Review: Stormtide Leviathan

Draft Priority: *6*

Impact: *6*

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

I know I’ve mentioned this creature in passing a few times when referencing generally-awesome Type 4 creatures. There’s a reason it’s one of my go-to mental bookmarks in Type 4–it’s just one of the best creatures for the format, period. And it does it all without having some crazy activated ability that exploits infinite mana or a stupid ETB ability. No, instead, just just puts everyone on an island.

The way a Stormtide changes the game is pretty much immeasurable. The game starts to revolve around the mammoth creature, but not in the shitty way. It’s enjoyable. The guy with his stupid horde of tokens is suddenly rethinking his whole game, desperately looking for a way to kill the Leviathan. The guys who have been getting beat down are looking for ways to protect it and keep it around. It might just look like a stupid brute-force beater on the surface, but in multiplayer it’s much more interesting and fun than that.

It’s simple, powerful, and costs more than six mana. What else could you ask for?

…well, maybe a retroprint from The Dark with Quinton Hoover art…

Overall: Five Tidal Krakens in the unemployment line out of five

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: Mystifying Maze

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Staple fo sho.

Discussion:

You gotta love Maze lands. Throwing it back all the way to the granddaddy of them all, Ice Floe, these lands have been keeping their controllers safe in all types of formats for longer than most people have been playing Magic. Here, we get a modernized example that of course uses the ever-so-beloved design space of ‘blinking’, which nobody is tired of.

Maze, Mystifying is a strong card for Type 4 for obvious defensive reasons, but also for political reasons; collaborative blink shenanigans are not rocket science. But the card is limited by it’s own insistence on relative fairness; it can only be used once so it kind of folds to genuine pressure, and blinking a Sphinx of Uthuun or whatever probably isn’t a great idea. It’s still a strong card worth drafting, but be aware that it’s no Ice Floe.

Overall: Four Ice Floe gags out of five

Review: Angelic Arbiter

Draft Priority: 5

Impact: 5

Stack Status: 5
Mega-hoss. It’s a super-expensive, mega-splashy impact player that can’t compete with the money reanimation creatures.

Discussion:

An nWo Fairy Tale

The heavens opened and descending through a beam of heavenly light, an ominous angel approached the card game. “Y’all can’t cast spells and attack, get that straight.” It’s voice rung through the game store with heavenly authority. “I’m an angel and I get to establish the rules around here. That’s what white does in the colour pie.”

Then, some nerd rolled up acting all hard. “Uh excuse me but isn’t white supposed to establish universal sub-rules to maintain it’s theme of balance and order over chaos?”

The angel thought about it for a moment before stabbing the nerd in the kidney with it’s sweet rapier. “No,” It replied, “Because it’s 2013 and Hexproof has replaced Shroud because it makes people ‘feel’ better.”

“Arrgh” The nerd was on dialysis for like eight years and ultimately died.

– the end –

Some meta-quibbles aside (which were summed up excellently in the above fairy tale and yes I will write a book of them if you give me an advance), this is an outstanding Type 4 card. Actually, I think it’s a good fun card all-around but it’s just so much easier to enjoy in Type 4. It can be a bit frustrating but in that good “Fact or Fiction” kind of way instead of that bad “Stasis” way. It can be a pretty agonizing choice on whether to attack or cast spells, and even when it isn’t players have skin in the game of the Arbiter’s survival. This is what I like most about the card. You may not be the only player who wants it around, and occasionally you’ll develop frenemies because the players with few creatures will actively fight to keep the angel in play. It’s a great dynamic few cards produce.

One of the best white cards in the Stack in terms of both playability and fun, but it’s not as purely powerful as other choices and so falls just short of the Glare.

Overall: Five superbly-written short stories out of five

Review: Overwhelming Stampede

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Staple. It’s a quality overrun and it has Xes in the rules text.

Discussion:

DO YOU HAVE A CREATURE? GOOD! HOW ABOUT MORE THAN ONE? EVEN BETTER! MAYBE YOU HAVE A MULTITUDE OF SMALL CREATURES AND A SINGLE LARGE ONE, SUCH AS THOSE YOU WOULD ACQUIRE FROM THE CASTING OF ONE DOZEN EYES OR LIVING HIVE! IN THIS INSTANCE OVERWHELMING STAMPEDE IS A SUPERB CARD TO PLAY! EVEN WHEN USED SUB-OPTIMALLY, IT’S RAW POWERS MAKES IT A STANDOUT AND IT’S CASTING OFTEN RESULTS IN THE DEATH OF ONE OR MORE PLAYERS!

THE REASON THIS IS ALL CAPS IS BECAUSE THAT’S SORT OF THIS CARD’S OVERALL PHILOSOPHY! JUST DO SOMETHING BIG AND LOUD AND PEOPLE WILL LIKE IT!

Overall: Four Billy Mays adverts (R.I.P.) out of five

Review: Vengeful Archon

Draft Priority: *6*

Impact: 5

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost all day erryday.

Discussion:

The word “Archon” is derived/English-bastardized from a title given to old-school Greek provincial governors, which basically meant “ruler”. This is pretty dope I guess, kind of like being a minister or whatever. Maybe closer to a Mayor, which always entails an excellent sash and is pretty good. Anyway, while I don’t doubt being an Archon was boss status, there’s no historical evidence that if provided you with a massive pegasus-lion and an awesome cape. Magic’s design team either has access to special Wikipedia pages or has decided on an awesome multiversal tradition in rulership where triple OGs get a cape, dope armor and a lion with wings to fly around on pounding scrubs into oblivion.

I assume these new-wave fantasy archons don’t actually spend any time on administrating their fiefdoms, if that’s even still part of the job description. Their little page probably runs into their ‘office’ and is like “um Mister Archon sir the community group from Gilmour Street would like to have the sewage issue addressed” and he’s like “ya np” and jumps on the lion-thing, flies past their houses a few times, maybe kicks the shit out a waste engineer in front of them, and then flies off to cheers and adulation (though the cheers are really just a way for them to hide their overwhelming fear). Then he packs it in at the same office, falling asleep sitting perfectly upright in a chair with the lights off.

In any case, if you can’t figure out why this card is awesome in Type 4, I can’t really help you.

Overall: Five communities managed by fantasy badasses out of five, Stacker Pentecost Glare of Approval

Review: Redirect

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Staple fo sho.

Discussion:

One of the least-restrictive redirection spells, Redirect doesn’t require a lot of explanation. It will save you, it will save your creatures, it will anger your opponents. Draft it early and often.

Overall: Four Flagbearers out of five.

Review: Ancient Hellkite

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 5
Boss. Unless you’re playing an small, limited pool, Ancient Hellkite should make the cut as it’s a big, fun creature that also uniquely benefits from the Type 4 rules.

Discussion:

Despite his apparently impressive age (or maybe because of it), Ancient Hellkite falls just short of that elite category of everlasting cataclysm creatures, led by a Flowstone Overseer in a smoking jacket and dope bowler hat. I want to give him 5s, but the ol’ Hellkite can’t quite cut it. Despite an impressive body and evasion, no immediate impact on stepping into the cipher and a total inability to surprise anybody pushes the Ancient one into the 4 category.

This is still a very good card that will often be a first pick, and it’s limitations are sometimes handy. Guys like Flowstone Overseer, in their Trump-esque swagger and obnoxiousness, let you wield power at the price of a mob of haters. The Hellkite’s power is innately more responsible, letting you pick on one jerkass at the table and not provoking the furor of the unwashed plebs you’re forced to play cards with.

Overall: Four and a half guys burning to death out of five.