Not Magical Hack — Prismagically Hacking Master’s Edition

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With all of the attention being paid to TPF drafting, Standard, Block Constructed, and all those other great formats that will soon cease to be relevant, I thought I’d take a look at Prismatic, a format that is never relevant – specifically the changes we can expect from Tenth Edition and the newly spoiled Master’s Edition. Warning: Contains Spoilers.

With all of the attention being paid to TPF drafting, Standard, Block Constructed, and all those other great formats that will soon cease to be relevant, I thought I’d take a look at Prismatic, a format that is never relevant—specifically the changes we can expect from Tenth Edition and the newly spoiled Master’s Edition.

I gave an overview of the format several months ago in this article. I’ll be updating those decklists at the end of this article with changes I’d recommend using the rest of Time Spiral block, Tenth Edition, and Master’s Edition.

Before we look at the exciting new cards in Master’s Edition, here are my thoughts on the most relevant cards from Tenth that weren’t available previously.


On its own, this card isn’t going to be worth it. Combine it with the soon-to-be-released Sylvan, though, and you’re drawing three a turn in any combination of lands or nonlands. I’m not sure whether that combo is still as good as I remember it being in Five-Color, but it’s definitely worth a try.

Ascendant Evincar

He’s a great midsize fatty that also kills Decree of Justice soldiers. He might be a good target to reanimate, and he might even be worth the full six mana. Odds are he won’t get played.

Aura of Silence

The Seal of Cleansing effect is theoretically worth playing, as every deck has decent targets. The only similar effects is Seal of Primordium, which doesn’t see play. However, many people play Orim’s Thunder and Dismantling Blow, and the secondary use of this (as well as being able to prepay for the effect) might make it playable. Unfortunately, double White in the casting cost probably condemns this card, as well as the fact that it comes down after the best targets of Signets, Talismen, Sensei’s Divining Top, Chrome Mox, and Sylvan Library.

Citanul Flute

Some are already crying for this to be banned. I have my doubts regarding whether it’s actually all that great, but if Sterling Grove and Fabricate need to be banned, then this can easily be gotten rid of. If it sticks around for a couple of months, we’ll find out whether six-mana Eternal Witnesses and eight-mana Mystic Snakes are broken. If this is in your deck, it’s worth playing a singleton Ornithopter, Phyrexian Walker, or Shield Sphere to search up immediately.

Goblin Lore

An easy-to-cast Red card that plays well with a bunch of strategies. This will never be an all-star, and at best it’s really just a random Looter, but for a Red card that’s pretty good.

Hidden Horror

This guy’s huge, and the drawback is going to be part of your game plan most of the time. Double Black is difficult, but reanimation and dredge will both need heavy Black anyway. He won’t be in mainstream decks, but the Horror will definitely see play, and he’ll be great where he’s needed.

Hurkyl’s Recall

An amusing transmute target that won’t be worth it. Also a second way to bounce a bunch of artifacts for a large storm count.

Icatian Priest

A decent one-drop if a White Weenie deck ever shows up.


Slow decks do NOT want to see this. They have plenty of nonland mana sources that they might draw, but it could easily lock them out of many spells in the late game or slow their game to a crawl. However, it’s awful in the mirror, and could easily kill its controller in combination with some fetches and duals. Solifuge and Flametongue Kavu are better four-drops, but this is a very dangerous enchantment that requires a response from the decks it’s meant for.

Mind Stone

This is right on the cusp of playability. Signets, Wall of Roots, and any number of green spells get colored mana. This cycles for three when you need it, and comes into play untapped. This is definitely playable in decks that need the acceleration and aren’t heavy Green. Other than that, it depends on your colored mana requirements.

Mogg Fanatic

This is still a top-notch beater that will be all over the place from here on out.


I’d rather have Kataki if I’m against the all-artifact deck.

Squee, Goblin Nabob

Squee is another great Red card for decks that use the graveyard or discard cards for effects. There have been attempts at “madness,” “threshold,” and “reanimator” decks in the past, and good Red cards have always been difficult to find for them.

Treasure Hunter

With the addition of Mind Stone, there are a lot of playable artifacts that cycle and have other effects. I’d rather have a Trinket Mage, but this guy might be useful in some sort of Salvagers deck.

Faerie Conclave
Forbidding Watchtower
Ghitu Encampment
Spawning Pool
Treetop Village

These are very important, at least the Blue and Green ones. Combined with Mishra’s Factory, aggro decks will have to pay even more attention to their mana. Treetop Village will be all over the place, and Faerie Conclave is a very tempting addition to many decks. Additionally, Standstill might soon appear in aggro decks again. As the number of good nonbasic lands increases, everyone is going to have to pay attention to their exposure to Blood Moon, as well as the number of lands that come into play tapped or cost life.

With the recent release of Tenth Edition, several Oracle updates were put into effect on Magic Online. The most important of these was the removal of the errata from Phyrexian Dreadnought, allowing it to come into play before the sacrifice trigger, which allows for the ability to be Stifled, and also causes it to trigger Disciple of the Vault on its way to the grave.

The Classic community has been all over this unerrata, causing Dreadnought to become the most valuable Mirage card overnight. I’m not sure what effect this will have on Prismatic, if any. Flash decks (if they still exist after September 20) will likely switch from the zero-mana artifact plan into the Dreadnought plan, as it requires slightly fewer slots. Those 0/3s can be valuable, though – certainly more valuable than in Classic where blocking is rare rather than the norm.

Beyond improving Flash decks, this is also an interesting target for Trinket Mage. If you’re running the full set of Stifles and Mages, there are worse deals than a 12/12 trampler (and a 2/2) for 3UU, where the only additional requirement is one slot in the deck (and drawing both cards at the same time). While neither of these applications is all that outstanding, the new version of this card is worth keeping an eye on for possible future use.

With those cards out of the way, let’s take a look at the contents of the recently-spoiled Master’s Edition and see exactly how much of a shake-up we can expect. For your sanity and mine, I won’t be looking at the garbage, which is a surprisingly large percentage of this set.


There’s no way this effect is worth six mana. Best case, your opponent probably still has a land or two and will use them to search up a Panglacial Wurm which will require a response.

Animate Dead

This is the best two-mana reanimation spell available online. Worldgorger Dragon combo is probably a bit optimistic, but it’ll probably be the new best card in my Reanimator list.

Ankh of Mishra

Zo-zu, the Punisher is a great card, but its three-mana casting cost often causes it to come down a turn too late, especially when on the play. The body is nice, but saving a mana on this effect is the equivalent of four damage in most cases. Though it sucks in the mirror even more than the goblin, this is a step up in most matchups.

Arcane Denial

Both aggro decks and Flash decks can play cheap and easy-to-cast counters, especially if they replace themselves. This isn’t nearly as good as Remand in most cases, and it’s doubtful you’ll be able to hit your own spell with it, making it an unlikely inclusion.


After Force of Will, this is probably the most relevant Prismatic card in the set. This is passable in the mirror, and it’ll probably be a blowout if it resolves anywhere else.

Balduvian Horde

There are better 4cc 5/5s available.

Ball Lightning

Groundbreaker doesn’t see play, and I doubt that this will. That’s a lot of damage for the cost, though, and with Lightning Bolt there might be a heavy burn deck that becomes viable. Watch out for Fire/Ice.


To me, this seems like an Unstable Mutation that kills the guy after one turn, and it’s also not Blue. Play it in Classic, not in Prismatic.


They really should have given us Sinkhole.

Chains of Mephistopheles

The most relevant draw spells in the format either tutor for cards or “put” them into your hand. There’s Allied Strategies, Deep Analysis, and Cycling, but I doubt that that’s enough reason to put this into your deck.


This is a strong effect, killing or neutering Elves, Birds, and most good one-and two-drops, but most decks won’t have the spare Black card lying around all the time. It’s certainly worth consideration if you’re looking for Black cards.

Diminishing Returns

There are a bunch of very strong cards for a Desire-type combo deck in this set, and this draw 7 with effectively no drawback is one of the strongest of them. If that deck exists, this’ll be in it.


This is a really strong effect, but the “non-White” restriction is very relevant. This also won’t be killing troublesome utility guys like Blastminers. I’d rather have a Swords to Plowshares or Wrath of God in most cases.

Force of Will

This is the most important card in the set.

Fyndhorn Elves

A second, possibly unnecessary, elf. There’s not much to say about this guy except that I’m not sure whether 8 elves are necessary in combination with Birds, Mox, Vial, and actual aggressive one-drops.

Ghazban Ogre

Unfortunately this guy isn’t playable, since aggro decks are generally at 16 life before their opponents dip below 20.

Goblin Grenade

If someone is able to make a Goblin deck with 80 non-Red cards, this is definitely in there. I doubt that it’s possible, but I’ve never tried.

Goblin Mutant

This doesn’t compare favorably with Flametongue Kavu, Solifuge, or even Skizzik.

High Tide

This is one of the few combo cards that plays well with duals. It’s too bad Early Harvest will be an integral part of that deck.


This will be countering burn more often than not, but there are plenty of decent counters that have other uses as well.

Hymn of Rebirth

There are several 5cc reanimation spells that aren’t good enough. This is in bad colors for a reanimation deck and has no added benefit for its cost.

Hymn to Tourach

There aren’t any mainstream decks that can cast this early with any reliability. I’ve heard rumors of mono-Black decks, and they’ll certainly enjoy this toy.

Ivory Tower

I have to admit, I didn’t play with this much when it was first released. It’ll take some testing to find out whether you reliably gain any life off of it. You can fetch it with Trinket Mage, though, which makes it easy to put at least one into every deck with that guy.

Lake of the Dead

There is not a single deck that’s capable of taking advantage of this effect.

Lightning Bolt

The new best burn spell online only has a home in aggro decks right now.

Lim-Dul’s Vault

If Flash isn’t banned on September 1st, this is similar to Vampiric Tutor in that deck because of all the redundancy. If it is, like I suspect it will be, this really doesn’t have a home anywhere even though it’s a very strong and unique effect.

Mana Flare

If a non-Flash combo deck exists anytime soon, it’ll be largely because of this new card. While it’s the exact same as Heartbeat of Spring, it’s a Red card, and good Red slots are very difficult to find in combo decks.

Mishra’s Factory

I’m not yet sure how many decks this goes into, but this might be the most played Master’s Edition card in Prismatic. Aggro definitely wants the full four, and control and midrange decks might also make room. It’s fighting with Treetop Village and Faerie Conclave, but this is definitely better than Blinkmoth Nexus or Nantuko Monastery.


Thoroughly unexciting even if they don’t have an answer for it. I’d much rather have a Wrath. It also makes it startlingly difficult for you to win as they (possibly) burn you out.

Mystic Remora

I don’t remember this being any good, but maybe I’m mistaken. The non-creature restriction makes it awful against aggro, and the single Blue casting cost is very misleading because of the cumulative upkeep cost. I’d keep an eye on this as a sideboard option, but I think there are probably better options available.

Nature’s Lore

It might not be obvious on a first read that this puts Forests into play untapped and can also fetch duals. You can decide whether that’s worth the inability to search for non-Forests.

Nether Shadow

This could go into any number of decks that use their graveyard, and is also great with Dread Return. Great filler, and the casting cost won’t be an issue.

Nevinyrral’s Disk

After playing with Deed and Vengeance, I can’t imagine going back to an undiscriminating sweeper that gives them a turn’s warning.

Order of Leitbur

The original pump knights are just not going to cut it. They’re impossible to cast and not really all that powerful anymore. I won’t be considering any others.

Polar Kraken

It’s huge and fat, but with Swords to Plowshares and tons of terror effects around, I’m reluctant to reanimate something that requires me to sacrifice all my lands.


Just like Hymn, there aren’t any decks that can swing this casting cost. Even if they could, I don’t think this effect is breakable in a 250-card deck.


This is an interesting effect for a White card. Unfortunately it dies if you breathe too hard. If you want an effect like this, play Vedalken Shackles.

Primal Order

This could be interesting while we wait for Price of Progress. It has to compete with all sorts of great stuff at four mana, though, and Mask of Intolerance and Ankh of Mishra are both better for their cost. There’s a limit to how many cards you can play that are awful in the mirror, and also a limit to your sideboard size.


This is a great Red card for control and combo decks. It doesn’t do much of anything against the aggro decks in the format, though. I don’t really know what to make of this at this point.

Rainbow Vale

No one is this desperate for mana-fixing.


Another Control Magic effect on a weak creature. If you can play this, you should be playing Vedalken Shackles instead.

Serendib Efreet

The Blue cards in aggro decks have been difficult, sometimes including gems like Sapphire Leech and Gossamer Phantasm. This is a huge step up.

Shield Sphere

A strict improvement over Phyrexian Walker if Flash still plays them in a couple of weeks. This is also a possible one-of target for Trinket Mage.

Sylvan Library

Whether or not you combo this with Abundance is still uncertain. On its own I’d say it’s as good as Sensei’s Divining Top, though you can’t grab it with Trinket Mage or get rid of extras. Combo and Control decks will play this card.

Thawing Glaciers

I’m guessing that this will be too slow to play these days. It’s a renewable way to search up Panglacial Wurms in the late game, and will let you hit land drops, but I’d rather be accelerating and putting stuff on the board. This isn’t out of the question, but it really needs to tap for mana or something.

Urza’s Bauble

Mishra’s Bauble isn’t played, and this is basically the same effect. With Hurkyl’s Recall and Retract you might be able to build up one hell of a storm count, though.

Varchild’s War-Riders

Four toughness is more than three, but a 3/4 for two isn’t all that great if it means nothing else will ever get through.

Vesuvan Doppelganger

Shapeshifter is almost strictly better, and it doesn’t see much, if any, play.

Winds of Change

If this were a Tolarian Winds effect, we’d be talking.

Winter Orb

This could be devastating on turn 3 or 4 after a Kodama’s Reach. It’s another card that competes with Armageddon, Mask of Intolerance, and Ankh for slots in the board and is awful in the mirror.

Yavimaya Ants

This looks pretty good until you compare it with Solifuge and realize that untargetability prevents Solifuge from dying to Fire/Ice and Electrolyze. Oh yeah, it also dies two turns after you cast it, if that’s relevant at all.

Zuran Orb

Overgrown Estate was one of the most necessary Enduring Ideal targets back in its heyday. Zuran Orb can be played in a similar way if you run it with Trinket Mage. I don’t think any more than one of these is warranted, since aggro is easily able to do forty damage if you’re sacrificing your board.

That was quite a few cards, but I have to say that I am hugely disappointed in Master’s Edition. The first week of previews gave us great card after great card. It turns out that the cards that weren’t previewed were 1/1s for two with flying and protection from Red, legends with random effects, and cards from Chronicles that were unexciting the first and second times they were released. If you compare this to a normal set’s release, we generally don’t even see the most powerful cards in the set until the whole spoiler is released. I think this led to larger expectations than Wizards wanted, and is going to hurt them in sales because of the current disappointment.

It’s also quite unfortunate that they felt it was necessary to mess with so many rarities. Force of Will is not good in enough in Limited to justify making it a rare, meaning that the only reason it’s been changed was because it’s necessary to sell the set. One rare isn’t going to do that, though. It’s just going to make Classic formats more difficult to get into, which is basically the opposite effect that Wizards was going for with this set. There is almost nothing else in this set that makes it worthwhile to crack packs. Most of the cards won’t impact tournament formats and have been outclassed in the past ten years.

Great idea, awful execution. We got a Chronicles after expecting and being led to believe that we were getting a wonder-set.

With all that said, I’ve gone and done some preliminary updating of three lists of mine – aggro, control, and Reanimator – for the post Master’s Edition format. I don’t anticipate Flash being legal for much longer in its current form, but I’ve also included my updated Flash list that placed in the Top 8 of the most recent Prismatic tournament.

I’m worried about the number of manlands at the moment. The Black cards haven’t been improved at all recently. The sideboard could also use some work after we find out what the most effective artifacts are. I’d also like to fit some Phantom Centaurs or something in somewhere, because right now there’s not much I want to side in against the mirror except maybe Armageddon for the Zo-zus. I highly doubt that this is the final version of this deck.

Sylvan Library needs to be tested in place of Impulse. Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with the replacements that have been made.

This deck has gotten a bunch of new toys from Tenth. It’s probably not Tier 1 yet, but it puts up a fight against the main decks in the format. Give it a try if you want something different.

Overall, I don’t think much will change with the new cards. Every deck got some excellent new cards, but we’re already looking at a whole new metagame if Flash is banned. Had we gotten duals, aggro would have been dealt a significant blow. Control decks have some great new lifegain that can be searched up, while aggro decks have gotten several new ways to disrupt or punish other players’ mana.

No Prismatic article is complete without some moaning about the current state of the banned and restricted list. The comments I made six months ago still hold, and most of the cards that needed to be banned have been. Mirari’s Wake and Decree of Justice are still worth a look, as are both Diabolic Intent and Citanul Flute. At this point I’m reluctant to suggest banning more cards that don’t go into aggro decks – still probably the best archetype in the metagame. I would again suggest that Wizards consider bumping the colored requirements in order to tone down aggro, since bannings would be a very ineffective solution. However, the main consideration for Wizards should be Hulk Flash. While I’d love for combo decks to be viable in some form, the Flash combo is too easy and cheap to assemble. Though it is not unbeatable, and can indeed be hosed by a lot of staples, it can make matches very random. The best way to deal with this is to ban parts of the combo, or start removing transmute tutors.

In the past I have said that Transmute does not need to be banned, as it is a very slow and inefficient way to search up a small subset of cards. Just like Vampiric Tutor wasn’t problematic when the metagame was fairly balanced, Transmute wasn’t good before Flash was available. I’m also a fan of some amount of tutoring in the format, as some decks simply need a better chance of finding a turn 4 Wrath or Fact or Fiction. Paying seven mana to do this is perfectly fair.

While Transmute may indeed deserve the boot, Flash definitely needs to be banned, and bundling Protean Hulk with it would be the safe way to go. Flash is just too dangerous of an effect to have around, at least as a two-mana instant in a slow format. Anything like Sundering Titan would be absolutely devastating if it were printed in Lorwyn, for example. Even with that change, Protean Hulk is still a nasty card to have around with Necromancy, Footsteps of the Goryo, and hardcasting all good alternatives. I’d recommend banning Flash this time, which may give us a healthy combo deck instead of a degenerate random one, especially since the non-Flash combos are all disruptable with Swords to Plowshares and bounce. We’ll have to keep an eye on other bans for next time.

Thanks to StarCityGames.com and Sean for letting me have the opportunity to write here, and thanks to all of you for reading. I look forward to seeing you in the next Prismatic tournament online or in the casual room. Post in the forums if you have any questions or comments.

Scott Tucker