Insider Trading – Making 11th Edition (Part 3)

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Thursday, December 25th – In the final part of his Making 11th Edition series, Ben explores his choices for the 53 Rares and 15 Epic cards he thinks should be in 11th Edition. Did your favorite rares make the list? The only way to find out is to read the article!

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Part Final of my Making 11th Edition series, in which I give my opinions about what I think should be in 11th Edition. When we left off two weeks ago, I had speculated the following breakdown of the rarities of 11th (to match Shards):

Mythics (15 Total):
5 Planeswalkers
5 Legendary Creatures
5 Miscellaneous Cards

Rares (53 Total):
10 Lands
5 Gold/Multicolored Rares
3 Artifacts
5 Rare Slivers (outlined above, in the Sliver Section)
6 Black Rares
6 Blue Rares
6 Green Rares
6 Red Rares
6 White Rares

In the ensuing time, Wizards of the Coast held a round-table discussion at Worlds, and 11th Edition was a hot topic. There’s a post on MTGSalvation.com that goes into this in depth, but the highlights relevant to this article are:

*Wizards confirmed that 11th Edition will be Black-bordered.
* Shocklands are likely to be in 11th Edition.
* Wizards confirmed that 11th Edition will have Mythic Rares.
* Wizards is considering putting Planeswalkers in 11th Edition.

I’ve already speculated about several slots in the set. For the fifteen Mythics, I included:

The 5 Lorwyn Planeswalkers (Ajani Goldmane, Chandra Nalaar, Garruk Wildspeaker, Jace Beleren, Liliana Vess)
Five Legendary Creatures, one for each color: Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker; Keiga, the Tide Star; Silvos, Rogue Elemental; Jareth, Leonine Titan; and Visara the Dreadful.
Five “Cool” Mythic-feeling cards: Darksteel Colossus; Sliver Overlord; Sword of Fire and Ice; Sword of LIght and Shadow; Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth.

I’ve also gone over a few of the Rares I felt should be in 11th Edition.

Rare Lands: The 10 Ravnica Block Shocklands (Blood Crypt, Breeding Pool, Godless Shrine, Hallowed Fountain, Overgrown Tomb, Sacred Foundry, Steam Vents, Stomping Ground, Temple Garden, Watery Grave)

Rare Slivers: Brood Sliver, Essence Sliver, Magma Sliver, Synapse Sliver, Toxin Sliver

This leaves room for six rares of each color, five Gold cards, and three artifacts.

Also keep in mind that there were 121 Rares in 10th Edition, whereas there are likely fewer than half as many as that in 11th Edition. Even if you agree or disagree with my list, simple facts are that half of the Rares in 10th Edition are going to disappear, even before you factor in cards that would naturally rotate in/out. This means quite a few ‘favorites’ are not going to be on my list, and likely they aren’t going to be in the “real” 11th Edition, either.

Artifact Rares (3)
Pithing Needle
Solemn Simulacrum
Staff of Domination

My design for 11th Edition is to make a base set that “makes sense” on multiple levels; I want the set to have attractive cards so it sells well; I want Timmies, Johnnies, and Spikes to all view the set as a success; I there to be cards that are exciting (or good) for Standard, without overpowering anything that might come afterwards.

With that said, I tend to personally put a lot more of the real estate for Rares as Johnny/Spike land. To me, Mythics inherently should appeal to the Timmy. This is simple player profiling; Timmy is the type of player that goes for the big/splashy effect. In out-of-game reality, Mythics are a splashy, big effect – they are twice as rare as rares! In addition, Wizards is pushing the “oh wow!” factor on Mythics; and in my initial list, I’d argue that at least twelve of the cards I propose are at least 50% Timmy (out of a possible 100%, split three ways), from Chandra Nalaar to Darksteel Colossus.

This isn’t to say that I omit any rare that has a Timmy leaning; it does mean that I tend towards Spike and Johnny in my personal selection of rares.

For instance, Pithing Needle. Pithing Needle is simple, mainly used for competitive play (both casual competitive, and tournament competitive) and does what it does. It’s an elegant catch-all for any activated ability that might get out-of-hand in Standard, and it’s a card that sells packs. It seems like a perfect fit to be the only artifact hold-over from 10th to 11th Edition.

Solemn Simulacrum is long-due for reprinting. It’s a fan-favorite, it’s fun to play with, and it’s got a pair of simple, good-for-the-base-set effects.

Staff of Domination has shown up at times as part of infinite mana (Metalworker) decks, but by-and-large is a swiss army knife for Johnny. It’s another popular card that is strongly liked by a good segment of people who play Magic, without being a card that would dominate tournament Magic.

Card I wish I could use (but can’t): Masticore

Whew – Masticore. Is Masticore too good? I remember playing against Masticore back in the day, I remember playing WITH Masticore back in the day, and man, it would hit the board and dominate Elves, Goblins, and the like.

The thing is, though, that a lot of the reasons Masticore was so dominant had nothing to do with Masticore. Back in Saga times, weenie decks started at one toughness, and ended at two (Dauthi Slayer, Soltari Priest, Mogg Fanatic, Jackal Pup, etc). These days, weenies start at two toughness (Isamaru, Nettle Sentinel, Goldmeadow Stalwart), and start hitting three toughness regularly at two mana (Watchwolf, Wren’s Run Vanquisher). So a turn 4 Masticore wouldn’t even be able to untap and kill a aggressive two-drop on turn 5, as opposed to gunning down multiple creatures at once.

There are also fewer accelerants today that would make Masticore come down early, and shoot for a ton. Priest of Titania, Gaea’s Cradle, Grim Monolith, Thran Dynamo… all these are in the past, and these days you’re looking more at a fair one-for-one with Birds of Paradise or Llanowar Elves or an occasional Signet/Obelisk.

I would say that Masticore would be on the top end of the power curve for Standard, but I think that it would not be as dominant today as it was nearly a decade ago; kind of in the same way that Hypnotic Specter and Juggernaut were originally banned in Extended, but barely made anyone take notice in Standard once they were reintroduced.

Black Rares (6)
Avatar of Woe
Imperial Seal
Laquatus’s Champion
Nantuko Shade
Phyrexian Arena

Collectors might hate to see Imperial Seal in Standard, but nothing in Portal: Three Kingdoms is on the reserve list (or Portal or Portal 2 for that matter), and Imperial Seal (the fixed Vampiric Tutor) would sell sets. Plus, a sorcery-speed get-any-card-next-turn-with-a-drawback for one mana seems like it would be fair to have in Standard.

Avatar of Woe, Laquatus’s Champion, and Nantuko Shade are all fan-favorite creatures that showcase a part of Black’s strengths: Killing creatures, relying on the graveyard, draining life, and pumping +1/+1 for a B. Nantuko Shade itself is long overdue for a reprint; it’s simple, popular, and more of a fair card without Cabal Coffers also in the environment.

I have a bet with Ken at work about Damnation. I say that Damnation will be in 11th, and not Wrath. He says Wrath, but not Damnation. My personal feelings are that Damnation is a much more “Black” card than Wrath is a “White” one. Black is super-efficient at killing creatures (White isn’t), and Black is willing to kill its own guys to get at the enemy, versus White taking down innocents “for the greater good.” Thematically, both from flavor and the color pie, I see Damnation as the superior choice between the two.

I would potentially have Dark Confidant in the Phyrexian Arena slot, but I think that Converted Mana Cost might be a bit of a stretch to include in the base set. Persecute is too powerful as long as there are so many gold/hybrid cards in Standard. I’d just bring back Arena, and see what happens.

Card I wish I could use (but can’t): Phyrexian Negator

Without Dark Ritual, Phyrexian Negator becomes an interesting card to sideboard, but I don’t think it would see much main deck play – especially since Black doesn’t have much of an aggressive presence lately.

Blue Rares (6)
Patron Wizard
Sea Drake
Sower of Temptation
Temporal Manipulation

Temporal Manipulation/Twincast/Traumatize showcase three of Blue’s abilities: Taking extra turns, copying things, and milling. They are all fairly popular cards in their own rights.

Sower of Temptation is one of the fairest Control Magics ever printed, because it is eminently killable. Now might be too soon to see it in the base set, but my thoughts are that it’s almost a perfect power level for a Control Magic effect.

Patron Wizard never quite made it the first time; why not give Blue a popular creature-based counterspell Lord?

Sea Drake is abusable in older formats, where you can drop it on the first turn with artifact mana and lands that produce more than one mana (Sol Ring, Moxen, Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors). It’s a big flyer with a huge drawback in Standard, and a three toughness isn’t over the threshold of easily killable by Red or Black (or White, with Oblivion Ring).

Card I wish I could use (but can’t): Gilded Drake

Gilded Drake is on the reserve list, and I would rather use it for a set, and then bring in Sower of Temptation in 12th, then go straight to Sower.

Gold Rares (5)
Blazing Specter
Glimpse the Unthinkable
Iridescent Angel
Mirari’s Wake
Shivan Wurm

Not much to say here; each of these are popular, Glimpse very-much-so, and the others will appeal to the inner Timmy in several players.

Card I wish I could use (but can’t): Meddling Mage

I would think that, for a product introducing people to the game, Meddling Mage might be a little too complex. Imagine opening your first pack of Magic ever, and Meddling Mage is your rare. What do you do with it? You don’t know all of the commons in 11th Edition, much less 1500ish cards in Standard, or tens of thousands of cards in all of Magic! I’d love to get Meddling Mage reprinted some day, but the base set isn’t that place.

Green Rares (6)
Beacon of Creation
Elvish Piper
Eternal Witness
Ravenous Baloth
Tornado Elemental
Worldly Tutor

Note that I give Worldly Tutor to Green (and Enlightened Tutor to White, and Imperial Seal to Black) but that I don’t give Mystical Tutor to Blue. The reason for this is simple; I think Blue already has enough of the color pie with outright card drawing. I think removing the tutoring aspect from Blue (and just giving them bulk card drawing advantage, and not finesse card searching) would go a long way to making it so that Blue isn’t always the most powerful tournament color.

I bump Eternal Witness up to Rare, because it’s powerful enough to justify being Rare. Beacon of Creation, which was skipped over in 10th because of “power issues,” is back where it belongs: reprinted as a popular and not unfair card.

Card I wish I could use (but can’t): Doubling Season

Man oh Man – Doubling Season is $10 and climbing, and it’s not going to come down for the same reason that it can’t be reprinted; it is absolutely insane with Planeswalkers. Instant Sarkhan Vol/Chandra Nalaar anyone?

Red Rares (6)
Ball Lightning
Magus of the Moon
Siege-Gang Commander
Sneak Attack
Zodiac Dragon

Did you know that Sneak Attack wasn’t on the reserve list? It’s not, so reprint that sucker – it’s very popular, and it’s never been so powerful that it’s won anything of note.

When is Wizards going to just knuckle down and reprint Ball Lightning? There are so many variants (including Groundbreaker) that have been ‘okay’ at best, that it seems like Ball Lightning would be very fair to reintroduce to Standard.

Zodiac Dragon would sell sets, especially to collectors. P3K people may again be unhappy at a card of theirs taking a hit, but there are so few P3K Rares out there, that the overall good (of people who want to get a copy but can’t) versus bad (the few thousand that have a copy, and don’t play them) is heavily in favor of reprinting.

Card I wish I could use (but can’t): Grim Lavamancer

Wizards has consciously shifted away from using “Removed from the Game” in a lot of cases; a lot of cards that might have once “removed from game” now “put the card on the bottom of an opponent’s library” (Condemn). Because of this, Grim Lavamancer wouldn’t be in the base set – removed from game is now seemingly taboo, but I would love to see Grim Lavamancer reprinted in an expansion some day.

White Rares (6)
Enlightened Tutor
Eternal Dragon
Savannah Lions
Serra Angel
Serra Avatar

Serra Avatar plus Sneak Attack = making everyone happy, in the same set. I love Enlightened Tutor, and I don’t think anyone would complain if it shifted from Uncommon (selling for $5-$7 regularly) to Rare due to power level. Eternal Dragon, in a set with already established cycling, seems very fair – Wizards has used Hammer of Bogardan in the base set before (6th and 8th), so that sort of “return to your hand at beginning of upkeep” trigger has a precedent in the base set.

Card I wish I could use (but can’t): Tithe

Would be great with the Shocklands; is another casualty of the reserve list.

So that’s my design thoughts for 11th Edition! I’d love to hear what you think; are my choices out there? Would you have made other choices? Is this a set you would buy in greater quantities than previous base sets? Let me know in the forums, and have a happy holiday season!

Ben Bleiweiss