Hello, dear readers, and welcome back to Multiplayer Madness here at MtG Casual Play!
Today, we’ll continue our review of Magic Origins with blue and black. The first part, if you’re interested, dealt with the mechanics of Magic Origins as well as a selection of white and green cards and can be found here.
Also, as is usual, what you’ll read here is only my own personal opinion. I talk about what I think is interesting, not necessarily about what everybody wants to read… 😉
That said, let’s not durdle around but jump right into it!
Alhammarret, High Arbiter – Whoa, information overkill! You’ll get to see everyone’s hands and also get around uncounterable stuff? Sounds cool! Just two small things: First, be aware that people do not like their cards known, so as the only person at the table whose hand is still a mystery, you might become a target. Second, if Alhammarret somehow leaves the battlefield and returns (for example through flickering), the card you chose initially will become playable again unless you choose the same one once more because the rules say that even though it’s the same physical Alhammarret, High Arbiter card, game-wise it’s NOT the one you cast before.
Calculated Dismissal – I’ve always had this weird affection for Complicate, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I kind of like Calculated Dismissal as well. Countering a spell and scrying 2 for three mana seems really good to me. Without spell mastery, it’s just a worse Mana Leak of course.
Clash of Wills – This has the option to be a hard counter for just two mana, only one of which has to be blue. That’s definitely good. However, it also requires that your opponent’s has no open mana to pay for Clash of Wills, and that’s not so good. If you really want to make sure that the spell gets countered, you might have to pump large amounts of mana into Clash of Wills yourself, and leaving a lot of mana open for a counterspell means that you cannot use it for something else. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad card. However, in most situations, a Mana Leak or the afore-listed Calculated Dismissal will be enough and won’t tax your own mana reserves as much.
Day’s Undoing – Wow. This seems like something inherently broken that could lead to extremely one-sided games. So far, though, I can’t think of anything but combining it with Waste Not so that everyone gets new cards you can then force them to discard. I’m certainly looking forward to watching people try to break it. Be that as it may, restocking every opponent’s hand is never a good idea in multiplayer Magic… Then again, it could well make a game that’s ground to a halt interesting again, so why not? In addition to that, it’s another tool in blue’s arsenal against opposing graveyards.
Disciple of the Ring – The more instants and sorceries you put into your deck, the better this girl becomes. But even if you have only three of them in your graveyard, this is already a strong place to be in because Disciple of the Ring is so flexible. She’s better in duels, yes, but people tend to focus on bigger creatures. A 3/4 for five mana doesn’t sound all that great, so she might get dismissed, especially if there aren’t many instants or sorceries in your graveyard. I’m definitely going to take her out for a spin.
Displacement Wave – How about screwing the token deck over for a measly two blue mana? Don’t get too excited though. The removal effect is only temporary and requires a lot of mana against anything that’s not tokens. And being a sorcery hurts it somewhat, too. Cyclonic Rift this is not.
Harbinger of the Tides – Bounce has always had a difficult position in multiplayer as usually long-term answers are the bread and butter. You just don’t want to deal with something only to see it coming back next turn. As if this weren’t bad enough, the harbinger can only bounce tapped creatures and thus really restricts his own usefulness. Sorry, pal, I’ll pass.
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy / Jace, Telepath Unbound – Ah, poor Jace. After the Mind Sculptor, the expectations regarding each new iteration of blue’s poster child have been insurmountable even if the respective cards weren’t all as bad as some people would think. That said, the newest Jace really isn’t all that great. As a creature, he’s a looter, plain and simple. Nothing spectacular but possibly useful, depending on your deck. Getting him to transform into a planeswalker doesn’t require much work and should be achieved quite easily especially during later stages of the game. As a planeswalker though, he has only one good ability, and that’s his -3. The +1 does basically nothing in a multiplayer match, and the ultimate is anything but game-winning. In my opinion, this is clearly the worst Jace we’ve ever had.
Jace’s Sanctum – Ooh, interesting. There seems to be a subtheme of “instants and sorceries matter” in Magic Origins, and considering how many spells can create creature tokens, you don’t even have to neglect your defenses if you build a creatureless deck. In such a deck, Jace’s Sanctum would clearly shine, making all your spells cheaper while providing a continuous flow of card selection as well. And don’t even think about putting it into a storm deck… I like it.
Mizzium Meddler – Izzet annoying or what? In all seriousness, one of the worst cards to play against has to be Spellskite, and this guy here can do similar things. Luckily, he can only do it once although this could be enough to potentially turn a game on its head.
Soulblade Djinn – Ha, prowess for all creatures you control? Blue is borrowing overrun effects from green, it seems. And on a medium-sized flier to boot. This djinn can bolster your defenses as well as help you punch through opposing armies; the more noncreature spells you cast, the better. What’s not to like?
Talent of the Telepath – As Bribery has been showing for years, playing with your opponents’ cards is fun! However, it certainly isn’t fun for your opponents, and playing against Bribery time and time again can feel very annoying if not downright oppressive. Talent of the Telepath circumvents all this by being a one-shot action. A creature stolen with Bribery stays on the battlefield to harass you turn after turn, but an instant or sorcery nabbed with Talent of the Telepath resolves once and is done. Also, there is the possibility of whiffing completely which makes this card so much more interesting. Of course, it all depends on the decks your opponents are playing because getting a Rampant Growth is clearly not what you’re aiming for…
Thopter Spy Network – Apparently, blue has entered into the realm of token production, and this enchantment does it really well. I can’t wait to slide it right into my “Sphinxes and Artifacts” deck where it will do a lot of work. Seriously, it provides two very important things – creatures and card draw, and I’ll question anyone’s sanity who plays an artifact deck and doesn’t include at least one copy of Thopter Spy Network.
Whirler Rogue – See, more blue token production.
Willbreaker – What the hell?! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first read that card because I thought the word ‘ability’ couldn’t be included in the rules text. But it is! It really is. Mrs Willbreaker, let me introduce you to your new best friends: Asceticism, Blood Rites, Keranos, God of Storms, Bow of Nylea, Shimmering Wings and Zephyr Charge, Narcissism, Opposition, Cauldron of Souls and Darksteel Garrison, just to name a few. The list of cards that synergize well with this evil girl is practically endless. Willbreaker is one of those cards that has to die as soon as it enters the battlefield or it will run away with the game.
Cruel Revival – Removal and recursion in a single card is nice to have, especially at instant speed. Five mana is a lot to keep open though if you want to surprise people with this. Gets better in formats with more mana, like Commander.
Dark Dabbling – Without spell mastery, it’s rather expensive but okay, I guess. With it, it can save your whole army from getting wiped out. Most mass removal spells nowadays leave regenerating creatures alone (Day of Judgment, Austere Command, Blasphemous Act, Chandra’s Ignition etc.), so this little common can really swing games around.
Dark Petition – One mana more for a Diabolic Tutor is really not where I want my tutors to be, but if spell mastery is active, you basically search for a card for just one single mana, and that is clearly powerful! However, you’re getting four black mana in return, meaning that you can probably go for a black card only in most situations. Still, this card has potential.
Demonic Pact – I admit that I find this one intriguing. However, unless you play bounce or sacrifice effects, Demonic Pact is not made for multiplayer as the advantages are not big enough and too different to make up for the evil “You lose the game.” clause. This is cool for duels, but with multiple opponents, the first three options normally won’t provide you wth enough clout to win the game.
Despoiler of Souls – Sorry, too weak for multiplayer as not being able to block is a real letdown.
Erebos’s Titan – Let’s be honest, this guy will almost never be indestructible in multiplayer. However, this is no reason to disregard him altogether. The titan is a 5/5 for four mana that can come back for more, and as such he’s definitely worth a few slots in your deck, don’t you think? If only his price tag weren’t so hefty…
Gilt-Leaf Winnower – Good card. The restriction of his ETB ability seems a little bit weird but makes it more interesting and challenging. I like it!
Graveblade Marauder – Creatures with deathtouch are always nice on defense, and the marauder is no exception. He comes down early and has a big butt as well so that your opponents will probably look for other players to attack. His triggered ability? Don’t get your hopes up too high because noone will fall for an obvious onboard trick like that. It might work once in a while but not very often. Unless you can make him unblockable. Oh, hello Whispersilk Cloak!
Infinite Obliteration – This is a fairly narrow card but let’s face it: We all have these one or two decks in our playgroup that focus so much on a single card that they’ll have problems winning if you take that card away. Now, if that card is a creature, I have some good news for you! In fact, Mr. Boom (one of the members of my playgroup) regularly brings out his Cloudpost deck that wins with artifacts, mainly Pentavus and proliferate effects. Let’s make it clear to Pentavus that it’s not welcome here anymore!
Kothophed, Soul Hoarder – Uh oh. This dude looks like a card drawing machine, people! So much so in fact that he’ll also be far too suicidal unless you’re playing a format with a greater life total (like Commander). Far too risky if you ask me.
Languish – A card that has been overperforming for me for years now is Infest. There’s just no shortage of small creatures in the early game that a sweeper for three mana wouldn’t be useful. Now, for only a single mana more, you’ll get the option to kill medium-sized monsters too, and that sounds really good to me. Of course this is no Damnation, but then, what is? And it also doesn’t cost you so much money. Give Languish a whirl – you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure that you’re also packing removal for bigger foes.
Liliana, Heretical Healer / Liliana, Defiant Necromancer – Transforming Liliana is ridiculously easy but bears its own risk. You see, her transform trigger is mandatory so you cannot choose whether to flip her or not. And there might be situations where you’d actually prefer a 2/3 lifelinker to a planeswalker. Luckily, whenever she transforms, she brings an undead buddy along, so in most cases it won’t make much of a difference. Liliana, Defiant Necromancer can help out by immediately returning a smallish creature as well. She can also make every player discard a card which is a powerful ability and should be implemented into your game plan if you’re using her. Her ultimate is just game winning after a few turns but takes a while until it gets there. All in all, the new Liliana is one of the better Origins planeswalkers for multiplayer.
Priest of the Blood Rite – Hm, it seems like a lot of people are excited about this guy, and I just don’t get why. Sure, seven power and toughness for five mana isn’t bad at all but the cost of two life per turn is rather steep. And because most players realize this as well, they start thinking about sacrificing the priest in order not to pay the penalty but keep the demon token. Well, congratulations, you just went through a lot of effort to basically cast a 5/5 flier for five mana. Awesome. No, dear readers, where this guy is good is as a part of either a recursion engine or with blink effects (Momentary Blink for the win!). There it can be powerhouse. Anywhere else, this guy may be good but not great.
Shadows of the Past – Phyrexian Arena this is not but it is a nice alternative if you can’t afford the other one. Also, with four or more creatures in your graveyard, Shadows of the Past may actually win the game for you. I’ll try it out for sure!
Tainted Remedy – Basically False Cure as an enchantment. Nice to keep those pesky lifegain decks in check but otherwise uninspiring. Then again, everything that can throw a monkey wrench into the plans of an Oloro, Ageless Ascetic deck is worth a closer look.
Thornbow Archer – I really don’t recommend this elf but consider that he might steal 8 life in total quite easily if you cast him on turn one. Just saying.
Tormented Thoughts – I’ve seen it in action before, and it almost completely destroyed a player by sacrificing a Wall of Razors and taking that player’s hand away on the third turn. A powerful tool that might ruin the fun for at least one player.
Touch of Moonglove – I love the artwork! And it’s surprise removal that also damages an opponent for a single mana? I guess we can’t complain here!
To Be Continued…
That was blue and black. Next time, we’ll have a look at red, gold, the artifacts and the lands of Magic Origins.
Until then, may you enjoy new cards as much as I do!