David Zadok Stroud
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The best cards from Planeshift, in the experience of a single uneducated scrub without any credentials. In two weeks, I’ll be proven horribly wrong, and be flamed for my selections. Chaos Turtle was already kind enough to provide the CPA with a full review of the set, so I’ll limit myself to the impressive stuff. That way, I don’t need to worry about ranting about the bad cards (with the exception of a few especially notable bad cards).
Lashknife Barrier – 2W
When Lashknife Barrier comes into play, draw a card.
If a source would deal damage to a creature you control, it deals that much damage minus 1 to that creature instead.
Imitation Spidersilk Armor with the added bonus of reducing multiple sources of damage and drawing you a card. When I first saw the checklist for cards in Planeshift, I looked forward to seeing this card, just to laugh at it. After all, a card named after Lashknife? How funny would that be? And a Barrier to boot, so it’s a friggin’ First Strike wall! Right? Wrong. Lashknife Barrier instead gives your creatures an enormous combat advantage, and helps save them from red burn and Earthquakes. In fact, I would venture that, like the Armor, this would combo very well with Earthquake. Suddenly, Shock is a minor nuisance that will rarely manage to kill a creature on its own (1 damage for one mana just isn’t very strong), and attackers look like they’ve run through a Briar Patch. All at the cost of no cards and three lousy mana. I’ll take that deal!
Orim’s Chant – W
Kicker – W
Target player can’t play spells this turn.
If you paid the kicker cost, creatures can’t attack this turn.
Mini-Abeyance + Fog for WW sounds like a more than fair trade, yes? Orim’s Chant is touted as one of the strongest Planeshift cards you’ll run across, and with good reason. It’s cheap, and has a very powerful effect. Its power is several fold. Its main use is to simply gain a turn's worth of spells over your opponent, but more important, it prevents a Wrath of God when your opponent needs one, stops a Story Circle from hitting play, and generally just annoys your opponent. If you need to force a key burn spell through, playing this card is GUARANTEED to draw a counterspell, or make sure your spell is safe. I expect this will see play in fast decks that can afford the single white. Since it mainly works in decks that play aggressively, I don’t expect the Kicker will often be important outside of winning races, but the primary ability remains strong.
Waterspout Elemental – 3UU
Creature – Elemental
3 / 4
Kicker – U
When Waterspout Elemental comes into play, if you paid the kicker cost, return all other creatures to their owner’s hand and skip your next turn.
Well, here’s a controversial card. A 3 / 4 flier for 5 mana, with a powerful kicker, but with a horrendous drawback to worry about. This card has been discussed on a number of levels. It can be seen as Troublesome Spirit for one more mana, sans drawback. If you like the idea of that, you can also think of it as Air Elemental with one less power and an added ability. In casual multiplayer games, combining this with Magistrate’s Scepter (combo idea courtesy of Sean Pearson) is fairly nasty, and really, the Elemental is pretty friggin’ nasty on his own. Using him with the absolutely amazing Wretched Devotion is also an option. To quote an MtgNews denizen:
“I don’t think ‘support’ is the word for what this does with Devotion.”
He’s right. Waterspout Elemental is a wrecking ball when timed well, and a fairly sturdy flier when simply played down for his casting cost. Obviously, he can’t be as strong as previous blue fliers (say, MORPHLING), but for the casting cost in this environment, he’s more than acceptable.
Lord of the Undead – 1BB
Creature – Lord; 2/2
All Zombies get +1/+1
1B, T: Return target Zombie from your graveyard to your hand.
Finally, the Zombies get their REAL Lord. Screw that ‘other’ Lord, this is the real thing. Recursion and card advantage combined with a Gray Ogre that also pumps up your Zombies – All this and no Legendary status to boot! Obviously, this is meant to go with the new Dark Crusade for Goblins, and they go very well together, making Zombie Goblins from Hades. Here come da’ Goblins! And they’ve got Scutas backing them up. This Lord is undercosted to the point of possibly forming an entirely new deck type, running Zombie swarms in Black and Goblin swarms in red, with Terminate as removal and Scuta as the fatty of choice. Goblin Warrens might find its way into the mix as well. This is probably my favorite casual card from the set. Power + Low Casting Cost + Card Advantage + Style = Wonderful new card to play with.
Flametongue Kavu – 3R
Creature – Kavu; 4/2
When Flametongue Kavu comes into play, it deals 4 damage to target creature.
One of my opponents at the prerelease had one of these. He wasn’t maindecking it. After the first game, he dug through his sideboard, and read it again. He then said “Why aren’t I playing this?!?” and tossed it into his deck. It proceeded to wreck me in the next game. My opponent sideboarded that same card in every game from then on against every opponent. To explain this card in simple terms, Lightning Blast costs 4 mana and does 4 damage. This costs 4 mana, and does 4 damage – And then it becomes a 4/2 creature for you to deal MORE damage with. A few Fires decks right now are playing Ancient Hydra. Expect this to be the replacement. At one less mana for approximately the same amount of damage, and without fading, Flametongue Kavu is simply amazing. Of course, one must take into account the fact that it will occassionally knock itself straight off the table, but hey, you can’t have it all.
Nemeta, Grove Guardian – 4GG
Creature – Treefolk Legend; 4/5
2G: Put a Saproling token into play. Treat it as a 1/1 green creature.
Sacrifice a Saproling token: All Saprolings get +1/+1 until end of turn.
Obviously, another power casual card for everyone to play with. A 4 / 5 for 6 mana is not overly strong, but when it blocks a creature for 3 mana and makes 1/1s to attack with, AND pumps them up on demand, it becomes amazing. For a few more mana, you get a Verdant Force, but this is generally amazing even without the Force. Making creatures is good, especially when it doesn’t cost much mana to do. This will no doubt see play in a Verdaloth/Nemeta Treefolk/Saproling deck designed to swarm over opponents once everything has been chump blocked to extinction. Considering the second ability can be used by sacrificing blocked Saprolings, this card can be completely overpowering.
Doomsday Specter – 2UB
Creature – Specter; 2/3
When Doomsday Specter comes into play, return a blue or black creature you control to its owner’s hand.
Whenever Doomsday Specter deals combat damage to a player, look at that player’s hand a choose a card from it. That player discards that card.
Stunning. What else must I say? Blazing Specter is an amazing card, but he’s nothing compared to the sheer power of this guy. The Gating drawback makes this Specter slightly harder than average to play, but between Ravenous Rats, Tidal Visionary, and Voldalian Zombies, you should never lack a creature to return for this monster. A lot of comparisons are being made between this and Blazing Specter, saying this is worse because your opponent doesn’t discard as soon. First of all, this lives through a Shock. That’s enough to even the score. Furthermore, when you hit someone with a Blazing, they discard their WORST card. Doomsday makes them discard their BEST. That takes at least three or four hits from the Blazing Specter, but it happens in only one hit with the Doomsday. Put very simply, this is one of the strongest U/B discard cards ever printed, making for a new archetype based on discard, removal, and bounce. (But not Wretched Devotion, knowing how that combos with Gating.)
Natural Emergence – 2RG
When Natural Emergence comes into play, return a red or green enchantment you control to its owner’s hand.
Lands you control are 2/2 creatures with first strike. They’re still lands.
Russell Sherman, aka Duel, has been saying that Vernal Equinox (which allows creatures and enchantments to be played as instants) is the best card no one’s playing with. It may very well be. Combined with Natural Emergence, your blocking brigade gets to be absolutely deadly, clearing out most (if not ALL) attacking creatures, while returning the Equinox to your hand to be replayed later. It return, you get some of the best creatures in the game – 2/2 First Strikers that tap for mana. And a lot of the little things. Group blocking can lead to some advantageous trades (3 block a ‘Derm, 2 block a Kavu Chameleon, etc…), and then you get to attack with them. Blocking 2/2 first strikers coming from a green deck isn’t recommended. Perhaps another good reason to use Serra’s Blessing, since it allows your powerful army to stay behind as blockers as well as go aggro. Not playing Equniox? Well, there aren plenty of green and red enchantments worth playing, not the least of which are Fires and Saproling Burst. Bouncing the Burst resets the Fading, too. Cards like Veduran Enchantress make Natural Emergence even more of a winning proposition. Well worth playing.
And finally, to wrap this article up so I can work on the other two I have in the works (you only THOUGHT I'd stopped writing!):
Shriek of Dread – 1B
Target creature can’t be blocked this turn except by artifact creatures and black creatures.
Fear is broken, apparently, so they had to make it worse. When I first spotted this card on the spoilers, I thought it was bad. I eventually concluded that it must have been a misprint, and they left off the ‘Draw a card’ part. That’s the only way they would print it, right? Dear God… How could this card be real? It’s… Worse than Fear. And Fear was in Friggin’ Rizzo’s Universal Net Deck, a deck purposefully constructed of the worst cards in Extended! How could this see print? I don’t know. For the sole purpose of giving me another Goblin Spy-esque card to laugh at, I suppose…
Those are my picks in Planeshift. Again, as a disclaimer, I’m wrong. Any thought to the contrary should be ignored. In two weeks, you’ll know I was wrong. Until then, give me my moment of glory.
And a moment of prayer, to let Greater Good into 7th Edition!
--Zadok001, aka Greater Good fanatic
Casual Player’s Alliance Founder
“We have more sprouts than they have hands.”
----------David Zadok Stroud
“Truth and beauty have nothing in common, save this; that they exist only in the eye of the beholder."