I found Joel Grainger-Carr’s article on how bad he thought Apocalypse was quite disheartening, and hope that he doesn’t close people’s minds to the exciting cards introduced by the set. In particular was this closing statement:
“My advice to you is stick to what you know is good, and discard the rest, starting with anything mono-colored in Block. Standard may gain Mono-Black, but that will be all.”
So basically, he’s telling people to stick their heads in the sand and not bother trying out any but the most blatantly powerful Constructed-worthy cards. What kind of advice is that? Apocalypse has lots of new cards to explore, and I’m willing to bet quite a few of them will bring pleasant surprises to the players that try ’em out. In the little playtesting I’ve had time to do, I’ve been impressed with the Flagbearers and Squee’s Embrace, just to name a few cards others might think are not worth considering.
He goes on to outline some reasons why he thinks Apocalypse sucks, so I will address his points one by one in an effort to refute his claims (if not change his mind):
“If you are still trying to defend Apocalypse, then consider the following points:”
“The largest flyer is a 5/4 that gets crushed by the Dragons.”
What does that have to do with anything? I think just about any set would falter by this comparison; the Invasion Dragons were designed to be ultra-efficient flying beatdown. Desolation Angel isn’t supposed to be the set’s premier flying beatdown creature; it’s a”replacement” for Armageddon in two colors that should not have any problem dealing with Dragons if they’re worried about it.
“There are no new worthwhile cheap counterspells.”
In my opinion, this is an argument for why Apocalypse is GOOD. However, Evasive Action is a new Mana Leak that is very cheap and potentially powerful in decks designed to use it. With Mystic Snake and Ice Cave, Apocalypse even gives the potential for a counterspell lock.
“The set contains just two creatures with power 5 or greater.”
Desolation Angel, Bloodfire Colossus, Spiritmonger, Penumbra Wurm, Cromat, Fungal Shambler; my math shows six creatures, and that’s not even counting the entire Volver cycle of creatures that all can at least hit five power. I’m guessing what he means is”just two playable creatures with power five or greater.” What’s considered”playable” is always open to interpretation; it took a while for the Invasion Dragons to catch on… And dipping back a few years, Morphling was ignored for quite a while when Saga was released. Several of these creatures and at least a Volver or two are easily considered playable.
“The set has minimal spot removal at most.”
Assuming you mean creature removal, there’s Jilt, Captain’s Maneuver, Consume Strength, Death Grasp, Goblin Legionnaire, Prophetic Bolt, Razorfin Hunter, Vindicate, Fire/Ice, Order/Chaos, Legacy Weapon. You can even count Aether Mutation and Temporal Spring in some situations. All of these are playable, some excellent, some simply good.
“Mass removal spells are absent.”
“Artifacts are largely poor.”
This has generally been the case for the entire Invasion block; in the wake of the insane artifacts of Urza Block, I think Wizards has been very careful with their artifacts. Still, out of the six artifacts in Apocalypse, Dodecapod, Dragon Arch, Legacy Weapon and Mask of Intolerance all have maindeck or sideboard possibilities.
“The casting cost is too high for most mono colored [creatures] when their ability is a mediocre at best. Take a look at the new Merfolk.”
This measure is a particularly bad choice in a set that emphasizes cross-color abilities; with the unusually large number of gold cards, and monochrome creatures with enemy color abilities, there are going to be few creatures left to choose from. However, Gerrard, the Phyrexian Rager and Gargantua, Bloodfire Dwarf, the flagbearers, and the Penumbra gang are all worth checking out.
“Combo decks have been pushed out of contention.”
Again, I don’t think this is necessarily a measure of a bad set. However, Apocalypse does give some grist for the combo-minded people out there. Wild Research, some of the Sanctuaries, Ice Cave, Unnatural Selection, Gaea’s Balance, Symbiotic Deployment all have combo potential. Suppress is a solid support card for combo, backing up Duress as an Abeyance-type card to stop any disruption to your combo. And arcing over the entire Invasion block (and supported in Apocalypse) are Domain-type decks that could fit the definition of combo.
“There is still no Dark Ritual!”
Um… Did you really expect it? And who cares? There haven’t been any BBB spells printed in a quite a while now. I see lots of black decks being made without Dark Ritual, and it’s still available in Type 2.
Anyway, I find Joel’s dismissal of Apocalypse disappointing, and urge anyone buying into his arguments to give the set a second chance. There’s plenty to reward the enterprising deckbuilder here.