The Magic Show #59 — Planeswalkin’

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Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to take a look at the first new card type since the introduction of the game, my upcoming performance in Pro Tour: Valencia (yes, you read that right), and more. Let’s go! Warning: Contains Spoilers.

Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to take a look at the first new card type since the introduction of the game, my upcoming performance in Pro Tour: Valencia (yes, you read that right), and more. Let’s go!


In this week’s title segment, we’re going to focus only on the following card: Liliana Vess, which happens to be an anagram of A Villainess, and also happens to be the first Planeswalker in the history of the game. This is huge. Huge as in, “it’s-Magic-but-it-doesn’t-feel-100%-Magic,” which makes it awesome.

Think about it. Right now we don’t know how this works. We know how some of it works. And I’ll tell you that momentarily. But if you don’t know a thing about Planeswalkers, this is your chance to be totally ignorant of a completely new card type. Something you haven’t done since you were learning the game.

Remember the first time you had something countered? You were just trying to get a handle on turning things sideways, and suddenly you had Instants to worry about.

Right now that is us, the entire Magic player-base, regarding Planeswalkers. Oh man, do you have any idea how much they’re loving this in the Wizards R&D offices right now? They’re high-fiving and giggling their heads off, I assure you. This is their new baby, and they get to show it to us one delectable piece at a time. Their little secret that they’ve had for a year or more is finally making its way into the world. And right now we are just clueless, in the best way.

Okay, okay, so they’re here. How do they work? What does she do, exactly? First, let’s back up and see how this card came to the Magic public.

Each week, Wizards has been giving us Planeswalker minisite updates. This is a collection of games, wallpaper, and other Flash-enabled doodads to keep us wondering just what in the hell a Planeswalker is.

Then came the Liliana Vess site update. Liliana is the woman who’ve we’d seen before, on the “They’re Coming” poster from U.S. Nationals. On Monday her minisite update revealed a crossword puzzle whose prize was that you got to see the actual card itself! Needless to say, this was a huge surprise. We all figured Wizards would keep Planeswalkers under NDA until Rosewater gushed about them in the first preview column. Not so, and I love it. I love the speculation and the wonder of such an alien presence.

Now before we get to the admittedly ridiculous abilities, let’s see what we do know about Planeswalkers, as spoiled by Wizards:

It is a spell, with a casting cost. That means it can be transmuted for, goes on the stack when played, and can be countered.
It is a permanent. That means that while it can’t be Disenchanted, it can still be Saltblasted or Vindicated with ease.
It can be destroyed/targeted/manipulated directly. This means more than it simply can be removed. This means that cards can now say things like “Target Planeswalker” or “Destroy target Planeswalker.” You can be sure that there are at least a few cards in Lorwyn that reference Planeswalkers without actually being one.
You can attack Planeswalkers, and your creatures can block for your Planeswalker. Your Planeswalker loses one Loyalty for each point of combat damage dealt to it. This is a biggie, folks. Attacking someone that isn’t another player is going to feel a little strange, but I’m sure we’ll get used to it. The key here is that each point of damage removes a Loyalty counter. Does that mean Planeswalkers can be targeted as an additional player? Can you Incinerate Liliana Vess?
They have Loyalty markers that are used to pay for abilities. The number there in the bottom right is that Planeswalker’s Loyalty number.
They bust out of the frame! This is an important thing I think some people downplay. Outside of a silver-bordered set, we’ve never had art that has such a completely sweet new frame, and comes out of said frame. Liliana is the only one we know who does this so far, but c’mon, you know this has to be a precedent for the other four.

What we don’t know:

How you add Loyalty counters. Do you add Loyalty counters automatically each turn or must you use the +1 Loyalty ability to add counters? Does every Planeswalker have +1 counter abilities? Do all of their “Super Duper” effects cost 8 Loyalty counters? My guess is you can only add Loyalty via the Planeswalkers ability or spells that specifically do so.
How many you can control at once. You’ll notice that Liliana’s Type Line says “Planeswalker — Liliana”. Now we know that Liliana isn’t a race, and that being a Planeswalker is a very special thing. This leads me to believe that either you get one Planeswalker at a time, or only one Liliana can be in play at a time, suggesting different Liliana Planeswalkers as time goes on. This is by design of course, so that when these take off in popularity we’ll get more Liliana Vess’s to see top tournament play.
The speed at which you play abilities. This is another biggie. Let’s take a look at the abilities in which Liliana has. First up is the ability to give her +1 Loyalty for having target player discard a card.

With Occam’s Razor fully on the brain, I believe the following is true: The arrows on the card show you if their loyalty goes up or down with the payment. They do not, in fact, point to players who can use this ability. Paying 3BB to allow your opponent to make you discard a card sounds like something pretty damn stupid to do.

So my guess is this: These can only be used once per turn and at Sorcery speed. This would make sense for a variety of reasons.

One of those reasons is that the second ability is -2 Loyalty to play Vampiric Tutor. If you’ve never gotten the chance to play with this card, believe me, it is incredibly powerful. And now that it has no life payment to go along with it, I think we’ll begin to see just exactly how powerful it is in the next year or so. People are already building Liliana/Tarmogoyf decks, as Vampiric Tutoring for Tarmogoyf seems pretty solid.
How they die. Isn’t that funny, we just don’t know how they die. Do they go to the graveyard when they have 0 Loyalty or must they go into the negative? Does trample damage afflicted to a Planeswalker spill over to us, meaning Loyalty is pseudo toughness?

I’m guessing Liliana here will be one of the, if not the, most powerful Planeswalkers in Lorwyn. If she works the way I’ve mentioned, this will be a huge tournament staple for years to come. Two Vampiric Tutors over two turns, refill with a free discard element, and for the Timmies and Johnnies we have the 8 Loyalty payment monster effect to make ‘em drool.

This is a masterstroke in both design and marketing, and you can bet that every conversion about Magic for the next two weeks will include some element of just how Planeswalkers work, and how badass the other ones can be.

Valencia Bound

Ladies and Gentlemen, thanks to me being voted into the Invitational, I now have the opportunity to play in Pro Tour: Valencia. That’s right, The Magic Show on location in Spain. Do you love it? I love it!

Having never been to one of these things, you can imagine I’m a little intimidated by the prospect of having to test for not only the variety of Invitational formats that will come hurdling my way, but now I get to look at Extended.

This also includes Mr. Stephen Menendian getting to play in his first Pro Tour, who will no doubt have as much fun as I will. While I have high hopes and will try my damnedest, I believe it is Stephen who is the real threat here. He’s obviously a smart guy, and he’s maneuvered his way around some incredibly broken cards to be the Vintage World Champ. Now he’s going into a format that is admittedly underpowered by comparison to his normal Vintage and Legacy roots. This is to his advantage, I think, as Stephen manning something like TEPS or Heartbeat of Spring combo would be a formidable threat to any player, Valencia or no.

So thank you once again, everybody. Not only do I get to play in one of the most prestigious tournaments Magic has to offer, now I get to take the Magic Show to the Pro Tour for what will undoubtedly be some fantastic times and fantastic shows.

You Make The Invitational Card — Part 2

Okay, last week you guys let it be known by a wide margin that multicolor is the way to go for our good friend Captain Tickles.

But something else came up this week that is too cool too ignore.

Do you love Planeswalkers already? I know I do. But what about the Cap’n? If you were coming up with a card for the Invitational, wouldn’t you want it to be a badass Planeswalker instead of a regular ol’ creature?

Have Wizards now set a new precedent? Where the previous ten winners made creatures, but now that we have Planeswalkers every winner will get their own? Sounds pretty damn cool, right?

So this week’s question is: Should Captain Tickles be a Planeswalker? Go vote in the forums.

And that’s all for this week, everybody. Until next time Magic players, this is Evan Erwin, tapping the cards so you don’t have to.

Evan “misterorange” Erwin
dubya dubya dubya dot misterorange dot com
eerwin +at+ gmail +dot+ com
myspace dot com slash evanerwin

Music Credits:
Title — “Can’t Stop Now” by Keane
Planeswalkin’ — “Holland, 1945” by Neutral Milk Hotel
Valencia Bound — “See the World” by Gomez
You Make The Invi Card Part 2 — “What A Wonderful Man” by My Morning Jacket