Review: Vile Requiem

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 2
Borderline.

Discussion:

This has always been a cornercase card. But the warped rules of Type 4 and overall slop of the format give some more tolerance for personal favourites like this guy. I like the whole cycle of verse counter cards, even if they aren’t very good. I had this guy sitting around and figured, “why not?” WotC evidently agrees with me as they chose to reprint this is a recent product, which was pretty surprising.

Anyway, the effect can range from worthless to entirely backbreaking. Get it down first turn and watch people exchange nervous glances about it. Nobody wants to be the on to waste a card on killing it, but as soon as it has one counter on it, people start treating you differently. Why should they provoke you and have to lose a creature? In that sense, it’s a fun political card. The generally lower creature counts of Type 4 games also help elevate it’s value a bit, but don’t expect miracles. This is a third-tier card at best. If your stack is fairly large, go ahead and throw it in with tempered expectations.

Overall: Two non-Christmas Specials out of five

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Review: Crystal Ball

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 2
Borderline.

Discussion:

There’s quite a bit of powerful card sorting available in Type 4. The issue isthat a lot of the Scry-type of effects are cards that are good because they’re cheap and efficient. They help facilitate a deck moving forward smoothly towards it’s well-organized game plan. While their impact is small-ish, so is their opportunity cost, and when you have a well-defined game plan those incremental advantages quickly compound on themselves into momentum.

In Type 4, you have few of these elements. There’s no clever, well-defined plan. You might not even know what’s in your deck. You need high-impact abilities and spells to go toe-to-toe with your opponents, and you can’t clog up your limited number of draws per game.

On the other hand, Soothsaying is too good and there’s other effects like it that I don’t use because they’re just too powerful.

Crystal Ball straddles this line and kind of ends up looking gimpy. Sure, it won’t overpower games, but if you can spare a main phase to cast it there’s a good chance it will survive to the end of the game and give you a lot of card selection. But without the ability to plan ahead and ensure shuffling, it can also just be a frustrating peek at the next two irrelevant draws in a tough situation. This makes it super-fair, but for the most part, you don’t want anything too fair. Crystal Ball might be too fair for some stacks. If it’s a big one like mine, then it’s a servicable inclusion, but don’t be surprised to see it get pushed a lot.

Overall: Two Cristal Ballin’ out of five

Review: Vapor Snag

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 2
Marginal.

Discussion:

This card is a champion, but it’s more of a sort of… uh… “regular guy weight” champion. Like, “IT Department Champion” when being compared to Heavyweight World Fighting Champions in various combat sports. The IT Department is full of nerdy losers who overanalyze everything and only socialize with each other. It’s a lot like Standard or whatever. With that crowd, Vapor Snag is God-Tier goodness thanks to it’s “efficiency” and other junk nerds like.

Type 4 is a little more like heavyweight boxing; everyone is big, slow, and brain-damaged, and can’t really play normal Magic because it’s too complex. But we don’t worry too much about efficiency because each blow we toss can knock out megafauna.

When you can advertise on a dude’s back, you know the thickness is present

So Vapor Snag might appear to be a little outclassed in Type 4. It’s not it’s fault, it wasn’t built for this type of work. Is it still useful? Certainly. Give even the skinniest little hungry skellington a shank and he can wreck a big guy when he’s not paying attention. So if you have a really big stack go ahead and throw it in, but don’t expect miracle and until you’ve used up practically all the higher-cost, less-typically-playable bounce spells, you can keep Vapor Snag on it’s 800 calorie a day diet and out of Type 4.

Overall: Two fleshy billboards out of five

 

Review: Skarrgan Firebird

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 3
Hmmm not sure about this entirely

Discussion:

MEETING

I want you to work, Mr. Firebird. I really want you to keep it real with my bros in the stack. THe problem is you often seem to come up just a little bit short of the expectations of your project manager, end up passing responsibility on to others when you can’t handle your workload, and then to end up sitting on the sidelines while others finish the job.

“B-but I’m resilient! When the chips are down I come back to keep working! I-I’m a u-u-useful stopgap?”

Hmmm… well, you make that claim, Mr. Firebird, but what else could be done instead of stopgapping n that same timeframe? Couldn’t we be using that time to focus on something like getting a Dragonlair Spider into play, or dropping a Decree of Pain?

“Well, that seems l-like an unfair c-comparison!”

Is it, though? They all occupy the same desk space as you, work the same hours, and the only upside you seem to offer is when you fail, you eventually come back and try again. Why don’t we just skip that failure and go for a winner right off the bat?

“Sometimes even t-the best coworkers g-g-g-g-get wrecked, and I-I’m the only one here!”

That’s true Mr. Firebird. It does happen occasionally. Which is why we’re keeping you around but putting you on a probationary period. Govern yourself accordingly.

– Andy adjusts his skirt and leaves the HR office, where Skarrgan Firebird starts sobbing uncontrollably trying to console himself listening to Creed on his smartphone –

Overall: Two unfulfilled potentials out of five

Review: Death Rattle

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 2
Cornercase roleplayer.

Discussion:

As a stack grows and grows and your collection of cards starts to take up too much space in your apartment, you will have moments of weakness where you figure, “Yeah, I’ll throw this card in my stack/cube/whatever” just so you can justify keeping it. This happens mostly to people like me who live in vans. It’s important at times like these to keep perspective. You probably CAN afford to throw out those eight extra Pillarfield Oxes, because they’re shit. But what about cards that at least sort of do something? That’s where the water gets muddied and the real danger exists.

I think Death Raddle has emerged from that murky haze and ended up in my Stack. It’s removal and it’s instant, which means it can be used to good effect regardless of the game. But it’s totally unspectacular… boring even. If I was going tob uy new cards, I’m sure there’s been at least a dozen new removal spells that could instantly replace Death Rattle, but spending money is stupid so for now Death Rattle sticks around.

Side note: I irrationally hate this card and can’t attach a good reason to the feeling.

Overall: Two questionable inclusions out of five

Review: Fire//Ice

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 2
Questionable. This gets a ton of play elsewhere.

Discussion:

I don’t know what it is about Fire//Ice that means it sort of just… gets a pass from Magic players in about any context. See it tossed into a Vintage sideboard as a one-of? Whatever. Getting play in virtually every cube ever made? Sure. Showing up to a wedding in sandals? Well, nobody’s going to say too much.

My point is Fire//Ice just kind of slips under people’s radar. It’s a tremendously useful, versatile card but sometimes I can’t help but wonder if it’s getting by largely on reputation sometimes. Like that old jackass that works at your university who hasn’t published anything since like 1985 but keeps getting invites to all the conferences and still talks tons of shit about his ‘seminal opus’.

Am I a hater? Hardly. This card has done a lot for me across various formats, but then I saw it in the Stack and thought, “is this really it’s place?” Of course it’s Stack status is low because it does see so much use elsewhere, and really, why have it here? It’s a cantrip instant… can kill Enclave Cryptologist… and I guess I had one sitting around.

Despite my 200 words of complaining, I’m still not going to cut it but I swear it’s on the chipping block.

Overall: Two stink-eyes out of five

Review: Narrow Escape

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 3
Large-stack enabler. It’s not a staple but it’s good enough to give a spot.

Discussion:

Do a thing. Gain some life. This card does it, and better than most. Rescue a permanent instead of just a creature, which is pretty swell, on top of a generous helping of four life. The reasons this card is usable are pretty obvious (ETB powercreep mostly), but that doesn’t diminish it’s utility. Not everything has to have a dozen bizarre rules minutae to make it worth looking at. This is the type of card that gets overlooked for other formats but is perfect here because of the low opportunity cost of casting it combined with the pretty reasonable effect.

In other words, another background utility player. You can’t hate that.

Overall: Two “I’m not sure how to draw an enchantment escaping”s out of five

Review: Sheltering Word

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Draft Priority: 2
Borderline. It is what it is.

Discussion:

Another welcome addition to the ‘do something plus lifegain’ family, Sheltering Word is a decent card that just isn’t high-impact enough to warrant inclusion in smaller stacks. Sure, saving a creature from impending doom and gaining some life in the process is pretty decent, but there’s so many crazier cards to make sure you have first. It’s just not all that exciting, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact, my experience with this card in play have made me respect it quite a bit. But it’s still a utility hitter at best. It can’t escape it’s essential nature.

It also has the unfortunate side effect of not having some other awesome redeeming quality like the art of Avoid Fate. If you have a really big stack this is an inoffensive add, but it needs to be pretty big before this is warranted. My stack is huge so I don’t feel compelled to cut it, but it’s probably floating constantly in the range of the first ten instants I’d cut for new additions.

Overall: Two Narrow Escapes out of five

Review: Svogthos, the Restless Tomb

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 2
Borderline, but I didn’t cut it… yet.

Discussion:

So, I’ll disclose my biases at the beginning of this review: I hate this card. The terrible, overly-complicated name, “Plant Zombie”, and only counting the dead critters in your own graveyard? Bitch please, back the fuck up before you get slapped the fuck up. Everything is stupid and I hate the world.

And yet, for some reason, every time we play Type 4 somebody drafts this without complaining and nobody complains about it’s mediocre-to-terrible performance. Nobody seems upset with it’s perpetual lack of impact on games or it’s general weakness. So this leaves me thinking… is it just me? Am I the problem instead of ‘Svogthos’ (retch) being the problem?

It’s tough to say objectively, but when I sit back and analyse the whole affair like Rza would recommend, I can see my expectations are clouding my vision and making me expect too much out of a mediocre card that is clearly designed to pull ‘gotcha’ victories in draft games or something. I’m expecting a Wrath-ducking Mortivore, which isn’t what this is. It’s something else.

Something worse, though. I stand by that. Still, I’m keeping it around for the time being and trying to just… be fair with it.

That name though… c’mon son

Overall: Two AWFUL fantasy names out of five

Review: Fog

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 2
Borderline, but cut.

Discussion:

This makes me want to go into some crazy tribal mourning-dance type of stuff where I rip my shirt open and start screaming at the heavens, but… I’m cutting Fog from my stack.

Yep, Fog. The O.G. Fog.

“But Andy, you’re always going on about Fogs being essential and Fogs being the new fast mana! How can you wipe out the original cool?”

Trust me, my friend, it’s not without tremendous consideration and much hand-wringing. But the fact is (and you know I had to fall back on this excuse) WotC also realizes that Fogs are super-dope, and they print a lot of really good ones. The sad reality is that the old model, while an undisputed classic, is being left behind in the Type 4 world of free mana and single spells. Why draft Fog over Terrifying Presence, Tangle, or even the recently-review Serene¬†Sunset? There are some reasons but in general, the old Fog just can’t keep up. There’s a new breed of crazier, more powerful and versatile Fogs nipping at it’s heels and it’s finally getting passed.

So, here’s to the one that started it all. Thank you for your service.

fogs

Overall: Two honourable discharges out of five