In my Apocalypse review, I outlined two simple rules for rating new cards:
- Is the card more efficient than an established benchmark? (Or, do I get more bang from my buck?)
- Does the card do something no past card ever did, and if it does, is this new card playable?
Part I: Creatures
I also said that when you talk about creatures, you look at Rule #1.
An”efficient” creature in Type I usually means it has at least two power and has mana cost <= power. In my Apocalypse review, I opined that no deck or color got anything substantial except for a few potential bears. My forecast was generally accurate, except Goblin Legionnaire saw action in JP”The Polluted” Meyer’s Patriot U/W aggro-control deck on Beyond Dominia as a finishing touch.
Odyssey’s creature mix doesn’t have anything spectacular, but a few specific decks might find something they want. I apologize in advance, by the way, because I haven’t tested a single Odyssey card because the Prerelease coincided with the beginning of my final exams. Instead, I’ll just try to point to hidden gems with potential.
Creature – Wizard
Shadowmage Infiltrator can’t be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or black creatures. Whenever Shadowmage Infiltrator deals combat damage to a player, you may draw a card.
The only question is how good Odyssey’s poster boy really is. It’s an Ophidian that takes away the weakness (blocked by any weenie) and deals damage to boot. Thing is, especially with Fact or Fiction easier to cast in Type I, adding Ophidian to your blue deck radically changes it. For one thing, you have to consider defending against creaturekill again.
We already know how to abuse Ophidian – so if you want to use Finkel, you’re giving up making your opponent’s creaturekill dead and Back to Basics (possibly Thawing Glaciers if you don’t have power, though that seemed to be too slow for a lot of Extended decks), but get to add Demonic Tutor, Mind Twist, Yawgmoth’s Will, Diabolic Edict and possibly Demonic Consultation and Duress.
Is it a good trade? Possibly, but I wouldn’t lose my shirt on it with the hype.
Put a 4/4 green Beast creature token into play. Flashback 2GGG (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)
Obviously, everyone’s been looking at the new abilities. To make it short, I don’t think Flashback will make any impact on Type I, though it looks much better in Standard. All of them are just too expensive or too weak, and the game might be over before you get to cast the spell a second time.
Beast Attack looks fun, especially to someone who tried Simian Grunts when it was first printed, but being an instant is less relevant in a format with a lot of creatureless decks. Getting Mana Drained the first time will be bad enough, and something like The Abyss or Morphling will handle the second – assuming you find a good Type I deck that can pay GGG to begin with.
If I were to pick anything with Flashback, I’d try Call of the Herd as a splash in something like Zoo, replacing Serendib Efreet. It’s better than any previous three-power-for-three-mana spell (not that any of those were used in Type I), and the card advantage makes a difference against anything but The Abyss when both sides have exhausted their hands.
Creature – Mongoose
Nimble Mongoose can’t be the target of spells or abilities. Threshold – Nimble Mongoose gets +2/+2. (You have threshold as long as seven or more cards are in your graveyard.)
Yeah, it’s fast, but thÃ¥ cobra’s bite hurts more. I seriously doubt Threshold will make an impact, either, because it’s so slow, and nothing is strong enough to justify a graveyard-filling engine like Survival of the Fittest.
My Casual Stompy
After an insightful e-mail exchange with Ben Rubin and after receiving a packet of fun cards from Simeon Jones of British Collectible Cards, I resurrected my casual Stompy deck, using the Portal Jungle Lions from Simeon. (In case you were wondering, my Stompy primer explains why Type I green decks are forced to run as few mana sources as possible to get better draws.)
Obviously, the Lions are illegal, and I still need one more creature to complete the deck, the closest mediocre choices being Ghazban Ogre and Skyshroud Ridgeback. Mongoose is worse than these two, though, because it’s just a 1/1 that can’t even be Rancored. To get seven cards in the graveyard with this deck, you have wait several turns, get a lot of creatures killed, and use a couple of Land Grants. (Remember, a number of cards in this deck are removed from the game, like the Spirit Guide.) By the time that happens, one of you will be dead, anyway.
It’s a reprint of Elvish Lyrist, and I’m swapping this for the original to hedge for Quirion Ranger against random Engineered Plagues. The subtle point is that this makes Stompy a bit more lethal against decks that rely on The Abyss or Moat to stop weenie decks.
Creature – Druid
1G, Sacrifice Diligent Farmhand: Search your library for a basic land card, and put that card into play tapped. Then shuffle your library. If Diligent Farmhand is in a graveyard, Muscle Burst’s effect counts it as a Muscle Burst.
The ability is useful, but you’ll rarely be able to pay the activation cost until the deck thinning won’t make a difference. (And Muscle Burst isn’t better than the plain +3/+3 for G spells.)
I already explained why Threshold isn’t all that hot, and why Mana Drain bait is worse. I just have to rant…
I loved the art of the original Might of Oaks and Deranged Hermit was okay, too, but the Squirrel theme is getting really lame. (And this is coming from a guy who likes theme Thallid and Thrull decks.) They could have at least allowed Odyssey in the Invitational to make the Auction of the People halfway interesting. Then again, maybe Jeff Donais had a buddy he played Magic with five years ago who likes Squirrels…
This is the biggest activated creature (outside less playable ones like Xanthic Statue), but it’s in the color that doesn’t need it. The others that might want it can’t justify an activation cost of GG. The people who’d want this to dodge Abyss, Pox, and Balance are already using Mishra’s Factory or Chimeric Idol.
This looks pretty good, and looks like a Mogg Flunkies that gets to attack more regularly. It also reminds us of:
For the decks that could make up for the painful discard when the opponent could not deal with the 5/5 body, this wasn’t bad at all. Still, it’s not true that red ignores card advantage altogether. Especially since the Minotaur will be played earlier and you won’t be discarding a spare Mountain you held back, this thing hurts if it gets killed early. Every red player has lost with the opponent at one life, right before topdecking another burn spell.
I had a debate with Jarrod Bright on this one, and the other side of the argument is that this hedges against Keg and kills all the common weenies in combat. My point is just that this is as bad as Mogg Flunkies if it gets killed, especially in the mirror, and you deal as much damage if you use another creature and cast the spell you discarded. It’s probably better in Extended, where Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning are illegal.
This also reminds us of Mogg Flunkies. It’s efficient enough, but I still wouldn’t use it. Flunkies are good enough against control decks, but against anything with a lot of creaturekill, they are dead because killing their friend stops them, too. This is slower, yet has the same weakness. Besides, Sligh doesn’t seem to use three-mana plays unless they deal six damage each.
This card will remind old players of another old favorite:
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Barrow Ghoul unless you remove the top creature card in your graveyard from the game.
Barrow Ghoul was an okay card in the decks that could use it, and its four toughness made it tough for red. Also, if Flesh Reaver was”Slaughter with buyback,” Barrow Ghoul also made the opponent think about taking four and waiting for the grave to empty, or killing the thing already.
Although Rotting Giant doesn’t have the four toughness, it’s obviously easier to use. You don’t have to remove a card every turn, and you can cast something before attacking. You can also remove any card for it, which was something we would have loved in Barrow Ghoul.
Black creature decks will usually have a couple of cards early (Duress, Dark Ritual, Hymn, Sinkhole, Wasteland), so this guy can definitely fit. Aside from asking if he’s better than a pump-knight, the subtler question is whether black wants him. Many black decks focus their one- and two-mana plays on disruption, and play something more expensive but nastier (Hypnotic Specter, Phyrexian Negator, or even Juzam) later.
This thing is probably best in decks that don’t use Sinkhole for added disruption. If you test it in a suicide or Zombie fun deck, just pay attention to what you’re removing in case you topdeck Yawgmoth’s Will (Rituals go last).
Creature – Beast
Your maximum hand size is reduced by three.
Blue’s weenies have always been the weakest, and blue weenie decks end up being aggro-control decks that beat down against control decks while stalling with Force of Will… But lose to real weenie decks. This bear may be another contribution to Type I Skies, though I prefer Type I Merfolk.
Having two Thought Eaters may be fatal to the free counter strategy that’s the only strength of blue weenie… But I’d advise taking it like a man instead of using potentially dead cards like Spellbook, or slower ones like Grafted Skullcap.
In my White Weenie primer, I noted that the ideal white weenie has two power for W or WW, and that three-mana weenies have tough standards to meet. Not even the venerable Thunder Spirit really makes the cut.
Kirtar is cute, but he still doesn’t add punch against control decks, which don’t use the attack phase. Against other decks, he can do combat tricks and trade for two creatures, but it’s still an expensive way to take out one-mana creatures.
Mystic Crusader fits into Paladin en-Vec’s slot, and is good against the same decks. The one-toughness and lack of first strike make it weaker against the other decks, though. Aside from the fact that it’s neither Cleric nor Knight, this might be more useful because it evades both Abyss and Moat.
Pianna is also cute, but lacks the shadow of Soltari Champion. It toughens up itself, though, so you’re less inclined to overextend. Still, I don’t think Soltari Champion is strong enough, and I’d use the ordinary Crusades or faster Army of Allah if at all.
Creature – Cleric
W, Tap: Target permanent you control gains protection from instant spells and from sorcery spells until end of turn.
In case you had doubts, yes, Mother of Runes is better. Against control, Mother isn’t dead because it shuts down Abyss.
Creature – Antelope
Whenever Graceful Antelope deals combat damage to a player, you may have target land become a plains until Graceful Antelope leaves play.
Creatures with plainswalk may be blocked as though they didn’t have plainswalk.
Just had to note that another Plainswalking creature was (finally) printed!!!
Creature – Lizard
If you would draw a card, you may skip that draw instead.
This is representative of the quality of Odyssey rares, but in case you missed it, it’s an amusing Sligh sideboard against Academy-based combo decks and others such as Underworld Dreams-based ones.
Braids, Cabal Minion
Creature – Minion Legend
At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, that player sacrifices an artifact, creature, or land.
This reminds us of:
Urza’s Saga rare
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a soot counter on Smokestack. At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, that player sacrifices a permanent for each soot counter on Smokestack.
I tried to use Smokestack with Rancor back during the Urza block, and even for a casual deck, it’s just too clunky and awkward. Even when it works and locks the opponent, it’s boring. Basing the same clunky lock around a creature that’s easier to kill can’t be better, so be warned.
Creature – Wizard Legend
2B, Sacrifice a creature: Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
2B, Remove a creature card in your graveyard from the game: Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
This is wonderful in Limited, but with its cost, it looks useful mainly in casual RecSur decks. Phyrexian Plaguelord still seems easier to use there because of Patriarch’s activation costs.
I’d rather have a Negator, Juzam, or Scuta. The ability doesn’t kick in against Swords to Plowshares or Morphling blocks, and if it does kick in against control, that deck probably didn’t have much in hand anyway. It also delays the kill by one turn. The advantage over control comes with a bigger disadvantage over a number of aggro decks with Bolts that won’t have much to discard anyway.
Creature – Dwarf
When Dwarven Recruiter comes into play, search your library for any number of Dwarf cards and reveal those cards. Shuffle your library, then put them on top of it in any order.
If you like theme decks, wait for more playable one- and two-mana Dwarves, then remember Dwarven Recruiter and Song of Blood (which was fun with Goblin Recruiter and Song of Blood, so why not recycle the idea for Dwarves?):
Put the top four cards from your library into your graveyard. Whenever a creature attacks this turn, it gets +1/+0 until end of turn for each creature card put into your graveyard this way.
This sort of thing always looks powerful (especially with weirdness like Ice Cauldron) but in Type I, power over four or five rarely makes a difference. This is amusing in Spike and Elfball decks – but in these fun decks, I still prefer the original:
Creature – Druid
3G, Tap: Reveal the top card of your library. If it’s a creature card, put it into play. Otherwise, put it into your graveyard.
Just a short note to say that this isn’t as pathetic as it looks. In more casual green decks based on fat creatures, this skims away excess land or puts creatures into play. It’s also the exact same ability on an old enchantment called Call of the Wild. (I could be hinting that there are quite a bit of knockoffs in this set, you know…)
Like I said… I could be hinting that there are a bunch of poor knockoffs here…
Finally, we get to the casual player’s disappointment. Printing WUBRG creatures for fun seems to be a bad substitute for creativity, and with the soft spot everyone has for Atogs, you would’ve thought the Atog legend would do something more interesting.
In case you don’t know the joke:
Part II: Creature enchantments
You control enchanted creature.
Nothing to look at here, except you’d think they could at least reprint Control Magic instead of looking for an excuse to make it a rare.
In the next installment, I’ll go to the artifacts and enchantments, following my usual pattern. I’ll also try to say something more surprising than”Mirari is unplayable in Type I.”
rakso on #BDChat on Newnet
Type I, Extended and Casual Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (http://www.bdominia.com/discus/messages/9/9.shtml)
Featured writer, Star City Games (http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/archive.php?Article=Oscar Tan)
Proud member of the Casual Player’s Alliance (http://www.casualplayers.org)