The Beautiful Struggle - A Chilling Look Into the Future
Since the whole theme of Future Sight is “possible futures have been shifted back in time to now,” it's only fitting that the set review you expected to see from me next week shall run today!
Well, okay, not really. I am (wisely) not the official set reviewer for StarCityGames.com. However, in one possible future, I might be. In another possible future, the MTGSalvation.com spoiler for Future Sight would be 100% accurate (I didn't say it was a likely future, just a possible one). So, I think that my random observations about selected cards on the MTGSalvation.com spoiler can substitute for a Future Sight review, at least for those of you who do not have Premium accounts.
Now, I should make note of this Ben Bleiweiss article, along with its forum discussion, about the ethics and effects of spoilers. With regards to incorrect spoiler information, I should not be so naive as to think that a sentence saying “please remember that some of these cards have not been confirmed” is enough to let me off the hook. As Ben mentions, “The people writing those spoilers do not always have the best interest of the game at heart.”
Those cards that have been officially confirmed by the Wizards of the Coast in some capacity are marked with asterisks below. All others are rumored, and although they may be mostly correct, that “mostly” usually ends up being a big deal with respect to a card's playability (cf Wreak Havoc, originally spoiled with a casting cost of 3). Keep that in mind as you continue.
Augur il-Vec – 1W
Creature - Human Cleric, Common
Shadow (This Creature can block or be blocked by only creatures with shadow.)
Sacrifice Augur il-Vec: You gain 4 life. Play this ability only during your upkeep.
In the future, I won't like big butts, but I still can't lie about it.
Apparently there is a cycle of common creatures who sacrifice during your upkeep to give you the effects of well-known commons from the past – this guy is Sacred Nectar, with Unburden, Undo, Predator's Strike and Volcanic Hammer also spoiled.
Like many cards in this set, the flavor of this fellow is cool, but its design doesn't make a lot of sense. Why give a shadow creature a sacrifice ability and a three-butt? If it were meant to block and then sacrifice, it wouldn't want shadow, and if it were meant to be a guy who could attack with Shadow, its butt and its sacrifice ability seem out of place. Was it that important to protect him from Sudden Shock?
Barren Glory – 4WW
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control no permanents other than Barren Glory and have no cards in hand, you win the game.
In the future, the cheese stands alone.
Someone will try to break this card in concert with Restore Balance. It may be a casual player, or it may be Olivier Ruel (who was rumored to be playing Restore Balance in the 4x Time Spiral Block Constructed Open on Magic Online last weekend), but it will happen. Any card whose ability is “you win the game” should not be dismissed out of hand.
By the way, did anyone ever explain why the cheese stands alone? This mystified me when I was a kid. The farmer's in the dell with his wife and kids and animals and stuff, and the cheese is out there alone? Why? It's not like cheese is meant to be eaten by itself or anything.
Judge Unworthy – 1W
Choose target attacking or blocking creature, Scry 3 (Look at the top three cards of your library. Put any number of them on the bottom of your library and the rest on top in any order.), then reveal the top card of your library. Judge Unworthy deals damage equal to that card's converted mana cost to that creature.
In the future, you won't be able to judge me. Sly Stallone will, and no one will care.
Obviously awesome in Limited, I think this card could be Constructed-worthy, although maybe as a sideboard card only. It gives a control deck everything it could possibly want: some deck manipulation, and an effective answer for the Kird Ape or Soltari Priest who might be all up in your face. Also, as Magma Jet showed us, aggressive Boros decks don't mind scrying either, but they'll want to have a sideboard answer to Soltari Priest just as much. This card definitely seems to fill everybody's needs.
Blade of the Sixth Pride – 1W
Creature – Rebel Cat Warrior, Common
In the future, people will be like, “what are you rebelling against?” and I'll be all, “What have you got?” It's gonna be awesome, man. That'll show ‘em.
Three-power Rebel for two mana… that dies to Sulfur Elemental. He's still playable, though, right? I don't play much Standard these days, but I'm told that Savannah Lions are still good, despite the fact that Sulfur Elementals won GP: Kyoto. I think this is a very interesting beatdown card… maybe in a G/W deck with up to eight Glorious Anthems?
Delay – 1U
Counter target spell. If the spell is countered in this way, remove it from the game with three time counters on it instead of putting it into its owner's graveyard. If it doesn't have suspend, it gains suspend.
In the future, Jamie Wakefield will hate Blue even more than he does now.
As spoiled, this card is stone cold awesome, better than Memory Lapse and on a par with Remand. I thought I was giving you the cutting-edge tech by saying that, but judging from the MTGSalvation.com forum response to the card, most people have already figured this one out. I might even play it in Vintage (“sure, you can Will… three turns from now, after I've already killed you”).
In non-Vintage formats, Blue is becoming less and less about the absolute “no,” and more about saying “no” early in the game, stalling long enough that a ridiculous fatty or broken spell can be resolved. The Top 8 of GP: Kyoto is a fine example of this principle: not a Dralnu deck to be found there, just a whole host of decks who depend upon Remand and Mana Leak to own the early game. Delay fits right in with this strategy; with certain cards, you won't mind if they go off three turns from now, if in the meantime you can deposit a couple Firemane Angels in the graveyard or Body Double an Akroma. Delay is so good that I have to think its casting cost is a typo; the card's spoiler did not come with any card scans, so it's definitely possible.
Incidentally, in a world with Delay, the Aeon Chronicler and Detritivore become kings, since re-suspending them doesn't do much good. Keep it in mind for Block season.
Foresee – 3U
Scry 4, (Look at the top four cards of your library. Put any number of them on the bottom of your library and the rest on top in any order.) then draw two cards.
In the future, Jamie Wakefield will STILL hate Blue even more than he does now.
The only reason this card is not an auto-include in Standard is because the Blue mage is spoiled for choice right now when it comes to card-drawing spells. I think this card is way better than Tidings, but depending upon the type of deck you want, Think Twice, Careful Consideration, and/or Whispers of the Muse might also be better than Tidings.
In some ways this card could be the best card-drawer in Standard, because it lets you see deepest (up to six cards) for a reasonable cost. On the other hand, Compulsive Research lets you fill up the bin with Firemane Angels, Think Twice and Careful Consideration are instants, and Fathom Seer can block Kird Ape. So, you might end up deciding that this card can't do the job, but it's definitely going to make the last round of interviews.
Mystic Speculation – U
Buyback 2 (You may pay an additional 2 as you play this spell. If you do, put this card into your hand as it resolves.)
Scry 3 (Look at the top three cards of your library. Put any number of them on the bottom of your library and the rest on top in any order.)
In the future, this card will either be amazing or irrelevant…
…it all depends on whether or not the Spellweaver Volute deck is any good. Normally, you couldn't pay me to play this card; arranging the top of my deck isn't that attractive if I'm not doing something else at the same time (i.e., Magma Jet or Foresee). However, if it enables a certain deck where I can play a boatload of free instants out of my graveyard, how can I say no?
By the way, I like how (as of Monday's spoiler) scry is the only mechanic to survive from Mirrodin Block. It's like the monorail episode of “The Simpsons.”
“There ain't no Affinity and there never was!”
*slams window of the Affinity Café*
Venser, Shaper Savant* – 2UU
Legendary Creature - Human Wizard, Rare
Flash (You may play this spell any time you could play an instant)
When Venser, Shaper Savant comes into play, return target spell or permanent to its owner's hand.
In the future, Jamie Wakefield will DEFINITELY hate Blue even more than he does now.
Okay, so he's either an instant-speed Man o' War for one Blue mana more, or he's the bastard child of Remand and Mystic Snake. Oh, and he's tutorable via Mystical Teachings. Yeah, I think I'll be playing that. I'll even play him as a four-of; you would gladly give up two creatures (and no, you can't use one of them to bounce the other; they are both dead as a state-based effect by the time the ability goes on the stack) to get his CIP effect. Sometimes that will be all you need.
Spellweaver Volute* - 3UU
Enchantment – Aura, Rare
Enchant instant card in a graveyard
Whenever you play a sorcery spell, copy the enchanted instant card. You may play the copy without paying its mana cost. If you do, remove the enchanted card from the game and attach Spellweaver Volute to another instant card in a graveyard.
In the future, there could be rules issues.
Mike Flores might say, “this card is a Flagship, but the boat may have some leaks.” In other words, you build decks around this card (or, more accurately, this card paired with Mystic Speculation), but the resulting decks may very well suck. We are talking about an enchantment, after all; remove the targeted card from the graveyard (Extirpate much?) and suddenly your grand plans have gone down the toilet.
However, the deck could also be super-sick. Given a Mystic Speculation, this card basically becomes a better version of Dralnu. You can have multiples in play at once, fewer cards destroy it, and you don't have to sacrifice a bunch of permanents if it is destroyed. Also remember that “remove the enchanted card from the game” is not such a bad thing if you have Pull From Eternity on the team. That's just one of many interactions that make me want to build around this card.
Deepcavern Imp – 2B
Creature – Imp Rebel, Common
Echo – Discard a card
In the future, Imps won't be quite as Nettling, Foul, Maddening, or Putrid as they used to be.
Skyknight Legionnaire made the cut in some Boros decks, especially at Pro Tour: Charleston. This guy does most of the same things, while also being one color and a Rebel. His drawback is not necessarily a drawback, if you build your deck right. All in all, beatdown decks should find him to be quite the spicy number.
Fleshwrither* – 2BB
Creature – Horror, Uncommon
Transfigure 1BB (1BB, Sacrifice this creature: Search your library for a creature with the same converted mana cost as this creature and put that card into play. Then shuffle your library. Play only as a sorcery.)
In the future, even Highway Robber could get in there! Okay, maybe not.
Mighty fortunate that this guy is in the same block with Faceless Butcher, Nightshade Assassin, and Plague Sliver. It almost makes up for the inherent crappiness of the rest of the Black creatures in the block… almost. In fact, there is no color restriction on this fellow's ability, so you can fetch Venser, Calciderm, Loxodon Hierarch, Timbermare, and so many more. Let your imagination run wild. Does that alone make this fellow playable? I doubt it, mainly because the ability comes as a sorcery. If you can't fetch Mystic Snake, and you're already suffering splash damage on Sudden Death, that ain't so hot.
Tombstalker – 6BB
Creature – Demon, Rare
Delve (You may remove any number of cards in your graveyard from the game as you play this spell. It costs 1 less to play for each card removed this way.)
In the future, the Dredge mechanic might become playable. Because it's obviously not being played now. Nope, not ever. Move along, nothing to see here.
In this round of the Great Designer Search, Noah Weil designed a “Pyre X” mechanic, where you could remove a group of X cards in your graveyard from the game to reduce a card's casting cost by one, and you could repeat that process as often as you like. Here's what the judges had to say:
I guess they really, really liked the mechanic, because Delve is basically Pyre 1. Get him all snuggly next to the Golgari Grave-Trolls in your binder; even considering the new graveyard hate introduced in the Future Sight set, I still expect that they're going to be spending a lot of time together.
Arc Razor – 3RR
Arc Razor deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Remove Arc Razor from the game with 3 time counters on it.
Suspend 3 – 2R
In the future, it'll get hot in here, so why don't you take off all your clothes?
I kinda like this card. There's a term that the military has for some of its computer-guided missiles: Fire and Forget. That's what you have with this card: you fire it off once and then you forget about it (in terms of a mana or card investment) for the rest of the game, trusting that it will hit its target in the meantime. It is quite slow, of course, and not so useful against Teferi, but if you can build your deck to solve those problems during the three-turn suspension then this card should work very well for you.
Sparkspitter – R
Creature – Elemental Spellshaper, Uncommon
R, T, Discard a card: Put a 3/1 Red Elemental creature token named Spark Elemental into play with "Trample, Haste. At end of turn, sacrifice Spark Elemental."
In the future, you'll take 3.
ow, here is a beatdown creature I can get behind. Spark Elemental was pretty terrible, but turning any card in your hand into a Spark… for one red mana… during the opponent's end step… when you could be discarding Fiery Temper or Reckless Wurm… works for me.
Homing Sliver – 2R
Creature – Sliver, Common
Each Sliver card in each player's hand has Slivercycling 3.(3, Discard a Sliver card: Search your library for a Sliver card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.)
In the future, you'll pay 3.
People like Slivers. People like tutors. Do the math.
Magus of the Vineyard* – G
Creature, Human Wizard, Rare
At the beginning of each player's precombat main phase, add GG to that player's mana pool.
In the future, I'm going to hit this guy on turn 1 of a Momir Basic duel and the s*** will just get crazier from there.
Once upon a time, people used this card to kill on turn 2 with Aluren. The current green combo enchantment is not quite that fast, but I'm sure that Wild Pair decks wouldn't mind having it around at all. Turn 2 Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, anyone?
Sprout Swarm* – 1G
Convoke (Each creature you tap while playing this spell reduces its total cost by 1 or by one mana of that creature's color)
Buyback 3 (You may pay an additional 3 as you play this spell. If you do, put this card into your hand as it resolves.)
Put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play.
In the future, THIS is our promo common? I mean.
I call cards like this “If, then, anyway” cards. As in, “if you are unmolested long enough to really abuse this card, then shouldn't you have won with something else anyway?”
Summoner's Pact* – 0
Summoner's Pact is green.
Search your library for a green creature card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
At the beginning of your next upkeep, pay 2GG. If you don't, you lose the game.
In the future, the Defense Department regrets to inform you that your son is dead because he was stupid.
Normally I don't complain about things like this, because I don't really care enough to get all worked up about it, but this is an exception: the “pay it forward” mechanic is atrocious design. Just awful. It takes the worst part of the echo mechanic (you have to remember to pay something in the future), and tacks onto it an even stronger penalty; in fact, the worst penalty you can have!
No one should ever lose the game outright for being forgetful. Let's say I'm a new player at a prerelease, and I forget to pay echo on a guy. First off, some opponents might let me take it back (I wouldn't, but many do), at which point I've restored the correct game state and still learned my lesson. Second, even if I do not get a takeback, my deck could be good enough that I could still win the match despite sacrificing the creature. However, “you lose the game” is a much stickier proposition. Many more people are likely to get serious about taking back a game loss, which could cause a rules dispute. How many new players enjoy rules disputes? And if the dispute goes against me, which it is likely to do, I lose the game outright because of my foolishness, which is much more likely to turn me off of Magic for good.
If you were playing a multiplayer game around the kitchen table with your friends, and somebody forgot to pay, would you want them to lose? Probably not; I guess it depends upon how cutthroat your group is. However, if you find yourself wanting to invent new rules for your casual game to change the way a card's rules text is interpreted, then I think printing the card was a bad idea. I like the “future payment” flavor of the mechanic, but not the way it is implemented.
Imperiosaur – 2GG
Creature – Lizard, Uncommon
Spend only mana produced by basic lands to play Imperiosaur.
In the future – no, please, noooo*stomp*
I can appreciate this guy's size, but clearly no one is playing him in Standard until Ravnica rotates out – and if what some people have rumored is true and the RAV duals come back in 10th Edition, he won't get played in Standard ever. Might be good in block though, as a support card for Call of the Herd and Spectral Force.
Sliversmith – 1
Artifact Creature – Spellshaper, Uncommon
1, T, Discard a card: Put a 1/1 colorless Sliver artifact creature token named Metallic Sliver into play.
In the future, spoilers will continue to let you down.
This fellow was originally spoiled with the creature subtype Sliver Spellshaper. In that case he could be quite awesome; enterprising deck designers would like to see another quality one-drop Sliver in this block to place alongside Sidewinder Sliver. Now, though, I wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole.
Land – Uncommon
Keldon Megaliths comes into play tapped.
T: Add R to your mana pool
Hellbent – 1R, T: Keldon Megaliths deals 1 damage to target creature or player. Play this ability only if you have no cards in hand.
In the future, Demonfire might not be the only hellbent card in your deck.
I actually have good things to say about all of the lands that have been spoiled so far, but this article is getting a little long already, so I'll just restrict myself to this one. Part of the reason why more Hellbent cards (i.e, just about all of them not named Demonfire) aren't seeing play is that you don't have a whole lot of cheap, reusable Hellbent abilities. It's not worth spending all of the cards in your hand, just to get a static ability on a creature like Jagged Poppet, if the opponent is just going to cast Wrath of God. Even if this little beauty were to cost 2R to activate, I still think it would be a fine solution to this problem.
Good luck at the prerelease, everyone.
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