Sunday, August 18, 2013

From the Vaults: 20

The set drops on the 23rd, I'll be at GP Oakland and if I could get it at MSRP I'd be in, but the presence of a certain planeswalker makes it so that speculators and collectors alike won't get it near to the listed price.

(By the way, if you have to have this for the sweet shiny goodness, you're not just a player, you're a collector too.  I know the pain.)

But let's hit these twenty cards in order, and see their EDH relevance.  I also want to add what it could have been, according to the official posting by Gavin Verhey.

Dark Ritual: This is card disadvantage. Don't play this in EDH. Add another land, or a Fellwar Stone, anything but this. 
   Could have been: Hypnotic Specter. Sees more casual play than Ritual, certainly. 

Swords to Plowshares: For me, I like Condemn slightly more but I've no objection to both of these and even Path to Exile if you want pinpoint answers. 
   Could have been: Stasis?  Vesuvan is on the Reserved List, or that would be the card. StP is a solid choice though, considering how rare foils of it are and how commonly the card gets played.  In a better world, we would get a full-art of Douglas Shuler's Que Serra Serra that MaRo referred to recently.  I can see all sorts of collectors losing their mind to get this in full-art foil.

Hymn to Tourach: Nope, don't do it. Your Nath of the Gilt-Leaf deck will have better discard spells and effects.
   Could have been: I would have liked to see some crazy foil version of Royal Assassin, but I can respect the desire to foil a card that hasn't been in foil before.  Plus, Cubers are going to go nuts for this.

Fyndhorn Elves: Elf deck? Don't mind if I do. Everyone else? Move along. 
   Could have been: I love the singleton Gorilla Shaman, and that would be a foil I enjoyed having.  Also, a shoutout to Orcish Cannoneers! This and Goblin Artillery ask the skill-testing question: How much is direct damage worth?

Impulse: For two mana, at instant speed, this is serious digging through your deck for a combo piece or an answer to a problem. It's hard to argue against what this does for its cost. 
   Could have been: Vampiric Tutor! If you're going to feature the ProsBloom deck and not give us the Pros or the Bloom, give us the tutor!

Wall of Blossoms: Yawn. Useful in some decks, unworthy in most. 
   Could have been: Nekrataal or Tradewind Rider. Recurring Nightmare and Survival of the Fittest are both on the Reserved List. 

Thran Dynamo: Artifact decks rejoice! Expensive decks cheer! It's undercosted acceleration for all!
   Could have been: Wildfire. I don't know if Akroma's Vengance counts as the sweeper of this set, but Wildfire would be fun to have as a foil. 

Tangle Wire: I've seen this used in EDH games and the moment the player with this messes up, the table pounces on them. It's a powerful effect, but just be aware there's nothing multiplayer games hate more than a slowdown.
   Could have been: Another foil Brainstorm? Sure, why not.

Fact or Fiction: Enormously powerful card. I enjoy seeing the politics of who decides the split: it'll either be the worst player at the table or a friend you trust to 4-1 split you favorably.
   Could have been: Absorb.  There's several versions of FoF going around.

Chainer's Edict: I am a fan of this card. It gets around a lot of things.  If you know someone who's big into Voltron decks, just this in the graveyard can deter their silliness to someone else.
   Could have been: Psychatog!  I really don't care that there's a Player Rewards version around, Dr. Teeth needs to torment a new generation of players.

Akroma's Vengeance: Awesome choice. The sweeper of choice for decks with lots of planeswalkers.
   Could have been: Either Astral Slide or Lightning Rift, since this was a cycling deck.  But I'm happy with Vengeance.

Gilded Lotus: If this hadn't been in M13, I'd call this a sneaky great choice. As it is, it is merely solid, even with new, actually-gilded art.
   Could have been: Goblin Welder.  Hasn't been printed since the original and it's a card in all sorts of formats.I know I would love to have more Welders.

Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni: Since she was left out of the Ninja Planechase deck, people need more Ninja action!
   Could have been: Sensei's Divining Top!  But the Ninja is a fun choice too.

Char: You can do better with your burn spells, but if you want to, I give you permission to say it like Charmander does in the Pokemon cartoons. I give others permission to be confused.
   Could have been: Burning-Tree Shaman.  Have you ever played this in an EDH game?  It's outstanding.  Abilities are all over the place and this is just punishing.

Venser, Shaper Savant: Love this choice. His foil is a pain to acquire and his effect is awesome. I never played with him in Standard but in EDH his utility is undeniable.
   Could have been:  Polluted Delta.  Just kidding.  Umezawa's Jitte, perhaps?  It amuses me to no end that Gavin references the utility of Riptide Laboratory but that card isn't in the decklist.  High comedy.  Riptide Lab would have been a fun choice too.

Chameleon Colossus: solid but unexciting. Great place to dump Omnath's mana.
   Could have been: Imperious Perfect.  It's a staple in all sorts of decks and this would be a sought-after version.

Cruel Ultimatum: I played with this in my Garza Zol deck for a long while and found that seven mana to mess with one player was just not enough.
   Could have been: Volcanic Fallout.  A red sweeper of choice.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor: The flagship card of this set. His nonfoil is $150 right now and I've no idea at all what this price will settle at. This is the Planeswalker that has warped that card type. The low cost, the game-locking +2 and the game-over ultimate, the coining of the phrase "the Jace test" and this card is even responsible for the Titan cycle being so overwhelming--a card needed to do something immediately, else Jace would just bounce the creature. This being in the set is going to push the set price high, but might lower the prices of the individual singles as people try to recoup value.
   Could have been: Who cares?  He profiled an early Jace deck, before Caw-blade was invented. 

Green Sun's Zenith:  When this came out I couldn't trade for enough of them.  This was a card that was far too good in every format.  And I was right.  I had about 20 before I stopped, and that was when it got the ban in Modern.  Curses.  It's a fantastic EDH card, though, and a card that is very difficult to cut because of its utility.
   Could have been: I feel that Solemn Simulacrum would have been a good choice too.

Kessig Wolf Run:  A very powerful land, and something to do once you have gotten lots of mana, turn something harmless into a player-killer.
   Could have been:  I feel they missed out on a chance to give us a double-sided foil in FTV, Huntmaster was a more defining card in my opinion.  I imagine that DFC's were off the table, since they require a different print technique. 

I'd like to point out that Grim Monolith shows up in several of the decks profiled, but the Reserve List strikes again! 

Also, it's curious that the deck choices, from a range of formats, somehow manage to skip Force of Will.  Hmmmm....

Monday, August 5, 2013

What's been going on?

Yes, dear reader, it's been months.  I'm not totally back, but I'm going to try to post something here a little more frequently than once every three months.

There's been a few announcements while I've been on hiatus.

 - The Legend rule change is a big deal for a lot of players, but I've used this rule when two people sat down with the same general and this is not a significant change, except for every Clone effect getting less utility.  I think that you'll see an uptick in Hexproof commanders, especially Uril, the Miststalker.  Poor guy would have three Auras on and then someone would cast Phantasmal Image and ruin the plan.

 - Magic 2014 came out and has some really fun cards.  I want to say Primeval Bounty isn't good, but I suspect it's better than I think it is.  My viewpoint is skewed, since my Adun Oakenshield deck has three six-mana do-nothing cards in it already (Lurking Predators, Guild Feud, Deadbridge Chant) and I can't bear to add a fourth.  I'm looking forward to seeing Strionic Resonator combos, except that too many of them will be infinite combos.

 - I traded Kaalia's perfect manabase for an iPad.  Gives me a quest to complete all over again.  Now if I could just find someone to trade a Roomba to me...

 - San Diego Comic-Con gave us something to cry about.  I like what I see of the black-on-foil planeswalkers, and I admit that the Liliana of the Dark Realms would look sweet in my Zombie deck, but once you start chasing specific, less-available versions, you're not a player, you're a collector.  Which many of us are.  I certainly am, I just finished foiling out Garza Zol, Plague Queen and I specifically needed a foil Future Sight edition of Graven Cairns.  (It has a vampire in the art, come on!)

 - Modern Masters was released, and newer EDH players got a chance to nab some really sweet cards.  I'm all for increasing the availability of cards to newer players, and everyone should have a chance to get Doubling Season, Vedalken Shackles, etc.  Bonus is that this was a ridiculously sweet set to draft, especially when there's a foil in each pack!

 - The big fall set, Theros, is Greek-themed, and has an enchantment-heavy feel to it.  I approve of the enchantment theme being in play AFTER Rancor leaves the Standard format.  I have my fingers crossed that Krond, the Dawn-Clad is in this set, but I realize that's a heavily restrictive mana cost, especially after the nearly-perfect mana rotates in September.  I do expect some incredibly sweet legends, though.

 - I've started writing short pieces weekly for, with a focus on the budget.  I've got an infant daughter, and we just moved to a new place, so funds are tight.  I hardly ever spend money on single Magic cards, I like trading and I have some strategies I've been sharing.  Their price tools and alerts are pretty sweet too.  Go check me out.

 - The doozy announcement for EDH players, though, is the landing of the new Commander preconstructed decks.  I've mentioned here and Twitter how much I expect the four-color legends to finally be printed, usually with every new set, but even C13 isn't going to have that.  So who the heck knows.  What's relevant is that C13 will have shard-colored decks, three allied colors.  It's funny to think that Shards of Alara was printed in 2008, rotated from Standard three years ago, and we still use the shard names (Esper, Jund, Naya, Bant, Grixis).  C13 will feature a mechanic that I really like: the spoiled legends have triggered abilities that scale up depending on how much mana was used to cast them.  This rewards you for playing your general for the fifth time, and like Landfall, takes something you'd do anyway and turns it into a bonus.  I'm already saving to buy a set of these in November.

I'd suggest you start saving too, because the Commander precons were an incredibly successful product for Wizards in 2011, and they were stuffed with valuable reprints and awesome EDH cards.  I don't think Star City Games will run the same promotion this year (Buy four, get the fifth free) but if they do, or someone else does, I'm all over that.