Welcome to the tri-annual festivities. Every four months a new set is released, and on its heels come the various articles with set reviews and draft rankings and so forth. With a name like”Fifth” in the title, I just have to wonder how good this set will be to Five Color.
Darksteel gave Five Color the card that has spawned the Official Greatest Debate since Contract From Below – Sundering Titan. The debate continues and rages on, with so many arguments that I have to change my priorities on the Five Color Yahoo! Mailing List to send me one e-mail a day compiling everything sent instead of individual e-mails like I used to. Debate is good for the soul and a healthy sign of the environment.
Will Fifth Dawn bring us similar cards? What treasures lie within these sealed boosters?
As a reminder, this review is for cards that I feel need a Five Color comment on them. Many cards will not be in this review, which makes it more appealing, I think. How many times do you need to read,”Not a playable card,” before you get the idea? Remember, any card can conceivably see play in a Five Color deck, especially if players are more casual. I simply have better things to do with my time than write the same thing over and over again. I suspect that you have better things to do than read it as well.
Unlike formats like Type Two and draft, Five Color is an established format with established standards of what spells do. As such, new cards are easily assessed. In case you do not believe me, take our good friend Sundering Titan. Before Darksteel was even released, I had this to say about Sundering Titan in the”Darksteel and Five” article:
“Sundering Titan – Have you ever wanted to single handedly decimate your opponent’s manabase? Well then Sundering Titan is for you. A 7/10 for eight mana which destroy a bunch of your opponent’s permanents is a good deal, but you might want to look to Tinker to get it into play sooner. Occasionally you’ll need to destroy one or two of your own land, but you can rape your opponent’s lands with the Titan, and that’s a pretty powerful and one sided effect, especially on a 7/10 stick.”
Of course, that review was right on the money. Now people are arguing that Titan is simply too powerful and has to go. With formats like Type One and Five Color, you can evaluate this sort of impact early.
I typically begin one of these articles by going over the new mechanics before heading into the cards themselves. I’ll start with white and work my way around the color wheel to blue before heading into artifacts and such.
Scry – Looking at a couple of cards and placing one on the bottom of your library is never a bad thing. In Five Color, quality of cards is even more vital than in sixty-card Magic. As such, Scry is a pretty useful ability. However, a card that gives Scry cannot be seriously worse than an existing variant, or else Scry will go unused. Take Magma Jet, the burn spell with Scry. In a format that has Lightning Bolt to do one more damage at one less mana, Magma Jet hardly becomes an option.
Sunburst – Obviously, the more colors in your deck, the better Sunburst is. As such, you might think that Sunburst would be a valuable ability in Five Color. That is not necessarily so. A card with Sunburst would still only be good in Five Color if other cards did not do the same thing better. Additionally, a card with Sunburst needs to still be good with only three or four colors available, and not all five. You cannot always rely on having one of each color of mana available, after all.
Anyway, without further ado, here is the card by card blow of Fifth Dawn, Five Color style!
White does not give us too many cards, but it does have a few interesting possibilities for later down the road when more equipment is released. It also has a few cards that have a powerful interaction with artifacts.
The ability to return cheap artifacts en masse is very attractive. The first way to abuse this ability is through cards that make you discard, such as Compulsion, although that gets really expensive. Nostalgic Dreams, may be a better choice. You could also return artifacts that sacrifice for an effect like Phyrexian Furnace or Thran Foundry. As a 2/4 body for four mana, nobody will claim it’s a beater, but you might see it pop its head occasionally in a Five deck.
Beacon of Immortality
Cute. You might see it in casual Five Color decks. Note that the Beacon ability to shuffle back into the deck is hardly useful when the deck has 250 cards.
Bringer of the White Dawn
So, we get a 5/5 trampler that Reya’s artifacts. I’ve heard a lot of Five Color players being really jazzed about all of the Bringers’ alternate costs. Seriously, though, how often do we play Cromat? He’s a 5/5 for each color of mana with five abilities, yet he sucks because you can never play him. It takes too long to play a spell that costs one of each mana. This is strictly for casual players.
An interesting creature removal spell. It won’t hit creatures played that turn, and it will miss utility creatures like Dwarven Miner. Still, it could be a nice surprise for a deck looking for more mass kill. Note that, since it doesn’t target the creatures that it kills, it can take out a Morphling, Blastoderm, or protection from White creature.
Roar of Reclamation
The Twilight’s Call of artifacts. I expect to see this in a few casual decks on Friday nights. That may bleed over to Five Color as well, of course. Unlike the creature versions, this card simply seems much more suited to combo, and that’s where I believe that the Roar will make its mark.
I doubt that you can regularly see any Equipment other than Skullclamp get played in competitive Five Color. Maybe a Sword of Fire and Ice will see play occasionally. If Equipment gets to the point where you begin to see twenty or more cards in aggressive builds of Five, this may become an interesting way to find them. Maybe Skullclamp is enough of a reason to run these in some aggressive builds.
As always, Green has a reanimation target, plus a few cards that help smooth out mana. In this set, we also get two powerful recursion cards, each of which may very well be acted upon by the Council.
All Suns’ Dawn
Hello restricted list. All Suns’ Dawn is more powerful Restock, Recall, and probably Nostalgic Dreams. The first and third items on that list are already restricted. Compare this card to Restock, which costs two Green instead of one and returns only two cards. You’ll see that All Suns’ Dawn comes out very favorably. Sure, you can’t return an artifact, land or multiple Blue cards with All Suns’ Dawn, but it also has much more sheer power. I’d expect to see this voted on soon.
Bringer of the Green Dawn
The Bringers are too difficult to play, and all this one does is Call of the Herd each of your turns. That’s hardly anything special considering how difficult it is to take out. However, as a reanimation target, the Green Dawn Bringer is better than Verdant Force in terms of making power and toughness. Plus, it tramples.
Channel the Suns
If you cited this card as a reason to play Bringers, don’t. It doesn’t matter how many Channel the Suns and Gaea’s Balances that see print, they are all ultimately poor cards. Poor cards that help you bring a 5/5 into play? Hardly seems worth the effort, doesn’t it?
Mana production should not cost four mana. You want to spend the first turn or two setting up your mana. At the four spot, you should be playing Flametongue Kavu and Masticore, not fooling around with an enchant land. Ick.
Hello restricted list redux. Another card that compares favorably to a previous card on the restricted list – namely Regrowth. A lot of Five decks use Green as their base color, and this fits in rather nicely I’d say. This may very well become a Five Color staple.
Another card with staple potential is this highly splashable two power creature. This even gives Maze of Ith and Tabernacle of Pendrell Vale the ability to tap for mana. Any color of mana can be had when this elf comes to the party. And he swing for two, for just two mana. Pretty good deal, I’d say.
A new Early Harvest, only it costs five mana, untaps all of your lands, and is very splashable at requiring one Green. And oh yeah, you can use the other half of this Entwine cost to animate your lands.
Ah, the first card with Scry on our list. Since it destroys an artifact for just two mana, is the Scry ability useful enough to make up for the lost ability to destroy an enchantment, like Naturalize. I’m not even sure Naturalize gets played much, however, when Artifact Mutation, Orim’s Thunder, and Dismantling Blow are running around. However, enchantments are powerful as well, and they get played too. I doubt the loss of versatility will be made up for by looking at two cards and choosing one to draw next.
Red has a lot of substandard cards when compared to its past. Why play Granulate when you can play Shatterstorm? Why play Rain of Rust when you can play Pillage? Why play Screaming Fury when you can play Reckless Charge? A couple of those cards are mentioned below, just so you can get the whole story, but red has few options for a Five Color deck.
Beacon of Destruction
For one more Red mana and one less colorless, Lava Axe turns into an instant, gains the ability to target a creature, and shuffles back into the deck when done. And becomes a rare. Powerful, but not overly so.
Bringer of the Red Dawn
This is a much more intriguing reanimation target than the previous two Bringers. Ray of Commanding a creature each upkeep will at least remove a blocker, and also may add a powerful attacker as well. Including a sacrifice effect to pop your controlled creature would be icing on the cake.
…And then they reprint Lava Axe as well. With artifact lands, artifact mana, and the occasional other artifact as well, you could hope to deal four or five damage with the Feedback Bolt, tops. Beacon of Destruction is more reliable, and hits creatures too.
An interesting power that may be abusable, or may be weak. If a deck is full of Spike Feeders, Spike Weavers, Mindless Automatons, and the like, then this card becomes a very powerful finisher.
A very clever card, cheap, and an instant. However, there still probably isn’t enough Equipment running around to make this card mean anything. It would be a cheap way to draw two cards off a Skullclamp.
Rain of Rust
A very expensive entwine card, and not really as versatile as Fissure. Just as expensive as Fissure, though. Popping either an artifact or a land? Have we really come so far from Pillage that we have to cost two more mana?
Black only has a few cards that look to make an impact, but those cards appear more powerful than Red and White’s contributions. The Black Bringer may be the best of them all.
Beacon of Unrest
Versatile, but is it as good as other cards that cost the same mana? It’s more unpredictable than Zombify because you can’t be sure what your opponents are playing. Compare it to Living Death and you’ll see that it comes out unfavorably. Probably a powerful card for the multiplayer table, keep it away from your competitive Five Color decks.
Bringer of the Black Dawn
Hi, my name is Bringer of the Black Dawn, but you can call be BBD, not to be confused with BUD, the Blue Bringer. I Vampiric Tutor every turn for free at your desire. I can get cards to protect myself, set up wins, or help to defend you from attacks. I only cost WURGB, but you might want to Zombify me into play. Since you are already playing Black, you have access to Entomb and Buried Alive, to facilitate playing me. I’d love to be your emissary of darkness. Give me a call!
With this Drake, you are going to lose some serious life if your opponent plays Contract from Below. On the other had, we have a 3/3 flying beater for one Black mana and two colorless – a very affordable cost. If your opponent plays a spell and a half every turn, and you are dealing three a turn, who wins? I assume that problem is much easier than the classic two speeding trains questions.
Half the cost of Inspiration, pay two life, but very affordable in mana. Deep Analysis pays three life for the flashback for the same number of cards. This is a very potent card, but with all of the card drawing available in Five Color – from Allied Strategies to Fact or Fiction to Ancestral Recall to Deep Analysis, will this make any impact? I doubt it.
The Blue cards in this set generally seem like lower powered version of previous cards, or artifact version of previous cards. Acquire is just an artifact Bribery. Artificer’s Intuition is just an artifact Survival of the Fittest. Condescend is a powered down Scry version of Power Sink and Syncopate. Blinkmoth Infusion is hardly as powerful as Turnabout. Beacon of Tomorrows is nowhere near as good as Time Warp. And so on Blue goes. This is possibly the weakest set of cards Blue has offered Five Color in the Mirrodin block.
A Bribery for artifacts will be just as effective a tutor for Sundering Titan as the Bribery itself. As such, I imagine that this card may see play in Titan on Titan brawls, as long as Titan is still around. After that, I suspect that Acquire will fade. It’s not like Bribery gets played that much anyway, and Acquire will likely be less powerful.
Ah, the famous Survival of the Fittest returns, only wearing artifact boots. This card combos very well with Auriok Salvagers, by the way. Sure, the Intuition only gets the cheap artifacts, but that allows you set up your mana. It also allows you to play toolbox with cheap artifacts. Why not play a Tormod’s Crypt, if you don’t already, since now to you Survival… err… I mean Artificer’s Intuition for it? This card will never be among the most powerful tutor effects, and I doubt that immediate action will even be taken, but it is just subtly powerful enough that we may look at it later down the road.
This is an amazing card, but not because it has Affinity. You’ll rarely have enough artifacts in Five Color that this works well. It is amazing because you can combo it with two cards. The first is Spellbinder, a minor combo. The second is the always broken Dream Halls. In either case, you get this spell for much less than its printed cost of fourteen mana.
Bringer of the Blue Dawn
Ho hum, draw two cards. Boring. Cards are nice, sure, but a 5/5 trampler that takes a lot of effort to play has got to do something more… aggressive. Drawing cards makes this guy the Bringer of choice for multiplayer, not Five Color.
Eyes of the Watcher
Decent enough to get mentioned, but I don’t think that it will be a great card by any means. Scry 2 is hardly as good as, say, Rhystic Study’s ability to draw a card if your opponent played a spell. That helped to slow down your opponent, this helps to slow you down. I know which one I’d rather have, but Rhystic Study hardly sees play. Why would this?
Play a 2/2 and tutor for a Mox. Not a bad deal at all. You could also get various other small casting cost artifacts, like we have been talking about for a while with other cards.
Like every set in this block, there are an inordinate amount of artifacts. Due to sheer number alone, you can understand that we have both great cards and chaff available.
Like Phyrexian Infiltrator before it, you can stack activations of the totem in such a way as to ultimately keep the Totem and your opponent’s best permanent for your worst nonland permanent. It takes ten mana though. The cheap cost of the Totem allows it to be used with all of the White and Blue cards that work around small casting cost artifacts.
At the beginning of your turn, gain three or four or five life? Every turn? Life gain has never been that powerful, and this card likely won’t change things too much, either.
Here is another cheap artifact, and this one draws a card by sacrificing for a cheap, one-use Soldevi Digger. If you just need to Digger one card, this is your better choice, since it’s cheaper, draws you a card, and can be used with the Blue and White cards like the Avarice Totem. For just one mana, you draw a card and put a card back into your deck. This can be decently useful if you have a tutor in hand, but Five Color has a lot of recursion as well, so it would probably have to be for a more specific purpose.
Crucible of Worlds
A lot of players are talking about insta-banning the Crucible upon release. A single Strip Mine could be played turn, after turn, after turn, until all of your opponent’s mana is Stripped away. A fetch land from Onslaught could grab four or five dual lands and set your manabase up perfectly. With Fastbond and Zuran Orb, you could gain infinite life. Etcetera, etcetra, etcetera. Of course, it is also a great answer to Sundering Titan, a card that is wrecking the metagame, but that appears to be immaterial.
Door to Nothingness
Give Wizards points for clever names. How many times have you read that if an effect requires a large number of mana, say ten mana, it better win you the game? The next best thing to you winning is your opponent losing. Ten mana, all of it specific, and your opponent dies. No Worship, no Crumbling Sanctuary, no typical way of dodging defeat. It’s still a total investment of fifteen mana, and that’s a bit too steep. Wait a second, that’s a lot too steep.
Now here is a card with potential. Double each type of mana in your mana pool? Sounds like a very tasty way to gain a bunch of extra mana for various nefarious designs. It’s a bit pricey for normal plans, so I expect only a narrow range of decks can use this card. However, it seems like a useful tool, so we’ll need to remember it for later.
Single card in search of home. Likes decks with lots of different colors of mana, and few small casting cost permanents. Does not enjoy being related to cousins Pernicious Deed and Powder Keg. Instead likes to stand on its own. If you have a place in your deck for such a card, call us at 1-900-HOT-MACHINE-LOVE tonight. Don’t delay!
Haven’t you been saying recently that Magic was missing something? I know that people have been talking about it on forums for years, now. Magic is just missing a special card. We needed Dancing Scimitar to return, didn’t we? It was such a great card before, and now it has been improved! Magic just isn’t Magic without the best Scimitar this side of Istanbul.
Wasn’t this a card submitted for the”You Make the Card Deux” contest? I thought so.
If you can use four colors of mana, then this is a 4/4 for just four mana that you can sacrifice at any time by spending one mana. What do you get if you sacrifice it? Only a measly three cards. Arguably the arcbound target of choice these days. As a 4/4 for four that draws three cards, I have to admit, this is pretty powerful stuff.
Fist of Suns
So, all of my speels have the Bringer alternate cost? Is this really that potent? Sure, you can build your deck around Time Stretch and stuff, but you could always do that, and do that more reliably, with Dream Halls. This just seems like JV Squad comparatively.
If the Array cost at least one less to play, I’d really like it. As it is, it comes too late in the mana curve for slow mana production. However, I do like the card, and if there is a way to utilize it’s power, then it could become a very reliable card.
I love these interesting cards that offer two possibilities. Tapping for a mana is good, becoming a 2/2 is good. There are lots of time when you do not need a colorless mana or a 2/2, and the other ability will come in useful. It only costs two mana, but there it has competition with Felwar Stone and Mind Stone. If it can muscle out the competition, then the Idol will find a home.
The Ashnod’s Altar of artifacts. Few artifacts are played as much in combo desks as Ashnod’s Altar. With artifact lands and numerous zero-mana artifacts, the Ironworks may end up being more dangerous in the long run. Sacrifice a bunch of artifacts, including the lands you have. Play Roar of Reclamation, have a bunch of mana and all of your artifacts intact. We’ve seen all of this before, only with creatures.
Considering that there are numerous ways of playing a creature for free, the Golem can cheapen all of your artifacts with just a few in play. However, in a dedicated artifact deck with five artifacts out, playing this quickly with mana acceleration could rally put the deck into overdrive.
Because this is just odd enough, it may see some unusual play in the occasional odd deck. Imagine having three out, and sacrificing two every turn for four mana from the Krark-Clan Ironworks, for example.
As an artifact that can be played for free, the Mantle is another of those cards usable by the Blue and White spells that rely on low casting costs. Its equip cost is cheap, but prevents it from being used right then to produce mana. After that, you can tap away, making any creature into a Utopia Tree… er… Birds of Paradise.
I’ve read reviews online by people who play Five Color and are just in love with this card. Personally, I think that it is too much of a one-trick pony and therefore lacks power.
Hardly a Masticore, that’s for sure. It doesn’t regenerate to protect itself, that’s a major disadvantage. It doesn’t blast away small creatures in machine gun fashion, and that’s a major disadvantage. The old Masticore could be played, used to blast small creatures, then lost when you didn’t pay the upkeep. This version won’t even do three damage to a creature until you pay the upkeep. What a wimp.
It’s becoming wordy to say”artifacts that costs one or less” (Is saying that easier than saying,”artifacts that cost one or zero?” Are we preparing for the day when artifacts cost negative mana? Or maybe a half of a mana?) So, let’s call them artifacts lite. Tap to return an artifact lite. Sounds nice, but the catch is that the card costs six to play. That’s nowhere near the time in the game when you want to be playing around with cards that are priced for the first turn. Ick.
Although the ability to have a 5/5 flying creature for just five mana is tempting, you have to have the full run of mana available to do it. That will not likely come on the fifth or earlier turns, but later. As such, the effective turn that you can play this is later.
Sure, there are uses for Solarion. Suppose that I have access to one of each color of mana by the time I hit my seventh turn. I play Solarion – he’s a 5/5. I wait. You attack with some flyers and laugh at Solarion. I tell you to go. More flyers come. At the end of the turn, I tap Solarion – Ten counters. During my turn I tap Solarion – Twenty counters. Then I Fling him at you for twenty damage. So sure, there are uses. That would be fun for casual Magic night around the multiplayer table, not for serious Five Color. Sorry.
Staff of Domination
It’s not even as good at drawing cards as Jayemdae Tome. I figure that this card requires too specialized a deck for Five Color, maybe a sixty-card deck in the traditional manner will allow this card to be properly abused.
Another interesting card – appears to be a cross between Triassic Egg and Rukh Egg. You know, the previous two eggs in Magic before Odyssey gave us a bunch more. I am, as Mark Rosewater would say, Egg-static with anticipation of this card for multiplayer Magic. It’s another great way to abuse Obliterate. But for Five Color? The just isn’t powerful enough, or reliable enough.
Making 2/2 for no mana cost after the initial investment is pretty good. Increasing the number made whenever an artifact is put into the graveyard is even better. Too bad these aren’t artifact creatures. I assume that, by now, everybody already sees the potential for combining this with a few cards like Ashnod’s Altar, right? Time will tell whether or not this card will find a home in Five Color combo, but if I were a combo player, I’d take a look at it, since it also serves as a winning condition.
Watch as little, often picked on Green Deck becomes… Instant Boy! Faster than a pack of wild ox, trickier than a mage with smooth locks, smarter than a red little fox, and more ingenious that a quadruple set of locks! And now, for a limited time, you can become Instant Boy too! Instants not included, some assembly required, use only during end of turn step.
The last of the artifacts lite that we will discuss, the Bauble gets you a basic land for one more mana than a Green spell like Rampant Growth. That makes the card pretty significant. However, Braidwood Sextant was not played much. Although this artifact is strictly better, it is not better by much. Time will tell if the Bauble is able to compete with the hordes of established mana fixers in the environment.