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: 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

Review: Diabolic Servitude

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Boss status.

Discussion:

YO DAWG I HEARD YOU LIKE RECURSION SO WE GAVE YOUR RECURSION RECURSION BUT YOU CAN’T RECUR A RECURRED CREATURE AFTER THE ENCHANTMENT RECURS ITSELF

Diabolic Servitude was a step on the path to pre-Mystical Tutor Ban Reanimator in Legacy and probably the first semi-competent Magic deck I made. I saw the enchantment selling in a box of .50 cent uncommons, four in a row, and figured “well, that’s a pretty good deal.” I had no idea what I was getting into as I soon realized that I didn’t have to waste this card on recurring chump blockers but instead I could be discarding my Spirit of the Night and Thundermare to Abandon Hope and then bring them right back. It was a real turning point in MtG technology for me.

Diabolic Servitude maintains an interesting spot in the Magic world for being a ‘fair’ reanimation spell. It’s at a sweet spot where at four mana your opponent is likely to have some shields up, and in multiplayer the board is already developing; at the time it came out there wasn’t really a single creature you could resurrect that would totally ruin the board (these days we have a different story). It’s just a good, clean, fun card. And you know what? It still is in Type 4.

Overall: Four undead Thundermares comin for u out of five

Review: Temporal Aperture

Draft Priority: *6*

Impact: 5

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost obv

Discussion:

SPIN THE WHEEL

This lets you play cards without paying their mana cost. This is usually pretty cool. In Type 4 this is pretty dope for reasons related to Academy Standard rules. However, let’s be perfectly clear here; there is room for debate on whether this card is truly that awesome because of the wording of the rules.

In theory, the card revealed by the Aperture isn’t able to be cast be an alternative cost. Rather, the substitution effect of the Aperture effectively paying it’s mana cost is the ONLY means of casting it, so there’s no alternative. It’s like a more extreme and confusion version of how people sometimes think Flashback is an alternative cost. But remember, if it’s the only way the card can be played at a given time… it’s not an alternative. So no skirting the Third Commandment.

Unfortunately, this sort of deflates the card and virtually nobody thinks of that when they first see it. Instead they just get this look:

…and you know what? I got kinda tired of deflating people by pointing out the pedantic difference like a neckbeard. However, as a pedantic neckbeard, there’s also some debate over the wording of the card.

Looking closely at it, you “may play that card without paying it’s mana cost.” It doesn’t say you have to skirt the mana cost… only that you may play it. I know I sound like a lawyer trying to complicate things for personal gain here, and I sort of am. But looking at one of the Oracle rules clarifications, the plot thickens:

10/4/2004: While you do not have to pay the mana cost, you do have to pay any other costs described in the text that are paid when playing the card. If the cost in the card text is optional, such as with Buyback, you can optionally pay that cost.

Note it says “you do not have to pay the mana cost”, implying you may if you wanted to for some reason. And one of those reasons is Type 4.

You will note two things from this interpretation:

  1. This card is unbelievably good and fitting for Type 4
  2. I’m a loser

Overall: Five “uuuhhhm ACTUALLY” interruptions out of five, Stacker Pentecost Glare of Approval

Review: Rewind

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 5
Boss money. It’s a hard counterspell that does… something.

Discussion:

I had no idea this had been reprinted so many times. I guess it’s an ok counterspell for the nWo era as it’s slow and not terribly useful in general, but at least other players got exposed to it outside hyper-degenerate strategies that dominated thirteen-year-old-Andy’s kitchen table warfare scenarios. But then I peeped it:

8thI felt my pulse quicken with anticipation. 8th edition! The era of a series of horrid lapses in judgement art-wise granting us the greats like the new Greater Good art with the nekkid mangled torso. My excitement built and built until I clicked on the link expecting another laugh-a-minute art disaster coupled with the embarrassing new card format and white border only to get hit with this:

Hope truly is the first step on the road to disappointment. Sure, they gave it new awful flavour text… but the art was still the cool old Barrin joint (now with no context). C’mon 8th Edition. Live up to the anti-hype.

Overall: Four Greater Good torsos out of five

 

Review: Unnerve

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 5

Stack Status: 3
This is a good Stack card, but it’s an excellent overall multiplayer card.

Discussion:

Cards don’t get much father into the ‘simple but effective’ category than this. No gimmicks and no playing around. I’m actually surprised that this card was reprinted in the Commander set because it’s a powerful card in an archetype that the nWo has put into the ‘unfun’ camp (aka not winning through ETB creatures producing a value avalanche and combat). I’m glad it was because hopefully it opened the eyes of some neophyte Magic players to the power of mass discard in multiplayer because it presents a conundrum for all the players affected; “how do I respond?” Everyone was effected except the caster (and sometimes, in the case of cards like Delerium Skiens, they are also affected). If you devote resources to retaliation, you’re exposed to other players. If you don’t… well… you’ll get squeezed out in time by the discard guy along with everyone else.

Played wisely a bit later on, Unnerve is utterly devastating, and can basically turn players into a non-factor in the ongoing battles on the board. JUst go ahead and try this thought experiment at a random point in a game: “discard two cards”. It’s agonizing, and it hurts a great deal.

Just because it isn’t fancy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t draft it.

Overall: Four nWo-sanctioned strategies making a last grasp at glory out of five

Review: Crater Hellion

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Rock-solid. A famous old card that still works pretty well today when concerns about ‘efficiency’ are no longer in the picture.

Discussion:

This card has always held a mystique to me so I’ve assumed the same was true with most Magic players. The art is clearly mega-awesome and so was heavily featured on promotional materials, which built the card up quite a bit back in the day in my mind. I have no idea if this reflects reality, but I will say this card is one whose stock has plummeted with the new, super-aggressive costing of ETB effects on stupidly-strong bodies.

Either way, the luxuries of adulthood and an income beyond my Arby’s Money that put me through college afforded me the ability to play with this card and it didn’t live up to the hype, but it was still pretty bombastic in Type 4, so that’s a reasonable consolation. If you don’t feel much nostalgia for this card, you shouldn’t necessarily seek one out. But I like it, so I use it. It’s certainly no slouch, but doesn’t really each the heavyweight-hitter categories of cards like Desolation Giant and Scourge of Kher Ridges. Not everyone can be an A+. He’s a solid B.

Overall: Three and a half fond memories shattered out of five

Review: Citanul Flute

Draft Priority: *6*

Impact: *6*

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost. Everyone can make good use of it, whether they play a bunch of big stompy derps or a group of small, utility creatures. Sometimes you don’t have many creatures, but then you should hate-draft it anyway.

Discussion:

Play this flute

Creature toolbox time

Make that cheddar

This haiku explains why Citanul Flute is awesome. Instant-speed, repeatable tutoring that requires no memorization of mana values (unlike that pedantic jackass Riptide Shapeshifter) and can replace itself immediately? Take it. Even if you don’t have a lot of guys.

Overall: Five childhood recorder lessons that went nowhere out of five, Stacker Pentecost Glare of Approval