Card Quality 101 or The Search for Broken Stuff

In today’s installment of The Magic University, I’m going to take a look at card quality, a concept that is inherently understood by most Magic players, but one that is rarely examined in detail. I’m also going to take a look at a couple of the cards from Fifth Dawn that made Ben Bleiweiss say,”I think we may have the new Urza’s Block on our hands.”

In today’s installment of The Magic University, I’m going to take a look at card quality, a concept that is inherently understood by most Magic players, but one that is rarely examined in detail. I’m also going to take a look at a couple of the cards from Fifth Dawn that made Ben Bleiweiss say,”I think we may have the new Urza’s Block on our hands.”

The Basics

For those who haven’t read”I See Dumb People” or for those who have short memories (it’s been a while), I’ll kick things off with a refresher course on Card Quality

Card Quality is a measure external to the game that compares cards and how efficiently they accomplish a particular task.

When trying to figure out how good a card is, you have to figure out what job you are trying to accomplish. Is it killing creatures, burning your opponent, beating down, blocking, countering spells, drawing cards, or generating mana? Any one of these can be accomplished by creatures or can be done by spells specifically designed for the task. Here’s a brief recap of what I said three months ago:

“Example: When you hear authors say things like Savannah Lions are strictly better than Eager Cadet, or Troll Ascetic is strictly better than Trained Armodon (a debatable point, but one that is generally conceded), they are measuring Card Quality. It isn’t just applied to creatures, it is also frequently applied to burn spells (Shock vs. Volcanic Hammer), removal spells (Smother vs. Terror), card drawing (Ancestral Recall vs. Everything Else), etc.

Obviously, the results of your Card Quality measurement are entirely dependent on context. What do you need the card to do and what are your constraints? In the end, people needed a term for measuring cards against each other in a particular setting, so this is what we’ve got. Also remember that this measurement is strictly external to an actual game. It doesn’t have anything to do with the question”Which card has the highest quality for me now, against this particular deck, in this particular board state?” That sort of question is measured by Card Impact (which I’ll explain at the end of the definitions section).”

The idea here is we you need a method to compare cards that do similar jobs, but in Limited, we also need to find a way to compare cards that do completely different things. Comparing cards that do the same job is relatively simple, but comparing cards designed to do completely different things is really quite difficult. This is the reason why you see fifteen page Limited pick order articles for just one color, since when authors write these articles, they tend to look at”winning” as the job each card does, and try to compare the cards among themselves to determine which ones help you do that best. (Although presumably they use better English than that last sentence. Oy.)

In Constructed, you often have to weigh deck and card constraints against the power of specific cards. For example, before Regionals Jim was testing Death Cloud decks and kept discovering that he needed to splash a color for artifact removal. He could either go with Green and get access to Oxidize and Naturalize (probably the strongest combination of spells) at the expense of mana inconsistency, or he could go with Red and live with slightly worse spells (Shatter, Echoing Ruin, Detonate), but get access to friendly color Talismans and dual lands. In the end, we figured out the deck just wasn’t good enough, but deckbuilders weigh concerns of consistency versus power all the time. The trick to successful deckbuilding is discovering the most consistent, yet powerful package of spells possible.

Anyway, the focus of this article will be primarily on discussing an objective system to determine the general value of creatures, and to provide guidelines for setting value on other types of spells, in order to determine the best cards to play to accomplish a particular goal.

Examining the Fauna

Many moons ago I was chatting with my good friend Ben Bleiweiss about what we’d eventually call Card Quality, and he mentioned an equation that he used back in his Pro Tour days to help figure out which creatures were great and which were subpar (as I mentioned before, this is above and beyond the intuitive process). He told me that the idea had passed to him from some old-school Neutral Ground folks, who had probably gotten it originally from some West Coast crew, but I’ll leave those details for the Flores’s, Sullivans, and Krouners of the world to argue about. All we care about right now is what Ben had to say about the system.

The system itself incorporates many of the correct ideas about what is important in creatures. For example, more power is better, but toughness still matters. Evasion is very important, while haste and trample are probably slightly lower on the list. Finally, it tries to accurately measure the idea that special abilities are what really make or break a creature, while some drawbacks can take what would otherwise be a fine beater and make it completely unplayable.

This is going to get a little mathy for a bit, but catch up after the initial numbers, because it gets pretty interesting. I will also tell you up front that this method is far from perfect. It doesn’t incorporate concepts like resource translation very well, and it hasn’t been fully updated to include new sets and mechanics, but it should provide a nice foundation for beginners who are trying to improve their card evaluation skills, and for theorists who are looking for a place to start expanding the ideas presented here.

Creature Cost Equations ca. Old School

The first thing to do is to determine how hard a spell is to cast. As such, they came up with a system that assigned:

  • +1.5 points for every colored mana in the CC greater than one

  • +1 point for every colorless mana in the CC

So if the casting cost is 1G, you get a score of two, but if it’s GG, the score is three. Honestly, you could almost set the colored mana on a sliding scale and increase the points again for GGG, since you practically have to play a mono-color deck in order to cast that spell reliably, but that’s not particularly relevant right now.

  • +1 for every point of power

  • -1 for every point of toughness less than 2

  • +1 for every point of toughness more than 2

That’s the base equation with no abilities, so:

Grizzly Bears = 2 points of mana, 2 points of creature

Gray Ogre = 3 points of mana, 2 points of creature (bad creature)

Hill Giant = 4 points of mana, 4 points of creature (3 power + 1 toughness)

Special abilities also had points attached to them, and they broke down like this:

  • Protection = 1 point

  • First strike = 1 point

  • Trample = 1 point

  • Flying/evasion = 2 points

  • Haste = 2 points

  • Minor special abilities = 1 point

  • Medium special abilities = 2 points

  • Mana Production = 2 points (but can increase as mana production increases, and the ability to produce different colors or mana is obviously better.)

  • Major special abilities (able to kill creatures, cannot be targeted by your opponent) = 3 points

  • Amazing special abilities (the ability to kill multiple creatures/kill large creatures multiple times) = 4 points

As Ben said,”So a Prodigal Sorcerer would be a Major, and a Royal Assassin would be an Amazing, whereas a Brown Ouphe would be a Minor and maybe a Mistform Mutant or an Imagecrafter would be a medium.”

Last we have the drawbacks category, which can help even out extreme power/toughness or ability vs. cost ratios:

Minor Drawback = -1 points

Medium Drawback = -2 points

Major Drawback = -3 points

Amazing Drawback = -4 points

“A Minor drawback might be like Serpent Warrior – a one time minor life loss. Medium is a major one-time loss, or a minor recurring, such as Juzam Djinn or Eviscerator. A Major drawback is one that will significantly hinder you, such as Grid Monitor, and an Amazing drawback is one that will completely cripple you or make the creature nearly impossible to cast, such as Phyrexian Dreadnought or Leveler.”

As new abilities (or drawbacks) come along, you can play it by ear how they work and how the mechanic should generally be costed (meaning you do it intuitively), or you can do a survey of all the new creatures with the mechanic, figure out what they would cost normally, and then determine the cost of the mechanic by averaging the difference between the expected and the actual (this would be the objective method, though I suspect it will rarely be perfect).

Score = (Power/Toughness Bonus + Ability Bonus) – (Cost + Drawback Modifier)

Bang = Score/Converted Mana Cost

As it exists right now, the system doesn’t heavily discount for high casting costs. The next step in fixing this is probably to figure out how much bang you get for your buck by dividing the Score by the Converted Mana Cost, and you will get how much relative power a creature yields. That way a creature like Hunted Wumpus doesn’t end up looking as powerful as Wild Mongrel, since it clearly is not (though Wumpus has issues all its own, while Mongrel has no drawback at all). Unfortunately this sort of metric goes really wonky when you work with negative numbers, and I haven’t as yet figured out a way to work around that. As you can see, it’s a work in progress, but represents a nice starting point.

If you look at some popular (and unpopular) creatures from both the past and the present, these are the numbers you will get:

Wild Mongrel

Cost: 1G = 2

Power/Toughness: 2/2 = 2

Benefits: Discard a card for +1/+1 and change color = Medium ability (+2)

Score: 4 – 2 = +2

Bang: 1.0

Comments: Mongrel was the defining card in Standard for about a year (it was sandwiched in between Psychatog and Goblins/Wake). As you can see, the total for the card is +2, which is very good for a card that only costs two mana. It acted as a mechanic enabler for two different mechanics (Threshold and Madness), which tend to be intentionally undercosted by R&D in order to push certain mechanics into the realm of playability. Even without the mechanic enabling ability, Wild Mongrel would have been a solid weenie, but with it, he became a ridiculous force to reckon with both in Limited and Constructed.

Faceless Butcher

Cost: 2BB = 5

Power/Toughness: 2/3 = 3

Benefits: Removes a creature from the game when it comes into play, returns that creature when Faceless Butcher leaves play = Major (+3)

Score = 6 – 5 = +1

Bang: 0.25

Comments: Faceless Butcher was a great Limited card, but merely a solid Constructed card that only saw play in a few decks, a fact reflected by it’s +1 score. It was also hindered by the fact that it’s removal was conditional against most creatures, making pushing the Butcher into combat a somewhat risky proposition.

Flametongue Kavu

Cost: 3R = 4

Power/Toughness: 4/2 = 4

Benefits: When Flametongue Kavu comes into play, it deals 4 damage to target creature = Major (+3)

Score: 7 – 4 = +3

Bang: 0.75

Comments: Flametongue was format defining for it’s entire availability in Standard. To put it simply, you couldn’t play a creature with a four-butt in that environment and expect it to live. Yes, its ability might be a drawback when the board was clear of creatures, but the situation was rare enough that it didn’t matter. +3 is an excellent for a card that costs four, and FTK is so good that it still sees play in Type One, even though that format is largely devoid of decks that run lots of creatures.

Hunted Wumpus

Cost: 3G = 4

Power/Toughness: 6/6 = 10

Benefits/Drawbacks: When Hunted Wumpus comes into play, each other player may put a creature card from his or her hand into play = Major Drawback (-3)

Score: 10 – 7 = +3

Bang: 0.75

Comments: This is where the scoring method can be problematic, because the score on Wumpus looks to be only a little bit worse than Flametongue Kavu, and yet the card itself is a lot worse than FTK. The reason for this is that FTK acts as tempo/card advantage when it comes into play, while Wumpus acts as strict tempo disadvantage as long as your opponent has a creature in hand. Giving your opponent something for nothing is a bad thing, particularly when that something can be a permanent you can’t deal with, and yet the score on Wumpus is good enough that newbies continue to be lured into playing the big beastie.

To give you an idea of how Wumpus is bad, my opponent cast one against me at Regionals, and I got to play a free turn 4 Akroma. Gee Gee.


Cost: 4 = 4

Power/Toughness: 4/4 = 6

Benefits/Drawbacks: Regeneration (+2). Reusable creature removal (+3). Discard a card from your hand during your upkeep or sacrifice Masticore. (-2)

Score: 11 – 6 = +5

Bang: 1.25

Comments: Masticore and Flametongue are essentially the same creature, except one was made during less broken days. The ‘Core is still insanely good, very fast, and can wreck your opponent’s entire board. His drawback adds up to hefty card disadvantage over time, but he’s so good that it doesn’t matter in most games. +5 is good for any creature, but is insane on a four-drop.

Birds of Paradise

Cost: G = 1

Power/Toughness: 0/1 = -1

Benefits: Mana production of any color (+2), Flying (+2)

Score = +3

Bang: 3.0

Comments: Birds aren’t flashy, they are just good. If it had a point of power, they would probably be played in every Green deck, ever. Seriously. Since they don’t, their ability to fly rarely comes into play and they lose some versatility, but they give you a nice early boost of mana production and act as a blocker later.

Goblin Sharpshooter

Cost: 2R = 3

Power/Toughness: 1/1 = 0

Benefits/Drawbacks: Reusable Removal (+4). Does not untap as normal (-1)

Score: 4 – 4 = 0

Bang: 0

Comments: When does zero equal really good? When you can abuse the”drawback” a creature has to decimate your opponent. Sharpshooter was obnoxious in Limited, but when players started to combine him with sacrificing their own Goblins to deal additional points of damage, all hell broke loose. Without Sharpshooter, Goblins would be a considerably worse deck, and without the synergy of the Goblins deck, the Sharpshooter would see a lot less play. As it is, he’s so powerful that some players have mentioned him for banning, and he’s an immediate consideration for any deck that plans on sending a lot of their own creatures to the graveyard.

Nantuko Shade

Cost: BB = 3

Power/Toughness: 2/1 = 1

Benefits: B: Gets +1/+1 until the end of the turn. (+2)

Score: 3 – 3 = 0

Bang: 0

Comments: Zero again, eh? I seem to remember the little Shade being a lot better than that, but it illustrates a gap in the card evaluation formula used in the area of resource translation. Resource translation is actually one of the strongest possible abilities that can be given to a card, but often the benefits can only be exploited under the right circumstances (like in Mono-Black decks that run Cabal Coffers to generate insane amounts of mana), so they don’t show up in the card scores.


Cost: 1W = 2

Power/Toughness: 1/2 = 1

Benefits: None

Score: 1 – 2 = -1

Bang: -0.5

Comments: He’s a dork that doesn’t swing hard, has no special abilities, and costs two. Therefore he’s bad. Don’t play him. Also see Omega Myr.

Chimney Imp

Cost: 4B = 5

Power/Toughness: 1/2 = 1

Benefits: Flying (+2). Minor Special Ability (+1)

Score: 4 – 5 = – 1

Bang: -0.5

Comments: A 1/2 flier for five is very bad (you have to take into consideration what else you could get for five mana, and the answer is usually at least a 3/3 flier), and the Imp’s death knell is often irrelevant because he’s so freaking slow that your opponent won’t have any cards in hand when he finally deigns to kill the pest. The score for the Imp might as well be -2 or”Never play me.”

Accursed Centaur

Cost: B = 1

Power/Toughness: 2/2 = 2

Benefits/Drawbacks: When Accursed Centaur comes into play, sacrifice a creature (-4).

Score: 2 – 5 = – 3

Bang: -3

Comments: It’s a one-drop that can almost never be played on turn 1, and isn’t any good after that. It might potentially be decent, however, if you could play it as an instant. Anyway, this should never have seen play in any sanctioned format, and if you ran it, then shame on you.

Alpha Myr

Cost: 2 = 2

Power/Toughness: 2/1 = 1

Benefits: None

Score: 1 – 2 = -1

Bang: -0.5

Omega Myr

Cost: 2 = 2

Power/Toughness: 1/2 = 1

Benefits: None

Score: 1 – 2 = -1

Bang: -0.5

Comments: This is another area where the system breaks down a bit, particularly with regard to Limited. In most cases, Alpha Myr is the better creature, since he’s a better clock, trades with more creatures, and is less prone to sitting around with his thumb up his ass. Unfortunately, the system says they are both bad, while in truth Omega is almost unplayable, while Alpha is merely”not great.” This is also why the Limited writers get paid the big bucks.

Special Creatures and Resource Translation

The next three creatures are three of the greatest creatures ever printed. Before I talk about them, I’ll give you the scores for each one, and then discuss why they are so good, and why creatures that allow resource translation have the greatest potential power levels of any creatures in a new set.


Cost: 3UU = 6

Power/Toughness: 3/3 = 4


U: Untap Morphling. (+1)

U: Morphling gains flying until end of turn. (+1 (activated as opposed to inherent))

U: Morphling can’t be the target of spells or abilities this turn. (+3)

1: Morphling gets +1/-1 until end of turn. (+1)

1: Morphling gets -1/+1 until end of turn. (+1)

Score: 11 – 6 = +5

Bang: 1.0


Cost: 1UB = 4

Power/Toughness: 1/2 = 1


Discard a card: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn. (+2)

Remove two cards in your graveyard: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn. (+2)

Score: 5 – 4 = +1

Bang: 0.33

Arcbound Ravager

Cost: 2 = 2

Power/Toughness: 1/1 (-1)

Benefits: Sacrifice an artifact: Put a +1/+1 counter on Arcbound Ravager. (+3 because it’s permanent)

Modular (+1)

Score: 3 – 2 = +1

Bang: 0.5

Alright, this is obviously where the formula breaks down (I warned you it would), since Psychatog is the best creature ever printed and nets a +1, while Arcbound Ravager is clearly ridiculous in the right deck and yet comes in with a score just above your average Grizzly Bear. Morphling is about right, but that’s because it is somewhat expensive, has a thousand abilities attached to it, and doesn’t get hit by the resource translation gap.

Simply put, resource translation is the ability to convert a game resource into something beneficial. Resources come in a variety of flavors like cards in hand (Psychatog), cards in your library (Arc-Slogger), cards/types of cards in the graveyard (Terravore), lands in play (Thaumatog), creatures in play, artifacts in play (Atog), mana (Nantuko Shade) etc. Some creatures translate resources efficiently and some don’t, but anytime a creature has this ability, it deserves examination to figure out whether or not it can be broken.

Additionally, other cards that use resource translation should also set off warning flags, as these tend to end up as some of the most broken spells in the game (Necropotence, Mind Over Matter).

Ravager is amazing because it’s cheap (something that is very important in general, but particularly with regard to creatures), because it has deck synergy with a deck that was already pretty strong (it functions best in a deck composed almost entirely of artifacts (so it has plenty of resources at its disposal)), and because the two abilities it has are both permanent. Synergy with Disciple of the Vault doesn’t hurt either, since it lends current Ravager Affinity decks their combo-kill method. Imagine if Nightscape Familiar had an ability that read”Each time a player discards a card, you may have target opponent lose 1 life,” and you’ll understand the level of silly synergy that exists between Mr. Ravager and his cleric buddy.

Psychatog is insane because it’s cheap, because it’s abilities are completely synergistic, because you rarely care about what cards are in your graveyard, because he’s Blue (thus giving you automatic access to card drawing, feeding his engine… just picture what would have happened if Mongrel had been Blue instead of Green), and because feeding your Psychatog naturally leads you to try and abuse perhaps the most powerful mechanic in the game: Card Drawing. Of course, that’s a rather long explanation for why a 1/2 creature is the best in the game, but it also explains why Tog managed to stay hidden for a while and didn’t really make its presence felt until Ryan Fuller won a Masters with a Psychatog deck well after States, and three months after the set containing Psychatog debuted.

There is no other creature that has had as long-lasting an impact across all Constructed formats as Psychatog has had, and his dominance will probably continue for the foreseeable future.

Morphling fans out there are picketing outside my house and shouting epithets at my cats, so I need to take a brief moment to explain why Tog is better than Morphling (and Exalted Angel, for those who want to go that road). There are two real reasons for this:

1) Psychatog costs three to cast, Morphling costs five. Therefore casting a Morphling costs you at least two more cards that have to produce mana, and as you all know, mana producers don’t usually do much else. So essentially there’s at least a two turn, two-card gap between these two creatures, assuming all else is equal.

2) Psychatog can kill in one turn, Morphling kills in four. Yes, yes, you have to setup Tog to actually get the kill, but the whole deck is designed to do just that, so your point is moo. Even for Type One control decks, four turns is a lot of extra time to keep the game locked down, giving Dr. Teeth a natural advantage over Superman. Speed kills, people, but speed with control is particularly lethal.

Anyway, the point of all this is to illustrate that resource translation is often subtle, but tends to be ridiculously powerful, particularly if it has synergy with other powerful mechanics. It doesn’t fit into the costing equation I discussed earlier, but it’s pretty easy to recognize on a card, and testing is often the only way to figure out if it will be any good in a particular environment.

Non-Creature Card Quality

There’s a ton that can be said here, but I’m going to be brief for the moment and expect that someday some bright individual will come back to this topic to flesh it out further. I simply don’t have enough time to properly break this section down, and I’d rather not do it at all than do it half-assed. That said, I can still provide a few guidelines for looking at non-Creature cards.

Non-creatures cards are much harder to quantify in terms of quality because they are so variable. Particular mechanics tend to be very powerful (Drawing cards, Lots of Mana Generation, Time Walk effects, Board Sweepers, Cheap Counterspell), while others are usually mechanics designed for Limited and rarely make an impact in Constructed environments.

Also, as I stated earlier, resource translation spells have the most potential to end up as broken cards. R&D has generally done a good job at keeping these sorts of spells under wraps, but look for Fifth Dawn to give us at least a couple spells that make you feel like you are playing Extended decks.

Aside from those guidelines, there are the obvious”Instants are better than Sorceries” and the”Card Drawing is inherently good” rules, but after that it becomes really difficult to compare spells that do completely different things and figure out which is”better.” Most of the time it doesn’t matter outside of Limited, since when you build a new Constructed deck, you are generally looking to do the most abusive things possible in the least amount of time (combo and aggro decks), or to stop your opponent from doing much of anything until you win (control). Everything else is just solving problems presented by other decks in the metagame. Valid comparisons can be made between spells of the same type, but once you start trying to compare card drawers and removal spells, you run into problems.

Anyway, I know we have early Limited reviews coming later this week, so I’ll leave it to the experts to tell you why Magma Jet is better than Serum Visions. In the meantime, here’s a list of effects to pay attention to when examining a new set and looking for cards to break in Constructed formats. Many of these are what R&D has referred to as”Engine” cards in recent articles, while things like Reusable Damage Sources are”Spouts.” If you want to know more about the names of such ideas, feel free to peep Rosewater’s most recent article,”The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.”

Card Drawing – (Skullclamp, Serum Visions)

Reusable/Explosive Mana Generation (Lion’s Eye Diamond, Krark-Clan Ironworks)

Time Walk effects (Beacon of Tomorrows)

Reusable Damage Sources (Goblin Cannon)

Board Sweepers (Engineered Explosives)

Mechanics That Make Things Cheaper (Affinity, Madness, maybe Sunburst?)

I’m sure there are more that should be mentioned, but those will have to be left for another time.

Welcome to Combo Summer

Let me state this up front so that you won’t mistake my intent here: I love combo decks. I particularly like combo decks that are powerful, but take a lot of practice to play well. I mean, I’ll play any sort of deck and tend to default to either the best control or best aggro deck available, depending on what I think the right metagame choice is, but that’s mostly just because there have been few good combo decks available to play in recent years outside of Extended and Type One. Therefore, I’m actually pretty stoked about Fifth Dawn as a set, because if things go as predicted, it will bring combo decks back to the environment in force.

Wizards R&D has clearly stated that Fifth Dawn is a combo set, and I’m sure they are aware that they pushed some of the power levels for mechanics/cards pretty far. The question is whether they gave us certain cards that can be broken completely in half, and if they did, what they will eventually decide to do about it.

Using some of the criteria above, and focusing on the idea of resource translation, one of the first cards that steps up to slap you in the face should be this:

Krark-Clan Ironworks – 4



Sacrifice an artifact: Add 2 to your mana pool.

Now, if I could only find some cheap artifacts, I might have a viable deck… oh wait, we’re in the artifact block, aren’t we? You know, the place that has artifact lands, Chrome Mox, Talismans, etc? Yeah, cheap artifacts are about as hard to find here as sand in the Sahara. Strangely enough, all of the artifacts I just mentioned provide not just two, but three mana when they are sacced, since they tap to make a colored mana of their own before leaving play to create two more. Assuming a you are playing only artifact lands, a turn 2 Talisman, and a turn 3 Ironworks, that equates to seventeen mana on turn 4… not too shabby.

Now you’ll notice that two weeks ago when I was blathering on about Skullclamp, and why I thought it would probably earn a banning, I did not ask”What were they thinking?” Honestly, I think they just wanted to push a universal card drawing mechanic, and that’s exactly what they did. They probably knew it was really good when the set went out the door, but didn’t know it would be quite as annoyingly, and pervasively good as it ended up being. Honestly, if they increased the mana cost on the card by two or (in a much better move), lowered the amount of cards drawn by one, Clamp would be perfectly fine.


There were thirty-one Skullclamps in the top 8 of German Nationals (twenty-seven in maindeck, four in the sideboard). What? I’m just sayin…

End Aside

This time, though, I’ll ask.

What the f**k were you guys thinking here?

You know the card quality concepts I’ve just discussed, and you also know that artifact lands exist in the fargin’ environment, so how did you miss this one? The amount of broken things that you can do on turn 4 with that sort of mana make me all tingly inside, and include (but are not limited to) drawing lots of cards, putting huge monsters into play, sending a bunch of burn at your opponent’s dome, and putting Myr Incubator into play with enough artifacts left over to make thirty or forty 1/1 artifact creatures at the end or your opponent’s turn. Some of these are good ideas, some of them are bad, but none of them should really be done on turn 4.

Another card I noticed very early (as did Ben Bleiweiss, and as would Jim, had he not been on vacation for the last two weeks) is Beacon of Tomorrows:

Beacon of Tomorrows – 6UU



Target player takes an extra turn after this one. Shuffle Beacon of Tomorrows into its owner’s library.

Note that it doesn’t include any clause about”whenever this is put into the graveyard, shuffle it into your library instead,” since in most cases that would make the card more broken, but in our case, it makes it inherently abuseable. Now what deck likes to see sorceries in the graveyard, and could really use taking a Time Walk or two? If you said DNA, you’d be exactly correct. Rampant Growth + Beacon + Spellweaver Helix = Time Walk for 1G. Now normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, because bypassing the casting cost required three cards, but the Beacon seems ready-made to fit into a Mind’s Desire deck that has proven to be just a turn or two slow to compete with the aggro decks in the environment.

Will it make DNA tier one? Doubtful, but the rest of Fifth Dawn could definitely bring DNA to tier two, which would signify the return of good times for everybody looking to play Mind’s Desire again. Then again, people may start trying to incorporate the Ironworks into Mind’s Desire decks, and all hell could break loose.

Remember, these are just two cards out of a whole new set that just premiered this past weekend. There are also problems with most of the early decklists that use the two cards mentioned above, because they both feature artifacts (and therefore run into a huge amount of splash damage), and neither deck has any disruption to help it out because there’s essentially zero disruption in the environment. So, it’s a bit early to cry wolf and decry R&D’s”mistakes,” but as of right now, I’d say that we are in for some very exciting and broken times this summer.

Baby Flores To Start Writing Within the Decade

I’d like to send a special congratulations of Mike Flores and his lovely wife Katherine. Their first child (a baby girl named Isabella) was born this past Saturday, and while Mike called me to ask that I take down the public announcement on Friday so as not to jinx anything, I figured he wouldn’t get any more cranky than normal about a more private announcement here. Congrats and well wishes can be sent to [email protected].


These are shamefully stolen from my friends to both glorify and embarrass them. Peace to my homies, yo. *gang signs*

Bennie: lol, here’s another way to phrase your question: would you rather have nicole kidman give you blueballs or would you rather her never put her hand down your pants at all?

Knutson: i hate you

[alisdair] why is there a sean mckeown article on starcity?

[zeke2517] its a little known fact actually

[zeke2517] there’s a certain quota of sarah mclaughlin lyrics that have to be met

Ferraiolo: so i just tabbed a natalie imbruglia song…

Ferraiolo: dont be ashamed of me

Knutson: whoa

Knutson: satan probably thinks it’s cold as hell right now, dawg

Knutson: …

Knutson: and not that I’d know the song but, uh, which one did you tab?

Ferraiolo: wishing i was there

Ferraiolo: 4 chord pop master

Knutson: (I promise I won’t write about this in an article… :-))

Knutson: (as he posts it into his quotes file)

[Aten2] you need to be secretly gay also

[Taeme] I can do that

[Aten2] w/ bleached hair, a bad tan, and a stupid visor

[Taeme] oh man, the visor is key

[Taeme] Magic players look up to the visor

[Taeme] They think, holy sh**, he’s got a visor

[Taeme] He must be smart, like a lifeguard

[Kaib] Debbie Does Lederhosen part 7a, the bratwursting? Yeah, saw it.

[JoshR’] Aten is [email protected] * mekka lekka high

[JoshR’] Aten on @#gaypride

[JoshR’] well ain’t that some sh**

[GT__] My friendship with Tim Aten is a difficult one



[GT__]”I’m going to do something nice for you.”


[GT__]”Don’t worry, I’m also going to punch you in the junk after.”

[GT__]”Oh, well I guess you’re on the level.”

[GT__] I skirt the line.

[|eric|] u sure a talky fella 😉

[Brinkman] are you new?

[Brinkman] you must be new.

[JoshR’] a friend of the family at the show asked me if i ever had the urge to get up on stage

[JoshR’] [me] no, not at all

[JoshR’] [her] yeah, well, everyone does different things. for example, your brother isn’t a master wizard or whatever they call you

Bleiweiss: BTW, Thomas Pannell aims me today

Bleiweiss:”Where’s your buy list?”

Bleiweiss:”Same place as the Venice Decklists, Tom”

[JSigler18] knut, your article was incredible

[JSigler18] even though you are in fact a d***wad

[mixedknut] aw, Jesse’s so sweet sometimes

[mixedknut] you big, cuddly ball of dumb


[LoneGoat] those guys have the right idea

[LoneGoat] =]

[mixedknut] yeah, Bleiweiss gave you da b00t

[Brinkman] yeah

[Brinkman] he’s fat

[Brinkman] and stupid

[Brinkman] and i hope he dies

[Brinkman] legitimately

[LoneGoat] i see you’re taking it well

Aten: i think he’s gonna stalk and kill me and then commit heinous acts of necrophilia

Knutson: at least you’d be getting some

[jpmeyer] you know what’s really, really sad? i’m reading the rat deck article and you know what the first card that i think of to put in that deck is? skullclamp

[jpmeyer] not”let’s get creative!”

[jpmeyer] just ‘ok, so 4x skullclamp”

[CompuMan] The tragedy of Canada is they could have had British culture, French cooking, and American technology, but instead they got American culture, British cooking, and French technology.

[T3H_Taco] 12:52 AaronF: Jordan Berkowitz is playing Chalices of the Void in this format because he erroneously think they counter Fireballs and Detonates in the Chalice has one counter on it.

[T3H_Taco] Hehehe.

[knutedit] hahaha

[DeadSmurf] berkowitz 🙁

[SickBeats] but he roles deep

[author name="Yawgatog"]Yawgatog[/author] It gets better

[author name="Yawgatog"]Yawgatog[/author] 12:53 AaronF: So Jordan plays a 1-counter CHalice against Mattias Jorstedt.

[author name="Yawgatog"]Yawgatog[/author] 12:53 AaronF: Jorstedt says”That’s bad for me,” and goes to Detonate it.

[author name="Yawgatog"]Yawgatog[/author] 12:53 AaronF: He taps {2}{R} for Detonate, because he thinks the CMC of the Chalice is 2.

[author name="Yawgatog"]Yawgatog[/author] 12:54 AaronF: Both of them are incredibly confused when the Chalice counters the

[author name="Yawgatog"]Yawgatog[/author] Detonate and Mattias is left with 2 mana in his pool.

[wraitho] i’d snap if i lost a single pound

[wraitho] joshr outweighs me

[mixedknut] well joshr is a sturdy fellow

[mixedknut] he just has a large nugget that makes his frame look smaller ^_^

[Blunt—] I’m enjoying that far more than I should

Knutson: wtf is your e-mail address?

Tybuc: [email protected]

Tybuc: Got some pictures of naked women to forward me I hope?

Knutson: no, something else

Knutson: it’s like the Ring

Knutson: except an e-mail thing

Knutson: er wait

Knutson: I mean… yep, nekkid pictures

Knutson: open asap

Ted Knutson

The Holy Kanoot

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