As you may be aware, I made up Type 4 in 1998 – and since then, it’s been my casual format of choice. That’s not just because I created it, but because I really think it’s some of the most exciting Magic that can be played outside of an intense tournament. A typical Type 4 starting hand almost always looks like a World War III assortment of devastation – and in Ravnica, we’re talking Nukes, not dynamite.
Kamigawa was somewhat weak for Type 4. The block certainly rounded out the draft set, and while it added a lot of new strategies that you could employ, it didn’t have a lot of cards that would be obviously better picks than anything else in the stack. In T4 draft, what are first-pick cards from Kamigawa? Time Stop? Boseiju? These are second-pick cards. They’re firsts only in a weak set, or if they are particularly useful in the deck you happen to be drafting.
But Ravnica has giant beasts with a laundry list of abilities and power instants that will make your opponents cringe. Ravnica has a mechanic that is way better than cycling. Ravnica has a counterspell that could potentially kill the original spell’s caster. The first set of Ravnica may add more cards into Type 4 than all of Kamigawa Block.
So let’s look at what cards will be cool in Type 4, in order of ascending excitement factor.
20. Eye of the Storm
This is only good in Type 4 if you “extend” the rules to allow all copies that are triggered by this to be played without being subject to the “one card per turn” limit. Remember that Type 4 is a fairly freeform format where you have the liberty to do such things. It still might have too much symmetry to be useful, but the effect could be quite potent if you have more instants than your opponents do – or at least if you have instants that make combos. If I can cast Opportunity every time I cast a counter, I’m probably going to win.
The FAQ on this card is pretty lengthy, as it is pretty confusing. Remember, the spell you originally cast is removed from the game and does not resolve, but you do get to make a copy of it.
18. Mnemonic Nexus
This has good utility as instant-speed graveyard hate. It’s also good for getting yourself out of trouble if you’re going to be decked. This card may be what we need for this type of utility in Type 4 – and it also has the added benefit of making everyone shuffle, which is great if someone’s played a card that’s stacked his deck.
17. Warp World
That’s one way to clear the board! It’s hard to determine how often you’ll want to cast this thing in practice – but it will be sure to cause some serious chaos, which is always fun.
Also interesting. Ripping off free red or white spells sounds good. You have to have a creature in play to make it work – although you can unattach it as an instant, which is cool.
15. Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion and Svogthos, the Restless Tomb
Good lands. Double strike and “turns into a big guy” are good abilities for something you don’t have to cast and can’t be countered.
14. Blazing Archon
This seems good, obviously. A 5/6 flying beast and no one can attack you; do I really have to say much more about this? Well, how about that it costs nine, so there’s even a card that can locate it with Transmute!
13. Twisted Justice
A sorcery, yes – but aim this at the poor sap with one big lonely guy and you’ll smile.
12. Crown of Convergence
Obviously good, like Soothsaying – but a bit more fair. The +1/+1 is pretty much an afterthought in Type 4, as the “tutor” ability is far more important. Factor in how unfair Soothsaying is, and I’m sure you’ll see how this could be good. Combos well with Yet Another AEther Vortex from Unhinged.
Great utility. Grab this one in draft, it’ll always be useful.
10. Huge Killer Guys – Autochthon Wurm, Mindleech Mass, and Razia, Boros Archangel, Grozoth
Yes, there are huge killer guys in here, lots of them. You might specifically want to look at Grozoth, who can turn himself into Searing Wind, Bringer of the (COLOR) Dawn, and Myojin of Life’s Web, to name a few. Many of the new cards from Ravnica cost nine, so he’ll have a few goodies to grab. Best of all, his “comes into play” ability doesn’t require him to be played from your hand, so there are a number of ways to sneak this guy into play and pick up a handful of cards from your deck. Savage! In testing, I’ve found that this guy much better than I thought at first – in fact, he’s awesome.
8. Sisters of Stone Death
This is not only a huge, killer guy, but one who knows how to rally your opponent’s men. That doesn’t seem terrible.
7. Firemane Angel
I like guys who gain you life and never die. Not too shabby.
6. Congregation at Dawn
Tutoring to the top of your deck isn’t optimal – but this is an instant. A single creature could be all you need to let loose a deathblow to the entire table, and this thing can get you up to three! Once again, it’s a great combo with Yet Another AEther Vortex.
5. Moonlight Bargain
This is a pretty powerful instant, even if you only have enough life to grab one or two cards. It can also fuel some graveyard action if you turn over something like Glory. A bargain indeed.
4. Wasted Transmuters – Brainspoil, Perplex, Clutch of the Undercity
Five, four, and three are great numbers to Tutor for – and these cards do something useful, but probably not as useful as say, Desertion. These will probably find themselves in the graveyard unfulfilled most of the time, but you will like them just the same. In Ravnica, you should get used to learning your one-two-threes again, since advanced knowledge of converted mana costs is going to give you a serious edge over other players.
The problem with Transmute is the sorcery speed. You won’t be able to hang onto these cards until the need arises, and there will be no surprises after showing your opponents what you tutored for. Still, this is a really powerful mechanic that’s ripe for abuse.
Perplex in particularly is interesting beyond its Transmute ability. It can be used for strategic effect if you hit someone with a big hand that is casting something critical. The problem is that if they do take the discard (and the worst case is that they don’t have a hand, in which case you should have Transmuted), they get the spell. It’s really sneaky if you can trick someone into pitching his hand, and then you counter with a morph ability like Voidmage Prodigy.
3. Muddle the Mixture
Amazing. I’ve found with Transmutes that the tutor ability often outshines what the card is – and while this is a great card already, it is also a very powerful tutor. There’s lots of good stuff in the two-mana slot, including Survival of the Fittest, Flash of Insight, and real Counterspells.
2. Induce Paranoia
Wow! “I’ll play a spell with a high casting cost.”
“And I’ll counter it. There goes your deck!”
That’s one way of sticking it to someone you don’t like. If he’s been drawing a lot of cards and then he casts something large, blasting a person with this can take him out of the game. Let’s not forget how good cards that counter spells of any kind are, let alone ones that do this.
1. Chord of Calling
This is my number one. How often will tutoring for your best guy and putting it into play as an instant seem good? Every time. Even if you just have to throw this as a last-ditch effort to Mystic Snake out a spell, this thing is amazing.
Overall, Ravnica seems to change the feel of Type 4, and I think it does it for the better. There are a lot of powerful strategies that can be applied, and the games seem more diverse. If you feel like players always win with the same five cards, Ravnica definitely seeks to remedy that problem. I’m adding more Ravnica cards to my deck than I have non-foil cards in it, and that’s no exaggeration. If the future sets continue these mechanics we are sure to see plenty more goodness, which is going to make for a very exciting year of Type 4.
- A Special thanks to Dave Staymates, Brian Keil, Mike Balik and Matt Murray for helping me playtest this stuff.
- Also, a “thank you” to Steve Menendian for his input.