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Tapping Out

*SIGH* I feel obligated to say it. I mean, you’re going to hear it a ba-jillion times, anyway – so what does one more hurt? . Now I can counter a spell in STYLE! On to more important topics. You want to have some fun? Make the word “mise” a part of your regular conversations….

*SIGH*

I feel obligated to say it. I mean, you’re going to hear it a ba-jillion times, anyway – so what does one more hurt?

Foil Foil.

Now I can counter a spell in STYLE!

On to more important topics.

You want to have some fun? Make the word “mise” a part of your regular conversations.

With regular, non-Magic people. That’s right. Next time you go to lunch with, say, your hip boss at the local Chinese restaurant, and there’s one egg roll left say:

“Do you want that egg roll?”
Boss:“No.”
(Grabbing it)“Mise!”

or

“Excuse me, Miss, did you drop this dollar?”
“No.”
(Grabbing it) “Mise!”

Ever notice how much grabbing is involved in mising?

Another fun game: see how many of your non-Magic related friends you can get to add “mise” to their vocabularies. They don’t want to – but it’s addictive. My score: 3.

Prophecy. Prophecy has something I love – intricacy. It ain’t the best set ever, but it is cool. Some of the card interaction is downright beautiful.

I love Chimeric Idol. Not only is it a playable, solid beatdown creature, but it is very elegant. It’s basically an artifact creature, since it has a 0-mana activation cost. So, a 3/3 for 3 is pretty good, for artifact creatures. Remember, at one point they removed Triskelion because it was undercosted for an artifact creature.

BUT. By activating Chimeric Idol, you are basically stating that the jig is up. After you turn the big turtle on (wow. That doesn’t sound especially appealing), you’re tapped out. You aren’t allowed any surprises. Sure, you can float some mana before activating it, but really. That’s not a surprise.

“I’ll tap this ONE SINGLE FOREST to add ONE SINGLE GREEN MANA to my mana pool, then activate the Idol. What’s that? An Air Elemental? They reprinted that? Whatever. I guess I’ll attack.”

I wonder what HE’S holding…

My answer is: “no blocks. Should I take three or six?”

He gets a sad look on his face, expecting me to be as dumb as I look, and mutters “I cast Giant Growth. Take six.”

As usual, you get your power. A cheap 3/3 that evades global destruction is never a bad thing. But, you have to trade something for it. In the case of Chimeric Idol, it’s your access to mana for the rest of the turn. If you’re willing to make the trade, there’s a lot to be gained.

There’s a lot to be lost, too. First off, this constraint practically takes Chimeric Idol out of any sort of control blue, which obviously cannot afford to be tapping out for three damage, even with all of its free counterspells. You probably won’t be activating any Rishadan Ports with the Idol out. Green also has a hard time committing to the Idol, as most of its tricks happen during the combat phase. As the above example demonstrates, you can’t exactly bluff when you have to tap for mana six months beforehand. Plus, green got that guy, Silt Crawler, which is, in many ways, a much better, similar card for aggressive green strategies.

The cool thing about Chimeric Idol is how it and similar cards interact within the set. If you decide to attack your green-playing opponent with an Idol (or two), you leave yourself open to unfavorable blocking situations that might have been avoided, if you’d had some mana lying around. Say you have two Idols in play and a Shock in hand. Your opponent has a Wild Dogs and a Pouncing Jaguar. Sensing the advantage, your activate the Idols and attack. Your opponent may do one of two things:

Block, using Giant Growth-type spells to create advantageous blocks.
Return fire, with similar results.

Additionally, imagine the situation with Rhystic cards involved. By using the Idols to attack, you leave yourself wide open to a Wild Might, which could wreck you. Or, watch as Rhystic Bargain decks smile, knowing that’s one less Syphon they’ll have to cast. Therefore, Chimeric Idol really only belongs in one deck: red.

Ah red. Remember when you got to use those Mountain cards? Wasn’t that fun?

Yeah. It can go in other decks too. But, it’s going to shine in red.

Looking at Prophecy, I think it’s fairly obvious that the state of your land (tapped or untapped) is the central theme of the expansion. A lot of the cards revolve around it. Some give a player advantages for tapping out, like Chimeric Idol and Silt Crawler. Others, like Rhystic Tutor and Excise, penalize a player for tapping out, by giving a player a huge advantage.

I mean Rhystic Tutor, come on! If your opponent taps out, you get to tutor. Not some cheesy tutor, either – you get to tutor. Really, really tutor.

If your opponent taps out.

This is a huge strategic implication. Rhystic spells basically come printed with the words “any player may pay 1/2/3 to counter this spell.” However, if the spells are not countered, they do fairly amazing things. So, do you hold back? Do you waste time and mana? Or, do you tap out? Do you dare?

What is the right answer? This is something you should have to think about on every turn. But.

The problem is that there are only about a dozen or so “rhystic” cards. And there probably won’t be any more, since Prophecy is the final expansion in the block. So, this huge strategic implication is basically relegated to a small subset of cards that provide a couple of significant threats, but do not alter the overall metagame.

I say boo!

The more I mull this mechanic over (mmm!), the more it becomes apparent to me that it is something I *really* want to see as a permanent part of Magic. It doesn’t have to be overly powerful, but it does add another layer to the game. If “rhystic-ness” were a more integral part of the game, the severe beatdown and combo decks, which are enemies of skill and strategy related games, would suffer, as every turn they tapped out, I’d get to do something much more powerful than I should be able to do.

I like the idea of Stompy biting its nails over whether to cast another monster, or hold back to defend against a card that says something like “unless a player pays 2, all creatures are destroyed and cannot regenerate.”

take care.

Omeed Dariani.
Omeed@starcitygames.com
Eic – www.starcitygames.com
Contributing Editor, Scrye Magazine

“Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot”

-Should have been the flavor text on Rhystic Tutor.