Gatecrash Guild Mechanics Overview

Simic

Evolve is a deceptively potent mechanic.  If a creature enters the battlefield with a higher power or toughness than the creature with evolve, you put a +1/+1 counter on the creature with evolve, sort of the opposite of the Graft mechanic from Ravnica block.  These +1/+1 counters can result in huge card advantage, stealing creatures, or even ramping quickly into massive creatures or expensive spells.

Gruul


Bloodrush is a very powerful tool for aggressive decks.  By paying a mana cost and discarding the creature card from your hand, you can channel the power and abilities of a creature with this mechanic into a creature you already have on the battlefield that is attacking.  There is little subterfuge here… Just brutal and efficient force.  Great for aggro decks that need that extra little bit of reach.  It can put people into situations where they lose no matter how they block, but also runs the risk of creating opportunities for 2-for-1’s.

Boros


Battalion triggers when you are attacking with three or more creatures, and this will happen a lot if you are playing Boros.  While some of the cards with this are a little underwhelming (i.e. limited fodder), some look to be powerhouses in upcoming weenie decks by making creatures indestructible, pumping creatures, or providing combat abilities.

Orzhov


Extort is a triggered ability that triggers off of you casting a spell.  When you trigger it, you are given the option of paying a black or white mana.  If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.  It seems pretty crummy at first glance I’ll admit… but couple it with a bunch of cheap spells and more than one permanent with this ability in play and it doesn’t seem quite so innocent.  Or better yet, combine it with Cipher cards for a much larger boost.

Dimir


Cipher is the only mechanic that doesn’t occur on permanents.  However, don’t let that fool you; it still involves creatures.  Once a spell with cipher has resolved, you may exile it encoded onto a creature.  If you do, the creature ‘gains’ a triggered ability that allows you to cast a copy of the exiled spell whenever the creature deals combat damage without paying its mana cost.  That means you will be able to get two casts out of the spell the turn you cast it if you get through for damage, and the creature doesn’t have summoning sickness.

Glaring Spotlight: A Gatecrash Card Review

Hoser artifacts have had a long history in Magic.  Even hearing the names of cards like Meekstone, Trinisphere, and Pithing Needle can inspire groans of frustration from those who have had the displeasure of playing against them.

Glaring Spotlight is an interesting take on this type of Spike-loved card.  It doesn’t actually do anything to interfere with what the opponent can do.  Instead, it turns on all of its controller’s removal spells against the opponent’s hexproof creatures.

For those who are not Spikes, the card also protects your own creatures through its activated ability.  This ability also grants unblockable, so it can finish opponents as well.  I suspect the activated ability is going to be the most relevant part of this card for the Standard format.

Off Topic: OWN Interview with Lance Armstrong

Many love to hate him, despite his recent public confession.  Even by his own admission, this apology came late.

Lance Armstrong has cheated, bullied, lied, and sued his way through life.  His career and life have all been a huge ruse.  Livestrong has raised $500 million for cancer research, but no dollar amount could undo the damage he has wrought in his grand design.  Is there any hope for his redemption as a public figure?  I believe there is; after being humbled, there is always the possibility of redemption.  Armstrong’s attitude, mannerisms, and tone during the interview all seemed indicative to me of a humbled man.  

The only reason I bring this up is because I know what it is like to do horrible things that violate my own set of morals and later wonder who that person was.  It is the human condition.  If human history is any indication, Armstrong has a good chance at recovering from this, in spite of living a lie throughout his career.

Soul Ransom: A Gatecrash Card Review

There has been some controversy on the MTGSalvation forums over Soul Ransom.  Soul Ransom is, on first impression, an acceptable Limited card.  They tap out to play their finisher.  You steal the biggest guy in their deck and they have to deal with it somehow.  Perhaps not in the way you would prefer, but somehow…

Would this card be any better for Constructed if it read simply, “Target player discards two cards.  You draw two cards?”  Would it be any better if it were a direct copy of Control Magic, save for the mana cost?  Perhaps…

Soul Ransom’s activated ability is better than a spell that makes your opponent discard two cards in a way: Soul Ransom’s activated ability will ALWAYS snag two cards since discarding two cards is the cost of activating the ability.  When you cast a spell that forces your opponent to discard two cards, they may cast one or more spells from their hand and may even end up discarding zero cards. The downside to Soul Ransom’s activated ability is that they get to choose when to discard two cards.

With Soul Ransom, they are given an option, even if it isn’t a particularly good one.  Taking back their own creature at the cost of two cards in their hand on top of allowing their opponent to draw two cards, or dealing with Soul Ransom as though it were Control Magic.  Giving the opponent an option is almost never a good idea, but in this case, I think it is less of a problem than people realize.

If you are either playing a deck that forces your opponent to discard cards or playing against a deck that plays out its spells as quickly as possible, giving the opponent this option is almost a non-issue.  Rarely will they be out of topdeck mode any later than turn 5 in either case, even if they know what is coming and sandbag their lands accordingly.  If they can threaten lethal with the creature you stole, are threatened lethal by the creature you stole, or have two dead cards to pitch to it, then and only then will they consider Soul Ransom’s activated ability as an option for dealing with it. 

If you are playing a deck packing plenty of sacrifice outlets, you can even keep them from getting their creature back once they activate Soul Ransom’s ability.

Please let me know if I am wrong.  I am (believe it or not) a fallible human being.  Thanks!

Realmwright: A Gatecrash Card Review

This (along with two other cards) is Realmwright.  It doesn’t appear very menacing.  It’s a 1/1 for 1 mana… but it allows mono-blue decks to reliably play finishers from another color.  Yes, it’s fragile… but is there anything your opponent can really do after you put a solid finisher on the board, aside from an uncounterable board sweeper?  Sure it’s gimmicky, but I just can’t resist it.  I love playing mono-colored decks (particularly blue) and this is just icing on that oh-so-sweet color pie.

In limited, this guy is more powerful.  It makes casting cards in your guild colors much, much easier if one of those colors happens to be blue.  And since removal spells are… well… limited in limited, this forces the opponent to make a difficult choice unless he/she has repeatable removal or pingers… take out the Realmwright or take out the creature(s) you cast off of it.

To view a Gatecrash spoiler, you can visit mtgsalvation.com.  Enjoy!

Return to Paper Magic

To say that Magic is a difficult game to master would risk understating that fact.  It is a game with enough strategic depth to challenge chess players, even those at the Master and Grandmaster level.

To play a game in a format entirely different than what you are accustomed to requires still more skill.  Such is the case with Magic: the Gathering Online.  While it has been my method of choice for playing the game for a good while, the interface has caused me to make foolish play mistakes time and time again. 

That is my reasoning for wanting to return to the paper form.  Cost-wise, I will be spending more, but it will also give me the opportunity to spend time and network with like-minded people.  I’d like to put SOME effort into MTGO, but I believe my time is better spent playing paper Magic. 

That changes very little as far as this blog is concerned.  Hopefully, that will actually mean more content.  My lack of activity over the past several months has been due primarily to spending a lot of time playing Diablo III.  Now that I have a computer that can run it fairly well, even without overclocking, I find it quite enjoyable.

With that out of the way, I wish everyone a belated merry Christmas and happy New Year!