Sullivan Library: Magical Spells And Fantastic Creatures: Invasion’s Impact On Magic’s Best Format

I had the extreme pleasure of going to the Team Pro Tour at New York this year, and the tournament was pretty miserable for me. Why the extreme pleasure? I got to see some friends. I got to play in some side events. My other team (“We’ve Got Girlfriends,” Andy Nishioka and Richie Frangiosa as…

I had the extreme pleasure of going to the Team Pro Tour at New York this year, and the tournament was pretty miserable for me. Why the extreme pleasure?

I got to see some friends.

I got to play in some side events.

My other team (“We’ve Got Girlfriends,” Andy Nishioka and Richie Frangiosa as the tight teammates) won the $1000 Invasion tournament.

And I got to play a little bit of my favorite format: Five Color.

I’m sure that there are many of you who have never heard of Five Color. Five Color is a semi-casual format to play Magic. By”semi-casual,” I mean that while some people play it competitively, it’s a really easy format to play just for fun.

The rules are pretty simple.

  1. Everyone must play with 250 cards or more
  2. Everyone must play with at least eighteen cards of each color (this is FIVE Color, after all)
  3. You may play with most of the cards that are in Magic (currently, only five cards are banned)
  4. Badly-damaged cards or altered cards are allowed
  5. You may play ante cards (and are encouraged to play for ante). Four Contracts from Below, anyone?
  6. The full rules can be found at the Official site

It is absolutely great fun.

Why should you care?

Simple. Not only is it great fun, but it gives you a chance to play tons of old, cool cards. If you’re a store owner, having a healthy Five Color community means that you get to sell cards like Wheel of Fortune, Amulet of Quoz, or Contract From Below, rather than have them sit on your shelf. If you’re a tournament player, it gives you a chance to relax a little and play with almost whatever you want. If you’re a deck tinkerer, it can be great fun to try to figure out how you can build your 250-card deck to consistently do some cool trick. If you’re a more casual player, it gives you a chance to have yet another fun format – but this one you might be able to play against people you’ve never met before, if you travel. (Five Color is currently played in the Midwest and Texas) If you’re a member of Magic R&D, you can use it to figure out if a card is broken or not!

Also, the Five Color World Championships are going to be happening at Pro Tour Chicago! Wow! This event is by invitation only, and I’m sad to say that I’m not qualified. Alas, maybe some day…

Five Color inventor Kurt”Fats” Hahn pestered me mercilessly for months because I didn’t have a Five Color deck. I was always watching the games that would happen at every PTQ and every local event, but I never had a Five Color deck built.

“All my cards are in storage, Kurt! I can’t make one yet!”

“Whatever, Sullivan. You suck. You’re just to scared to play against the big boys! Why don’t you run home to momma and those easy players at the Pro Tour!”

He actually swore a lot, but I figure that StarCityCCG is a family website, and I don’t want The Ferrett to have to do too much work. (This is a terribly ironic comment, given what happens later on – The Ferrett)

Eventually I broke out my cards from their dusty boxes and settled on my first deck:

1x Thran Dynamo
3x Sol Grail
4x Mindtone
4x Worn Powerstone
4x Fellwar Stone
1x Sol Ring
4x Barbed Sextant (I had to get the right colors!)
1x Ivory Tower
1x Zuran Orb
1x Jeweled Bird
4x Mindless Automaton
1x Karn, Silver Golem
3x Triskelion
3x Ticking Gnome
1x Snake Basket signed by Richard Garfield
4x Phyrexian Furnace
2x Nevinyrral’s Disk
1x Grinning Totem
1x Temporal Aperture
2x Urza’s Blueprints
1x Mangara’s Tome
1x Scrying Glass
1x Citanul Flute

2x Monk Realist
1x Monk Idealist
2x Karmic Guide
1x Academy Rector
1x Radiant’s Dragoons
3x Miraculous Recovery
4x Swords to Plowshares
1x Land Tax
4x Disenchant
1x Balance
1x Enlightened Tutor
1x Allay

1x Uktabi Orangutan
2x Woodripper
2x Bird of Paradise (all I own!)
2x Groundskeeper (wannabe Birds of Paradise)
1x Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
2x Heartwood Treefolk (people always hated it when I cast him!)
1x Yavimaya Elder
4x Yavimaya Granger
4x Albino Trolls
1x Natural Affinity
4x River Boa
1x Hermit Druid
4x Rampant Growth
1x Tornado
1x Might of Oaks (the one that I killed Brian Weissman with at US Nationals 98!)
1x Splintering Wind (from my Baron Harkonnen deck!)
1x Regrowth
1x Foil Calming Verse
1x Night Soil
1x Crop Rotation
4x Gaea’s Blessing

3x Kaervek’s Torch
4x Lightning Bolt
1x Price of Progress
1x Gamble
1x Scrap
1x Shattering Pulse
3x Ghitu Slinger
4x Ancient Hydra
1x Goblin Welder
4x Orcish Settler (I love his art!)
2x Orcish Librarian (named Will and Barg)

2x Interdict
4x Impulse
1x Trade Routes
1x Soothsaying
1x Mystical Tutor
4x Arcane Denial
1x Tinker
1x Windfall
1x Stroke of Genius (signed by former Wisconsin State Champion Jake Welch! 😀 )
1x Time Spiral
1x Confiscate
1x Psychic Theft
3x Lat-nam’s Legacy
1x Portent
2x Raven Familiar
1x Gilded Drake
1x Aura Thief

(Note to self: When Adrian originally wrote this article, he simply put each of the colors in one paragraph instead of putting each card on a separate line. Without thinking that there were TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY FREAKIN’ CARDS in here, I of course went to normal formatting. For future articles on Five Color, I’ll just let it ride. –The Ferrett, getting carpal tunnel syndrome from hitting the”enter” key)

1x Carrionette
1x Avatar of Woe
1x Phyrexian Negator (just cause I won it from Kurt”Fattie” Hahn)
3x Bone Shredder
1x Divining Witch
1x Coffin Queen
1x Sol’kanar the Swamp King
1x Phyrexian Reclamation (I didn’t own a Recurring Nightmare)
1x Dregs of Sorrow
4x Contract from Below
3x Diabolic Edict
1x Demonic Tutor
1x Mind Twist
1x Demonic Consultation
1x Corpse Dance
1x Rhystic Tutor

1x Strip Mine
4x Wasteland
4x Treetop Villages
4x Faerie Conclave
3x Pendelhaven
1x Karakas
1x Hammerheim
1x Yavimaya Hollow (foil and PT Stamped!)
3x Mishra’s Factory
1x Stalking Stone (Mishra’s Factory wannabe)
1x Phyrexian Tower
1x Remote Isle
1x Drifting Meadow
1x Smoldering Crater
2x Slippery Karst
1x Polluted Mire
1x Thawing Glaciers
4x Flood Plain
4x Mountain Valley
4x Bad River
2x Grassland
2x Spawning Pool
2x Gemstone Mine
1x Rocky Tar Pit
1x Tropical Island (!)
20x Forest
9x Island
10x Swamp
10x Plains
10x Mountains

There were a whole bunch of cards that I wanted but that I couldn’t get my hands on.

“Your deck sucks, dude,” local Five Color and sometimes Pro Player Matt Severa said to me when he played against it.

“Yeah, I know.”

But it is a lot of fun!

I’ve gotten the deck a lot better recently. A friend gave me an old Library of Alexandria, and I ended up trading it to another friend who doesn’t play anymore. He needed a Library of Alexandria, a Mox Emerald, and a Time Walk to finish his”power set,” and he supplied me with a mass amount of great cards for my Library and a Masticore. I’m now even closer to having my deck the way I want it, but there are still a bunch of cards I want.

A lot of those cards I don’t have yet (thirty of them, in fact) are from Invasion.

I’m sure that a few of you reading this already play Five Color, and so you’re going to want to see what someone has to say about the Invasion cards. Most of you already probably have pretty strong opinions, so we’ll have to see if I can say anything that you’ll find interesting…

I’m only going to go over those cards that seem interesting to me, so be warned.


Chromatic Sphere.
Chromatic Sphere is an improved Barbed Sextant. While not an extremely exciting card, it is nice for the player without access to Dual Lands, just so they can more consistently get the right colors of mana that they need. As a Barbed Sextant card, it is strictly better than the original, so unless you want eight Sextants, take out the old version.

These are all actually pretty okay. Not an exceptional card by any means, this could be another Poor Man’s Mox.

Planar Portal.
Planar Portal has already been restricted for Official play, and with good reason. Being able to search for the best card in a 250+ card deck can be a little powerful.

Some people like this guy. I think he’s just a big, tin dragon. Sure, you can get a 4/4 flying, trampling, first striking dragon, but you can also get a 2/2 trampler. Not very exciting, IMHO.

Tsabo’s Web.
I think this card is just fine. It lets you shut down people’s silly Library of Alexandrias, Maze of Iths and the like, and it doesn’t even cost a card.

Crypt Angel.
I think that even though this thing is only a 3/3 creature, it is also a 3/3 flier with Protection from White. That is pretty good for five mana. Add in the Raise Dead ability it has on Blue or Red creatures, I think this one is okay. It’s not incredibly exciting for players who have much more powerful cards, but it is still respectable.

Phyrexian Delver.
Some people might like Phyrexian Delver, but to them, I politely point up to my older Five Color deck: Karmic Guide does everything the Delver does, but it flies and has Protection from Black.

Plague Spitter.
This one is pretty okay. If you need a good reliable answer to smallish creatures, this one will get the job done.

Trench Wurm.
I’m pretty sure that this one will see a bit of play. It can’t be Terrored, Nekrataaled, or Shreddered – and is a big fattie 3/3 as well. The only real question is whether or not you’ll use his ability if you can attack.

Tsabo’s Decree.
Tons of people play Rebels or Elves or some kind of crazy theme-ish deck. This should be a great counter to that. In addition, the format is slow enough that you can actually cast it!

Elfhame Sanctuary.
This card is great for the Poor Player who can’t afford the expensive Dual Lands and wants to be able to cast any card in their deck.

Jade Leech
The beatdown player can rejoice. This guy is huge, and his drawback is not so bad when you play five colors.

Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer.
I know that some people play this guy. Why? Play Dakkon Blackblade and get a Terror-proof version that’s cooler to boot!

This card is great. When you play with 250 cards, you probably won’t see it too often, but then again, when you do, you’ll probably get some good cards to choose from.

Scouting Trek.
This is similar to Elfhame Sanctuary. It gets you the land you want, and cuts through the crap. It’s not permanent, which can be frustrating – but it’s not permanent, so it can’t be messed with if you need some land for a while.

Thicket Elemental.
Paying the Kicker on this bad boy is probably worth it, especially if you build some kind of Busty Fatty deck. You should generally have enough time to cast it with Kicker, and even if you don’t, it is still pretty solid.

Thornscape Apprentice.
This guy is incredibly good in a Beatdown Five Color deck.

Utopia Tree.
The verdict might still be out on these guys, but I guess I feel that getting eight Birds of Paradise is a good thing.

Verdeloth the Ancient.
Verdeloth is not only one of the coolest Legends ever, he’s a real gem in Five Color. A late game Verdeloth could give you just enough cards to swing back from a potentially horrible situation (like your opponent searching for Deranged Hermits with a Rebel Chain).

Verduran Emissary.
Not just another Uktabi Orangutan. This one can kill Masticore.

New Dual Lands.
I know for a fact that I’m going to be playing four of each of these puppies as soon as I can get them all. I already have six; I just need fourteen more. Since they are not, in fact, Islands and the like, they can’t be landwalked, which is always good. While they are certainly not as powerful as a pure Dual Land, they are a hell of a lot cheaper.

This one is BOUND to see play. The effect is really powerful, and unlike other formats, there are a lot of really nice enchantments that you’ll probably want to be playing when you build your deck. Make sure you can get rid of your opponent’s enchantments, though.

Shivan Emissary.
This cat may not fly or first strike, but it is otherwise a bit more effective than Bone Shredder or Nekrataal when it comes to the Terror department. I don’t think that the extra mana is too prohibitive.

Tribal Flames.
This could be pretty good if you’re the kind of person that has a lot of duals, or if you just have a lot of Yavimaya Grangers and Elders.

Urza’s Rage.
I plan on playing three or four of this bad boy. Getting to the Kicker isn’t too hard in this format.

Dream Thrush.
This could be another Poor Man’s Bird of Paradise. Use it if you need to.

Fact or Fiction.
Is there a format that this card isn’t amazingly silly in? Wow. This one was a bit too powerful, and I’m still waiting for R&D to admit that this was an error.

Teferi’s Response.
Shut down Ports, stop a Wasteland or Strip Mine, kill a Miner or Trench Wurm, stop a Pillage, nuke a silly Tradewind. Draw two cards. This seems great.

Worldly Counsel.
This could be slightly better than Impulse sometimes, but usually you should just stick to the Impulse.

Benalish Emissary.
This card might be better than Avalanche Riders, but it’s not. It could be worse – but it is not. It is actually just a pretty different card. The control decks should like this one.

Benalish Heralds.
Another nice control card, this guy is big enough to stop the beatdown decks from being too mean.

Dismantling Blow.
This one might just be better than Disenchant.

Global Ruin.
A fifth Armageddon? Maybe. This might be pretty nice against people that have a bunch of cool lands like Maze of Ith and Tolarian Academy in play.

Reya, Dawnbringer.
You have to be playing a pretty heavily White deck, but WOW is this thing impressive once it gets into play.

Instant Wrath of God is great. For fun, cast this card in response to Rebel searching with a Lin-Sivvi!

Spirit of Resistance.
Getting a permanent of each color is a bit easier with this format. Think Shyft.

Five Color is a great format for multicolor spells. Thankfully, Invasion came through with a heaping helping of great Gold Cards!

Another solid counterspell. That is always good.

Artifact Mutation/Aura Mutation.
I know tons of people already replacing their Uktabi Orangutans and Monk Realists for these cards. I have to say I like them too.

Blazing Spectre.
This is just one of those cards that is going to see play in all kinds of environments. Even in Five Color.

Captain Sisay.
Searching through your library is always good. If he were a little bit fatter on the butt, he’d definitely be worth playing, but he’s still pretty close.

Charging Troll.
This guy is a total beating. He’s hard to kill, doesn’t tap, and he’s big. Expect to see this guy showing up in Five Colors decks.

Coalition Victory.
Here is a card that would not take it anymore. A card that stood up against the scum, the control decks, the dogs, the filth, the jerks. Here is a card that stood up. Here is a card that is pretty good with Shyft and Dual Lands. I expect more than one person to make a Coalition Victory deck.

The dragons will all see some play, but especially Crosis the Purger and Dromar the Banisher. Not only can neither be Terrored, they both have slightly more powerful abilities for the format.

Frenzied Tilling.
Another land destruction card for the LD fanatics. The Rampant Growth portion of the spell will be exciting to a lot of people.

2/2 Protection Creatures for 2.
These cards are probably all going to see play. Maybe a Color Spray, 2/2 deck?

Hanna, Ship’s Navigator.
This is one of my favorite cards from the new set, and I’m pretty sure that someone else is going to be excited by it to (besides Dave Williams).

Plague Spores.
Yet another Fumarole. Fumarole was always a favorite of old school Land Destruction players, and Plague Spores fits in nicely to the LD deck you might build.

Pyre Zombie.
Another Hammer or Shard Phoenix for recursion fans.

Reviving Vapors.
It’s a slow search engine compared to a lot of other cards, but the life gain is kind of nice.

Sleeper’s Robe.
People love Curiosity. This card will be one of the better creature enchantments that you might use.

Spinal Embrace.
If you’re playing heavier blue, I expect that this card will actually be pretty exciting for you. Killing a creature, probably stopping an attack for a round, and gaining life all add up to a nice package.

Sterling Grove.
Quickly Restricted in Official Five Color, this card is really a nice way to keep your Sylvan/Abundance combo going (or any Enchantment combo for that matter). The Tutor effect is just gravy.

Like Absorb, it gives you another option for a solid, cheaper counterspell.

My is this card nifty! I’m a big fan of cards that are generally useful, and this one fits the bill.

Spite/Malice, Assault/Battery, Wax/Wane.
Each of these split cards is able to do a lot of different and useful stuff for a Five Color player (even if they look stupid). I know I’m planning on playing a few of them in my deck just for the versatility…


That is a lot of cards.

This weekend, I hope to play the first Five Color I’ve played since the Pro-Tour. Hopefully I’ll have more of the cards I need, but you never know.

If anyone ever feels like donating beaten up and hurt cards, I’m looking for the following for my Five Color deck (as long as you can shuffle it, I’ll take it!):

Bayou, Volcanic Island, Tolarian Academy, Volrath’s Stronghold, Thawing Glacier (to think I once owned 16 of them!), Recurring Nightmare, Trade Routes, Survival of the Fittest, Sylvan Library, Birds of Paradise, Utopia Tree, Squee, Urza’s Rage, Catastrophe, Hanna, Planar Portal, Mox Diamonds

I’ll be seeing you at Pro Tour Chicago. Bring a Five-Color deck!

Adrian Sullivan
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