“So what was Clarion like, Ferrett?” you may ask. “How was it being locked in with some of the finest writers in science fiction for six weeks?” And the answer is, “It was like missing out on Magic for several months.”
In fact, it was so like missing out on Magic that by the time I got around to making my Top Five Best Multiplayer Cards From Eventide, several months had passed! You might even think that this list would be slightly antiquated…
…but no! Now that I’ve had a chance to, you know, play with the cards, a couple have inched up on the list and one has ratcheted downwards. So this is cold, hard experience talking to you, my friends… And I am here to tell you the cards worth playing.
So let’s get started, shall we?
The #1 Pick: The Lands
“You’re just shilling for StarCityGames!” people said when I wrote for Wizards. “How dare you pick the most expensive rares as your top pick? What about us people who like to play games with cards we’ve peeled out of the gutter, shuffling up old leaves we’ve written â€˜Mox Emurald’ on in stolen chalk?”
Now that I’m here at SCG, let me just tell those folks to dive off a cliff.
Hey, I dig that Magic can get expensive. I’m even sympathetic. But I’m not writing lists called, “The Best Afforable Cards In Multiplayer Magic,” I’m writing about the best cards. Sorry if they’re pricey, or even boring… But the fact is that lands are where you get the best bang for your buck, allowing you to make stronger and more consistent decks. And you can use good lands forever.
If you’re too broke to buy them, that’s understandable. Four of each is certainly an investment…. But that doesn’t miraculously make them Less Good. Do these folks wander into Best Buy and start arguing with the salesclerks, yelling angrily, “I can’t afford an iPhone! You should tell me that this set of two rusty cans connected by a wax string is just as effective!”
Heck with you, buddy.
Oh — and I’m not saying this because SCG signs my paychecks. I’m saying this because I paid for a full set of dual lands oh so many years ago, and I’m still playing with them more than I am any other cards. My dual lands go into decks, they come out of them, they go in again; they’ve outlasted the flavor-of-the-week spells by almost a decade now. Every time I want a deck that requires Red and/or Green, guess what? If Taiga’s not busy, it’s gettin’ hauled out again.
Can I say the same for Lightning Bolt? Shivan Dragon? Urza’s Rage? Mogg Fanatic? No. Those Red spells may or may not go in, depending on a deck’s given strategy. But I always need the mana to cast them, so Taiga’s getting a phone call.
I’m saying this, in short, because I believe it. And I’d say that regardless of whether I was writing for SCG, Magicthegathering.com, or a scrap of paper you found in the trash.
If you don’t wanna ante up the cash, fine — you’ll just have suckier decks. Sorry, hippies! Welcome to the cold hard face of capitalism.
As for the rest of you, I’d seriously consider investigating Cascade Bluffs, Fetid Heath, Flooded Grove, Rugged Prairie, and Twilight Mire. Welcome to the family of Ludicrously Expensive Mana Bases, fellas — but the good news is now that you’re here, you’ll be useful forever.
Rant ends. Now have the remaining picks, in no particular order!
TOP PICK: Stigma Lasher
I was never so happy as when Everlasting Torment came out, because it really screwed with lifegain — one of the most irritatingly effective strategems in all of Magic. But Everlasting Torment had some disadvantages, like most of the other “let’s hose lifegain” techniques Wizards has printed.
False Cure, for example, is great, often killing a lifegainer in one stroke… But you have to hold two black open for an instant that, frankly, does nothing else if there’s no lifegain, often turning into a dead draw. Flames of the Blood Hand stops lifegain dead and does four damage to the dome… But again, it’s a mostly dead draw if nobody’s looking to abuse Beacon of Immortality. And Everlasting Torment is frickin’ awesome, except that a) it’s an enchantment, which means that it’s easily dispatched by the two colors that hate it the most, and b) it affects you.
That second part is the most troubling bit. I’ve tossed Everlasting Torment into my singleton Black/Green deck, and it shut down another player… But then I died when my Fracturing Gust got me nothing, and I didn’t dare to cast my Grim Feast.
Stigma Lasher, well… Okay, it has to connect. And it doesn’t have haste. (I’d by far rather have haste on this puppy than I would Wither, but then again that’s probably the point.) But once it connects, there’s nothing your opponent can do, no way of undoing it; he’s simply not gaining life. And if you’re playing mono-Red, as you should be with a card like this, it’s not terribly hard to get around an early blocker with a Shock or two.
Is Stigma Lasher perfect? Oh, heck no. It’s almost certainly going to draw a lot more attention than you’d like it to… But that’s what a Red deck does, baby. And the whole “I have to attack” is kind of a PITA.
But I believe firmly that some cards are worth the investment. Yes, you’re going to have to work to make this happy, but once you do it’ll be great. And if you can sneak it into a R/W deck, where you can give your Lasher evasion of some sort (I prefer something fun, like Griffin Guide), then you can have all the fun of infinite Congregates while taking the Mickey out of your opponents. Whee!
And speaking of R/W….
TOP PICK: Balefire Liege
Maybe this is my preference for R/W showing, but this turns your Firemane Angels into monsters, serves as solid defense on the ground, and makes every single Spitemare, and Duergar Hedge-Mage into a six-point life swing. It turns your Boros Swiftblades and Hearthfire Hobgoblins into absolute terrors. And it makes every Red burn spell you cast that much better.
Best of all, they have to kill it, not your Firemane Angel. Which means that even if they do have the targeted removal, your original threats will remain clear and free! W00t!
It’s simple, but anything that allows me a twelve-point life swing with a Lightning Helix is my buddy.
Some of the other Lieges are worth looking at, too. The Creakwood Liege has a very nice ability, but unfortunately it’s too fragile; a single Shock reduces you to an army of 1/1s, and who wants that? Deathbringer Liege is unimpressive, which is a shame; I like Royal Assassin as much as anyone, but it seems like a lot of work to get it to fire.
Then we’re at the mop-up Lieges. Mindwrack Liege gets you free creatures at EOT, but for four mana you’re generally not saving all that much, and while I adore the beefiness of Murkfiend Liege, it’s mostly notable as a redundant Seedborn Muse that doesn’t untap lands. Boo.
TOP PICK: Archon of Justice
I suspect I’ll get some flack for this because it’s not flashy, but a 4/4 flier that removes something from the game when it goes to a graveyard is a nice, nice benefit. It’s costed aggressively, and it’s the ultimate blocker; sure, you can attack me with that, but if it dies you lose it forever.
Essentially, it’s moderately good on the attack and great on defense, and if someone Jokulhaups with a funny enchantment out, you have other options.
It’s a close pick between this and another White card. Wait for it….
TOP PICK: Snakeform
It’s the “draw a card” on this one that gives it the juice, but the flexibility of this is nice. Shut down any “goes to graveyard” abilities! Be sure to win in combat! Reduce that fattie Angel into a whimpering Snake!
Snakeform’s not perfect, mind you — in particular, it’s not good at handling creatures that are getting other benefits. If it’s got +1/+1 counters on it, they don’t go away. And if you don’t have a creature to kill it with, that sometimes makes this a one-turn, hope-you-draw-an-answer cantrip.
But realistically, it kills anything with a -1/-1 counter on it (and there are a lot of those these days) and it offers poor, stodgy Green a killer combat trick that can take anything down and punish people who thought they could block your trampling fattie. Plus, it replaces itself instantly, which keeps your hand filled as you’re chipping away at your opponents’ guys.
This basically boosts Green up a notch in the Great Color Wars; it’s still pretty lagging, but it’s something. As such, I gotta mention it.
TOP PICK: Spitting Image
Yes, it’s six mana. In a duel, that means you’ll be trading down most of the time, spending six to get a copy of two or three-mana dude. But in multiplayer, where fatties run rampant, you’ll often be facing down a Darksteel Colossus, or a Hamletback Goliath, or a Windbrisk Raptor. You’ll be dealing with stupidly huge monsters, and in worst-case scenarios you’ll often be trading down to four or five-mana dudes.
The Retrace, however, makes this insane. Every land you toss away turns into another Spiritmonger! Or it just kills some dumb legend you didn’t want to deal with. Get their best guy working for you.
It’s going to be near the top end of your curve, sure, and you don’t want four of them, but one or two of these turns an average Green deck into something that can be obscenely competitive. And there’s not much of a way to stop it, short of either graveyard removal or stopping you from drawing more land.
STAR UTILITY PICK: Stillmoon Cavalier
In every set, I’m going to pick a low-mana card that’s not uber-powerful, but will be incredibly useful in a lot of decks — the prototypical example is Taurean Mauler, which comes out on turn 3 and either absorbs a removal spell (which takes a removal spell out of the pool for when you start casting your real beef on turn 5), or grows into hugeness and smashes.
These aren’t the spells that are going to turn the game around, or the beef that will smash past any defense — these are just good, solid creatures that are worth going into every deck that plays those colors. They hold the ground until your big guys hit.
In this case? Yeah, sorry, it’s another pricey one, but Stillmoon Cavalier is easy to cast, comes out early, can block fliers for some investment, and is automatically protected from the depredations of both mighty angels and awful demons alike. The “protection from White and Black” really sells this one, and it’s good.
WORTH CONSIDERING: Unmake
Surprise! I know, you all thought it’d be an automatic pick for my top five… And don’t get me wrong, I picked up not one but two playsets from SCG the instant it came out. As a combat trick, it does the job, shutting down Kokusho, The Evening Star shenanigans, stopping Murderous Redcaps from coming back, and ridding you of anything no matter how large it is.
But… it’s three colored mana. As I’ve discovered in my time playing with them, that’s a fair amount to leave open, even in multiplayer. And when you consider how many of the better creatures (cough cough, Akroma, Angel of Wrath) have those nasty Protection From Black abilities, well, it shuts down this awesome removal card.
It’s great in mono-White decks, and mono-Black decks it’s definitely worth including. (Although you might do better to look at the old Barter in Blood, which while not quite as reliable, often gets the job done when Unmake cannot.) Unmake is a great card, and one you should get your hands on…. But not the best Multiplayer card in Eventide by a long shot.
WORTH CONSIDERING: Divinity of Pride
4/4 fliers are good. 8/8, Terror-proof fliers that gain you life every time they hit are even nicer. This is going to be amazing in the skies, helping to keep you in the game.
Dominus of Fealty came close here. Real close. In fact, hey, this could also be Dominus of Fealty, which steals some nice things or just lands. I suspect it’s going to draw more heat than Divinity of Pride — anything that could hit anyone at any time tends to make folks panic — but the power boost is probably worth it.
WORTH CONSIDERING: Hallowed Burial
Remember when I said I almost had another card in the Archon of Justice slot? This was it. For one mana, you get something that’s generally better than Wrath, situationally speaking — yes, they can still Tutor the card back into their hand, but on the other hand it shuts down all those nasty Reanimator-style tricks and gets rid of indestructible creatures. For five mana, that’s decent.
I chose the Archon because it can attack… But it also has all the downsides associated with critters. If you find those distasteful, well, just swap it out.
WORTH CONSIDERING: Necroskitter
For three mana, it’s a pretty decent wall, with an excellent side benefit — if you play with decks that are mostly made up of recent cards, chances are good that everything’s stuck through with -1/-1 counters, and this will get some of those guys back on your side without inciting a riot. People will look at it, they’ll respect it, but they won’t panic because it can’t kill everything…
…until a timely Scar used on a guy already on its way to the graveyard gets you the biggest dude on the field. Whoops! Combine with Everlasting Torment for more fun.
I promise to go into more detail about being at Clarion, including details on the Neil Gaiman Dance Party. No, really. Also, good commons.
The Here Edits This Site Here Guy