The Kitchen Table #229: Abeth Edition, Part Three

Read Abe Sargent every Thursday... at StarCityGames.com!
Thursday, April 17th – Hello folks, and welcome to the magnum opus of projects here at the Kitchen Table. For the last two weeks I have discussed one of my recent projects – the creation of a (hopefully) balanced Core Set. I think projects like this are a blast. Sure, there is a ton of work involved if you want to do a good job, but it is still a lot of fun.

Hello folks, and welcome to the magnum opus of projects here at the Kitchen Table. For the last two weeks I have discussed one of my recent projects — the creation of a (hopefully) balanced Core Set. I think projects like this are a blast. Sure, there is a ton of work involved if you want to do a good job, but it is still a lot of fun.

Allow me to digress. As long time readers of my column may know, I created my own personal name for the —x/-x mechanic in order to simplify things. My name was Wither. It’s great to see that Wizards has recently named a mechanic coming out in Shadowmoor that deals with -1/-1 counters, and has named it Wither Now, I sincerely doubt that someone said, “Cool name, let’s use it,” when reading my column, but it is interesting to see parallel thoughts.

Last week’s article outlined all of the cards in the set, and gave you a quick rundown of the various mechanics and cards involved. Today and next week, I want to talk about some of the decisions I faced, and my reasons for the inclusion or exclusion of various cards.

So, without further ado, let’s take a gander at some of the decisions that went into making Abeth Edition. (Can we abbreviate that Ath Edition? I wonder).

Legendary Creatures

I liked the idea of legendary creatures, but I feel that they need to do several things in order to be in the basic set. First of all, they need to feel legendary. Second of all, they need to be simple. Cho-Manno is perfect. Imagine seeing it for the first time as a newer player. IT CAN’T TAKE DAMAGE! It feels legendary. Ambassador Laquatus doesn’t feel legendary. He mills three. So? Millstone mills two and Traumatize hits for half a library. He’s boring.

I replaced the good Ambassador with Mistform Ultimus. He’s very understandable and feels legendary. Also added was Commander Greven il-Vec. There are other cards with fear, but this guy has seven power of fear. That’s tremendous. Akroma was also added. She is like the Wolverine of Wizards. They have been whoring her out for sets now, might as well toss her in the base set too. She has no ability that is not already in the base set. She certainly feels legendary.

Phage feels legendary, as does Arcanis. Those guys remain. Squee feels legendary, but I’m unconvinced he belongs in the base set.

The problem with the Red legends is that, frankly, none of them are on par with the other creatures that are rare. Akroma shines next to Serra Angel, Greven il-Vec looks good compared to Lord of the Pit and so forth. Kamahl is fine but weak in the back. Squee is just odd.

However, there is not really an alternative. Maraxus require too much bookkeeping. Rorix is too good. Therefore, I’m keeping Squee and Kamahl, but asking for good mono-Red replacements to be printed, please. Thanks!

Green, on the other hand, has a large selection of playable main set legends. Autumn Willow, Dosan the Falling Leaf, Kaysa, Kodama of the North Tree, Meng Huo, Barbarian King, the previous Molimo, and Mirri, Multani, Rofellos, Silvos, and Thriss. All of those creatures do something simple, and all do something that’s legendary. Of them, I give the most “wow” factor to Kodama of the North Tree, Multani, and Thriss. Molimo and Mirri look minor compared to these guys.

I rolled with casual favorite Multani and Thriss. The Kodama would be fine, and perhaps he might still make the cut later, but he would replace Multani because I don’t want both of the legendary creatures in Green to have shroud. I’ll stick with Multani.


In my original set, I printed all ten pain lands. They drive the value of the rares and the set up, because they are all good cards. However, they take up a lot of space at the rare level. There are a lot of rares that demand printing — cards that are good for the basic set but cannot sit at uncommon because of complexity. The ten pain lands take up too much space.

There is a solution, but it would never work. Move all ten lands to uncommon. That would be interesting. It would upset a lot of players who have them and don’t want to see their value drop, while others would love it. Still, I don’t think that would be feasible, and I want to build a legitimate base set.

There is no reason to have them at rare. They are not complex or hard to grok. As such, I am going to invoke the 8th Edition way of solving the manabase. I pull the pain lands and toss in City of Brass. Then I have the taplands at uncommon, and litter the set with good mana enablers. It also allows me to find a space for Solemn Simulacrum.

I’m pulling in Fellwar Stone from 9th, Terramorphic Expanse from 10th, the taplands from 8th, the City of Brass from 8th, and Solemn Simulacrum to give the set some non-Green mana fixing. Then toss in Hunting Cheetah, Sylvan Scrying, Llanowar Elves, Skyshroud Claim, Fertile Ground instead of Wild Growth, Vine Trellis at uncommon, and Joiner Adept and you have a nice suite of Green mana fixing. Plus Gift of Estates in White.

I pulled Birds of Paradise, but I stand by that. They are just too good, and I believe Wizards was right to pull out one or the other (Llanowar Elves or Birds).

That means I yanked 11 good, high value cards from the set. I hope you’ll admit that I did a decent job at replacing them…


Every color has two one-drops at the common slot. No color has any other one-drops unless it is in an aggressive color. Note that Traproot Kami does not count for Green since it does not attack.

Uncommon One-Drops:

Elvish Lyrist
Elvish Scrapper
Goblin Soothsayer
Soul Warden

Rare One-Drops:

Savannah Lions

This way, players will not get the idea that some colors are aggressive when they are not. Only aggressive colors get non-common one-drops. However, for Limited play, every color gets two one-drops.

Note that there is a subtle little cycle in here.

In the original set, there were two lords, Lord of Atlantis and Goblin King (with Zombie Master as a pseudo-Lord). Each had a common 1/1 for one mana to pump. I wanted to keep that theme in this set, so every color has at least one 1/1 creature one-drop that is pumpable with that color’s lord.

One-Drop Creature Type Cycle:

Festering Goblin
Goldmeadow Harrier
Llanowar Elves
Raging Goblin
Manta Riders and Tidal Warrior


There is now a full circle of lords at the rare level.

Lord of the Undead
Merrow Reejerey
Goblin King
Field Marshal
Elvish Champion

Another cycle for the base set.

Creatures That Fit Lords

I wanted to have some creatures that fit each lord, so here is the full list (note that Mistform Ultimus will not make any list). There was no attempt made to balance them out, so that each lord would have the same number of creatures.


Merfolk Looter
Tidal Warriors
Manta Riders
Rootwater Commando


Raging Goblin
Goblin Tinkerer
Goblin Raider
Akki Underminer
Goblin Soothsayer
Squee, Goblin Nabob
Festering Goblin


Raise the Alarm tokens
Crossbow Infantry
Goldmeadow Harrier
Skyrider Trainee
Glory Seeker
Standing Troops
Dive Bomber
Ardent Militia
Wu Admiral
Merrow Reejerey


Llanowar Elves
Elvish Scrapper
Elvish Lyrist
Elven Riders
Elvish Piper
Joiner Adept


Festering Goblin
Severed Legion
Spineless Thug
Mass of Ghouls
Phage the Untouchable

All Your Creatures Have X

There is a cycle of cards that give all of your creatures an ability. All are uncommon.

Primal Rage

I pushed Fervor to uncommon but it might be really good in Limited there. Playtesters would have to check that out. It also competes with Whip Sergeant at that commonality. Do I keep both, or toss the Sergeant?

After testing, I agree and pull the Sergeant. Now making the cut is Viashino Sandstalker.

Enchant Lands

There is an uncommon suite of enchant lands. I like the cycle I selected.

Cursed Land
Flowering Field
Verdant Field
Barbed Field

Three of these come from the field cycle in Prophecy, but I tossed in two others that have vastly different effects. One hoses an opponent and is an original set card, while the other stresses Blue’s ability to steal stuff. I didn’t need the other two cards in the field cycle, because I had a Pestilence effect already in Black and countermagic in Blue.

Color Hosers:

Gone are the days when power hosers like Karma, Choke, Flashfires, Acid Rain, Hibernation, and Perish were running around. Today, the hosers are lighter. I liked the 10th Edition idea of having just one card in the uncommon slot that demonstrates that color’s disdain for its enemies instead of the normal two. The problem I have with the Coldsnap hosers doing that is that the Karplusan Strider is so weak compared to the others, while Cryoclasm is too good. I pulled both and tossed in the Mirage hosers.

Mirage did the same trick as Coldsnap, with the hosers being one card for both enemies. Not all of these hosers are good for the main set, but the Red and Green ones fit. Enter Roots of Life, which is a decent enough hoser for Black/Blue and much better than the Karplusan Strider. Red gets Reign of Chaos, which still takes out an Island or Plains, but can also off a Blue or White creature. However, despite the increased power over Cryoclasm, it costs four mana, discouraging is use as a pure adjunct to an LD strategy.

Thus we have another cycle, this one of hosers.


Unlike the original set, which had walls in every color, I do not believe that aggressive colors like Red and Black should have walls in the base set. The only colors with walls or creatures with defender are Green (Traproot Kami, Vine Trellis), White (Wall of Swords, Angelic Wall), and Blue (Psychic Membrane, Wall of Air). We also have the uncommon artifact wall, Crenellated Wall. That gives us one common and one uncommon wall in each color that gets walls, a nice little synergy. (And one has just defender, so that can teach them the difference between a creature with defender and a pure wall).

I did not even try to find space for Rolling Stones. It’s a fun card, and Animate Wall was in the first set, but it had never felt like a basic set mechanic to me.

Vertical Cycles

In the set there are a variety of vertical cycles, where the same mechanic appears at all three commonalities in order to demonstrate it. Here are some:

Reclaim at common
Recollect at uncommon
Restock at rare

Each of these shows Green’s recursion ability.

Counsel of the Soratami at common
Tidings at uncommon
Braingeyser at rare

Only Blue has access to raw card drawing, the other colors have to get cards in their style. This shows the increasing level of raw card drawing at Blue’s behest.

Canyon Wildcat at common
Cave Sense at uncommon
Goblin King at rare

Red enjoys Mountainwalk, and here we amp up in power from a decent creature with Mountainwalk to giving any creature you have Mountainwalk to giving a bunch of creatures Mountainwalk.


Shanodin Dryads at common
Unseen Walker at uncommon
Elvish Champion at rare

This gives you the same type of escalation.

Prodigal Pyromancer at common
Orcish Artillery at uncommon
Kamahl, Pit Fighter at rare

Yes, this is in 10th, and it is a vertical cycle. Tap to deal one, tap to deal two, and tap to deal three, all at increasing levels of rarities.

Terror at common
Nekrataal at uncommon
Hellfire at rare

This gives you the continuing idea that Black is simply not good at hitting Black creatures, because of flavor reasons. Black can hurt other colors bad, but has some built in immunities to itself (also seen in the fear mechanic).

Invisibility at common
Phantom Monster at uncommon
Tidal Kraken at rare

Blue likes to be sneaky with its attackers.

There was a regeneration vertical cycle theme in Green, but I lost it when I pulled Krakalin out for the simpler Ivy Elemental.

Gentle Clues

My set has several gentle clues about the colors and how they relate to each other. For example:

Green has Grizzly Bears
White has Glory Seeker
Black has Spineless Thug
Red has Goblin Raider
Blue has no two power common two-drop, not even Coral Eel.

This exhibits what each color should get as far as small creatures. Those colors with the most efficient weenies get Grizzly Bears, the other colors with solid weenies get the No-Block Bears, and Blue gets neither.

Blue gets Manta Riders, a 1/1 for U that you need to spend mana on in order to give it flying.
White gets Suntail Hawk, a 1/1 for W that has flying naturally.

Again, this is to demonstrate the modern color pie where White has a lot of small, efficient flyers, and Blue does not .

Red has Blaze at uncommon, as well as Cinder Elemental
Green has Ivy Elemental at uncommon
Black has Consume Spirit at uncommon
White has Ballista Squad at uncommon
Blue has nothing

Each color has an uncommon Blaze-type card except for Blue, where that would be out of flavor.


Playing Akroma is tough, especially on the casual players, so I wanted to give as many colors an answer to her as possible.


Counters, Bounce
Sower of Temptation


Wing Snare


Nothing (Excruciator, sorta)


Urborg Justice


Wrath of God
Heart of Light, sorta

Finding a card that fits Red in the base set and that can handle Akroma is virtually impossible. Instead, I just gave up. If you are playing mono-Red and want an Akroma answer, play Icy Manipulator and Excruciator. You can attack with Excruciator and if Akroma blocks, she dies. It’s also good against other White tricks like Cho-Manno, Story Circle, Reverse Damage, Pay No Heed, Paladin en-Vec, Luminesce, Heart of Light, and Shelter.

Note the presence of Bribery. If you play Akroma, you may have it played against you before you can play your own.

Show and Tell

Show and Tell changes the format slightly, especially in multiplayer. Play a Show and Tell to drop your Serra Avatar, but beware, because you could also see Akroma, Excruciator, Verdant Force, Benthic Behemoth, Colossus of Sardia, Tidal Kraken, or Greven il-Vec, and any of those could really mess you up.

I wanted to give every color at least one classic big creature to drop off a Show and Tell to make it more pertinent. That way, you never know what might come out, and it makes Show and Tell more dangerous.

After playtesting, Show and Tell proved to be fun, and the engine behind a combo deck, but it was hardly broken. You will see that deck in a later article, showing our playtest decks.

Why Feral Shadow?

I said that I would not switch cards when there was no need, so why did I move from Dusk Imp to Feral Shadow? Feral Shadow was the first 2B 2/1 flyer in the base set, and then Dusk Imp replaced it, so I am restoring the original card. None have a pertinent creature type, so I am going with the first card to make the cut.

Why No Shock?

I feel that Wizards’ recent base sets have gotten away from what the diversity that Red used to have. It seems like every other card is about Red burning creatures and/or players.

Take Lighting Bolt. Split it into two cards:

Human Bolt
Deal 3 damage to target player

Critter Bolt
Deal 3 damage to target creature

Then they can print each in the base set, and make two cards out of one. The number of different cards diminishes over time, and all that is left is a bunch of burn.

Part of this is very simple. Red has fewer mechanics than the other colors, especially those that are good for the common slots. Red can pop artifacts, Red can pop lands, and Red can burn things.

Red has few creature abilities too, just first strike, firebreathing, and haste, so those get amped. Then what’s left for Red?

That’s why you get these base sets where Red has thousands of burn cards, and no depth.

Frankly, part of this comes from Wizards’ belief that a tournament playable LD deck is a Very Bad Thing. Thus they have stripped one of Red’s core mechanics from it, except for the occasional overcosted pure LD spell.

In this set, Red loses Shock. It keeps Incinerate, and cards like Spitting Earth.

I also included cards like Misguided Rage and Akki Underminer. Forcing people to sacrifice a permanent is a solid enough mechanic that it is worth exploring further. Wizards, please reprint Crack the Earth as a non-Arcane spell so I can put in the common of my base set.

You’ll also find the punisher card, Browbeat. Browbeat is a great card for allowing Red to draw cards with a Reddish ability. The punisher mechanic should be fleshed out more, because it suits Red well.

I also included an uncommon example of Red’s chaos mechanic in Wild Wurm.

Since Red solely has the +X/+0 mechanic, I decided to push it as well, and you can see the results with Fatal Frenzy and Screaming Fury.

Red has played havoc with blocking since the beginning with False Orders, so I kept Stun from 10th.

You can also see the return of a Mountainwalk giving aura since Burrowing was in the main set, with the base set debut of Cave Sense.

If temporary mana generation is supposed to be mainly in Red these days, where is it in 10th? When Red has so few mechanics, it is important to actually use the ones that you can. That means LD and instant mana generation are needed.

Thus, I remove Shock because Abeth Edition does not need to rely on as many burn cards in order to get the point across. No other color/mechanic combination in Magic has as many cards dedicated to it in the base set. It’s ridiculous.

Then you hose LD and remove temporary mana making, randomness and Mountainwalk (and wall killing like Tunnel). No wonder Red has just burn.

So, amp up cards like Maniacal Rage, Akki Underminer, and Crack the Earth to give Red another core set mechanic. Once you include these missing mechanics, and add the sacrifice permanent one of these cards mentioned, Red suddenly becomes a much richer color, and one that doesn’t need to rely solely on burn.

Other Cards

As mentioned in a previous article, you need Islands of rest for the brain in a sea of abilities… i.e., you need vanilla creatures.

At common, we have 10 vanilla creatures.

We also have 18 common creatures that are French vanilla (counting can’t block as French).

Thus, 28 of the 61 common creatures are vanilla or French vanilla.

At uncommon, we have one vanilla creature (Fire Elemental), but 12 French vanilla critters, giving us 13 out of 53 creatures.

At rare, there is one vanilla creature (Savannah Lions), and eight French vanilla creatures (Akroma is technically French vanilla with nothing but keywords).

That means a total of 48 cards in a set 363 big are vanilla or French vanilla creatures, which helps keep things simple.

The Rat Theme

I did a search for every common Black three-drop in Magic to try to find my last creature, and I found it in Pestilence Rats. With Relentless Rats and Ravenous Rats already in the set, plus Mistform Ultimus, I decided to drop Pestilence Rats in. It’s a nice little fun mechanic for some, while being the perfect underpowered card in Limited that I needed it to be.

Inside Things

These are two little things that I accidentally included that I think are interesting.

Fledgling Djinn is a 2/2 flying Djinn with the Juzam disadvantage at common. Then daddy Juzam is running around at rare.

In the entire game of Magic, four cards have Cheetah in the title, and two are in my set.

Unusual Creature Types

Abeth Edition features some more unusual creature types, just by chance. Here are some examples.

Red advisor
Three dryads
A human with no class (Veteran Bodyguard)
An elf with no class (Elvish Champion)
A goblin with no class (Goblin King)
Two worms
A nightstalker
Three rats
A carrier
A harpy
Two faeries
Two Blue soldiers
Two horses
Two avatars

And none of those count the Mistform Ultimus.

Finding the Goods

Part of my job is to find cards that are in Tenth that are good for the game and keep them in. Another part of my job is to find some cards that have been in core sets before and toss them back in. Finally, I need to find perfect cards for the basic set that have never been printed in a base set.

What percentage of cards have never been printed in a base set before?

109 cards were added to the set that have never been in a base set. There are 363 cards in the side not including basics. That gives you 30% new cards. I don’t know if that is high or not, but I did unearth a lot of solid cards for the set. I stand by cards like Time Warp, Famine, and Char for the basic set.

New Portal/Starter Cards

There are eight cards that came from Portal and, if you never had those cards, are now brand new to you. Some of these are pretty light, such as the vanilla Whiptail Wurm and Southern Elephant. Others may have some value to players.

Thunder Dragon — This was initially Brimstone Dragon from Portal 2, but I had too many haste creatures, and I was looking at all of the rare dragons to find a second dragon to slide alongside Shivan. I ultimately decided on this. It is another new dragon for players to see, and it also has the ground sweeping ability seen in cards like Tremor and Earthquake.

Corrupt Eunuchs — This was originally Goblin Commando, but Goblin Commando cost 5 mana and the Eunuchs are one mana cheaper. I decided to slide into the better Eunuchs after I pulled out Shock and put Anarchist down from the uncommon slot I had initially used for him. Otherwise, I had two 5 mana 2/2 comes-into-play creatures in common. The Eunuchs are a good card, and many people would be happy to get some.

Whiptail Wurm — I like the 8/5 vanilla creature, because unlike other big vanillas and Green beaters, like Scaled Wurm, this one is easier to kill. I’d rather have an 8/5 than a 7/6. Especially when you have Craw Wurm in the same common set. When you have a 6/4 common, then I don’t want the 7/6 Scaled Wurm, which is just one bigger (nor do I want the other wurms they normally publish). Craw Wurm should be in the set, and the other big wurm should be different enough to be seen as new. Whiptail Wurm does that. Whiptail Wurm is killable by three of the other colors as a result (Frost Ogre, Sea Monster, Mass of Ghouls).

Southern Elephant — One of the things I want to point out with my Green creatures is that Green gets size for cheap. A 3/3 for three mana (Trained Armodon) and a 3/4 for four mana (Southern Elephant) just outclass the Halberdier (Hill Giant replacement) in Red.

FamineFamine is a perfect card to demonstrate the Pestilence ability of Black without having an actual Pestilence in the set (which is too powerful).

Hunting Cheetah – This is a very powerful reprint, and gives players a nice tool for their decks while being perfectly in the flavor of Green. It also increases my cheetah count to two.

Wu Admiral — I wanted a non-flyer non-powered Blue creature with a decent size but expensive and not that playable for my last uncommon slot. I looked through lists of every single Blue uncommon creature ever printed until I finally found Wu Admiral. As a 3/3 for 4U, no one will claim it is too powerful. With its minor ability to be bigger if an opponent controls an island, it gives me an uncommon card that taps into the common and rare “Opponents Have Island” desire that the set has. It was perfect.

Strategic Planning — This replaces the Tenth Edition uncommon Telling Time. As a sorcery, it’s less powerful in some decks, but it has more raw power than a lot of other alternatives. Putting two cards into your graveyard instead of the bottom of your library is really strong with a lot of strategies and works well as an adjunct to decks like reanimation. I think this may be one of the subtle good cards in the set that will grow on people.

Lorwyn Block

What cards from Lorwyn Block made the cut?

Kithkin Daggerdare
Goldmeadow Harrier

I’ll take cards from any set, I don’t care how new it is.

Keyworded Abilities

Of the new keyworded abilities, some are in the set and others are not.

There is no double strike in the set. It’s rare even in the expert sets, so I decided against including it in the base set.

There is no deathtouch in the base set. I wanted to keep it out as a keyword.

There is no lifelink in the base set until you get to rare. I wanted to keep it simple. Just one card has it, Loxodon Warhammer.

There is flash in the base set, and like Tenth, it is on a common creature — King Cheetah. It is also on one uncommon — Aven Mindcensor.

There is no indestructible in the main set.

Reach is on three Green commons, and that is it.

Trample appears just once on an uncommon, Primal Rage. It is not on any commons.

Protection appears on just one uncommon, Shelter. It is not on any commons.

Making token creatures appears on just one uncommon, Raise the Alarm. It is not on any commons. It is one just one rare.

Giving a creature a counter is on just one uncommon, Ivy Elemental. It is not on any commons and just one rare as well.

Cards I Really like But Did Not Fit In

Silklash Spider – Which I could have defended since it was in 9th. I pulled Hurricane (since Green should not deal direct damage to players in the base set) and needed a rare flying hoser to go along with Wing Snare at uncommon. However, I was running creature heavy, so I wanted a non-creature hoser, thus I was unable to find a spot for Silklash.

Man-o’-War — I tried to fit this in, and I did so last time. However, I was unable to truly find a space for it, and it was always too powerful at common, although not as bad at uncommon.

Brass Herald — I got this in last time too, but it was squeezed out. Sad but true.

Goblin Bombardment, Kyren Negotiations — I like these cards, and I wanted to fit one in, and but there was no room at the Inn.

Winter Orb, Static Orb — I have a very soft spot for Winter Orb, and I wanted to find it a space, but I felt it was too format defining. Static Orb was a possibility, but with Icy Manipulator in the set, it could easily be too powerful. I believe in tempo, resource denial cards like WOrb, StOrb, Stasis, or Armageddon, but those were all too much. So I went with Sphere of Resistance. It’s much less powerful, but gives you a rare with some value in the set.

Gilded Lotus — With Thran Dynamo in the set, I felt there was not enough room for the Gilded Lotus too. I could pull Dynamo at uncommon, drop a rare artifact down, and then include the Lotus, but I like the Dynamo in the set and at uncommon.

Worship, Phyrexian Arena, Furnace of Rath — I enjoy all three of these enchantments and both feel like their color, but Worship is too similar to Platinum Angel and the Arena already has Necro-like cards in the set, so is not needed, while the Furnace’s doubling damage ability is not a core Red ability. Plus, there is a lot of competition in the rare Red spell section and Furnace got pulled. (I only went with one janky enchantment and not two like I had originally planned, for example).

Journeyer’s KiteSolemn Simulacrum already gave me a rare artifact mana fixer, so I chose not to include the Kite, but I liked it a lot.

Sculpting Steel — I love this in 10th and wanted to find a home for it. It would also give me a modern equivalent to Copy Artifact, which helps me a lot. However, it just got cut in the numbers, because I felt one copy mechanic (Clone) was enough.

Forgotten Ancient — It was deemed too complex to keep.

Heartwood Storyteller, Loaming Shaman — These were was cut in the numbers.

Long Term Plans — I loved this card, and it shows Blue’s mechanic of coming up with plans long before they are due very well, but it was cut in the numbers,

Problem Areas

These next sections deal with areas that players and Wizards often feel are danger zones. We have to make sure than an ideal base set does not overturn the apple cart and cause problems.


These are the counters:

Daring Apprentice
Spell Blast
Last Word

Since one of those does not counter spells, and another does not counter well, that leaves just three. Note that Time Stop can simulate a counter if you ask it nicely.


Steal Artifact
Sower of Temptation

Blue steals things, and it should also do so in the base set. Annex is its answer to problem lands, and Steal Artifact to the artifacts, while Sower is the answer to creatures. For a short while, I had both Sower and Persuasion in. I think I pulled it for Reminisce. I had difficulty getting all of the Blue spells worked out, but I am happy now.

Land Destruction

Stone Rain
Creeping Mold
Reign of Chaos

I don’t think that there is anything here too powerful or stressful.


Number of Flyers of each color at each commonality:

Common White: 5/13 with one maybe
Common Blue: 3/14 with one maybe
Common Black: 2/13
Common Green: 0/13 but three that have Reach
Common Red: 0/13

It is obvious that White is the big winner here, similar to the changes Wizards made recently. I kept those changes here. There are no common flyers with a power of three or more except for Skyrider Trainee, which does not start with flying.

Uncommon White: 5/10
Uncommon Blue: 5/9
Uncommon Black: 1/10
Uncommon Green: 0/10
Uncommon Red: 1/10
Uncommon Artifact: 1/4

Here White and Blue become about equal with a large selection of flyers. Blue’s flyers are generally bigger than White’s flyers.

Rare White: 3/10
Rare Blue: 3/9
Rare Black: 5/10
Rare Green: 0/10
Rare Red: 3/10
Rare Artifact: 1/3

This is where Black strikes back. Black has the largest flyer (Lord of the Pit) and the largest potential flyer (Nightmare). There’s Fat Moti, Shivan Dragon, Thunder Dragon, and Akroma all running around, forget Sengir Vampire and Serra Angel and Zephid.

Since Green has no flyers, it needs to have defense somehow:

Three Common Reach creatures. Traproot Kami can eventually get big enough to stop any flyer. Wing Snare can kill any flyer, period. No flyer is immune, or has Pro Green, except for the uncommon Screeching Harpy, which can regenerate, or Zephid, which has shroud. I doubt Green is fearing those two flyers, though.

Then Green has the Deus ex Machina. I pulled Hurricane because it was not in flavor for Green to deal damage to players, but instead I gave Green arguably its most powerful anti-flying card ever. Whirlwind will end flyers. Not a single Green creature dies to Whirlwind. If that is not the ultimate leveler, I don’t know what is.

Well folks, there you have it. The first week of heavy analysis is over. Next week, we finish up these analyses, and then in two weeks, we have sample decklists for you. I hope you are continuing to enjoy!

Until later…

Abe Sargent