The Magic Show #204 - Stop, Proliferate, and Listen
Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week I'm galavanting in Europe for Pro Tour Amsterdam and it's time to chat Magic. We've got our Scars of Mirrodin Buy-A-Box promo the crazy new keyword Proliferate and the return of the Great Designer Search. Let's go!
This Week in Magic
So this week I'm in Europe but that's no reason not to talk some Magic. This week we have two new cards: The Scars of Mirrodin Buy-a-Box promo is first.
Memoricide as it's called will soon be in sideboards everywhere. This functional reprinting of Cranial Extraction is not to be underestimated. Firstly they would've simply reprinted Cranial Extraction which I feel is a better name anyway were it not for that silly word “Arcane.” This word screwed up the usefulness of Kamigawa block in a big way as some really interesting spells like Evermind had “Splice onto Arcane” instead of “Splice onto Instant” or “Splice onto Sorcery.” This flexibility would've kept Kamigawa in the mindset of players for years —but instead we got Arcane spells that were usually more expensive than their non-Arcane counterparts and spells that could only attach themselves to overpriced spells.
And you wonder why people don't look back fondly on Kamigawa Constructed.
Anyway Memoricide will be seeing some serious play. How do I know this? Because Cranial Extraction has already showed us how amazing this effect is back then there were Tooth and Nail decks just waiting to be ripped of their signature spell. What could we be Memoriciding in Standard then? How about Vengevine? Hey look it's Eldrazi Conscription. Your deck isn't quite as powerful when you can't bust out a +10/+10 Enchantment right? What about the current combo deck Pyromancer Ascension? If you can get Memoricide off before they land their namesake enchantment that deck doesn't actually do anything.
Cranial Extraction was once one of the premier money rares in Champions of Kamigawa and there's no reason to think that Memoricide won't achieve the same. This versatile and preemptive answer to a variety of problems will be seeing lots of play and I'm sure there's some amazing combo-esque cards from Scars of Mirrodin that will find themselves exiled very soon.
Last week we looked at Elspeth versus Tezzeret but we were short a few cards. Turns out two preview cards from Scars of Mirrodin were hidden inside and now we have them.
The first is the not terribly exciting Kemba Skyguard. Now it's not a crazy flashy rare that does infi stuff. That said it is an upgraded Wild Griffin and it should provide plenty of goodness in Scars of Mirrodin draft. It's no Jace the Mind Sculptor but I'll happily gain two and begin swinging for two in the air. Also notice he's a knight meaning we get the sweet Knight Exemplar interaction for those into that sorta thing. And they check out the sweet watermark. This indicates Kemba Skyguard is on the Mirrodin faction whatever that may be. At this point we're not 100% on what this Millstone-esque symbol means but we do have a counterpoint. Check out Contagion Clasp...
Wow! Talk about a card and a keyword with some serious possibilities. This card is far beyond what it seems. First you'll notice that just for playing it you get to place a -1/-1 counter on something. My guess? Probably on your opponent's Lotus Cobra a card not rotating out of Standard for another year. Another guess? How about their Llanowar Elves? What about shrinking their Stoneforge Mystic to an 0/1 or —speaking of 0/1s —killing off that pesky Cunning Sparkmage?
But this isn't the power of this card and you and I know it. The power in this card is in the awesome keyword Proliferate. What does it do? Well pay special attention to its wording: It duplicates a counter on any number of permanents and/or players with counters. This means if you have one poison counter you'll suddenly get two. If a creature say your opponent's Fauna Shaman has a -1/-1 counter thanks to Contagion Clasp use four mana to finish her off.
But let's start getting sneaky. The first truly impressive use I've heard of with Proliferate? Ajani Goldmane. Use his second ability to put +1/+1 counters on all of your creatures then use Contagion Clasp's ability to add a second +1/+1 counter to all of them and replace the loyalty counter you just used from Ajani Goldmane. Wow. Pretty sick. Steel Overseer —an obvious plant —also of course enjoys the Proliferate keyword.
What does it mean for Scars of Mirrodin? Well according to artwork like this (Etched Champion) Proliferate will definitely see some love from Sunburst cards. Thanks to it being a simple keyword with no triggers and/or set numbers you can put the word “Proliferate” on a spell. Imagine if a card just said “Proliferate Proliferate Proliferate.” What would that card cost what color would it be and how powerful is that effect?
But we're not done. How about instant-speed Leveling? Players complained that Levelers were ‘too dumbed down' when forced to Sorcery-speed level and here is your ability to do it instantly. How about Quests? Oh man the flood gates bust open when you realize you only need one counter on Pyromancer Ascension and a few Proliferate activations to get it active. How about Luminarch Ascension? Who cares if your opponent deals damage to you during their turn if Proliferate can skip that requirement entirely?
Ready for more out-of-the-box thinking? For those who enjoy Cube Draft think about Proliferate's interaction with Fading permanents from Masques block. This Parallax Tide will be keeping those lands exiled forever thanks. You'll be in that Tangle Wire for some time particularly if Proliferate finds its way on other perhaps more cost-efficient spells and abilities.
Lastly of course is the Phyrexian symbol as seen in the watermark. We now have our two factions with those from Mirrodin ready to battle back the Phyrexian horde. What these symbols will mean in the grand scheme things is still to be seen but it's pretty clear that based on the keyword Infect providing -1/-1 counters and Contagion Clasp following in line Phyrexia will probably be focusing on -1/-1 counters and Poison. But what does that leave for those on Mirrodin? I'm sure there will be more mechanics and powerful cards unveiled from Scars of Mirrodin soon and you best believe you'll hear about em here first.
So this past Monday Mark Rosewater in honor of ‘Sequel Week' over at magicthegathering.com announced an incredible sequel: Homelands 2! Yeah baby Homelands is back! What a kick-ass set full of incredibly powerful cards that did incredible —okay okay even I can't say that with a straight face.
Instead of revisiting what is arguably the worst set in Magic's history he gave us the Great Designer Search 2. This is a very exciting contest for those who have played the game for some time and convinced themselves they too can design cards and mechanics for it. Last go-round Alexis Janson came out on top and full time Game Designer and friend of the show Ken “I always like the fatties” Nagle came out of it as well. In total four individuals were hired a.k.a. “everyone who flew up there.” So if you make it to the point where you get a free flight to Renton your chances at actually being employed by Wizards of the Coast are pretty good.
Instead of bombarding the audience with the contest right away like they did last time this time we've got some lead-up: September 29th. Mark the date get your design muscles stretching and prepare yourself for some serious competition. They found some truly impressive designers last time and I'm willing to bet that a few years from now we'll find the winner of this contest giving us new sets to enjoy before you know it. I mean did you know I did some amateur designing at one time? Feel free to check out Fires of Heaven and Rise of the Titans custom sets I created years ago many of which have cards that coincidentally closely mirror a few that have actually seen print since then.
So that's another show folks. Next week we'll finally get some delicious Scars of Mirrodin spoilers and I don't know about you but I'm hella excited. Bring on our new artifact block and let's kill some players with poison counters!
Until next time Magic players this is Evan Erwin. Tapping the cards...so you don't have to!
Evan “misterorange” Erwin