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

Review: Child of Gaea

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 4
Staple fo sho

Discussion:

Sometimes you want a fancy, elegant creature who can do ‘tricks’ and ‘outsmart’ somebody and sometimes you want to punch somebody in the neck so hard their neck becomes a second asshole. While that’s not possible, if it were, Child of Gaea would be one of your go-to sources for making it happen. It’s a rat… thing… with trees growing on it’s back. But it’s also huge, and obviously spends TONS of time in some kind of giant-sized gym for monsters doing sick routines and laughing at people who do Crossfit injuring themselves. A very prescient thing for a card printed in 1998.

Regardless, I like this type of card in my stack because it just propels a game towards victory for one player and nothing else. It’s ok on defense but obviously that’s less-than-ideal. You use it to end games by stomping people into spaghetti sauce. It’s also a useful historical touchstone as for a good while this really was one of the biggest and best beaters, overtaking old-school classics like Force of Nature. In ’98, this looked like some of the new stuff coming out does now when you put it neck to Child of Gaea.

Overall: Three and a half throwback beatdowns 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: Beast Attack

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 4
BEAST ATTACK

Discussion:

BEAST ATTACK

A card with a name like that isn’t here to fuck around. It’s here to do one thing… twice… I guess. MAKE BEASTS

AND THEN U GOTTA ATTACK WITH EM

Although you can use it as a blocker (which is especially satisfying when you use it to surprise-block somebody looking for a little poke with a stupid utility creature and you scream BEAST ATTACK at their neck and rip up the creature the beast blocks), it’s obviously meant more for ATTACKing. But since I can’t be everywhere at once yet enforcing this, use it however you see fit.

TO ATTACK

Overall: BEAST ATTACK

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: Trolls of Tel-Jilad

Draft Priority: 2

Impact:

Stack Status: 3
Baseline roleplayer.

Discussion:

These guys are some straight-up PC Thugs. They don’t do a whole lot other than beat people up and get beaten up–and sometimes, that’s enough.

Screen-Shot-2014-02-14-at-12.07.21-AM

 

Granted, when you have lots of superb professional fighters and knee-snappers like in Type 4, you might question the need to keep these greasy thugs around. And that’s fair. In smaller stacks, you can probably leave them sitting on the sidelines greasing themselves up real good. But in the bigger ones I think you can use them as a sort of guideline for the minimum level of goodness a creature has to meet to make it into the stack as a thug and a thug alone. The trolls do heavy lifting–they suplex your opponents through various props, and they also move said props into position. If a creature can’t handle business as well as the Trolls and have nothing else to offer, they have no place in the stack.

Of course, note the Trolls can regenerate all kinds of green creatures, including tokens. If you want your most durable swarm possible, their value goes up substantially when you take something like One Dozen Eyes. Having the Trolls on board with a green team of mean… dammit I can’t think of another rhyme anyway let them be alpha thugs and they’re at their best. By themselves they get by ok anyway. You can’t as much more of them.

Overall: Two and a half tricorner hats 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: The Mimeoplasm

Draft Priority: *6*

Impact: 5

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost (again!). Nothing special about it for Type 4, but it’s so good.

Discussion:

I’m torn. Help me.

I hate this card so much, but at the same time I love it dearly. Here’s the deal; at the time, when it was spoiled, I was pretty giddy. Reasons included the name, Ooze creature type, and the fact that it looks pretty goddamn dangerous on paper. I was also looking forward to the possibilities of creating superbeast versions of regular creatures, piecing them together form whatever the graveyards provided in a sort of MacGuyver-meets-The Undertaker sort of way. That sounds tremendous to me.

Unfortunately, as I should have suspected for a card in this colour combination, it immediately turned into a card that represented the most degenerate and least interesting archetype of EDH deck (the graveyard recycling deck with some easy, built-in combos) where there was little improv, but a lot of easy setup into effortless wins. Why I didn’t see this coming is beyond me. I guess I’m just kind of stupid. I would have loved to see it only work on cards in other player’s graveyards.

But I do like it in Type 4 because there, you are pretty much forced intot he improvisational role by not only having no knowledge of your card pool before the game, but by how fast the game changes. And with the type of creatures Type 4 has access to, you are liable to see 10/10 Kaho, Minamo Historians and such, which is beautiful in a strange way.

Ultimately, to deny The Mimeoplasm top ranks and a Glare of Approval would be an academic mistrial. It is truly excellent for Type 4. But I still give it a sort of narrowed-eye glare every time I see it, because it really did help shit up an entire format for a while.

Overall: Five giant utility creatures out of five, Stacker Pentecost Glare of Approval

Review: Krosan Cloudscraper

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 5

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

As we enter the holiday season, everybody’s mind is on gifts. Nobody gives a shit about the other stuff related to Christmas anyway so let’s not pretend. Krosan Cloudscraper comes in nicely here as a sort of surprise gift you can unwrap directly into your opponent’s face, leaving it a disgusting bone-and-blood pool of junk. While it’s unlikely to get the squeals of “it’s just what I wanted!” (after all, everybody wants a Willbender), that’s not the Cloudscraper’s fault; the guy it just gifted has his jaw somewhere around his sternum now, and he probably deserved it for abusing that ability to speak for most of his life.

This card held a special place in my heart and Magic lore for a while because it was the biggest creature ever printed, leaving former champion heavyweight Phyrexian Dreadnaught in a twisted heap and yanking the presumably-awesome heavyweight title belt off it’s mangled carcass. It was never recognize as being a good card, because it isn’t, but at least it was neat and if anybody ever played Legions limited and had this thing flipped on them, that was quite the experience. Unfortunately, as the nWo is wont to do, they can’t even leave an old loser like this his little glory and printed that flying turd Emrakul.

Krosan Cloudscraper gets to pop off again in Type 4 like it’s Onslaught block limited all over again. Live the childhood dream of piledriving a morphed 13/13 into an unsuspecting opponent. This is the one format

Review: Maelstrom Nexus

Draft Priority: 5

Impact: 5

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

With absolutely no *6* scores and–spoiler alert–no Glare of Approval, you might be wonder if after a couple hundred of these reviews whether I’m losing my touch.

Maybe you’re right.

…well… I guess that aside, there’s a good reason for that. This is an obviously-powerful card and I think the ratings reflect that but the random nature of cascade hampers it a lot, and that’s when you get to actually use it. For all that potential it carries, keep in mind that you need to cast spells to use the cascade, you can only cast one spell per turn, and a lot of those spells are going to be lower-cost instants on opponents turns trying to cascade into other low-cost instants. The result can be a sort of ‘traffic jam’ of spells where you’re flipping untimely counterspells and bounce spells that are good, but require precise application to make efficient and effective. Malestrom Nexus is like loading those into a shotgun and just spraying the scene.

Another side-effect is that if you get enough of those low-cost Cascades off, you find your deck is lacking those ‘transitional’ spells that give you a lot of your action and interaction, and you’re just drawing big, sorcery-speed windmill slammers. That said, if you get off enough triggers you’ll probably be winning by that point, so whatever.

Overall: Five lonely drinks out of five