Review: Mirari

Draft Priority: 5

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Staple fo sho. “what do u mean it’s not a 5 Andy u stupid idiot im gonna come to ur house and force-feed you Javex!”

Discussion:

I know those ratings might seem a bit low. After all, the Mirari has a storied history of blowing up spots and not even apologizing a little bit. You’d think when mana becomes a non-issue, this effect would be endlessly compounded. But the rating I give this card is based on having seen Mirari get played a lot, and while it’s certainly awesome and should be a priority when drafting it, snot a table-breaker unless you’re probably already winning.

The issue is with only one spell per turn, the likelihood you’ll play a Mirari and somebody will just blow it up is very good; the chance it will survive long enough to get back to your own Sorcery-casting phase and let you drop a twin Beacons of Tomorrow is even less probable. Unless you manage to jam your deck full of sweet instants, the Mirari might not be the best thing to draft, but then you gotta hate draft this joint or you KNOW your opponent will be getting a double Beacon of Tomorrow off on you.

It’s still pretty bangin’ to get four beast tokens out of a single Beast Attack card, and even duplicating smaller spells like Jilt isn’t bad by any means. But temper your expectations with Mirari.

Overall: Four impossibly high expectations out of five

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Review: Crater Hellion

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Rock-solid. A famous old card that still works pretty well today when concerns about ‘efficiency’ are no longer in the picture.

Discussion:

This card has always held a mystique to me so I’ve assumed the same was true with most Magic players. The art is clearly mega-awesome and so was heavily featured on promotional materials, which built the card up quite a bit back in the day in my mind. I have no idea if this reflects reality, but I will say this card is one whose stock has plummeted with the new, super-aggressive costing of ETB effects on stupidly-strong bodies.

Either way, the luxuries of adulthood and an income beyond my Arby’s Money that put me through college afforded me the ability to play with this card and it didn’t live up to the hype, but it was still pretty bombastic in Type 4, so that’s a reasonable consolation. If you don’t feel much nostalgia for this card, you shouldn’t necessarily seek one out. But I like it, so I use it. It’s certainly no slouch, but doesn’t really each the heavyweight-hitter categories of cards like Desolation Giant and Scourge of Kher Ridges. Not everyone can be an A+. He’s a solid B.

Overall: Three and a half fond memories shattered out of five

Review: Vengeful Archon

Draft Priority: *6*

Impact: 5

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost all day erryday.

Discussion:

The word “Archon” is derived/English-bastardized from a title given to old-school Greek provincial governors, which basically meant “ruler”. This is pretty dope I guess, kind of like being a minister or whatever. Maybe closer to a Mayor, which always entails an excellent sash and is pretty good. Anyway, while I don’t doubt being an Archon was boss status, there’s no historical evidence that if provided you with a massive pegasus-lion and an awesome cape. Magic’s design team either has access to special Wikipedia pages or has decided on an awesome multiversal tradition in rulership where triple OGs get a cape, dope armor and a lion with wings to fly around on pounding scrubs into oblivion.

I assume these new-wave fantasy archons don’t actually spend any time on administrating their fiefdoms, if that’s even still part of the job description. Their little page probably runs into their ‘office’ and is like “um Mister Archon sir the community group from Gilmour Street would like to have the sewage issue addressed” and he’s like “ya np” and jumps on the lion-thing, flies past their houses a few times, maybe kicks the shit out a waste engineer in front of them, and then flies off to cheers and adulation (though the cheers are really just a way for them to hide their overwhelming fear). Then he packs it in at the same office, falling asleep sitting perfectly upright in a chair with the lights off.

In any case, if you can’t figure out why this card is awesome in Type 4, I can’t really help you.

Overall: Five communities managed by fantasy badasses out of five, Stacker Pentecost Glare of Approval

Review: Plumes of Peace

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 2
Borderline. It’s not great, but it’s sort of a free non-spell ability which lets it weasel in.

Discussion:

It’s rough out there for a Pacificism-type effect. It needs to super-super SUPERmax lock something down like Oblivion Ring, provide an ancillary benefit like Faith’s Fetters, or move itself around like Shackles or Prison Term. You’ll note that Plumes of Peace doesn’t do any of those, and is a pretty awful way to spend your main phase casting opportunities as a 3-mana, plain Pacificism.

But the Forecast ability can be used on your turn, every turn, at virtually no risk. It’s not overwhelmingly powerful, but it is something that can add up over the course of a game like Type 4 where permanent counts are low, blockers are few, and tapping that one guy will leave an opponent open for many potential strikes from Akroma analogues. It’s not going to blow up the table but it’s a fairly strong effect for the zero risk it offers. Using it smartly will likely pay dividends on both offense and funneling your opponents elsewhere.

That said, I’d still feel bad taking it over many, many other cards out there. It would be hilarious to get this, Mind Games and a few other recurring tap-down cards for a game (until your opponents found you annoying enough to drown you in tar).

Overall: Two “I wish this was Prison Term so bad” thoughts upon playing out of five

Review: Echo Mage

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 5

Stack Status: 6
Stacker Pentecost for sure. Pretty much all the decent Level Up creatures–and even some of the poopy ones–are going to score the S-rank here.

Discussion:

SWEET CHRISTMAS this card is money in the bank. I like it in various formats actually, but obviously Type 4 is it’s time to shine since it pops out, Levels up to Level Billions and Billions and from there… well… just about anything is possible. It’s like giving birth to a fully-grown pro athlete without all the bleeding or chest-bursting (depending on your preferred IVF method).

Opponents are left reluctant to cast spells and your own moneymakers transform a traditional strip club “make it rain” moment into a Biblical flood of currency with strippers floundering to get on your ark of gold-plated platinum. What’s not to love?

Well, again, to bring up the principle of success being measured by haters, the second Echo Mage gets online expect to concurrently hear that infamous whine of high-pitched goggles as Hatervision is engaged around the table. To quote the philsopher king Raekwon, who is also a notable proponent of Echo Mage:

Jealous ass WHOOPwhoopwhoop can’t see they man prosper
They’d rather see me in a broke down fuckin’ Mazda
Don’t disrespect me, son, you will get popped up
My resume’s off the hook, now, check mi casa

~ Raekwon, “State of Grace”

I’m sure that WotC wanted to use this as the flavour text, actually, but it was just a bit too long with the complex Level Up text formatting.

Anyway, Echo Mage telegraphs it’s power plays worse than Tim Silvia and subsequently has about as much subtlety as… uh… Tim Silvia. But, also like Tim Silvia, it’s pretty good at winning fights to leave subtlety to the other losers at the table.

Overall: Four and a half too many Tim Silvia references that don’t necessarily mesh with reality out of five

Review: Soul Manipulation

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Staple fo sho. This is a nice little cornercase counterspell that works amazingly well in the stack.

Discussion:

This was one of the first cards I saw after coming back into Magic after sort of skipping out of the building in the early 2000s. This and Quasali Pridemage. I remember thinking back in the Invasion days, these joints would have been like… two more mana, and probably rare. It was then that I realized the nWo was in charge and the power creep had gotten beyond reversal. On the plus side, there’s lots of sweet commons seeing print now, which I do like. This is an excellent example.

Counterspells that provide you with extra cards are universally good, even if they carry some conditions, so this is predictably considered quite playable. I like this card in all kinds of formats.

Value.

Overall: Four mind-boggling revelations out of five

Review: Necrotic Ooze

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 5

Stack Status: 4
Boss. It works awesome when Type 4-worthy creatures start to expire.

Discussion:

This card is so awesome I can’t believe it got printed recently. Obviously it benefits enormously from Type 4 caliber fatasses lounging their newly-necrotic bodies in the graveyard, but one of the greatest elements of the Ooze is the tension it adds to games. It’s hard to say what will happen when an Ooze drops, especially in a game that’s been rolling for over ten turns. Sometimes, the whole affair pauses while everyone wonders–“Is the game over?” It’s entirely possible to almost ‘accidentally’ win the game using an Ooze, sometimes using it’s own chain of abilities to work up to that. One of my favourites involved using a dead Visara’s tap-snipe ability to blow up a Hateflayer, then using the Hateflayer’s ability in conjunction with some other stupid tap ability to kill everyone. It’s like some horrid, Oozy snowball of death.

All in, great card, tremendous fun.

Overall: Four and a half disgusting garbage juice messes you leave for your spouse to clean up after you go to work out of five

Review: Fervent Denial

Draft Priority: 5

Impact: 5

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost. This should be fairly obvious.

Discussion:

This is one of the best Type 4 counterspells that exists. It’s unconditional, it’s multiple-use, and it sits in the graveyard threatening everybody with having their favourite spell countered. There’s not a whole lot to say here.

In short, the picture of the guy in the card is what your reaction should be like if you’re able to pick it up in a draft, right down to the brain popping out the domepiece and the tentacles flipping out in the background.

Overall: Five impending tentacle bangs out of five, Stacker Pentecost glare of approval

Review: Jokulhaups

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 5

Stack Status: 3
Staple. It’s not like it’s much better in Type 4 than other formats, but it’s all all-purpose baller so you might as well put it in. Plus it ups the number  of Ice Age cards in your stack, always an important consideration.

Discussion:

While a lot of Magic players like to pretend they’re unique snowflakes who fit into all kinds of varied categories–whether they’re types of games they like ranging from PTQ grinders to EDH scrubs–or stupid ‘psychological profiles’, the truth is all Magic players fit into exactly one of two profiles.

“Is Jokulhaups ok to play with?”

The answer is completely binary: yes or no.

Everybody who played back in the days of Orcish Lumberjack, Rukh Eggs and Jokulhaups knows of this division. And you should know which side you land on, too. Either side is ok. But it’s important to know.

At least it used to be, anyway. Funnily enough, the whole thing that makes this card so divisive is mostly absent in Type 4–it doesn’t essentially reset the game. This turns it into just another good board wipe, though the fact that it hits lands is actually super-significant and actually makes it one of the best board wipes available.

Jokulhaups is awesome and if you don’t like it, eat shit.

Overall: Four and a half needlessly divisive articles out of five

Review: Decree of Savagery

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 5

Stack Status: 6
Stacker Pentecost. This is a must-have for pretty much any stack.

Discussion:

While my man Forgotten Ancient takes it’s time handing out the steroids in the locker room a la Dr. Zahorian at a ‘gradual’ pace, flipping Decree into your hand is kind of like stumbling on his whole stash of needles and delicious forbidden muscle-substances. Much like the actual card art, you can’t help but dive into that pile of HGH goodness and subsequently start the most musclebound, road-ragey punchdancing session since the early-2000s MLB crackdown.

The Decree quickly ends games if it goes unanswered, letting utility nerds like Chandler and Necrotic Ooze go from providing pokes to sledgehammer blows to the face. With even three normally ‘non-threatening’ creatures on deck, successfully sending your team to the Savage Lands will often turn an exploratory attack into a deathblow. If you have a lot of creatures, take this early and often. It’s totally sweet.

Overall: Four and a half steroid parties out of five