Blue has some good cards in Judgement.
(Hand off the keyboard.)
(Sit back, stretch, look it over.)
Yeah, nothing too controversial there. My reputation is safe.
For my next piece of analysis, I’ll talk about how there’s a good chance of instability in the Middle East. As Scott Adams says, there may even be sand involved.
Let’s go to the preamble before I start throwing top tech picks at you. Specifically, I’ll talk about my diet. A few weeks ago, I was a lithe 160 pounder. At 5’7″, that isn’t too bad – it’s about average, really – but there wasn’t much muscle tone involved, and I was probably carrying around an extra ten to fifteen pounds of flab. After a few looks in the mirror (in the morning, no less!) it dawned on me with growing horror that my father’s rear end was starting to grow onto my body.
Now, I love and respect my old man (god rest him) and I’ll count myself lucky if I can one day claim to have even a fraction of his gumption, tenacity and zest for life… But I don’t want to imitate his body type too closely. That would be cause for alarm. Imagine my unrest, then, at the discovery of somewhat patronly leanings in my buttockular development.
Buttockular development? There is no way that’s a word, but it made me chuckle out loud so I thought I’d include it.
My midsection wasn’t coming along too well, either. Bill Cosby has written a lot about the changes the body might go through when you age and lose your youthful energy (mine is all but gone at age 21!) and he said his spare tire had”the texture and consistency of a blob of candle wax.” Testify, Bill. I can confirm his observations.
Anyhow, I wanted to lose about fifteen pounds.
Wait, don’t leave yet! I’m going to talk about Magic in a few minutes, just bear with me. Yes, I did read Ferrett’s thoughts on good Internet writing, and I know that I should assume that no one gives a crap about me or my slowly expanding waistline. Just give it a chance.
Wait, want to read something that will grab your attention? Try this link – it tells the tale of Team Academy founder Vincent Rivera and his return to Magic.
Read, then come back and I’ll keep telling you about my premature mid-life crisis. You’ll be ready to hear more about calorie counts and morning jogs after you take a quick break for humor.
Yeah, I wrote that too – TSS was my name when I played Asheron’s Call.
Yes, the same game that YOU KNOW WHO plays.
I did play with him, please don’t ask about it.
Let’s check out those blue cards – I’ll tell you about the diet after all is said and done.
Blue’s Judgement All-Stars
Creature – Wizard
Whenever ~this~ deals combat damage to a player, return up to X target permanents that player controls to their owner’s hand, where X is the damage dealt to that player.
Cephalid don’t police people. They police loyalties.
I really wish this guy was only 2U to cast, because Blue has no good way to raise the power and toughness of a creature. An ability this powerful has a lot of potential – the most obvious combo is with Reckless Charge on turn 4… At which point you reset the entire opposing board.
The problem is that this will rarely work. Let me give you an example.
You: Island, go.
Him: Forest, Elf, go.
You: Island, Fire Diamond, go.
Him: Forest, Call of the Herd, go.
You: Island, Cephalid Constable, Reckless Charge it, attack.
Him: Uh…block with Call of the Herd token?
I won’t continue. He’s playing Zevatog and he’s got Aether Bursts and a blocker ready for you.
As usual, we’re asking the question:”How good is the Cephalid Constable deck?” The card is fine, but what sort of jank to we have to play with to use it correctly?
The best way to use the Constable is to give him some sort of power boost along with some sort of evasion. What colors can do this with Creature Enchantments? Let’s check.
BLUE – Ghostly Wings (1U, +1/+1, flying, discard to return to hand)
WHITE – Serra’s Embrace (2WW, +2/+2, flying, does not tap to attack), Strength Of Isolation (+1/+2, protection from black)
GREEN – None
RED – None
BLACK – Strength of Lunacy (1B, +2/+1, protection from white)
MULTI – Armadillo Cloak (1WG, +2/+2, Spirit Link, trample), Wings Of Hope (UW, +1/+3, flying)
Nothing much playable there without delving into some ugly mana problems. Serra’s Embrace is probably the best option, since it fits into the mana curve right after the Constable itself and it’s in an allied color. There are also some creature enchantments that don’t grant evasion but might be worth it anyway, like the new Elephant Guide, and quick hitters like Maniacal Rage. Sleeper’s Robe grants evasion and gives you a card, which might be worth something.
Looks weak – it’s going to take a lot of work to make a deck out of this sucker, or find a design where it helps out. The first time you return all of Control Black’s land on turn 4, though, you’re going to be laughing pretty hard, even if you lose to everything else.
Choose an instant you own from outside the game, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Remove ~this~ from the game.
He wished for knowledge, but not for the will to apply it.
Trying to figure out if this is good or not is pretty hard. Obviously, it has tons of potential – but I feel like I’m just repeating the same old bill of goods by saying that. Copping out. Why will it be good? What will it be good with? Your guess is as good as mine. For a little bit of tempo disadvantage, you can go get a sideboard card in Game 1, whatever you happen to need at any given time.
You can put narrow but powerful cards in your sideboard and go and get them without having to worry about drawing them in the wrong situations. You can put hosers in your sideboard and pull them out in Game 1 against the decks where you need them most. Hibernation against green, for example, or Recoil/Rushing River to get rid of that random Game 1 Ensnaring Bridge. Plagiarize is a card that is sometimes amazing and sometimes worse than venereal disease – you can go and get it if you can pull off the Coliseum trick, or go get something else if you can’t (which is most of the time).
Good luck with this bad boy.
Flash of Insight
Look at the top X cards of your library. Put one of them into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library.
Flashback: 1U, remove X blue cards in your graveyard from you game
Is a bad Impulse good if you can use it twice?
It doesn’t get you out of manascrew. It doesn’t get you what you need unless you spend a ton of mana or smoke your graveyard. I’m thinking not.
And yet… What if you draw this late-game, when you have twelve mana and fifteen blue cards in your graveyard? It’s like a Demonic Tutor you can cast twice. You choose the best card in your top 10, and then the best card in your top 15. That’s pretty strong.
This card can also prevent an instant loss to Haunting Echoes as long as you don’t tap out. I’m going to test one in my Blue decks. It has terrible synergy with Psychatog, obviously, so it’ll have to be U/W Millstone or Monoblue. One card that gets you two cards, sometimes the exact two cards you want. Don’t underestimate this card.
Grip of Amnesia
Counter target spell unless its controller removes his or her graveyard from the game. Draw a card.
“Would you abandon your past to save your future?”
Pretty powerful stuff… But when is it good? It depends on how good the”empty graveyard deck” is, and how good this card is against Psychatog.
One thing you can do is try playing this instead of Opt or Obsessive Search. It’s one more mana, sure, but it still replaces itself whether it counters a spell or not, and sometimes it will… Though it’s not anything gamebreaking.
If only it cost one mana, then we might have something. As it stands, this card is like the cycling cards of old in that it lets you play a 56-card deck. Also, sometimes it can be really annoying for your opponent – like if they’re playing Psychatog or a deck that wants Threshold badly.
Maybe it’s only a sideboard card. Still, it has applications against most decks:
“Your Nantuko Shade doesn’t get through unless you remove a couple of Edicts and an Ichorid from the game. Your Flametongue isn’t killing my Looter unless you remove that Call of the Herd from the game. You’re losing those fifteen cards in your graveyard unless you let that Fact get countered and let me draw my card. Your Ancestral Tribute is going to net you zero life unless you let me counter that Teferi’s Moat.”
Make up your own, there’s a bunch. Collect them all.
Counter target spell played from the graveyard.
Draw a card.
“The first time was amusing, but now you’re getting tiresome.”
Remember how Teferi’s Response, played once, could prevent an opponent from even trying to Port you for the remainder of the match? Well, this is no Response… But there’s a small chance this spell is good enough to see sideboard play in Constructed, where it can help balance the card advantage situation when you’re facing a full boat of Call Of The Herds and Firebolts, or those tiresome Edicts.
The Disdain is pretty narrow. The sideboard cards that it will have to compete with are ones that have much more broad applications and powerful effects. The cantrip effect is what saves it from being worthless. Is that enough to make it better than”kick to the junk” cards like Hibernation, or solid catch-all cards like Gainsay? I don’t think so. Do your own testing, draw your own conclusions. Its best application is probably against Chainer’s Edict, where Blue has no real answers besides a second counterspell.
Put the top two cards of your library into your graveyard.
Draw a card.
Some minds are more open than others.
This is a possible replacement for Careful Study in those Mongoose/Werebear decks. It doesn’t have the same interaction with Basking Rootwalla, though – and you can’t throw out any Roar of the Wurms you may have drawn. Not strictly better – the main bright spot here is that you’ll never lose card economy, whereas Careful Study sometimes really sucked in that department, especially when you’d draw it off the top with an empty grip. It might also replace Opt or Obsessive Search in some decks with many graveyard interactions. With Opt, Obsessive Search, Careful Study, Sleight Of Hand, and Mental Note battling for that cantrip/U trick slot, there’s a lot of testing to be done.
Mist of Stagnation
Permanents don’t untap during their controllers’ untap steps.
At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, that player untaps a permanent for each card in his or her graveyard.
Remember how Zvi was perturbed about how Wizards was building decks for people by putting obvious card interactions and themes in the sets? (Domain, Rebels, Apocalypse B/W). Well, the Mist of Stagnation deck is the latest entrant. All the tools for this prison deck are here – the only question is… Is the Mist of Stagnation deck any good?
Search target player’s library for up to three cards with flashback and put them into that players graveyard. Then that player shuffles his or her library.
“The best foresight is hindsight.” – Empress Llawan
This card is the absolute nuts, and will be seeing a ton of play. Standstill was Ancestral wannabe #1 for the Standard environment, and this is Ancestral wannabe #2, just as powerful. Let me give you so}e examples:
You can search for three Roar of the Wurms. Not only can you now not draw them (and who ever wants to draw Roar Of The Wurm?), but you can fire out a 6/6 Wurm on turns 4 through 6.
You can search for three Flash of Insights (reviewed above) for what amounts to close to a true Ancestral. Late game, you will draw three cards if you do this, and often you’ll get the best three out of the top six or seven.
If you have three white creatures, you can go get three Battle Screeches (reviewed in the Judgement White All-Stars). Six birds with counter backup, anyone? This might not be that good, but it has potential.
Three Deep Analyses is six cards for 3UUU and nine life. Necro for Blue. Borderline, but if your life is high against that other control deck, you’re probably going to win if you pull this off. And if you’re playing one of those decks with Life Burst, why not do it?
The list goes on, though the Roar Of The Wurm combo is probably the most abusive. You’ll be seeing a lot of this card, trust me – it’s too good to ignore.
Counter target spell. If it’s countered this way, remove it from the game instead of putting it into its owner’s graveyard. As long as it remains removed from the game, you may play it as though it were in your hand without paying its mana cost. If it has X in its mana cost, X is 0.
Spelljack won’t see much, if any, tournament play… Especially with the near-complete lack of mana acceleration in the environment. I’m only mentioning it here because I am personally going to get four for my 5-color deck. These look very fun.
Web of Inertia
At the beginning of each opponent’s combat phase, that player may remove a card in his or her graveyard from the game. If that player doesn’t, creatures he or she controls can’t attack you this turn.
Cephalids specialize in lose-lose situations.
This is part of that empty-grave Prison deck that Wizards has constructed for us. The other major player is Mist of Stagnation, which is reviewed above. How good is this card? Well, it can completely shut down an opposing attack phase… But you had better be ready to remove the graveyard to do it. This requires you to play with a lot of suboptimal graveyard removal cards. That means the deck is in trouble right off the bat. The presence of cards like Merfolk Looter, Wild Mongrel, and the like just makes the situation worse. Don’t count on being able to use this.
Creature – Nightmare Drake
When ~this~ comes into play, sacrifice it unless you remove a creature you control other than ~this~ from the game.
When ~this~ leaves play, return the removed card to play under its owner’s control.
Yes, I’m going to try the U/B beatdown deck, and my creature of choice will be Ravenous Rats. I think this guy could find a spot somewhere, though it has the other type of Doomsday Spectre disease – what amounts to essentially the same drawback as the Spectre itself. Drawing this guy in the late game with a clear board is like drawing a case of the clap. Also, he’s Flametongue food. Chances are slim for the Drake, but stranger things have happened.
Well, that’s it for the Judgement Blue cards, at least the ones of note. Later on I’ll probably do an article where I make fun of all the cards that suck, but right now I’m going to go back to telling you about my diet.
As I was saying, I was standing in front of the mirror and feeling a little disgusted with my flabby appearance. No obesity here, you understand… I’m not grotesquely fat or anything. Just out of shape.
Have you ever seen the movie”American Beauty”? Well, the American everyman played by Kevin Spacey isn’t too pleased with his appearance either, especially since he’s infatuated with a girl half his age. He wants to look good for her.
I also want to look good on the slim chance that a woman might come into the comic store where lately I can usually be found hoping to flop a nut straight. (I have no idea what that means, but I hope it’s not too obscene – The Ferrett) Mostly, though, I want to look good for myself. It’s good for the psyche. I want the feeling of having accomplished something, and a diet seems like as good a place to start as any.
What does Spacey’s character do? He goes to his gay neighbors for advice on how to increase his level of fitness. They ask him:”Do you want to lose weight, or do you want increased strength and flexibility as well?”
His answer:”I want to look good naked.”
Hey, sounds like as good a goal as any. As such, that is now my goal, and my diet has found itself a name:”Operation: Look Good Naked!”
So far I’ve lost ten pounds, but lately I’ve been slipping (too many Doritos playing Texas Hold’em) and I’m back up to 155! I’m trying to drink water, but I like Pepsi. I’m trying to eat fruit, but I like hamburgers. I’m trying, trying, trying to avoid fattening foods, but given the choice between a rice cake and a Big Mac, your willpower takes a real shot to the testes.
The goal – 145 pounds, my”fighting weight.” It’s what I weighed in high school. Wish me luck.
I’ll see you guys tomorrow with the Black cards. There aren’t too many in Judgement, of course, so expect a considerable amount of time-wasting inanity to fill in the gaps. Strong!