Hello readers, and welcome back to the column that explores and investigates the realm of the casual. I am your gumshoe, willing to uncover the mysteries of Magic for all of the casual fans out there.
Today is a good time to do this article, as 2008 turns to 2009.
Recently I regained my Abedraft box from one of my friends, who had it in his possession for over a year while my life status was in limbo. After regaining it, I began the task of checking all of the cards to see if they were still there. I found 15 duplicate cards and over 30 cards, mostly commons, went missing.
(What is Abedraft? It’s a giant card box in which I am slowly trying to build a collection of every card ever printed, used for casual drafting. See articles here and here.)
While doing these checklists, I came across a variety of things and uncovered some interesting cards, questions, and more. In today’s article, I want to talk about them, perhaps build a deck or two, and otherwise have some fun.
The Masques Reprint Question
I never noticed the massive amount of reprints in Masques before until now. Look at all of the reprints this set has.
Afterlife, Brainstorm, Counterspell, Dark Ritual, Deadly Insect, Desert Twister, Disenchant, Energy Flux, False Demise, Giant Caterpillar, Lure, Rain of Tears, Righteous Aura, Stone Rain, Timid Drake, Tranquility, Tremor, Venomous Breath, Word of Blasting.
Name Reprints (took a card and changed its name, changed creature to a non-pertinent type):
Cloud Sprite (from Cloud Pirates), Drake Hatchling (Azimaet Drake), Henge of Ramos (School of the Unseen), Iron Lance (Fyndhorn Bow), Skulking Fugitive (Tar Pit Warrior), Wild Jhovall (Hill Giant), Rishadan Airship (Cloud Spirit).
One Degree Reprints (Changed one thing like color or to a pertinent creature type):
Fresh Volunteers (from Grizzly Bear), Jhovall Rider (Iron Tusk Elephant), Misshapen Fiend (Bog Imp), Rampart Crawler (Bog Rats).
In addition to this, consider the themes of the set. It had a cycle of lands that were virtual reprints of the storage lands from Fallen Empires. It had a bunch of creatures that could be tapped, and you discarded a card and paid the mana for a classic spell, like tap one Green and discard a card for a Fog, or tap a White and a colorless and discard a card for Disenchant, etc.
Is it any wonder the set felt so boring and blah?
I don’t know why I never noticed this before. Wow. Maybe they tried to veer away from the power of Urza’s block by embracing cards from the past that were proven to be safe.
Consider, for a second, these facts:
19 literal reprints
7 name reprints
4 one degree reprints (and three of those are just changing name and creature type).
30 total reprints.
330 cards total.
About 9% reprints.
I think one of the things that strikes me with this list is that outside of the usual suspects (Counterspell, Tranquility, Stone Rain, Disenchant, etc), there are a large number of reprints that are outside the normal realm. Energy Flux just feels off from the rest of the set. Giant Caterpillar? Word of Blasting? Timid Drake? Afterlife? Righteous Aura? Tremor? Deadly Insect? These are not your normal reprints.
But Abe! I remember in the old sets, especially the standalones, there were a lot of reprints!
Oh, really? Let’s find out!
Literal: 18 (9 of those were Portal which were not tournament legal)
One Degree: 2
Total Reprints: 25
That’s a few less in the reprint category, but again, nine of those were from Portal, which did add tournament playable cards to the game because the Portal cards were not usable in DCI formats at the time.
About 7.5% reprints. Without Portal cards, it’s much less. How about the other main standalone from the era?
Literal: 20 (Circles of Protection included here)
One Degree: 2
Again, this set includes a full cycle, the CoPs, and it is still lower than Masques and Saga (although not by much as a result). It may also be important that Tempest reprinted a lot of cards from Mirage block that were to become the basics of the colors. For example, Rampant Growth was reprinted, solidifying Green as the color that got land. Up until this card was printed, there were just a handful of effects that got you lands. The very first set that got you lands was Legends and it had both a White card and a Green card that got lands for you. By Tempest, there were three Green cards that got you land sand two White ones. Tempest reiterated that Green would be largely getting this mechanic, not White, by not only reprinting Rampant Growth, but also printing Harrow. Some of these reprints felt like they were for emphasis.
Does Masques have a high number of reprints? To be fair, I guess that depends on your point of view. If you discount the Portal reprints from Saga, then you also have to discount Cloud Sprite from Masques, which leaves you with 16 in Saga versus 29 in Masques. If you count this way, then it’s pretty obvious. Also, if you reduce the CoP reprints in Tempest to just one card, then it is 16 and 19 to 29. Again, there’s some data here to back your claim. But you have to massage the numbers.
We often do that in our minds, combining cycles or altering things to change our view of them.
On the other hand, perhaps you want just the hard numbers, and here Masques does have more reprints, but just barely.
Alright, with that investigation out of the way, let’s look at some cards!
I never noticed that Freyalise’s Supplicant introduced the Fling mechanic all the way back in Ice Age, and did so on a Green creature. After seeing this, wouldn’t it have been great to see Fling Timeshifted in Planar Chaos? Here is how the theory would work:
Green is all about creatures, and it normally does not have direct damage, but since it is right beside Red, it can dabble it in occasionally (such as Hurricane) when it does so with the color’s flavor. Take Hurricane, for example. In Hurricane’s case, Green’s flavor is hosing flyers and it does so by doing damage. What Fling does is allow Green to use the power of their creatures to deal a mighty primal strike directly at the opponent or a creature, but it causes the creature to die. Sounds Green to me.
Consider these three cards as a way of getting to a Green Fling. Berserk, which shows Green willing to sacrifice a creature in order to hit for more damage. Hurricane which shows Green willing to do direct damage in order to fulfill its role. Freyalise Supplicant which shows Green actually the beginning of the Fling mechanic.
In another universe, Fling would be Green.
If they had Timeshifted Fling into Green, then, like Harmonize, it would have become one of the all time staples of the color. I never realized until now, as I see this creature, that it would have been a good move.
Ah well. C’est la vie.
The Supplicant is a pretty poor Fling. It can only sack Red or White creatures, so you have to combine this with something else. It also only deals half the power in damage, rounded down.
On the plus side, you can add a Bloodshot Cyclops to your Red/Green, White/Green or Red/White/Green decks without having to add the six mana Bloodshot Cyclops. There are also few creatures with protection from Green, and players often don’t expect direct damage from a deck sporting Green, especially a Green/White deck.
It may not be much, but if you can sacrifice a 2/2 creature for one damage just before it would die anyway to combat or removal, then it’s something. Dealing an extra damage or two to a player or creature can be enough to turn the tides of battle.
How can you use Freyalise Supplicant the best? Here’s a thought:
- 4 Celestial Gatekeeper
- 2 Akroma's Devoted
- 4 Doubtless One
- 4 Freyalise Supplicant
- 1 Tolsimir Wolfblood
- 2 Avian Changeling
- 2 Mirror Entity
- 2 Battletide Alchemist
- 4 Wilt-Leaf Liege
- 10 Forest
- 10 Plains
- 4 Elfhame Palace
Here we have a cleric deck using Freyalise Supplicant as both a mini-Fling and as a Cleric. The problem with Clerics as sources of Flings is that they have a tendency to have high defenses and low powers, and since the Supplicant halves the power for damage already, we don’t want a lot of low-power Flings to occur (or no-power Flings in the case of zero- or one-powered creatures).
As such, I decided to run four Doubtless Ones. With 20 clerics in the deck, there should be enough in play to make your Doubtless Ones big enough to deal some serious damage to the opponent, as well as good fodder for supplicating Freyalise.
Celestial Gatekeepers add a flyer, but the beauty is that you can sac one anytime for a damage, and return two dead clerics to play. Get attacked by a bunch of creatures and sac it to bring two back to use as blockers.
Battletide Alchemists are great at keeping you alive, but there are only two, because despite its clerical nature, this deck wants to swing and win. That’s why I have two Akroma’s Devoted in as well. Allowing you to nip in for a hit or two while keeping your shields up is a great way to insure victory.
Wilt-Leaf Liege is a powerful 4/4 for four mana, so it can be sacked for two damage and also pumps your creatures. A pumped creature will use its last known power, so with one out, for example, a Battletide Alchemist would sack for two damage and so forth. I also have Tolsimir to backup the Liege’s ability to pump your creatures.
Another reason to run Tolsimir is to tap it and make Voja. Tap Tolsimir to make Voja, which is a 4/4 wolf, then tap the Supplicant to deal two to something. Untap and reuse as needed.
Avian Changeling gives you a few more aerial options while adding to your cleric count, and Mirror Entity is downright wrong in this deck. It’s a cleric, sure, but it also allows you to make a huge army, then tap and sac some of the creatures for damage. If you have out Akroma’s Devoted, you can vigilance swing and kill one person (remember than Tolsimir and the Lieges are not clerics) and then tap a Supplicant or two and hit another player or some creatures for a lot of damage.
As an adjunct to the deck we have some card drawing in Harmonize, creature removal in Swords to Plowshares, and Naturalize. The result is a powerful spell suite designed to fill whatever role you need at the time, from clearing out an annoying blocker to removing the Ivory Mask or Worship that prevents you from supplicating an opponent to death.
I think you’ll find this deck rather interesting because, although it is a cleric deck, it’s not your typical cleric deck. Enjoy!
Bad Enchant Creatures
Another card I was looking at was Aggression. How much better this would have been as an instant? As it is, you can only kill a creature if it can’t attack. You enchant a non-wall, and then it gets first strike and trample. If it doesn’t attack, it’s destroyed.
How do we abuse this?
- 10 Plains
- 10 Mountain
- 4 Battlefield Forge
This deck works interestingly, so let’s take a look under the hood.
At the core of the deck are a handful of enchantments. Aggression was the card that ignited my thoughts. I wanted to play it on a creature, and then kill that creature. How can I do that? Two ways.
First of all, I can play it on a creature, and then prevent the creature from attacking. Using Peacekeeper was a way to prevent the creature from attacking, and then you kill it. Thus, combining the Red with White seemed natural to me. Force an opponent to get angry, and then punish them for their emotion. That has a very Red/White feel.
Another way to kill a creature is to put an Aggression on it after the combat phase is over, or on a creature just summoned. Vedalken Orrery will serve here, because you can flash an Aggression on a creature in order to kill it. Another method that works is Crown of the Ages, as you can hop an Aggression to the appropriate creature.
You don’t want to lose your Aggression, so the Crown can also keep it in play. Put the Aggression kill on the stack, then move it with a Crown to another creature and the trigger resolves killing the originally enchanted creature. You can’t kill the newly enchanted creature because the window for putting triggers on the stack has passed, but you keep your Aggression around for another go.
If your Aggression dies, don’t worry. I have added a full slate of Nomad Mythmakers to the deck. It’s true, they can only pull an Aggression out on your creature, but then you can hop it to an opposing one with your Crown of the Ages. We also pack a pair of Replenishes for your Aggression needs.
Since I have this engine for enchantments, it seems a shame not to continue to add to it in color. Faith Healer allows you to sacrifice enchantments at will to gain life. Use it right before a Replenish, or use it to put an enchantment into the graveyard so you can recur it with the Nomad Mythmaker.
I also added Arenson’s Aura. Not only is it an enchantment, so it works with Replenish, but it provides another sacrifice outlet for your enchantments while taking out others.
Faith’s Fetters is a great card at gaining you some life and locking down a troublesome permanent… from artifacts to creatures to planeswalkers, this can keep it down. You can move them when more powerful things come into play with the Crown of the Ages. You can also recur them with a Mythmaker and gain some life, then Crown hop them.
Galvanic Arc will quickly become the bane of your opponent’s existence. You can play it to Bolt a creature or player. Then, every time you recur it, you get to Bolt again. This is your winning condition.
Sac it to a Faith Healer to gain three life. (Or to Arenson’s Aura to destroy an opposing enchantment.) Then recur it with a Mythmaker to deal three damage to your opponent. Sac-Recur. Gain Three-Deal-Three. Keep repeating this until you have won the game.
In case your opponent tries to mess with your enchantments, you have Vigilant Martyrs available. They understand the greater good. They will sacrifice themselves to counter a spell that messes with your enchantments. They will also sacrifice themselves to regenerate one of your creatures from removal, like a Mythmaker. With two abilities that are useful in this deck, they are not a bad addition at all.
Finally, I tossed in a pair of Browbeat for card drawing. If you find that your table pays 5 life frequently, just move to card drawing from another card and leave this behind.
This deck uses a lot of enchantment loving to kill creatures, gain life, and kill your opponents. I hope that you enjoy this deck.
And that brings us to the close of another article. I like both of the decks from these older cards. I also like the whole Masques discussion too; it’s neat to see whether or not my impressions mesh with reality. Hope you enjoyed the article!