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The Comboist Manifesto Volume III, Article 3: The Storm Count Part 3, Eternal Masters Edition
By Stephen Bahl
1. I'm back with another Storm Count article, this time commemorating the release of Eternal Masters, because why not? Of course, there aren't actually any cards with the “Storm” mechanic in Eternal Masters, but that won't stop me. There are some candidates with strong potential to substitute for a real storm...



2. I've said it before elsewhere, but Eternal Masters is amazing. As I've also said, I don't play Modern and enjoy lambasting the format. Yep, Modern sucks. But Modern Masters does not suck and was one of the coolest, most power-packed sets ever. I even liked the second edition of the concept, which was a bit more conservative in its card choices, but still very fun. These sets that bring back tried-and-true greatness from different sources, all in one place, are possibly my favorite Magic products in a long time. So I hope to see more like this, although it could do with more Storm.

3. Behold, the revival of a lost classic.



A brief history lesson, for those who don't know or forgot. In the original rules of the game, artifacts were split into multiple types. There were “mono” artifacts, “poly” artifacts, and “continuous” artifacts. Mono artifacts had activated abilities that required tapping as part of the cost, while Poly artifacts had activated abilities that didn't require tapping. Continuous artifacts were the ones with abilities that didn't require an activation cost. The original rules included a function in which these artifacts could be “turned off” if something tapped them. Soon, Magic would improve the intelligibility of these cards by adding the tap symbol into the rules texts and getting rid of the different categories of artifacts. The potential to turn off the non-activated abilities of artifacts remained. While the rule was usually irrelevant, it did have some applications, the most famous being the combination of Winter Orb + Icy Manipulator. At the end of your opponent's turn, you could use Icy Manipulator to tap your own Winter Orb, turning off its ability. During your untap step (or phase, or whatever) the Orb and your lands would all untap simultaneously, meaning that your opponent would be slowed down by Winter Orb, but you would not be.

Sixth Edition rules got rid of the artifact deactivation interaction. Soon after that, the few artifacts for which the rule had historically been of interest were given errata to grandfather them in as working the way they always had. These artifacts were Howling Mine, Static Orb, and Winter Orb. In 2011, as part of the process of cleaning up errata, Wizards of the Coast made attempts to, where feasible, match the Oracle texts of cards to the functionality of the original text. This was generally a good move, making the old cards easier for newer players to understand (it isn't always possible for old cards to still do exactly what they say they do, but it's preferable). Howling Mine and Static Orb had, by this time, been reprinted in later sets with wording specifying that their abilities only worked as long as they were untapped. So they got to remain grandfathered in. Unfortunately, Winter Orb had not been reprinted since Fifth Edition, so it lost the functionality and, in turn, the combo with Icy Manipulator.

It's been a long time, but reprinting Winter Orb in this set gave Wizards of the Coast the opportunity to restore Winter Orb to its original glory without changing any rules or giving it an erratum in unnecessary conflict with the last printed version of the card.

4. Necropotence! This is The Comboist Manifesto and I make a big deal about being a combo player, but I'd give it all up to play good old Necropotence control if it were viable.
I've claimed that it's not my favorite card at times, but that's a dirty lie.

5. Enough about Necropotence, though. And that's not because the original art is way better. It's because this isn't The Controlist Manifesto. That wouldn't even make sense. Now, on the subject of combo, Eternal Masters has Entomb, Worldgorger Dragon, and Animate Dead all in the same set. It even has some other convenient cards to use with the combo, like Ghitu Slinger and Baleful Strix.
This confluence of cards has no practical implications of which I'm aware: it's unlikely to happen in a draft and no one is playing “Eternal Masters Constructed” or anything like that. Having the cards in the same set, in this case, doesn't really do anything, but I still think it's cool.

6. Perhaps it's time for another little history lesson, as some people may not know about or may not remember Dragon combo. I've already seen several people mention Worldgorger Dragon in the context of it being a very big creature with some interesting utility, which is not how the card was historically used (outside of Limited formats), so it might be worth reiterating what happened. Way back in the old Type 1.5, Odyssey Block dumped a bunch of graveyard-based cards into the format, breathing new life into Survival of the Fittest decks. This also introduced two new decks fueled by Bazaar of Baghdad. One of these used the Bazaar to draw into and enable spells with the “Madness” mechanic. It was known as “Bombs Over Baghdad” (the name is a reference to a popular hip hop song). The other deck, known as “Dragon,” used Bazaar of Baghdad and Entomb to get Worldgorger Dragon into the graveyard and then used Animate Dead on it. These two cards have a strange interaction that is easy to miss...

-Animate Dead returns Worldgorger Dragon to the battlefield.
-Worldgorger Dragon, upon entering the battlefield, exiles all of your stuff.
-Because Animate Dead left the battlefield, you must sacrifice Worldgorger Dragon.
-Worldgorger Dragon leaves the battlefield, so all of your stuff comes back from exile. This includes Animate Dead, which must target a creature in a graveyard.
-If Animate Dead targets Worldgorger Dragon again, the same thing will happen. All of your stuff will go into exile, Worldgorger Dragon will die again, and all of your stuff will come back again.
-This is an infinite loop.
-Before Worldgorger Dragon exiles all of your stuff, you have time in each iteration of the loop to do any instant-speed things, including tapping your lands for mana or using other activated abilities. Your lands will re-enter the battlefield in their default state each time, so they'll be untapped unless they specify that they enter the battlefield tapped.
-Any permanents you control that have triggered abilities on entering or leaving the battlefield will trigger in each iteration of the loop.
-If there is another creature in a graveyard, you must eventually choose to end the loop by selecting another target for Animate Dead. But you can repeat the process as many times as you wish before doing so.
-If there are no other legal targets for Animate Dead and no player chooses to stop the loop in some other way (such as by casting Disenchant on Animate Dead before Worldgorger Dragon can exile it), then the rules state that the game ends in a draw.

Back then, Dragon decks won by using the loop to repeatedly bring their own lands back untapped, generating infinite mana and also, if Bazaar of Baghdad was one of those lands, to dig for another creature. The most common kill conditions were to switch Animate Dead to target either Sliver Queen (for infinite tokens) or Ambassador Laquatus (to mill the opponent's library away). If the Dragon player didn't have a way to do this and was worried that the opponent might win soon, it was also possible to deliberately cast Animate Dead on Worldgorger Dragon early and end the game in a draw. This sometimes meant that matches with Dragon decks ran long, with several games ending in draws. When the old Type 1.5 was replaced with the format that became Legacy, the banned list was influenced by this deck, with Bazaar of Baghdad, Worldgorger Dragon, and Entomb all being banned. The “Dredge” mechanic would later break Bazaar of Baghdad more than Dragon had, and eventually Entomb and Worldgorger Dragon were unbanned, but the format had evolved and the combo no longer made for a top-tier competitive deck. While it's not nearly as prevalent as it was in the old format, the combo is still quite strong.

7. I think I touch on this subject whenever the card comes up, but the creature type line on Giant Solifuge (mechanically a fine card) makes my blood boil. No, really.
I'm far more angry about this than any normal person should by angry about anything in a card game. I don't expect my seething, inexorable rage on this subject to seem at all sane, but I should at least explain the problem. A solifuge is an order of arachnids. Other orders of arachnids include spiders, scorpions, mites, and ticks. Magic has spiders and scorpions as creature types, but solifuges, while quite common in nature, are not supported as a creature type. Now, a solifuge is an arachnid, but it isn't a spider, nor a scorpion. To give it either of those as a creature type would be wrong. And so Wizards of the Coast got around the problem by making Giant Solifuge an insect, another, even more wrong, designation. Now, some would-be voice of reason might chime in that it isn't practical to support creature types for every animal out there. I get it. I really do. Spider would be wrong in this case, as would scorpion, and those are the two options closest to what solifuges actually are. Well, it's not like Wizards of the Coast is actually consistent on this.
Aurochs, which are extinct and were basically just a specific variety of cattle, get their own creature type.
Elk, caribou, and antelopes all get their own creature types. Rabbits get their own creature type. Sables and ferrets get their own creature types. And hey, there's also mongoose and badger. Sponge! Sponges get a creature type. Wizards of the Coast didn't consolidate leeches with other worms, even though they are worms. And of course a pegasus couldn't be a horse, even though it basically is. We also get such stupid creature types as “kithkin,”
“rigger,” and “volver.” But no, we couldn't possibly spare space for one more creature type to make Giant Solifuge have an accurate type line. Failing that, it could get a type vague enough not to be demonstrably wrong.
I mean, anything could be a beast. They could even make it a demon, for all I care.

8. There's been some hullabaloo regarding the addition of several cards to the Pauper format with the release of Eternal Masters. These cards had not been printed at common before, but are now common in the new set, and therefore legal in Pauper. They are, in order of card number...

Elite Vanguard
Humble
Mistral Charger
Monk Idealist
Rally the Peasants
Cephalid Sage
Glacial Wall
Peregrine Drake
Phantom Monster
Stupefying Touch
Tidal Wave
Warden of Evos Isle
Night's Whisper
Prowling Pangolin
Avarax
Carbonize
Desperate Ravings
Dragon Egg
Orcish Oriflamme
Undying Rage
Wildfire Emissary
Elephant Guide
Elvish Visionary
Emperor Crocodile
Nimble Mongoose
Roots
Sylvan Might
Yavimaya Enchantress

9. While I do like that this set has something to offer Pauper players, I'm generally apprehensive about actually playing the format. I preferred the greater flexibility in Peasant Magic, but that format is now defunct. Pauper is inconsistent, and many players go by the Magic Online banned list, even though the online cardpool differs from the paper cardpool in what cards are at common. Also, the online banned list is stupid anyway.

10. Relatively recently, Cloud of Faeries was banned in the Magic Online Pauper format. Now that Peregrine Drake is a common, some online Pauper players are worried that the format will actually have a combo deck again. Not playing the format myself, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt on whether their grievances are legitimate, but this strikes me as people being worried that their bad decks will go from losing to Delver and MBC back to losing to Delver, MBC, and Nightscape Familiar again.

11. Although we've already had two editions of Modern Masters, it's clear that some of the cards in Eternal Masters were placed in the set with Modern in mind. So, good for Modern players too, I guess. Good for the format in which Summer Bloom is now banned.

12. What are people even playing in Modern these days? I guess I can always count on there being a Birthing Pod deck.
Oh wait, it got banned. Twin Exarch, then. Scratch that, Splinter Twin is now banned. Huh. That must mean Eldrazi are pretty crazy now with Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple.
Actually, Eye of Ugin is banned. What does the format even have left? Well, let's see. Oh, Jund is still there, since they haven't banned anymore cards from it. Looks like they still haven't banned any merfolk (yet), so you could play those guys. Urzatron remains remarkably intact.
And of course the “Affinity” deck (not actually an Affinity deck) is still popular, although it'll get banned out any day now.

13. I guess that Deathrite Shaman wouldn't be one of the cards reprinted with Modern players in mind! It's on the banned list too. Modern has three creatures on its banned list, and all of them are cards that do perfectly ordinary, creature things. In Legacy, none of those creatures are banned. Not one. We do have four creatures on our banned list, but two of those are ante cards, one is just sitting there waiting for a prisoner exchange when WotC accidentally prints something broken in Legacy, and the last one flips your whole library into your graveyard by itself. Quit slacking off, Modern. You shouldn't have to ban a card just because it has “Cascade.”

14. Speaking of the “Cascade” mechanic, the two best cascaders, Shardless Agent and Bloodbraid Elf, are both in this set. There's also Maelstrom Wanderer, which is probably just meant to appease the Commander players.

15. Dack Fayden and Jace, the Mind Sculptor are the two planeswalkers in Eternal Masters. They're two of the most powerful planeswalker cards ever, but should they really be in this set? Other cards might be more deserving of attention. Here, I'll list some other planeswalkers that could have been in this set instead...

-Liliana Vess
-Liliana of the Veil
-Liliana of the Dark Realms
-Liliana, Heretical Healer

16. I actually got two booster boxes of Eternal Masters in the mail today, while writing this article. It's June 9th, and the set comes out on June 10th. I don't have any real way to take advantage of this mistake, but it's cool anyway. I got a Mana Crypt, which is an incredibly powerful card. I already had one, but now I have two. Out of all the cards they could reprint, this one surprised me the most.

17. Now that Mana Crypt has been reprinted, the floodgates are surely open, and we'll get the long-awaited reprint of Nalathni Dragon.

18. Looking at the old cards, Mark Tedin sure illustrated a lot of powerful cards. I already mentioned his art on Necropotence. There were also Mana Vault, Mana Drain, Nevinyrral's Disk, Sol Ring, Time Vault, Timetwister, Memory Lapse, City of Brass, Ponder, and even Island. Then again, he also illustrated Aladdin's Lamp. They can't all be winners.

19. I can hardly wait for the draft where someone puts a Balance on an Isochron Scepter. Please let that be captured on video.

20. My twenty favorite cards in Eternal Masters are...

-Necropotence
-Duress
-Mana Crypt
-Force of Will
-Sinkhole
-Vampiric Tutor
-Nevinyrral's Disk
-Chain Lightning
-Natural Order
-Deathrite Shaman
-Sylvan Library
-Hymn to Tourach
-Young Pyromancer
-Victimize
-Nature's Claim
-Gamble
-Toxic Deluge
-Future Sight
-Seal of Cleansing
-Karmic Guide

21. I keep saying it, but elves are crazy in Eternal Masters. They really went all-out on elves. The set has some goblins too, but elf tribal is a real thing here.

22. In the CPA tribal games, we initially banned elves, goblins, and zombies, those being the three tribes that emerged as the strongest after tribes got a boost in Onslaught block. Elves and goblins, both appearing in Eternal Masters are still playable in Legacy, although they aren't quite as impressive as they once were. Not getting much help from Onslaught block, merfolk fell by the wayside in competitive Magic, although I did attempt them in a CPA tribal game. And then Lorwyn block hit and merfolk have become one of the strongest tribes again. Zombies, though, just can't compete with that. I'm not sure what the problem is. Zombies continue to receive support as a creature type. In the game's history, they've probably gotten more tools to work with than any other tribes besides elves and goblins, but they just can't seem to find a niche.

23. As much as the elves in this set have to work with, they still don't get Glimpse of Nature or Gaea's Cradle, so a prospective Legacy Elves player would need to go to older sets for those cards. Of course, Gaea's Cradle is on the Reserved list, so good luck with that.

24. This comic summarizes the Reserved List problem:



25. As I think of them, I'll list cards that aren't on the Reserved List, need reprinted, and weren't in this set...

-The Zendikar fetchlands (Marsh Flats, Arid Mesa, Scalding Tarn, Misty Rainforest, Verdant Catacombs)
-Rishadan Port
-Mana Drain
-Show and Tell
-Demonic Tutor
-Glimpse of Nature
-Liliana of the Veil
-Counterbalance
-Ancestral Vision
-Ancient Tomb
-Berserk
-Imperial Recruiter
-Imperial Seal
-Grove of the Burnwillows
-Grim Tutor
-Lotus Petal
-Inquisition of Kozilek
-Flusterstorm
-Mana Vault
-Goblin Lackey
-Æther Vial
-Infernal Tutor
-Snapcaster Mage
-Cavern of Souls
-Abrupt Decay
-Goblin Guide
-Dark Depths
-Vesuva
-Serum Visions
-Craterhoof Behemoth
-True-Name Nemesis
-Umezawa's Jitte
-Rolling Earthquake

26. I already post this in the forum, but here are the cards that are on the Reserved List and really need reprinting.

-The original dual lands (Tundra, Scrubland, Plateau, Savannah, Underground Sea, Volcanic Island, Tropical Island, Badlands, Bayou, Taiga)
-Candelabra of Tawnos
-The Abyss
-Chains of Mephistopheles
-Eureka
-Moat
-Nether Void
-The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
-Helm of Obedience
-Phyrexian Devourer
-Lion's Eye Diamond
-Phyrexian Dreadnought
-Aluren
-Cursed Scroll
-Intuition
-Meditate
-Dream Halls
-Mox Diamond
-Volrath's Stronghold
-City of Traitors
-Mind Over Matter
-Recurring Nightmare
-Time Spiral
-Gaea's Cradle
-Serra's Sanctum
-Palinchron
-Grim Monolith
-Academy Rector
-Metalworker

Also, while they are currently on the Legacy banned list, both Earthcraft and Survival of the Fittest are easily unbannable and could be included in that list.

27. It is a minor point, but I'm really glad that something finally drove the price down on Cabal Therapy.
I'll still be using my Judgment copies because the old art is better, but the price of that card was stupidly inflated.

28. I could probably build a decent casual Enchantress deck with this set. I just might, actually.

29. My favorite new art from Eternal Masters...

-Ancestral Mask
-Force of Will
-Goblin Charbelcher
-Mystical Tutor
-Enlightened Tutor
-Balance
-Sensei's Divining Top
-Goblin Trenches
-Gamble
-Animate Dead
-Peregrine Drake
-Entomb
-Karakas

30. Is it worth a new article for me to blather on with every thought that comes to mind on the release of a new set? For this set, yes. Yes, it is.

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