I’m positively giddy about the possibilities that will Fifth Dawn bring to Constructed Magic. I mean, I’m giddier than Osyp in the vicinity of Playboy bunnies, and that’s pretty damned giddy, let me tell you. On this day though, I must temper my enthusiasm for the many sick decks cooking in my brain to talk about the effect that the new set will have on the two top decks in the format – you know, the stuff people actually care about. What’s that? You’re sick of hearing about Ravager and Goblins, you say? Me too, kids. But when the editor steps out of the dugout and puts the ball in my hand, I can’t refuse the man – no matter how badly he’s trying to suck me into a seemy underworld of flamboyant costumes and super villainy. No sir, try as you may, I will not answer the siren’s call of Marvel. I won’t. I just won’t. [Can I get odds on this one? Before last fall, he wasn’t playing Extended either… – Knut, persuasive]
Well, um… there is one teensy-weensy stipulation: if Skullclamp is not at the top of a certain list come the first of June, I might be willing to, you know, maybe go out for coffee with the Marvel siren. Heck, maybe I’ll even treat her to dinner. Under no circumstances will I”join her for a drink” up in her apartment, though. That’s where I draw the line. [I still want odds, dammit. – Knut]
Enough! Let’s talk first about the cards in Fifth Dawn that should see play in each archetype. I had originally written this before the bannings, so if you see me slip into talking about practical applications of a card in abusing Skullclamp, forgive me.
This is one that I know that I would at least test a couple of copies of – you have the ability to tutor for Welding Jar, Arcbound Worker, Pyrite Spellbomb, Chromatic Sphere, Ornithopter… hey wait, that could easily be half the deck! It seems like the practical applications would be to find Pyrite Spellbomb to kill something that needs dying (Disciple of the Vault, your opponent, Omarosa from The Apprentice, etc), the rather mouth-droolingly obvious multiple Skullclamp fetch (oh wait, nevermind), and to grab Welding Jar(s) against hate. You can’t play too many of this card, but the applications are somewhat intriguing.
This guy just seems like a natural wife beater that fits into the Affinity deck now that Skullclamp got the gate. He’s kind of like Broodstar, but his power and toughness is not harmed by a hungry Arcbound Ravager. Five power and evasion for probably three to four mana is not a bad deal – not a super deal, but not a bad deal. Kind of like Ricky Davis’ contract.
Serum Visions will see some play in Ravager only because Skullclamp is banned. It will allow the deck to smooth out the land light draws and help set up the really broken ones – like when you scry for that second zero-mana artifact instead of the Glimmervoid that’s on top, which enables you to drop two Frogmites on turn 2, which allows you to cast two Myr Enforcers on turn 3 and pretty soon you’re doing the Sam Cassell nut juggle on your opponent’s face. Sorry, I’ll quit with the NBA references soon.
Grafted Wargear will be a tinge better in the Goblin deck than here (because Ravager is so tight on space and anything you actually have to pay three full mana for better be damned good), but it deserves a few props simply because:
1) It’s an artifact, and they’re rumored to be Affinity friendly
2) It makes Disciple of the Vault even more fair
5) +3/+2 is no joke, son
I’m not sure how many copies are right for an Affinity deck, but I’m going to guess three. What comes out of the deck? You’ve got me. I’m just pontificating here, folks.
Feedback Bolt has raised a few eyebrows, but I’m here to furrow them back down. The effect is potent, and it’d probably do something like ten to the dome if it got off, but the mana cost is simply too high for an Affinity deck to produce reliably. This seems more like a card for Twiddle Desire or Archmage to think about testing.
Goblins / Bidding Potential Additions
This card is a better fit for Goblins and Goblin Bidding because it fills the three hole and will not get stuck in hand like it will sometimes in a Ravager deck. It turns Goblins’ plentiful supply of 1/1 pipsqueaks into real beating machines, and Goblin decks rarely care about the death of one of their own, so the drawback is negligible. Hey, it even combos with Patriarch’s Bidding! I are so smart. Don’t forget: +3/+2 is a lot. I might be a little too excited about this card, but it just seems so good. Playable power enhancing Equipment! So what if you can’t switch it around like normal Equipment? Plus three plus two, dudes! ajkgjsadgkhxfgijhyxc9g8yxcg!
Plunge into Darkness
Um… this card won’t be tried immediately in Goblin Bidding or anything. So let’s get this straight: I get to either gain a ton of life by saccing miscellaneous Goblins to power the Bidding I already hold, or I get to tutor for Patriarch’s Bidding / Siege Gang Commander / Goblin Warchief / whatever, or I get to do both. For 1B. Or 1BB. As an instant. Yeah, I’ll play this card. I’ll play it in Extended too, where it’s liable to be completely insane.
Instant speed goblinsch? What a concept! I think that this card will see some testing as a sideboard card in control matchups against decks like MWC with a lot of mass removal, nothing more. I’m not sure how effective it will be, but playing Siege Gang Commander in someone’s end step does seem pretty damned filthy (much like the bathrooms in the Baltimore Travel Plaza), so I’ll give it a look. I do think that Vedalken Orrery will never get a chance to shine, simply because it will just be killed on sight by any of the forty trillion artifact removal spells in the format.
Impact Common to Ravager and Goblins
My first thought upon seeing this card in the spoiler was,”Wow, Wing Shards is poo now.” Then I got to testing Retaliate, and in just a few games, I found that its applications were rather iffy. The effect is powerful, don’t get me wrong – but if your opponent suspects that you have it and you pass your fourth turn with 2WW up, they’re going to play around it and just make you angry. You also have to take the damage before using it. Hmm. Maybe Wing Shards isn’t so bad after all? I still feel like that this card will impact the infant environment in some way though, because it will take people a while to figure out that it’s not as good as it appears on the surface.
Devour in Shadow
Although smoking Arcbound Ravager with this spell will be a risky proposition, its cost to power ratio is undeniable. Devour in Shadow is surely better than Terror or Smother because it doesn’t have any targeting limitations and the one time life loss to kill really problematic creatures is a drawback most players are willing to accept. I don’t know what more I can say except that Devour in Shadow is excellent creature removal and excellent creature removal will surely impact the two fastest creature decks in the format in some appreciable fashion.
This is the guy that I think a lot of the combo decks will end up using for what little creature defense they can afford. I think the rules of the combo game have changed thanks to the speed of the environment, and combo can no longer really afford to go all out combo because all out combo isn’t usually fast enough to cope with beatdown in this day and age.
Enter Silent Arbiter: a solid 1/5 body with an ability that buys combo decks their most precious resource – time. Since it’s colorless, it can be played in any combo strategy. Since it’s an artifact, beatdown decks will definitely have something to kill it. Ahh, but isn’t that the fun of this crazy game? I could be wrong on this guy, but I think he’ll find his way into decks that need to stave off the attack phase long enough to get nasty in the mid to late game. Hell, he might even make the cut for White control strategies but those decks have plenty of tools already.
Everyone is naturally excited about the new Powder Keg and I can hardly blame them. It’s not going to be as effective against Affinity as everyone thinks, but what it does do is give base Black and base Red decks a good way to deal with enchantments and artifacts (Black more so, here) in a flexible package, since it can always hit creatures, too. Setting this at one or two will take out quite a few Goblins and a good chunk of Affinity’s permanents as well. I think that it hits Goblins a little more squarely because Engineered Explosives will never touch a Frogmite, Myr Enforcer, or even Qumulox if it sees play. EE (cummings) will definitely wander into a few decks and more than a few sideboards.
Circle of Protection: Artifact
This actually won’t impact Ravager very much at all, but some noobs will undoubtedly sideboard it, thinking it a good choice. It’s not. Two mana to prevent damage from a single source against a fast deck with multiple threats… sounds like a death sentence to me.
Well, it’s come to this, has it? It doesn’t hit Myr Enforcer, but that’s about it. Is the mass artifact removal needed to”fix” the format? Is this the card that will allow Goblins to beat Ravager consistently? Isn’t this an awful lot of questions for a rather obviously powerful card geared to specifically hose one deck? Staaaaaaay tuned! [snore]
The only reason I include this outstanding card in the cards which impact Affinity category is because every Green deck is going to run Eternal Witness and every Green deck already runs Oxidize. Thanks to this kid, an early game Oxidize is going to mean two early game Oxidizes or more. That type of cheap removal recursion is going to be extremely problematic for Affinity.
Hey look folks, more artifact removal! Just what the doctor ordered! Actually this card is quite good and may be a better option than Naturalize, now that there are no enchantments to worry about removing… yet. Scry makes this card a winner; Shatter is now very jealous.
This is not a creature that a Goblin wants to look up and see coming at him. It’s a natural include for a Tooth and Nail maindeck or sideboard, as that deck has some difficulty with the men of the mountains. A 5/5 body and Pyroclasm rolled into one seems like it could cause a change in board position. No, it’s not Crater Hellion, but it’s close enough for government work.
Well, it’s definitely not Serrated Arrows. And there’s no Prison-style decks for it to go into, either. I actually don’t think this card is that great, but it may see some play as a sideboard card against aggro strategies if the five color green deck emerges. I can honestly say that the five-color Green deck is not the first deck on my mind when trying to break all these fun new cards. Not that Infused Arrows is fun at all. It may have a minor impact, so I thought I’d make note of it.
From what I can see, Wizards took good measure to make sure that the Affinity deck wouldn’t be as strong as it is now. It’s just a pity that we had to wait until now for some of these tools to show up. Neither deck gains very much from Fifth Dawn, with Grafted Wargear probably being the best overall card for each and Plunge into Darkness taking the crown for Goblin Bidding (which is already the hardest deck to squeeze cards into). On the flip side, there seem to be a ton of tools geared specifically toward combating the current top dogs, and these cards aren’t even inclusive of the entirely new decks and strategies that are bound to pop up that may have game against the recognized behemoths. We’ll soon find out, eh?
Wait, what about these fabled new decks and strategies?! Sit tight – I’ll be back on Monday with one to grow on.