Saturday, August 25, 2012

FTV: Realms - Rights and Wrongs

I'm back from vacation, feeling good and with a lot to talk about.

I'll expand on this idea in a few days, but for now, suffice it to say that Maui has some really awesome people who play a great game of EDH.

As you may have heard, the full card list for From the Vaults: Realms is up.

And for full referential value, here's my predictions for FTV, from a month ago.

I talked a little about the previously spoiled cards, and I'd like to address the entire list now.  I want to talk about the good, the bag, and what might have been.  It wouldn't be hard to put together a list of busted amazing lands, but that is more fantasy.  I prefer to stick with reasonable choices.

Ancient Tomb

Right: It's a card that sees play in Legacy and EDH, and has never been in foil.  Super creepy art, too.

Wrong: I can't really argue with this choice.  We got Temple of the False God in the Commander precons, and so that just leaves us the 'no really, play NO OTHER LANDS' card of City of Traitors for when we want two colorless mana.

Could have been:  The Urzatron would have been tempting, but that's three slots in a 15-card set.  I was super-wrong about most of my predictions anyway.

Boseiju, Who Shelters All

Right: I've played with Cavern of Souls a few times, and let me tell you, it's a good feeling when your spells can't be countered.  This mana comes at a hefty price of a tapped land and two life, but there's no better delight than casting a counterspell that can't be countered.

Wrong: It's only good for instants and sorceries, but if you need creatures, then Cavern is more up your alley, or Boseiju's cousin, Hall of the Bandit Lord.  It's pretty frustrating to have a universal answer--a counterspell--and have that answer be voided.  It all depends on who's casting what.

Could have been: I would have preferred Hall, but I play a lot more creature decks.

Cephalid Coliseum

Right: For graveyard-based decks, this is a pretty outstanding card.  There's assorted Dredge decks in Legacy that will love to get a playset of these gorgeous cards.

Wrong: This cycle of threshold lands gives abilities to lands, but only with Threshold active and at the real cost of a damage per mana use.  Needs a very specific kind of deck for this to function well.

Could have been:  This is a card for the Legacy Dredge decks.  It's very rarely played in EDH, and something like Riptide Laboratory would have carried much wider appeal.  Academy Ruins would have been another blue-based land that tickled many fancies. If this had been Minamo, then we're really up my alley.


Right: Well...not much.  If this could be activated before combat, it would have applications in controlling decks...but those creatures get to hit you first!  Ugh.

Wrong: Everything.  I called this a land that never got played, and then this exchange happened on Twitter.  It's nice to be proved wrong, but this is still the turd in the punch bowl of the set.

Could have been: Even Quicksand is better than this.  Plus, there's two far better answers to attacking creatures coming up on this list.

Dryad Arbor

Right: This is the best type line ever, and has no other text.  So very elegant, especially compared to the original Dryad Arbor.  The futureshifted cardframe is appealing, though.

Wrong: It's your land drop, but since it's a creature, it can't tap for mana until it's been in play a turn.  With Green Sun's Zenith being banned in Modern, this is no longer going to be a chase card.

Could have been: Any of the Worldwake man-lands.  Colonnade has a buy-a-box promo edition, but the others would have been fun to have again, especially since they shied away from putting Mutavault in here.

Forbidden Orchard

Right: Five colors of mana comes at a steep price, and there's a lot of decks that could care less about a 1/1 token for an opponent.  Doesn't work with Brooding Saurian, though.  I like this card a lot, though.

Wrong: I can't argue with this.  I like Rainbow Vale, I like Rupture Spire, but this card is balanced and fun.

Could have been: This and only this.

Glacial Chasm

Right: For a deck that wants to stall and be safe, it doesn't get much better than this.  Lands aren't hard to kill...but they aren't easy to get rid of either.  2,4,6,8 life is a lot for four turns of safety, but if you want it, here it is.

Wrong: This card encourages people to do nothing, to 'turtle up', a gamestate I don't enjoy at all.

Could have been: Wizards has tried very hard to keep mana abilities on lands, but I would have liked a comeback of Ice Floe.  A card below is far superior, though.

Grove of the Burnwillows

Right: There's plenty of decks that use the opponent lifegain to good effect, often with Punishing Fire (banned in Modern) and Kavu Predator.  Or use it frequently and get on peoples' good sides.

Wrong: Not much.  In RG I might have liked one or two other lands more, but this is a fine choice.  I also would have liked some of the other Future Sight duals.

Could have been: I would have liked at least one of the Alara tri-lands, but they don't consult me on these things.

 High Market

Right: It's a free sacrifice outlet, good for stealing things, triggering death effects, all sorts of things, for no mana cost.  The foil of the original was/is pricey!

Wrong: Nothing.  They can't/won't reprint Diamond Valley, and this is the closest possible.  Miren, the Moaning Well costs an awful lot to activate, but the difference is mainly of preference and how much mana you could leave up in a game.

Could have been: Miren, or perhaps Mikokoro, Center of the Sea.  This is another solid and fun choice.

Maze of Ith

Right: I couldn't believe this wasn't on the Reserved List.  Go on, take a look at what can't ever be reprinted.  This is the chase card of the set, since the regular from the Dark goes for around $20 and the judge foil is over $200. (sigh)  This card is defensive usually, making your opponents commit lots of creatures to play before you wrath the table.  This is also Kaalia's best friend, letting her attack, drop a huge creature, then get taken out of combat.

Wrong: Nothing.

Could be: Nothing else.  Amazing art, too.

Murmuring Bosk

Right: For Doran/Ghave decks, it's a tri-color land that can be fetched with Wood Elves/Farseek/etc.  Only a little pain.  This is an elegantly designed card, showing off what Wizards will print when they want to push a tribe/concept.

Wrong: Not much.  I feel green is a little over-represented in this set, but again, that's my own impression.

Could have been: Command Tower, but that's apparently going into the Commander Arsenal later this year. (aka my Christmas present)

Shivan Gorge

Right: I was!  I'm glad I got ONE card right.

Wrong: I have a deck based on pinging your opponents and I don't play this card.  I might now that I'll have a sweet foil, though.  This is just a throwback card that people will throw away.

Could have been: Keldon Necropolis has some application, being a sacrifice outlet.  Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep would have been fun too.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Right: This is a double-threat card.  It is part of a three-card combo that is only now in Legacy (Vampire Hexmage, this, and Dark Depths) but was tearing it up in Modern until Depths got banned.  This makes up half of a busted combo in EDH with Cabal Coffers for any deck that needs a lot of black mana.

Wrong: Nothing.  I really can't dispute this choice.

Could have been: Perhaps Coffers, but that card has gotten an FNM printing that people like.


Right: Everything.  This is a super-useful card for any deck, unless you try to copy Legendary Lands--which happens more often than you might think.  This card got Cloudpost banned in Modern!  I highly approve of this reprinting.

Wrong: Nothing.  I can't wait to see this art in foil.

Could have been: Nothing.  I love it!

Windbrisk Heights

Right: This is the best of the hideaway lands, and still a big part of aggressive strategies in Modern.  Important to note that you actually cast the card, you don't just put it into play.  Cheating an Eldrazi into play is usually a winner, though I've seen a Time Stretch hide under one of these.

Wrong: Nothing really.  This is a good choice for reprinting, something that white decks of many formats can use.

Could have been: I like Spinerock Knoll and Mosswort Bridge more, but that's a personal choice.

Overall, I think Wizards did a great job with this FTV.  There's nothing very recent, which was a major complaint of FTV: Legends.  I'm surprised that there's no preview card from Return to Ravnica, but we can't have it all, I guess.  Personally, I would really have liked the set of 'filterlands' from Shadowmoor and Eventide, but again, they never ask for my opinion!

See you next time!

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