Review: Awe Strike

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 3
Staple.

Discussion:

A combination of being an obvious throwaway limited card and a CMC of one really conspire to keep this card out of the extra-flossy Type 4 limelight, but the fact is that Type 4’s bizarre, high-numbers environment actually makes this card playable. In just about any other context, this card just doesn’t do enough. It sort of delays the inevitable, chews up a draw step, and yadda yadda. You probably know exactly why this sucks. But when you’re preventing getting clobbered for 6-10 damage, and GAINING that life in an environment where the board might change radically enough soon that you don’t have to worry about being a good target anymore–suddenly Awe Strike is actually pretty appealing.

Couple that with people’s tendacy to do ‘infinite damage’ to something with a creature like Scourge of Kher Ridges, and suddenly this card can win you games. That’s not too shabby.

Lifegain is reasonably useful, Fogs are pretty good, the numbers are out of whack. Put it all together and suddenly Awe Strike is quite playable despite all your perfectly valid instincts to throw it into the garbage.

Overall: Three ascensions from garbageland out of five

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Review: Pulse of the Grid

Draft Priority: 5

Impact: *6*

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

You have to be pretty stupid to not see how good this is. Consistent, repeatable card draw that can be done as long as other people have cards? You’d have to be playing against the type of strategic masterminds who figure you should hit themselves with Wit’s End to shut down your Pulse to screw this up. It’s incredible potent, sometimes bearing on oppressive, but never seems to quite get there. It’s like Whispers of the Muse light. You simply must use it.

Most of the Pulses are pretty dope, actually, even the Sorcey ones because as long as you satisfy the ‘return to hand’ clauses, they’re a bit like cantrips. This one just happens to be a perfect storm of card advantage, instant-ness, and “do I really want to counter that?”-ness.

Overall: Five unnecessary explanations out of five

Review: Tainted Strike

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 4
Staple fo sho.

Discussion:

This costs only one mana. What a stupid card

…or is it?

Well, sort of. It’s the ultimate stupid gimmick card, but there’s so many dumb gimmicks that it’s worth using because they’re all kinda funny when they happen. I guess in a way Tainted Strike is a bit like a charm card, where it has a few modes.

One negates damage from a creature, as unless it’s going to do over ten damage, there’s no many other ways to do poison counters in the stack, if any. But it’s a high-risk move as when you hit that Dragon Mage or whatever and suddenly your man shouts about some Might of Oaks, you’re boned.

Another is ghetto creature removal or weakening, as it turns even a sacrificial attack into an effective way to diminish a big dangerous beast.

The third is the intended mode, I guess, where you one-shot somebody with poison counters. Also the least exciting and most maddening.

Overall pretty good.

Overall: Three “what” out of five

Review: Laquatus’s Champion

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost

Discussion:

I don’t know how Laquatus’s Champion managed to get so swole, because I don’t know if his… uh… upper appendages are even able to carry weights and stuff the conventional way. I don’t want to accuse him of juicing, but I’m just… y’know… sayin’. Those gains look crazy.

Anyway, give this some thought. This is a seriously evil looking monster. Tentacles? Check. Cyclops? Check. Generic fiery background? Check. Creature type NIGHTMARE HORROR? Check. And he’s repping this poncy gentleman?

It’s like… what? He seems a little too dark for Laquatus. Even if it’s supposed to be his evil enforcer working muscle jobs behind the scene it just doesn’t seem to fit to me. I’m sure there’s some (incredibly boring or overwrought) story explanation, but just by looking at the cards I’m 100% confident Laquatus is going to get eaten by his own champion¬†by accident.

All that aside, if you don’t think this card is awesome you’re stupid and you have stupid opinions. The Champ is a durable, strong offensive option who can often function as a simple burn spell to kill a player offer unexpectedly. That’s delicious. Given his regenerate, the low toughness borders on irrelevant as most spells that would kill him outright would also kill most Type 4 creatures. This guy can be drafted a bit late as people are accustomed to nWo powercrept creatures, but the Champ holds up pretty well tot he test of time.

Overall: Four mismatched goons out of five

Review: Crippling Chill

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

Alternatives to what this card’s art could have been:

  • Some dudes on the corner hanging out throwing up gang signs
  • My wife constantly complaining about being too cold
  • A bunch of guys in wheelchairs relaxing on a tropical beach
  • Anything other than the actual art because it’s boring and meaningless

In general, this is a perfectly playable card that nobody will remember when the game is over. An instant speed cantrip basically makes this card good enough to play, even if it’s effect was less than listed, so no surprise there.

I hate the newer verion’s art even more.

Overall: Three frigid bros throwing gangsigns out of five

Review: Praetor’s Grasp

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 3
Staple.

Discussion:

First point: the Praetors are stupid, I hate their stupid name/title, and the cards were shitheads.

But I have to admit, this one is pretty dope because it’s a Jester’s Cap-style effect. Those are always awesome, and this card’s predecessor Grinning Totem is fun as well (and also very good in Type 4). But Praetor’s Grasp is especially good because of the way it interacts with the Third Commandment. You’re basically burning your own main phase spell for a non-spell. Then, the question is do you take a powerful instant to cash in on immediately? Or risk waiting to play a big creature or sorcery on your next turn? The applications are endless, as are the mind games, because you don’t actually show anybody what you’re stealing out of their decks. It’s psychological warfare, and it pretty much rules.

Overall: Three and a half stupid new creature types out of five

Review: Crab Umbra

Draft Priority: 1

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 1
Cut

Discussion:

Crab Umbra does exactly one thing: enables infinite combos.

Granted, that’s not entirely true; it also enables your opponents to make terrible choices like drafting it early and slapping it on a random monster as a sort of pseudo-vigilance thing. As stated previously, this is terrible. Actually, in general, Crab Umbra is a pile of shit until you put it on somebody with an activated ability with a tap cost. At that point, it becomes insanely good.

As a result, this has the same problem as Voltaic Construct; it’s terrible until it’s too good, and then it’s just game-ending (most of the time–sometimes it just goes on Visara the Dreadful or whatever). This kind of extreme contrast makes the card a pain in the ass. Nobody wants to draft it, but somebody has to take it either by push or out of responsibility, knowing it needs to be hate-drafted because of previously taken cards. Ths isn’t very much fun, and it’s even more miserable when you’re in a clutch situation and you end up drawing this as your next big play.

In general I think it’s wise to avoid this type of card for Type 4. Try to get cards that are consistently fun and rewarding independently, and if they work well with others, that’s a tremendous bonus.

Overall: One and a half CRAB PPL out of five, cut

Review: Thran Tome

Draft Priority: 5

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

Miniature Fact or Fiction… on a stick? While I still firmly believe that reading books is for stupid nerds, this is more like reading a book that spews money out at you and produces sick gym gains just for having it in your possession. I think we can all agree that’s a good think compared to the usual poisonous influence of those nefarious mind-controlling page-turners (there’s no way something as Satanic as public education would rely on them otherwise).

Even if you only get to activate it once, it’s not terrible. If you get it more than once, your opponents are stupid, no artifact removal popped up int he draft pool, or you’re going to win the game. </DISENGAGE HYPERBOLE ENGINE> But seriously, it’s a superb card. I’ve gotten greedy with it in ways that resulted in me getting decked. Not a whole lot of cards in Type 4 can make that claim in my experience.

Add in the fact that it’s a Weatherlight card, classic art and some wonderful old-school flavour text and you have all the makings of a really awesome Type 4 card that won’t get played much of anywhere else. This is my kind of card.

Overall: Four and a half nerd books out of five

Review: Fuel for the Cause

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 3
Staple.

Discussion:

Counterspell plus. That’s pretty much all you need to know. Stuff you Stack with plenty of counterspells, whether they’re condition, weird, overcosted, whatever… just make you they’re in there. They provide a fail-safe for some cards that can take games over too easily, let people have a little more feeling of control over the game, and are an integral part of Magic anyway. Fuel for the Cause is an unconditional counterspell with a bonus effect that’s all upside, and doesn’t get used outside the occasional bizarre counter-based casual deck anyway, so it can use the opportunity to shine.

Also worth noting is that like just about anything else in Type 4, the counters here matter more, so the Proliferate effect actually has a chance at having a significant impact even if things aren’t engineered around it. For example, doubling up your divinity counters on those various Myojin is always solid; on the lower end, it never hurts to add some Theft counters to Night Dealings (NIGHT DEALINGS). It can also have some fun and unexpected political ramifications when other people have counters you can manipulate. Demand disproportionate favours for +1/+1 counters and see where it goes. Why not?

Overall: Three Theft Counters out of five

Review: Brilliant Ultimatum

Draft Priority: *6*

Impact: 5

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

Fact or Fiction is like Mulldrifer in a lot of ways; it’s a very good card, it’s fun to play with, but people also just say it’s really good because they hear people say it is that they respect or want to be. Unlike Mulldrifter, Fact Or Fiction also isn’t so skullfuckingly obviously good and requires some finesse to play with and around.

So Brilliant Ultimatum is a super Fact or Fiction. This takes away all the subtlety and nuance but replaces it with Earth-shattering power. It’s obvious for Type 4 in every way. Take it and ALWAYS rip on the guy who splits the piles while secretly knowing you have no idea what you would have done, and always act like another split was SOOOOO obviously better.

MAGIC IS A SKILLZ GAEM

Overall: Five Mulldrifters out of five, Stacker Pentecost Glare of Approval