Review: Plated Slagwurm

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 4
He’s another big bad boy who isn’t doing much elsewhere, but fits right in with the other idiots in the stack perfectly.

Discussion:

*ground explodes and with a roar, a massive wurm appears from the new crater!*

WHATTUP SON IM A SLAGWURM

WHATS IT ALL MEAN? WHY AM I HERE?

NVM LETS GO KILL SOMEBODY

*obscenely loud screams for mercy, smashing sounds, screams are silenced*

STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM NOW WE HERE

*the wurm, now slick with the viscera of its foe, assumes the ever-elusive ‘armless b-boy stance’*

Overall: Four mic crevices out of five

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Review: Spy Network

Draft Priority: 1

Impact: 1

Stack Status: 1
I honestly think this ended up in the Stack by mistake.

Discussion:

Quick, shut up and think: is there any card that results in more physical activities at the time of casting than Spy Network?

1)      Tap mana

2)      Display Spy Network

3)      Spy Network presumably resolves (for the love of all that is good, please don’t spend a counterspell on it), so you put it in the pooper

4)      Target player reveals their hand to you

5)      You look at the hand

6)      You return that hand to the player, or their hide it again

7)      You peep the top of that player’s deck

8)      Flip over face-down creatures for a glimpse at the truth

9)      Grab your own top four

10)  Reorganize said top for

11)  Return to the top of the deck

You just were party to eleven actions for one mana, and guess what it accomplished? Sweet dick all. I guess if you’re one of those really gross fatasses that I keep hearing about but not seeing much of at Magic events, if you build a deck of forty Spy Network and twenty Islands you might get a good workout.

Concrapulations, ur winder.

I don’t know how this ended up in my stack, but it’s out now thankfully.

Overall: Half of an NSA analyst trying to find crypto-subversive content on this site out of five

Review: Island Sanctuary

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 1
Cut. I’ll explain this one in the body of the review.

Discussion:

You may find this review a bit short on my usual scathing wit because discussion this card contains some genuinely interesting facets of stack construction and card choice. So, to get the humour quota out of the way, imagine the following:

– Generic crack about Mark Poole art
– Unnessecary jab at Bronies out of misplaced attempt for a cheap pop
– Reference to old rules formatting on the card (“I love declining to draw a card” etc.)

Let’s be honest, that should cover the bases and whatever you come up is probably funnier than anything I can anyway.

I cut Island Sanctuary during the review. Not because it’s a bad card, or because it has a low impact, but rather because it really didn’t fit into the Stack very well. Why?

  • It’s aggressively costed with fair limitations. In a realm where you can just play Moat or Blazing Archon or whatever on the same turn, it makes the Sanctuary look pretty rough. Granted, it does redirect a lot of offense, but it’s at a pretty steep cost with no additional effect. I actually like and use this card in some one-on-one decks where it works pretty well as a ghetto Solitary Confinement, but that’s because it squeezes into a great spot on the curve and those decks only have one opponent.
  • Speaking of which, this card’s value PLUMMETS in multiplayer environments. Why? Well, in addition to having more people looking to kill the card by virtue of numbers, the fact that it does nothing to protect you the turn it shows up on board tends to mean people think “oh well, better pound on the Sanctuary guy while I have the chance.” In most games of Magic, this might be a pretty good tradeoff, but when those creatures tend to lean towards the Angelic Arbiter side of the scale than the Winged Coatl side, those three attacks of opportunity might kill you, or at least put you on the back foot pretty badly.
  • This is the other big issue; for a player on the defensive, this card buries them. The inability to draw card can just leave you sunk, especially if you get hit by a sudden Hypnox out of nowhere. Then your Island Sanctuary is a suicide booth that you’ve decided to build around yourself for some reason, and this seems to happen more often than anybody liked.

So while Island Sanctuary isn’t a bad card, it just didn’t work out in this environment. A shame.

Overall: One and a half stacks of Half Price Hobbies rares out of five

Review: Ana Battlemage

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 5
Overcosted, inefficient card with options that doesn’t see play anywhere? Of course it’s perfect in Type 4!

Discussion:

I wasn’t playing much when this card came out and I can’t remember how I found out about it, but when I did, I immediately blacked out and pissed myself thinking about how awesome it was for type 4.

“That’s a huge overreaction and certainly never happened, Andy.”

Entirely true, but for somebody who loved the Invasion battlemages so much, this card meant a lot to me. The Battlemages look awful for the most part now, left behind in the wasteland of obsolescence in the wake of the nWo’s design rampage. Once proud workhorses like Thornscape Battlemage look like Fred Ettish trying desperately to slug it out in a world that’s just too fast, competitive, and efficient for him to compete.

Despite holding some carve-out space in corner case formats nobody but me, my imaginary friends and my wife (who may also be imaginary) play, the Battlemages also exist in that special design purgatory populated by cards like Silver Knight and Serra Angel: ones you remember fondly and even did work in their day, but have been outclassed by new, delicious cardboard in lameass formats with rules like “mana limits” and don’t have the throat-rending impact or novelty to make the cut in Type 4.

Ana Battlemage isn’t playing that son. He’s at least on par with Mulldrifter, a card I previously addressed as mediocre, but you have the OPTION (very important if you’re the only one with an untapped fatty on deck) to also throw in a Delirium! In case you’re new, Delirium is pretty awesome in Type 4 is an eminently draftable. On a body that also provides three cards, even at sorcery speed, this is Battlemages nWo style. Draft it early and often.

Overall: Four bitter nostalgia-tinted memories out of five

Construction: Infinity for Real: Combos in Type 4

When you can play any card in your hand whenever you want, and some of those cards are outrageously-powerful pieces designed for the ‘late game’, you can end up with some pretty strange interactions. In boring Magic, a combo deck usually drives purposefully towards assembling two or more cards for a specific purpose, pushing towards this same objective like an OCD sufferer on speed over and over again in every game. As we’ve discussed, Type 4 games tend to be inconsistent so consistent combos are hard to pull off, but forming from the chaos of limitless mana you will occasionally see an infinite loop assemble itself.

Usually, it’s almost inadvertent; sometimes, people don’t realize it’s a combo until a player who doesn’t control the pieces points it out. It can feel a bit odd to be mired in a typical Type 4 slugfest with 8/8 creatures crashing into each other when suddenly somebody goes, “hold on, I think I just won.”

So you have to ask yourself, ‘is this a bad thing’?

Continue reading

Review: Opal-Eye, Konda’s Yojimbo

Draft Priority: 5

Impact: 4

Stack Status: *6*
This card goes from ashy to classy in Type 4. Find it, refuse to pay more than a dollar for it, and jam it directly into the stack.

Discussion:

Is this a lady with somewhat bizarre anatomy, or a guy with bitch tits from steroid abuse?

Either way, don’t let the freakish appearance fool you. Opal-Eye might not whoop a whole lot of ass… actually, I guess he/she/whatever mostly takes a bunch of bare-bottom spankings in your place. But he/she/it is so good at it.

While not as awesome as Vengeful Archon, Opal-Eye will do in a pinch, serving as a professional chump blocker forever and even gleefully volunteering to jump in the way of a Searing Wind aimed at your skillet. He/she/it’s cool like that.

The Yojimbo is a wonderful stack card for another reason; it’s uniquely good in Type 4 without becoming oppressive. Vengeful Archon is extremely powerful in Type 4. It renders you almost impossible for kill for a while and provides a very large, powerful body to beat opponents to death at the same time. In some environments, I can see the Archon ruining games as everyone has to just scramble to kill it or do nothing. It’s kind of like Planeswalkers in regular Magic; once they come into play, you’re playing a completely different game, and one that’s generally inferior to what you had before.

Opal-Eye isn’t up in here mangling games like that. Instead your Fox Samurai bodyguard is just looking for a spot to post up, pop out the fake eye and polish it, and take some damage for you.

Overall: Four red bottoms out of five

Review: Stone-Tongue Basilisk

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 3
It’s the kind of card that goes into Type 4 piles because everyone has it, and it’s not much good elsewhere.

Discussion:

Ahhh, Stone-Tongue Basilisk. Who doesn’t remember seeing one or opening one back in the Odyssey days and dreaming of building a deck with them? After all, it’s what you always wanted your other basilisks to do anyway! And it’s got Wayne “Pointy Serpintine Things” England art to top it off! What could go wrong?

Well, 2001 came and went, you never quite collected four of them for your awesome Stone-Tongue Basilisk/Arcane Teachings deck. You gained some pounds, got your heart broken, and ended up being thrown into the spiritual meat grinder of adulthood. Playing Magic is about as good as popping Zoloft so why not? Anyway, during those years, the nWo’s takeover of WCW—sorry, WotC’s Magic department—has been fully realized and consolidated. That Stone-Tongue Basilisk is truly an embarrassment now, though thinking back on it with the wisdom of age, you realize it probably always was.

At least now you can use one of the two you collected way back then, play it, and think back to when people were enraged that Counterspell was no longer going to be considered acceptable to print in core sets and Shroud wasn’t too complicated or frustrating for us troglodytes to understand.

Type 4 is kind of like a graveyard for our fond memories in that sense.

Overall: Three angular creatures with open mouths looking to the right out of five

Review: Rise from the Grave

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 2
Borderline. It’s nothing special but it’s inoffensive.

Discussion:

This is like… the most average card in the stack. It takes a main phase and does something that’s worth doing, but nothing above that. It will pretty much always have a use in just about any games that’s past the first few turns, and it’s probably going to be pretty good, too. The graveyard tends to be populated with all kinds of delicious goodies, just like real life.

But it’s really nothing special. It might actually be the most mediocre card in the Stack.

Overall: Two and a half ‘midnight snacks’ out of five

Review: Lone Revenant

Draft Priority: 1

Impact: 1

Stack Status: 2
Marginal. This is a pity 2, because it’s just not good anywhere.

Discussion:

I remember opening this as I ended up with a bunch of packs of Avacyn Restored. I thought, “hmm, rare blue creature at over four mana? This must be good.” I’m sure if one could have mounted a camera in the room and recorded my face as my eyes scrolled down the text, it could have made for a hilarious .gif file that could haunt message boards for years to come. The transition from interest to confusion, then sadness, and finally rage probably would have been Oscar-worthy. Instead I’ll just tell you this card sucks, and I figured it might have a chance in Type 4 between the relatively empty boards and Hexproof. Instead, all it does it get pushed and the person who gets it resents it.

Overall: One Know Your Meme link out of Five