Review: Stalking Vengeance

Draft Priority: 5

Impact: 5

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost. Sure am hitting a lot of these lately.

Discussion:

Confession: I was confused by the art on this card for a long time. I wasn’t entirely sure what the stuff at the creature’s feet were, and given the Ravnica setting, I figured maybe it was just a run down area of the city with teetering-ass old buildings and such. I was thinking, “oh cool, it’s made up of derelict parts of the city”. But I wasn’t sure this made sense as it would mean that Stalking Vengeance is fucking enormous.

Then somebody pointed out that it’s probably tombstones and while that made plenty more sense, I thought it was a lot less cool. But then again as you have probably figured I think anything I’m involved in is awesome and everything that doesn’t involve me is shit.

The power of this card is wildly variable, but with just one or two creatures in play that’s often enough to turn him into a real treacherous threat. Few cards also generate stalemates like Stalking Vengeance, where a player might be able to kill you but would die because of creatures dying in combat or something. Of course, even by itself, a 5/5 with Haste is significant, but it feels pretty disappointing. This is the thing that keeps Stalking Vengeance from Glare of Approval status, but it should hardly make you feel reserved about confidently first-picking it.

Overall: Five seeds of doubt out of five

Review: Congregation at Dawn

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 5
Must-have.

Discussion:

You know this is some team-up shit just getting ready to schedule Ravnica’s dopest party. The Dryad is brewing the MDMA, the Centuar is getting all the rowdies rounded up and the knight guy is probably making sure his parents are out of town or something (he looks like the type). In Type 4, said rowdies are the very rowdiest in Magic so you can really make the party pop off as you assemble an A-team from within your deck. While the card isn’t super-powerful into itself, it’s instant-speed nature, flexibility (you can just find one creature if you want), and insane power of your potential tutor targets make it a great utility hitter that every Stack should be running.

Don’t forget the finer points of play; sometimes you might want to only grab one or two guys to keep your upcoming draws open. You never know when a situation is going to take a hard U-Turn to Poop City and leave you with two upcoming draws that can’t help right your course. Also, the Draft Priority of this card goes up immensely if you end up drafting certain creatures, most importantly ones that draw cards upon entering the battlefield like Slithermuse or Sphinx of Lost Truths. The reasons for this should be obvious.

Overall: Four Dryad MDMA-fuelled parties out of five

Review: Hypnox

Draft Priority: *6*

Impact: *6*

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost because if you don’t think so fuck you

Discussion:

What happens when Hypnox shows up on the draft group:

What happens when somebody else drafts it:

Waiting for it to be played:

When it hits somebody else:

Drafting Hypnox is like a literacy test. If you don’t take it, the other options was probably like… Flowstone Overseer, or maybe a million bucks.

Overall: Five stock reaction images found on Google out of five, Stacker Pentecost Glare of Approval

Review: Conqueror’s Pledge

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost. Eleven mana.

Discussion:

I like this card for a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is that it is pretty much a self-contained story. The art is striking, there’s a pretty clear narrative here, and I don’t know why she’s standing in front of a slingshot for giants, but it looks pretty cool regardless. I would like to nitpick the inclusion of Kor since they’re a dumb, unnecessary addition to the lore like Kithkin that could have easily been pruned into some other racial branch during the reclassifying, but I’ll let it go because this card is cool and functionally good.

The Kor soldier token even looks really cool.

You know how to make it cooler though? Multiplication (bka the ancient art of ‘timesing’)

kor

In Type 4 this is a strong army-in-a-can. It’s a pile of plebs, but it’s a big pile of plebs so people will take notice when you cast it. It’s also kind of funny how some people will think “ahh it’s just a bunch of 1/1s” but then they get hit for twelve life and realize this isn’t a game son. You think a lady with a bright blue dress like that can keep it spotless in the desert without some serious skills? Back up before you get slapped up.

Overall: Four stupid Kor out of five

Review: Metathran Aerostat

Draft Priority: *6*

Impact: 5

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost for sure for real.

Discussion:

This innocuous piece of crap is made amazing in Type 4 by it’s ability to respond to it’s own ability. I’ll just cut to the chase here and say it can dump all the creatures in your hand onto the board, all at once.

Just some stupid airship floating by, probably riding dirty, and then all of a sudden dudes start puking out of it. Unstoppable tidal waves of dudes. Dudes you can’t counter. It’s horrifying.

Thus this nightmare boat deserves an extremely high draft priority and there should be one in every stack. But despite it’s abusive power, it does come with some catches that limit it and make it genuinely interesting to use strategically instead of just some hunk of shit instant win card.

It’s hugely telegraphed. When somebody plays this card, you pretty much know the score… OR DO YOU? Maybe they have nothing in their hand and they’re just trying to draw a counterspell. You might never find out which will surely haunt your dreams. Another issue is the one-trick-pony nature of the card; you puke all your mans out once and the Aerostat is done. Sure, in theory you can use it to slowly roll out creatures with pseudo-flash, but recasting this piddly boat is a horrible use of a main phase spell opportunity and doing that will almost certainly result in losing the game quick-fast.

So, it’s a bit of an oddity, but it’s a pretty treacherous trick. I like the mind games it produces, and I love seeing people almost cry when somebody cases Rout on their six new beasts. I guess you could say I like it when it doesn’t work out for other people, which really is a huge wellspring of satisfaction for me in more than just card games.

Overall: Five boat theme decks out of five, Stacker Pentecost Glare of Approval

Review: Treacherous Urge

 

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost.

OH THE TREACHERY! THE PERFIDY!

– insert joke nobody will get –

You’ll be wailing just like that guy once somebody drops a properly-timed Treacherous Urge on you. For a while this was EDH tech for anti-Emrakul usage in my neck of the woods, and it did serve admirably, always getting a much-deserved hype reaction every time you actually pulled somebody’s spaghetti monster out of their own and and proceeded to molest them with it. Emrakul, being what it is, should give you some indication of how good this card is in Type 4.

I don’t think much explanation is needed about why it’s awesome, especially when you first realize it’s an Instant despite your mind telling you over and over it must be a sorcery. Amazing. One of my favourite things about this card is how mercurial the reaction to it’s play tends to be. Either you hit the jackpot on a Hellcarver Demon or something and spend it to the last time for all the hard times, or you go for bust and end up jacking somebody’s… nothing, at worst case I guess, in which case you look like a dick despite having very little real control over the whole thing.

Don’t wait; start training your creepy marionette to saw itself in half today.

Overall: Four and a half “I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League”s out of five

Review: Flickerform

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 4
Staple fo sho. It’s something you can use over and over, so of course it’s good.

Discussion:

This card looks almost too good for Type 4 on the surface. It provides a repeatable ability that at the most innocent, can protect a creature like Exalted Angel from removal basically forever. That can certainly be problematic. But when you consider that Magic has slowly become Enters the Battlefield: The Gathering and this card starts to encroach the territory of potential madness. But in my experience, it can take over the occasional game but usually it’s pretty tame. There’s a few reasons for this.

One is that my Stack is made up largely of older cards where ‘sorcery plus good p/t lol’ wasn’t the rule for creature design. I only have a few Cratherhoof Behemoth-esque ETB creatures in my Stack because mostly I prefer old-school champions like Fungal Shambler. Creatures that do creature things and pay you out for getting them done instead of “I got a spell and the body is just a bonus”. So that tends to mitigate the impact of this card a good deal.

The other is that people I play with nuke a creature getting Flickerformed before the Aura gets attached to it usually. There’s that critical window of vulnerability and most people don’t want to let the silliness start.

The third is that Flickerform is kind of self-limiting. You can only use it to get the ETB ability once per turn, which can be bad, but not as horrendeous as just doing the ol’ “in-n-out” at will.

So I think this is perfectly fair, but be warned, whether that’s true in your own Stack is highly dependent on what type of creatures you put in.

Overall: Three and a half Craw Wurms out of five

Review: Dispel

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 3
Solid roleplayer.

Discussion:

Instants are good in Type 4. We’ve discussed this. Subsequently, it would make sense that a counter-card would also be of value, and it is. The issue is that because Dispel fits broadly into the ‘counterspell’ category, it’s working against some pretty stiff competition and cards that are almost always useful, all the time. But ‘instant’ is an extremely broad category of cards, and many are devastating in Type 4 with the lifted mana restrictions. The likelihood that you won’t find a good target for Dispel during even a short game means this might not always be the ideal card to have, but it’ll almost always be useful.

It’s also worth noting that multiple-party counterspell fights are not uncommon in the treacherous shifting alliances that these multiplayer games naturally foster, so having an extra card on deck for those eventualities never hurts.

The question isn’t whether Dispel is playable, it’s at what point it’s worth putting into your stack. That’s definitely something up to the individual player, but mine is pretty big now (over 1000 cards) and I basically use every viable counterspell I can find. If I were at something like 400 cards, there’d be no room for Dispel as there’s a laundry list of more popular, powerful, and universal spells you could throw in.

Don’t overlook Dispel. Recognize it for what it is: a useful bench player.

Overall: Two and a half giant Type 4 piles out of five

Review: Hystrodon

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 3
Staple. It’s a very good creature but nothing more or less.

Discussion:

Here’s another card I’ve always kind of liked, but has never been exceptional. But it says “draw a card” so it’s probably pretty useful. I also respect the use of any Magic card monster chasing down innocent antelopes, beasting on them in order to draw their controller cards. I also get the impression from that scale wildlife that this giant thing springs out of a much smaller morph ‘shell’, which is probably pretty dope physics-wise.

So, it has a combination of good abilities–morph, trample, drawing cards–but it’s only a 3/4. Given people are going to0 be assuming it’s a 1/2 regardless, the 3/4 is actually not a half bad size as it might trample over some chump blocking utility creature they imagine will be safe. But most creatures are going to demolish it in combat, so you need to play it carefully if you want to keep up the deception that it’s a Willbender or a Krosan Cloudscraper. Attack into grossly unfavourable-looking matchups or just go for the bonus poke against ‘undefended’ players. Maybe alternate between the two. The problem is that once Hystrodon falls down and bumps his head, then switches it on ’em, the gig is up. Everyone knows it’s a relatively weak creature that they don’t want to let make contact with a player.

It’s still plenty playable, but don’t expect miracles. Get a two cards and six points of damage, a chump block, and let the Hystrodon die with pride.

Overall: Three Krosan Willbenders out of five

Review: Kamahl, Pit Fighter

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Solid. He deserves to be in here, but isn’t especially great or anything.

Discussion:

Kamahl is a pretty rad card for such a pitiful weakling. I guess he’s like a nerd who can throw his bodyweight like a spear at a target, but if somebody breathes on him the wrong way he dies. He should probably have some thick-rimmed glasses and spacers in his ears, but this was originally printed in 2001 so I can’t remember what the style was at the time for Hungry Skelly Hipsters.

One thing that never goes out of style is Lightning Bolts. Even in Type 4, lightning bolts on a stick are pretty good. His ability to become a mega-bolt if an attack lane is wide open is a nice twist as well, though we have a running joke where Kamahl always dies if he goes for n actual red zone attack. A creature with Flash, a cycled Slice and Dice, it doesn’t matter… he never gets to successfully attack. That pitiful 1 toughness body is just too easy a target. I think today he would probably have First Strike.

Maybe you could scribble it in on the card with a marker if you want him to be better, but for now he’s pretty good anyways.

Overall: Three and a half hipster spears out of five