The Ferrett is back!
As you all know, I joined StarCityGames.com before all the current Type I Featured Writers, and it was Mr. Steinmetz himself who got me on board. I have to confess that I never played multiplayer, for example, because I didn’t have a lot of time between classes to wait for the big chaos games to run their course. But I’ve always enjoyed reading multiplayer articles, especially about how writers like Ferrett and Anthony Alongi would emphasize the new political angles.
I think the casual side is going to get even better with the extra addition. The first “new” casual article I clicked was Trevor Childs’ “Spikes CAN Play Multiplayer” and I was in no way disappointed.
Betraying Kamigawa, Instants
Again, our two rules for sizing up new cards:
1) Is the card more efficient than an established benchmark? (Or, do I get more bang from my buck?)
2) Does the card do something no past card ever did, and if it does, is this new card playable?
And, for the more general discussion, refer to “Shadow Prices” (see “Counting Shadow Prices“).
Last week, we moved to artifacts and enchantments. Today, we go to instants, and we roughly go back to Rule 1. Instants are more flexible, so they’re designed to have narrower effects. If you can find something that’s similar to something we already have but cheaper, then we have something to talk about.
Talking about Champions (see “Championing Kamigawa, Part IV“), I found no incentive to use Arcane instants such as Reach Through Mists and Peer Through Depths, and said that Gifts Ungiven shouldn’t be examined as a tutor but as a support or a graveyard setup card. I think we can start a better debate with Betrayers’ sparse selection.
Betrayers has been one of the most boring sets to review to date, but if you’re talking about Betrayers spells, you’re really only talking about Disrupting Shoal. Obviously, this will never be better than Force of Will. However, you have to ask: Can you make this work so it’s better than Misdirection?
Force, Mis-d, and Shoal all let you trade an extra Blue card for tempo (see “Counting Tempo, Part II“). Looking at Mis-d, you figure that Shoal can be better in that it can counter early permanents. There are a number of problems you have to overcome, however.
First, finding a Blue spell is tough in itself, and the benchmark has been at least sixteen Blue spells for four Forces. Adding four Shoals outright to this kind of deck is clearly not going to work. Thus, we write off all those multicolored control and aggro-control decks off the bat.
Second, matching the casting costs is a tall order, even in a mono-Blue deck. Shoal is probably useless against an opening Juggernaut, for example. This probably isn’t insurmountable if you decide you’ll be happy if Shoal counters only commonly-played one-, two- and three-mana spells. This isn’t so bad; the worst parts are not being able to Shoal a Force unless you have Morphling in hand, nor an opening Black Lotus.
What’s left after these two restrictions? Mono-Blue or lightly-splashed Blue-based control and aggro-control decks. That’s mono-Blue control and Oath and possibly Hulk Smash but probably not Control Slaver, plus Fish and some evolution of Growing ‘Tog, but probably not Eon Blue Apocalypse or Workshop-based Blue aggro-control. Again, this isn’t so bad, and these are mainly the decks that want Misdirection as Force of Will five and six.
Using Disrupting Shoal in Fish should be easy, given the number of one- and two-mana spells you can pitch. The problem is countering three-mana spells and up, but you can live with that since Misdirection doesn’t touch those, either, except for Force of Will. The same is likely true for something using the Growing ‘Tog skeleton, because of all the expendable cantrips.
The control decks have a problem on the other end, since they don’t have useful one-mana spells aside from Brainstorm, except possibly for Genju of the Falls (maybe Stifle?). Yes, mono-Blue just uses this to milk Chalice of the Void, but there are a number of one-drops you’d love to counter beginning with Goblin Welder and Dark Ritual. Rather than deoptimizing the mana curve, the options might be to stick with Chalice for 1, maindeck both Brainstorm and Genju of the Falls, or be happy with a Mis-d substitute against two- and three-mana spells.
Finally, note that Disrupting Shoal is more useful later on since you can still hard cast like Force of Will, unlike Mis-d which doesn’t counter a lot of things hard cast or not.
I think Disrupting Shoal is easy to dismiss as crap because it’s very far from Force of Will, but when you think about the restrictions and examine the areas these don’t apply, it could well be gold in a short list of Type I decks. Again, Foil saw Type I play once, so a free counter is still a free counter.
If we got a Force of Will analog, we also got a Contagion analog, and it’s not actually that bad. The problem is finding a deck that needs to kill creatures in particular without breaking stride (tempo, really) and has all those Black spells.
Of course, the other Shoals like the Scars of the Veteran analog and so on aren’t very interesting for Type I.
Stream of Consciousness
This is a mental note for combo players to remember that the effect is now in Blue. You might remember the original Dream Halls decks that had a pair of Gaea’s Blessings to go infinite with, for example.
Since people have began playing basic lands, I guess I should be happy to have a new Price of Progress that might scare the living daylights out of Deck Parfait die hards.
I’ll take Corpse Dance and Buyback over the ability to use dead legends as blockers, thank you.
This kills those big artifact bullies and has one of the more painless splice costs, but again, we just don’t seem to have enough useful cheap Arcane stuff.
Beginner’s lesson. Quash is a fun card, and I had fun goofing off with the original versions by catching the Mana Drains of a player with only eight counters. But what Quash does is make you pay two extra mana to remove all other copies of the spell you just countered. This sounds good, but two extra mana may well be two million in opening Type I turns. Removing those other copies will help you in the long run, but the game might not come down to that. Specifically, you might lose before hitting the late game because you couldn’t cast Quash during Turn 2.
See the discussion on Cranial Extraction (“Championing Kamigwa, Part III“) for the unabridged edition.
Betraying Kamigawa: Sorceries
When we review sorceries, it’s a bit like reviewing artifacts and enchantments because you often look at some new effect you can’t just compare to an old benchmark. Champions of Kamigawa had a few interesting picks, but I was mainly on the money because Cranial Extraction and Glimpse of Nature haven’t proven as useful as they might have initially seemed.
Sadly, with Betrayers still focused on creatures and legends, there really isn’t much for me to say about the sorceries. If anything should interest Type I players, it would probably be Sway of the Stars since it can set up its own infinite combos. However, it’s not worth the effort since once you have ten mana, you can set up anything.
Other than that, I should just comment that Uproot costs only one mana less than Plow Under but has half the effect. Fallow Earth was that broken, I guess.
Betraying Kamigawa: Land
Finally, we go to land, which can get interesting since you’re gauging the way something fits into a mana base or something completely new. Reviewing Champions (see “Championing Kamigawa, Part II“), I was right that Boseiju, Who Shelters All was more trouble than it was worth. However, I was off with Forbidden Orchard. I was right in that the kind of fast combo I had in mind didn’t work. However, Meandeck showed us a slower, controlling combo worked. I think the discussion of Oath’s limitations in control still applies, though.
Tendo Ice Bridge
This is not an improved Gemstone Mine. You will need to get colored mana from a multiland more than once.
Genju of the Falls
This isn’t a bad kill card if you have the matching basic lands, but it is slower than classic win conditions and worse at doing other things like blocking. The low mana cost isn’t as important because it’s a dead card early, though it is easier to slip through counters. If you’re using Disrupting Shoal, it does become important so you can counter one-drops reliably.
Shoal is perhaps the best reason to use Genju of the Falls. Otherwise, the ability to trade your Islands for your opponent’s removal cards doesn’t make it better than the classic options.
Well, that wraps up my Betrayers discussion, and I’m very interested in seeing how Disrupting Shoal turns out. If I get to turn something in next week, I’m bored with set reviews and might go back to basics with some projects I started during the Christmas break.
‘Til next week! I hope!
Oscar Tan (e-mail: Rakso at StarCityGames.com)
rakso on #BDChat on EFNet
Team Paragons of Vintage, still open for franchise
University of the Philippines, College of Law
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