Sullivan Library – Food for Thought: Morningtide and the PTQer

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With Morningtide’s official release later this week also marking its debut on the Constructed stage, Adrian Sullivan has been looking at the cards with an eye on the Extended metagame. While many Internet pundits feel that the new cards will have little impact on the powerful format, Adrian does not agree. Do you?

A lot of people that I respect seem to have little to no time for Morningtide. The first of these folk that comes to mind when thinking of smart deckbuilders that I respect is generally Brian Kowal. In chatting online the other night, I mentioned that I thought the PTQ scene was probably going to change, most likely significantly.

He asked me to go into the cards that I thought were actually going to do something in Extended. I was too tired to go into it at the time, but I do think that there are a number of cards that are going to matter. I saw Brian’s sentiments echoed again and again by numerous people. Gerry Thompson, most notably, trashed pretty largely on the set in his “guest” spot on Chapin’s column. Zvi Mowshowitz opinions on the set are pretty negative overall, too (though maybe he would describe them as pretty positive).

I guess I’m just an optimist. Maybe it’s that I’m always trying to fit cards from the margins into appropriate homes. The problem with such an expansive view is that you can find yourself wasting a lot of time checking out the cards that have been tossed aside as dreck by everyone else. On the plus side, however, it gives you the chance to find the next new thing. Even Tarmagoyf wasn’t always considered good. No, really! Star City was selling them for four dollars for a while, and I know a lot of dealers who were selling it for similar amounts.

So, hear it is. Those cards I think are worthy of note for PTQers this season.

Auntie’s Snitch

I see this being a possible inclusion in Goblin decks. It’s not a card that does work like a Mogg Fanatic or a Skirk Prospector. It isn’t a powerhouse like Goblin Piledriver. It doesn’t drive the engine like Ringleader, Warchief, or Matron.

What it is, though, is a card that could serve as a possible one-of Matron target, if only from the sideboard. It’s very reasonable to run out of gas in some matchups, and the Snitch can be a great creature to keep the tank at least semi-full.


A little math should show how fantastic this card is. Your life descends quickly, sure, but if you’re being aggressive with Bitterblossom’s Faeries, their life will be descending far quicker. This is a card that a control deck can’t ignore for very long. Even cards like Wrath of God don’t do much to stop the bleeding for much more than a moment. Even from a defensive perspective, if you decide to start turning the tables on the card, you can effectively tie down one creature a turn, while maintaining whatever level of aggression you’ve built up. The exciting thing about this, is that it does it without further mana investment, while you do whatever the hell else you want to. Part of Counter-Post’s strength back in the day was that it was an uncounterable source of damage. In the modern Extended, Bitterblossom is such a cheap threat, it can easily sneak through the paucity of counters in the format.

Boldwyr Heavyweights

In a world where Tarmogoyf is generally the new bar for creatures, it can be hard to measure up. The Heavyweights do more than to measure up, in general. They overwhelm a poor Tarmogoyf. But it is at a rough cost. Unlike a Hunted Wumpus, the Heavyweights actually net you both card disadvantage and tempo disadvantage. This can be pretty damning all by itself.

That said, Boldwyr Heavyweights actually makes a great sideboard card against a creature-light deck that isn’t running Sower of Temptation or Shriekmaw (i.e., most of them). Versus Ideal, about the worst thing that is going to happen is that they might get a Sakura-Tribe Elder (and only if they are running a very bizarre version). This still requires the right deck and the right matchup, but it is absolutely worth noting.

Chameleon Colossus

Protection from Black. This was actually a big deal, and then they had to go and make Psychatog largely obsolete. It still is reasonably important, though. The most common elimination seeing play seems to be Vindicate and Putrefy, both cards that the Colossus can dodge quite easily.

For four mana, this creature can also be a beast (if you need one) for the purposes of a Baloth. With some mana open, it is likely to dodge a Vedalken Shackles. It is also easily able to smush a Goyf, and with the right amount of mana is effectively Phage, much like Psychatog has been. Mana is the prohibitive element. But in the right deck, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Countryside Crusher

Some people say that Crusher isn’t good enough. He’s got too much of a drawback. He’s just a three-drop, and you can’t count on him. He won’t be big enough.

The thing that amuses me about all of this was the similar comments about Doran. Doran, meanwhile, has clearly proven himself as a contender. Sure, Doran has his weaknesses, but he has a lot going for him. There is a reason Doran has been omnipresent. He’s just incredibly good.

Crusher is better. There, I said it.

Crusher’s weakness, as best as I can see it, is the small window where he is 3/3. Often, this window is incredibly short. But even there, the decks that can actually take advantage of this are incredibly few, and only moderately popular. For power and toughness, the Crusher generally outstrips the Doran pretty close to immediately. It’s easier to cast. The small amount that Doran pumps up (or down) other creatures isn’t fully in the control of a Doran player, as it accidentally pumps up the opponent.

To have Crusher hurt you, actually hurt you, you have to want to draw mana. If you foresee your deck want to do this, there are many reasonable cards that you can run to accomplish this purpose. Birds, Sakura, Chrome Mox, Rite of Flame, Seething Song, Dark Confidant, Sensei’s Divining Top, Life from the Loam, and others. None of these cards are at all an embarrassment to play.

The people that aren’t really up on Crusher, largely I imagine haven’t played it, or are being overly harsh. Just remember Doran. Crusher’s better than that guy.

Earwig Squad

This card is marginal, but still has something really useful going on in it. Sometimes, what we really want to do is slam something out of the opponent’s deck. Taking the Mindslavers or Form of the Dragons or what have you out of a deck can absolutely cripple it. When all you have to do is spend 1B on the Squad (or even B), this makes it a reasonable card to consider against certain opponents, and might even warrant a slot in the main of a dedicated Goblin deck.

Frogtosser Banneret

This is a filler card, fulfilling the role of a weak Warchief numbers five through eight. Most decks are probably not going to need this, but some decks might genuinely want to go there.

Lightning Crafter

This can double as a potential less dangerous Sparksmith that can go right to the dome. It also doubles as a creature that can “protect” a goblin, though that is pretty minor. Again, this is a potential singleton, though perhaps one of the least likely to be worthy of seeing play.

Murmuring Bosk

The Bosk is a card that will most likely make its way into each and every single Doran deck out there. Fixing three colors of mana is exceedingly rare, and often comes at a heavy cost. Mana fixing is ultimately a subtle art. There was a reason that I chose Birds of Paradise for my avatar when given options by Scott Johns for Wizards “Auction of the Geniuses.” Bosk is no Birds of Paradise avatar, but it is a card that begins to approach that space.


Mishra’s Factory, for a format like Extended, would clearly be better. Extended isn’t a place that often cares about a creature being Changeling in this way all that much. But it still has a few impacts. Goblin Piledriver and Ravenous Baloth are clear examples of where it might matter, but these aren’t as likely to make the kind of impact that a +1/+1 power might. There are marginal places that might get help from a Mutavault (like Voidmage Prodigy), but largely we’re still looking at the fringe.

What we can get out of it, though, is a real weapon for decks that aren’t strained in their colors. Take Red Deck Wins variants. Without much straining of their color requirements, a Mishra’s Factory style card could easily get in four damage over the course of a game, and perhaps more, given a favorable matchup. Barbarian Ring still has a place, of course, but the reach of these aggressive decks seems clearly to have grown.


I’ve run Gainsay in sideboards many, many times. Negate isn’t likely to see maindeck play, for reasons that Zvi has described as a question of timing. We’re generally going to be playing catch-up if we’re playing an early counterspell, and if we’re going second, a card that might not stop the early creature has some intrinsic problems. This doesn’t change the clear power of a hard counter in the right matchup, for only 1U. This gives decks that might only be splashing into the Blue a strong option, and is easily an amazing go-to option for simply pushing a base-Blue’s sideboard counters up all the more.

Oona’s Blackguard

A very specialized Faerie deck could be built out of a card like Oona’s Blackguard, which serves as another kind of Scion. It’s easy to imagine a Faerie deck tearing apart control decks and combo decks on the back of the Blackguard. Even versus aggressive decks, the Blackguard might serve as a means to pump up the army to being a bit more resilient against resistance, even after the Guard has been killed. This card would demand the creation of a new archetype (much like Brian Davis’s attempt along this line almost seven years ago). That archetype might absolutely suck, but this is a good place to look to for a starting place.


Whether it is Tron or it is Urborg/Coffers, Scapeshift seems like it could be present in any deck that is looking to build a green-based deck that is attempting to make Big Mana dot Deck. While it might not make the cut, it does seem worth of exploration.

Sensation Gorger

Sensation Gorger seems to me to be very similar to a Goblin Ringleader. The ability is a may ability, and so if it isn’t to your advantage to trigger the Kinship trigger, you aren’t required to. As anyone who has been hit by the discard power of an Incendiary Command or Wheel of Fortune can tell you, sometimes even if you’re given new cards, it can suck. This can do some work for you, by tearing up the hand that has been crafted by your opponent and replacing it with a random hand. For some decks, constantly losing a hand is incredibly devastating. Imagine being Ideal or Desire and being given a new hand nearly every turn. It can make it simply impossible to win. I actually think that this card is probably worth testing as a one-of (or more) in the new “canon” of Goblins.

Vendilion Clique

The Heathers are another card that could form the backbone of a potentially buildable Faeries archetype. Their ability is a very reasonable disruptive power, and they are solid as beaters. Without being held up by other pro-Faerie cards, this card isn’t likely to be good enough on its own, but imagining it with Blackguards and Scions, it does seem like there might be something to go on (though it might end up being only really reasonable in casual play).

Warren Weirding

Weirding stands out as the card that Tarfire isn’t quite, at least for Extended. Between Sharpshooter and Gempalm, a Goblin deck should be able to take care of a lot of creatures. The Weirding can take care of those strange monsters that are resistant to that. While it can be a liability versus another Goblin deck, even then, you could easily target yourself, getting an extra Goblin in the process. This isn’t great, but it is something. I expect that this will end up being a one-of in many, many builds of Goblins.

The Top 5

There are a lot of cards in this list. There are, however, five cards that I think mark the crème de la crème.

5 — Bitterblossom
4 — Sensation Gorger
3 — Murmuring Bosk
2 — Mutavault
1 — Countryside Crusher

Other than the Crusher, many of these could be considered subtle or support cards. That said, I do think that they will be able to have a significant impact on what a deck can do in Extended, and we’ll be seeing them in the time to come.

Good luck in any PTQs you might be playing in. Maybe I’ll see you at one!

Adrian Sullivan