Kamigawa in Online Prismatic
Greetings to everyone in the land of Magic Online. While StarCityGames.com has done an excellent job of posting informative pieces on Kamigawa, be it for Limited or individual card analysis, few have touched on its impact on Magic Online casual formats. Since Champions of Kamigawa (CHK) is now available online, it merits examining.
While these formats may be dismissed as non-competitive, one has only to sit and watch a game of 1/1/1 Emperor, Prismatic or even a free for all to see how intense these games can become.
I have gone through the spoiler and divided its contents by playability by color for the Prismatic format. For those unfamiliar with the format, Prismatic involves creating a deck of 250 cards size, with 20 cards of each color. Previous to the September 1st Banned/Restricted announcement, all cards had been allowed. Since then, a banned list exists that complements the wide array of cards and sets available (all sets, all cards, all promotional cards not banned), the variety of which can make deckbuilding an onerous task at times.
When examining a card for play in Prismatic, there are several critical factors to examine:
A) Does the card produce multiple colors of mana at an efficient cost?
B) Does the card serve as a reliable tutor ability or search card?
C) If the card is a creature, is it clearly better than the established standard?
D) Does the card produce an ability so strong it cannot be ignored?
D) Is it worth including this card in a 250 card deck?
If you answered "yes" to any 3 of these questions then consider the card worth of at least testing in your Prismatic deck.
Without further ado, here is a breakdown by color of the potential winners for Online Prismatic:
White's main contribution to the set is the Bushido ability and a variety of combat tricks. It also gives us some impressive flying creatures and some decent spot removal.
Eight-and-a-Half-Tails: One of the better aggressively costed creatures in the set, he can protect your man-lands from spot removal, your Bringers from elimination, and a host of other permanents for the cost of 2W. Granted, he must stay in play, but if we assume that you play him with enough mana to cover him, he should serve as an excellent ward.
Ghostly Prison: Propaganda in the taxing color. Ideal if you want to stem the flow of beatings to your team. This, coupled with the relatively fragile manabases in Prismatic, can make for very hard decisions in combat terms.
Reciprocate: Excellent spot removal for a color that recently has had very little. The fact it can remove Darksteel Colossus or a threat of any size is great. While the creature does have to damage you, at forty life a team can usually suffer this drawback without too much difficulty in the early to mid game.
Samurai of the Pale Curtain: It is fairly clunky and costs WW to play, but it offers an interesting solution to Genesis, Eternal Witness, Zombify and a host of other abilities that use the graveyard as a recursion tool. I'm not absolutely convinced this is better than Scrabbling Claws or Withered Wretch, but time will tell.
Yosei, the Morning Star: Of the cycle of dragons in the new set, Yosei has the most potential to swing a game. Given that many players use Visara or other creature removal spells in their decks, an opponent could quickly find herself locked down and unable to respond to oncoming attackers or threats. If they can be brought into play as multiples through Patriarch's Bidding, for example, and the situation becomes almost untenable.
Blue offers its usual array of card-drawers, flying creatures and counterspells in this set. It also probably offers the most obvious choice for banning in recent history (excluding Bringer of the Black Dawn).
Gifts Ungiven: This is it, the card that will cause no end of headaches and joy in Prismatic. Consider its varied uses: It can serve as an Instant speed Buried Alive (fetching Anger, Genesis, Wonder, and Filth), an Instant speed Quiet Speculation (Deep Analysis, Roar of the Wurm, Chainer's Edict) or a tutor for more advanced card draw (reveal an Allied Strategies, a Fact or Fiction, or Gifts Ungiven). It can also provide you with land searchers such as Harrow, Explosive Vegetation and their ilk. Is this card as good as Fact or Fiction? No. Is it an efficient and abusable (and reusable through Eternal Witness) tutor? Yes. Its greatest assets are its flexibility and its very splashable cost of 3U. I truly can't say enough about this card, except that I want my four as soon as they become available.
Keiga, the Tide Star: Another of the excellent new dragons, Keiga will make combat all the more interesting in that if he dies, he takes a Bringer of the Black Dawn to your side, or something else that your opponent has been holding on to. As with all the other dragons, he is an excellent 5/5 flying creature for six mana.
Myojin of Seeing Winds: Like all Myojin, a costly creature with a very tempting ability. The potential to draw upwards of 15-20 cards will be sure to lure him into some Prismatic decks. Over the course of a game, Arcanis the Omnipotent will work out to be better.
Time Stop: The fun and laughs this will bring to every Prismatic table. At six mana, it is easily playable in a format that tends to start flowing around five to ten mana. It isn't a counterspell per se, but rather a unique ability all its own. Remove that critical spell from the game, eliminate that indestructible permanent, save your team from certain death all for six mana.
Uyo, Silent Prophet His cost is harsh in that you lose two land drops. However, his ability is strong enough to make this drawback tolerable. Being able to copy land searchers, card drawers and removal spells make Uyo a very fetching proposition. See about getting one or two to test with.
Red hasn't really been a star player of late, but it's sure to find some admirers in its additions from Kamigawa. There are a few cards worth mention.
Kumano, Master Yamabushi: Excellently costed at five mana for a 4/4, he can be a wrecking ball. Even if he serves only to remove a creature from the game, he is doing a decent job. Add the fact he can deal damage to players as well, and he is a very solid addition to the format.
Myokin of Infinite Rage: Infinite Rage is about what I'll feel anytime this annoyance destroys an already fragile mana base in Prismatic. Sure to be a back breaker whenever he enters play, let's hope Wizards bans him on principle.
Zo-Zu the Punisher: Is he ever! He can easily deal over twenty damage over the course of a Prismatic game, and since Prismatic is a mana-hungry format, Zo-Zu could find a place in aggressive decks.
Chiefly the color of discard and efficient creature removal, this set offers one of the most punishing abilities against redundancy in recent memory.
Cranial Extraction: In a format with as stable a card base as Prismatic, this card is one of the harshest punishments for proper deckbuilding in ages. Consider that against the average Prismatic deck, one could name Mirari's Wake, Far Wanderings, Deep Analysis, or Bringer of the Black Dawn and hit the target, and you'll see why this card will be a strong metagame choice. Expect to see it as soon as CHK becomes available online.
Kokusho the Evening Star: Again one of the better dragons in that it can swing for five, then deal an additional five through its death in combat or other means. While he does have two Black mana in his cost, most Prismatic decks play with Withered Wretch, and can easily accommodate a few spells with double mana costs.
Nezumi Graverobber: There are far more efficient ways of removing cards in Prismatic; Withered Wretch, Scrabbling Claws, and Coffin Purge come to mind. However, the Graverobber's potential for re-use as a permanent Zombify can turn him into a recursive land fetcher, and put opponents on a quick clock. A decent card that I expect to see for a little while before people decide to return to older standards.
Nezumi Shortfang: Instant speed discard is an excellent ability. Couple it with a 3/3 that turns itself into The Rack, and you have a decent creature. Skullcage sees play in Prismatic these days as a recurring source of damage. Perhaps we'll see Nezumi in the future as well.
Night Dealings: A multiple use, but color-intensive tutor. We currently have Bringer of the Black Dawn and Planar Portal in the format, but this card has the potential to fetch many more cards over the same period of time. Consider that following an attack phase, you could add anywhere between four to eight counters onto the Dealings, which would allow you to tutor for any number of solutions. If anything betrays its viability, it is its heavy black activation cost. Excellent flavor though.
As each new set enters the Prismatic environment, players focus on Green to see whether more efficient land fetchers have been printed. Thankfully, CHK does not disappoint, and offers cards which may well surpass their previous staples. Outside of this, Green has obtained a series of aggressively-costed fatties and a card-drawing engine in Glimpse of Nature.
Azusa, Lost but Seeking: As Prismatic players are well aware, the ability to play multiple lands, whether through cards such as Explosive Vegetation or Crucible of Worlds, proves the first step toward victory. The elegant Azusa ensures you add even more flexibility and speed to your plays.
Glimpse of Nature: The card aggressive Prismatic decks have been waiting for. Even if you only play a few mana Myr, this will turn into an excellent cantrip. Some Prismatic decks of late have been tribal themed (Birds and Clerics in particular) and this will be sure to benefit them.
Jugan the Rising Star: Green flying creatures are rare enough to merit a second look. Jugan's strength shines if you have any Sunburst cards, such as Etched Oracle, or even a permanent boost to smaller creatures. The three Green mana in his cost does not seem so clunky when you consider that Green sees immense play because of its ability to fetch various lands.
Kodama's Reach: An excellent land thinner! I have been debating whether I want to replace Journey of Discovery with these. On a turn, this essentially leads to two land drops, one tapped and one from your hand. Thus, I almost immediately prefer it to Rampant Growth. The challenge this card faces is an uphill one. The three-mana slot for land fetchers is currently overloaded with cards like Far Wanderings, Harrow, Journey of Discovery and others. Of the above, I can only see Journey of Discovery being cut for Kodama's Reach.
Sakura-Tribe Elder: Another excellent land thinner. At two mana, it seems fair to compare it to Rampant Growth and Diligent Farmhand (who costs two mana to fetch a land). It trumps Rampant Growth with its ability to serve as an early-game threat that turns into a resource. It is slightly better than Diligent Farmhand. The Farmhand comes out a turn sooner, but ends up costing G more to use. The Elder has no activation cost, and thus creates a flexible and reliable land tutor. Bravo Wizards on an excellent card.
Journeyer's Kite: It's a permanent land-thinner in the manner of Weathered Wayfarer. The land goes into your hand instead of directly into play, but given the capacity for some Prismatic games to be decided on lack of a particular basic land, the Kite is an incredible proposition.
Sensei's Divining Top: This card increases in power in the Prismatic format simply because there are so many abilities and spells that shuffle your library (to search for land, for example). Like the top 3 cards? Keep them so you can draw them a bit later. Want a new shot a three fresh ones? Cast Explosive Vegetation or something similar.
Boseiju, Who Shelters All: With the recent Prismatic bannings, the mood has turned to control-oriented decks, which often force you to withstand a barrage of countermagic before pushing through your threats.
Thus Boseiju's appearance is a timely one. Consider that you start the game at forty life, and that you can push through a needed Wrath of God, Gifts Ungiven, Fireball or any number of game-altering cards. Yes, it comes into play tapped. No, this isn't enough of a drawback to merit exclusion, especially in a format where land-destruction is reserved to manlands.
Forbidden Orchard: Another simple and elegant five color land. The opponent gaining a 1/1 Spirit will simply not negate the tempo gained by your casting anything in your hand. Consider also that in a typical Prismatic game, each team starts at forty life, and this seems like a better City of Brass or Grand Coliseum, as the damage is delayed.
Hall of the Bandit Lord: Anger and its ilk are hard to acquire these days. Thankfully, CHK gives us this land that can give a critical creature the ability to attack or tap immediately. The cost of 3 life points may prove sufficient to deter some from using this land. I expect it to serve a function similar to Boseiju's, to push through a threat the opponent simply must deal with.
Minamo, School at Water's Edge: The quietest of the new Legendary lands is not the least dangerous by any means. Consider its applications in a Prismatic deck devoid of other CHK cards: Untap Arcanis the Omnipotent, untap Visara the Dreadful, untap Empress Galina (how sick is she going to be with the new set online?) untap Captain Sisay, untap any of the dragon legends if you need a blocker. Very solid and with no life cost attached and the capacity to tap for U, this seems like a given in Prismatic in the upcoming months.
Thank you for staying with me during this trip into one of the more enjoyable formats. I hope to see you online as Prismatic enjoys a renewal of interest since the bannings. Have a good week!
Mr_Davies_Lackey on Magic Online