I can’t say that the Prerelease was memorable. It was my first time playing real life Magic in a year thanks to law school, and I was getting rusty. I had to read the cards in a rush, and the guy who registered my deck got it all wrong, so I wasted even more time clearing that up.
Before the deck swap, I opened the most beautiful blue/white Sealed Deck I’d ever seen, complete with multiple bounce up to the blue dreams and lacking only Iridescent Angel. After the deck swap, I was holding a few green fatties and a few blue flyers. My only bombs were Chainflinger (with pathetic red creatures) and Possessed Centaur (with very weak black), and my only trick was Dematerialize.
Ugh, beatdown… After weeks of writing about control!
To add insult to injury, the first two guys I played had wonderful blue/white decks with white 1/4s for my fatties and bigger flyers for my flyers. In the very first game, I conceded to a turn 7 Iridescent Angel!
I had a few memorable stack tricks with Skywing Aven, Arrogant Wurm, and Wild Mongrel, though, and the looks on my opponents’ faces were wonderful. Still, I found out at the end of the tourney that DCI didn’t ship enough Prerelease cards to the country, so I wrote the day off.
To add insult to injury, my friend Kerwin from the last column went up to me and said he went undefeated in his pod. On his way to the Top 8, he went up to me and asked what drafting was.
I hope you still remember our rules for gauging new cards (mine, not Rizzo’s):
- 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?
Tormented by Torment creatures
Nantuko Shade gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
Flavor text:”If the Nantuko only knew what awaits them beyond death, they would abandon all they hold dear.”-Cabal Patriarch
In the past reviews, we said that we look at Rule #1 for creatures, because we just want beatdown power for the lowest cost. Nantuko Shade, without a doubt, is better than one of the most venerable black staples: the pump knight.
Order of the Ebon Hand
Fallen Empires common
Protection from White. BB: Order of the Ebon Hand gets +1/+0 until end of turn. B: Order of the Ebon Hand gains first strike until end of turn.
It would’ve been nuts if it caught Necropotence, and protection from white isn’t as relevant since white weenie is weak in Type I.
Is it too good to be true?
It almost looks like it. I even asked John Ormerod, always a good guy to hit up about deckbuilding, and he said,”Clearly great in Block Constructed and T2, probably no use in 1.X, might be okay in T1.”
Holy crap, what a recommendation!
I did try it, and a couple of games where I got color screwed playing”The Deck,” NetherVoid’s Shades wiped the floor with me. The second was ironic because I had to chump block with Morphling since it couldn’t block or race a 7/6! (Other games, though, showed that Abyss > Nantuko Shade.)
The caveat, though, is that it’s still a 2/1 during the early game where you have to cast the rest of your hand with the mana. When I tried it in Suicide Black, I kept wanting a one-drop like Carnophage instead because it competed with Hymn to Tourach and Sinkhole in the two-slot, but didn’t have enough power in the early game to race Abyss.
(Suicide Black is the fastest of the mono black builds. It’s basically weenies and Phyrexian Negator backed by discard and Sinkholes. Note that it plays differently from Butter Knives, something that looks like Suicide but splashes colors for power and sideboard cards, and from NetherVoid, which is more of control.)
Matt D’Avanzo, writer of the NetherVoid primer, said it best:”In Suicide, you’ll cast him and often never have the mana to pump him because you’ll be casting tons of other stuff. I’d rather have a Reaver or additional disruption at the two slot than a Shade, since on turn 3 I’m dropping Negator or Hyppie.
“In Void, he’ll cost less than Negator under Void, can be played pre-Void against Sligh, and makes use of all that extra mana you often have with nothing to do with it under the Void lock.
“I’m sure he’s okay in Suicide, but I’d much prefer other things.”
So although this is a solid card, it’s better in slower decks where it has more time to use its ability. In the more aggressive Suicide builds that have to race control to the punch, it can’t compete with the earlier power of things like Flesh Reaver, Skittering Skirge and even Rotting Giant.
When you use Shade, remember the old school trick of letting each pump resolve before announcing the next. If you pump all your mana at once, an opponent can respond with a Bolt or Fire, killing the creature in response to all those activations.
Whenever Carrion Rats attacks or blocks, any player may remove a card in his or her graveyard from the game. If a player does, Carrion Rats deals no combat damage this turn.
Flavor Text:”Just what I need-more competition.”-Cabal grave robber
Since the dawn of Magic, Black’s been wanting a two-power one-drop, and its existing picks are extremely painful:
When Sarcomancy comes into play, put a 2/2 black Zombie creature token into play. At the beginning of your upkeep, if there are no Zombies in play, Sarcomancy deals 1 damage to you.
Unfortunately, this isn’t it.
I know some people are going to try it, especially those who’ve been creamed by a gigantic Yawgmoth’s Will. Thing is, it’s in the worst possible color. You make him discard and let him use those discarded cards to buy time.
Yawgmoth’s Will? No problem; he can use the breathing room to get it right with his spells the first time around.
R, Tap: Remove two cards in your graveyard from the game: Grim Lavamancer deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
Flavor Text:”Fools dig for water, corpses, or gold. The earth’s real treasure is far deeper.”
I was on the money when I pooh-poohed the bunch of red creatures in Odyssey, but this new one is one of the most hyped red creatures since Balduvian Horde in Ice Age.
Its biggest problem is that it has tough competition. It isn’t better than Jackal Pup and Goblin Cadets (and maybe even Goblin Patrol) because these are the 2/1s at the core of the Sligh strike force. It can’t replace the Gorilla Shaman or Goblin Vandals slots that come after the 2/1s, too, because the ability is indispensable to Type I Sligh.
Another criticism is that it’s just an overrated Cursed Scroll that dies easily. I disagree, and prefer to think of it as an additional creature that works like Kris Mage, Fireslinger, or Granger Guildmage. It has limited activations, though, so it’s not a steady source of direct damage, and the ability is best saved for blockers or to finish.
Lavamancer might also be compared to the venerable Mogg Fanatic, but the goblin is only stronger in matches where the summoning sickness is important, like the mirror. Lavamancer looks more flexible in others; for example, it gets off a parting shot against Abyss.
Lavamancer is solid, but the staple offense creatures have to be in the deck already before you think about it, much like Mother of Runes in White Weenie.
Note that the ability requires timing, since you just normally attack with this early, like Fireslinger. Also be alert for timing possibilities, like killing a Mishra’s Factory in response to it pumping itself. The activation cost also affects Scrolling until you get to five mana.
This one brings back memories, though:
Some people still enjoy this now obsolete weenie in casual play, and because of the resemblance, you’ll probably ask which is better.
Flanking and a Bolt kills a 4/4 blocker, but first strike takes down a 5/5. I’d still take Lancer, though, because flanking kills regenerators like River Boa, first strikers like pump knights, and protection creatures like Mother of Runes and Mystic Crusader. Besides, unless you hate Swords so much, why go pick up a rare meant for Type II?
1G: Basking Rootwalla gets +2/+2 until end of turn. Play this ability only once each turn. Madness: 0 (You may play this card for its madness cost at the time you discard it from your hand.)
I forgot about Squee in my Odyssey review, so I’m keeping a more open mind for Torment discard effects.
Thing is, I still have no idea how to use these two, however cute I find them. The first thing that entered both John Ormerod and my mind was to break out Survival of the Fittest. Thing is, it’s not easy to imagine how to make instant-speed warm bodies useful in decks of utility creatures. For fun, I made a blue/green Survival with instant-speed 4/4 walls or beatdown, but I doubt it can be refined to be better than Oath.
The key is to find effects with discard that are already good on their own, and I’m not sure how Madness interacts with the more common ones like Bazaar of Baghdad, Attunement and Masticore. Zombie Infestation looks like one of the cheapest and more flexible possibilities.
I don’t really have a concrete concept, but I’m keeping an open mind for this colorful mechanic. Just note that instant creatures in themselves never dominated old formats.
Seton’s Scout may block as though it had flying. Threshold-Seton’s Scout gets +2/+2. (You have threshold as long as seven or more cards are in your graveyard.)
Type I is funny because few people believe green has the best creatures, and definitely not the best weenies.
This is a solid enough bear, but is it better than the rest? It doesn’t look like a Stompy pick because that’d use River Boa, Blurred Mongoose or maybe Spectral Bears if it wanted two-slots, and won’t usually hit threshold. Some guys like Matt D’Avanzo on Beyond Dominia and Pat Chapin have also been toying with threshold aggro-control (or Type I Miracle Gro), and Matt protests because Werebear doesn’t get Bolted.
Still, this has decent power early, and gets a free boost later. A few BD players have been trying blue/green aggro-control and haven’t been satisfied by warm bodies like Gaea’s Skyfolk, so this centaur may beat the numbers crunch and find a place somewhere.
Attacking doesn’t cause Reborn Hero to tap. Threshold-When Reborn Hero is put into a graveyard from play, you may pay WW. If you do, return Reborn Hero to play under your control. (You have threshold if seven or more cards are in your graveyard.)
This looks cute, but is probably too slow to add anything to White Weenie. Even with Land Tax tricks to hit threshold, you still have to hold two extra mana or risk it getting killed. Too bad, since it’d shut down Abyss against control. Maybe in Type II or Odyssey Block.
I find it cute because it reminds me of an old (and now obsolete) favorite:
Reborn Hero looks like it’d be more at home in a casual control deck than in a weenie deck. If you ever wished Nether-Go were blue/white instead of blue/black, now’s your chance.
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a shred counter on Cephalid Vandal. Then put the top card of your library into your graveyard for each shred counter on Cephalid Vandal.
Threshold in Limited aside, this reminds me of an old, obscure gem:
Phasing. When Ertai’s Familiar leaves play, put the top three cards of your library into your graveyard. U: Until your next upkeep, Ertai’s Familiar can’t phase out.
Balthor the Stout
All Barbarians get +1/+1. R: Target Barbarian gets +1/0 until end of turn.
Flavor Text:”I like to think of him as concentrated barbarian.”-Kamahl, pit fighter
A new”lord” to build a funny theme deck around.
Unlike more popular races, though, Magic only had ten Barbarians before Torment. You had Balduvian Horde from Alliances and the vanilla 3/2 Balduvian Barbarians from Ice Age (plus Balduvian War-Makers and Barbarian Guides), the faux Ball Lightning Keldon Champion from Urza’s Destiny, Invasion bears Shivan Zombie and Yavimaya Barbarian, and Kamahl and friends (Barbarian Lunatic and Halberdier) from Odyssey.
Oh, and Pillaging Horde from Portal.
Send something in if you come up with it. Don’t forget the Barbarian Rings.
Llawan, Cephalid Empress
When Llawan, Cephalid Empress comes into play, return all blue creatures your opponents control to their owners’ hands. Your opponents can’t play blue creature spells.
Look, this is obviously not the last word in Morphling control, but if by chance any of your fantasies come true – just one game – I want to hear about it.
Tormented by Torment creature enhancements
I didn’t see anything powerful (or at least cute) in Torment, but I was surprised I missed this gem in Odyssey. I don’t know how I did, but I missed the Odyssey prerelease since I had my Constitutional Law final exam, and I think my spoiler was missing a few entries.
Anyway, from a guy who enjoyed Blood Lust combat tricks many years back, the haste sets this apart from its predecessors. The ideal play is Turn 1 Jackal Pup, turn 2 Goblin Cadets + Reckless Charge. You get five damage instead of three from the first Charge, and can flashback turn 3 if you still have an opening. That’s fourteen damage, with eight coming from Charge, and you still have the rest of your hand to mop up with.
The caveat, though, is that this is a sorcery and is ineffective when your opponent has weenie blockers to trade with you. It’s cute against control decks that have just a handful of spot removal that may not catch Charge, especially a turn 1 or 2 Charge (and it makes a creature a useful topdeck against Abyss), and sick against mono blue decks that rely on Powder Keg. Just don’t forget it’s lousy against other weenie decks.
The nature of the card demands a little change in the deck structure, though, and you want at least fifteen one-drops. You also don’t want to drop too much burn for Charge, or you lose flexibility. This was the very rough test deck I used for this article:
4 Jackal Pup
4 Goblin Cadet
4 Grim Lavamancer
3 Goblin Vandals
4 Reckless Charge
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Chain Lightning
3 Cursed Scroll
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Ruby
1 Strip Mine
I don’t know how strong it is compared to the”traditional build” and in different environments, but I can vouch that the look on your opponent’s face is priceless the first time he gets a turn 2 Charge in his face.
Well, that’s all for this week. You know the drill, so start taking another look at the Torment enchantments and artifacts for next week.
Oh, and as usual, don’t get disheartened if we don’t get much from the creatures. R&D got wise to broken creatures several sets back…
rakso on #BDChat on Newnet
Type I, Extended and Casual Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (http://www.bdominia.com/discus/messages/9/9.shtml)
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)