With all the naysayers coming out against Invasion, saying that it dulls the power curve of Type II, I have one word to offer them to express my opinion on the topic:
I'm GLAD that the environment is slowing down. I'm GLAD that part of the requirement for a tournament-worthy card is no longer 'must cost less than 4 mana'. Boo, Rancor! Boo, Treachery! Boo, Masticore and Morphling and Thorn Elemental!
Let me review some of the complaints made by Gizmo, someone whose views on Invasion appear to be diametrically opposed to my own.
"After the Academy/Jar debacle of Urza's Saga the pressure was on R&D to make sure that no broken cards slipped through and they've done a grand job, to the point that no playably undercosted cards were printed at all."
- Yes. And I'm glad. Think about it.
What does 'undercosted' mean?
As in, this card produces an effect that should cost more than it does.
We've seen too many of these cards recently. Masticore, Morphling, even quiet winners like Albino Troll and Yawgmoth's Will.
These cards didn't affect the environment: they DEFINED it. You either played Masticore, or something to stop Masticore. If you didn't pack something that could stop Morphling, you were as good as dead. (As a Type 1 player, I'm still presented with that problem.) Magic shouldn't be about getting the $9-$10 uber-powerful rares; it should be about playing skill. About inventive uses of *decent* cards that get you a win.
"Want to play a mono deck? Tough."
- Well, heavens forbid we play something with more than one color! I don't know about you, but I'm going to change several of my decks *away* from mono-color...not because I have to, but because I WANT to! Some of the cards coming out in Invasion are truly incredible, and I'm anxious to use some of them to truly painful effect.
"Want to play a fast deck? Tough."
- Rising Waters isn't fast? T2 Green beatdown isn't fast? Rebels aren't fast? The environment can even support burn decks and black speed. What more do you want? The Invasion/Masques environment appears to have something for everyone.
"Want to play a slow deck? Tough."
- Au contraire. I fully expect to see a black/blue and white/blue variant of control spring up. Red/Black land destruction is looking viable, and with cards like Armadillo Cloak coming out, White/Green fattybeats is going to be a tough deck to beat. (Death or Glory, anyone?)
- "...the only game-winning spells in Type II are the few remaining specimens that are in 6th Edition - Armageddon, Wrath of God, Crusade, Hammer of Bogardan, Jokulhaups - or Nemesis - Parallax Wave, Parallax Tide, Rising Waters, Dominate, Tectonic Break."
- Well, ignoring that Tectonic Break is in Masques...allow me to formulate a list for you.
White - Reverent Mantra, Story Circle, Blinding Angel, Mageta the Lion, Blinding Light, Spirit of Resistance
Blue - Bribery, Charisma, Cowardice, Embargo, Alexi Zephyr Mage, Avatar of Will, Denying Wind, Mana Vapors, Distorting Wake, Wash Out
Black - Delraich, Forced March, Intimidation, Thrashing Wumpus, Ascendant Evincar, Dark Triumph, Massacre, Avatar of Woe, Plague Wind, Devouring Strossus, Do or Die, Soul Burn
Red - Two-Headed Dragon, Flowstone Overseer, Rupture, Avatar of Fury, Latulla Keldon Overseer, Searing Wind, Bend or Break, Ghitu Fire, Obliterate, Searing Rays, Skizzik, Urza's Rage
Green - Blastoderm, Rhox, Saproling Burst, Avatar of Might, Vitalizing Wind, Molimo Maro-Sorceror, Saproling Symbiosis, Verdeloth the Ancient
Please note that I didn't go digging into artifacts, land cards, or gold cards...and I trimmed a *lot* of cards that weren't game-winners, but were just incredibly good. I based my selection on the ability to play the card in question and say "...and I'll win in three turns." or less. I welcome any and all e-mails asking me how these are I-Win cards.
"...the MiViLite/Rath environment was almost the perfect environment...because you could play ANY deck you wanted to play, at any pace you wanted..."
- ...unless, of course, you wanted the game to last more than four turns, in which case you could pack up and go home. Black shadow-speed and red Sligh pretty much hauled any card with a casting cost of more than 3 out of the limelight. You may remember some lovely interactive deck from those days; I remember Sligh operating like a *slightly* slower Academy deck. Turn one, turn two, turn three, turn four. Good game. Oh, you've managed to throw a speedbump in my way. How...quaint. Fireblast. Good game.
"But for me the most unforgiveable sin has been the complete absence of playable 1-CC cards of any kind"
- Holy Day. (Fog is unplayable?)
Shimmering Wings. (Was good, still is)
Cursed Flesh. (Removal or evasion!)
Phyrexian Battleflies. (Vampire Bats = Pit Imp = Phyrexian Battlefies = good)
Urborg Skeleton. (It's like a Will-O-The-Wisp!)
Thornscape Apprentice. (Good abilities for green!)
Chromatic Sphere. (Mana of any color, with no loss of card advantage.)
That's a fairly respectable number of good 1-CC cards.
"Do or Die is absolutely terrible..."
- This card wasn't MADE for casting when you have a few creatures on the board. This card was made for use when you have a creature stall, and eliminating half of your opponent's blockers wins you the game. I quote Flux: "Every spell has the potential to be worthless."
"Tsabo's Web...except it shouldn't see much play"
- Sounds like you've never lost a nonbasic land to Dust Bowl, or been pinged to death with a Rath's Edge.
Now, allow me to direct my attentions towards some of my own points.
First of all, people are whining that Invasion contains no good cards. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. Invasion simply forces you to reconsider what you can define as 'good'. Did you ever play Silverglade Pathfinder before? Probably not. Will you now? If you're smart, you will. Did you ever play Plague Wind before? Probably not. But in this slower environment, it can be an I-Win card. Did you play with mana artifacts before? Maybe not...but now that 3 and 4 are magic numbers, they might find a spot in your deck as mana accelerators, regardless of its color(s)!
In summary, I guess my point is that Invasion does what a good set should do: force you to abandon your old mindset. Players who are so used to playing incredibly undercosted spells and winning on Turn 4 will either adapt, or leave. The best players will simply look at the cards and nod, and make new decks based on how the new environment works.
What was, was. What is, shall be. Adapt or die.