Felicitations, my foxy Moxettes! Don the vestments and assume the position, for the Holy Hour is once more upon us.
Today, we have a pleasant missive with which to play…
Hello Teh Moxzors,
I’ve been playing Magic since the launch of 4th Edition. I’ve stuck with it through 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th without complaint (other than my twenty-four hour blackout and so-called “rampage” after the release of Prophecy, but I’ve made my peace with that).
9th Edition is now in the shops, and I think it’s the BEST THING IN THE WHOLE WORLD. If the cards were people, I would throw a big party and invite them all. Except Sengir Vampire, of course, because he’d only complain about the garlic dip.
What do you think of 9th Edition, Doctor? Hit or miss?
Jack B, LA.
Hello Jack. Thank you for your letter.
On the surface, my answer is a simple one: 9th Edition, the new Core Set, is superb. Those tireless champions at Wizards of the Coast have outdone themselves. Some of their past decisions have wilted under the spotlight of examination, so it’s nice to see them finally do something right. I hereby declare that 9th Edition gets the official Doctor Mox Seal of Approval.
My Swiss ladyfriend Jetta, on the other hand, takes a dimmer view of 9th Edition. She is a creature of habit, and abhors change of any kind. Indeed, the day Wizards updated the card borders, she threw a tantrum of almost mythic proportions (I say almost: she got the +8/+8 but missed out on the trample). I tried to console her in her time of crisis with phrases such as “tradition isn’t everything”, “silver and white are distinctly different”, and “at least they never made the cards five-sided,” but there was just no talking to her. Eventually things went a little too far… we just count our lucky stars she didn’t injure herself when my tranquilizer dart caused her to fall from the roof.
For a comprehensive answer to your question, and to fly in the face of Jetta’s derision, I present the following arguments in support of 9th Edition.
1: The addition of Allied and Off-Color Painlands can only help the game.
By far the most important changes for 9th Edition do not involve spells. The inclusion of both the old-favorite Ice Age Allied Painlands and the crowd-pleasing Apocalypse Off-Color Painlands means that mana-bases have never been so solid. All colors are catered for! All life is there!
During the glory of Invasion Standard, we had constant access to all kinds of colored Mana. Mostly, this was a blessing, as the ability to create Red Mana at the drop of a hat is wonderful. However, the abundance of Mana became a hindrance in some cases, with Mana being created in such extreme amounts the Governments of the World began stockpiling the excess into vast Mana Mountains buried deep below the Arizona deserts. Apparently, the Disney Corporation is planning to build a Mana-Inspired Theme Park on the site sometime in 2010.
With the Mana restrictions lifted, there was a boom in creativity. All manner of decks were dreamt and created. And the creativity didn’t stop at decks. It is believed that the collective works of Earnest Hemmingway, Jim Morrison and Andy Warhol were all conceived while their creators were “off their faces” on Mana.
Fewer Mana restraints equals more creativity equals more fun. You can’t argue with that.
But remember, kids… Mana is great in moderation. Don’t be a fool, stay in school.
2: The cards we gain far outweigh the cards we lose.
9th Edition heralds the return of some of Magic’s box-office stars. However, it also sees the passing of some of the games more dependable staples. I’m sure we all agree that the new stuff kicks the liver out of the old stuff however you look at it… but I’ve a duty to examine the evidence a little more thoroughly. I am a doctor, after all.
Some of the cards we lose…
- Bribery. This is a big loss to the Blue Mage. Now they won’t be able to kill us with our own cards. Anything that stops these sanctimonious buffoons and thwarts their freakish schemes is just fine by me.
- Plow Under. A loss, it seems in the battle to bring down Tooth and Nail. Frankly, who the hell cares? Mirrodin disappears in a few months, and the departure would relegate this five-mana sorcery to the Where Are They Now file even if it hadn’t been cut from the roster.
- Boil. To be frank, I’ll miss this instant-speed beauty. However, the castration of Blue means that packing Boil is akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. In a way, it’s nice to throw Blue mages the odd scrap of hope here and there. We’ve gotta keep them interested. After all, every superhero needs a nemesis. And a Boseiju-fuelled Boiling Seas is still the cardboard equivalent of a cactus enema.
- Birds of Paradise. In the long-term, the loss of this 0/1 staple may be to the detriment of the game… but we’ve Llanowar Elves, and Ravnica means that the tip-top BoP will be round for another year at the very least.
Some of the cards we gain…
- Hypnotic Specter. When Dark Ritual was legal, this little guy hit the turn 1 headlines as often as today’s “Mountain-Mox-Firewalker’. Random discard can lead to a complete rout in a matter of seconds. However, he’s not quite as scary on turn 2, or 3… He’ll be played, and rightly so, but he won’t be as degenerate as history shows he was. Which is, or course, a good thing.
- Battle of Wits. I am extremely pleased to see this Odyssey rare make the Core Edition. Sure, it’s a casual card at best, but seeing the possible return of 250-card decks is an absolute hoot. And my many shares held in various card-sleeve companies should make my stock portfolio go through the roof.
- Paladin en-Vec. First strike, protection from Red, protection from Black, three mana, two power? Put a cape on him and call him Charlie… he’s more than ridiculous, he’s ri-cock-ulous!
- Verdant Force. The Best Fatty Ever Printed. Jamie Wakefield returns to the game, and they re-print his signature beast not long after… coincidence? More than likely. Hey, I’m a realist. And I’m not complaining, although the word “saproling” has always annoyed me for some unfathomable reason.
3: Some changes were made solely for Magic Online. This is good. Expect more to come.
Magic Online is a fantastic, if somewhat expensive, tool. My Swiss ladyfriend Jetta and myself have spent countless hours trading tickets and digital objects for the chance to draft with such gaming luminaries as SuperPicard, UrzasNipples89 and GoGoLovePanda. Online, I go by the name “Doctor_Mox,” which is sadly unimaginative. Jetta has asked I not reveal her online persona as she’s only recently shaken off her last stalker and doesn’t relish a repeat of the “excrement-by-mail” incident.
If drafting is the meat of MTGO, then Constructed is the vegetable. Or maybe the gravy. Online Block Constructed is a popular format, as is Online Type Two. However, if you’re really serious about using Magic Online as a route to improvement, you’ll need to amass an Online Extended collection. And that can cost crazy money. Recently, a digital Spiritmonger was sold for in excess of three hundred thousand dollars. When examined, however, it was revealed that the Spiritmonger in question wasn’t a Spiritmonger at all. It was actually a yacht. But my point remains the same.
With the release of 9th Edition, the Blue/Green Madness deck just got a little cheaper. We now have easier access to Yavimaya Coasts, and the rest of the Painlands are Extended staples. I predict that Wizards is planning to re-release a number of currently rare Online Extended cards in Ravnica Block. Atop that list, I believe, is Pernicious Deed. Orim’s Chant may also make a return, as may Spiritmonger and Vindicate. I doubt we’ll see Meddling Pikula make a second charge for glory, but stranger things have happened.
Creating new cards that are functional reprints of existing Extended powerhouses like Pernicious Deed could be gaming suicide. Re-prints would make the entry-level cost of Online Extended more manageable, while enabling the online metagame to mirror its real-life counterpart. However, if Yavimaya’s Embrace returns to clog up the rare slot of an upcoming set, I may just arm myself with a crossbow and head for Renton… I’m talking to you, Rosewater.
On a slightly related note, I also think Brainstorm will make it into Ravnica. If this proves to be true, just remember that the good Doctor told ya.
That’s the lot for now, fair skyfolk. I’m spurted my last. I’m spent, and the carpets need cleaning.
Tonight, Jetta and I were planning a quiet night in front of the television, but breaking news from Switzerland reveals that the Unspunnenstein has been stolen. I’m sure you all realise the terrible ramifications of this. Jetta is inconsolable, and in constant contact with her family back home. I only hope that it is recovered before next month’s Unspunnen Festival. We attended in both 1981 and 1993, and dearly hope this year’s event proceeds as planned. We’ve been practicing our Alpenhorns every night for three months, and this weekend we’re being fitted for our wrestling Lederhosen.
Until next time, keep searching for the Unspunnenstein,