witness predation in its purest form.”
-Glissa
Illus. Dave Kendall
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #80/155

(James) Probably a great SB option and it’s common so you’ll potentially be able to get 2.

green sun's zenith

Name: Green Sun’s Zenith
Cost: X{G}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Search your library for a green creature card with converted mana cost X or less and put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library. Shuffle Green Sun’s Zenith into its owner’s library.
Flavor Text: As the green sun crowned, Phyrexian prophecies glowed on the Tree of Tales.
Illus. David Rapoza
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #81/155

(Joe) This is the best zenith in my opinion. I can’t wait to use this in EDH. I will be shocked if it doesn’t impact Standard promptly. It may often ride the pine in limited, however.
(James) Oh, man. This is good. You are allowed to be really excited when you see this card in your packs.

Name: Lead the Stampede
Cost: 2{G}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Look at the top five cards of your library. You may reveal any number of creature cards from among them and put the revealed cards into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
Illus. Efrem Palacios
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #82/155

(Joe) Most often, I’d rather just play a creature on turn 3, instead of trying to dig. Maybe a fast deck uses this later on turn 5 or 6 to refill while still making a 2-drop.
(James) I like this as a one of for refilling mid-game. I’m a bit short on time so I won’t do the exact math on this but you should nab at least one creature with this card. Hmm. Is it worth getting one? The drawback is that you may blow through some removal.

Name: Melira’s Keepers
Cost: 4{G}
Type: Creature – Human Warrior
Pow/Tgh: 4/4
Rules Text: Melira’s Keepers can’t have counters placed on it.
Flavor Text: Her warriors are the last defense against the coming storm.
Illus. Eric Deschamps
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #83/155

(Joe) Interesting ability here. Obviously a solid blocker of infect creatures, eh?! 4/4 is fine for 5, as well. Seems decent.
(James) This is pretty strong but it sort of sucks to think that it might actually have to block. I think I would take this as a very late pick.

Name: Mirran Mettle
Cost: G
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
Metalcraft- If you control three or more artifacts, that creature gets +4/+4 until end of turn instead.
Rarity: Common

(James) Giant Growth sort of. Not bad. Late pick and 23rd card…

Name: Phyrexian Hydra
Cost: 3{G}{G}
Type: Creature – Hydra
Pow/Tgh: 7/7
Rules Text: Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
If damage would be dealt to Phyrexian Hydra, prevent that damage. Put a -1/-1 counter on Phyrexian Hydra for each 1 damage prevented this way.
Illus. Mike Bierek
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #85/155

(Joe) Wow, this guy’s a beating. Short lived, perhaps, but not without taking down some enemies, with any luck. And unopposed, it can seal the deal quickly. Again, I’m curious whether this finds a home in constructed, but I’m less hopeful about this one than some others, mostly because while this hydra starts big, it can only really go downhill from there.
(James) Oh, man. That is one nasty Hydra.

Name: Pistus Strike
Cost: 2{G}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Destroy target creature with flying. its controller gets a poison counter.
Flavor Text: “Even a nuisance such as the pistus fly has a purpose in our new world.”
-Glissa
Illus. Jaime Jones
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #86/155

(James) Better than Wing Puncture? Maybe; the poison counter bit is pretty conditional. I mean, what would I think if this didn’t have the poison counter part? I’d probably feel that it’s easily a great sideboard option and main decking one probably isn’t that bad of an idea.

Name: Plaguemaw Beast
Cost: 3GG
Type: Creature – Beast
Pow/Tgh: 4/3
Rules Text: {T}, Sacrifice a creature: Proliferate.
Flavor Text: Phyrexia’s spiral of consumption grows ever wider and darker.
Illus. Whit Brachna
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #87/155

(James) I don’t see the proliferate being worth it. You have to be winning with that ability to have it make sense. “pass it to the left” (or right).

praetor's counsel

Name: Praetor’s Counsel
Cost: 5{G}{G}{G}
Type: Sorcery
Rules Text: Return all cards from your graveyard to your hand. Exile Praetor’s Counsel. You have no maximum hand size for the rest of the game.
Flavor Text: As the Phyrexian contagion eroded Karn’s body, the praetors whispered psalms to corrupt his mind.
Illus. Daarken
Rarity: Mythic Rare
Set Number: #88/155

(James) lol. This is too expensive for limited and I’m not convinced it has legs for constructed.
(Joe) EDH will L-O-V-E this crazy thing though. Azusa can play this thing super quick, though it requires running another non permanent. I think this is worth it though, since it’s like the ultimate regrowth or restock, so if you’re not inclined, you can at least market the card this way to your EDH buddies when it comes time for trading.

Name: Quilled Slagwurm
Cost: 4GGG
Type: Creature – Wurm
Pow/Tgh: 8/8
Rarity: Uncommon

(Joe) Seven is a lot of mana, and 8 is a lot of both power and toughness. He’s big and dumb, and that’s all. Play him with acceleration if you decide to play him, that’s my advice.

Name: Rot Wolf
Cost: 2{G}
Type: Creature – Wolf
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
Whenever a creature dealt damage by Rot Wolf this turn is put into a graveyard, you may draw a card.
Illus. Nils Hamm
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #90/155

(James) This card will be really good if you can pick up a good equipment. Bladed Pinion and (believe it or not) Accorders Shield come to mind.

Name: Tangle Mantis
Cost: 2{G}{G}
Type: Creature – Insect
Pow/Tgh: 3/4
Rules Text: Trample
Rarity: Common

(Joe) I like this common trampler. A neat effect for a hill giant. This guy loves some buffs, or to wear some of the ubiquitous equipment in the set.

Name: Thrun, the Last Troll
Cost: 2{G}{G}
Type: Legendary Creature – Troll Shaman
Pow/Tgh: 4/4
Rules Text: Thrun, the Last Troll can’t be countered.
Thrun can’t be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.
{1}{G}: Regenerate Thrun.
Flavor Text: His crime was silence, and now he suffers it eternally.
Illus. Jason Chan
Rarity: Mythic Rare
Set Number: #92/155

(Joe) Being uncounterable rocks. The ascetic troll thing rocks. Regeneration, if all else fails, rocks. 4/4 is a lot for 4 mana. And plus, he’s a new general, and a damn fine one for use as an equipment platform in “voltron” style general beatdown. I get that he rocks, but I’m not sure he justifies the initial price leaps I’ve seen. I hope I can get a copy on the cheap (like, you know, in my sealed pool at the pre-release, please?).

Name: Unnatural Predation
Cost: {G}
Type: Instant
Rules Text: Target creature gets +1/+1 and gains trample until end of turn.
Flavor Text: “Domination by the strongest – that is all that matters in the Tangle now.”
-Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
Illus. Shelly Wan
Rarity: Common

(James) The conditional giant growth is better.

Name: Viridian Corrupter
Cost: 1{G}{G}
Type: Creature – Elf Shaman
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
When Viridian Corrupter enters the battlefield, destroy target artifact.
Illus. Matt Cavotta
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #94/155

(James) Pretty cool. Not a bad uncommon to pick up.

Name: Viridian Emissary
Cost: 1{G}
Type: Creature – Elf Scout
Pow/Tgh: 2/1
Rules Text: When Viridian Emissary is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may search your library for a basic land card and put that card onto the battlefield tapped. If you do, shuffle your library.
Illus. Matt Stewart
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #95/155

(James) Solid accel card that will clearly help with color fixing.

Multicolor (2)

glissa, the traitor

Name: Glissa, the Traitor
Cost: {B}{G}{G}
Type: Legendary Creature – Zombie Elf
Pow/Tgh: 3/3
Rules Text: First strike, deathtouch
Whenever a creature an opponent controls is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may return target artifact card from your graveyard to your hand.
Rarity: Mythic Rare
Set Number: #96/155

(Joe) Another new general, I’m not sure precisely how best to abuse her peculiar last ability. She’s fine in battle, though, and can come down somewhat quickly. Apparently she uses the P90X workout system, cause check out those abs.

Name: Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
Cost: 2{U}{B}
Type: Planeswalker – Tezzeret
Pow/Tgh: 3
Rules Text: +1: Look at the top five cards of your library. You may reveal an artifact card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
-1: Target artifact becomes a 5/5 artifact creature.
-4: Target player loses X life and you gain X life, where X is twice the number of artifacts you control.
Illus. Aleksi Briclot
Rarity: Mythic Rare
Set Number: #97/155

(Joe) Don’t be fooled, the -1 is not “until end of turn”. That nihil spellbomb or whatever is a 5/5 for good. TezzAoB seems okay to me… it’s interesting to see him with a draw ability in place of the tutoring of yore.
(James) I think I should have pre-purchased these on Ebay. I think I might go do that now…

Artifact (46)

Name: Bladed Sentinel
Cost: 4
Type: Artifact Creature – Construct
Pow/Tgh: 2/4
Rules Text: {W}: Bladed Sentinel gains vigilance until end of turn.
Flavor Text: The Mirran partisans created hundreds of patrol sentinels to divert Phyrexian assaults from the Tangle.
Illus. Tomasz Jedruszek
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #98/155

(Joe) I like this cycle a bit. I like to wonder whether someone would ever be desperate enough for the body to run these guys off color and not bother to splash at all.
(James) Seems like a good roleplayer for W/x decks. Not the best costed card but there are a lot worse!

blightsteel colossus

Name: Blightsteel Colossus
Cost: 12
Type: Artifact Creature – Golem
Pow/Tgh: 11/11
Rules Text: Trample, infect
Blightsteel Colossus is indestructible.
If Blightsteel Colossus would be put into a graveyard from anywhere, reveal Blightsteel Colossus and shuffle it into its owner’s library instead.
Illus. Chris Rahn
Rarity: Mythic Rare
Set Number: #99/155

(Joe) [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iZOmjLrFMs] Daaaaaamn! Obviously this is the infect version of nostalgic fan favorite of his day Darksteel Colossus. This guy is every bit as ridiculous, if not moreso. The one mana extra buys us infect, which speeds the kill up a turn, making the overall expected turn of death roughly the same in hard-cast scenarios. But given that we normally cheated darksteel colossus into play, I think infect represents a real upgrade that’s effectively at no additional cost compared to the original. In EDH, of course, this mostly just means we can now run two similarly bonkers gargantua, and that tooth and nail can now go find the brothers steel. Color me dork-buzzed about this card. Way stoked.
(james) There’s been a lot of contention with this card on Twitter. Do a search for #BSD and you’ll see quite a few hate tweets directed at Maro. Ooops. I think people find this a bit too broken. (One kill infect swing). It is a shame that a card that hits play with no answer in hand will essentially end the game. And of course it’s cheated into play…

Name: Bonehoard
Cost: 4
Type: Artifact – Equipment
Rules Text: Living weapon (When this Equipment enters the battlefield, put a 0/0 black Germ creature token onto the battlefield, then attach this to it.)
Equipped creature gets +X/+X, where X is the number of creature cards in all graveyards.
Equip {2}
Illus. Chippy
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #100/155

(Joe) This name makes me think, for some reason, of a lesbian dildo stash… the bonehoard! This Living Weapon Lhurgoyf looks pretty damn sexy though. Careful not to cast a dead living weapon, kids!
(James) Maybe this goes into a dredge deck? I don’t think this is a very good card for limited but there are some constructed options. I would be disappointed to open this in a draft.

Name: Brass Squire
Cost: 3
Type: Creature – Myr
Pow/Tgh: 1/3
Rules Text: {T}: Attach target Equipment you control to target creature you control.
Flavor Text: “I admire it. Few pull off pluck and subservience at the same time.”
-Ezuri, renegade leader
Illus. Ryan Pancoast
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #101/155

(Joe) Well, the argentum armor decks showed that this effect can actually have a place at the table. A 1 / 3 is a pretty typical run of the mill defensive creature, so he’s not entirely useless when you don’t even have equipment, or costly equip costs.
(James) Seems pretty viable. As Joe pointed out, Argentum Armor loves this card. Stoneforge Mystic + Argentum Armour + Brass Myr?

Name: Copper Carapace
Cost: 1
Type: Artifact – Equipment
Rules Text: Equipped creature gets +2/+2 and can’t block.
Equip {3}
Flavor Text: “We will fight as they do: our flesh protected behind metal.”
-Tae Aquil, Viridian Weaponsmith
Illus. Franz Wohwinkel
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #102/155

(Joe) I think this could really power out some evasive creature strategies, wherein you typically don’t intend to block with your evasive attackers. This also fits well into a “bear” heavy curve, letting you drop the carapace turn 1, a leonin skyhunter turn 2, and then equip and swing for 4 flying from turn 3 onward.
(James) Great for a skies/evasion based deck. I don’t like the tension between the casting cost and the equip cost. There is essentially a draw-back yet I have to pay 3 to equip. Strider Harness is better at 1 to cast and 1 to equip even though it’s “only” a +1/+1 and haste.

Name: Core Prowler
Cost: 4
Type: Artifact Creature – Horror
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
When Core Prowler is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, proliferate. (You choose any number of permanents and/or players with counters on them, then give each another counter of a kind already there.)
Illus. Dave Allsop
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #103/155

(Joe) I love this card in the proliferate style poison deck. It’s an optimal card to sacrifice to a throne of geth. I’m skeptical of whether this would make the cut in a constructed build, but in limited you might nab those last few poison counters with these sorts of shenanigans.

Name: Darksteel Plate
Cost: 3
Type: Artifact – Equipment
Rules Text: Darksteel Plate is indestructible.
Equipped creature is indestructible.
Equip {2}
Rarity: Rare

(Joe) I love this card, and can’t wait to add it to a number of EDH decks. That said, I’m not sure it has much likelihood of seeing standard play. It’s a fun card, but not likely a devastating one.
(James) Everyone is screaming about EDH viability… I’m not so hot on it (and I don’t play much EDH). Maybe I’m just being overly conservative. 5 mana to make one of my creatures indestructible? Just not sure about that… I really like this on Goblin Gaveleer though. :)

Name: Decimator Web
Cost: 4
Type: Artifact
Rules Text: {4}, {T}: Target opponent loses 2 life, gets a poison counter, then puts the top six cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
Flavor Text: Mycosynth grew unfettered beneath the black lacuna, metastasizing into a matrix of noxious energy.
Illus. Daniel Ljunggren
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #105/155

(Joe) This can potentially make your day (or not!) in limited, but it’s probably destined for the dollar bin thereafter. In fact, “The Decimator Web” might make a cool alias for the old dollar bin itself. “By all means, browse through out extensive decimator web.”
(James) I think this is a flavorful card and that’s it. The etymology of ‘decimate’ is 1/10th but the common, contemporary use is “destroy.” And this does not destroy. It’s slow and lame imo. Waste of paper and a slot in Besieged.

Name: Dross Ripper
Cost: 4
Type: Artifact Creature – Hound
Pow/Tgh: 3/3
Rules Text: {2}{B}: Dross Ripper gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
Flavor Text: “Such a creation serves no purpose other than exterminating every one of us.”
-Sadra Alic, Neurok Strategist
Illus. David Rapoza
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #106/155

(Joe) Technically this is a hill giant, so he should be passable, but this just makes me feel like I’m working too hard to get a 4/4.
(James) Borderline card. Maybe good as the 15th creature.

Name: Flayer Husk
Cost: 1
Type: Artifact – Equipment
Rules Text: Living weapon (When this Equipment enters the battlefield, put a 0/0 black Germ creature token onto the battlefield, then attach this to it.)
Equipped creature gets +1/+1.
Equip {2}
Illus. Igor Kieryluk
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #107/155

(Joe) Love it. Can’t wait to try it out. I think this will prove to be quite neato indeed. Living weapon is awesome: it’s like the weapon is ensouled, but only has the power and toughness it would otherwise grant its wielder, literally like a weapon come to life. And upon its death, you still have the equipment, so what the hell, right?!
(James) Much better than Bonehoard imo. It’s a viable turn 1 drop and a cheap equip that you don’t hate doing on turn three+ (presumably when your 1/1 is dead).

Name: Gust Skimmer
Cost: 2
Type: Artifact Creature – Insect
Pow/Tgh: 2/1
Rules Text: {U}: Gust Skimmer gains flying until end of turn.
Flavor Text: Phyrexian smog clouds choked the skies, threatening creatures who couldn’t comprehend the menace below.
Illus. Dan Scott
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #108/155

(Joe) On the one hand it’s a bad bear that’s able to go in any deck, and on the other hand it can jump and sometimes that will be the tempo boost that won the game. This one has a very good chance to play a role or two in limited.
(James) I feel like this is worth the cost and really helps with the W/U skies decks that have problems matching hits in the early game.

Name: Hexplate Golem
Cost: 7
Type: Artifact Creature – Golem
Pow/Tgh: 5/7
Flavor Text: “Use everything. Iron, rust, scrap…even the ground must join our cause.”
-Ezuri, renegade leader
Illus. Matt Cavotta
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #109/155

(Joe) Vanilla 5/7 for 7. I know it’ll be played here and there. I don’t get thrilled by this card.

Name: Ichor Wellspring
Cost: 2
Type: Artifact
Rules Text: When Ichor Wellspring enters the battlefield or is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, draw a card.
Flavor Text: “Our glorious infection has taken hold.”
-Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Illus. Steven Belledin
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #110/155

(Joe) This definitely has ‘engine’ written all over it, and will be the cause of many a magic card database search I reckon.
(James) Seems pretty well costed. There are some nice sac outlets, so it’s plausible to get the 2 cards. Pay 2, cantrip and have an artifact sitting there ready to power a metalcraft…not a bad option…

Name: Knowledge Pool
Cost: 6
Type: Artifact
Rules Text: Imprint – When Knowledge Pool enters the battlefield, each player exiles the top three cards of his or her library.
Whenever a player casts a spell from his or her hand, that player exiles it. If the player does, he or she may cast another nonland card exiled with Knowledge Pool without paying that card’s mana cost.
Illus. Mike Bierek
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #111/155

(Joe) This is pretty interesting, though it can easily set you up to simply lose 6 mana and mill yourself for 3 when they shatter this thing. However, when it works out, you should get lucky only about half the time, and the other half you’ll actually be disrupting yourself. I mean, it works great when you imprint Blightsteel colossus and then play ponder, but when you imprint three cheap spells, it’s more of a bummer, since you won’t get to cheat much, if at all. In the end, this is too conditional for my liking, and I’d probably prefer to just play a big 6-drop rather than roll the dice with this card. In constructed, where you can run 4x preordain, or in EDH with senseis divining top, you have a much easier time ensuring the cheats work out.
(James) I agree; this is pretty interesting. Maybe there’s room for some shenanigans in constructed. But that really could just be wishful thinking.

Name: Lumengrid Gargoyle
Cost: 6
Type: Artifact Creature – Gargoyle
Pow/Tgh: 4/4
Rules Text: Flying
Flavor Text: “Anything that watches without sleep and fights without fear is a valuable asset against the Phyrexians.”
-Kara Vrist, Neurok Agent
Illus. Randis Albion
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #112/155

(Joe) Well, this is what it is: a 4/4 flying that any deck can play. This makes it very decent in limited, and unlikely to get any constructed play whatsoever.
(James) Very solid limited pick but like Joe said, “That is.”

Name: Mirrorworks
Cost: 5
Type: Artifact
Rules Text: Whenever another nontoken artifact enters the battlefield under your control, you may pay {2}. If you do, put a token that’s a copy of that artifact onto the battlefield.
Flavor Text: The faces of Geth’s corpse-dredgers are disturbingly similar.
Illus. John Avon
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #114/155

(Joe) This seems rather nutty, and will probably enable some manner of insane infinite combo in some constructed format or other. For limited, the value of this card is highly dependent upon having something useful to copy.
(James) I think this is near the power level of Mimic Vat, though not quite as good. The ability to put a copy of every artifact that enters the battlefield for 2 mana is pretty insane. I also like that it doesn’t require an imprint (and so there’s no 2-for-1). Should be something constructed-side that comes from this card.

Name: Magnetic Mine
Cost: 4
Type: Artifact
Rules Text: Whenever another artifact is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, Magnetic Mine deals 2 damage to that artifact’s controller.
Illus. David Rapoza
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #115/155

(Joe) Should be bonkers alongside Slagstorm and/or Creeping Corrosion. Otherwise it seems rather conditional, and even a bit weak when conditions are right. It’s got the stink of megrim on it in that regard.
(James) Weird. Could be pretty effective if you’re light on artifacts. Pairs really well with Slice in Twain and Shatter (among others) but it is fairly conditional. Not a top-pick imo, nor constructed worthy…though mainly because shatterstorm isn’t a reprint for type 2…well, and that so far as I’m aware there’s no “clearly overwhelming artifact deck” right now.

Name: Mortarpod
Cost: 2
Type: Artifact – Equipment
Rules Text: Living weapon (When this Equipment enters the battlefield, put a 0/0 black Germ creature token onto the battlefield, then attach this to it.)
Equipped creature gets +0/+1 and has “Sacrifice this creature: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature or player.”
Equip {2}
Illus. Eric Deschamps
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #115/155

(Joe) This is a useful card that might seem like a bad deal at first. This guy will chump block, will often nuke some annoying early game play, and will provide added value throughout the game. It’s slow incidental “removal” but it’s still reusable. I’m Joe Klesert, and I approve this message.
(James) Thumbs up as a role player in limited; just don’t build your deck around it. ;-)

Name: Myr Sire
Cost: 2
Type: Artifact Creature – Myr
Pow/Tgh: 1/1
Rules Text: When Myr Sire is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, put a 1/1 colorless Myr artifact creature token onto the battlefield.
Flavor Text: For the Phyrexians, death is not an end, nor a one-time occurrence.
Illus. Jaime Jones
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #116/155

(Joe) Again with the engine pieces. This is destined to be used as sacrifice bait, particularly of the recursive sort.

Myr Turbine

Name: Myr Turbine
Cost: 5
Type: Artifact
Rules Text: {T}: Put a 1/1 colorless Myr artifact creature token onto the battlefield.
{T}, Tap five untapped Myr you control: Search your library for a Myr card and put that card onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.
Illus. Randis Albion
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #117/155

(Joe) I like it. Sure, you will sometimes pay 5, get a 1/1, and lose the turbine to removal. But other times, a constant stream of 1/1s, and the eventual tutor effect, will represent quality gains in card advantage and board position. I love that no further mana is required to pump out the myr.

(Joe) Wait a second… where have I seen this artwork before? WTF?
Myr Matrix
(Joe) I guess those myr have a consistent sense of aesthetics and building design.

Name: Myr Welder
Cost: 3
Type: Artifact Creature – Myr
Pow/Tgh: 1/4
Rules Text: Imprint – {T}: Exile target artifact card from a graveyard.
Myr Welder has all activated abilities of all cards exiled with it.
Flavor Text: Memnarch designed some myr to follow the levelers and reaffix lost parts. Mirran partisans put that instinct to good use.
Illus. Austin Hsu
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #118/155

(Joe) So this guy can provide a slower version of the Necrotic Ooze, Triskelion, Phyrexian Devourer combo, replacing the ooze. However, I think there will likely be other applications that will push the welder into some constructed decks. This guy’s so random, though, that it will prove difficult to effectively abuse him in limited. Still, there are bound to be a bunch of really advantageous combos with this guy, even in Scars block limited.

Name: Peace Strider
Cost: 4
Type: Artifact Creature – Construct
Pow/Tgh: 3/3
Rules Text: When Peace Strider enters the battlefield, you gain 3 life.
Flavor Text: “The Vanished must have sent it from beyond to aid us in this struggle.” -Kessla, Sylvok shaman
Illus. Igor Kieryluk
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #119/155

(Joe) Yawn… almost fell asleep there, reading that one. This is lame, boring, uninspired, etc. Still, it’s a hill giant for any deck, so it’ll see limited play, but not constructed play.
(James) Not sure this is main deck material. Could be if you’re light on creatures…

Name: Phyrexian Digester
Cost: 3
Type: Artifact Creature – Construct
Pow/Tgh: 2/1
Rules Text: Infect
Rarity: Common

(Joe) Incredibly boring, but like the card before, since this is a colorless pseudo-gray ogre, and it’s capable of instilling two -1/-1 counters by blocking, it will still play a part in limited decks. Infect often needs a critical mass, and at some point in that curve, quantity trumps quality. But this is a pretty simple card… nothing nuanced really.
(James) It’s better than Blackcleave Goblin…which isn’t saying much I guess. :p

Name: Phyrexian Juggernaut
Cost: 6
Type: Artifact Creature – Juggernaut
Pow/Tgh: 5/5
Rules Text: Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
Phyrexian Juggernaut attacks each turn if able.
Flavor Text: Where nature impedes, Phyrexians overcome.
Illus. Kev Walker
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #121/155

(Joe) Seems rather fantastic. Bordering on bomb territory. This is big enough that it can be your only infect creature, and you’ll still often poison opponents out. Two full hits is all it takes, so they’ll throw a string of chumps in its path. Therefore, he essentially becomes some kind of recurring removal spell. “Each turn, during your combat step, your opponent sacrifices a creature. If they miss two such payments, they lose.” Something like that. Not bad for an uncommon colorless card.
(James) Whoa. Watch out. I love how the juggernauts “have to attack”…like that’s some kind of drawback on a 5/5 infect! This will be a very difficult infect card to deal with, and it’s an uncommon so more than one could float in a draft. Ouch.

phyrexian revoker

Name: Phyrexian Revoker
Cost: 2
Type: Artifact Creature – Horror
Pow/Tgh: 2/1
Rules Text: As Phyrexian Revoker enters the battlefield, name a nonland card.
Activated abilities of sources with the chosen name can’t be activated.
Flavor Text: Basic senses like sight and taste are reserved for those in power.
Illus. Kev Walker
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #122/155

(Joe) I’m very stoked about this card. It’s one of the cards I’m most looking forward to, having always loved pithing needle and meddling mage and the like. This guy murders all the fancy schmancy planeswalkers, though perhaps not as permanently as vampire hexmage manages. I just love this bear, though. And it can stop mana abilities. Very cool. I’m guessing it makes a splash in constructed formats all over, and ends up being a legacy roleplayer. And of course, someone will put a deck together with all the “name a card” spells… the ones I’ve mentioned along with maybe cabal therapy and friends? Should be fun to try.
(James) Pithing Needle that attacks! Sweet.

Name: Pierce Strider
Cost: 4
Type: Artifact Creature – Construct
Pow/Tgh: 3/3
Rules Text: When Pierce Strider enters the battlefield, target opponent loses 3 life.
Flavor Text: “Pain isn’t a negative stimulus. Pain is a sign of your imperfection.” – Sheoldred, Whispering One
Illus. Igor Kieryluk
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #123/155

(Joe) Just like his peaceful cousin, this is a good-enough card, but not exactly jaw-dropping.
(James) I actually think this is twice as good as the peace strider version because the life totals are going in the right direction–opponent losing life and all…It’s amazing how I think this is twice as good as the lifegain.

Name: Piston Sledge
Cost: 3
Type: Artifact – Equipment
Rules Text: When Piston Sledge enters the battlefield, attach it to target creature you control.
Equipped creature gets +3/+1.
Equip – Sacrifice an artifact.
Flavor Text: Only the goblins could make a simple machine so complex.
Illus. Pete Venters
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #124/155

(Joe) Keep this card in mind as a potential sacrificial outlet. 3 mana isn’t terribly much for the large buff this grants. The equip cost is the tradeoff, but again, in some cases it will prove to be a hidden benefit, and in others, you’ll usually just try to get the most value out of the first “freebie” attachment.
(James) Whoa, nelly. Hot stuff. No equip cost when you initially play it makes this extremely compelling. Plays very nicely with Ichor Wellspring–and goes up in value if you can pull one of these equipments.

Name: Plague Myr
Cost: 2
Type: Artifact Creature – Myr
Pow/Tgh: 1/1
Rules Text: Infect
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
Rarity: Common

(Joe) I like this quite a bit better than the Phyrexian Digester above (the 2/1 for 3). While digester will normally be intended to ride the bench while better creatures do battle, and will only join in the reindeer games if there aren’t enough quality men to do the job, this guy’s a mana myr for every deck! I think this will often get played by non-infect decks, and in such cases it will have the nice side benefit of being a better-than-average chump blocker. Solid.
(James) Agreed. This is a top-quality mana myr pick for most decks, non-infect included.

Name: Psychosis Crawler
Cost: 5
Type: Artifact Creature – Horror
Pow/Tgh: */*
Rules Text: Psychosis Crawler’s power and toughness are each equal to the number of cards in your hand.
Whenever you draw a card, each opponent loses 1 life.
Illus. Stephan Martiniere
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #126/155

(Joe) This isn’t terrible… kind of a reverse underworld dreams on a stick… Built-in empyrial armor is pretty dope too. Clearly strong in limited. I’m not convinced it has a future in constructed though… it’s not very resilient to the now-ubiquitous artifact removal and doesn’t do enough work fast enough to matter even when he sticks around a while.

Name: Rusted Slasher
Cost: 4
Type: Artifact Creature – Horror
Pow/Tgh: 4/1
Rules Text: Sacrifice an artifact: Regenerate Rusted Slasher.
Flavor Text: “It’s a beautiful vision. Discarded debris is reborn as a single entity.”
-Urabrask the Hidden
Illus. Adrian Smith
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #126/155

(Joe) No, thanks. Maybe if I need sacrifice outlets.

Name: Razorfield Rhino
Cost: 6
Type: Artifact Creature – Rhino
Pow/Tgh: 4/4
Rules Text: Metalcraft – Razorfield Rhino gets +2/+2 as long as you control three or more artifacts.
Flavor Text: Adapted to tread on razorgrass, the rhino proved adept at treading on Phyrexians as well.
Illus. Kekai Kotaki
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #127/155

(Joe) Well, like a lot of metalcraft cards, this is barely mediocre when you don’t have metalcraft, and barely above average when you do. So, to the extent that your deck is likely to be metalcraft enabled, this improves.

Name: Shimmer Myr
Cost: 3
Type: Creature – Myr
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: Flash
You may cast artifact cards as though they had flash.
Flavor Text: It evades Phyrexians by hiding in the spaces between seconds.
Illus. Jim Schirmer and Johannes Voss
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #129/155

(Joe) I’m enamoured with this as well. I think this will be very strong, enabling the artifact decks that emerge to do sneak attacks and dodge some removal. The era of the EOT artifact flurry has dawned. Or at least, here’s hoping so!

Name: Shriekhorn
Cost: 1
Type: Artifact
Rules Text: Shriekhorn enters the battlefield with three charge counters on it.
{T}, Remove a charge counter from Shriekhorn: Target player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
Illus. Erica Yang
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #130/155

(Joe) Hmm… kind of a temporary, but faster, millstone. Probably good enough to enable some deck exhaustion strategies, that is, once Rise of the Eldrazi rotates out. Proliferate, and the many glint hawks of the world will also help prolong this card’s effectiveness.

Name: Signal Pest
Cost: 1
Type: Artifact Creature – Pest
Pow/Tgh: 0/1
Rules Text: Battle cry (Whenever this creature attacks, each other attacking creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.)
Signal Pest can’t be blocked except by creatures with flying or reach.
Illus. Mark Zug
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #131/155

(Joe) Personally, I don’t think battle cry has enough potential that this little guy ever sees the light of day, but I could be wrong. The math never seems that impressive to me… battle cry’s buff is a ‘far cry’ from, say plated geopede even in the best scenario.

silverskin armor

Name: Silverskin Armor
Cost: 2
Type: Artifact – Equipment
Rules Text: Equipped creature gets +1/+1 and is an artifact in addition to its other types.
Equip {2}
Flavor Text: Partisan spies warned that no armor would protect the body against Phyrexian infection. Neurok strategists took that as a challenge.
Illus. Therese Nielsen
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #132/155

(Joe) If you haven’t seen the artwork for this piece yet, check it out on Nielsen’s blog, and when your pavlovian drool subsides, come back to us. Not bad, eh? The buff is not insignificant in limited, making this a likely player. Also, this marginally helps turn metalcraft on. Very cool.

Name: Skinwing
Cost: 4
Type: Artifact – Equipment
Rules Text: Living weapon (When this Equipment enters the battlefield, put a 0/0 black Germ creature token onto the battlefield, then attach this to it.)
Equipped creature gets +2/+2 and has flying.
Equip {6}
Illus. Igor Kieryluk
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #133/155

(Joe) A 4-drop 2/2 flying is pretty standard fare for limited. It sees play, and being colorless doubly ensures that. 6 seems like a lot to pay to re-equip, but remember that that’s just gravy above and beyond the 4-drop 2/2 flying you already got the benefit of.

Name: Sphere of the Suns
Cost: 2
Type: Artifact
Rules Text: Sphere of the Suns enters the battlefield tapped and with three charge counters on it.
{T}, Remove a charge counter from Sphere of the Suns: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
Illus. Jana Schirmer & Johannes Voss
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #134/155

(Joe) Solid. A colorless accellerator and mana fixer, this is 100% certain to see limited play.

Name: Spin Engine
Cost: 3
Type: Artifact Creature – Construct
Pow/Tgh: 3/1
Rules Text: {R}: Target creature can’t block Spin Engine this turn.
Flavor Text: “It will be battle-ready before our strike at Oxid Ridge, and it will guarantee our victory.”
-Ketuc of the Helm
Illus. Pete Venters
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #135/155

(Joe) I like this for aggro decks. I’ve grown to like panic effects in certain archetypes.

Name: Spine of Ish Sah
Cost: 7
Type: Artifact
Rules Text: When Spine of Ish Sah enters the battlefield, destroy target permanent.
When Spine of Ish Sah is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, return Spine of Ish Sah to its owner’s hand.
Illus. Daniel Ljunggren
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #136/155

(Joe) Very cool. Very innovative card design. Unorthodox and fairly unprecedented. This has awesome interactions in older formats and EDH. Goblin welder anyone? But yeah, in limited, try to have a way to re-use this, otherwise its a bad desert twister that’s still cool for decks that have no business using this kind of effect.

Name: Strandwalker
Cost: 5
Type: Artifact – Equipment
Rules Text: Living weapon (When this Equipment enters the battlefield, put a 0/0 black Germ creature token onto the battlefield, then attach this to it.)
Equipped creature gets +2/+4 and has reach.
Equip 4
Rarity: Uncommon

(Joe) A 2/4 reach living weapon. Hmm. Yeah, I think for 5, many limited decks will run this.

Name: Sword of Feast and Famine
Cost: 3
Type: Artifact – Equipment
Rules Text: Equipped creature gets +2/+2 and has protection from black and from green.
Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, that player discards a card and you untap all lands you control.
Equip {2}
Illus. Chrisn Rahn
Rarity: Mythic Rare
Set Number: #138/155

(Joe) I like this cycle, but I think Fire and Ice remains the undisputed king. The effects here do jive with the colors and the name. I’m not a huge fan of the mythic rarity, and I regret that the rest of these swords will all be mythics, seemingly.

Name: Tangle Hulk
Cost: 5
Type: Artifact Creature – Beast
Pow/Tgh: 5/3
Rules Text: {2}{G}: Regenerate Tangle Hulk.
Flavor Text: “A true Phyrexian predator. It will never know death, just as nature intended.”
-Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
Illus. Mark Zug
Rarity: Common

(Joe) Not bad, but won’t change many lives.

Name: Thopter Assembly
Cost: 6
Type: Artifact Creature – Thopter
Pow/Tgh: 5/5
Rules Text: Flying
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control no Thopters other than Thopter Assembly, return Thopter Assembly to its owner’s hand and put five 1/1 colorless Thopter artifact creature tokens with flying onto the battlefield.
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #140/155

(Joe) This pre-release card features artwork by Volkan Baga which is very unorthodox for his typical style and subject matter. An odd looking contraption, with an equally awkward board presence. You cast this thing, and unless you’re supporting it with other thopters, then as soon as it loses summoning sickness it’s bounced to your hand and replaced by five 1/1 tokens which all have summoning sickness. Now… this is definitely some decent card advantage going on, but it’s quite slow and cumbersome. If this is your only thopter, you must wait two full turns to finally attack with this card.

titan forge

Name: Titan Forge
Cost: 3
Type: Artifact
Rules Text: {3},{T}: Put a charge counter on Titan Forge.
{T}, Remove three charge counters from Titan Forge: Put a 9/9 colorless Golem artifact creature token onto the battlefield.
Illus. Svetlin Velinov
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #141/155

(Joe) I like to collect the tokens from each set. I know it’s kind of dorky, I don’t care. So I look forward to this 9/9 token. As a strategy, however, I must advise against getting aroused by this siren’s call. How easy is it to kill your opponent’s Titan Forge EOT when he’s already gone through the pains of putting three counters on, and happily passes the turn? All too easy.

training drone

Name: Training Drone
Cost: 3
Type: Artifact Creature – Drone
Pow/Tgh: 4/4
Rules Text: Training Drone can’t attack or block unless it’s equipped.
Rarity: Uncommon

(Joe) I don’t know what to make of this guy… it’s definitely an interesting ability. Obviously you’d need to have a very high equipment count to consider running him, but with all the living weapon equipments, perhaps that’s achievable. It remains to be seen. If you can achieve a critical mass, then a 4/4 for 3 is certainly a bargain price.

Name: Viridian Claw
Cost: 2
Type: Artifact – Equipment
Rules Text: Equipped creature gets +1/+0 and has first strike.
Equip {1}
Flavor Text: “Phyrexians can’t corrupt what they can’t get close enough to touch.”
Illus. Marc Simonetti
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #143/155

(Joe) This small seeming effect can be quite good in limited.

Mirrodin Besieged Visual Spoiler – Go For the Throat

It’s been a while since I’ve written a text article, in part because I find videos more enjoyable to do and but also more conducive to explaining my thought process.  However, it’s spoiler time for Mirrodin Besieged, and I’ve got a doozy of a preview card for you today.  Of course, I’m not going to give it to you right away – there has to be some lead up, a crescendo if you will, before I reveal the card.
Today’s card is a simple card – one that may not seem like such a great card until you actually realize how vastly superior it can be to current alternatives in both Standard and Extended constructed.  I’m not trying to defend something like Argent Sphinx, or some other card that will be relegated to gather dust in many trade binders.  No todays card is something powerful – something that the top tier decks will grab a hold of and latch onto.
Today’s card is one which many players have been clamouring for.  With the rise of blue-black control in standard after worlds, and the resurgence of both faeries and jund in extended, many people have been realizing that there isn’t a “perfect” removal spell to play.
Smother and Disfigure are fine, but they don’t deal with game-ending threats.
Grasp of Darkness is also decent, but not all decks can easily cast it, and -4/-4 sometimes isn’t enough.
Doom Blade is the de facto Terror replacement, but suffers from the inability to dispatch something like a Grave Titan.
My preview card today shores up all of these weaknesses in current black removal spells without an increase in cost.  It’s easier to cast than Grasp of Darkness yet able to destroy a whole subset of creatures that Doom Blade cannot.
One facet of this card I greatly appreciated when I first saw it was the unity that the name, effect, art and even flavour text had – they really made sense together.
[i]Having flesh is increasingly a liability on Mirrodin[/i] – (Flavour text from Go For the Throat)
In case you still haven’t guessed what my card does, I’ll give you one last clue.  Mark Rosewater recently said that Terror was in the Scars of Mirrodin design file for some time, until set size constraints forced it to get removed.  The logic behind Terror’s inclusion was that in an artifact-based set such as the first Mirrodin, players would actually pick Shatter over Terror in a draft.  I can almost guarantee that Go For the Throat is what was added to the limited format in that same vein.
Ready?  Ladies and Gentlemen, feast your eyes on Go For the Throat!
IMAGE
This is a black spot removal spell at its finest.  Although black does not normally get the ability to destroy other black creatures, this card creates a flavourful reason why black can now kill a Grave Titan.  After all, slitting someone’s throat only works if they need to breathe in the first place, right?
I fully expect black players to eschew Doom Blade, Smother and Grasp of Darkness for a few copies of this new spell.  No longer will a single Grave Titan or Creepting Tar Pit go unanswered while a Doom Blade rots in the opponent’s hand.
The presence of this removal spell now poses a new question to blue-black players.  What finishers do we want?  Many decks no longer use 3 of the black titan due to fears of opposing Memoricides, or if they do they sideboard them out for more diversified threats.  The ability to kill a titan in the mirror makes the all-titan plan even less appealing.
One card that I think we may see more of is Sphinx of Jwar Isle, a card which has not been seen in competitive standard in quite some time.  Grave Titan was attractive not only because of his obscene power level, but because he was very hard to deal with, especially in the mirror.  Time will tell if the presence of this powerful new removal spell will change the way players build their black decks.
Go for the throat is evidently a powerful card, and while it will not be in the same pack as Shatter, artifact-heavy Mirrodin Besieged may see this card often get sideboarded out in limited games.
Obviously this card will make a fine inclusion to any Commander deck or Cube, and it will be one of the premier removal spells for all its time in standard (that is, presuming that some heavy artifact-creature deck does’t take the metagame by storm).
This card is a very potent removal spell, and I can say with relative certainty that we’ll be going for each others’ throats a great deal in the near future.
Remember that Mirrodin Besieged prerelease tournaments are taking place on January 29 and 30 at your local game store, or if you’re so lucky as to have a large regional prerelease, you’ll need to get info from your TO.
Unfortunately for many people (including myself), we cannot go to both prereleases, because the Masters Edition IV release championship is taking place that day – a free sealed event on MTGO for people who have top 8ed a qualifier, which awards really awesome prizes.  So unfortunately I must decide between going to the second prerelease (to try out the other faction) and playing MEIV.  Since the MEIV is free, I’ll be taking that one, but this really seems like a fail on the part of whoever scheduled the release championship.  Anyway, that’s my rant for this article.
We still have over a week more of spoiling cards, so I’m sure there will be something exciting for everyone.  We’ve seen Tezzeret, Servant of Bolas and the infect-tastic Blightsteel Colossus, as well as a fair few cards that I’m eager to play with.
As always, feel free to contact me with suggestions, comments, or questions via any of the following media.
zakATpower9pro.com
twitter.com/zturchan
youtube.com/zturchan
Cheers,
Zak

It’s been a while since I’ve written a text article, in part because I find videos more enjoyable to do but also more conducive to explaining my thought process.  However, it’s spoiler time for Mirrodin Besieged, and I’ve got a doozy of a preview card for you today.  Of course, I’m not going to give it to you right away – there has to be some lead up, a crescendo if you will, before I reveal the card.

Today’s card is a simple card – one that may not seem like such a great card until you actually realize how vastly superior it can be to current alternatives in both Standard and Extended constructed.  I’m not trying to defend something like Argent Sphinx, or some other card that will be relegated to gather dust in many trade binders.  No, today’s card is something powerful – something that the top tier decks will grab a hold of and latch onto.

Today’s card is one which many players have been clamouring for.  With the rise of blue-black control in standard after worlds, and the resurgence of both faeries and jund in extended, many people have been realizing that there isn’t a “perfect” removal spell to play.

Smother and Disfigure are fine, but they don’t deal with game-ending threats.

Grasp of Darkness is also decent, but not all decks can easily cast it, and -4/-4 sometimes isn’t enough.

Doom Blade is the de facto Terror replacement, but suffers from the inability to dispatch something like a Grave Titan.

My preview card today shores up all of these weaknesses in current black removal spells without an increase in cost.  It’s easier to cast than Grasp of Darkness yet able to destroy a whole subset of creatures that Doom Blade cannot.

One facet of this card I greatly appreciated when I first saw it was the unity that the name, effect, art and even flavour text had – they really made sense together.

Having flesh is increasingly a liability on Mirrodin – (Flavour text from Go For the Throat)

In case you still haven’t guessed what my card does, I’ll give you one last clue.  Mark Rosewater recently said that Terror was in the Scars of Mirrodin design file for some time, until set size constraints forced it to get removed.  The logic behind Terror’s inclusion was that in an artifact-based set such as the first Mirrodin, players would actually pick Shatter over Terror in a draft.  I can almost guarantee that Go For the Throat is what was added to the limited format in that same vein.

Ready?  Ladies and Gentlemen, feast your eyes on Go For the Throat!

0043_MTGMBS_EN_LR_p9p_darker

This is a black spot removal spell at its finest.  Although black does not normally get the ability to destroy other black creatures, this card creates a flavourful reason why black can now kill a Grave Titan.  After all, slitting someone’s throat only works if they need to breathe in the first place, right?

I fully expect black players to eschew Doom Blade, Smother and Grasp of Darkness for a few copies of this new spell.  No longer will a single Grave Titan or Creepting Tar Pit go unanswered while a Doom Blade rots in the opponent’s hand.

The presence of this removal spell now poses a new question to blue-black players.  What finishers do we want?  Many decks no longer use 3 of the black titan due to fears of opposing Memoricides, or if they do they sideboard them out for more diversified threats.  The ability to kill a titan in the mirror makes the all-titan plan even less appealing.

One card that I think we may see more of is Sphinx of Jwar Isle, a card which has not been seen in competitive standard in quite some time.  Grave Titan was attractive not only because of his obscene power level, but because he was very hard to deal with, especially in the mirror.  Time will tell if the presence of this powerful new removal spell will change the way players build their black decks.

Go for the throat is evidently a powerful card, and while it will not be in the same pack as Shatter, artifact-heavy Mirrodin Besieged may see this card often get sideboarded out in limited games.

Obviously this card will make a fine inclusion to any Commander deck or Cube, and it will be one of the premier removal spells for all its time in standard (that is, presuming that some heavy artifact-creature deck does’t take the metagame by storm).

This card is a very potent removal spell, and I can say with relative certainty that we’ll be going for each others’ throats a great deal in the near future.

Remember that Mirrodin Besieged prerelease tournaments are taking place on January 29 and 30 at your local game store, or if you’re so lucky as to have a large regional prerelease, you’ll need to get info from your TO.

Unfortunately for many people (including myself), we cannot go to both prereleases, because the Masters Edition IV release championship is taking place that day – a free sealed event on MTGO for people who have top 8ed a qualifier, which awards really awesome prizes.  So unfortunately I must decide between going to the second prerelease (to try out the other faction) and playing MEIV.  Since the MEIV is free, I’ll be taking that one, but this really seems like a fail on the part of whoever scheduled the release championship.  Anyway, that’s my rant for this article.

We still have over a week more of spoiling cards, so I’m sure there will be something exciting for everyone.  We’ve seen Tezzeret, Servant of Bolas and the infect-tastic Blightsteel Colossus, as well as a fair few cards that I’m eager to play with.

As always, feel free to contact me with suggestions, comments, or questions via any of the following media.

zakATpower9pro.com

twitter.com/zturchan

youtube.com/zturchan

Cheers,

Zak