The holiday never really clicked in this part of Asia, though, except maybe for the kids in a few posh residential areas. Instead, we celebrate November 1 — All Souls’ Day — which is a permanent two-day national holiday for trooping to the cemeteries. So while you’re trick or treating, some of us were are burning incense in front of graves.
Speaking of tricks and treats, I’d like to call out Andrew Johnson of Team CMU for being a sport. After our “Spoof AndyJ” day (which included Part I of this article), we had a lively chat on #mtgwacky about how there were no hard feelings on that series of jokes. (I’m still not naming an article”My Fires” anytime soon, though.)
And speaking of spoofs, somewhere in the same conversation, Brian Kibler logged on and we pointed him to the Kibler Suck Netdeck. After we cleared up that we didn’t say he sucked, he followed the link and got a good laugh:
<Kibler> (A.k.a.,”The Dragons Theme Deck, Splashing Angels And Vampires ‘Cause It’s Cool” Deck*)
<Kibler> As played by Brian Kibler, at PT: Strange And Mystical Island Where Only Good Looking, Dreamboaty Guys Play Magic
<Kibler> that amused me
Star City must have wonderful karma, and I’m glad Zvi hasn’t gone after me for all the blue jokes.
Anyway, it’s certainly tough reviewing the first (larger) set in a block! Today, we get down to sorceries, leaving instants and land for an unexpected Part IV.
Again, my original two rules are:
Is the card more efficient than an established benchmark? (Or, do I get more bang from my buck?)
- Does the card do something no past card ever did, and if it does, is this new card playable?
#1 was for the creatures, #2 was for artifacts and enchantments, and I suppose sorceries get both.
Part IV: Sorceries
I think my Apocalypse review was pretty much on the mark. Vindicate is solid but not broken, as the forecast went, and is seeing limited use in some black/white decks. No one’s taken up my suggestion to try Gerrard’s Verdict in W/b yet, though.
Target player puts the top half of his or her library, rounded down, into his or her graveyard.
Flavor Text: Dreads had half a mind to leave.
Artist: Greg Staples
Remove all cards in target player’s graveyard other than basic land cards from the game. Search that player’s library for all cards with the same name as cards removed this way, and remove them from the game. Then that player shuffles his or her library.
Artist: Arnie Swekel
Going into the sorceries, the above two-card combo is the most overrated of the lot. Sure, it’s probably a two-card kill, but: 1) so is Illusions of Grandeur + Donate, but both are blue and the combo costs three less mana; and 2) Morphling is a one-card kill that costs half the mana.
Traumatize alone doesn’t do anything. Sure, putting half his library into the graveyard looks flashy, but it doesn’t affect the board or the hand. It’s like an overcosted Vision Charm – a one-shot I wouldn’t really want even in a casual Millstone deck.
Haunting Echoes can cripple an opponent if timed right, especially if it catches key unrestricted control cards like Force of Will, Mana Drain and Fact or Fiction. Of course, you have to compare it to all the other potentially crippling cards you might draw instead. Take note that Echoes is less effective against redundant aggro decks and doesn’t deal with cards in hand or on the board.
It’s fun for sadistic decks based around Lobotomy, of course, but I wouldn’t bother with it in more competitive play. If you do use it, don’t remove the dual lands in your opponent’s graveyard unless you somehow caught a copy of everything. You can”search” that player’s library but not”find” all the land in there, mana flooding the opponent and adding insult to injury.
Search target player’s library for a card, and remove that card from the game. Then that player shuffles his or her library.
Flavor Text: To say Nixar had a splitting headache would be a bit of an understatement.
Artist: Matt Cavatto
This twist on the Lobotomy flavor is another sexy-looking card, but I think it’s another junk rare.
Sure, it can kill a Type I control deck that has only a Morphling to win. Sure, it can kill an Extended Oath deck that has only a Morphling, too.
Or does it?
Sure, this is far easier to slip through than Jester’s Cap, but even Cap doesn’t always kill Type I control with thrice the power. As for Extract, the Type I deck usually has two Morphlings now – or an equivalent like a Masticore, or the Mishra’s Factory Neutral Ground twist, or the slow kill with a Gorilla Shaman, or can take control of the game and set up a game-ending Stroke of Genius thirty turns later. Likewise, the Oath deck should have a Spike hidden somewhere, and has the backup decking win.
So Extract isn’t as effective as it looks against control. It’s also a wasted card against non-control decks, which is like giving aggro a free turn against you. Is it sideboard material, then? You’d have to use three or four to make it work, and this eats up sideboard space for a mediocre card that can be used against one deck – and you should have more flexible or powerful anti-control cards like Back to Basics, Flash Counter or Blue Elemental Blast anyway.
And finally, this card makes you look really dumb if the opponent had the Morphling in hand.
Each player chooses a number of permanents he or she controls equal to the number of permanents controlled by the player who controls the fewest, then sacrifices the rest. Each player discards cards from his or her hand the same way.
Artist: Scott M. Fischer
This is the third rehash of one of Magic’s most powerful cards:
Except for the player who controls the fewest lands, each player sacrifices lands until all players control the same number of lands as the player who controls the fewest. Players do the same for creatures and discard cards from their hands the same way.
At the beginning of your upkeep, for each artifact target player controls in excess of the number you control, choose an artifact he or she controls. Repeat this process for creatures and lands. The chosen permanents phase out.
Each player chooses from the permanents he or she controls an artifact, a creature, an enchantment, and a land, then sacrifices the rest.
The original has the most sarcastic card name in Magic, because its effect is rarely balanced. Before its restriction, it created its own deck type.
The second rehash, thanks to Empyreal Armor, created its own tourney-winning Type II variant of White Weenie.
The first rehash was the least successful, but also created its own deck type,”Sandsipoise” with Sands of Time to prevent permanents from phasing back in.
Notice a trend?
Well, Balancing Act ended it, and it’s another junk rare.
The key difference is that Balancing Act doesn’t sweep the board of creatures. That’s the most important part of Balance clones, since weenies are what you need to remove en masse early on. Balancing Act, at best, kills a couple of excess land.
Unlike even Sandsipoise, it’s very hard to”cheat” Balancing Act by using an unaffected permanent type (like mana artifacts). Maybe you can find a deck that can win after it clears away every permanent on the board, but even if it doesn’t involve a five-card combo, you’d think recreating Turbo-Obliterate in Type I would work better.
Search your library for a card, and put that card into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
Flavor Text: The best ideas often come from the worst minds.
Artist: Rick Farrell
See Balancing Act… this is another bad rehash:
Search your library for a card and put that card into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
See, chief, common sense tells us that the tutor shouldn’t cost more than the card you want.
If Demonic Tutor is the sexy designer item, Diabolic Tutor is the rip-off with two unequal sleeves, and its only saving grace is that it’s not a rare (though it’s actually more playable than the other junk rares in a set that makes”junk rare” sound like an oxymoron).
Return all permanents to their owners’ hands.
Flavor Text: The calm comes after the storm.
Artist: Kev Walker
I have no idea what to do with this, either – since like Balancing Act, it’s hard to think up an effective deck that wins by removing everything in play. Doing Mox tricks like the Hurkyl’s Recall decks of old is too ineffective for a six-mana sorcery. Doing a degenerate combo like Mox-Mox-Mox-Mox-Mox-Lotus-Sol Ring–Tolarian Academy tells you to build a real deck with those cards. Every possible trick (like Fastbond) just seems to balk at the six-mana sorcery and tells you to just get it over with.
Seriously, Wash Out against permanent-heavy decks like Parfait is probably the closest mass bounce comes to being played competitively.
If you’re really bored, maybe you can reconstruct a Mirage-era all-phasing Teferi’s Veil deck, but cut the red and replace Apocalypse or Jokulhaups with Upheaval. Or maybe some kind of Parallax trick.
Feel free to send me the cutest ideas. If I don’t acknowledge you in the next and final installment, I promise to forward everything to Alongi’s”Break this card” contest.
Destroy target nonbasic land unless its controller has Lava Blister deal 6 damage to him or her.
Flavor Text: To treat flesh wounds, use earth. To treat earth wounds, use flesh. -Barbarian saying
Artist: Rob Alexander
Now this is something we can work with: A red Sinkhole. (And it’s not even rare!)
Of course, when we take another look, it begs the question: Where is a red Sinkhole good?
The obvious idea is for giving controllish Sligh builds a Ponza-style twist, or doubling the number of Wastelands that stall the arrival of The Abyss and let Pups get in a few more points of damage. This isn’t necessarily a bad strategy, but it isn’t for every red deck. Plus, it is much worse against mono blue control, and is hosed by Circle of Protection: Red for the five-color builds. Finally, it competes with staples such as Dwarven Miner and Blood Moon. Pillage also gives some competition because it kills Islands, Masticore, and Powder Keg.
It’s certainly solid, but I’m just saying it’s not for everyone.
Target sorcery card in your graveyard gains flashback until end of turn. Its flashback cost is equal to its mana cost. (Mana cost includes color.) Flashback 3R (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)
Artist: Dave Dorman
In case you didn’t notice, this looks like a red Regrowth… until you count the number of playable sorceries in Type I — even the nonred ones.
Destroy target artifact, target creature, target enchantment, and target land.
Flavor Text:”Anyone can admire creation. Only a barbarian sees the beauty in demolition.” -Kamahl, pit fighter
Artist: Alex Horley
This doesn’t look like (yet another) junk rare (with cheesy flavor text that’s a far cry from the poetry in older sets like Legends)… Until you realize it can only be cast if one of each of the four permanent types is in play.
Why couldn’t this have been worded more like Hull Breach? The land and artifact (Moxen and Sol Ring) aren’t always problems in Type I, but decks that have enchantments rarely have creatures out until they are about to win, and decks with creatures rarely have enchantments out.
Each player sacrifices a creature.
Flavor Text: Zombies mourn for the living and celebrate those who will soon be given the gift of death.
Artist: Carl Critchlow
I’m positive I saw some beginners on the MTGNews Type I forum tout this as the new anti-Morphling tech. I have no idea where this notion came from, since the last word was printed before Morphling, and works when you both have Morphs out and need to break the standoff:
Target player sacrifices a creature.
The only possible advantage is that Edict is hit by Misdirection and Ivory Mask, but come on!
Draw two cards, then discard two cards from your hand.
Flavor Text: Books are like crops-they must be thinned for best yield.
Artist: Scott M. Fischer
I just have to clarify what every control player already knows: This is not a new Impulse.
You use up 1 mana and 1 card (-1 card) to draw two cards (+2 cards) and discard two (-2 cards), which is a net loss of one card (-1 + 2 – 2).
In one word: Bad.
It doesn’t look like it’s going to be useful in a graveyard-based deck like Pande-Burst, either, with already solid options like Intuition, Attunement and Bazaar of Baghdad.
Target player discards X cards from his or her hand, where X is one plus the number of Mind Burst cards in all graveyards.
Flavor Text: As haunting as a zombie’s curse.
Artist: Marc Fishman
Another clarification: This sucks.
The beginner will argue that this can make a guy discard four cards for only two mana. Of course, he won’t notice that this happens by… turn 20?
Discard spells lose a lot of their punch after turn 2 or 3, and the first one is extremely weak. It’s not even good as extra discard, since Duress and Hymn to Tourach are effective enough for most decks (with other strong effects like Pox and Bottomless Pit providing more when needed in various decks), and Mind Burst isn’t even a random discard.
Discard any number of cards from your hand. Target player reveals his or her hand, then you choose a nonland card from it for each card discarded this way. That player discards those cards.
Artist: Bradley Williams
This looks a lot better in Limited, but it’s actually an improvement over an older card:
As an additional cost to play Abandon Hope, discard X cards from your hand. Look at target opponent’s hand and choose X cards from it. That player discards those cards.
Abandon Hope didn’t see play, and you lose out by one card on the deal. The lower mana cost may make this worth tinkering with in decks with Land Tax (White Weenie), multiple Squees (some Pande-Burst builds) or casual reanimator decks. Maybe.
Return target creature card from your graveyard to play.
Flavor Text:”The first birth celebrates life. The second birth mocks it.” -Mystic elder
Artist: Mark Romanoski
It’s no Recurring Nightmare – but it’s a solid, splashable non-rare that can find a place in a more casual reanimator deck. For a bit more mana, you do away with the vulnerability of Animate Dead and Necromancy against Disenchant and Tranquility effects.
Target player sacrifices a land. Threshold – All players sacrifice all lands instead. (You have threshold if seven or more cards are in your graveyard.)
Flavor Text: Sometimes destruction is Dominaria’s way of rebuilding. Sometimes it’s not.
Artist: Anthony S. Waters
Threshold isn’t that easy to reach, and this is no exception… But some ‘Geddon diehards may want to experiment with something nonwhite (though what’s wrong with Land Tax?). If anything, it might be fun surprising someone with this, and I had a friend named Jan Yang who did that with Impending Disaster back when RecSur was the rage in Type II.
Is Armageddon in Type II, by the way?
Volley of Boulders
Volley of Boulders deals 6 damage divided as you choose among any number of target creatures and/or players. Flashback RRRRRR
Artist: Tony Szczudlo
Ho-hum…Why not try:
The Dark uncommon
Inferno deals 6 damage to each creature and each player.
Destroy target artifact or land.
Flavor Text:”Pound the steel until it fits. Doesn’t work? Bash to bits.” -Dwarven forging song
Artist: Gary Ruddell
Ho-hum… A rehash of…
Destroy target artifact or land. It can’t be regenerated.
Seize the Day
Untap target creature. After this phase, there is an additional combat phase followed by an additional main phase. Flashback 2R
Artist: Greg Staples
Ho-hum… A really bad rehash of…
Untap all creatures that attacked this turn. After this phase, there is an additional combat phase followed by an additional main phase.
(Okay, enough with the rehashes already. But this rehash is much weaker that you’d rather play an extra creature instead – much more than the original. It doesn’t even have the entertaining flavor text.)
Target player takes two extra turns after this one.
Flavor Text: There’s lots of time like the present.
Artist: Paolo Parente
How many times have I said that junk rares are at least supposed to look playable? Maybe if they unrestricted Dream Halls (please don’t!), this and Denying Wind would look useful to players older than eight…
At least they could’ve given it Flashback: UUUUUUUUUU to make it look a bit better…
Hint of Insanity
Target player reveals his or her hand. That player discards from it all nonland cards with the same name as another card in his or her hand.
Flavor Text:”Practice makes perfect, but obsession makes better.”
Artist: Luca Zontini
I’ve said that this set’s rares gives junk rares a bad name. I’ve seen Battle of Wits. I’ve seen Time Stretch.
The only insanity here is from R&D.
I mean… What excuse do they have for this? It’s obviously not a top pick for Limited, right? It’s also at the bottom of the barrel for Constructed. It’s a rare that isn’t complex or powerful enough to be a rare.
And it’s a rehash of an entire theme from the Mirage Block (a dozen expansions back?) that was far more exciting in the original version. Shrines… yuck!
Bazaar of Wonders
When Bazaar of Wonders comes into play, remove all cards in all graveyards from the game. Whenever a spell is played, counter it if a card with the same name is in play or in a graveyard.
Eye of Singularity
When Eye of Singularity comes into play, destroy each permanent with the same name as another permanent, except for basic lands. They can’t be regenerated. Whenever a permanent other than a basic land comes into play, destroy all other permanents with that name. They can’t be regenerated.
Well… Check out the next installment for the conclusion of this less than exciting review of a large but less than exciting set. I haven’t checked out the novel, but I hope they at least get the story going this time. If you’ve checked out the Legend of the Five Rings novels, they’re far better than the wuss-filled storyline we Magic players have been following…
Oh yeah… ElGato, the forum moderator of MTGNews, wants to say he’s still looking for a game since the last installment. Maybe after this article is finished, he can actually catch me for an Apprentice match…
rakso on #BDChat on Newnet
Type I, Extended and Casual Maintainer, Beyond Dominia
Featured writer, Star City Games (http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/archive.php?Article=Oscar Tan)
Proud member of the Casual Player’s Alliance (http://www.casualplayers.org)