Abeth Edition, Part 5: The Final Groupings, And Wrap-Up

Of course, there are lots of ways to gain card advantage in Abeth Edition, the alternate Core Set that I’ve created. The concept is so important that it should hardly be limited to Blue. Additionally, other colors get sweeping effects or multiple targets: Wrath of God, Wildfire, Shatterstorm, and Tempest of Light are excellent examples. But while White and Red get plenty of sweeping effects, Black and Green get hardly any. To compensate, both get some pure card drawing. Black gets Reprocess (which is hardly used) and Phyrexian Arena, which may be the first balanced Necropotence. Add in Skulltap and Skeletal Scrying and you have a solid amount of card drawing from common to rare.


Ideally, walls should be in defensive colors, only. Therefore, only White, an ally, and an artifact have walls:

Angelic Wall

Wall of Swords


Fog Bank

Glacial Wall

Crenellated Wall

No Green wall made the cut, although a couple (Whip Vine, Carnivorous Plant) almost did. The one artifact selection was Crenellated Wall. All of the others are Blue or White. That means no walls were even considered for Red or Black. Red and Black are too aggressive for walls. Green is too aggressive for more than one or so. The walls are fairly self-explanatory, actually.

I like Fog Bank. It was just too Blue-ish to leave out.

Angelic Wall comes in as well, and of the other ones have already in a basic set.


As mentioned in the first piece, there should be combo cards in the basic set, but they should suggest multiple combos, instead of being overly limited. Included are:


Solitary Confinement

Ankh of Mishra

Howling Mine


Now, I know some people may not like the presence of Opposition. I was initially leaning towards Rising Waters, but ultimately felt that Waters was a bit more abusable. Opposition always played out well, but there are answers to it. I felt that with Choke, Juntu Stakes, and City of Solitude included in the set, Opposition had enough foils.

Remember, the environment needs to be balanced. I can hardly take all of the good cards way from Blue and simultaneously hand Green great powerful cards, and yet have a fair, balanced environment.

Solitary Confinement was a definite addition. I loved the idea of a White spell that said, "Thou Shall Not Touch Me." To be honest, I thought about including it in a basic set as soon as the spoiler came out. I really thought it was just a basic White card.

The Ankh left Standard just as it was seeing loads of play. It also fits in fast decks too. Howling Mine has not seen as much play recently – but it could always surprise us, especially with Opposition and Icy Manipulator in the same set. Fecundity was a nice little Greenish addition, and look for it in a later section entitled "Non-Blue Drawing."

Casual/Combo Cards:

There were some cards I liked that could be either purely casual, or explode into a combo. They are:

Show and Tell

Balance of Power


Searing Wind

Relentless Assault



Pack Hunt

Nature’s Resurgence

Liege of the Hollows

Collective Unconscious

Pegasus Refuge

Snake Basket

Brood of Cockroaches

Mind Maggots


Denizen of the Deep

Verduran Enchantress

I wanted several different things to do with the Denizen besides hard-casting it (in case you couldn’t tell). Look for Mind Maggots and Zombify, or maybe Show and Tell. There are a few ways to make quick mana through creatures and artifacts, and I thought up a lot of fun decks. I loved my elf-ball-basket-Fecundity-Collective-Unconsciousness-City-of -Solitude-deck; it was one reason I removed Citanul Hierophants from the environment (heh).

Cards like Searing Wind always show up somehow. Fling, in addition to giving you something to do with that Denizen, has seen some combo uses.

Others of these cards were tried in combo decks. Some worked. Some didn’t. I felt my Cockroaches-Fecundity deck, while original, was pretty lame.

Show and Tell is one of the cards I expect should be pretty popular. Liege of the Hollows, as the original squirrel card, might also sell a few packs. That is always a goal of a main set.

Non-Blue Card Drawing:

One crucial quality some colors need is a way of drawing cards, or of looking through several cards and making a selection. Here are the cards that draw or tutor for pure cards, and are non-blue:

Jayemdae Tome

Howling Mine

Commune with Nature



Sylvan Scrying

Nature’s Resurgence

Collective Unconsciousness

Pack Hunt

Spiritual Focus


Goblin Matron


Skeletal Scrying


Phyrexian Arena

Of course, there are lots of ways to gain card advantage. The concept is so important that it should hardly be limited to Blue. Additionally, other colors get sweeping effects or multiple targets: Wrath of God, Wildfire, Shatterstorm, and Tempest of Light are excellent examples.

But while White and Red get plenty of sweeping effects, Black and Green get hardly any. To compensate, both get some pure card drawing. Black gets Reprocess (which is hardly used) and Phyrexian Arena, which may be the first balanced Necropotence. Add in Skulltap and Skeletal Scrying and you have a solid amount of card drawing from common to rare.

Green, however, has just one sweeping effect – and that is the rare Hurricane. As such, it gets more card drawing than any other non-blue color. Fecundity and Nature’s Resurgence help out both players, but, of course, you can set up for them. Collective Unconscious fits in nicely, and Pack Hunt will grab you a few creatures. I felt that these cards represented some versatile card advantage opportunities for Green. Sylvan Scrying tutors for any land, while Restock is pure card advantage. Toss in the common Commune with Nature and you have a well rounded suite of card drawing.

Changing Rarity:

Where appropriate, rarity was changed on several cards to give the set a better Limited feel. Some cards are more appropriate for a different commonality, anyways. These cards include:

Battle Cry

Dragon Engine


Flowstone Crusher

Hunting Drake

Mental Discipline



Rule of Law

Whiptail Wurm

Some cards simply feel like a different rarity. Flowstone Crusher and Mental Discipline feel more uncommon than common. Dragon Engine, Whiptail Wurm, Rule of Law, and Battle Cry were each made more common. None of these cards were particularly valuable, and each fit in nicely at their spots. The hoser-esque Hunting Drake belongs in an uncommon slot. Fling was moved to the uncommon spot to prevent problems in Limited. Clone is an appropriately rare card.

That leaves Megrim. Honestly, Megrim was made a rare for two reasons: First, I initially moved it to rare because I thought of it more as a rare. I then moved it to uncommon because I didn’t like the thought of a rare that would have little value. Since Megrims are readily available, I was put off by having a valueless rare. As I continued to flesh out the set, however, I ran out of space in the Black uncommons for spells. The last card I cut was Megrim. If Megrim were uncommon, it would not be in the set.

However, after I cut some more Black cards from rare spots, I had a couple of open slots. I looked back at my rares and uncommons that had been cut – and I spied Megrim again. I decided that it was better to reprint Megrim as a value-lite rare than to have no Megrim at all.


It was very important that each color should have two common one-drops. They are:

Infantry Veteran

Suntail Hawk

Llanowar Elves

Village Elder


Raging Goblin

Blood Pet

Carrion Feeder

Manta Riders

Tidal Warrior

Every one of these creatures is a 1/1. I wanted creatures that represented each color well. Therefore, there are no Stone-Throwing Devils or Bog Rats, for example. A few commons almost made the cut, including Insidious Bookworms and Elvish Berserker.

I also wanted a few one-drops in uncommon slots. Look for:

Elvish Lyrist

Elvish Scrapper

Icatian Priest

Goblin Soothsayer

I didn’t really want a one-drop in Blue, and all of the Black ones were cut, which was fine by me after reviewing their collectively low power level. We are left with the two Green guys that blow up stuff. Additionally, Icatian Priest joins with a very White ability, while the Soothsayer has a similar ability with a good Red taint.

Use New Cards, Where Applicable:

Here you find relatively new cards that help flesh out the set. All of these cards are printed in Odyssey Block or later:

Suntail Hawk


Pay No Heed

Raise the Alarm

Commune with Nature


Frost Ogre


Crack the Earth

Screaming Fury

Carrion Feeder

Consume Spirit


Minamo Sightbender

Goblin Cannon

Icy Manipulator

Ghostly Prison

Rule of Law

Tempest of Light

Fangren Pathcutter

Sylvan Scrying



Relentless Rats


Skeletal Scrying

Long-Term Plans


Grid Monitor


Solitary Confinement

Joiner Adept

Twist Allegiance

Last Word

Trade Secrets

I wanted to include all Magic cards, not just old ones.


There are a few cards that do not fit in the above categories that I wanted to discuss. They are:



Time Warp


No Mercy

Ogre Shaman

Smokestack is a great card that has a lot of synergies with combo and aggressive decks. It is the Braids for all colors. I really wanted something in a Winter Orb fashion that could be experimented with as disruption in aggressive decks. I wanted tempo to have at least one card after I cut Rising Waters: Enter the Smokestack.

I know that Smokestack’s reprinting would be major news, and it might shift the environment somewhat for a while – but after I decided to leave out Armageddon and Waters, I really felt like tempo should get one card to help it out. I want my set to be friendly to all types of strategies without making that strategy too powerful.

I believe that Blue should always have access to a decent flier that cannot easily be stopped. Rainbow Efreet and Morphling were a bit over-the-top, and Silver Wyvern was a little weak. I wanted a creature that Blue could always turn to for a draw-go style deck. That creature is Zephid.

While we are on the subject of Blue, I felt that Blue needed the ability to take an additional turn in the basic set. It is just too essential of an ability. I put in the classic. I tried playing with it, but combo had better stuff, and control really did too. So it never did that much. Still, it will drive sales, build interest, and be a lot of fun. It also goes well with Restock

Bribery is just such a Blue card, I wanted to include it. It can also get your opponent’s Denizen of the Deep, and I wanted to take a second to point that out.

No Mercy is one of Black’s answers to Absolute Grace. It is also a shut-down, controllish kind of card. It is classic in the style of The Abyss, Pillar Tombs of Aku, and so forth. I wanted a Black enchantment that adequately represented its traditional abilities. I tried it in U/B, and found it to be really strong. You would need to watch out for it.

Ogre Shaman was the most legitimate of the Cursed Scroll/Meteor Storm/Stormbind cards I could find. I wanted Red to have a way of turning random cards into burn, without the effect being too powerful. The Shaman, as a five-mana creature that had to tap and use mana, was sufficient.


It was my goal to create the best, most balanced, set possible, within quite a few parameters. I believe that I have done more than that. I believe that I have created a balanced set, with a load of chase cards. For example, each of these could be considered a chase card at one time or another:

10 Painlands

Coat of Arms

Snake Basket

Serra Angel

Sengir Vampire

Erhnam Djinn

Mahamoti Djinn

Shivan Dragon

Show and Tell

Jade Statue

Blaze of Glory


Wrath of God


Time Warp

City of Solitude

Child of Gaea


Utopia Tree

Might of Oaks

Relentless Assault

Searing Wind


No Mercy

Phyrexian Arena



Rising Waters

Icy Manipulator

Jester’s Cap

Time has certainly neutered some of these cards, like Snake Basket, Relentless Assault or Deflection. However, it does start to look like a virtual “Who’s who” of chase cards that weren’t brokenly powerful (like, say, Mox Diamond, Oath of Druids, Cursed Scroll, Stroke of Genius, and so forth). I think I have made a good set, and also a set that would sell well, from start to finish. I believe you can do both.

At least, I’ve tried to. Anyway, a lot of time and care went into this activity. Here is my labor of love. Please let me know what you think.

Until later,

Abe Sargent