Review: Slice in Twain

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 4
Must-have utility champion

Discussion:

I want to mark this card up for being the only Magic card with “Twain” in the title, but it doesn’t need any score padding. It’s one fo the best Disenchant variants available because it’s an instant that does ANYTHING and draws a card. In a format with limitless mana, I’m sure the appeal of this card isn’t lost. Like it’s crappier cousin Mystic Melting, this should essentially be in all Type 4 piles because it fills an important role in disruption while being something players will actively want to use; it won’t slow them down by consuming a main phase, it doesn’t cost them a card, and it can make a decent impact on the game.

It’s hard to ask much more of such an obvious throwaway design.

Overall: Four Twains out of five

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Review: Rockshard Elemental

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Willbender fo sho.

Discussion:

One of the most dangerous Willbenders out there, Rockshard Elemental is a very good Type 4 card because it produces memorable moments. Because of a combination of stealth, double-strike, and the available of absurdly powerful instant-speed pump cards flying around the table at basically all times, the Rockshard Elemental is a treacherous glass cannon, especially in a draft where lots of Willbenders have been drafted and you never know which one is actually a double-striking face devourer.

It takes very little to tip a Rockshard Elemental into one-hit-kill territory, and the funny thing is once one slips past blockers, it often becomes a pretty fun political mini-game to see if it can hit a player, get boosted, or get killed before contact (and then you have to worry about Fogs). Every interaction with Rockshard Elemental can mean death because of the other actors at the table. The morph-ability means you can cast it at low opportunity cost and have an improved chance to make contact with an opponent’s life total. It’s also a card that’s basically worthless otherwise, so really, this is one of the better creatures for Type 4 that won’t likely dominate games.

Overall: Four Morph apologists out of five

Review: Reaper of the Wilds

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Staple fo sho.

Discussion:

A champion brawler who also does… something else. Activated abilities that provide a meaningful mana sink. Pretty dope art, I guess. What else can you ask for? Well, a reasonable power and toughness that makes it reasonably dangerous without making it capable of dominating a game. You get that and you sort of have the total package for a Type 4 card, and this card is still badass without infinite mana.

Creatures die. With Reaper of the Wilds up in this piece, it’s actually almost guaranteed some creatures are going to be hitting the pooper in short order. Scry is good, and repeatable scry is even better. On offense or defense, the Reaper is practically unbeatable in a straight-up fight. There’s no complex strategies or subtle tricks to playing this card; just do what it’s obviously telling you to do. You know, that faint whispering in your ears you hear at night when you’re lying awake? It’s like, “Start a fire in your neighbour’s basement… nobody will know. You’ll be fine… the lighter is right there…” and then before you know it you’re prowling across the lawn half-naked with a lighter and your neighbour’s dog is barking like wild. You kind of realize what’s going on and go back to bed feeling terribly unsatisfied.

…wait…

Overall: Four ARSON CARDS out of five

Review: Dragonlair Spider

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

This card reminds me of something you might have never experienced if you are:

a) Cleaner than me (virtually a given)

b) Less lazy than I (pretty likely)

Have you ever been posted up at your place just doin’ YOU when you spot a spiderweb? Maybe even a spider in it. And you see it doin’ it’s thing, and you’re doin’ yours, and you just figure “aah fuck it it’s just a spider”. So you leave it be out a combination of laziness and apathy, with that middling thought in the back of your head you’re not entirely sure about that a spider in the house might keep the lesser bugs at bay. So in a way, it’s an asset.

Time passes. You’re not exactly getting familiar with this arachnid visitor…you’ve probably forgotten about it. But then one day you look at the same web and it’s FULL OF SMALLER SPIDERS.

What now?

Dragonlair Spider can nicely replicate that whole scenario in a game of Type 4. Granted, if your opponent is one of those idiots or pendants who’s constantly reminding people of triggers (and probably flicking cards around in their hand), then it’s unlikely you’re going to be playing and suddenly realize that there’s a dozen spiders sitting around the Dragonlair Spider in a lethal formation of too many legs. But if you’re playing with regular peopel you need to keep an eye on this token-producing beast. It’s not a great creature unto itself but a quick counterspell slapfight later it’s bringing considerable backup. The fact that the tokens have Reach also gives tremendous bonus points for being really good chump blockers.

Another great entry from Planechase 2012!

Overall: Four “Why”s out of five

Review: Assert Authority

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 4
Bretty bangin

Discussion:

Overpriced counterspells are absolutely a Type 4 staple, in pretty much all forms. Conditional or not, and counterspell-plus especially.

There’s not a lot to say about this one, because it’s not that interesting unto itself. But it’s plenty good.

Overall: Four magic Jazz Hands out of five

Review: Karador, Ghost Chieftan

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Solid staple fo sho.

Discussion:

This card ended up swapping places in my mind with The Mimeoplasm after they had been released and got some pretty serious play at my local groups. I was intially worried that Karador would eb the big enabler for extremely boring, slow, repetitive graveyard recursion decks but the truth was the Mimeoplasm ended up being worse. Part of this is because Karador is relatively fair with lots of innate balancing, and part of it was there’s no blue in his colour identity. Either way, I’m pleased to report Karador should go into just about any stack, but can go into them safely without much fear of producing too many groans.

The fact is that by himself, he sucks. He needs the game to develop, and can only draw on tricks your opponents have presumably already dealt with. It just means he’s very good without threatening to overpower the game. While he can be a bit crazy with some of the Flash creatures if you can combine it with a means to sacrifice them (Bogardan Hellkite jumps to mind), those are rare Rube Goldberg machine scenarios that are still disruptable at many points.

Factor in the fact that he has an awesome ghost bear partying up with him on the side and there’s no substantial reason to protest using Karador in any stack.

Overall: Four reversed expectations out of five

Review: Clutch of the Undercity

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

It seems like I’m getting to review a lot of really good bounce spells lately. In that category of cards, this is a top-tier elite. Universal target opportunities, some life loss on the side, and a very powerful Transmute value for finding utility instants like Return to Dust, various counterspells, Turnabout and so on–there’s just a lot of good cards at the four mana slot. But often you’ll want to keep this around for what it is–and extremely useful and versatile bounce spell.

Don’t think too much, just take it. The only reason the draft priority is 3 is because people tend to undervalue this spell so often you can take it a bit late, but don’t be that guy who hopes it tables one more time while you take some other mediocre pick, confident you’re outsmarting everyone else.

You’re probably not. At least, I know I’m not.

Overall: Four sewer muggings out of five

Review: Into the Roil

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

This is undoubtedly one of the best bounce spells in Type 4, or maybe one of the best bounce spells in general. I really like Repulse and this is essentially a pure upgrade of that spell, since it just has wider target selection (save your own stuff, which does kinda hurt). With semi-meaningful effect with a cantrip attached to it being essentially playable-to-superb in Type 4, this obviously becomes one of the best utility spells out there. I would give it higher scores but the inability to use it to protect your own permanents is unfortunate and in general, you just can’t say a Roil Tide impacts a game like a Morphling or whatever. It’s not a condemnation of the card but just an objective look at things.

Also, Kicker is a badass mechanic that I’m always pleased to see come back and it was actually pretty well-implemented in the new nWo world of design. While old-school Kicker costs tended to be outrageous and not worth the price, the new ones are more fairly costed and makes the cards plenty fun to play with.

Overall: Four excellent seafaring turbans 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: Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Hoss money hustlin

Discussion:

What is it with black and white legends and posting up on thrones? I mean, make no mistake. It’s a boss look. Peep game at the wonderful heritage of this power pose through the ages.

Behold, Richard the Lionheart. A well-known badass of the middle ages who did the following:

  • His one-two thang

And didn’t:

  • Give a fuck

While this is an early prototype of the “throne post-up” image, you’ll notice it lacks some of the common later features like getting a nasty gangsta lean to the one side, especially with the fist propping up the head. However, it’s a solid foundation for one of the most based poses in history.

Conan the Cimmerian. Popularized by the classic Arnold flick in the 70s, Conan’s dope-ass roots are often tragically overlooked by nerds in favour of garbage like Lord of the Million Boring Pages. But make no mistake, Conan is like an olde-type Scarface who came up through the ranks and ended up doing the above after vanquishing everything from horrendeous ape-creatures summoned from beyond what a sane mind can process to regular ass thugs in a bar. And as you’ve probably noticed, he does it in style. Look at those armrests.

Don’t go getting it twisted and thinking only men have throne game. This image should probably have a TRIGGER WARNING for EXCESSIVE BALLIN. Queen Elizabeth II turns the throne scene on it’s head with throwing a forward posture and a scepter intot he mix, implying she doesn’t even need to use force like Conan and Richard; instead she can either politically dominate her enemies, or she has thugs to handle that nastiness for her. When you don’t need to get your hands dirty like some street soldier in a criminal organization, it’s time to start bumping Ghostface’s “We Made It”.

Then, we end up with Vish Kal. Yeah he’s alright.

Overall: Four overdue analysis of throne sittings out of five