The Kitchen Table #271 – Conflux and Five

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Tuesday, February 3rd – Hello friends, and welcome back to the column dedicated to the casual. Today I am continuing a series of articles that begun years ago and has continued through this one. Once the official spoiler for a set has been released, I can take a look through the cards, and tell you which ones I believe will have an impact for Five Color.

Hello friends, and welcome back to the column dedicated to the casual. Today I am continuing a series of articles that begun years ago and has continued through this one. Once the official spoiler for a set has been released, I can take a look through the cards, and tell you which ones I believe will have an impact for Five Color.

Five Color is a format I regularly bring out and tell you about. It’s obviously one of my favorite formats in Magic. In Five Color, Vintage legal sets are allowed with a minimum of 250 cards and 20 cards of each color. We have more generous mulligans and because of the quirkiness of the format, we must have our own B&R list, which you can find here, along with other rules, decks, and articles.

Since Five Color is a casual format, you could likely see every single card in Conflux in a Five Color deck at someone point. However, I want to focus instead on those that are especially good for the format.

As regular readers may remember, my set reviews have also begun to mention cards that I like for Peasant Magic and multiplayer houses. The result is an article full of cards that I mention for various reasons, sometimes for one format and sometimes for another.

Please note that, unlike many reviews, mine will be focusing solely on the cards I want to talk about, and all of the many others will remain unmentioned. That is the way it is and should be — it makes review articles much better. I tried to do otherwise once, mentioning every card, and it just wasn’t the same.

Without further ado, let’s head into the meat of the article, shall we?

Basic Landcycling — It seems really good, doesn’t it? After all, 250 decks have serious mana issues at times, so you might think this is a money mechanic for them. And to be fair, budget 250s or casual 250s can really use this mechanic, although the spells they are attached to are really poor. However, most competitive 250s are running duals, fetches, and such. They may not have many basics at all, and they would much rather prefer something like Chartooth Cougar to this. Chartooth Cougar can count as a Red card without requiring Red to play, and with duals, it can get you any color you need, instead of requiring Red mana to do the same. Therefore, I don’t think you’ll see these much in tournament decks, just in the more relaxed or budget decks.

Wizards mentioned that they knew going in that basic landcycling, as a mechanic, would pull from Green, but considering the set’s heavy emphasis on multicolor, they would allow this bleed. They view Magic as a pendulum, and in due time, Green will once again be king of land search and few other colors will get it.

I feel like Green is getting a bit shafted, not just here, but recently. I don’t mind that a lot of common cards have been made recently that allow deck builders to fix mana without going through Green. From Ravnica block on, we’ve had Karoo lands, signets, Terramorphic Expanse, other lands, numerous cards like Chromatic Star, and now the Basic Landcyclers. Sure, the pendulum may swing someday and Green will regain all of this, but once the card is printed, it’s done. We here in casual land can now make non-Green decks with three or four colors and we are fine. We will never need Green again.

I like that cards like Harmonize, Ovinize, and Possessed Aven have been made. It deepens and thickens the color. Magic is enriched by these in-flavor color bleeds, and basic landcycling similarly enriches the game.

However, Green has only had one mechanic that was its core identity. Black has discard, Blue has countering, Red has burn, White has prevention, and Green has mana making, including land-fetching. Since that been pulled out of Green and stretched among artifacts, lands, and other colors, shouldn’t Green be getting something back?

Hosers — I like the double color hosers, and hope to see some of these in the base set replacing the Coldsnap ones.

Domain – I love love love Domain as a mechanic, and I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear them revisit it, but after seeing the cards, it’s just so… ugh. We have 10 total. One is a reprint, and two more just a name change. 30% are just remakes. Take Green, for example. We see three Green domain cards, but before you get excited, one is basically Kavu Scout with a larger backside, one is a reprint with a different name, and the third is an Ordered Migration except the creatures don’t fly. These are three cards that already existed in one form or another before the new set. We also have a remade Exotic Curse and Worldly Counsel. Aven Trailblazer is the exact opposite of Kavu Scout except with flying, so it is at least interesting.. Voices from the Void? That’s something, although it’s just a reverse Allied Strategies. Manaforce Mace is interesting, but it is still just an equipment version of Power Armor. There are ten domain cards in the set, and the only one with any significant level of innovation at all is Wandering Goblins.

Could we not have created new domain cards that did new things? How about domain land destruction (no, I am not saying domain Armageddon, we already had that)? How about domain life gain? How about creatures that come into play with a number of counters equal to domain, and then can use those counters for things, like Triskelion and Spike Feeder (only with domain). Usually WoTC does a good job at a pushing a mechanic to its natural conclusion, such as cycling, which evolved into colored costs, non-mana costs, things happening when you cycle, landcycling, slivercycling, cycling triggers on other cards, etc. There is no such evolution with domain in this set, just a rehashing of the old.

Well, enough of this, let’s move to actual cards.


A lot of the White cards here do not compare well to previous cards. You have to work hard to make Court Homunculus into a 2/2 for 1, compared to cards like Savannah Lions or Isamaru. Where White shines is Path of Exile and Martial Coup, arguably two of the best cards, and not just of this set.

Lapse of Certainty — Sure, it’s a three mana Memory Lapse, but if your aggro deck is emphasizing White and reducing Blue, perhaps you’d want an in-color counter even at three mana. For normal formats, this adds to the density of White counters out there.

Martial Coup — This is obviously the nuts in most formats. In multiplayer, it may become the best Wrath of God you can play. In Five Color, it gives you not only control, but a winning condition. It is remarkable because it is a reliable Living Death (see my WALD theory about cards. As a Living Death, it can take a losing situation and turn it into a winning one single-handedly, whereas Wraths normally just take you from losing to neutral). This card is just simply powerful. It’s game-winningly awesome. Kirtar’s Wrath was good, but this is much much better.

Mirror-Sigil Sergeant — I know a lot of people clamoring for this card. I am not a fan. It feels a bit too much like Chronozoa to me, and that was hyped and ultimately not powerful. This requires a Blue permanent, and that is easy for opponents to get around.

Path to Exile — What could I say about this card that has not been said by others? I could say it sucks. No one else has said it. It may not be true, but I could say it. It’s obviously really good. It is an answer for creatures all up and down the casting cost spectrum, from Stigma Lasher to Darksteel Colossus. It can work in numerous formats and numerous decks, from Five Color to multiplayer to Constructed.

Wall of Reverence — This wall is going to be really good (annoying) in multiplayer. It gives you a strong defensive creature while also allowing you to gain a solid amount of life. Life gain + defensive creature = good card for multiplayer. It is already in the buck bin here at SCG, so pick up a few as a gift to yourself. You deserve it.


In a set with some awesome-tastic cards, Green feels really underwhelming.

Noble HierarchBirds of Paradise don’t get that much play in most Five Color decks today, with all of the top line mana producers. Noble Hierarch is worse in a deck that runs all of the colors. It a deck that just wants the accelerant, or in a G/W, G/U, or G/U/W deck, this is really strong and better than Birds. The exalted allows you swing with it for one damage on the second turn if you have no plays, and it can contribute all game long to the red zone while staying back and tapping for mana. The result is a solid role player, but nothing too special unless used in tandem with acceleration or with the right colors in the deck.

Paleoloth — I really like several things about Paleoloth. I love how it enables the Bant big creatures deck. It’s just a 6 mana 5/5, but with an ability that makes the deck hum. I also think it’s not bad in any deck loading a large segment of creatures of unusual size. Feel free to rock the Paleoloth by playing Bringer of the Red Dawn to trigger it. Akromas, Darksteel, through things like Arashi and Mystic Enforcer post-threshold — all will trigger it. Avatars of Woe and Fury, Timbermare, Groundbreaker, Shivan Dragon, and Mahamouti Djinn will all trigger it. Then you can raise dead any creature. It seems to be pretty strong. (See: Viashino Cutthroat or Stampeding Wildebeests.)

Shard Convergence — Hot. This gets you four cards and puts them in your hand. Sure, they are all lands, but in one fell swoop, you can fix all of your mana problems, especially if you have duals. Normally, people want to fix their manabase on the earlier turns, and this is not a mana accelerant, just a way of putting lands in hand. Five Color might find it a bit slow for competitive play, but for casual play and multiplayer, it’s grand. You can find all sorts of interactions with it, from Trade Routes and Scroll Rack to Exploration and Fastbond.

Soul’s Majesty — I would have preferred it to have been four mana instead of five, but this is a perfect card drawing spell for Green. It is quite flavorful. Draw a ton of cards when you have out any number of Green fatties. Note that you target the creature, then if it is killed before this resolves, the spell is countered because there is no target. Since it costs five mana, I would have made it target a player too, so that it would not be countered by killing the creature it targets.

Thornling — Am I alone in thinking that Thornling doesn’t feel like a Mythic rare? It’s neither legendary, nor a Planeswalker. It is just a Green version of two cards that already exist, Torchling and Morpling. It is bigger and it does have a ton of abilities, but do you remember people saying that Mythics would be reserved for the rares that people would not want four of in their decks anyway? Mythics would not be used for Vindicates or Pernicious Deeds because people would run those as four-ofs in their decks. I get that for Nicol Bolas, but not here. Thornling could easily be a four-of in some Green decks. It’s bigger than its predecessors, and indestructible alone is very multiplayer friendly. This is a good card, but Mythic? It’s not that.


It has an obvious hit in Banefire. I like Worldheart Phoenix myself, and think it’s a fine card. Then there are a few bit players. The money in this set is in White and multicolor.

Banefire — This is the best X spell ever in terms of going to the dome, but not as good at clearing out multiple offenders. It also doesn’t kill regenerators or anything, so as far as creature removal is concerned, it will kill something like Cho-Manno or Dawn Elemental, but not River Boa or Silvos. I suspect you will see these a lot in casual play, especially in multiplayer. Now, neither your target nor any allies will counter your Banefire. Ever get annoyed because someone countered a lethal Fireball that wasn’t even aimed at them in chaos multiplayer? Now you no longer have to worry about that. They should have put this in Jace versus Chandra, much like they did with Hellkite Overlord in Dragons set, because it would have fit naturally, been an exciting pre-print, and most importantly, would’ve put more of these out there.

Quenchable Fire — I love this card design for two reasons. First of all, it’s very flavorful. Second of all, it has been a while since we have seen a card that is weaker against that color’s foes. We’ve seen tons of cards that get better against them, like Blood Knight, for example. However, shouldn’t the opposite also be true? Shouldn’t there be fiery creatures that are weaker against Blue ones? Shouldn’t there death creatures weaker against life ones? And so on. I love this, and want to see this idea fleshed out more, because I bet there is a lot of room to mine.

Rakka Mar — A legendary creature without a title at the end? (Like Rakka Mar, Scourge of the West, or Rakka Mar, Champion of the Wastes, or Rakka Mar, the Unknowable? ) I like it. There is something here for the Johnnies in casual world. It won’t light buildings on fire or anything, but it seems good enough to serve successfully.

Wandering Goblins — Here is a better domain mechanic than most in this set. Not bad. It’s not going to make the cut in competitive Five Color, but it’s a nice casual addition.

Worldheart Phoenix — I like it, and it is going into Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy. I think you could build a 60-card deck around it quite nicely, quite nicely indeed.


Welcome to the color of selfishness. We are just waiting for the multicolored section, where the goods are, I promise.

Infectious Horror — I like this card because you can attack at the multiplayer table against the open player, and hit everyone for two life lost. Even if the open player has a Wall of Blossoms or something, you can still swing into it, and cause everyone but you to lose 2 life. It combines well with previous zombie cards like Shepherd of Rot and Gempalm Polluter.

Nyxathid — One of the things I look for when assessing Black cards is, will this fit in my Pox deck? Nyxathid is a power Pox player, because he will almost always be a 7/7 or 6/6 for three mana. He comes without trample, but also without the disadvantage that Phyrexian Negator had.

Voices from the Void — It is just a reverse Allied Strategies, but Allied Strategies is so good, you might not mind. Actually, it’s not nearly as good for two reasons I can think of off the top of my head. 1). Allied Strategies always gets you a 5 for 1 swing, but your opponent might have less than 5 cards in hand. 2). In multiplayer, you would rather draw cards yourself than force just one opponent to discard. All five cards you draw will be used for your betterment, but all five of an opponent’s cards probably would not have been used against you. Maybe only one or two cards would’ve come your way. Plus, it’s bad politics.


Boring old Blue. What have you got for us today?

Esperzoa — Oh no, it’s better than Sea Drake, whatever will we do?!?! We take a breath. What are you bouncing? Skullclamp or Sensei’s Divining Top make this essentially have an upkeep of 1. Bouncing an artifact land keeps your manabase at whatever number it was when you played Esperzoa. What else is out there? Esperzoa is good, no question, but it is not at Serendib Efreet/Sea Drake-auto-include-in-aggro-decks level. It’s just okay. Now, in an all artifact deck, it may rock our socks, but it is not the auto include that some seem to indicate. Relax and breathe deep.

Ethersworn Adjudicator — Bringing you Mortifies all day every day since 2009. Mortifies are good, and tapping a creature and appropriate mana for one seems like a good deal. It requires you to be playing Esper colors at least, but that’s okay, because it really rewards you. This is not for competitive Five Color where you want your creatures to attack, not hang out and tap for things. Sure, the cute little untap/Mortify trick is great for multiplayer, if it survives to the next turn (it is subject to both artifact and creature removal, after all). However, it does not make the cut for competitive Five Color. I’m putting one into Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy, just as soon as I get one.

Frontline Sage — Do you want to pay one more for a Merfolk Looter and then spend one Blue a turn to activate it, only to get a 0/1 with exalted? I doubt you’ll want to do it very often, but when you do, here it is.

Inkwell Leviathan — They put this in the wrong set. In another set, this would have been magically delicious with a large size and the right combinations of abilities. However, they put this in a set with Progenitus which does more damage, is more unblockable, and is even more protected than this guy’s shroud.

Master Transmuter — This guy allows you to use and reuse comes into play abilities of various artifact creatures, like Solemn Simulacrum or Sanctum Gargoyle. You can also save your artifacts from removal. Hello Darksteel Colossus. Do you hate to tap 5 for a Memory Jar and then are forced between popping it immediately but having 5 less mana to use with the cards or waiting a turn and allowing your opponent to plan? Now you can play it for 1 mana, and then Jar away. I like this card in any deck that can reliably get enough artifacts to matter.


Here we go!

Apocalypse Hydra — I think it’s very playable in multiplayer where you often have more mana than you might think. Don’t be afraid to play it early just to have a creature, though. Rosheen Meanderer likes this, and is in color.

Blood Tyrant — This is your typical large dumb creature. It can get bigger very easily, which makes it good. It also has flying and trample to force itself over and through defenders. It wins by getting big and slamming home, there is no grace or subtlety to it. It doesn’t sneak through like Guiltfeeder, it has a large power/toughness and then wins.

Child of Alara — It’s a souped-up False Prophet, only as a threat, and it can work with Living Death and reanimation strategies, not against them. See also: Footsteps of the Goryo.

Conflux — No one will ever play with this in a competitive Five Color environment, but it will rule at the multiplayer table. You can easily set up powerful board winning conditions. The Johnnies among us can grab all of the pieces needed for a combo. Remember the old standard, Crystal Quarry.

Countersquall — All of the main threats you often see are non-creatures anyway. Removal for your creatures or combo pieces, countermagic for your own spells, combo pieces of their own, and so forth. It’s a solid adjunct to counters as is. Play it alongside Undermine, Counterspell and Spite/Malice and it will hold its own.

Exploding Borders — I like it. They tacked half of Tribal Flames (against players) onto a Rampant Growth, but I like it. I’ll play these in a few decks, but you have to have two colors to play it, so it is not as obvious a choice to include in decks as it might appear at first.

Giltspire Avenger — It’s another entry in Finding Cho-Mannos. It keeps attackers off your back and contributes with Exalted. It is a tasty card, and one I will immediately be placing in Abe’s DoH&J.

Knight of the Reliquary — This is one of the cards making all of the rounds. Is it broken? I’m not sure. I can tell that “R, Instant, Deal 4 damage to target creature or player” is broken because it compares to established standards. This Crop Rotates, but only certain lands. It gets bigger, which I like, but does it get bigger fast enough? I certainly will not be the only one trying it out to see if it works in competitive Five or not.

Maelstrom Angel — This seems to be the bee in everybody’s bonnet. Everybody seems to be talking about how amazing the Angel is, but she isn’t the easiest thing to cast. She’s no Exalted Angel, which ruled because of ease of getting into play. Sure, a 5/5 flyer with a good ability is strong, but if you have to bend over backwards to cast it, is it really as good as that? Only time and play testing can tell, and very few have that sussed out yet, since the set has yet to be released. For now, I’ll simply say “Great in multiplayer, going into my deck, I like the idea, let’s see if it works in competitive Five or not, and what are drooping off her anyway?”

Magister Sphinx — I like the finality of this card. It simply ends any issues with life gain. Invincible Hymn has met its match. Congregate has met its match.

Meglonoth — Lots of others have already piped in about how good this card is. I can’t say anything that The Ferrett hasn’t already said. It’s good! Play some!

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker — Don’t play this unless you need it. Play Decree of Pain because you need it. Play Martial Coup because you need it. Do not play this unless you need it, because it is expensive (to purchase and to play). Don’t play cards that cost this much without thinking it through first. Having said that, yes, one will be going into H&J.

Progenitus — The creature that is the new Oath of Druids hotness. Don’t play this to play it. You need two Crystal Quarries to get it into play, or Gaea’ Balance. Unless you cheat it into play (Quicksilver Amulet, Elvish Piper, Timmy, etc), it is too hard to cast. I suspect it’s easier to win off a Coalition Victory than it is to win off this.

Shambling Remains — I can see this just making the cut in some 250 Aggro decks. It’s a 4/3 for 3 with no offensive disadvantages, and the unearth might be enough to get you a victory.

Sphinx Summoner — Gets the Darksteel Colossus for your Transmuter. It also likes getting bounced and replayed with it. I’m sure you can think of a lot of other ways to abuse this.

Colorless Cards

I’ll try to keep this quick. Mana has never been as important as it is in this set, and we have some good tools to help us.

Armillery Sphere — Smoothes two colors of mana without requiring any, but no acceleration removes it from serious competitive consideration. Casual players, such as myself, may love it.

Kaleidostone — If you don’t want to mess with Crystal Quarry, which is permanent, and just want to do this once, here you go.

Manaforce Maze — I like this more than Power Armor, which is still good enough.

Obelisk of Alara — If the third ability (the Black one) wasn’t in here, I wouldn’t be that sold on it. With that, it has a way of generating card advantage, just like Staff of Domination, which I use a lot in my decks. This is another great tool with the right combination of colors to back it up.

Exotic Orchard — This is very, very, very good. I would not be surprised to see four of these make the cut in competitive Five decks all over the place. Grab them for any deck you want, especially in multiplayer. They are awesomely awesome. This was an idea long overdue and I cannot gush more about it.

Rupture Spire — Another example of how WoTC is making commons that allow all colors to make all colors. However, having said that, I love it, and I love the mechanic. I will put tons of these into decks, just you wait!

And now we come to the end of yet another article. I hope you enjoyed it!

Until later…

Abe Sargent