Hello folks and welcome back to the longest running series in my column. This series reaches all the way back to Onslaught and has hit every Magic set since. In today’s article I am going to look at the cards from Future Sight and evaluate them in terms of Five Color.
Five Color is a casual format with a requirement that you have at least 250 cards, and twenty cards of each color. We use all Vintage legal sets, but due to the quirky nature of the format, we have to keep our own banned and restricted lists. You can find them plus all of the nuanced rules over at www.5-color.com. We give you the option of playing for ante if you’d like, you can play with the flip cards, and we even have pretty generous mulligan rules.
Because of its vast card pool, when new cards are introduced, it’s easier to measure them against an existing standard. You might need to playtest new cards to see what impact they will have on Standard. How good will certain cards be in Block? Who knows?
On the other hand, you can often put many of these cards against existing standards, and see how they stack up. Lightning Bolt is great, so a burn spell has to do something that Bolt does not in order for it to be played. Maybe it’s reusable like Firebolt, maybe it does more damage like Char, or maybe it’s uncounterable like Urza’s Rage. However, most junk – from Shock to Seal of Fire to Glacial Ray – is not making the cut.
Unlike many set reviews, in this one I’m only including the cards that I think will make an impact, or the cards I hear Five Color players discussing. You won’t see me toss every single card into an article, and then say “good in Limited, bad in Constructed” for half of them.
Now, this set has some unusual, never-before-seen abilities. As such, it may be more difficult to review and predict than normal sets. That’s just the way it’s got to be.
In the past, I reviewed new mechanics first, and expressed opinions on which ones were good in Five Color (like transmute) and which ones were Five Color clunkers (like radiance). Many mechanics were neutral, only being as good as the card in question (like dredge).
For this set, I am going to eschew that normal process. There are mechanics with just one card that has said mechanic. I don’t want to spend several paragraphs talking about the hypothetical value of a mechanic when only one or two cards have it.
With that, then, I am ready to move into the card valuations. Please note that the cards in this article are taken generally from unofficial spoilers. One tiny word wrong here and there may end up making a major difference in the way that a card works, and I have made claims in previous articles of this nature based on an improperly worded spoiler. Therefore, I am warning you now – there could be errors in the cards.
We begin our survey of all things Future and Sighted with a review of the color of law and community. The best card could be the Aven Mindcensor, which may be a format changing card. We just need to play around with it and find out.
Augur il-Vec – As a shadow creature that is both cheap to play and has a high defense, this could see play in a narrow environment where a lot of shadow is seen. It blocks and often kills the numerous small shadow creatures that others might run, while also attacking and getting hitting hits in if it there is no need to play defense. Other shadow-stopping mechanisms, like Wall of Diffusion, could not attack for one unblockable damage against non-shadow users.
Judge Unworthy – With a large deck, one of the things that Five Color players like are cards that help with consistency. Combining a cheap mana cost with a deep scry ability and removal should make for a very appealing package, precisely because it can help with said consistency.
Lost Auramancers – The thing that is good about Academy Rector was that once it is in play, you are going to get an enchantment of your choice. Barring a Swords or an Oblation or something, you are getting that enchantment. You can also have effects like Goblin Bombardment or Claws of Gix to get your enchantment immediately. However, if your opponent was not threatening with creatures, and you didn’t draw a sacrifice outlet, you would occasionally play your restricted Rector, and then swing repeatedly over the course of several turns. Your opponent would choose not to kill it, and take some damage to prevent you from getting something powerful. In those situations, the Auramancers would probably be a better choice. In all other situations, the Rector is better.
Magus of the Moat – This should be called Magus of the Bolt Target. The reason that Moat and The Abyss are so good is because they are enchantments that are harder to kill. Sometimes making something a creature makes it better, but not always.
Scout’s Warning – Like many cards before it, this will not be a good card.
Scout en-Dal – I was having a discussion with another player about this precise card earlier. Here we have a 2/1 shadow creature for three mana, which is one behind what you would normally expect to pay. However, you get the ability to give a creature shadow during your turn, once each time. That’s pretty saucy. I don’t expect it to make the cut in competitive beatdown decks that rely on many two-powered creatures for one or two mana, but it will see play in more casual decks.
Aven Mindcensor – Now this 2/1 for three mana, on the other hand, will definitely get some play. Tutors add reliability to Five Color decks, and this card shuts them all down. I expect that there are already hordes of 5C players salivating at trying this bad boy out. How well will his flash-ness work? Keep an eye on this card, because it does something that no card did before, and it may just do it well enough to keep people from tutoring. This may be a new Armageddon for Five Color. Do I mean it will destroy all lands? No, obviously not. Armageddon is a card you play when you are ahead to push you far ahead. This card may do that in 250 decks, where it keeps your opponent from trying to find an answer to either your combo or beaters.
Blade of the Sixth Pride – How valuable with a generic 3/1 be for two mana in White? I suspect this will be highly played. There are a load of 2/2 White creatures that are packed with abilities, but cost WW, so they do not see much play. This costs 1W and it’s got a higher power. In addition, the 3/1 body is Clampable, which is often a valuable point when comparing aggressive creatures. I expect this card to see immediate play in beatdown decks. Whether or not it will remain in those decks over the long haul will depend on how it plays.
Seht’s Tiger – This card may be good enough to see play, but I suspect that it will get a few looks early, and then get pulled out of decks after a while. At first, you might suspect that playing 250 cards allows decks to have a lot of room, but you’d be surprised at how tight many 250 decks are. I’m unconvinced that this card will crack the lineup for long. Remember that you can get, for the same mana, something like Ivory Mask that shuts down cards like Tendrils of Agony permanently, whereas the Tiger just helps for one turn.
The next color on our countdown in the nature color of happiness. Green is often a color of emphasis in Five Color decks, because of its mana-making abilities. As a result, Green cards often have a higher playability than other cards. I’ve seen more Harmonizes getting played in the past three months since the release of Planar Chaos than I have seen Concentrates played since Odyssey released it. However, in this set, Green is one of the weakest colors. Many Green cards need a high number of other Green cards to be any good, or they are too expensive, or just make beaters that aren’t nearly as good as beaters of the past. For example, Imperiosaur is a bad card compared to, say, Blastoderm.
Heartwood Storyteller – If you deck’s spells are, say, 80% creatures, would this be worth playing? What percentage would make it worth the inclusion into your deck? There has to be a flashpoint beyond which this is broken. I just don’t know if that flashpoint is within reasonable limits. If it is, say, 90% of spells being creatures, then I don’t think you will see this get played, since even the most beatdown of beatdown decks wants to play other things as well. I suspect the flashpoint is too high.
Tarmogoyf – I’m only including a review of this card because I need more Green cards to review. This card is cheap, and if you can find a way to reliably make it a three-powered critter on the third turn, which it would be attacking, then you might see it considered. Otherwise, I doubt it gets much of a look.
Thornweald Archer – One more card to review. This is, at last, a 2/1 attacker for two mana. You’ll note that there are a lot of 2/1 or higher Green creatures that do not see play. That it blocks flyers is no great shakes, but its venom ability is pretty handy. I don’t think it will ever see serious play, but if you played it against me in a tournament, I wouldn’t laugh at you.
Historically, Red is the weakest color in Five Color. Most of its cards have a tendency to perform only a small number of roles, and many of those we don’t even want in Five Color, or another color does it just as well (such as artifact removal). In the last set, there were several cards printed in Red that really gave it a boost. Will that duplicate this time, or are we again relegated to a set that simply provides more bad cards? How many versions of Shock, Stone Rain, or Shatter will be in this set?
Emberwilde Augur – This may be a two mana Lava Axe against opponents. Play it, attack with it once when they are open, and hit for two damage. Then they’ll play a blocker. During your upkeep, sac for three damage to their life total, and you’ve dealt 5 damage from one card that cost you two mana. Its sac ability is a nice adjunct to any beatdown strategy, but there are going to be times where you play it simply as a Lava Spike. You won’t see many Lava Spikes in people’s decks, so this may never be much better.
Magus of the Moon – Swinging with Blood Moon may not be bad. However, Blood Moon is typically an enchantment that you want to play because A) you have many basics; and B) you want to keep it in play as long as possible. Giving people a way to kill the permanent that is hosing them may not be a viable strategy.
Storm Entity – This is an amazing card. Getting a 2/2 hasted creature is easy enough, but in decks built around storm or playing a lot of effects in one turn, this is a great drop. Get a high storm count, then play this and attack for 6, 8, 10, who knows? And it sticks around too.
Well, we started off well with a ton of great White cards to look at. Green and Red were disappointing in their lack of depth. What about Black? Black, like Blue, is often a “feast or famine” color. In some sets, designers intentionally push or limit these colors, so you often see ten cards listed here, or just three or four. Which will it be this time?
Lost Hours – We already have Duress, but there has always been some pressure to be the next best spell of that ilk. From Addle to Cabal Therapy to Castigate, there have been many cards that want to take the mantle. The next addition to that group is Lost Hours. It won’t completely stop a card, because it will likely be drawn in three turns. It’s easier to play than Castigate, and in 5-Color where there are more choices, easier to use than Cabal Therapy. As such, it will get some play in decks that want to take out a combo piece or a counter.
Magus of the Abyss – That it kills itself makes it have a different functionality than the original. In every other Magus case, it being a creature did not change the original functionality, but in this case, it does. It should either be an artifact creature or untargetable (or pro Black), or even contain a line that says “other than Magus of the Abyss.” As printed, it is simply a different card, a weaker card, and a disappointment.
Nihilith – I expect this will be really good against decks that play with their graveyards. A lot of 250 decks really like using their graveyard as a resource, from filtering via Looters, Compulsive Research and similar effects to Buried Alive and more. From cycling to playing spells, everything triggers the Nihilith. As a result, you may slow down your opponent, or you may get this out very quickly.
Pooling Venom – So much better than Psychic Venom. It’s still probably not good enough to make the cut in any serious deck, but it’s still much better than the original.
Shimian Specter – No one wants to do all of that searching when you pack a 250 card deck. Don’t play jank like this in Five Color.
Slaughter Pact – If you like Dark Banishing and don’t like using mana on the current turn to play it, then this is the spell for you. I see it being combined with a Tendrils in the near future.
Fleshwrither – I like the idea and I like the card. That it put the creature directly into play is pretty tasty. I asked myself if there was anything broken you could get with the ‘Writher. Academy Rector is pretty good. You play four mana for the creatures, and then three for the ability. That’s a seven mana investment, but Rector into play without a chance for counterspell retort could be worth it. It’s very versatile. You could get a lot of stuff that costs four mana depending on your situation. Radiant’s Dragoons, Mystic Enforcer, Aven Cloudchaser, Venser, Nekrataal, and Flametongue Kavu all spring to mind quickly. Having that sort of switchblade available might be worth an experiment. I suspect that later transfigure creatures will be much better.
Yixlid Jailer – I am not the first or only one to express how good this card is. In an environment with incarnations from Anger to Genesis, Squee, Recoup, other flashback cards, and a large variety of cards you never thought would see play from Carionette to Krovikan Horror, this simply rocks. This is also a great addition to an aggro strategy, as both a beater and a combo hoser.
The last of our five colors sees us try to work with all of the tricks of the trade, since Blue has historically received a lot of trick cards. With that in mind, will Future Sight bring a bounty of benevolent Blue beauties? Only one way to find out…
Delay – We love splashable countermagic. Arcane Denial is our friend. In a format where you often want to stop a critical spell but don’t always have the double Blue, we make do with whatever else is available. With that in mind, Delay will likely become a vital counter for those decks that are trying to squeeze one more set of countermagic into their deck but without moving into the double Blue territory to do it. This is likely to be the single best counter that Five Color has received in the past several sets.
Infiltrator il-Kor – So you suspend this three-powered shadow guy on turn 2, and on turn 4 you swing with three virtual unblockable power. On the other hand, you could play a turn 2 two-powered creature and swing for two on the third turn first. Some aggro decks have been playing around with Gossamer Phantasm in their decks to fill out their Blue spaces. I suspect that this will be a much better choice. You wait a turn, but shadow is more evasive than flying, and this is not fragile like the Phantasm of Targeting. I’ll be trying them out in my own aggro deck, so I can at least vouch for me in this regards. (It’s also Clampable)
Pact of Negation – Like other authors, I am here to tell you that even in Five Color, this card will likely find a home in some combo decks that are intending to win that turn and don’t want to bother with paying mana for a counter when they are trying to set up.
Venser, Shaper Savant – I like this guy because he has a powerful comes-into-play ability that will have an impact on the board… unlike Seht’s Tiger, which appears to be more of a Fog or a counterspell than anything else. This can be a Remand or change the board as needed. I expect that decks that can manage the double Blue component will be quite happy to play around with this guy for a little while. Whether we see him permanently or not is a different matter entirely.
Nix – There are a lot of things you can do with Nix, and a lot of ways to counter things already exist. However, it’s not that great a counter, and probably limited in Five Color. Sure, it takes out Force of Will, suspend cards, probably Forked spells that create spells to go on the stack, probably the storm copy of cards, the various Pacts from this set, and even the uber-powerful Ornithopter. This card might be good enough for a wishboard, however. It’s not a bad Cunning Wish target.
Spellweaver Volute – I would not be surprised if some of our more clever deckbuilders found a way to break this card in half and then bend it around you and over the wall, into the net. Gazza would be proud. Depending on the nature of the instant copied, you could start doing some powerful things. My guess is that you want to start building with instants or sorceries that, should they resolve, put more cards in the yard for the Volute to mimic. See also: Traumatize.
After the natural and the unnatural comes the artificial. Will there be any worthy candidates for our decks in these cards?
Coalition Relic – This is a solid enough card. Mana fixing shouldn’t run you more than three mana, and this does not. I like that it accelerates you twice if you pay ahead. However, the earliest you could use the double acceleration is on turn 5, and I’m not sure how useful it would be by then.
Veilstone Amulet – It’s not a bad way to protect your creatures if you have a lot of instants. Other ways to make things untargetable just force your opponent to cycle their removal (like Expunge), or discard them to another effect and so forth. However, this one encourages your opponent to use their removal carefully and cleverly. It can actually cause card advantage of the real kind for you. There’s enough targeted removal running around to make this mildly useful, but there are enough Wrath effects running around to never make it that good.
This is my favorite section. There are a lot of possibilities here, so let’s take a look.
Dakmor Salvage – As a land that comes into play tapped, you won’t want to toss that many of this cycle into your deck. However, this one allows you to both dump cards into your graveyard and also guarantee a land on top of your library post-Armageddon. That’s very handy in a format that embraces ‘Geddon.
Keldon Megaliths – A lot of writers have already been talking about how amazing the Megaliths are. I guess I just don’t see it. In Five Color decks, you have a lowered chance of having two Red out at the same time (The Megaliths tap for Red and will typically require Red from another source). Then, after getting your precious double Red, the only thing you can do with it is tap three mana for one damage? That’s not that sexy to me.
Tolaria West – Transmute is hot. This is a card that can get you mana from Moxen of various types, or any other land for that matter. This makes this card strictly better than Sylvan Scrying (although it costs more). It can also get Kobolds, Pacts, cards without any casting cost like Evermind, and more. Its ability to fetch lands in Blue will be highly valued, and we may end up having to look at this card from a Banned and Restricted point of view. Reap and Sow is not restricted, and it costs four. Sylvan Scrying is restricted, and it costs two. We’ll see what three mana ends up doing, but it’s obviously in the middle, so it could fall on either side.
Grove of the Burnwillows – In some decks, I suspect this will be worse than Karplusan Forest. Aggro decks and maybe some combo decks would rather not give you life, they’d rather just take it on the chin. Control, however, would probably love to give life as opposed to taking life. Once they establish control, there’s very little difference in their opponent’s life totals, but that extra one to three life they didn’t take from the pain land could easily be the difference between life and death. The other four new split color lands are not really good enough to consider in a Five Color deck.
Zoetic Cavern – On the other hand, a 2/2 land might be good enough. Using it as either extra mana or an extra creature is solid. It’s won’t win any awards like Best New Land, or Cheapest Date, or even Fattest Ass. On the other hand, it does have the versatility that a lot of players like to consider for their Five Color deck. I think it will get experimented with, and then slowly dropped out of all but the most controllish of builds that may want more man-land type cards.
There you have it! 36 of the newest cards highlighted above for your casual Five Color enjoyment. Now, as a reminder, just because you don’t see a card above does not mean you will never see that card in Five Color. As an essentially casual format, you can see all sorts of crazy in 250. I’d be surprised if I didn’t see an Angel of Salvation sooner or later, for instance. These are the cards that I consider to be worth talking about, when discussing strategy and the impact this set will have on the format.
With that thought, it is time for me to leave you once again. I bid you all a fond adieu.