“Initial reports suggest that the set is a weak one as far as overall power levels go…”
I’m hoping after reading part 1, you’ll be less inclined to believe the naysayers like Mr. Wise. Odyssey is a well-designed set with subtly powerful cards waiting to be discovered. Mike Mason said it best, and I think he deserves to be quoted again:
“I feel that this set is going to take a while to break open…”
In my opinion, that’s a mark of a well-designed set. When you get a set with blatantly powerful cards slapped in your face, the thrill of discovery is pretty much nullified; the only thing you have to worry about is scrounging all the power rares before their value skyrockets too much. Sets like Odyssey allow the sharper players to spy the sleeper power cards and trade for them early, and that’s ever so much fun.
I’d also like to take this moment to correctly give credit where credit is due — Mark Rosewater was one of the designers of this set, and he did a great job as far as I’m concerned. So whether you’re a fan like me or an unimaginative cretin who thinks the set is weak, you now know who’s responsible.
WHITE — With the broken Rebel mechanic leaving T2, what’s a white weenie mage to do? Don’t worry, Odyssey gives you plenty of stuff to get excited about.
ONE MANA (4.5) — Aegis of Honor is an amazingly powerful sideboard card; cheap to cast, cheap to activate, it pretty much neuters any straight burn strategy. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing. Devoted Caretaker is one of those cards that makes you certain there’s a typo in your spoiler; 1/2 for one white mana? But it’s true, and on top of that, his ability is quite powerful and useful. Testament of Faith is an interesting wall disguised as a global enchantment and might see some play since the price is right. Dedicated Martyr and Confessor are two weenies that might see some play in the right metagames.
TWO MANA (5) — Beloved Chaplain brings us our first”protection from creatures” critter, making him both a fantastic blocker and an unblockable attacker, and both those characteristics may prove valuable in the right deck and metagame. He also laughs at Flametongue Kavu, Plague Spitter, and Thornscape Battlemage. Mystic Visionary and Patrol Hound are nice bear weenies with decent special abilities. Shelter is a cheap instant cantrip with a very useful ability that could see some play. While lifegain isn’t usually Constructed worthy, Life Burst’s four-point bump, along with the possibility of gaining more life – and all at instant speed for cheap – gives it some potential in the right deck.
THREE MANA (5.5) — Mystic Crusader, Lt. Kirtar, and Pianna are all really good creatures that jump right in on the top of the mana curve for white weenie decks. Divine Sacrament also complements the white weenie strategy, and its threshold boost gives it some nice synergy with cards like Wrath of God and Goblin Trenches. Auramancer gives us some nice enchantment recursion abilities, and Dogged Hunter gives us a possible weapon versus the really good token-generating cards from Odyssey.
FOUR MANA (3) — The five Spheres are nice replacements for CoPs, and a few of them might see some sideboard action, so I’m counting them as two. Delaying Shield has some nice potential in an environment that can destroy or sacrifice enchantments for fun and profit.
SUMMARY — White gets eighteen playable cards for an average casting cost of 2.4 – quite a haul for fans of this color.
ONE MANA (4) — In the tradition of Brainstorm, blue gets some nice one mana utility cards. Peek and Extract are nice information gathering tools, and Divert is a very playable Deflection remake. Careful Study is nicely costed for what it does – digging for cards and filling the graveyard – great for both achieving threshold and for graveyard recursion possibilities.
TWO MANA (4) — Folks who miss Accumulated Knowledge might like Predict, which saw some play in its earlier incarnation as Foresight. Another AK-flavored card, Aether Burst, adds to blue’s bounce arsenal quite nicely. Unifying Theory has some possibilities in a deck with lots of cheap spells and extra mana lying around; perhaps a Fish deck. Standstill is a superbly named card that complements blue’s bounce strategy.
THREE MANA (2) — Patron Wizard’s stock increases when you start to realize how many good Wizards there are to play, and having reusable Force Spikes on the board has got to be good. Think Tank has some nice possibilities both for filling the graveyard quickly, but also as a way to maximize the quality of your draw phase.
FOUR MANA (2) — Like Power Sink, Syncopate is a very playable and splashable counterspell. Repel is like a reverse Repulse, denying your opponent a draw phase rather than replacing itself, but still quite good.
SUMMARY — Blue got twelve playable cards of four mana or less, with an average casting cost of 2.0; not a lot of depth, but some pretty good stuff.
GOLD/ARTIFACT — In light of Invasion block, Odyssey’s gold cards seem downright anemic, but there are a few gems to be found. Like Invasion, many of the artifact slots in Odyssey are spent on mana fixing, so there’s not much to choose from.
TWO MANA (1) — Catalyst Stone and Steamclaw are sideboard cards that might be maindeckable in the right metagame, but I’m only going to count them as a single card.
THREE MANA (3) — Shadowmage Infiltrator is so stupidly good, I’m tempted to count him twice. Or three times, even. Two of the Atogs, Phanatog and Psycatog, have some possibilities due to their synergy with Odyssey as a whole. Phanatog got the nod due to the fact that there are some enchantments out there worth sacrificing (i.e. Delaying Shield) as well as some decent enchantment recursion options.
FOUR MANA (1) — Mystic Enforcer is a big bad undercosted flying beatstick. While green/white is still the red-headed step-child of Type 2, Mystic Enforcer gives at least a glimmer of hope.
SUMMARY — 5 cards, with an average casting cost of 3 mana.
Looking at Odyssey as a whole along the Sligh curve, we’ve got eighty-two playable cards that are four mana or less, or 23% of the total set. That’s actually not too bad, almost one in four. The average casting cost of these spells is 2.43; not exactly Tempest-era speed, but who wants that? 2.43 is fast enough to be exciting without being insane. Player interaction is the name of the game, as it should be.
White, green, and black got the lion’s share of the good stuff, with red and blue trailing way behind. Conversely, of what they did get, red and blue got the cheapest average casting cost good stuff, with black hitting towards the top of the mana curve overall (not including the artifacts and gold cards). With that in mind, I score the colors this way for Odyssey:
First Place goes to WHITE
Second Place goes to GREEN
Third Place goes to BLACK
Fourth Place goes to BLUE
Fifth Place goes to RED