[Welcome back to Taking A Swipe, Dominaria edition! Today, Jadine Klomparens and Sam Black analyze ten of Dominaria's most remarkable cards, Tinder-style, by either Swiping Right (that's good!) or Swiping Left (that's bad!). And just like Tinder, both Matthias and Ryan are allowed one Super Like to let that card immediately know that they're a big fan!]
Jadine Swipes Left . I can't stand a card that brags about being bad at math.
Like, who are you kidding? I don't care how big a font you use to tell me about your keywords, I'm not going to miss the fact that you're a 2/2. You understand that those fancy combat keywords are multiplicative, right? When you only have two power there's no difference between striking first and striking last because either way, you're striking out.
I mean, I get it. Your schtick is getting me to give you nice auras and equipment that will really make your keywords shine. You're even willing to let me use your discount to make it cheaper, but I'm on to your game. The real expense with good Standard auras is the colored mana, and I don't even remember the last time an equipment was playable. And three mana up front?
Trust me, I get it. I'm just not interested.
Sam Swipes Left . See that uncommon symbol? Yeah, that means she's not even trying, sadly.
There are a lot of keywords and a cost reduction ability, but by the time you're untapping on turn 4 with your 2/2, spending one less mana on one of the few auras or equipment in your deck isn't going to swing the game. She looks like a build-around, but she doesn't really reward you for the effort in any meaningful way. Hard pass.
Jadine Swipes Right . Wait, this profile is just a description of their ideal relationship saga? That's innovative, I guess.
But alright, I'm here for a card that's not afraid to take some risks. And I'm super in on a relationship where the two of us are both Knights. Having one person protect and the other be protected just isn't my style, and it looks like History of Benalia agrees. The promise of four vigilant power and toughness also really delivers on this idea, able to quickly turn the corner in the good times while still providing much needed support in the bad.
Wait, they included their ideal ending to a relationship? That's a tad grim, but I do appreciate the realism. And the sentiment is romantic: we'll both go charging off into the sunset, forever inspired by our time in each other's lives. There's a kind of heroism there, a bravery in the ability to go our separate ways with no regrets, and that very act of parting has some serious aggressive potential.
Yeah, alright, I'm interested.
Sam Swipes Right. This is one of those profiles you linger on for a while, thinking maybe you'd be interested if they sent the right message, or maybe you're just imagining them wrong, and, like, you're pretty sure you're not interested, but there's really no cost to swiping right and giving them a chance to wow you, but you can't realistically imagine messaging them or responding anyway.
Like, you know, if the stars align and there are bunch of other good Knights in the set so that the final ability is bigger game than just pumping the two Knights it's made and maybe another guy, or maybe if there's some reason you really want enchantments or sagas specifically, you know, you don't expect it to go anywhere, but you might keep it in the playables box and write it down on some lists in a notebook that you never put together.
Jadine Swipes Left . You can't call yourself a trickster and not expect me to be suspicious.
Their gimmick is rather flashy, literally. Between the flash and the stealing of abilities, it really feels like there must be something worth pursuing here. That's the thing though: when you dig into it, this profile is just downright deceptive. How much use can you really get out of robbing a creature of its abilities, even at instant speed? What are you going to do, take a Glorybringer out of the air and then block it with a 2/2? Force their Scarab God to activate on upkeep? Yikes.
It doesn't help that I'm not really digging the whole vibe going on here, either. Some people are into the whole Merfolk aesthetic, but I think even they are likely to be disappointed by Merfolk Trickster. The truly desirable Merfolk are the lords, and that level of teamwork isn't in this Trickster's bag. I'd rather play Harbinger of the Tides for utility, and that doesn't leave me thinking warm thoughts about Merfolk Trickster.
Of course, if you're devoted enough to be looking for Merfolk in Standard, Merfolk Trickster's probably one of the best you're going to find.
Sam Swipes Right. If this weren't a Merfolk, I wouldn't think twice, but this is a tribe that's not far from playable and looking for a little help.
2/2 is a little small andl UU is a little harder to cast than I'd like (Hinterland Harbor helps a lot), but there's a lot to be said for tapping Glorybringer or taking Rekindling Phoenix out of the sky and making it not make an Elemental. You could even combine this with a removal spell to take out The Scarab God. This is another one that I'm unlikely to ever sleeve up, but I respect the effort it's making enough to try to put its name in the Rolodex.
Jadine Rolls a Die to Decide and Swipes Right . I figure if the hallmark feature of your profile is going to be an aggressive embracing of the capricious nature of life itself, the least I can do is let variance decide your fate.
Seriously, what's going on here? This feels like a Surrealist take on History of Benalia's here's-what-our-future-looks-like gimmick, and I don't think I like it. We start by pinging down small ground creatures and sure, I'm in. That's a thing I like to do sometimes. But now we're adding mana and you lost me. Don't get me wrong, I like mana as much as the next girl, but I don't generally pair it with the slaughter of small creatures. And after that, it's third verse same as the first, this time with feeling? I appreciate that you don't want to leave a job half-done, but I just can't get past this detour into mana-ville.
All in all, though, I'm not upset that fate decreed this to be a right swipe. There's just such a sense of confidence behind this profile. "Hi, I'm The First Eruption, here's the three barely desirable and basically unrelated things I'm going to do for you, let me know if you're interested." Like, how do you advertise yourself that way if you're not quite sure that someone, somewhere is going to be looking for exactly that? If in a couple of months, I'm back here sending messages, I wouldn't be at all surprised.
Sam Swipes Right. Look, this isn't a marriage proposal, I'm not even asking them out, this is just a right swipe to open the door and maybe see what they have to offer, you don't want to be too picky, so let's look at what I'm seeing in this profile:
This is like a three mana Pentad Prism with some weird upside. Like, yeah, it has a lot of text about killing creatures or something, but if I'm putting it in my deck, I'm probably hoping to play it on turn 3 and a six-mana spell on turn 4 (sadly, I can't do all this a turn early off Llanowar Elves because it would kill the Llanowar Elves). If I got really lucky, my opponent maybe had an Earthshaker Khenra, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, or Llanowar Elves on the battlefield when I played it (that actually doesn't sound too unlikely) and then they have to worry about the fact that I can choose to cast a relatively free Sweltering Suns on the following turn.
Honestly, that's not too bad. If we can find the right six mana spells, I could maybe get into this. Is Sunbird's Invocation just dreaming too big?
Jadine Swipes Left . The first line in your profile is you saying I'll have to give up all my friends, and I'm just not okay with that.
But now I feel bad and at least you're being honest, so I guess I'll check out the rest of your profile. So, you plan to replace my old friends with two random cards off the top of my deck? There's so little chance these new cards will be as good as the ones I gave up, and I still have to be lonely for a whole turn cycle? I'm sorry, I just don't think a turn of two extra damage for all my red cards is worth what you're asking me to give up here.
But hey, if I was something of a loner to start I guess I'd be interested. Or if my best friend was Hazoret the Fervent, but we don't really get along.
Sam Swipes Left. You'll notice that uncommon symbol again.
When they put that on a weird card like this, you know to be careful. The payoff just isn't here. I'm discarding my hand, so it's not like I can save a bunch of spells for the big turn this offers, I just have to get lucky with the top four cards of my deck, and this is way too much work for "two mana, draw two," and I'm not even that into Chart a Course.
Jadine Swipes Left . Time of Ice seems like a nice enough card, but they're not really my style. I hate being cold.
I feel a little slow on the uptake, but I've finally realized that this whole saga profile style must be a new trend. Despite not really being my type, I'm pretty into Time of Ice's execution here. If you're in the market for something long-term, Time of Ice is going to keep the game going for several more turns every time. You get to freeze the two biggest threats and then bounce them, along with anything that dared attack you. It's effectively three attack steps you get to dramatically weaken for the low price of one card, which is maybe enough to be worth the heavy four mana investment
Sam Swipes Left. This uncommon thing is really holding up nicely.
Okay, yes, this card has some things going for it; you play it, tap a creature, the creature stays tapped, then you tap another creature, they both stay tapped, then they both get bounced, then your opponent can replay them.
So, like, let's say I'm on the play and I tap my opponent's three-drop. On their turn 4, they can't do anything with it, on their turn 5, they can't do anything with it, on their turn 6, they can recast it, on turn 7, maybe it can attack. In a lot of games, that creature was basically dead, and I got to deal with another creature for a while on the next turn, and they basically couldn't attack me on their fifth turn unless they want to pick up the creatures that attacked.
That might sound kind of good, but I'm still not seeing the deck that plays a four-mana blue tempo spell to answer creatures for a while that's reliably ending the game before they become a problem again.
Jadine Panics and Super Likes . I just realized there's only three cards to go after Urza here, and I haven't used my Super Like yet. I'm not about to just leave that value on the table.
I look at Urza's Ruinous Blast and I have dreams of casting five mana Plague Wind flash through my head. When you have legendary permanents and they have non-legendary ones, Urza's Ruinous Blast is the best thing you can be doing for five mana. The good times with Urza's Runious Blast are good indeed.
But it also looks like the kind of card that is much less fun to be around when times are tough. Like, what if you don't draw any legendary permanents, or your opponent kills the ones you do draw? Worse, what if your opponent, in their infinite wisdom, has elected to come to the table with legendary permanents of their own? Don't expect Urza's Ruinous Blast to support you then, it's just going to snicker at you while spinning grandiose tales of what could be.
I wish I had Super Liked History of Benalia when I had the chance.
Sam Swipes Right . This is another one that I expect to primarily write down in lists I never sleeve up, where I want it to work, but the effort's just not worth the payoff; but again, if I see potential there, I'm willing to give it a chance. This is a powerful effect that's hard to use; if I think of this as someone I'd really like to go out with, but who I think is unlikely to give me a chance, well, I'll still swipe right and find out if they're interested.
Also, plot twist, maybe this can be sweet in Modern. You have a lot more options to try to support it and your opponent is unlikely to have much that will survive.
Jadine Swipes Right . Look, I'm a sucker for a card that's a Lightning Bolt. Especially one with that bold new "any target" templating.
Sure, Wizards's Lightning is only a true Lightning Bolt some of the time, when there's a Wizard around. I'm honestly not even sure if having a Wizard around is something I actively want, but the temptation to register Wizard's Lightning is strong enough that I'm sure I can tolerate having a wizard or two around no matter how awful.
I think the Wizard restriction really suits
Lightning Bolt Wizard's Lightning. Sure, having a Wizard is a kind of ephemeral thing. Gandalf taught me that. Here today, Balrog'd tomorrow. But when the discount matters you can manage to squeeze in a single red mana and get Wizard's Lightning out of your hand before you lose your Wizard. I guarantee you'll have a target. And later when you have mana to spare, you'll never notice that Wizard's Lightning isn't Lightning Bolt.
It's a little rough that Wizard's Lightning is competing with Lightning Strike right now, but if four opens the door, then eight is just great. Wizard Burn, anyone?
Sam Swipes Right . A left swipe is forever, a right swipe can end up going either way.
Maybe there aren't enough Wizards around and this is just a bad Lightning Strike, but if there are a decent number of Wizards, this is probably better, since the fail state is still a functional card and it's a lot easier to two-spell with. Maybe there aren't the right Wizards in Standard now, but maybe there will be next set. I want to keep my options open.
Jadine Sighs and Swipes Left . I hate running into siblings on these things, especially when I end up swiping them in different ways. It's just so awkward.
But I can't imagine swiping right here, not when Wizards's Lightning is so much more appealing in every way. I mean, it's a style thing. Wizard's Retort is probably way more appealing for some demographics, but I'd choose to cast Lightning Bolt over Counterspell every time. If you're #TeamRetort I can't say you're wrong, but I'm #TeamLightning all the way and I'll gladly throw all the power of my modest Twitter reach into this debate.
The awkward thing about Wizard's Retort is that it doesn't wear the Wizard restriction nearly as well as Wizard's Lightning. If your Wizard isn't worth protecting, there's no guarantee you'll even want to counter anything before it retires. And historically, decks with countermagic don't play nearly as many creatures as those with Lightning Bolt, so how many Wizards are you really going to have?
I guess I just think I can do better than Cancel.
Sam Swipes Right . Are these two sisters? They look pretty similar.
Counterspell is slightly weaker spell than Lightning Bolt, but I only have to pay one extra in the fail state instead of two, so it's kind of a push. Once I swipe right on Wizard's Lightning, I'd feel like a hypocrite if I did anything different here.
Jadine Swipes Right . Mox Amber is one of those cards where I don't really understand how it'll work, but I know I want it to.
Forget about the restriction for a second: I'm looking at the profile of a literal Mox. Someone catch me, I'm swooning. Sure, Mox Amber has kind of distanced itself from the traditional busted Moxen starts, but there's nothing wrong with being excited about a good mid-game boost. I'd snap off a Mox Sapphire with the Serra Avenger clause and so would you.
Alright, back to reality. There's two kinds of Mox restrictions these days: down-a-card restrictions like Chrome Mox, and requires-assistance restrictions like Mox Opal and, of course, our new friend Mox Amber. Of the two, I much prefer the requires-assistance variety. Going down a whole card is a lot to ask for decks looking for low levels of commitment, so I'm grateful that Mox Amber isn't looking for anything serious, either. Playing all the good legends you can find alongside Mox Amber may not seem a cohesive plan, but I've swiped right for less.
Sam Super Likes . "You may saaaay I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one..."
Yeah, legends are a lot harder to come by than three random artifacts, and if I can end up with a Mox, I'm going to try my hardest to make it work. Yeah, I'm a romantic. I'm not interested in easy or reliable. Give me the high upside.