Tribal Thriftiness #33 – Eventidings of Comfort and Joy

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Thursday, July 24th – Eventide’s nearing the shelves, so it’s time to look through the cards and find those “necessities” that the budget player should be focusing on finding.

Eventide hits store shelves on Friday, and it is about all I can do to not try and hit every game shop and retail outlet in town to pick up packs. I should just buy a box or something, right? But for some reason I like doling it out in little increments. It’s like… rewarding myself. “Ooh, I remembered to reschedule the glass people to come fix the window I broke! I deserve a couple of packs!”

I know, not exactly riveting Pavlovian research here.

With the release of Eventide mere hours away, no doubt you too will be snapping up some packs to rip through. Maybe you even have been building up your own good deeds to reward yourself en masse with the new set. (I do that too.) This article will serve to list out what I am going to be looking for, in both commons and uncommons to open, as well as rares that I will try and trade for.

Staples: Yeah, Eventide’s Got Them

Every set, invariably, has commons and uncommons that see tournament play. Shadowmoor had Firespout, Beseech the Queen, Kitchen Finks, and a bunch of other good commons and uncommons that have influenced most formats. These are the commons and uncommons that I will be putting together playsets of rather quickly:

Oona’s Grace: I’m not a control player. Okay, I’m a little bit of a control player. But not Blue. No, never Blue. Okay, a little Blue. Even when I’m playing a control deck, though, my inner beatdown guy surfaces. When I have control of the game, I want to win, dangit. I don’t want to spend another fourteen turns, holding up countermagic, drawing my card for the turn, and praying for a win condition. I don’t even want tosee land. Oona’s Grace gives me the ability to speed forward into my deck (at the cost of unnecessary land drops) to get to that win condition. I like that.

I saw someone compare it to Whispers of the Muse and say how reusable card drawing doesn’t seem to be in vogue. I’d really more compare it to a mid-game Sensei’s Divining Top. (Hear me out before you click into the forums with your shouts of BLASPHEMY!) The Top’s main function is to manage your draw step; when you want land, it can give you land, and when you don’t, it can move a land down and away from your hand indefinitely. Oona’s Grace won’t prevent you from drawing unnecessary land, but it will replace it with a different card – thus still controlling your draw step and ensuring you draw what you want late in the game.

Raven’s Crime: Reusable discard? In a common? I’d sign up for that faster than I sign those petitions outside the grocery store that promise me free saltwater taffy if I vote for Resolution 53 three months from now. Sure, I can remember that, buddy. Taffy me. Since Corrupt never really took off, mono-Black guys don’t need to hit more than eight or ten land drops, and every extra land after that is all about Retracing.

Soul Snuffers: He’s essentially a 2/2 for four mana, but it’s okay comparatively once you figure in how many guys he will murderize on the other side of the board. Faeries especially have a preponderance of one-toughness creatures, including the guy who improves that one-toughness. Also kills Birds and plenty of Elves, and shuts off recurring Persist guys like Kitchen Finks. Even if all he did was trade with an entire Kitchen Finks, I think I’d be happy. That guy is my nemesis.

Puncture Blast: I’m a little unsure on this one. I actually do think it will end up seeing some play in Constructed formats, at least in Standard. You hear a lot about how some creatures have such heavy toughness that it takes two burn spells to take them down – and usually that means “two burn spells together” and not “one this turn, one in three turns.” Puncture Blast lets you, at the very least, spread around the necessary death-dealing damage for those big guys. The only thing that might prevent it from being played is that it costs one mana more than the standard three-damage spells in Standard (Incinerate, Lash Out) and is one less damage than the standardbearer for three mana, Flame Javelin. But it sure kills Persist guys dead.

Nettle Sentinel: Growing up Magically, I fell into the “Stompy” category: Green monsters (albeit littler ones) backed up with some minor disruption (Winter Orb when I started). And every once in a while, Wizards will print another little Green guy that reminds me of those decks – although not in enough quantity to actually make a deck again. Nettle Sentinel is one of those guys: a 2/2 for one mana that has a drawback, and in the Sentinel’s case, one that’s much easier to get around than the one on Ghazban Ogre, say. The fact that he’s an Elf and can slot into a tribal deck is a bonus. I think he’ll see play not only in Standard, but even in some of the older formats where Stompy still has a following.

Twinblade Slasher: Another one-casting-cost Elf, but this time a Madness-free copy of Basking Rootwalla, making up for the lost mechanic by gaining Wither and a whole bunch of friends from Lorwyn. The Rootwalla was mostly playable due to the linear Threshold and Madness decks; Twinblade Slasher could be the same. Luckily he has a linear deck that he can take a test drive in.

Unmake: Undoubtedly the common with the most press… but will it hold up to the hype? It doesn’t give Black (or White, for that matter) a new way to deal with Chameleon Colossus. It does, however, solve Persist problems, Shield of the Oversoul, recurring Reveillark creatures, and gives Black a more flexible option to kill un-Invertable creatures like Mistbind Clique. It’s also a more permanent solution than Oblivion Ring, although more narrow. The flexibility alone will keep it on everyone’s radar while building new decks, so get your playset now. It should be easy.

Fire at Will: Obviously less flexible than Unmake, but I think Fire at Will fills a different spot. Kithkin or mono-Red aggro could use this a lot better than Unmake to take down bigger blockers, or just to take out multiple Faerie tokens in one go. It’s “mass removal” that isn’t going to take out all your hard-earned guys.

The Rares To Watch

And of course, since you’ll be cracking packs and playing in your local Release Event, you’ll be pulling your share of rares too. Some of these will be ones you’ll want to trade for; some will be ones to just watch for and keep one or two for special deck occasions.

Hallowed Burial: As the only sensible Wrath in the block, Hallowed Burial will be an important card up until Block Constructed season is over, and then it will be re-evaluated. I’m waiting to focus on getting these until after Block Constructed season is over (as the price will go down simply because of that) but I do expect that they will see play. White-based control decks have run more than four Wraths when the format required it – playing Rout or Akroma’s Vengeance. Hallowed Burial is costed the same as those sorceries, but also brings a totally different effect, as well as a totally different group of problem creatures that it solves.

Spirit of the Hearth: Much less fragile than the little 2/2 True Believer, the Spirit of the Hearth provides a White-based control player two things: One, a win condition. Two, a way to avoid taking those last few points of burn to the face. Let’s face it, even if it’s just one Flame Javelin that’s pointed at Spirit of the Hearth, it’s still one less damage spell that you have to survive. Yes, the casting cost is pretty steep, but he’s pretty specialized, so I imagine he’d be a sideboard guy to come in against people playing burn… or any other targeted spell you would want to miss in the mid-game, like Mind Shatter.

Wake Thrasher: I haven’t played Merfolk enough to know whether or not they need a heavy hitter, but my guess is “Yes” since I’ve already received at least one text message from the local posse looking for them. I haven’t played Merfolk since… oh, Tempest block? Actually, I take that back, I tried to build it during Time Spiral block with Merfolk Looter and Riptide Pilferer. It was not quite as powerful then. What was I talking about? Oh yeah. Where does it slot? Does it replace Silvergill Adept? That seems to be the weakest link in the creatures with Merfolk in the type line. Probably either that or Sower. In any case, this guy will slot into Merfolk, and will be a chase rare while Merfolk are around in Standard – and in a deck that doesn’t sport a lot of rare creatures, people will have the space in their budget.

The Cairns: I think this one goes without saying. When the Future Sight “futureshifted” lands arrived, I think it was automatically assumed that they would probably be part of a five-card cycle when they were finally “reprinted.” To see at least this one in all ten color combinations is a nice surprise.

Stigma Lasher: Right casting cost, right ability (as in, the foreverness of it), and stats that don’t relegate it to “also-ran” if you draw it somewhere around turn 4. But is there a deck out there that can take advantage of him? And might he be enough on his own to push through the mono-Red burn deck that seems to flitter about the fringes of Standard? This guy is another one who might actually be stronger in a different format – in this case, Extended, where lifegainers like Loxodon Hierarch and Umezawa’s Jitte see play in a number of decks (and gain you a heck of a lot more life than a Kitchen Finks here and there).

Talara’s Battalion: The backbone of a new, faster Elf deck that may ditch the Black all together. The Battalion can come down on turn 2 with a little help, and with the pair of aggressive one-drops that will fit right in, there’s a good chance that you’ll be attacking for seven or eight on turn 3. Yeah, this is what I’m going after first.

The Lieges: Even though they’ve added a mana here and there to the enemy-color Lieges, they still have a chance to see play. I especially like Deathbringer Liege (because, for some reason, the name reminds me of the Duel Masters card Deathliger, Lion of Chaos) but, as we’ve seen with Thistledown Liege, there’s always room to at least try and sneak in an extra +1/+1.

Divinity of Pride: As much as I love me a Demigod of Revenge, I also like the Divinity in a mono-Black strategy. Bitterblossom plays such a huge part of the deck that having a way to offset the damage becomes imperative – and there’s no way to guarantee that a Tendrils will gain you life, short of targeting one of your own creatures. Divinity also has the proper evasion here (flying) – and while the clock gains an extra turn, that’s only as long as you don’t end up over 25 life.

Evershrike: The Aggro Zur deck has shown that there are enough enchantments out there to build a deck around the Big Flying Wombat, so let’s see that deck!

Deity of Scars: Big. Trampling. Potentially regenerating. I probably just like him due to the Timmy factor.

Cold-Eyed Selkie: Again, another Merfolk that could potentially slot into the linear deck… if only there was a slot for it. Three mana seems to be where you want to be either casting Merrow Reejerey, or holding up mana for Sage’s Dousing. The Selkie is still able to benefit from Stonybrook Bannaret, which is nice, and the card-drawing scales in the presence of Reejerey or Lord of Atlantis. But Merfolk is already pretty packed. Would you play the Selkie over, say, Ponder? Ancestral Visions, if you’re running that? He’ll probably get a test drive in Block Constructed, at least.

So that’s what I’m looking for when I start cracking packs. I will come right out and admit it right here, right now: I was in Target this evening and I was looking in the “card game” row, hoping, hoping, that some 24-hour-a-week kid had paid no attention to the big label on the Eventide box that says “DO NOT DISPLAY UNTIL FRIDAY” and I could score some early packs. No such luck. Now I have to wait like everyone else for the Release Party on Friday night.

By the time you read this, it will be tomorrow, but I’ll have had two more agonizing days of wait. Argh!

We’ll pick up the CCCP next week – this week’s column is a little long. Thanks to all who are participating, either in the forums or by email or PM.

Until next week!