Smash Or Trash? Invasion’s Either/Or Spells

“A mechanic last seen in a goofy but fun artifact in Alliances.” – Top Deck We now know that that goofy but fun artifact was . Who would have thought that artifact would have inspired a whole cycle of cards in one of the most anticipated expansions in years? I’ve never been too fond of…

“A mechanic last seen in a goofy but fun artifact in Alliances.” – Top Deck
We now know that that goofy but fun artifact was Phyrexian Portal. Who would have thought that artifact would have inspired a whole cycle of cards in one of the most anticipated expansions in years? I’ve never been too fond of the Portal, but there’s a guy in our game shop named Tony that swears by them. He throws them into every group game deck he plays, and when watching him work it, I have to concede that it can be a powerful card-drawing artifact. But what Tony enjoyed best about Phyrexian Portal is the player interaction the card created. He loved to try and guess what his opponent was thinking when he divided up the two piles. Would it be six and four? Seven and three? If it was five and five, could he gauge which pile his opponent *didn’t* want him to pick, based on his eyes or hand movement? Sometimes Tony would reason out loud which pile he should pick, and he’d start sounding like the Sicilian from the Princess Bride, trying to decide which cup was poisoned. It was definitely a fun card.

Invasion takes that mechanic and puts a new spin on it. The piles are put face *up*. This effectively takes away the randomness of the face-down effect, and makes the pile choosing pure strategy. Which cards should I put in which pile? What does my opponent want me to put in each pile? What pile do *I* want to picked?

Wizards is calling them”divvy” cards; I like”either/or.” Guess which one will stick in the public consciousness? Sigh. I guess I need to write more if I want to have any influence on Magic lingo.

This is a great mechanic that really involves player interaction, which is refreshing in light of the solitaire combo nightmare we’re on the threshold of leaving behind us. This opens up a nice opportunity to talk and interact with your opponent in matches; both of you are involved in the process of resolving the spell. I have to give a big thumbs up to the Designer that stumbled across this mechanic and sold the rest of R&D on it. Bravo!

All right; now that I’ve gushed about the mechanic in general, how do the specific cards deliver on the promise? Are they worth playing? I’m going to present them below in order of what I feel are the worst or unplayable, to the very best of the bunch.

#6–Stand or Fall
3R Enchantment, Rare
At the beginning of your combat phase, separate all creatures defending player controls into two face-up piles. Only creatures in the pile of that player’s choice may block this turn.

While this can effectively halve the number of blockers set out against an aggressive deck, and despite the fact that it’s an enchantment that can be used over and over, I have to mark this the worst of the bunch for Constructed play. It seems like a beating in Limited, where you can drop it before you attack for a surprise assault. In the new Constructed, there doesn’t seem to be much to support a quick assault/swarm deck to warrant playing this card. Makes me all misty-eyed for my venerable Raging River, which was much better in comparison.

#5–Do or Die
1B Sorcery, Rare
Separate all creatures target player controls into two face-up piles. Destroy all creatures in the pile of that player’s choice. They can’t be regenerated.

This is not too bad, and it’s relatively cheap for mass removal. It obviously gets much better the bigger your opponent’s creature horde is, so it’s probably another card best suited to Limited play. Black just got so much quality removal in Masques block that this spell just gets left in the dust.

#4–Death or Glory
4W Sorcery, Rare
Separate all creature cards in your graveyard into two face-up piles. Remove the pile of an opponent’s choice from the game and return the other to play.

In a white deck, recurring Rebels with Lin-Sivvi is a much better option, but in a multi-color deck that splashes white, this isn’t a bad deal. Once you’ve got four creatures in your graveyard it becomes a nice card-advantage engine that just improves the more dead creatures you’ve got. Much better in Limited, but not unplayable in Constructed. With the limited amount of graveyard recursion available now, this doesn’t look half-bad.

#3–Bend or Break
3R Sorcery, Rare
Each player separates all land cards he or she controls into two face-up piles. For each player, an opponent chooses a pile. Destroy all lands in that pile. Tap all lands in the other pile.

I just red Seth Burn review of Invasion red on Mindripper, and he dismissed this as weak compared to Tectonic Break. Funny, but I didn’t really look at this card as a competitor to the Break in decks. This seems like much more of a beatdown card, while the Break is more of a control card. The card that flashes in my mind when I look at this is Veteran Brawlers; when this card resolves, it guarantees that your Brawler can swing that turn. That seems like a good thing. Tapping your opponent out, nuking half the land, swing with Brawlers, Chimeric Idols and Scoria Cats. What’s not to like?

#2–Fight or Flight
3W Enchantment, Rare
At the beginning of each opponent’s combat phase, separate all creatures that player controls into two face-up piles. Only creatures in the pile of his or her choice may attack this turn.

I nearly put Bend or Break at the #2 slot, but the more I thought about this card, the better it started looking for control decks as a potent weapon against fast swarm decks. While whether these will exist in the new type 2, the fact remains that if there’s two or more attacking creatures out, this spell can cut back on the offense. As an enchantment it’s working continually, so that’s another big plus. The one thing that’s missing that would make this dynamite is some Icy Manipulator-type of effect; oh, but for Rings of Gix or even Cessation! Kor Haven helps, but being a legend it’s risky to play more than one or two.

Fact or Fiction
3U Instant, Uncommon
Reveal the top five cards of your library. An opponent separates those cards into two face-up piles. Put one pile into your hand and the other into your graveyard.

Fact or Fiction is a great instant speed card-drawer, and the fact that *you* get to decide which pile to pick is fantastic. Make sure you put on your best poker face, shrug a lot and don’t make your opponent’s choices any easier. Regardless, you’re going to get the best card out of five if you want it, and if not your hand will grow by two or three. At instant speed. Did I mention how good this is as an instant? One blue in the casting cost makes it immensely splashable, and as Survival of Fittest and Intuition taught us in sets gone by, sometimes it’s good to put cards in your graveyard. I expect this to be one of the more popular and powerful cards in the set.

Well, there you have it! I’m looking forward to the player interaction these cards promote, and can’t wait to get my hands on a box or two of Invasion soon!

Bennie Smith