Casual Play: Change Happens

Dojo refugee (and fantastic Casual analyst) gives his take on all of the good Planeshift cards — and some fun strategies, too!

When I was real young, I read a short story about a Chinese emperor telling his sage to find a single sentence that would always be true, about anything at any time. The sage pondered for months, then returned with this sentence: "And this, too, shall pass."

Man, I hated that story. It was reminder that all good things come to an end. Like the Dojo. It was great. Now it’s gone.

As some of you may know, I had been writing for the Dojo. What only those of you with way too much time on your hands know is that I was writing for them when they died the last time, too. (Hey – it wasn’t my fault, either time. At least, I hope not.)

But change is never all bad. I first found out that the Dojo was dead when I got a email from the Ferrett offering me a new home at Star City. That sure cushioned the blow. I like writing. People say they like reading what I write. (Actually, people say things like, "Reading what you write is like rolling naked on glass shards while it’s raining lemon juice," but who am I to criticize other peoples’ hobbies?) So, anyway, here I am. It’s a change, but a good one.

Speaking of good changes, Planescape is coming up. I’m headed to the prerelease tomorrow, as I write this. I have a spoiler, and parts may even be correct.* Some of the new cards look pretty good for casual and group play. (Some look pretty good for tournament and Sealed play, too, but I’ll let someone else write that article.) Anyway, here’s what jumped out at me:


Aura Blast 1W, Instant
Destroy Target Enchantment. Draw a card. Common.

Generally there are lots of good enchantments to trash in multiplayer, but the same is true of artifacts. I don’t think I would run this over Disenchant, unless I was playing some funky combo deck and really wanted to everything else to help draw down to the combo cards. Whatever; I had to say something about the first card in the set. From here on, though, I’ll just delete the run-of-the-mill stuff.

Aurora Griffin 3W, Creature-Griffin 2/2
Flying, W: Target permanent becomes white until end of turn. Common.

This will be critically important to counter those amazing Coalition Victory decks that absolutely rule multiplayer games. Oops, I meant just dominate duels. No, it must have been solitaire play. Whatever. The first spoiler I saw had it as a 3/4 flier for 3W, which would have been amazing, but a 2/2 is just average. Onward.

Disciple of Kangee 2W, Creature-Wizard 2/2
U, T : Target creature gains flying and becomes blue until end of turn. Common.

Hey, this wizard knows a great spell. Not since Trickster Mage have we seen this type of power in a single card. Actually, I’m three cards in and beginning to think this is going to be long and dull, but there are better things – both cards and commentary – to come. Better be: if not, The Ferrett may rescind his invitation to join Star City. (Well, frankly, The Ferrett is not tremendously impressed with Planeshift in general, so he’s willing to cut you some slack — look! Your first gratuitous interjection from me! This is truly your baptism of fire! — The Ferrett)

Dominaria´s Judgment 2W, Instant
Until end of turn, creatures you control gain protection from white if you control a plains, from blue if you control an island, from black if you control a swamp, from red if you control a mountain, and from green if you control a forest. Rare.

This card is interesting. I could see it being played in 5-color decks*, where your creatures would often have the equivalent of opponent-walk. It will also save them from a Crater Hellion or Steam Blast, but not from Wrath of God. Beyond 5s, I’m not sure. How many casual decks run multiple land types, lots of creatures, and rely on white instants for protection?

Honorable Scout W, Creature-Soldier 1/1
When Honorable Scout comes into play, you gain 2 life for each black and/or red creature target opponent controls. Common.

Target opponent? Why Target Opponent? Why not Congregate on legs? (Okay, I know why not Congregate on legs; it’s because Congregate is so damned annoying.) In any case, with a Mogg Infestation (turn all creatures target opponent controls into twice as many 1/1 goblins), Honorable Scout sounds like a fun play.

March of Souls 4W, Sorcery
Destroy all creatures. They can´t be regenerated. For each creature destroyed this way, its controller puts a 1/1 white Spirit creature Token into play. Rare.

Wrath of God type effects are often good, but this one has some drawbacks. First, this destroys, not buries, all creatures, so regenerators can survive. Second, everyone gets 1/1 tokens in return: it’s a global Afterlife. On the plus side, it does kill Morphling. Maybe in a white control deck with Angel’s Trumpet, Caltrops, and Parapet? No, probably not.

Orim´s Chant W, Instant, Kicker W
Target player can´t play spells this turn. If you paid the kicker cost, creatures can´t attack this turn. Rare.

Playing this during your upkeep means that the opponent cannot counter your spells later in the turn (except for instants played in response to OC, and assuming it is not countered – all that stuff). Playing it on the opponent’s upkeep means the opponent cannot play spells during their main phases, and cannot attack. (Same caveats apply.) Abeyance is better, but if you don’t have them, this is okay. Remember that your creatures cannot attack if you play it on your turn.

Planeswalker´s Mirth 2W, Enchantment
3W: Target player reveals a card at random from his hand. You gain life equal to the converted mana cost of the revealed card. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery. Rare

If you could do this at end of the opponent’s turn, this would be great. However, this type of lifegain will at least be amusing, even as a sorcery. Maybe in a Zur’s Weirding/bounce/discard deck? And note that this does not tap, so you could do some crazy things with Channel and Farrelite Priest (he is like a Bog Initiate, but for white). If you can find an opponent with nothing but 5cc or better cards in hand, you can get infinite life. Very slowly. The players that Jon Chabot described as the Mad Scientist – or maybe the Nut Case – will love this card. Jon’s article is great, by the way.

Pollen Remedy W, Instant, Kicker-Sacrifice a land
Prevent the next 3 damage that would be dealt this turn to any number of target creatures and/or players, divided as you choose. If you paid the kicker cost, prevent the next 6 damage this way instead. Common

I like cards that let me interfere in other players’ attacks. The ability to divide the damage prevention probably makes this playable. If nothing else, I might add it to my artillery deck (Heavy Ballistae, Ballista Squad, Orcish Artillery, etc.) Basically, it was a deck that could kill practically any attacking or blocking creature, once it got set up. It didn’t work, mainly because it annoyed people so much that everyone killed me as soon as I played the first signature creature, and it could not set up defenses fast enough. Pollen Remedy is probably not enough, but it could help.

Sunscape Battlemage 2W, Creature-Wizard 2/2, Kicker 1G and/or 2U
When Sunscape Battlemage comes into play, if you paid the 1G kicker cost, destroy target creature with flying. When Sunscape Battlemage comes into play, if you paid the 2U kicker cost, draw two cards. Uncommon

I don’t know whether this card is good or not. The "draw some cards" kicker is good, the "destroy a flier" is good, but the cost is high. If you are playing a deck with lots of mana and some ways to get the creatures back in your hand, go for it. Otherwise, play the harder-to-kill Benalish Heralds, and draw cards every turn. On the other hand, Benalish Heralds cannot kill Rith, so this will depend on your metagame..

Sunscape Familiar 1W, Creature-Wall 0/3,
Green spells and blue spells you play cost 1 less to play. Uncommon.

I even thought the Medallions were okay in some decks, but this is close to pointless. If you need to speed up green and blue spells, play Wall of Roots or even Vine Trellis. The Familiar could be interesting in a blue control deck, where it would make Accumulated Knowledge and the like cheaper while also blocking weenies, but who plays that in casually?

Surprise Deployment 3W, Instant
Play Surprise Deployment only during combat. Put a nonwhite creature card from your hand into play. At the end of turn, return that creature to your hand (Return it only if it´s in play). Uncommon.

This is pretty good. When the Saproling Kid attacks me with 458 little trees, I can surprise him with Crater Hellion, or even Plague Spitter. If I had a ton of mana, I could deploy Sliver Queen and pump out some tokens. Or, if I played it at the beginning of combat step – before attackers are declared – I could bring in a big, hasty creature and get a quick attack. This could be a real surprise in a mono-white deck. "Deploy Spirit of the Night and attack you for six – bet you didn’t see that coming." Of course, Spirit will be a dead card without Deployment, but the trick still rates 8.6 on the cool play meter.

Here’s a truly strange one: Surprise Deployment, Dual Nature, Scrivener, Deranged Hermit. Deploy some stuff, and get two Deployments into play. Get Dual Nature into play. Deploy the scrivener, and dual nature will create a second one – allowing you to return two Deployments to hand. Deploy the Hermit, and Dual Nature will create a second, and produce eight total squirrels. With Scrivener to reload the Deployments, you can do this turn after turn. It is not as good as Utility Sneak Attack, but it is close to as annoying.

Voice of All 2 WW Creature-Angel 2/2
Flying As Voice of All comes into play, choose a color. Voice of all has protection from the chosen color. Uncommon.

The "Voice of whatever: angels were pretty good. In our multiplayer games with big sideboards, I used to run a couple of each flavor. Voice of All would not even need to be sideboarded – you choose the color when it enters play. A flier with protection from a troublesome color makes a really good defender – at least until some opponent uses another color card to kill it.

Allied Strategies 4U, Sorcery
Target player draws a card from each basic land type among lands he or she controls. Uncommon.

Okay in 5color, probably too expensive for what you get in other constructed decks.

Confound 1 U Instant
Counter target spell that targets one or more creatures. Draw a card. Common.

Most casual decks use creatures. Most also have creature removal, creature pumpers, or maybe creature enchantments. This is splashable and counters all of these spells. It really counters them – not "counter unless you pay three," or "counter unless you stand on your head and sneeze" – just counter target spell. It would be okay even if wasn’t a cantrip. Sideboard did a whole article on this card – I’ll just say "good."

Dralnu´s Pet 1UU, Creature-Shapeshifter 2/2, Kicker-2B Discard a creature card from your hand. If you paid the kicker cost, Dralunu´s Pet has flying and comes into play with X +1/+1 counters on it, where X is the discarded card´s converted mana cost. Rare.

Wow. If you decided to conserve cards and just discarded Squee, this is a 5/5 flier for 3UUB. If you splurge, and pitch a Devouring Strossus, it’s a flying 10/10. Next turn, cast Cauldron Dance to get the Strossus back, put Lord of the Pit into play from your hand, and send with your 10/10, 9/9 and the 7/7 runt. Of course, the 10/10 doesn’t trample…

Note to self: start packing Spike Cannibals to steal all the +1/+1 counters floating around.

Note to self #2: That’s tech! Delete before sending to StarCity.

(Note to Peter: Been there, done that, teched you out — The Ferrett)

Escape Routes 2U, Enchantment
2U: Return target white or black creature you control to its owner´s hand. Common.

Like Equilibrium and Erratic Portal, there are a bunch of things you can do with this. You can start with Radiant’s Dragoons, Cloudchaser Eagles and Monk Idealists, or use Tidal Visionary to make Yavimaya Grangers white and bounce them, too. True, Equilibrium and Portal have some advantages over Escape Routes – but Escape Routes is a current common, not an expensive rare from an older set.

Planar Overlay 2U, Sorcery
Each player chooses a land he or she controls of each basic land type. Return those lands to their owner´s hands. Rare.

Can you say Planar Overlay, then Blood Oath, naming lands? I thought you could. Actually, I tried a Sunder / Blood Oath deck in T2 a year ago, but it didn’t quite beat Sabre Bargain. Nonetheless, you can have some fun with anything that puts lands in the opponent’s hands. Mix it with Teferi’s Puzzlebox and those lands end up under their library. Put Fire Whip on a Shocker then bounce the lands, ping the opponent and they discards all that land. These are not winning strategies, but they sure are fun.

Planeswalker´s Mischief 2U, Enchantment
3U:Target opponent reveals a card at random from his or her hand. If it´s an Instant or Sorcery remove it from the game. While this card is removed from game you can play it as it were in your hand without mana cost. If an X is in the casting cost X equals 0. At the end the turn if you haven’t played that card return it to its owner´s hand. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery. Rare.

I know Word of Command. Word of Command was cruel to me. Planeswalker, and your Mischief is no Word of Command. (A well-played 5th edition swamp to the FIRST person to identify the original I’m plagiarizing. Note 5th edition – I ended up sending an Unglued Island to Germany last time I offered a "basic land.")

Anyway, if you want to play this, you need to know what you can get, so you need to play Telepathy, Urza’s Glasses, or Seer’s Vision. Even then, you may or may not get the card you want, since it is chosen at random. You also need tons of mana of different colored mana, so you can cast the instants. Think Birds of Paradise, Undiscovered Paradise, etc. But even if you get all this in play, why play this? Why not just win instead? Playing and activating this enchantment costs as much a Morphling, and Planeswalker’s Mischief will make you almost as unpopular as the blue guy will.

Shifting Sky 2U, Enchantment
As Shifting Sky comes into play, choose a color. All nonland permanents are the chosen color. Uncommon

It is another welcome addition to the arsenal of anti-Coalition Victory cards. What more can I say? Actually, I can say Shifting Skies white, Anarchy, or Shifting Sands black, Light of Day – but Nev’s Disk and Peacekeeper do the same things for less.

Sleeping Potion 1U, Enchant Creature
When Sleeping Potion comes into play, tap enchanted creature. Enchanted creature doesn’t untap. When enchanted creature becomes the target of a spell or ability, sacrifice Sleeping Potion. Common.

Anyone ever play Dehydration in casual play? Thought not. This is cheaper, but it’s worse. Rancor the sleeping Boa – hey, look, it woke up! Bah. Bad card.

After writing that, I just know I’m going to lose to this at the prerelease. And the one person who will have read this will be watching. And remember I trashed the card. And remind me.

Stormscape Battlemage 2U, Creature-Wizard 2/2, Kicker W and/or 2B
When Stormscape Battlemage comes into play, if you paid the kicker W cost, you gain 3 life. When Stormscape Battlemage comes into play, if you paid the kicker 2B cost, destroy target nonblack creature. That creature can´t be regenerated. Uncommon.

Gaining life is okay, but not great. Burying a creature is better, and you get a 2/2 out of the deal. Being able to bounce this and replay it is great, but I’m not sure this is better than Bone Shredder or Terminate.

Sunken Hope 3UU, Enchantment
At the beginning of each player´s upkeep, that player returns a creature he or she controls to its owner´s hand. Rare.

I love my Stampeding Wildebeests deck. Umbilicus was also pretty good. Returning creatures is great – especially if I have built my deck around the "comes into play" effects. You just have to hope your opponents haven’t done the same.

Waterspout Elemental 3UU, Creature-Elemental 3/4, Kicker U
Flying When Waterspout Elemental comes into play, if you paid the kicker U cost, return all other creatures to their owner’s hands and skip your next turn. Rare.

Evacuation with a 3/4 flier attached is pretty good. Losing a turn is not. You have to decide whether you can survive, since the creatures would be recast on the opponents’ turns, then you skip yours and everyone beats on you. Personally, I cannot see when I would ever pay kicker. Well, maybe if I had also played Natural Affinity, so I could bounce everyone else’s lands as well. Then no one could cast anything, and I would have the only big creature. And a lot of people hating me.


Dark Suspicions 2BB, Enchantment
At the beginning of each opponent’s upkeep, that player loses 1 life for each card in his or her hand more than you have in your hand. Rare

If you don’t have fewer cards that everyone else, no life is lost. So you need to keep your hand empty. If you can keep your hand empty, then you can annoy your opponents without having any surprises to defend yourself. Then, if you can stay alive for six to ten rounds, you win. It’s Diabolical, that’s what it is.

Personally, I think all my opponents should play this. I’ll be glad to loan out all my copies of Dark Suspicions.

Death Bomb 3B, Instant
As an additional cost to play Death Bomb, sacrifice a creature. Destroy target nonblack creature. It can´t be regenerated. Its controller loses 2 life. Common.

Okay, chump-block the Morphling with my Afterlife token. Before damage is on the stack, cast Death Bomb and sacrifice the token to kill Reya. Now you have to sacrifice another creature to my Grave Pact. Will it be Morphling or the Wall of Roots? Wall of Roots – okay, cast Diabolic Edict targeting you. Bye, Clark. On my turn, I’ll Animate Dead, targeting the late Morphling.

Hey, I can dream, right?

Diabolic Intent 1B, Sorcery
As an additional cost to play Diabolic Intent, sacrifice a creature. Search your library for a card and put that card into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Rare.

Demonic Tutor is good. Vampiric Tutor is good. This is also good. I’m predicting it will be banned in 5color as soon as Kurt "Fattie" Hahn sees the spoiler. Even if you don’t have creatures that have excellent leave play abilities, you almost always have some card worth sacrificing a runt for. (Or just think: What do you do with a Skizzik with no kicker after combat? Maybe get Void or Urza’s Rage? Might as well.) I will play this, just as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Lord of the Undead 1BB, Creature-Lord 2/2
All Zombies get +1/+1 1B, T: Return target Zombie card from your graveyard to your hand. Rare.

He is a nice addition to Zombie decks. If you like theme decks, take another look at this one. Play both the Lord and Zombie Master, and you have some pretty tough Zombies.

Nightscape Familiar 1B, Creature-Zombie 1/1
Blue spells and red spells you play cost 1 less to play. 1: Regenerate Nightscape Familiar. Common.

The old Tempest Medallions were nice. Two colors are better. A two-color medallion that chumps Blastoderm and regenerates is pretty good. I like this: Definitely the best Familiar.

Noxious Vapors 1BB, Sorcery
Each Player reveals his or her hand and chooses one card of each color from it, then discards all other nonland cards from it. Uncommon.

What’s to say? Discard is a marginal strategy in multiplayer, and annoying in casual play. In order to make discard work in either format, you need to commit to it heavily. In practice, this means going mono-black. So why would you want a card that forces you to clear out your hand in the hopes that you might empty some opponent’s hands? Bad card! Go sit in the box with Carnival of Souls. (But… But ANTHONY ALONGI likes it! He knows everything! — The Ferrett)

Phyrexian Scuta 3B, Creature-Zombie 3/3, Kicker-Pay 3 Life
If you paid the kicker cost, Phyrexian Scuta comes into play with two +1/+1 counters on it. Rare.

It is a 5/5 for four (and three life). Better yet, it is a BLACK 5/5. Getting rid of it requires big burn or Swords to Plowshares (in which case you’re up two life.) It could use some evasion, but I’ll take it as is.

Planeswalker´s Scorn 2B, Enchantment
3B:Target opponent reveals a card at random from his or her hand. Target creature gains –X/-X where x is the converted mana of that card. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery. Rare.

With any luck, you can kill some big creatures, and they cannot be regenerated. However, you could also hit a land and do nothing. Worse yet, it’s a sorcery, so you can’t do it during combat or in response to an enchantment. Still, this could be fun when playing against the Dralnu’s Pet / Devouring Strossus / Cauldron Dance deck described above.

Sinister Strength 1B, Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature gets +3/+1 and is black. Common.

It is better than Unholy Armor, but I still prefer Twisted Experiment. Twisted Experiment could kill mana birds or elves. Grave Servitude is even better, since it could be played as an instant or enchantment. On the other hand, making a creature black does help, since it can now block Fear dudes and becomes immune to Terror and its ilk.

Warped Devotion 2B, Enchantment
Whenever a permanent is returned to a player’s hand, that player discards a card from his or her hand. Uncommon.

This would make a truly annoying combo with Sunken Hopes, the "bounce a creature every turn" enchantment. It would be so annoying that all your opponents would gang up on you and kill you – many times, just to make sure.

Caldera Kavu 2R, Creature-Kavu 2/2
1G : Caldera Kavu gets +1/+1 until end of turn B:Caldera Kavu becomes the color of your choice until end of turn. Common.

An inflatable Kavu – what an idea! Actually, he could be pretty good. Cast Mourning on him so he is a 0/2, and he’ll fit into Anthony’s Killer Bees / Ensnaring Bridge deck.

Deadapult 2R, Enchantment
R, Sacrifice a Zombie: Deadapult deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Rare.

When I first saw this I thought "Man, what a stupid name. What a stupid card. Wait – it must be a rare." A red card that only works when you sacrifice black creatures? Why? Then I saw the gold card that makes all Goblins zombies and realized – it is still bad. Even with the new Zombie Lord around – it is still bad. At best, it is a fragile three-card combo that does two damage per turn. Sure, you can do some cool blocking tricks, but that’s not enough. This is worse than Fodder Cannon. (But man, if it didn’t have an activation cost, I would have made a Tombstone Stairwell deck that people would be talking about for YEARS — The Ferrett)

Flametongue Kavu 3R Creature-Kavu 4/2
When Flametongue Kavu comes into play, it deals 4 damage to target creature. Uncommon.

Nice. I like "comes into play" effects. A 4/2 that clears its own path for 3R is nice. Not broken, but nice.

Goblin Game 5RR, Sorcery
Each player hides at least one object, then all players reveal them simultaneously. Each player loses life equal to the number of objects he or she revealed. The player who revealed the fewest objects then loses half his or her life, rounded up. If two or more players are tied for fewest, each loses half his or her life, rounded up. Rare.

This is direct from the Wizards’ Planescape FAQ:

– This card can be confusing if it’s taken literally. For convenience, the
"objects" hidden should be small enough to hide but large enough to see
and count easily. Beads or coins are ideal for this. Furniture, dogs, and
small children are not ideal. Sleight-of-hand tricks are not allowed–you
must reveal all the objects that you hid. Hide the objects someplace where
you can find them again, please.

What more can I say? Couples could have fun hiding and finding these objects – but that’s probably not what Wizards had in mind. Actually, I have no idea what Wizards had in mind. Who pays 5RR and some life to have some players lose half their life? Why not just Earthquake for six and have done with it?

Keldon Mantle 1R, Enchant Creature
B: Regenerate enchanted creature R: Enchanted creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn
G: Enchanted creature gains trample until end of turn. Common.

So with the Mantle, the creature is a pumping, trampling regenerator. Unless it gets Terrored. Or the Mantle gets Disenchanted. Or it gets hit by enough +X/-X to kill it. Or whatever. In the end, this is still a creature enchantment that is not Rancor – which means it isn’t good enough. (Okay, I know there are five other good creature enchantments; you don’t need to email me about that.)

Planeswalker´s Fury 2R, Enchantment
3R: Target opponent reveals a card at random from his or her hand. Planeswalker´s Fury deals damage equal to that card´s converted mana cost to that player- Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery. Rare.

It is really a shame this cannot deal damage to target creatures as well. 3R is a lot to pay when the card draw may be a land, and therefore do zero damage. If you have a lot of mana, there are better burn spells. The random element – activate, chose a card at random – do you live? – could be mildly amusing, but not good. I might put one in my 250+ card 5-color deck for amusement value, but that’s all.

Singe R, Instant
Singe deals 1 damage to target creature. That creature becomes black until end of turn. Common.

I kind of like this. It doubles as removal and a way to counter spells like Agonizing Demise. Even so, I really don’t see me putting this in any casual play Constructed decks.

Tahngarth, Talruum Hero 3RR, Creature-Minotaur Legend 4/4
Attacking doesn’t cause Tahngarth, Talruum Hero to tap. 1R ,T: Tahngarth deals damage equal to its power to target creature. That creature deals damage equal to its power to Tahngarth. Rare.

A 4/4 for five is nice. The "tap to kill Master Decoy or Benalish Heralds" feature is nice. The fact that his upkeep is not as brutal as Gargantuan Gorilla is also nice. Not tapping to attack is nice. Did I mention I thought he was nice? Not broken, but pretty good. I would be happy to open him, and he would fit into a Minotaur deck pretty nicely well.

Thunderscape Battlemage 2R, Creature-Wizard 2/2, Kicker 1B and/or G
When Thunderscape Battlemage comes into play, if you paid the B1 kicker cost, target player discards two cards from his or her hand. When Thunderscape Battlemage comes into play, if you paid the kicker G cost, destroy target enchantment. Uncommon.

The abilities are both very playable and affordable. In many cases, you will play both. I am definitely putting one in my 5-color deck, and could easily see playing it in a multiplayer game if I could manage the mana colors.


Gaea’s Herald 1G, Creature-Elf 1/1
Creature spells can´t be countered by spells or abilities. Rare.

Casting this will make you the best friend of every creature player at the table, and the worst enemy of every control player. But once you get him down, cast every creature you can quickly. A green 1/1 does not have a very long life expectancy.

Magnigoth Treefolk 4G Creature-Treefolk 2/6
For each basic land type among lands you control, Magnigoth Treefolk has landwalk of that type. Rare.

The part I like best is that he could often be that rarest of all beasts – the plainswalker. Beyond that, he isn’t much.

Nemata, Grove Guardian 4GG, Creature-Treefolk legend 4/5
2G:Put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play. Sacrifice a Saproling: All Saprolings get +1/+1 until end of turn. Rare.

When I did my review of Invasion cards, I noted that you could get 60 (sixty) Saprolings into play on turn 3.*** On turn 4, you cast Nemata, tap Gaea’s Cradle for 65 mana, make twenty-odd more Saprolings, attack all the other players with lots of trees, sacrifice any trees that get blocked or have summoning sickness to pump the rest. In a five-player game, you would have fifteen 25/25 Saprolings headed for each opponent. Saproling decks have come a long way from the days of Thallids and Elvish Farmers.

Planewalker´s Favor 2G, Enchantment
3G: Target opponent reveals a card at random from his or her hand. Target creature gets +X/+X where X is the converted mana cost of the revealed card. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery. Rare.

The ability to pump every turn and the ability to see at least one card from an opponent’s hand every turn are both pretty nice, but for the cost of playing and using this once, you could have the Sylvan Library / Abundance combo, or River Boa, Blastoderm and a green free to regenerate the Boa.

Primal Growth 2G, Sorcery, Kicker-Sacrifice a creature
Search your library for a basic land card, put that card into play, then shuffle your library. If you paid the kicker cost, instead search your library for two basic land cards, put them into play, then shuffle your library. Common.

It beats paying echo on a Yavimaya Granger, so it might see play in a bad 5-color deck, but this isn’t much. Even Harrow is better. It might have made it as an instant, but it’s not, so forget it.

Quirion Explorer 1G, Creature-Elf 1/1
T: Add to your mana pool one mana of any color that a land an opponent controls could produce, Rare.

It is a Fellwar Stone with legs. That will be very good in 5 color decks, and okay in other decks that run multiple mana colors. 1/1 elves are fragile, but at least you can’t kill one with a Disenchant {well, not easily.}

Root Greevil 3G, Creature-Beast 2/3
3G, T: Sacrifice Root Greevil: Destroy all enchantments of the color of your choice. Common.

Jamie Wakefield always said was that what green needed was another bad Tranquility. Well, this is about as bad as it gets.

Skyshroud Blessing 1G, Instant
Lands can´t be the targets of spells or abilities this turn. Draw a card. Uncommon.

This should counter Wasteland and Strip Mine, as well as all the land destruction cards out there. This should be okay. Not great, but okay. It may even see some play in extended, since it will protect animated Treetop Villages.

Thornscape Battlemage 2G, Creature-Wizard 2/2, Kicker R and/or W
When Thornscape Battlemage comes into play, if you paid the kicker R cost , Thornscape Battlemage deals 2 damage to target creature or player. When Thornscape Battlemage comes into play, if you paid the kicker W cost , destroy target artifact. Uncommon.

He is one of the best of the battlemages. The 2/2 for 2G is a fair price. The Ghitu Slinger for 2GR with no echo is good. The W to kill and artifact is just a bonus.


All right – the fun stuff!

Ancient Spider – 1GW, Creature – Spider 2/3
First Strike, Protection from Black. Ancient Spider may block as though it had flying. Uncommon.

This is a solid defensive creature. It isn’t awesome, since it still dies to a lot of burn, but it is good. Clearly, there are better cards out there, but if you are on a budget and have one, it is worth considering.

Cloud Cover – 2WU, Enchantment
Whenever another permanent you control becomes the target of a spell or ability as opponent controls, you may return the permanent to its owner’s hand. Rare?

It is like Cowardice, but you do not have to use the bounce function. It should be a great way of defending creatures against burn and Terror-type spells – that is, assuming you can afford the two mana colors and can make room in your deck. In some decks, redundant creatures might work better.

Crosis’s Charm UBR, Instant
Choose one – Return target permanent to its owner’s hand; destroy target nonblack creature, it can’t be regenerated; or destroy target artifact. Uncommon.

I loved the Mirage block charms. The fact that they gave you options made them such good spells. The new dragon charms give you even better options, but at the cost of being three colors. That’s a lot. Leaving one mana open to bluff Emerald Charm is one thing – leaving UBR open to bluff Crosis’ Charm is a much different matter.

I’m not going to do all the charms separately. They are all good. The abilities are first class. However, only playtesting will tell whether the three different mana requirement is enough render them unplayable.

Doomsday Specter 2UB, Creature – Specter 2/3
Flying. When Doomsday Specter comes into play, return a blue or black creature you control to its owner’s hand. Whenever Doomsday Specter deals combat damage to a player, look at that player’s hand and choose a card from it. The player discards that card. Rare.

Coercion on a 2/2 flier: this is some good. Sure, you need to return a creature, but that only means you have to bounce a Ravenous Rats back to your hand. Is that bad? As soon as Ingrid saw these, she found room in her Specters deck, alongside the Hyppies, Blazings, and Abyssals already there. Imagine Doomsday Specter in a Sleeper’s Robe – is that appropriately named?

Dralnu’s Crusade 1BR, Enchantment
All goblins get +1/+1 and are black. All goblins count as zombies.

This is either the other half of the Deadapult combo, or it has some great importance in the storyline. I hope it’s because of the storyline, because the combo looks pretty bad. It might be playable with some Goblins, the Zombie Master and the Zombie Lord, so that all the Goblins are at least 4/4 swampwalkers – but is that really any better than just staying with mono-red Goblins and burn? I doubt it. Even in multiplayer, if you somehow got all this down, plus Blanket of Night so everyone has a swamp, someone with a Disenchant will unravel it all just as you are attacking for the win.

Eladamri’s Call GW, Instant
Search your library for a creature card, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Rare.

It’s Demonic Tutor for creatures, but is an instant. This will be very good. At the end of your turn, fetch Rith. How good is that? It’s a shame it’s a rare – I want four of these in my deck now.

Ertai, the Corrupted 2WUB, Creature – Wizard Legend 3/4
U, T, Sacrifice a creature or enchantment: Counter target spell. Rare.

Arcane Laboratories, other creatures, and Ertai is a lock – at least in two player. In larger games, he is fat and can counter the really bad stuff, like Wrath of God. The trick, as always, is knowing what to counter. That and deciding whether a three-color, five casting-cost 3/4 is worth playing at all. Personally, I like Mundungu better – but that’s merely because Mundungu really annoys John.

Fleetfoot Panther 1GW, Creature – Cat 3/4
You may play Fleetfoot Panther any time you could play an instant. When Fleetfoot Panther comes into play, return a green or white creature you control to its owner’s hand. Uncommon.

The Panther is both another useful creature and another card that Sideboard did a whole article on. Not much I can add, beyond stressing that the combat tricks here are pretty good. So, for that matter, is bouncing an Uktabi Orangutan, or any other 187 creature.

Gerrard’s Command GW, Instant
Untap target creature. It gets +3/+3 until end of turn

Since I love messing around in everyone else’s attacks, and since I frequently play partners, I like this. I used to use Emerald Charm to untap creatures in front of charging Phyrexian Negators: This is even better.

Hull Breach RG, Instant
Destroy target artifact and/or enchantment.

It is Disenchant, but it isn’t white. Disenchant is a great card, but the wrong color for certain decks. This will fit well in those decks, even John’s fabled "When Apes can Fly" beatdown machine.**** (And I wonder what he thinks of this card now that he’s seen it? — The Ferrett)

Keldon Twilight 1RB, Enchantment
At the end of each player’s turn, if no creatures attacked that turn, that player sacrifices a creature he or she controlled since the beginning of the turn. Rare.

This will make everyone attack – including you. You want to play this in decks with blockers that have first strike or regeneration, and some evasion guys to get the attacks in. Dauthi Shadow dudes would be good. Or play with No Mercy, then sit back and watch the opposition throw creatures away, one way or the other. Think of all the creatures that players will hate losing, either because they sent them into a blocker or just sat home: Soul Warden, all Walls, Benalish Heralds, Royal Assassin, etc. I had a deck that used four Harbor Guardians on defense – think about the choice involved there. Attack and give the opponent a card, or sacrifice the Guardian? Not good – on the other hand, that deck ran plenty of Disenchants and counters, so it might have been able to avoid or destroy Keldon Twilight. My Seaworld deck, with its school of islandhome creatures that sat around waiting for me to play Political Trickery, would have just disintegrated. (Okay, it was blown out repeatedly even without Keldon Twilight being played, but Twilight would have made it worse.)

Malicious Advice XUB, Instant
Tap X target artifacts, creatures, and/or lands. You lose X life.

This could be a nice finisher, since you can tap a whole bunch of creatures. However, Shoving Match or Ensnare is better. In group games, if you spend life to tap all of another player’s defenses, you had better have enough creatures to finish that player off – and to protect yourself from everyone else. Keep a Misdirection in hand, just to make sure no one can burn you out once you lose the life.

Meddling Mage WU, Creature – Wizard 2/2
As Meddling Mage comes into play, name a nonland card. The named card cannot be played. Rare.

When people keep naming the combo cards you play, you know that you need to get a touch more casual. Actually, in the casual games I play, this probably would not be too good. We generally play 100 card or so decks, and I rarely use more than three of any critical cards – just to keep the deck interesting when we play for hours. No single card is crucial. Meddling Mage is probably great for tournaments, but nothing special in casual play.

Natural Emergence 2RG, Enchantment
When Natural Emergence comes into play return a red or green enchantment you control to its owner’s hand. Lands you control are 2/2 creatures with first strike. They’re still lands. Rare.

Animating your lands is always a nice way to kill opponents – at the least, it’s unusual. However, remember that the card is an enchantment and it requires you to return an enchantment when it comes into play. This means that if your opponents kill your other enchantments in response, with instants like Disenchants or Harmonic Convergence, you will end up returning Natural Emergence to your hand. Once NE comes into play, you have to return some enchantment to your hand, and NE is an enchantment.

Phyrexian Tyranny UBR, Enchantment
Whenever a player draws a card, that player loses 2 life unless he or she pays 2. Rare.

This could get really annoying. It could also be a different kill mechanism: generate 120 mana, cast Prosperity for 40 and pay 80 to avoid the life loss. The odds are pretty good that your opponents could not pay 80 as well. The only tricky part is the "generate 120 mana."

This would also work pretty well against the decks that draw cards like crazy. In other words, the ones that win. Of course, many of those can Disenchant, counter, or bounce an enchantment like this. Still, Underworld Dreams has always been pretty good, and this follows that template.

Questing Pheldagrif 1GWU, Creature – Pheldagrif 4/4
G: Questing Pheldagriff gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Target opponent puts a 1/1 green Hippo creature token into play. W: Questing Pheldagriff gains protection from black and from red until end of turn. Target opponent gains 2 life. U: Questing Pheldagriff gains flying until end of turn. Target opponent may draw a card. Rare.

I have a Pheldagrif in my 5-color deck. I like the purple hippo. I also like cards that give you choices. But that does not mean the hippo is great. I play a lot of strange and wonderful creatures in my 5 – and I lose to tuned decks a lot as a result. The Questing one looks like a 9.2 on the "nifty" scale, but a 5 to 6 on the playability meter.

Sawtooth Loon 2WU, Creature – Bird 2/2
When Sawtooth Loon comes into play, return a white or blue creature you control to its owner’s hand. When Sawtooth Loon comes into play, draw two cards, then put two cards from your hand on the bottom of your library. Uncommon.

I like him. Drawing cards is always good. Better yet, you can stack the effects so that you can draw cards, then return the Loon itself to your hand. He becomes a perpetual Impulse. Add Winding Canyons, or some other card that lets you play creatures as instants, and you could Impulse at the end of your opponent’s turn, every turn.

Shivan Wurm 3RG, Creature – Wurm 7/7
Trample When Shivan Wurm comes into play, return a red or green creature you control to its owner’s hand. Rare.

It’s a 7/7 Trampler that could appear turn 3 in a Fires deck. Isn’t that just what we need to balance T2? But he is pretty good for casual play. Fat and cheap, with no serious drawback. The obvious deck has mana birds, Llanowar Elves, Skyshroud Elves, various fun fatties, etc. He isn’t a Verdant Force, but that also means you don’t become public enemy number one the instant he hits the table.

Terminate RB, Instant
Destroy target creature. It can’t be regenerated. Common.

If you are playing red and black and playing against creatures, play this. It kills anything it can target. Avatar of Woe – bang, it’s terminated. Royal Assassin – dead. Masticore – dead and buried. Where was this when we needed it in T2?

Urza’s Guilt 2UB, Sorcery
Each player draws two cards, then discards three cards from his or her hand, then loses 4 life. Rare.

Why would you want this to affect you, too? Okay in the right deck, but it will annoy everyone without clearly winning the game. It doesn’t seem aggressive or powerful enough in it’s own right to justify that.


Draco 16, Artifact Creature – Dragon 9/9
Draco cost 2 less to play each basic land type among lands you control. Flying
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Draco unless you pay 10. This cost is reduced by 2 for each basic land type among lands you control. Rare.

It isn’t even a Legend. You could play four and get them all into play at once. I hear 9/9 fliers are okay. True, sixteen mana, plus ten on upkeep, is a bit steep, but just play the Urzatron (Urza’s Mine, Tower and Power Plant) and lots of artifact mana. No problem!

Okay, I was joking, but how good would this be with a few land types in play and Tinker to go fetch it? I once built a multiplayer deck with Tinker and Teeka’s Dragon, and that won more than its share of games. If nothing else, Draco might be nice in a Sneak Attack deck, or with Cauldron Dance. It’s a shame it doesn’t Trample, but I guess that’s what Rancor is for.

Mana Cylix 1, Artifact
1, T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Uncommon.

Another nice mana-washing artifact. I like playing multicolor decks – heck, many color decks – and getting the color right is often a challenge. The first four I get will go into my 5-color deck, and any others will probably see play as well.

Skyship Weatherlight 4, Legendary Artifact
When Skyship Weatherlight comes into play, search your library for any number of artifact and/or creature cards and remove them from the game. Then shuffle your library.
4, T: Choose a card at random removed from the game with Skyship Weatherlight and put that card into your hand. Rare.

This is a very nice, but risky, method of finding the cards you need. At the minimum, it becomes an eight colorless mana Demonic Tutor. At worst, it becomes a self-inflicted Jester’s Cap, plus four enemy Saprolings if it got killed with Artifact Mutation. The Weatherlight is either very good or very bad, and it depends entirely on what your opponents are playing.

I use Mangara’s Tome, which is similar, in 5-color. I generally find that I put some useful – but not critical – stuff under it, like Undiscovered Paradise, Yavimaya Grangers, Wastelands and Benalish Heralds, and frequently find it gets Disenchanted before I draw all the cards out from under it. I have seen someone put four Contracts from Below and a Grinning Totem (all amazing cards in 5 color), and lose the Tome before he could draw any of the cards… But I have also seen people win because of the Tome.

Star Compass 2, Artifact
Star Compass comes into play tapped. T: Add to your mana pool one mana of any color a basic land you control could produce. Uncommon.

This is another nice mana artifact, and fits the multicolor theme. It is an improved Charcoal / Fire / Marble / Moss / Sky Diamond. Again, very nice for multicolored decks. Unfortunately, it does nothing to get you a color you don’t have.

Stratadon 10, Artifact Creature 5/5
Stratadon costs 1 less to play for each basic land type among lands you control. Uncommon.

Sure, why not? It’s a smaller version of Draco. No upkeep, so he might be okay with Tinker, but he’s not that much better than the much cheaper Juggernaut. If you are playing three colors, he becomes cheaper, but so do a lot of other cards. If I am playing three colors and have four mana free for an artifact creature, do I want Masticore or Stratadon? Hmm… I’ll have to get back to you on that.


The lands are all methods of getting multiple colors of mana. None of them are duals, and I still believe that they will not be adequate replacements for the duals in Extended. They are slower, and you cannot fetch Dragon Lairs with a Wood Elf or Land Grant. However, they should be pretty good for casual play, and will rock in 5-color.

Anyway, that’s the set. My fingers are sore, and I have to email this in and get ready for to head to the prerelease. If anything interesting happens, you’ll hear about it next time.

Comments always welcome at [email protected] or [email protected]


* – It’s Star City – I get to do the footnote thing. To substance: I wrote this article off the early spoilers, checked against Wizard’s Planescape FAQ when I could. I know parts of the original spoiler were dead wrong, and I corrected those I found. I probably missed some other mistakes. So, for any errors in card cost, text, etc., I’m sorry. Those are my fault – and definitely not that of Star City. That is, unless the Ferrett adds some while editing.

** – 5-color is a Midwest thing, at least for now. 5-color decks have a 250-card minimum and must have at least 18 cards of each color. Most search cards are restricted. 5-color is played for ante, so cards like Jeweled Birds and Contract from Below are used. The full rules can be found here: http://www.5-color.com/

*** – from "Casual Play: The Coming Invasion" on the Dojo: "Turn 1: Forest, Elf. T2: Gaea’s Cradle, tap forest for Elf, tap 1st elf for Bird, tap Cradle for Priest of Titania and Crop Rotate – rotate Cradle for another Cradle, tap it for 4, Saproling Symbiosis. T3: tap Bird and Priest, Saproling Symbiosis, tap Cradle for a ton, Restock to get two Symbioses, cast them both. Take some mana burn. Sixty Saprolings. Then your opponent Earthquakes for 1 and you are back where you started."

**** – Another time. Promise