The Obligatory Vintage Champions of Kamigawa Review, or CoK no Aji*

Gifts Ungiven
It’s not quite Intuition, and it’s not quite Fact or Fiction. You can’t use it as a tutor for unrestricted cards like with Intuition, and your opponent chooses what you get, unlike FoF. There are still some no-win sets with this. Think Yawgmoth’s Will, Recoup, Black Lotus, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. There might also be some crazy combo kill with this as well. I’m not going to give up on it just yet.

[Editor’s Note: As of this posting, we don’t have the card database updated, but I’m putting in links, regardless. Please use the mtgnews.com Spoiler for card references for a while until we finish our work.]

I looked for the CoK spoiler so I could check out some CoK ahead of time. Therefore, the prerelease won’t be the first time that I get to see CoK, although it will be my first chance to play with CoK. It’ll be cool in May when we can finally run the CoK Block.

Oy, gevalt! Get your heads out of the gutter! To paraphrase Ze Good Herr Doktor Sigmund Freud, sometimes a Magic expansion is just a Magic expansion.

Also, as I wrote this there were still a few missing cards on the mtgnews spoiler list. I checked again after they found the last five or six cards and nothing new stuck out. Hopefully the new cards were something innocuous rather than missing out on something like Arcbound Ravager-sama**.

Devoted Retainer

The first time I saw Bushido, I searched for any old creatures that had a P/T change when they block or were blocked. To my dismay, most of them didn’t get bonuses in the +X/+X format that Bushido uses. The only one that did was Chub Toad, who should now be referred to as”Most Honorable Chub Toad***”

Eight-and-a-Half Tails

…while interesting is no Ninetales (1337 Pokemon reference).

Isamaru, Hound of Konda

Is there a weenie deck in Type One that could use another two-power creature for one mana? I don’t think that there is, which is actually a benefit here because it reduces the chances that your opponent will play his Isamaru to kill yours.

Kami of Old Stone, Order of the Sacred Bell and Wandering Ones

I knew it! I knew that they wouldn’t print these with the rumored flavor text. No matter how much it would’ve been the awesome sauce.

Kitsune Mystic/Autumn-Tail, Kitsune Sage

In this set anyway, I haven’t really seen any kitsunes yet that really capture the true flavor of the kitsune, namely the fact that according to Japanese folklore, kitsunes spend most of their time getting drunk and trying to seduce men. Then again, they might’ve pushed them back to Betrayers of Kamigawa, because after all, that might just be too much for CoK.

Konda’s Hatamoto

Am I the only person that read this as”Konda’s Hamtaro” the first time I saw it? [Probably. -Knut]

Eerie Possession

Off the top of my head, I didn’t really notice any Arcane spells other than Desperate Ritual that this is really worth tutoring for, but we still need to keep this in the back of our minds in case the rest of CoK block gives us some good targets.

Gifts Ungiven

It’s not quite Intuition, and it’s not quite Fact or Fiction. You can’t use it as a tutor for unrestricted cards like with Intuition, and your opponent chooses what you get, unlike FoF. There are still some no-win sets with this. Think Yawgmoth’s Will, Recoup, Black Lotus, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. There might also be some crazy combo kill with this as well. I’m not going to give up on it just yet.

Peer Through Depths

In mono-Blue, this is probably worse than Impulse because you often need to search for mana. In combo though, this is looks like a solid tutor effect (as long as you’re looking for say, Burning Wish rather than Animate Dead.)

Petals of Insight

Oh man, do I wish this were an instant! This is a really powerful effect, but it’s just begging to be Mana Drained as it is. It’s even Arcane, which gives you the potential to use it like a buyback spell if you Splice various effects onto it, such as Wear Away. It’s too bad, since I really love this card. Frown.

Sift Through Sands

Come on. Cry about how Wizards is building all your decks for you. You know you want to. And you also want to say that while this sucks, you thought that Urborg Panther and Spirit of the Night were cool back when Mirage came out.


Mono-Blue landkill, anyone? This still hits most of the important cards that Stifle countered, with the only noteworthy exceptions probably being Storm and Sundering Titan. You can still stop Decree of Justice with this if you counter the Cycling itself, rather than the token making effect.

Time Stop

We all know that this card is super expensive, but the real strength of this card is in the fact that it can stop just about anything. I’m constantly hearing of new uses for this card, so I’m not going to rule it out just yet. Too bad it removes itself from the game though, since this would be cool to use as a lock in combination with Gaea’s Blessing.

Blood Speaker

Now that”Shaman” is a creature type, will Gorilla Shaman become an”Ape Shaman?”

Cranial Extraction

With the mana acceleration in Type 1, this has the potential to make a lot of matchups really random until people mix up their win conditions. While I could see say, 4 Color Control going down to 1 Exalted Angel, 1 Decree of Justice, and 1 Goblin Trenches or Mono-Blue having to beat down with some combination of Ophidian, Control Magic, and Old Man of the Sea, there really isn’t a good way for say, Control Slaver to operate without its Goblin Welders.

Nezumi Graverobber/Nighteyes the Desecrator

I just wanted to point this one out because it’s really easy to flip this, making it almost like a 4/2 for 1B with a special ability. [He’s gassy in Limited, but I view him more as a morph that you have to pay 1B to flip. – Knut]

Numai Outcast

When I first saw this one on the spoiler, it only had Bushido 1, which made me think that it had potential to be the Chimney Imp of CoK. Now, I’m not so sure.

Seizan, Perverter of Truth

Even though this has”pervert” in the title, I’m still hoping that this won’t be a tentacle demon.

Desperate Ritual

On the plus side, I don’t see any other combolicious Arcane spells right now, so we don’t have to worry about combo effects from that. What we do need to worry about is the fact that you can Splice other copies of this onto the first (generating seven Red mana, enough to cast and activate a Goblin Charbelcher) although fortunately this requires 2RR to begin with, which isn’t that easy to pull off with a combo deck on the first turn. I’m still wary, though.

Azusa, Lost but Seeking

I could see this as a very cool one-of for Survival of the Fittest decks running Crucible of Worlds as a way to lock down your opponent with Wasteland very quickly.

Dosan the Falling Leaf

This is another cool looking Green creature. Three mana is just cheap enough to be able to slip it under Mana Drain with an Elvish Spirit Guide or a Mox and it still lets you use Survival of the Fittest or Bazaar of Baghdad on your opponent’s turn.

Seshiro the Anointed

Even though I know I will never be able to pull it off, I want to combo this with River Boa so badly.

Imi Statue

Is this a hoser for Workshop Prison or yet another lock part for them? I really have no idea.

Uba Mask

Wow, this is a definitely my favorite card in the set. First of all, it looks like a cool lock part for Workshop Prison because of its”use it or lose it” effect. Can’t play that Ophidian this turn because you’re tapped out under Tangle Wire? It’s gone. It also has some cool interactions with some commonly played cards. Once your a player’s hand starts to shrink, this turns Brainstorm and Thirst for Knowledge into pseudo-Ancestral Recall effects, with the new drawback that you’d better use those cards this turn or you lose them forever. It also forces players to cast a lot of their draw spells at sorcery speed. This also really hoses counters unless you use Brainstorm or something to draw them on your opponent’s turn. It messes up cards like Elvish Spirit Guide or Force of Will that depend on your hand. It’s also hell on decks that want to use Brainstorm or Thirst for Knowledge to get rid of their situational cards, like Sundering Titan or Balance. You don’t want to cast Yawgmoth’s Will this turn? You’re never casting it ever, now. There is a huge amount of deckbuilding potential with this card.

Boseiju, Who Shelters All

I’ve heard a lot of complaining about how this has to come into play tapped. I think that that’s more of a good thing to keep combo from abusing it. As it is, it’s a cool way for a control deck to come back against another one if it starts getting overrun by forcing through something like Balance or Mind Twist to equalize the game.

Forbidden Orchard

So, combo? This has to be at least as good as City of Brass here, but just remember to careful if you’re using cards like Necropotence or Death Wish.

All in all, this set looks like it has a lot of cool Johnny cards in it, and I’m not using Johnny to mean”scrubby” like a lot of people do when referring to Type 1 players. I mean it in the sense that there are cards like Gifts Ungiven that really reward clever deckbuilding. The really aggressive usage of the Legend rule will hopefully allow a greater number of creatures than normal from this block to be playable. Actually, correction: a greater number of creatures that you can’t just put into play with Goblin Welder to be played.

Lastly, I didn’t see any ninjas in CoK. It looks like we’ll need to wait at least one more set before Mistform Ultimus becomes a Mutant Ninja Turtle.

JP Meyer

jpmeyer at gmail dot com

*”CoK no Aji” =”A taste of CoK”

**”-sama” is the most respectful title in Japanese and is usually translated as”lord.” It got tossed around all the time in Samurai times, but you don’t see it much any more except when writing letters (you write”Billy-sama” rather than”Dear Billy” as the salutation) and when referring to Yon-sama, the famous Korean actor Bae Yong-Jun

*** That hokey-sounding”most honorable” thing comes from the common prefix in Japanese”o-“. Usually, it isn’t translated because it makes things sound really stupid. A lot of the time, the”o” doesn’t really change anything, such as with”ocha” (green tea,)”okane” (money,) and”osake” (alcohol.) The few times when it does matter, such as the difference between”obasan” (a middle-aged woman) and”basan” (a hag,) you need to totally change the word to get the right translation rather than by adding”most honorable.”