Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #222 – Oh Gawd, Not Again

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Friday, April 18th – MTGO is dark. Work has gone so late I couldn’t make drafts on Wednesday or Friday. I haven’t brewed up any decks at all this week – and formats are on hold pending the arrival of Shadowmoor in any case. That means it’s time to reopen my current favorite topics: Green sux, casual versus competitive, and the goodies from Shadowmoor…

MTGO is dark. Work has gone so late I couldn’t make drafts on Wednesday or Friday. I haven’t brewed up any decks at all this week — and formats are on hold pending the arrival of Shadowmoor in any case. That means it’s time to reopen my current favorite topics: Green sux, casual versus competitive, and the goodies from Shadowmoor…

I mean, what’s a writer to do? The obvious / standard answer is to talk about Shadowmoor. I hate being obvious. The alternative is to rehash classic debates, like Green sux and casual versus competitive. I like being different. I also can’t resist doing some first impressions of Shadowmoor, so I’ll mix the two.

Classic Debate #1: Green Sux / Wizards Overpowers Blue

I’ve talked about this many times before, and I see the problem as one of flavor. To massively condense something I spent many thousands of words laying out in detail: Wizards sees Blue as “clever.” Wizards sees Green as “natural.” That means Blue can get any cool mechanic, and Green can get anything that seems natural for, say, an African Elephant.

Cool stuff includes flying, unblockability, countering stuff, drawing cards, shroud, milling, stealing cards, wearing spiffy sunglasses and so on. Elephantitis means being big and fat — and slow. Elephants are about trampling things and knocking down trees — and not flying at all.

Green also includes sharing with others and fetching lands, which isn’t really at all elephant like. That just shows that, while all analogies are imperfect, even Green’s analogies aren’t very good.

Blue’s analogies, on the other hand, are amazing. Always.

In the past, I have done in depth analyses on what Blue and Green get in new sets (e.g. Lorwyn.) I’m not doing that here. I’ll just do a quick and dirty review of the rares spoiled so far. I’m rating them on a scale of 1-5, and I tend to view the cards with an eye toward Constructed, and — to a limited extent — multiplayer. Here’s the scale.

1) Total reject: Hypergenesis is a fine example.

2) Bad card! Bad! No cookie for you.

3) Sure, whatever. Nice card, nothing much to say.

4) Good card, should be playable in most newer formats.

5) Bomb, ranging up to “Sheesh, Wizards f**ked up again.”

Let’s look at the rares.


Cerebral Bore – 3UU, Instant
Counter target spell. Search its controller’s graveyard, hand, and library for all cards with the same name as that spell and remove them from the game. That player then shuffles his or her library.

Rating: 2. This is a 5 mana counterspell. It may see play from the sideboard in certain decks, the way Overwhelming Intellect did, but only in special cases. Sure, the Counter + Extirpate effect is powerful, but situational. This will join the ranks of Spelljack, Suffocating Blast and a host of other overpriced, underperforming cards.

Isleback Spawn – 5UU – Creature — Kraken…(what more needs to be said — It’s a overpriced Kraken — but Craig says I should include the text for all the cards, or none. When I read an article, I like having the text for easy reference, especially for bad cards I had previously dismissed, then forgotten about.)
Shroud. Isleback Spawn gets +4/+8 if there are there are twenty or fewer cards in the library of any player.

Rating: 2, and I’m being generous. It’s the new incarnation of Tidal Kraken, but without unblockability. About 3 mana too expensive to ever see play.

Knacksaw Clique – 3U – Creature – Faerie Rogue
Flying. {1}{U}, {Q}: Target opponent removes the top card of his or her library from the game. Until end of turn, you may play that card.

Rating: 4. Should be very strong in the Faerie mirror match. It also has a fat butt.

Mischief of the Phooka – 3U – Enchantment
At the beginning of your upkeep you may exchange control of a target nonland permanent you control and target nonland permanent an opponent controls with converted mana cost equal to or less than your permanent.

Rating: 2. You could build some sort of weird casual deck around this, plus Mark of Eviction or something, but it seems really flaky. You need to have this in play, plus Mark, plus an expensive creature you can cast each turn, along with Mark of Eviction.

River Kelpie – 3UU – Creature – Beast
Whenever River Kelpie or another permanent is put into play from a graveyard, draw a card. Whenever a card is played from a graveyard, draw a card. Persist

Rating: 2. This looks like some sort of strange Dredge hoser, but if it is, it is too slow and does too little. Beyond that, I don’t see that many decks that actually play cards from the graveyard, making this a 3/3 with persist for five mana. Not exciting.

Now that I’ve said that, someone will break this in two.

Savor the Moment – 1UU – Sorcery
Take an extra turn after this one. Skip the untap step of that turn.

Rating 3: In effect, this reads “Draw a card, put one extra land into play.” That is not a bad effect. Some decks might want that effect, to get a leg up on the opponent. Maybe. It certainly seems like a fine play on turn 3 in Limited. In Constructed, you could try to build some sort of combo around vigilance, but that seems like too much work for too little reward.

Thought Reflection – 4UUU – Enchantment
If you would draw a card, draw two cards instead.

Rating: 2. Wizards is scared of making this sort of effect too good, and the effect is very powerful, so it’s a serious concern. However, Wizards is safe here. Thought Reflection is too expensive to cast. It is not as bad as Heightened Awareness, but it is not as good as Future Sight, and Future Sight (the enchantment, not the set) did not see much serious play outside of 5color.

Average rating for true Blue rares: 2.4


Dramatic Entrance – 3GG – Instant
You may put a green creature card from your hand into play.

Rating 2: Back in the day, when blue decks would tap out at end of turn for Fact or Fiction, this might have been worthwhile. Probably not, and certainly not now. Scout’s Warning is a cantrip, and it has never seen play. The first problem is that you need the creature in hand to make it work. The second problem – with this at least – is that the creature needs to cost a lot of mana to be worth investing five mana and an extra card to get it into play. This leads you into the trap of playing bad cards (like Titanic Bulvox) to make a card like this good. If you really need a creature that can avoid counters or has flash, just play Quagnoth or Cloudthresher. Or, better yet, play Faeries.

Mana Reflection – 4GG – Enchantment
If you tap a permanent for mana, it produces twice as much of that mana instead.

Rating: 2. Great effect, but unplayable because of the cost. Of course, that won’t prevent me from building some stupid casual combo around this (e.g. a basic land with Fertile Ground, Earthcraft and Knackered Clique), but the result will be of casual interest only.

Mossbridge Troll – 5GG -Creature – Troll
If Mossbridge Troll would be destroyed, regenerate it.
Tap any number of untapped creatures you control other than Mossbridge Troll with total power 10 or greater: Mossbridge Troll gets +20/+20 until end of turn.

Rating: 2. It does not fly. It can be chumped forever with Bitterblossom tokens. It dies to Terror. It is probably a bomb in Limited — that depends on the speed of the format and the common removal available. For Constructed, this costs far too much for far too little.

Prismatic Omen – 1G – Enchantment
Lands you control are every basic land type in addition to their other type.

I won’t rate this. I previewed this card somewhere else, and part of writing previews is hyping yourself on how good the card is. That makes me biased.

Spawnwrithe – 2G – Creature – Elemental
Trample. Whenever Spawnwrithe deals combat damage to a player, put a token into play that’s a copy of Spawnwrithe.

Rating: 3. If this had evasion, it could good. (Trample, on a 2/2, is not evasion.) As is, it is marginal. It punishes people who cannot block. That’s also true of Thieving Magpie and Grizzly Bear, and neither of those is Constructed playable.

Witherscale Wurm – 4GG – Creature – Wurm
Whenever Witherscale Wurm blocks or becomes blocked by a creature, that creature gains wither until end of turn. When Witherscale Wurm deals damage to a player, remove all -1/-1 counters from it.

Rating 2: See Mossbridge Troll. Same reasoning.

Woodfall Primus – 5GGG – Creature – Treefolk Shaman
Trample. When Woodfall Primus comes into play, destroy target noncreature permanent. Persist.

Rating: 3. Maybe it’s my casual / multiplayer background, but I have always rated Creeping Mold effects quite highly. I really want to give this a 4, but the mana cost is so far from affordable. This costs two more than Angel of Despair, and two more than Desert Twister. A mana cost of nine actually argues for a rating of 2, but I’ll stick at three. The fact that you could get two hits from this helps.

Average rating for purely Green cards: 2.3

Blue Hybrids:

Augury Adept – 1{wu}{wu} -Creature – Kithkin Wizard
Whenever Augury Adept deals combat damage to a player, reveal the top card of your library and put that card into your hand. You gain life equal to its converted mana cost.

Rating: 3. This is a bit better than Spawnwrithe. It is also a non-evasive 2/2 that must connect with a player to gain any benefit, but the benefit is better. I could see equipping this with Whispersilk Cloak or Griffin Guide, but I cannot see the point to doing that with Spawnie.

Enchanted Evening – 3{uw}{uw} – Enchantment
All permanents are enchantments in addition to their other types.

Rating: 2. This is flirting with a one, but I can see some marginal / casual decks built around this, plus some reusable or one sided enchantment destruction. Not good decks, mind you, but it is not completely unplayable.

Godhead of Awe – {WU}{WU}{WU}{WU}{WU} – Creature – Spirit Avatar
Flying. Other creatures are 1/1.

Rating 3: This is useful, since it is a 4/4 flier for five mana, but it is not Humility on a flying beatstick. The critical part of Humility that is missing is the “loses all abilities” clause. Without that, this is just Air Elemental combined with that old enchantment that made all creatures attacking you deal just one damage each. (I can’t remember the name. The enchantment was a core part of a deck called Gaea’s Trash, but I can’t find a decklist.) Whatever. Fair card, marginal effect.

Mirrorweave – 2{wu}{wu} – Instant
Each other creature becomes a copy of target nonlegendary creature until end of turn.

Rating: 3. The effect can be good, as we have learned from Mirror Entity.

Swans of Bryn Argoll – 2{wu}{wu} – Creature – Bird Spirit

Flying. If a source would deal damage to Swans of Bryn Argoll, prevent that damage. The source’s controller draws cards equal to the damage prevented this way.

Rating 4: This is a great flier just based on its stats, but it is broken by the ability. Patrick Chapin has already written about one combo. There are others. It might be worth a 5.

Thistledown Liege – 1{uw}{uw}{uw} – Creature – Kithkin Knight

Flash. Other white creatures you control get +1/+1. Other blue creatures you control get +1/+1

Rating 3: Probably nuts in Limited. Might be another / better Wizened Cenn in Constructed.

Worldpurge – 4{wu}{wu}{wu}{wu} – Sorcery
Return all permanents to their owners’ hands. Each player chooses up to seven cards in his or her hand, then shuffles the rest into his or her library. Empty each player’s mana pool

Rating: 2. They fixed Upheaval. Nifty. This makes the card an overpriced Evacuation. Evacuation sees almost no play, and this wrecks your mana too. Any deck that can play a 7 mana card does not want to bounce all its own lands — not if it cannot play a Psychatog immediately afterwards. It’s not a one, however — I could almost see a white weenie deck playing this, with the intention of resetting if it gets stalled.

Dire Undercurrents – 3{ub}{ub} – Enchantment

Whenever a blue creature comes into play under your control, you may have target player draw a card. Whenever a black creature comes into play under your control, you may have target player discard a card.

Rating 3: Probably great in Limited, but this is too expensive for most Constructed uses. However, a 2 rating became a 3 because this combos so nicely with Bitterblossom.

Ghastlord of Fugue – {bu}{bu}{bu}{bu}{bu} -Creature – Spirit Avatar

Ghastlord of Fugue is unblockable. Whenever Ghastlord of Fugue deals combat damage to a player, that player reveals his or her hand. Choose a card from it. That player removes that card from the game.

Rating: 4. Again, should be nuts in Limited, and really solid in Constructed — provided it a) actually makes it into play and b) the opponent has no removal. Still, the fact that it costs just 5 mana, the difficulty of removing a Black 4/4 and the fact that it’s unblockable mean this is better than a three. It would be a fine finisher, if not for the fact that these colors have a far better one for just one more mana.

Glen Elendra Liege – 1{ub}{ub}{ub} – Creature – Faerie Knight

Flying. Other blue creatures you control get +1/+1. Other black creatures you control get +1/+1.

Rating: 3. Nice creature. I don’t know if Faeries really need this, but it is certainly not bad. I could even argue for a 4, except that the next creature so completely outclasses everything else that it drives the other cards down.

Oona, Queen of the Fae – 3{bu}{bu}{bu} – Legendary Creature – Faerie Wizard
Flying. {X}{ub}: Choose a color. Target opponent removes the top X cards of his or her library from the game. For each card of the chosen color removed this way, put a 1/1 blue and black Faerie Rogue creature token with flying into play.

Rating: 5. Complete bomb. Not only does this fly and make tokens, its token making / milling ability does not even require tapping. It is insane as a creature, but I want to hook it up to an infinite mana engine, just to be completely ridiculous. (Actually, that sort of ridiculousness is important in multiplayer, where you had better be able to win — or at least hold off everyone — because you will instantly become public enemy # 1 the turn you drop this.)

Sygg, River Cutthroat – {ub}{ub}- Legendary Creature – Merfolk Rogue
At end of turn, if an opponent has lost 3 or more life this turn, you may draw a card. (Damage causes loss of life.)

Rating: 3. Card drawing is always good, although the fact that this is end-of-turn and situational keeps black Sygg from being more than a 3. (Remember, 3 is playable, not great.)

Average rating of Blue hybrids: 3.2

Green Hybrids:

Tattermunge Liege – 1{gr}{gr}{gr} – Creature – Goblin Knight

Trample. Other red creatures you control get +1/+1. Other green creatures you control get +1/+1.

Rating: 3. It’s akin to Sygg and Thistledown Liege. Trample on a 3/4 is so-so, but it is a goblin, so it has its uses.

Deus of Calamity – {rg}{rg}{rg}{rg}{rg} Creature – Spirit Avatar
Trample. Whenever Deus of Calamity deals 6 or more damage to an opponent, destroy target land that player controls.

Rating: 3. It is a 6/6 trampler for 5 mana with an ability that might be useful in rare cases, so it is not quite a 2, but it is too expensive for a card that does not win the game on its own.

Rosheen Meanderer – 3{rg} – Legendary Creature – Giant Shaman
{T}: Add {4} to your mana pool. Spend this mana only on costs that contain {X}.

Rating: 3. It is a 4/4 for 4 mana, which is decent, but the ability is so marginal and the format has so many other potent but non evasive creatures that I can’t get excited about this. Sure, it might be possible to build an aggressive deck that beats, then wins with a big Hurricane, but I’m not betting on that.

Vexing Shusher – {rg}{rg} – Creature – Goblin Shaman
Vexing Shusher can’t be countered by spells or abilities. {rg}: Target spell can’t be countered by spells or abilities.

Rating: 5. Green gets a bomb.* It is a goblin. It stops most permission. It is just fine.

* Maybe I should say Red gets a bomb, and Wizards is letting Green share, since sharing is Green’s thing.

Fracturing Gust – 2{wg}{wg}{wg} – Instant
Destroy all artifacts and enchantments. You gain 2 life for each permanent destroyed this way.

Rating: 2. I have played Seeds of Innocence, but only in multiplayer. The fact that this is an instant almost saves it, but it is still five mana.

Oracle of Nectars – 2{gw} – Creature – Elf Cleric
{X}, {T}: You gain X life.

Rating: 2. This is the sort of thing that bugs me about the whole green / blue thing. Oracle of Nectars costs half of what Oona costs. However, for three more mana, Oona flies, gets 150% better stats, and does not need to tap to use its X effect. The Oracle’s X effect is marginal. Oona’s X effect has two halves, and either half is far better than this. Either half of Oona would still be better than life gain, even if either half required tapping and Oracle’s did not.

Oracle of Nectars would be a fine common. Wellwisher, Mark II┢

Oversoul of Dusk – {wg}{wg}{wg}{wg}{wg} – Creature – Spirit Avatar
Protection from blue, from black, and from red.

Rating: 2. This reminds me a lot of Sabertooth Nishoba. “Old Swordfang” saw zero Constructed play, and it had trample. This will move directly from draft deck to trash rare binder.

Rhys the Redeemed – {GW} – Legendary Creature – Elf Warrior
{2}{gw}, {T}: Put a 1/1 green and white Elf Warrior creature token into play. {4}{gw}{gw}, {T}: For each creature token you control, put a token into play that’s a copy of that creature.

Rating: 3, and that’s generous. The abilities are nice, but not amazing. Imperious Perfect is better in most cases, and Rhys’ “double your tokens” effect is almost always going to be either useless or a wins-more effect. It’s not bad, and I might have given it a 4 if it had decent stats and the activation costs f the abilities were 2 less on both sides.

Sun-and-Moon Wheel – {gw}{gw} – Enchantment – Aura
Enchant player. If a card would be put into enchanted player’s graveyard from anywhere, reveal that card and put it on the bottom of that player’s library instead.

Rating: 2. It is yet another Dredge hoser, in case Tormod’s Crypt, Extirpate and Leyline of the Void really aren’t enough. No, with Ichorid rotating out, they are. This could also enable some weird combo built around infinite mana and Whetstone (which can mill everyone in a multiplayer game) but Gaea’s Blessing is better in that deck.

Wilt-Leaf Liege – 1{gw}{gw}{gw} – Creature – Elf Knight
Other green creatures you control get +1/+1. Other white creatures you control get +1/+1. If a spell or ability an opponent controls causes you to discard Wilt-Leaf Liege, put it into play instead of putting it into your graveyard.

Rating: 3. See Sygg, et. al.

Average rating for Green hybrids: 2.7


Average rating of all Blue cards: 2.9

Average rating of all Green cards: 2.7

Number of total bombs in Blue: 1

Number of total bombs in Green: 1

See — proof positive: Wizards loves Blue and hates Green.

I would insert [/jk] here, but it’s too late. The people who needed to see it are already off to rant in the forums. The one conclusion I think we can make is that this sort of drive-by set review is a lot of fun. I also expect that Pro Tour: Hollywood will be interesting.

The Casual versus Competitive Debate.

You know, I think I’ll skip that this week. I doubt anyone really wants to hear it — again. (If I’m wrong, sound off in the forums.)


Once upon a time, “One Million Words” on MTGO, back before the Coming of the Great Darkness.