Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gentlemen! Behold! MORE SPOILERS!

We've got a lot of new ground to cover, so save your questions until the end, please. Let's get it!

Love it. This is a winner in my book. Why? Well, because Vampire Nighthawk has turned out to be a surprisingly good early-game blocker in EDH. Sure he's a lousy topdeck late game, but if you drop the Nighthawk on turn three, you'll almost always divert multiple attackers elsewhere, saving you from a lot of early damage.

Acidic Slime, too, has proven to be a reliable blocker, for the same reason: Deathtouch. However, in EDH a ground-based Deathtoucher is far less valuable than a Flying Deathtoucher.

What makes Baleful Strix so appealing is that he has the potential to come down a full turn earlier than the Nighthawk, while being less of a dud in the late game thanks to the cantrip effect. If you desperately need something more potent and are disappointed to draw this guy? Just cast him and try again!

Hate the art, though. I usually like Nils Hamm's macabre impressionistic style, but here it's a dud. Oh well, I'll still happily play this guy in any number of decks that have slow early games and need a bit of cheap defense.

Neat card. A mono-blue Angel is odd enough to have appeal based on the uniqueness of it. The fact that it's an Illusion as well also makes it an interesting possibility for Lord of the Unreal aggro decks. Seems lackluster for multiplayer formats, though, but perhaps I'm still thinking too specifically of EDH multiplayer. I'll defer to other opinions on this one, but I don't expect I'll ever make use of her.

LOL, Demon Ninja. Kudos to the artist, because the art sells the concept far better than it sounded on paper. This guy is obviously going straight into my Wrexial deck, and will probably find a home in Damia if I ever get around to rebuilding her deck. Mostly, though, I am unimpressed by his clunkiness and unwieldy Ninjutsu cost. Not that it's not warranted by the effect, mind you. It's just not super exciting.

Cool. We had a plane card in Planechase I that did very close to the same thing, but this is still a pretty cool one-shot effect that can really jump start a game. It's likely to give one player the shaft more often than not, as that one player will be low on cards, or just not have anything great to drop. I'll feel sorry for the player who drops a Basic Land off of this, while everyone else is dropping six-cost fatties or better. Unlike Time Distortion, though, this is much more fun-looking and the risk of maybe screwing one player over is not enough to make me not want to play this in my Planar Deck. Also it could just as easily result in all four players dropping a land, so it can be fair... unlike Time Distortion.

Sweet. I love any Plane that can potentially draw me a bunch of cards. I definitely will enjoy playing this Plane. Gain some life, and maybe draw some cards too? Sure, I'll take that any day. I don't have much else to say - it's a winner.

Ha ha ha! Oh wow. That's awesome. All I can say is, imagine you are on this Plane, and you attack one player with a Hydra Omnivore. 

I like how some plane cards have the sexier ability as their static effect, and a minor ability as the Chaos effect, while others reverse that setup. It seems like the natural, intuitive way to design these would be to give all of them a Chaos ability that is sexier and more powerful than the static effect, but I think it's a stroke of brilliance by the designers that they thought outside the box enough to realize that sometimes you want to go the other way around and have really jaw-dropping static effects and relatively minor Chaos abilities.

Anyway, the static effect on this one is just a wonderful example of Multiplayer-specific design done right - it encourages attacking and proactive game play in a HUGE way, which is good, because Multiplayer games can and do turn into long, grindy, affairs if the players are too afraid to get into the red zone and mix it up.

Fuck yeah, Scry! I am a big fan of the Scry mechanic, as indicated by the fact that I play Foresee in just about every deck I've ever built. Scry 4 during your upkeep, for free, is a POWERFUL effect, and one I'm absolutely in love with. The chaos ability is also pretty damn sexy, and I love how it synergizes nicely with the static effect.

That's another great thing about the design of these planes - again, the intuitive thing to do would be to have the Static effect and Chaos abilities always be synergistic in some fashion. Yet R&D wisely took the unexpected but delightful route of having some planes behave that way, while others have almost no inherent synergy between their two effects at all.

Again, it's an example of outside the box thinking, and by challenging what we'd expect by doing something contrary to expectations, they've made the Plane cards a little less redundant and monotonous, and a little more random and chaotic feeling, which is a great thing for such a random, chaotic format!

This is the promo Plane. Pretty cool stuff. At first, I was underwhelmed, but then I realized the draw triggers off rolling the Planar Die, regardless of the outcome, which is awesome. Because that way, even if you roll a blank, you still got something out of the attempt. That really sounds fun and cool, so I appreciate this plane's design a lot more now that I actually understand what it does. Plus, it draws card, and that's always a winner in my book. The ability to stack the Planar Deck is also pretty cool. "Eon Fog? Skip that shit!"

This might actually be even more broken with a Ghave deck than the Doubling Season plane! Holy shit.

Okay, so I don't want to seem ungrateful or hypocritical, as I've repeatedly stated on this blog and in person that drawing cards is literally my favorite thing to do in Magic. But does every plane in Planechase II have something to do with drawing cards?

Clearly, I'm exaggerating, but it really does seem like about half the planes so far have the words "draw a card" somewhere amongst their text. I'm okay with this, but I am hoping to see a little more variety. Foothills are a great start, but we could really use a couple of Planes that help us ramp like Murasa did in Planechase 1. And some other random, wacky effects too.

Well, that's it for today. What? That wasn't enough? Too bad! Go do something productive.



  1. Silent-Blade Oni is pretty cool, I kinda like how its easier to play him through Ninjutsu than it is to hard cast him.

    The effect is also pretty bonkers and he should have a home in just about any of the U/B/x "Take Possession" decks out there. Perfect for Wrexial as you said. I can also see him in Sen Triplets.

  2. They dropped the ball not making silent-blade oni a legend. They could have tweaked the nijitsu ability to work from the command zone, or just left it up to the players to work around it not being in your hand. Not being a legend adds nothing to this guy, but clearly takes something away.

    Wizards drops the ball on tribal EDH again...

    1. A fair point, but I disagree. While I think he certainly has enough flair to be a Legend, I also think fiddling with Ninjutsu ability is not worth it. There aren't enough Ninja commanders (even if this guy had been one) or regular Ninjas to make Ninja-EDH-Tribal really worth the hassle of retconning an ability.

      People are used to how Ninjutsu works, so messing up it's functionality for the sake of Commander, when doing so adds very little to the Commander format in reality, is just a poor reason to do so.

      It might have been kinda cool, but really there's exactly ONE deck this guy being Legendary would have enabled, and probably not a very good deck at that.

      Don't get me wrong: Ninjas are one of the most badass creature types in the game, but the ball was dropped on them in Betrayers of Kamigawa design, NOT in Planechase 2012.

      Maybe someday they'll find a way to revisit Ninjas with a new and better mechanic, and more importantly, a sufficient number of playable cards to round out a Tribal deck that isn't forced to play literally every Ninja card there is, good or bad.