Tuesday, September 6, 2016

EDH Set Review: Conspiracy 2 - Electric Boogaloo

Alright, folks, so we’ve already gone over the Legends of the set, now it’s time to talk about the new cards hoping to earn one of the 99 slots in our main decks. I’m not going to be doing a Top 10 format this time, because this set is just unusually well-stocked with EDH playables. And for this article, I’m only talking about new cards. CS2 is filled with reprints, some amazing, some terrible, many decent-to-okay-ish. But for now, let’s just stick to the new goodies.


Protector of the Crown
                This one is definitely on the margins of playability. I think if you’re running a highly political, monarch-themed deck (like Queen Marchesa), you’d grudgingly run this and occasionally be pleasantly surprised. A lot of the time, though, it’s probably just going to be a one-shot effect, as getting through for 5 isn’t exactly a tall order in EDH. Combining this with other effects, like say, Darksteel Plate and/or a bunch of Ghostly Prison-type effects makes it somewhat more palatable. So, basically, niche-playable, but not exciting.

Recruiter of the Guard
                On the other hand, we have this guy. A pseudo-reprint of Imperial Recruiter, color-shifted to White. This has instant staple written all over it, despite EDH being known as the format for huge creatures, there are still a vast array of utility creatures that this can tutor out for us. Some of my favorite targets for Recruiter so far include: Academy Rector, Stoneforge Mystic, Ranger of Eos, Eternal Witness, Spitebellows, Kiki-Jiki… the list goes on. Absolutely a fantastic card for our format. Love it!

Sanctum Prelate
                This one is a bit mean, but for those of you who like to play a little dirty, this should be a treat. I’m definitely looking to acquire one for my GAAIV deck, as it’s one of my meaner decks already. I can also see running this in mono-White just as protection against Wrath/Damnation effects. But lately, sweepers have gotten more diverse in the CMCs, so it’s always going to be a challenge as to whether you should choose 4, 5 or 6. I’m also sort of in love with the idea of targeting this with a kicked Rite of Replication… anyway, certain to see some play in EDH, but mostly among the more cutthroat groups (hopefully).

Custodi Soulcaller
                I can see this getting a bit of play in Alesha decks, and White Weenie decks, but overall I don’t think it’s going to be that good. Too many factors have to go right for this to do its thing and live to do it again.

Palace Jailer
                I’m pretty certain this card is just terrible and you should be running, if anything, Oblivion Ring or Journey to Nowhere over this. Or Fiend Hunter. They don’t even have to kill this guy to get their guy back. Just hit you and take the crown from you. In fact, ANYONE can attack you and that person gets their guy back. Now, this does create some interesting political situations, in theory at least: you have the Monarchy, and have used the Jailer to take someone’s Very Scary Threat. Obviously the person who controlled that threat wants to hit you, as they would both get the Monarchy and get their guy back… but if the other two opponents are equally afraid of that Very Scary Threat, they might be dissuaded from attacking you, lest they give your mutual enemy that threat back. They might even pitch in some removal to stop the threat’s controller from attacking you! That’s a very cool scenario, and if I thought the Jailer would actually play out like that very often, I’d like it. But usually it’s just going to do close to nothing, I believe.

Spectral Grasp
                Cool variant on Pacifism for multiplayer. I like it, but don’t see it getting a ton of play.


                Holy crap! I’m usually not a huge fan of these types of cards (I’m much cooler on Blatant Thievery than most, and I detest most extra turns spells). But this is just a fantastic design. It seems pretty likely to win the game if it resolves, or at least put the caster VERY far ahead. The best thing about it is, unlike most Time Warp effects, this one is all but guaranteed to give the caster something meaningful to do, eliminating the whole desperation Time Warp where one player spends like half an hour taking two or more turns, but at the end of it all, nothing much actually gets done. In short, extra turns usually lead to boring games, rather than just ending them… this one, however, is unlikely to be boring, and quite likely to end games, or at least move things toward an outcome very quickly. I also like that it exiles itself, as many extra turn spells do these days. Keeps abuse to a minimum. Props to the designer of this card for making me love a card I’d usually hate.

Keeper of the Keys
                This is probably slightly better than its White counterpart, Protector of the Throne. It certainly seems very fitting for, say, and Edric deck, which both stands to capitalize on the unblockable aspect, and likely has the tools to protect itself from losing the monarch effect. But, like Protector, it’s still pretty niche. Gets a lot better if you can Flash it in EOT to sneakily steal someone’s Monarch trigger, and guarantee you get that unblockable bonus.

Stunt Double
                It’s amazing how much WotC loves to rub Clone’s nose in its own obsolescence. It’s also amazing how such a minor thing like just adding “Flash” to a Clone improve it. This is still a far cry from the likes of Rite of Replication, Phyrexian Metamorph and Clever Impersonator, but it’s still one of the best Clone variants they’ve printed in a while. I don’t expect to see it reach the universal ubiquity of those previously mentioned cards, but it’s a fantastic card to have access to nonetheless. Again, a sure-thing for many Edric decks at the very least.

Coveted Peacock
                Neat card, but I don’t think it’s quite up to par with most EDH playables. That said, I’m giving it a try in my Edric deck, as Goad seems like a mechanic that deck wants to experiment with.


Custodi Lich
                I really want to like this card but in any deck besides a Monarchy-themed one, I feel like I’d just rather have Fleshbag Marauder, Barter in Blood or one of the many variations thereof 90% of the time. That said, it’s second line of text makes it really hard to evaluate, because Monarchy is too new of a mechanic to really judge how often the crown will be changing hands in the average game. In games where you are losing and retaking the crown quite frequently, this guy might actually be a real powerhouse.

Capital Punishment
                I really feel like whoever designed this card was making some sort of commentary on the state of the 2016 election, but whatever. This feels like it might be a bit underwhelming for a six-mana spell, but I think it warrants trying out at least. Could be better than expected. Overall it feels a bit too situational to really be good, and discard isn’t usually all that good in EDH, but I have had Unnerve and Syphon Mind pan out alright for me. I’ll probably squeeze this into a deck or two just to test drive it, but I really don’t feel comfortable giving a concrete appraisal of this one until I’ve actually seen it in action.

Deadly Designs
                Anybody remember Soul Snare, from the 2011 Commander decks? No? That’s because it was a huge dud. It seemed like it should be a good card for multiplayer, a more political version of Swords to Plowshares. But in practice, it was just a bad card. Deadly Designs seems like an even worse version of Soul Snare. I see what it’s trying to do, I just don’t think it’s going to work out that way.

Marchesa’s Decree
                Not nearly as good as, say, Ghostly Prison or No Mercy at discouraging your opponents from swinging at you. But when you combine it will multiple such effects, it gets a little better. Again, I don’t see this getting a ton of play outside of dedicated Monarchy decks, but it’s possible any Pillow Fort style deck that’s in Black will pick this up.


Skyline Despot
                A lot of EDH players seem to be relatively unimpressed by this Dragon, but I’m a pretty big fan. I don’t see it being a huge staple or anything, but it still seems really solid to me. It’s a dragon, and it occasionally makes more dragons and/or draws you cards. Nothing mind-blowing but seems all upside to me. For sure going into my Maelstrom Wanderer (dragon tribal) deck, and my work-in-progress Queen Marchesa deck. Beyond that I’d consider it for Feldon (seems like a slightly better option than the currently-underperforming Sandstone Oracle), maybe Marath (fits the theme of making and then populating large tokens, has great synergy with Kiki-Jiki), but it’s not a lock for either of those.

Subterranean Tremors
                I still haven’t figured out which, if any, of my decks wants to run this, but I absolutely have to find at least one deck to slot it into. I absolutely love this card. It’s not really a GREAT card, but it’s hilarious, has great flavor, and occasionally can be a legit bomb. There are a couple of white weenie/equipment decks in my meta that I can’t wait to blow out with this.

                One-shot Threaten effects usually aren’t all that great in EDH, but the Goad ability might just elevate this to playable status. It certainly seems amusing and fun to play, at the very least. Very cool attempts at designing a Threaten for multiplayer, and I imagine it’ll see some play, but not sure how much it’ll take off in EDH… 20-life multiplayer formats will probably like it more.

Grenzo’s Ruffians
                I really like the Melee mechanic, the problem with its execution is that it was balanced for games where everyone’s life total is 20. Therefore, the small handful of melee cards we got mostly don’t scale well for EDH’s 40-life rule. Ruffians is a cool card, and I believe it’s the first time we’ve seen that ability since Hydra Omnivore. I think it’ll get played more on coolness factor or tribal synergies than raw power level, but that’s still getting played.


Regal Behemoth
                Probably the most playable member of its cycle, the ability double your mana is great. On the other hand, this might provide your opponents with a  VERY compelling reason to rob you of the monarch status as quickly as possible. But, then again, having a 6/6 Trampler might enable you to get it back fairly easily. All in all, I’m a fan and I think many people will play this, but in some decks it might not pan out as well as in others.

Selvala’s Stampede
                Tooth and Nail hooked up with See the Unwritten, they had a baby, and it grew up into this. I’m already running several copies of T&N and StU in my decks, this is probably going to be nearly as popular. Best thing is, it’s a good budget alternative for folks that don’t have Tooth and Nails lying around. It’s not as consistent as Tooth, but that’s a good thing. It’s still absurdly powerful, but a bit more random and conditional. Still the decks that want this aren’t going to have a lot of trouble setting up the necessary conditions. I’m going to need a few more copies of this, for sure.

Splitting Slime
                Cool card, fun design, but not super powerful. But I don’t think many players will find this all that impressive. You kind of need Gaea’s Cradle-levels of mana for this to really be good, but if you have that kind of mana, there are probably better things to do with it. Still, adding Doubling Season to the mix and it can get really out of hand quickly. Could potentially fuel a big Shamanic Revelantion as well. Yeah, I might try to find a slot for this in my Marath deck, actually. Not sure it’ll wind up being an all-star, but it has potential. Honestly I’m pretty sure the vast majority of EDH players will find this to be too janky, but I’ll be quite happy if it finds one or two decks in which it can shine.

Domesticated Hydra
                Cute, but probably not very good. Basically doesn’t do anything besides get big and swing.

Fang of the Pack
                I really like this card, I’m just not at all convinced I should… It’s just way too weak for a six-drop, but I’d love to be proven wrong. Probably gets played in werewolf/wolf decks, but not much else. Should have been a 4/4 for five or something like that.


Kaya, Ghost Assasin
                I’m not really over the moon for this ‘walker, but she’s certainly cool enough. Of course any deck like Karlov or Oloro that cares about life gain and life loss has to at least consider her. She’s already slotted into my Karlvo list, and I’m sure she’ll peform well there. But I have a number of other decks that could run her, but just don’t want to. Thus, I’m not a big fan, despite having her in one deck already, and I expect her to see a lot of play in the format regardless.

Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast
                Very strange to see a Rakdos-colored ‘walker that so closely ties into artifacts, but I’m guessing this might be a foreshadowing of how Black will work with artifacts in Kaladesh. Also there is a lot of speculation that the non-Green, 4-color commander in this year’s upcoming Commander decks might have an artifact theme. I can see either/both of these being true, which might retroactively make Daretti make more sense, but for now he’s just kind of an oddball. Very good abilities, and I’d love to play him, but none of my decks in these colors really want him. I expect a fair number of EDH players will be the same boat.

Knights of the Black Rose
                Surprisingly decent for what it is, yet I still can’t justify running it in Karlov, which of all my decks, seems the most likely home for them. Still a 4/4 for five with a couple of minor upsides is pretty aggressive for a W/B card. Should see a smattering of player here and there.


Throne of the High City
                I have trouble imagining this getting much play outside of dedicated Monarcy decks, but then again, maybe some mono-White or mono-Red decks will be just desperate enough for a low-opportunity-cost way to draw cards, they’ll give this a shot. If this were a City of Brass with that sac ability tacked on, it’d be a different story. I’d play it in just about anything if that were the case. But, as printed, you either have to highly value the monarch effect, or have a mana base that just doesn’t mind having one more colorless-producing land.

Spy Kit
                LOL WUT? Makes Maelstrom Pulse a bit better? Biovisionary wins just got a little more viable? Dunno, but I don’t plan on using this for anything.


By my estimation there aren’t any new commons that are particularly noteworthy, but there are a couple that I have my eye on as potentially playable. One of those is Borderland Explorer; as a 3/1 for 2 he’s a bit beefier that most land-fetching dorks we see, but is also still Skullclamp-able. Not sure where exactly he might belong but I have a feeling he has some fringe playability. Thorn of the Black Rose might be an okay role-player in that hypothetical Monarchy deck I keep mentioning. Otherwise, the new commons are pretty lackluster, or in some cases, don’t actually do anything outside of a draft format.

Still, when you combine the above cards, most of which are at least niche playable, with the amazing reprints such as Beserk, Show and Tell, Burgeoning and Phyrexian Arena, this set really does look like a treasure trove of EDH goodness. On the downside, there are quite a few janky, low-value reprints clogging up the rare slots, and even a couple of dud Mythic reprints (the Angel at least makes sense, but Avatar of Woe? Really?! C’mon…). Overall, though, I’d say the set should have something of value for just about anyone, but is particularly well-suited to the EDH fan.

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