Hello all and welcome back to the column that investigates the elements of the casual. I am your Private Investigator, trying to uncover the sordid details about the latest piece of information for you.
In what is increasingly becoming a trend, today I want to post a set review for the upcoming Tempest set, which will be released on Dec 8 online. Just like my previous set reviews of Weatherlight or Masters Edition, this one focuses on the value of Tempest in Prismatic, although I will also make mention of the occasional common that would be valuable in PPS (Pauper Prismatic Singleton, a variant I’ve discussed previously).
Prismatic is an online format initially based on Five Color, but has since morphed into its own format, with a quirky B&R list, broken big deck mulligans that have not worked for months, and a different card pool due to being online. It’s also a lot of fun.
Prismatic remains one of the most popular casual variants played online, so we know there are a lot of players out there who are enjoying the format. Today’s article is geared for you.
Like most of my set reviews, this one will only bring up the major cards that will or may have an impact, not the silly cards that are in every set and will be played by very few. For everyone, even those not interested in set reviews, this should be a fun little jaunt through the past.
To help me, I dug into my chest of books and found a little gem… The Official Guide to Tempest by Beth Moursund. It has Commander Greven il-Vec on the cover, but his picture has been transposed onto a general piece of dark scenery, representing Rath. I reviewed this old tome, and now I make my way into the online spoiler of Tempest cards, to review the current Oracle wording of some of the old cards. Ready for a new set review? Here we go.
Official Prediction #1: Every time a set is released with slivers, the number of decks playing slivers increases. This set includes the original slivers, which includes powerful choices in Winged and Muscle Slivers, so I expect to see some sliver decks coming out of the woodwork.
Official Prediction #2: With the release of Tempest, the amount of quality shadow creatures available online increases significantly. Enough so that players might want to start playing with shadow creatures and/or with answers to shadow creatures, or they are going to get outflanked.
Humility — Humility is one of a handful of classic creature shutdown cards, along with Moat and The Abyss and a few others. Some cards that work really well in multiplayer as creature shutdown cards, like Aurification and No Mercy, don’t work as well in duels because they allow your opponent to get in a hit first. The Abyss has not been printed online and Moat has an obvious way around it. No Mercy is not available online and Aurification has the mentioned weakness. That means Humility might be the only way to reliably shoot down opposing creatures. For years Humility has been combined with cards like Caltrops or Orim’s Prayer to shut down creatures further, but I don’t think that is needed. Simply turning all of the creatures into tiny little critters will often be enough to slow down your opponent long enough to find a Pyroclasm, Fire/Ice, Pyrotechnics, or other similar card. It shuts down the numerous creature based effects in the format from Etched Oracle to Mulldrifter to Flametongue Kavu. With such a powerful effect, I simple must believe that some players out there will try the Humility in their combo or control decks, and discover the power that lies in this card.
Orim, Samite Healer — Over the years, there have been a lot of damage protection effects printed, and some are a lot better than others. Some dominate limited formats, like Combat Medic in Masters Edition 2 or Master Healer. Others languish in the back by the crappy cards. However, arguably the best prevention effect tied to a creature in the game is Orim. For 1WW you get a 1/3 and the ability to tap and prevent three damage to a creature or player. Master healer costs five mana to tap and prevent four. Most other healers have additional effects like tapping other creatures, heavy mana requirements, and so forth. Orim is simple and elegant. If any damage prevention creature should ever make a Constructed deck, you can make the best case for Orim in a deck that must play at least 20 White cards and has room for 250 cards total. Even here, however, Orim is likely outclassed by cards far more sexier than her.
Repentance — By now we have removal like Crib Swap or Swords to Plowshares. If Repentance had been one of the first White removal spells available online, then it would have gotten a lot of play, because let’s be honest, it’s not a bad way to remove critters in White. However, we simply have too many options now, and it gets lost in the noise.
Soltari Crusader — One of the better shadow creatures getting printed, this one is splashable and can pump offensively for 1W, allowing you to bring serious, virtually unblockable pain.
Soltari Monk/Priest, Trooper — These are all strong for aggressive decks, and even though one had already been time shifted, being published with the other two can seriously add to the fire. You might not have wanted to add the double White for a 2/1 shadow with protection, but when there are a ton of shadow creatures, it’s worth the stretch.
Soltari Lancer — Not as good on its own as the above four critters, but still strong when in bulk with many other good shadows. Note that the good common shadow creatures, like this and the Trooper above, are virtual essentials in PPS.
Winds of Rath — We all appreciate a good Wrath, and they can sometimes be hard to obtain with high price tags on Wrath of God and Damnation. Going to the next level with Hallowed Burial or the new Winds of Rath or Rout is perfectly acceptable as another option. You can also build around Winds of Rath by playing lots of Auras. A deck loaded with Auras that have 187 abilities, Retether, and Winds of Rath might be really strong. Or just interesting.
Aluren — Say hello to Mr. Combo. Aluren decks have been popular for a while, and they come into vogue occasionally when a new combo pops up. Aluren works well with a established group of creatures such as Cavern Harpy and Soul Warden (or Essence Warden). I would not be surprised to see some Johnnies experiment with Aluren online.
Dirtcowl Wurm — Way back when, this was Tempest’s prerelease card, and it fits well in Prismatic. People play a lot of effects that get them land in Prismatic, and the Dirtcowl Wurm can definitely add to its size after just a few turns. It already starts with a decent size, so unlike Vinelasher Kudzu, it can be pertinent to the red zone immediately. However, your opponent basically controls the ability, so they may stop dropping lands in order to keep your Wurm manageable, so the card isn’t golden as a result. It is a nice role player, but nothing special.
Earthcraft — Please note, before including Earthcraft as a four of in every Prismatic deck you have online, that Earthcraft only allows you to untap basic lands, not every land. You cannot use this to reuse and abuse any non-basic land. That means Earthcraft does not fit in well with the deck with a bunch of duels and fetches. Likewise, it doesn’t fit into the deck with a bunch of Karoos and tap lands. This only works well when you have a strong selection of basics, but then it turns every creature into a mana producer, even on the turn they come into play. It also combos with Squirrel Nest to make an arbitrarily large number of squirrels, stopped only by your imagination, and the game clock.
Eladamri’s Vineyard — This reminds me of a prismatic game I was playing recently when I tapped out to play a creature, while my opponent had a morph, and then at the end of my opponent’s turn, he tapped a Spectral Searchlight to force me to add a mana to my pool, in order to deal a damage to me. However, I had a Lightning Bolt in hand, so I added a Red mana to my pool and Bolted his morph. He was quite upset and played the Red mana he had in hand next turn and showed me that he had enough mana to have flipped the Red Akroma the following turn. Similarly, the Eladamri’s Vineyard can hose an opponent, or allow them to really go off. You never know which you are going to get. You can build a deck around it, so theoretically, you should have an obvious advantage. However, theory does not always last into the actual game, and your opponent could easily ramp into some major beats very quickly.
Mirri’s Guile — It’s a cheaper Sylvan Library for just one Green mana, but you cannot draw cards with it, nor will it combo with various effects such as Abundance (not online), or the “Words of” enchantments. Since few play with Sylvan Library (unfortunately), even fewer will try out the Guile. With Sensei’s Divining Top as a must play four of, there are only so many similar effects you can play in your deck.
Muscle Sliver — Although other slivers in this set add some power, it is on the back of Muscle Sliver that will see another rise in the Sliver revolution (Perhaps Winged Sliver too). Along with other pumpers like Sinew Sliver and Might Sliver, Muscle will be another thorn in your side. My solution? Pack Plague Slivers in your deck. They will get all of the powers that opposing Slivers provide, and wound your opponent more than they wound you.
Blood Frenzy — This was a strong spell. It used to kill any attacker without you taking any damage, because you could play it after damage is on the stack. However, at some point in time, Oracle has errated it to do something the card does not say it does. It can no longer be played after damage has been assigned (which you wouldn’t know by looking at it). Now it sucks.
Fireslinger — This is still a classic even today because it is a two mana tim, and there are just not that many creatures running around that fit in the same space that Fireslinger takes. It kills a lot of early creatures, and can wreak havoc on early aggro decks. There are not as many of those in Prismatic, however, and its ability might be largely wasted here. Also note that Vulshok Sorcerer can be used on the same turn Fireslinger is usable (although it costs more mana and uses your third turn drop instead of your second) and might be preferred in some situations. I think this might see more play in casual rooms outside of Prismatic, where a lot of players drop the bigger threats, than in the large decks. This also seems like it will have some value in PPS.
Goblin Bombardment — Oh yes, it’s now online.
Jackal Pup — Although years of new creatures have added some powerful one drops to the aggro player’s tool chest, Jackal Pup is still one of the key creatures for aggressive strategies, and I suspect that highly tuned agro decks will try to pack a full suite.
Mogg Fanatic — Although available before as an uncommon from Tenth, it is now eligible for use in PPS.
Rolling Thunder — This is an absolute must in PPS. I think this might have been the card that finally taught WoTC to stop making Red X spells in common slots. From Lava Burst to Kaervek’s Torch to Disintegrate and Fireball, there had been some X spells in common slots that dominated limited play. As that because more and more popular, the X spells grew significantly in power, and Rolling Thunder was simply too powerful of an effect for common. There is no way you would ever print anything like this in common ever again. In Prismatic, the ability to precisely split damage, and without wasting damage by dividing it evenly, means it is much more reliable than the old Fireball, and can take out multiple targets with ease. Very, very powerful.
Corpse Dance — One of several buyback spells with significant power, Corpse Dance was once restricted in Five Color, long, long ago. Back when Nettletooth Djinn was tech. The ability to recur the top critter from your Yard into play is quite strong, and subject to abuse. Remember the creature is Removed From Game at the end of turn if it is still in play, but if it has gone elsewhere, it stays there. Bounce it back to your hand with Crystal Shard or reanimate a creature with a sacrifice ability like Mogg Fanatic or Bottle Gnomes. The Dance combines well with Jet Medallion, as an FYI.
Dark Ritual — We already have this in Mirage, but its ticket price is quite high and it’s nice to get another influx of these to help out the players who want them but don’t want to splash the cash for them.
Dauthi Embrace — It can make your creature(s) unblockable whenever you desire, or allow you to hammer an attacking shadow creature with a nice sized beater. Both of these are solid uses for Dauthi Embrace. At the end of the day, it certainly is alright, but I think having an actual creature in these slots would probably be more potent.
Dauthi Marauder – A must play in PPS where Infiltrator il-Kor is also a 3/1 shadow for five mana instead of three and is one of the single best creatures in the format. It also has some serious swing in Prismatic where it can give you three unblockable damage for three mana, and easily splashable too.
Dauthi Horror, Slayer — Nice adjuncts to your shadow strategy. The Horror is a 2/1 shadow for 1B and easily fits many strategies while the Slayer is a bit harder to cast at double Black. Both are amazing in decks that can use them, and yes, that includes PPS.
Dauthi Mindripper, Marauder — These uncommon goodies are also solid. The Marauder is another pump shadow creature and makes combat math very good for you. The more costly Mindripper might be just a tad too expensive for many tastes but is the first of the three “Shadow Assailants” in the set, shadow creatures with an ability that triggers when you attack with it, or it hits for damage. Later sets will add more.
Diabolic Edict — Arguably the best Edict of all time due its status as an instant, the Edict can be used in many established ways. Some might prefer Chainer’s with its flashback, but I think either can situationally be better based on the scenario. Still, I know a lot of players that prefer the instantness of this classic to later sorcery ones. Also a power in PPS.
Disturbed Burial — Strong in PPS where card advantage means so much.
Dregs of Sorrow — Ah the infamous X4B. This is very expensive to cost, but in Prismatic, where many players pack a lot of land, you might be able to get it off for several kills. However, I’m not sure there are enough creatures in play at a time to run this. Prismatic is often a game of big creature. Removal. Big creature. Removal. Big spell. Removal. Big creature. Out of removal. Die. As such, there usually aren’t that many critters out at a time for Dregs of Sorrow to really abuse. Therefore, in this format, even though you might be able to handle the mana, the power is diminished. Unfortunate.
Extinction — Aka, tech against tribal Prismatic decks. They usually aren’t enough of a threat to worry about silver bullets, so I’d skip this. Note you can always use this as an expensive non-targeted removal, so it can, in the right situation, save you from death to a Simic Sky Swallower or some such. It can also keep off the birdies from Ordered Migration or the bears from Grizzly Fate, so it doesn’t just suck unlike a lot of other silver bullets.
Living Death — After Goblin Bombardment, this is my favorite reprint from this set. I loves me some Living Death! This is a card so powerful that its presence in the format will be impactful. I can see decks being built around this, and Living Death is single-handedly both a Wrath of God and an Armageddon. What you ask? What’s that you say? Well, I’ve talked about it before in my articles, but this is a good place to recap my WALD Theory.
Some cards have sweeping changes on the board, changing the board position radically. These powerful cards tend to act either as a Wrath of God, or an Armageddon, or a Living Death. Let’s go over the three categories quickly.
Wrath of God — This card takes you from a losing situation back to a neutral game state. You are under the gun of three or four attacking creatures and then suddenly, the game state resets (creature wise). These cards won’t put you in a winning situation, they simply stave off death. Other examples of Wraths include Balance, Wheel of Fortune, and so forth.
Armageddon — These effects take you from neutral, or often a position with you slightly ahead, and then push the board state significantly towards your favor. If all you have out is a Hill Giant, but you Armageddon when your opponent is at 14 life and has no lands in hand, then you just took the game state from a bit in your favor to massively so. These cards won’t save you from a losing situation. Other examples of Armageddons include Mind Twist or mass creature makers (like Grizzly Fate with threshold).
Living Death — The Living Death, in the right situation (a stocked graveyard versus a non-stocked one), can turn a losing situation into a winning one single handedly. You can go from being attacked by three creatures to killing them and bringing back four for yourself and one for your opponent, combining a Wrath with an Armageddon effect. Now, because of the sheer power, it’s often hard to set up Living Death like cards. Now that Tempest is getting printed online, the best example of the Living Death is available for Prismatic players everywhere to really enjoy.
Sarcomancy — This is just a nice 2/2 beater for your aggro decks at the cost of just one mana. It’s a rare, so no PPS for this little guy.
Capsize — This may have some play value in PPS. This was the first bounce spell that was not automatically card disadvantage, and it took control of tables. Today we have a ton of other bounce spells that are not card disadvantage, such as Recoil. However, we still do not have any that can absolutely shut down an opponent other than this, so it will get played. Check out Sky Medallion for devastating interactions.
Ertai’s Meddling — I like this because it counters the uncounterable. Sure, you can’t counter Obliterate, but you can delay it for umpteen turns. You can counter situational spells for 1U, such as Giant Growth effects or to counter a Counterspell. It’s a nice adjunct to a counter heavy strategy plus it does not require the double Blue that so many counters use, so it can be used essentially as a Delay in the early game.
Intuition — Hello super happy tutoring. This should get action in Prismatic B&R sometime or somewhere, because a triple tutor is devastating. For example, get Time Warp, Restock or All Suns Dawn, and Recoup. Looks like someone is about to take some turns. (This is especially true if you already have something like an Eternal Witness or Recollect in the graveyard.) You can get three incarnations at instant speed, stocking up your yard with goodies there. Plus you can always get something for the right situation. Did your opponent just Reshape out a Darksteel Colossus? Just cast Intuition at the end of the turn for Swords to Plowshares x3.
Propaganda — With an increased number of Propaganda effects, such as Ghostly Prison and Collective Restraint and Windborn Muse running around, perhaps we should reintroduce you to the original.
Thalakos Shadow Creatures — None of the Blue shadow creatures have the beatingness of the White and Black ones. The Mistfolk give you your best option with a 2/1 for three mana. The Sentry is pretty lousy. The Seer can draw you a card when it leaves play, but requires double Blue mana to play. The one interesting creature here is the Dreamsower. If it attacks, it can keep a creature from untapping, and then you can either keep it tapped or untap it. This is one of the three original “Shadow Assailants.” Quick clue, always untap and swing again every turn unless your opponent has a blocker. You can untap, swing for one, and then lock down the same creature, over and over again, and get in damage that way instead of just locking down a creature and staying tapped. The commons in this group may see play in PPS.
Time Warp — Since Temporal Manipulation was just printed in MED2, we will now have two Time Walk effects printed within a few months of each other. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but I play some Manipulations in my Prismatic deck already. I do not play the full set however, so I am not fully sure how any of these will see play. There is an odd factor online that changes prices. Armageddon, from MED, is worth a lot more than Ravages of War from MED2, despite the fact that they do the exact same thing. The known card is played more and more highly desired. In this case, perhaps the known card, Time Warp, will be similarly wanted more than the Manipulation.
Tradewind Rider — it’s splashable, immune to Rend Flesh, has a nice sized defense plus flying for blocking, and can bounce permanents when it has a few friends. Time has antiquated the Rider a bit and now it is merely good instead of dominating. That may mean it no longer gets the cut for decks, even in Prismatic, but I doubt its day in the sun is fully done.
Winged Sliver — Along with Muscle Sliver, this is the one everybody wants to see printed.
Soltari Guerillas — This is the single largest shadow creature from the Rath cycle (although the 3/3 Thalakos Drifters can be given shadow by discarding a card). A 3/2 shadow creature for 2RW is a solid card, and then you add the ability to deal their power in damage to a creature if they are attacked and unblocked. The result is smashing. Along with Thalakos Dreamsower and Dauthi Mindripper, they are the original “Shadow Assailants.” (That’s my name for them).
Cursed Scroll — From Arabian Nights to Scourge, there were a lot of artifacts printed that really had an impact on tournaments. Candelabra of Tawnos, The Rack, Mana Crypt, Zuran Orb, the artifact heavy sets of Urza’s block and cards like Grim Monolith, Tangle Wire, and others. Some were restricted or banned before they could have had an impact, such as Memory Jar. However, it was not until Mirrodin block brought cards like Skullclamp and artifact lands and Arcbound Ravager that an expansion set would have an artifact printed that was arguably as impactful as Cursed Scroll. From Block (where it was eventually banned) to Type Two to Extended and even Vintage, the Cursed Scroll reared its head. Dropping your hand as quickly as possible ceased to be a bad strategy and became a good one, rewarding players for overextending. Every deck ran Cursed Scrolls if they could conceivably play it, from Sligh to Stompy to Sui Black and White Weenie. It moved aggro decks to the forefront. It changed the way we looked at the game. It was a tool of destruction. However, in Prismatic, you usually have a lot of cards in hand, and you do not want to play them all out. This reduces its power. As such, I expect to see aggro decks as the only home for Cursed Scroll in Prismatic.
Grindstone — With the printing of this, Tezzeret can get PainterStone so watch out for those who might, um, care. Or just stock Gaea’s Blessings in your deck.
Scroll Rack — With a larger hand, this is better with shuffle effects than Sensei’s Divining Top. I loves it.
Wasteland — Let’s not forget that this thing is about to see print online. Strip Mine was not in the MED sets, but here is Wasteland, rearing its ugly head. Let’s be honest, in Prismatic, this will be an automatic include against, well, everybody. Every deck runs lands from duels to shock duels to tri taps to Karoos, and this land will eat them all up. Unless action is taken on this card, you will be seeing a lot of it for years to come.
And that brings us to the end of another lovely Prismatic review. I hoped that you enjoyed today’s article. I’ll see you folks next week!