Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spoiler Alert: New Phyrexia Part 1

Well folks, it's that time of the season yet again.  I know I skipped the first wave of spoilers this time, so I'm going to tackle the first set along with the most recent announcements for a total of 44 cards from the up-and coming set.  Let's get things started, shall we?

Karn Liberated

Planeswalker- Karn

+4: Target player exiles a card from their hand

-3: Exile target permanent

-14: Set aside all non-Aura permanents exiled by Karn, then restart the game.  Then, put all cards set aside in this way onto the battlefield under your control.

Oh sweet damn, they've done it.  The cool thing about Karn is that expensive although he may be, this guy DOES protect himself quite well, which usually makes the difference between a good planeswalker and a bad one.  Basically, I can see him in two different kinds of decks- the first being turbofog, and the plan is to stall out the game indefinitely, then play Karn and use him to exile either opponent's threats, or if you have one in hand, a second Karn.  Upon restarting the game, you now actually have win conditions and your opponent won't be able to stick anything in play thanks to a turn zero Karn.

The second deck I could see this guy in is the resurgence we've been seeing of Eldrazi Ramp.  He's easily castable and vindicates just like Ulamog, only he can do it twice.  The ability to exile an eldrazi and start a new game with Emrakul in play is cute, and admittedly I'd love to see it happen, but I doubt it'll be easy to build a deck around.  Only time will tell.

Ooh, now this is interesting.  I hope that brown weenie is finally viable, the only real 'metalcraft' deck we've seen do well has been K-Red.  This card is also a potential late pick removal spell in limited, so keep an eye out for that during your drafts in a few weeks.

I've talked a bit about Elesh Norn already, but for the sake of completion (compleation?) I feel the need to bring her up again.  After this set releases, the odds are good that I'll be building G/W ramp with planeswalkers, Avenger and Elesh, who goes well with both the Avenger of Zendikar and Elspeth/Garruk's token generation.  In the current metagame, however, there really isn't a home for her.  Sticking her against boros or similar decks basically means that they can never stick a creature for the rest of the game (or at least until they get a journey), but what deck in white gets to seven mana without needing another answer to the rush of Boros?  The same can be said for K-Red, she's great to cast after you've dropped your Day of Judgment already but if you haven't gotten one by the time you have the mana for elesh then you should be dead already.  Those decks don't have much of a late-game plan at all, so being able to land Elesh is usually irrelevant.  You'd be better off using the slot for another Day of Judgment or Gideon Jura or Sun Titan or even Phyrexian Rebirth.  There may be a niche for her, and as I said, I might have already found it, but for now she's a pretty much useless card.  I say you might as well trade 'em off while you can and argue that 'they're good in EDH' or some such malarkey.  The won't hold any value whatsoever for long.

Norn's Annex


({PW} can be paid with either W or 2 life)

Creatures can't attack you or planeswalkers you control unless that player pays {PW} for each attacking creature.

Alright, so first of all, in case you haven't heard, Phyrexian mana.  Remember a few years back when they printed mana symbols that could be paid for with either one mana of that color or two mana of any color?  Yeah, it's that, but paying two life.  So for example, when casting Norn's Annex, a player may pay three colorless and WW, three colorless, W and 2 life, or 3 colorless and 4 life.  No matter what that player chooses, the spell's converted mana cost is 5, and the spell is still white.

As for the card itself, I really don't care for it.  Most aggro decks don't care about their own life total, especially when they're beating down a control deck who just tapped down on turns 3-5 for a Lightmine Field that pings players instead of their creatures.  The thing is that this card gives a player a choice, and any time you give your opponent options they'll pick the one that's best for them.  If you want direct damage, there's cards for that.  If you want to stop attacking creatures, there's cards for that too.  Your deck will want one over the other, and this card doesn't help you out.  And sure, this card goes in any deck, but you know what?  So does Ratchet Bomb.  I'd rather not pay four life against an aggro deck that has more life than me for a card that lets them pay life to do the same or more damage back to me.

The one use I can see for this card is a fog loop with Gideon Jura and lots of contagions, but when your entire strategy is based around your opponent not having access to white mana, it seems like a bad choice.

Phyrexian Unlife


You don't lose the game for having 0 or less life.

As long as your life total is 0 or less, sources that deal damage to you have infect.

So it's three mana for gaining ten life, AND that life can't be used to pay phyrexian mana costs (can't pay life you don't have), AND it's useless in multiples, AND you lose to cards like Acidic Slime that are seeing increased amounts of play.  I see no reason why you wouldn't rather have a source of lifegain in the slot for your deck.

Puresteel Paladin

Creature- Human Knight

Whenever an equipment enters the battlefield under your control, you may draw a card.

Metalcraft- as long as you control 3 or more artifacts, equipment you control have Equip 0.

It appears that a new enchantress is born, and he's not even an enchantress at all.  Suddenly, cards like Flayer Husk and Accorder's Shield make much more sense to me.  I can't wait for the plains double memnite mox opal Puresteel Paladin play, followed by a playset of Accorder's Shields hitting the table in a row and giving you that T1 2/14 with Vigilance.

In all seriousness though, there's gonna be some decks built around this guy, and expect Stoneforge Mystic to see even more play.

Look familiar?  These guys were handed out as promos on Game Day for affiliated decks... so pretty much nobody has them.  Yeah...

Anyways, there was some speculation that Soul Sisters will make a comeback, but I doubt that very much.  If the priest had a cost of W, or even 1 and {PW} then I could see Suture Priest making some 75s.  As it stands, he's simply not relevant enough to make a difference, even in limited.

Definitely the coolest Leviathan we've seen in a while, and he's a friggin Horror!  Still, we all know how easy it is to get that first counter on thanks to guys like Ichor Rats and Inkmoth Nexus.  Expect this guy to win a lot of drafts, since ten power for six mana in blue is usually hard to deal with.

As it stands right now, this card will rarely ever be considered for constructed play.  As I see it, if Putrefax didn't see play, Throatseeker won't.  He does give a lot of opportunities for puns though, since the Throatseeker is just looking to be Go for the Throat-ed.  You might say he's dying for it.

See what I did there?

Oh hello there, mister every-deck-gets-a-clone, didn't see you there.  This guy is absolutely amazing, no doubt about it.  You can just drop him and copy an enemy (or allied) sword, copy an opposing Squadron Hawk to draw four cards, cancel out any legendary creature like the Eldrazi or Elesh Norn, or even just double the fun of any titan.  He adds utility to Fauna Shaman based decks for sure, as well as pretty much any deck in Standard.  Expect this guy to carry a hefty pricetag.

Psychological Surgery


Whenever an opponent shuffles his or her library, you may look at the top two cards of that library.  If you do, you may Exile one of them.  Then put them back on top of that player's library in any order.

Okay, first of all, this card screws over the instant speed tutors in Legacy.  You know the ones.  Just sayin'.

Second of all, you know how Liliana Vess has finally been seeing some play?  Yeah, not anymore.

Remember when people ran some fetchlands even just to reshuffle after they've been fatesealed by Jace?  Yeah, not anymore.

I honestly hope that nobody decides to run this in their 75 and does well with it.  EVERY deck right now runs off tutors and/or fetchlands, and not only is this deck an unavoidable fateseal, but it's an unavoidable Fateseal TWO.  To make matters worse, it can permanently remove a threat from the game, making sure that it'll never get drawn.

Species Transplantation


When Species Transplantation enters the battlefield, choose a creature type.  Creatures you control are the chosen type in addition to their other types.

Name Ally.  Then Cast Turntimber Ranger.  Then profit.

Chancellor of the Dross

Creature- Vampire

If Chancellor of the Dross is in your opening hand, you may reveal it.  If you do, each opponent loses 3 life and you gain life equal to the life lost in this way.

Flying, Lifelink

It's bad, okay?  This is the example of a card you DON'T want to see in your opening hand.  He's fine in limited, fine in an EDH circle if your opponents don't rely on general damage and you don't mind painting a huge target on your head, but otherwise it's a stupid bad card.  Deal with it.

Glistening Oil

Enchantment- Aura

Enchant Creature

Enchanted creature has Infect.

At the beginning of your upkeep, put a -1/-1 counter on enchanted creature.

When Glistening Oil is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, return Glistening Oil to its owner's hand.

Honestly, this card is worse than Phyresis.  Think about it, I mean, it's used either to grant infect or as a removal spell.  Phyresis grants infect to your creatures without killing them and in black, you already have Doom Blade, Go for the Throat and Grasp of Darkness for two mana at instant speed that kills creatures much faster.  And even if you wanted to built an infect deck, you're already heavy in black for this card.  There's no reason why you can't just run infect creatures and call it a day.  This is an all-around craptastic rare.

It seems bad, and yet I still kinda like it.  It's a fine choice for limited, and for now a bad choice in constructed, but if Doom Blade leaves in M12 along with Grasp of Darkness leaving in ZEN, this just might be decent removal alongside Go for the Throat.  This card isn't meant as early kill, but more of three mana for what Contagion Clasp does for six without leaving the clasp behind in exchange.  Unlikely, but it could see some play in the future.

Phyrexian Obliterator

Creature- Horror


Whenever a source deals damage to Phyrexian Obliterator, that source's controller sacrifices that many permanents.

Oh sweet lord almighty, this card is flat-out bonkers.  Basically, this guy is NOT getting blocked.  If he does, your opponent loses their entire board.  Even if he gets eaten by a titan, that player now has to lose a whopping six permanents, and nothing says great creature like a 6-for-1 trade.  For everyone who was hoping that straight black became a viable deck again, here is your saving grace.

Praetor's Grip


Search target opponent's library for a card and exile it facedown.  That player shuffles his or her library.

For the rest of the game, you may look at the exiled card and cast it as though it was in your hand.

It has potential, but in the end it really depends on the rest of whatever format it's in.  After all, we also have Memoricide and Sadistic Sacrament in Standard alone already providing alternate options, and each one exiles more cards than Grip does.  The question lies in how often you want to cast what you want to hate out, and if you even CAN cast it.

EDH, anyone?

Seriously, don't even THINK about this card for constructed.  You'd rather run the Chancellor of the Dross.

That being said, she'd make one hell of a general, or commander, or whatever you want to call it.

Yeah, you know how big combo decks are in Legacy, in particular Dredge?  Nope, me neither.

You know how Vengevine-based decks have been looking for something to help THEIR side and finally become a consistent option against the rest of the format?  Nope, I ignored that too.

This card was conceptually designed to fight the Vengevine menace in Standard... too bad it never really took off.  For those of you that have been checking in on Conley Wood's recent antics, it won't be good for him either.

Oh yeah, and did I mention it's the buy-a-box promo?  Get ready to buy some boxes, folks.

This card is Extirpate for zero mana.  Which means that it just so happens to be best buddies with Duress, Inquisition of Kozilek, and in older formats Thoughtsieze and Hymn to Tourach.  Goodbye combo dominance, hello black dominance.

Chancellor of the Furnace

Creature- Giant

If Chancellor of the Furnace is in your opening hand, you may reveal it.  If you do, at the beginning of the first turn's upkeep, put a 1/1 red Goblin creature token with Haste onto the battlefield.

When Chancellor of the Furnace enters the battlefield, put X 1/1 red Goblin creature tokens with haste onto the battlefield, where X is equal to the number of creatures you control.

Okay, so basically, this is a Memnite with haste that doesn't increase the metalcraft count and is a dead draw anytime outside your opening hand.  Awesome.  Another crap rare to polarize my feelongs about this set.

Invasion Parasite

Creature- Insect

Imprint- When Invasion Parasite enters the battlefield, exile target land.

Whenever a land with the same name as the exiled card enters the battlefield under an opponent's control, Invasion Parasite deals two damage to that player.

Let's be honest, his second ability will rarely be relevant.  Once you're dropping five-mana creatures in Red, you're getting rid of pesky Valakuts and manlands, not Forests or Islands.  To be fair, this card could be a great answer to mono-black control if that picks up steam.  Too bad the parasite is in disfigure range.

Pretty much, Goblin Ruinblaster will be played over this card, and Ruinblaster isn't seeing play as of late.  He's an okay card, and a throwback to Ankh of Mishra or more recently Zo-Zu the Punisher, but he's not going to be seen much in Standard, or the entirety of constructed for that matter.  If you exile him and an opponent's basic land with Karn then he could prove annoying, but otherwise he seems like a poor card, and there's better 2-card combos you can pull with Karn, like say Species Transplantation and Turntimber Ranger.

Scrapmetal Fiend

Creature- Construct

Scrapmetal Fiend's Power and Toughness are each equal to the number of artifacts in all graveyards.

What is it with this set and trying to give K-Red a lategame?  That's just not what it does.  Perhaps some kind of dredge deck with him, Vengevine, Bonehoard, Hedron Crab, Fauna Shaman, and a bunch of artifact creatures is possible, but that's pretty much the only fit, and that seems like not a good deck.  Maybe Boros can go a bit more artifact heavy for a guy like this, but bonehoard just seems better to me.  I don't know, I could just be jaded because looking at it gives me a bonehoard.  See, it's happening right now.  I'm touching my bonehoard as I type this.

Doesn't every deck that wants four power haste for four mana have it?  I mean, we have Koth, Hero of Oxid Ridge, Vengevine, and now Slash Panther?  Too bad he's strictly worse than all the other options.  Even UB already has a three power 'haste' attacker thanks to Creeping Tar Pits.  There really is no need for this card in constructed formats.  It's a shame, because otherwise this guy could actually see some play.

Urabrask, the Hidden

Legendary Creature- Praetor

Creatures you control have Haste.

Creatures your opponents control enter the battlefield tapped.

Oh look, more 4-power haste creatures.  What a convenient transition.

In any case, this guy is actually pretty cool in that he forces your opponent to play blockers a turn before he actually needs them, essentially giving Ura and whoever you cast after him two free turns worth of attacks.  It's worth noting that following him up with a Gideon Jura or any of the titans (except maybe Frost or Primeval) in the next turn is pretty much game.  Grave Titan attacks for ten power alone, Inferno Titan hits for 12 minimum, Sun Titan can hit for a lot as well depending upon what's in your graveyard, and your opponent at that point is pretty much screwed.  Food for thought.

Spawning Shell


({PG} can be paid with either G or 2 life)

1{PG}, T: Sacrifice a creature.  Search your library for a creature with converted mana cost equal to the sacrificed creadure's plus one and then put it onto the battlefield.  Shuffle your library.  Activate this ability only any time you could Cast a Sorcery.

Let me paint a picture for you.  T1 Birds of Paradise.  T2 Spawning Shell.  T3 Fauna Shaman, then sac the Birds to the Spawning Shell for Squadron Hawk (or vice versa).  T4 use the shell to switch the hawk for a Manic Vandal to kill your opponent's sword, then pitch a Vengevine with Fauna Shaman for Stoneforge Mystic and cast it, pulling a sword of your own.  On T5, the shell activates to turn the Manic Vandal into a Vengevine, to which you flash in and equip your Sword of Feast and Famine, untap, pitch a Squadron Hawk for your third Vengevine off the Fauna Shaman and drop a Hawk into play.  Come T6, you Cast a Vengevine and a Squadron Hawk, return the third Vengevine to play and swing for another 18, untapping all your lands after and still with the Spawning Shell ready to activate, perhaps turning a Vengevine into an Acidic Slime.

This card has so many possibilities.  Like, there's the G/W plan, but equally viable is G/B reanimator with Bloodghast and Reassembling Skeleton doing their work alongside Vengevine, pulling from Viridian Corruptor into Vengevine and Kozilek's Predator and those two pulling Acidic Slime into Sun Titan to reset from the Viridian Corruptors, the tokens from Kozilek's Predator able to pull out Birds of Paradise and Birds turning into Fauna Shaman or Bloodghast... you get the picture.  It's a shame that you probably lose to Psychological Surgery (see above)

Fresh Meat


Put a 3/3 green Beast creature token onto the battlefiled for each creature put into a graveyard from the battlefield this turn.

Meh.  It's okay.  If Cranial Extraction was printed for the Vengevine menace that never was, then this card was printed as an alternative anti-DoJ effect at four mana.  Too bad WotC didn't forsee a future of Hawks and Mystics dominating Standard.

This is bad.  Very bad.  Like, I don't know what I'm supposed to say here.  I mean, it is seven power for seven mana, so it IS playable in limited, barely, but that's about it.  It's like if Precursor Golem gave you one less golem and cost two more mana, it would be Maul Splicer.

Very cool, you pitch a card to turn a creature into a Putrid Leech for a turn, or alternately you can tap a land if your doing nothing else with it.  Could allow for a quick infect win, so watch out for it.  This card will be played around in limited in the same way that Untamed Might is played around in limited.

Caged Sun


As Caged sun enters the battlefield, choose a color.

Creatures you control of the chosen color get +1/+1.

Whenever you tap a land for one or more mana of the chosen color, add one mana of that color to your mana pool.

EDH players will pick these up fast, and then nobody will want them, so unload them while you can!  This will probably be a low pick in draft pools as well and often you can take advantage of it if you've managed to stick largely to a single color, at least with your creature base.  It may be six mana for a Glorious Anthem, but it's still sorta kinda playable almost.  Okay, forget I said that.

Hex Parasite

Artifact Creature- Insect

X{PB}: Remove X counters from target permanent.  Hex Parasite gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is the number of counters removed in this way. ({PB} may be paid with either B or 2 life.)

Hello, planeswalker killer.  A bit mana intensive, but crazy good, especially with Urabrask in play.  This guy will see a lot of play, and in turn, Linvala will see a lot of play, so my suggestion is to hunt down copies of both.


Artifact- Equipment

Living Weapon

Equipped creature gets +1/+1 for each Swamp you control.

Equip- {PB}{PB} ({PB} may be paid with either B or 2 life)

Hey, remember Strata Scythe?  Well, here it is again, only worse.  Yay!

Look familiar?  It shouldn't, because nobody cared about Game Day, and people cared about the commons from 'Action' even less.  And for good reason, they're bad.  I'd like to know what the thought process was behind this card.  "Hey, remember those obelisks from Shards of Alara that nobody ever played?  Let's make it again, only without the color fixing!"

Good job, Wizards.

This card is pretty sick.  Actually, that was a lie.  It was a joke, just like this card.  It's not even worth running in a deck with Puresteel Paladin.  I do think it was probably the right costs for Skinwing, though.

It's actually decent in limited with the plethora of equipment already available, I must admit.  A deck comprised almost entirely of living weapons is actually possible if you pull the right cards, which is actually pretty interesting.


Artifact Creature- Horror

{PU}: Target spell or ability that targets only a single target targets Spellsplitter.

({PU} may be paid with either U or 2 life)

There's really no reason to run this over any other threat that would get targeted, with the exception that he eats burn before dying.  Most Standard decks have better board tech for burn already though.  I would know.

This is a GREAT card in limited, and I hope I open a few of these in my pool come Prerelease weekend.  He is a HUGE beast with a set of equipment on him, and even without he lets you put your opponent on a turn count in blue and grinds down the game for both players without.  For constructed there's always a better option, but this guy will be a house in drafts, I'm sure of it.  This is one common that's gonna win a lot of games.

That's it for now for the visual spoiler.  Yesterday, the entire text spoiler was indeed leaked, however, and I'll be working on a complete rundown of it between prep for the SCG Open in Boston this weekend.  Be sure to follow us on FB and Twitter to stay tuned on the spoiler, the tournament report, and more.  Yo Mama out, be sure to make your own dinner honey.

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