What a week! It started off with notification that I’ve been invited to Head Judge Grand Prix Dallas (thanks to Jeff Donais for the vote of confidence!) and ended with the Prerelease and Grand Prix Dallas Trial Tournament. I was happy with the number of folks that showed up at our Anchorage event, some from as far away as Fairbanks (although I should have ordered more product – I actually wanted to give out more prizes than I did; guess I’ll know better next time). Thanks to the great staff for all the help (especially to Lisa, who is without question the best admin person in the world) and to all the players for both showing up and having a great time.
But let’s get to brass tacks. You want to know about Invasion. By now you’ve seen all the cards, searched for all the combos, and used words like "broken!" and "lame" often enough. This week we’re going to look at the mechanics of Invasion.
Multicolored cards are back with a vengeance, and there are a few things you need to know about them. A spell or permanent’s color is determined by the colors in its mana cost. That means, for example, that Raging Kavu is red AND green. If something affects red creatures or green creatures, it will affect Raging Kavu. That also means that either CoP: Red or CoP: Green will prevent its damage. Split cards are also considered both colors everywhere, save on the Stack (but we’ll get to them in a bit).
The Gold cards I’ve seen so far are for the most part extremely well-costed for their abilities, especially the creatures. There are a number of 2/2s with protection for two mana (although both mana are color-specific).
Okay, we’ll get to them now. Split cards are two spells on one card – cute little mini-cards turned sideways. During announcement, you decide which you’re going to use. Once the spell is on the stack (the first thing that happens during announcement, remember), the other half of the card is completely invisible. Splits also have two names. If something searches for a particular name, it’ll find either one listed on the card. They also have two colors. Wax/Wane is white and green; if an opponent Persecutes you for either color, you’ll discard it.
What do you do if a spell or ability asks for a single value of a Split card’s characteristics? Here’s the short version of this rule (and this is straight from the FAQ): "Effects that ask for a split card’s characteristic get both answers. Effects that ask if a split card’s characteristic matches a given value get only one answer." Infernal Genesis would generate two tokens (one and one), but if you had to discard all cards whose converted mana cost is two, you wouldn’t discard Wax/Wane.
Split cards have two names. If something asks you to name a card, you have to use both (the full) name. You can’t name only "Wax" or only "Wane"; you need to name "Wax/Wane."
Kicker cards have an optional extra cost (the Kicker cost) that can be paid when the spell is played. If you do, you get an additional or improved effect. You declare whether or not you’re going to pay the Kicker cost when you would choose the Mode (you have been reading previous columns, right? If not, you’re way behind the curve – go back and check the archives). And here’s a special rule for Kickers: If the Kicker has you choose a target, you don’t do so until you decide whether or not you’re paying the additional cost (you WERE reading that column, right?).
Like all other additional costs to play spells, Kicker costs don’t change the spell’s mana cost or converted mana cost, whether they’re paid or not. Repeat the mantra after me: "Nothing changes a spell’s mana cost or converted mana cost. Things just help you pay or make you pay more." Very good.
Finally, some Kickers are worded "Do A. If you pay the Kicker cost, do B instead." You never get to do both: only A if you didn’t pay the Kicker, or B if you did. This is an enlightened mechanic, to say the least. Looks like flexibility is the watchword of the set.
Simply put, these cards’ effects depend on how many different basic land types you control. The maximum you can have is five, because there are only five types of basic lands. Revised dual lands count as two (because they count as both types of basic land). Domain cards count how many types you have in play when the spell/ability resolves, not when they’re played.
Leeches have a Derelor-type effect, only there’s one for each color. They’re all cheaper than creatures of the same power/toughness, but they make the rest of your spells of that color cost one more to play. Again, they don’t change the mana cost of the spell, they just make it more expensive.
Djinn (I’m pretty sure the singular and plural are identical)
They’re big so long as their color isn’t in the majority on your side of the table. They get -2/-2 if the number of permanents you have in their color is in the majority. For each of the five colors (ignore land and artifacts), count the number of each permanent in that color. If the number in the Djinn’s color is the highest or tied for the highest, it gets the penalty. Remember that multicolored cards count once for each color.
There are six cards that have you divide some cards up into two piles. Then one effect happens to the first pile, another to the second. The cards don’t leave the zone that they’re in Magicwise, and they only stay stacked so long as the effect is resolving. Afterward, you can put them back.
I know you’re going to have loads of questions about this set; some of the cards are quite complex and interesting. As always, feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] I’ll answer as quickly as possible.
The Invasion set looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun, both for the serious player and the casual player. I really like the move toward flexibility. It reduces the luck factor of the game and allows the more highly-skilled player to come out on top more often – which is the way it should be.
And that’s my Final Judgement.
Sheldon K. Menery