I cut Part III short because the set was so big, and because I decided to go sit in Day 1 of our former president’s corruption trial. It was quite an experience to observe some of the top lawyers in the country in the same room, and see a former president reduced to someone paraded in front of the media before every trial session. I think the guy even had trouble smiling. I never saw him smile a single time, and I was seated about a meter to his right.
Incidentally, the technicalities we put up with in high-level Magic aren’t so different from those in a criminal prosecution, except the joke is that you get paid for stalling. (The local half-joke is that the defense wants to stall all the way to the next presidential elections, and hopefully elect a guy willing to give the former boss a pardon.)
Before wrapping up, I have to go back and make a couple of clarifications:
First, I said Rotting Giant might be the first Odyssey creature to playtest, along with Finkel. A comment from Matt D’Avanzo on Beyond Dominia reminded me of something, though:
Shadowmage Infiltrator, a.k.a. Finkel
Shadowmage Infiltrator can’t be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or black creatures. Whenever Shadowmage Infiltrator deals combat damage to a player, you may draw a card.
Creature — Snake
Whenever Ophidian attacks and isn’t blocked, you may draw a card. If you do, Ophidian deals no combat damage this turn.
Colors and price tag aside, take note that Ophidian operates differently, and you draw as long as it attacks and isn’t blocked. This is relevant against a few specific anti-creature cards such as Contagion and Maze of Ith.
Second, Randy Buehler and Mark Rosewater listed a number of Odyssey cards that helped form new Extended decks, some of which I mentioned in this review.
Am I right or wrong?
Just consider that Type I is very different from Extended, especially after the bannings in Extended. Take CMU’s Zombie Infestation deck and Your Move Games'”Benzo,” for example. I said Zombie Infestation might be fun in a casual reanimator, but these decks almost went all the way in Pro Tour New Orleans. Remember, though, that Survival of the Fittest has always been legal and unrestricted in Type I, and we haven’t heard much from reanimator players yet. In the face of Abyss, Balance and a few other things,”fat” in Type I generally means”Morphling,””Masticore,” or”whatever I draw after playing Mishra’s Workshop.”
But like I said in the Apocalypse review, something that won’t work in Type I might be gamebreaking in another format. You just have to know why.
Anyway, to recap my two rules:
- 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?
Part V: Odyssey Instants
The last part of my Apocalypse review was generally on the money, except for one card: Fire/Ice. I outlined how good it can be against weenies, especially with Merchant Scroll, but didn’t think I wanted it because I was more concerned with Phyrexian Negators backed by discard. It seems a lot of Beyond Dominia regulars disagree with me. For competitive play, I’ve always had Volcanic Islands in my Keeper for the Red Elemental Blasts, but some now claim that Fire/Ice made them add red back. The card is probably more flexible than it looks, and I also overlooked how weenie decks can use them for the mirror match.
Search your library for a card and put that card into your graveyard. Then shuffle your library.
Flavor Text: A grave is the safest place to store ill-gotten treasures.
Artist: Ron Spears
When I first saw the card text, I wished this were a cantrip to make it stronger. About the only place I could think of to stuff it in was a Pox deck with Nether Spirits to smooth a topdecked Pox with a Spirit in play and another in hand.
As I was doing this article, I saw:
Benzo, Rob Dougherty, Top 16, Pro Tour: New Orleans (Extended) November 2001
Combo engine (26)
4 Buried Alive
4 Zombie Infestation
3 Krovikan Horror
2 Squee, Goblin Nabob
3 Animate Dead
Combo cards (5)
1 Avatar of Woe
1 Crosis, the Purger
1 Verdant Force
1 Nether Spirit
4 Vampiric Tutor
1 Rishadan Port
3 Coffin Purge:
1 Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
1 Null Rod
1 Phyrexian Negator
So is the card broken?
I honestly think — for Type I — that it’s a marginal rare. For my purposes, it’s just a more balanced rehash of:
Survival of the Fittest
G, Discard a creature card: Search your library for a creature card, reveal that card to all players, and put it into your hand. Shuffle your library afterwards. (Banned in Extended in April 2001)
When Recurring Nightmare, Survival’s original partner, was banned in Type II, other cards stepped up to take its place. The Entomb and Buried Alive strategy isn’t a new idea, though the deck is. Survival-based decks, though, haven’t been big in Type I, and I haven’t had trouble playing control (or combo) against them. Not even other”fat” combos like Illusionary Mask/Phyrexian Dreadnought have been broken, though Mask is really counter-intuitive now.
Unlike Zombie Infestation, I’ll recommend Survival instead if you want a fun casual deck, unless you want a first-turn Entomb + Animate Dead via Dark Ritual.
As an additional cost to play Skeletal Scrying, remove X cards in your graveyard from the game. You draw X cards and you lose X life.
Artist: Bob Petillo
Again, the best cards in this set aren’t the rares.
This card should be reminding you of Necropotence, Necrologia and Stroke of Genius – and it’s not a dumbed-down rehash this time. Pay one mana, one life, and one used up card to draw a card? Not a bad deal, especially against an opponent that can’t attack your life total. And this is even better because you pick X; it’s fine if X=2 or 3 early, and a godsend when X=7 in midgame. Removing cards doesn’t affect you directly unless you draw a Yawgmoth’s Will, but you can still select what to remove. Finally, like Stroke, it’s splashable. (Unlike Stroke, it can’t kill a player, but it can’t be Misdirected.)
I haven’t tried it except in Sealed (and it’s strong there!) but this was one of the first things I discussed on Beyond Dominia. It was brought up on the Star City e-group days later, and John Ormerod e-mailed me asking if it had been tried in Keeper.
In control, it works like a Stroke of Genius early, and you have to be careful because you want to abuse Yawgmoth’s Will. It’s not so bad early, though, because you can remove things that won’t come back like Wastelanded land or counters. Later on, even if your life total is low, this combos with Zuran Orb and excess land.
In aggro, it’s more straightforward. If you checked out the PT New Orleans coverage, you must have seen various decks boarding this or Stroke of Genius against control.
I think the important question is how many to run. Playing conservative, I’d probably consider one first – though with Fact or Fiction, I can’t find anything to pull instead of this. It gets played earlier than Stroke of Genius, but so does Fact or Fiction. If, hypothetically, FoF gets restricted, then one or two might be a good replacement in various decks.
(And the Internet is really fun… as I finished typing this sentence, John Ormerod e-mailed his Extended list:
Finkula, John Ormerod (Extended)
4 Wall of Blossoms
4 Shadowmage Infiltrator
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Pernicious Deed
4 Force of Will
4 Land Grant
3 Bad River
4 Tropical Island
4 Underground Sea
1 Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author]
3 Circle of Protection Red
1 Ivory Mask
1 Tsabo’s Web
1 Enlightened Tutor
2 Skeletal Scrying
3 Emerald Charm
3 Marauding Knight
He clarifies that he puts it in against everything but weenie decks, not just control.)
Change the target of target spell with a single target unless that spell’s controller pays 2.
Flavor Text:”What’s the fun of being a wizard if you can’t mess with people’s heads?”
Artist: Christopher Moeller
I think enough people had a good first impression of this, but have trouble thinking where to put it.
The first idea is to compare it to Misdirection, Force Spike and Disrupt, then think it’s none of the above. It’s not Misdirection because later on, it only works at the tail end of counter wars. It’s not Force Spike because it’s useless against early weenies. It’s not Disrupt because it doesn’t cycle itself. But those are three good cards, so if it has something of each, it’s probably worth checking out.
The attractive thing about Divert is that you don’t have to pitch a card to Misdirect. The downside is that most Type I decks can have two open mana very quickly. Thus, you want to try this in a deck where you’d like to see Misdirection, but played early and aggressively.
Aggro decks don’t want Misdirection to begin with, and it doesn’t really counter a lot of things. It doesn’t touch Balance or Abyss, and doesn’t hit Fact or Fiction, either.
Control decks use Misdirection, but usually as extra Forces of Will during a counter war. They’re slower and are less able to exploit the opening Divert creates.
What we’re looking for is a deck that works quickly, but wants Divert to stall the opponent a bit and not to counter key spells. Aggro-control decks probably fit the bill, such as:
Jon Finkel, Baby Bluey, 2001 World Championships (Extended)
3 Veiled Serpent
4 Thieving Magpie
4 Force of Will
2 Force Spike
2 Rushing River
4 Powder Keg
4 Ancient Tomb
3 City of Traitors
3 Back to Basics
The Solution, Zvi Mowshowitz, 2001 Grand Prix Denver (Invasion Block)
4 Stormscape Apprentice
4 Meddling Mage
4 Spectral Lynx
4 Galina’s Knight
4 Voice of All
4 Lashknife Barrier
4 Caves of Koilos
4 Coastal Tower
1 Dromar’s Cavern
3 Pure Reflection
3 Unnatural Selection
2 Aura Blast
Observe how Zvi used Disrupt and how Finkel used Misdirection and Force Spike, because that’s how you want to milk Divert. For Type I, I’d think to try this in B.S.B. (the Britney Spears’ Boobs line of mono blue) or a U/W weenie deck like some of the experiments at revitalizing Zoo or using Meddling Mage.
Incidentally, this thing isn’t bad at all against black decks (Hymn to Tourach, Sinkhole; even Diabolic Edict).
Remove the top card of your library from the game. You may put that card into your hand unless it has the same name as another card removed this way. Repeat this process until you put a card into your hand or you remove two cards with the same name, whichever comes first.
Artist: Adam Rex
This may be mistaken for a junk rare, but in the way that Demonic Consultation was for a long time during Ice Age. (It’s now restricted.)
Ice Age uncommon
Name a card. Remove the top six cards of your library from the game, then reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal the named card. Put that card into your hand and remove all other cards revealed this way from the game.
For what isn’t often a noticeable side effect, this replaced itself instantly in your hand with an unrestricted card of your choice. Tainted Pact, though, can’t work like its overpowered cousin because you can’t afford to dig deep enough to find what you need but get nothing.
In other words, looked at as a tutor, this deal with the devil would be a flop.
But what it seems to be is a different kind of Impulse, something that replaces itself with the best card in the next few draws. Try it in something like a control deck with a number of restricted cards, and you’ll find that you can get something good without running into multiples if you don’t get too greedy. You can even remove one-ofs you don’t need like Moxen, Zuran Orb, and Dismantling Blow at no additional risk.
(You can set up the simple probability model yourself, okay?)
So far, though, I can’t even fit four Impulse into a control deck, so wouldn’t know what to do with Tainted Pact. It isn’t useless, though, and you just have to look for a deck where it fits. I remember trying Desperate Research (after opening a foil at the Prerelease and having nothing better to do with it) in a mono-black Pox after Demonic Consultation was restricted, and it wasn’t so bad. You find yourself topdecking very fast in Pox, and could use something to smooth draws with.
Of course, a redundant monocolored deck will have problems with the Pact due to all the basic lands, and replacing half with Snow-Covered versions won’t help that much. I doubt you want to bluff with unnecessary dual lands, either.
Flame Burst deals X damage to target creature or player, where X is 2 plus the number of Flame Burst cards in all graveyards.
Flavor Text: As hot as a dwarf’s rage.
Artist: Ron Spencer
This is a rehash:
Kindle deals to target creature or player damage equal to the number of cards named Kindle in all graveyards plus 2.
The original was useful enough in Type II as a Lightning Bolt substitute, but it falls just below the top slots in Type I. Kindle and Flame Burst only become better than Incinerate when you get to the third copy, and you may not be able to wait.
Same reasoning as Mind Burst, in other words.
Target creature gets +X/+X until end of turn, where X is 3 plus the number of Muscle Burst cards in all graveyards.
Flavor Text: As strong as a centaur’s will.
Artist: Gary Ruddell
This is another of the Bursts and it probably looks the most promising. Given the nature of the spell and the mortality of creatures in Type I, though, it looks like something headed for Stompy, if anywhere.
The first one is twice the cost as Giant Growth but it gets better with the second. Thing is, Stompy’s mana is tight enough as is, and I don’t think the bonus is worth the doubled cost, especially when you might not draw so many cards before the game ends with Stompy. Having only one or two lands in play isn’t uncommon, and you want a well-timed pump spell as often as possible.
Look at target player’s hand. Draw a card.
Flavor Text: Sometimes you have to read between the minds.
Artist: Adam Rex
This is a cantrip and it’s not a rare, but don’t get too excited. Guessing the contents of your opponent’s hand is a necessary skill of a good player, and it’s better to develop it than give up a few card slots.
Rites of Initiation
Discard any number of cards at random from your hand. Creatures you control get +1/+0 until end of turn for each card discarded this way.
Artist: Bradley Williams
Some people might think of this in a casual deck, especially in something with Wheel of Fortune, Windfall, or non-Power 9 card draw effect. Note it’s probably not worth the effort because a deck that gets enough creatures out to make this worthwhile probably won’t have much of a hand to discard, and red spells you discard to this will deal damage anyway.
Part VI: Odyssey Land
My Apocalypse review didn’t have a section like this, but it’s obvious that the second set of painlands was pretty good, and much better than the originals from Tempest. They made a few more decks viable like black with a white splash and blue with a red splash. The Odyssey lands look a bit trickier, though.
Tap: Add R to your mana pool. Barbarian Ring deals 1 damage to you. Threshold – R, Tap, Sacrifice Barbarian Ring: Barbarian Ring deals 2 damage to target creature or player. (Play this ability only if seven or more cards are in your graveyard.)
Artist: John Avon
This comes highly recommended in Type II because it seems to be an added Shock at no cost. Type I has cheaper spells – and if you goldfish a Sligh deck, you’ll find that, indeed, it doesn’t deal as much damage as you might think, even though it can’t be tapped without taking damage (colorless mana, etc.). It’s also an uncounterable, colorless Shock, and if used as a finisher, Fireblast easily gets to the threshold.
There are a few subtle points, however. Obviously, with four less Mountains, you’ll have to think about how many Fireblasts to use – and again, you can construct the probability model yourself. If playing mono-red, you also open yourself to nonbasic hosers and especially Wasteland, and the effect depends on your specific build. Finally, the added damage may hurt as much as the”three City of Brass opening hand” against another aggro deck, and you won’t get to use the Shock as creature control early on.
Do you put it in, then? It’s certainly okay when you goldfish, but you’ll need to do a bit more testing than that. Do me a favor and e-mail me what you find out.
1, Tap: Add UB to your mana pool.
Flavor Text: Murky Otarian tides hide the forgotten treacheries of the Phyrexian war.
Artist: Monte Michael Moore
This is a tricky one. You know it’s not better than the original dual lands and City of Brass, but you begin to wonder if it can replace additional lands you use after them. It’s not easy to use, since it only produces mana in twos, and in two specific colors. In a two-color deck, it’s just not worth it, especially after the Apocalypse painlands.
You begin to think if you want a splashed third color, though. It doesn’t seem worth it in Type I, where a lot of the best cards cost only 1 mana, and others cost BB or UU. At best, you have to put up with a bit more compared to the other five-color lands like Undiscovered Paradise, pain lands, and maybe even the lairs, and that bit is enough.
Maybe these didn’t have to be rares, though.
Tap: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool. 1, Tap: Untap target land.
Flavor Text: A monument to long-forgotten gods, it stands as a tribute to the fleeting nature of human ways.
Artist: Rob Alexander
Tap: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool. Tap, Sacrifice Petrified Field: Return target land card from your graveyard to your hand.
Artist: Glen Angus
The fact that these can interact with powerful Type I lands might make you want to overlook the headache of more colorless mana sources.
Don’t, because that’s precisely the problem. Type I is so fast that you are punished the most for early color screw, so count your colorless sources — even Moxen and Sol Ring — very carefully. You have to be very discriminating, and only the strongest colorless land make the cut, like Strip Mine and Library of Alexandria.
These two aren’t strong enough by themselves, and you’ll be able to wait for their partners to show up as often as you want to wait for a complete set of Antiquities Urza lands to show up. Sure, you might get to boost Library of Alexandria, Tolarian Academy, and Wastelands… But the weakness when these friends don’t show up is worse than the boost you get when they do.
You want land to be useful by itself, and that’s the same concept with Reflecting Pool.
Tap: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool. Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Tarnished Citadel deals 3 damage to you.
Artist: David Martin
A lot of players would love to have a fifth or sixth City of Brass, and the fact that this can painlessly produce colorless mana makes it worth considering. We compare it to the current”fifth” City of Brass:
Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. During the next untap step of Undiscovered Paradise’s controller, as that player untaps his or her permanents, he or she returns Undiscovered Paradise to its owner’s hand.
Certainly, three damage per hit can’t be brushed off when facing an aggro deck, and you may use this more than you think early on (counters, for example). There are also a number of situations when colored mana is tight, such as when you cast Yawgmoth’s Will or are holding mana open for counters and Red Elemental Blast.
Undiscovered Paradise’s drawback is quite annoying, but it still seems to be safer. Its drawback even interacts with a few cards such as Library of Alexandria, Masticore and pesky Back to Basics.
I might consider Tarnished Citadel in a place dominated by control or in a combo deck, though.
Well, that’s finally the end of this series. It’s exhausting, but I hope you enjoyed it. And, if I’m wrong on anything, do drop a line, and tell me which of my explanations was off.
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)
P.S. – Here’s something from this part of Asia. My former schoolmate from the Ateneo de Manila University, Harold Sy, won the first leg of the new local SM mall series with this:
4 Spectral Lynx
4 Shadowmage Infiltrator
1 Desolation Angel
1 Dromar, the Banisher
3 Dromar’s Charm
3 Wrath of God
Card Drawing (4)
4 Fact or Fiction
4 Coastal Tower
4 Salt Marsh
4 Adarkar Wastes
4 Underground River
1 Skycloud Expanse
2 Dromar’s Cavern
1 Teferi’s Response
1 Dismantling Blow
1 Sacred Ground
2 Wall of Air
Harold is a member of the veteran Team Arena, a team I enjoy watching because they play in personalized shirts sporting the art of the promo card Arena. This is a taste of the local tech, and his team godfather, Butch”Road Warrior” Maniego wants to emphasize that our tourney organizer, Felix Gonzales, broke Indentured Djinn all the way to the finals of last year’s Nationals before it showed up at Worlds.