Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker - Conflux & Magic 2013 Mythic Rare Card Review - Magic the Gathering (MTG)
Conflux was a very interesting set. It may not be considered one of the best sets in Magic history, but it does have plenty of very popular EDH cards, and also introduced a few of the better cards in Magic, specifically Knight of the Reliquary, Master Transmuter, Noble Hierarch, and Path to Exile. Plus, it also featured Reliquary Tower.
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, while not the best card in the entire set, is likely the very best mythic rare in the set. It's still a very good card today, and is a staple in Grixis versions of Super Friends (Red, Blue and Black) in EDH.
In the Magic 2013 Core Set, Nicol Bolas the Planeswalker returned to Standard for the first time since October of 2010. The game certainly changed a bit since that rotation, as that was the beginning of the Scars of Mirrodin block and Jace the Mind Sculptor's hey-day. How good would Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker be in that new environment?
First of all, he's an eight-drop. 4UBBR (4 Colorless, 1 Blue, 2 Black, 1 Red) is not exactly a pretty mana requirement to cast. It's not like you can cheat him into play somehow. But, when he does hit the board, you have a planeswalker with 5 loyalty and three very good abilities.
His +3 destroys any non-creature permanent on the board, a solid plus ability. His -2 is a Mind Control without the enchantment, which is very good. Finally, his ultimate ability, which costs 9 loyalty counters is absolutely devastating. It forces your opponent to discard 7 cards (which most often will mean their whole hand), sacrifice 7 permanents, and lose 7 life. Talk about card advantage!
If this planeswalker lives until the third turn it's on the board, you have the game essentially won against most decks. He's well worth the mana investment if he goes ultimate, but most of the time, you're going to just mind control something or destroy a pesky non-creature card that's in your way to push for game.
He's a great control card. Did he work in that Standard environment? Despite such a high mana cost, Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker happened to share the format with an awesome Enchantment called Omniscience! With Omniscience in play, you don't pay the casting cost of any card that you card. Suddenly, Nicol Bolas is free to cast!
Unsurprisingly, a deck called Omniscience Control popped up! It fared pretty well in tournaments, too, often making the Top 8 cut! But Nicol Bolas didn't need Omniscience to see play. He still found his way into Grixis Control decks who were happy to hard-cast him for his full mana cost, albeit with the help of mana rocks like Rakdos Keyrune and Chromatic Lantern. While he costs 8 mana, he's such a game-changing card that he's worth playing a copy of anyway.
Since early 2013, though, he hasn't seen much competitive play outside of the odd Modern deck. But in EDH, where an eight-mana casting cost is hardly an impediment for playing a powerful card, he still sees tons of play. It also helps that he has two incarnations as a creature, who can be Commanders, that can play him in their decks. In any case, he's an awesome card to own!
Have you ever played Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker?
~ Phoenix <3
With just a quick glance at Elderscale Wurm, you may notice that there is definitely a theme of sevens with this guy. He costs 7 mana to play, with a triple green in his mana cost (4GGG). This means he's a mono-green beast and not particularly splash-able. But big Green monsters can be pretty good. This one certainly is one worth looking at, too.
Here's the reason that he is a mythic rare: as long as he's on the board, you can never take damage that will bring you below 7 life. Unfortunately, he doesn't prevent effects that make you lose life. The card effect has to specifically deal damage, not make you "lose life" and that's the kicker. So, Elderscale Wurm was a marginal Standard play at best. Still, he had a lot going for him.
He's a 7/7 trampler, which is quite good. When he enters the battlefield, if your life total is less than 7, Elderscale Wurm restores you back to 7 life. The other good news is that you basically become invincible to combat damage as long as he's on the board and you're at 7 life.
This guy was a definite bomb in Limited. But in pretty much 60-card Constructed format, he was mostly never considered. However, he's quite good in Commander. While he's never really found a home in any particular deck, Mayael the Anima can cheat him out and Omnath, Locus of Mana makes so much Green mana that the Wurm is easy to cast.
For those Magic players who played in the Shards of Alara block era, Exalted should be a pretty familiar mechanic. With the Magic 2013 Core Set, the Exalted mechanic returned in full force. So, why not create a creature, an Angel no less, that takes Exalted to another level? Not only is Sublime Archangel a pretty 4/3 flyer for 2WW and has Exalted, but she gives all of your other creatures Exalted, too. Nifty!
Guess what? If they already have Exalted they get it AGAIN. So, if you have 5 creatures with Exalted, including Sublime Archangel, you now have NINE instances of Exalted. Yes, if one creature attacks alone, it gets +9/+9.
While this card didn't make Angels a competitive deck in Standard again, it certainly saw a fair share of play! Hopefully, one day they bring back Baneslayer Angel, just to play it along side this little beauty. Oh, what fun!
Have you ever played Sublime Archangel?
~ Phoenix <3
Richard Garfield deserves a ton of credit for creating this card. There is no doubt that Shahrazad is perhaps the most fascinating card in Magic the Gathering simply because of its effect. This card is banned in every format for a reason.
Seriously, this card tells you to leave your current game of Magic to go and play a separate game of Magic with the remaining cards! Then after that game is over, you come back to your original game and the loser of the sub-game loses half of his or her life, rounded up. Then you still have to finish the original game!
That’s a pretty awesome concept: having a game of Magic inside of a game of Magic. Does it work out in a tournament setting? Absolutely not.
But, that doesn’t mean casual players can’t proxy this card and try it out just for fun. If you actually own a copy of this card, why not stick it in a deck for chuckles? Heck, what if you ran 4 copies of this in a deck? You could potentially have a game of Magic inside a game of Magic inside a game of Magic inside a game of Magic!
Singing Tree may not be the most powerful card in the world, but what it does is interesting. While a 0/3 creature for 4 mana (3 Colorless & 1 Green) seems underpowered, being able to reduce an attacking creature's power to zero just by tapping certainly isn't bad. While it's hardly as good as many of its Reserve List counterparts, it's mainly there for collectors' value purposes. Otherwise, this would've been a candidate to reprint in a Core Set.
Honestly, Singing Tree is an interesting stall card. Though it is only an uncommon, copies of this card can still sell for over $50 on the open market, mostly just because it is from such an old set and supply is so limited. Those copies in decent condition can even fetch triple digits!
Serendib Djinn is a 5/6 flyer for only four mana. Even in modern Magic that's pretty strong! Of course, that amount of power in the air has to have a downside. It does, and it's a big one.
At the beginning of each of your up-keeps, you must sacrifice a land. If you sacrifice an Island this way, Serendib Djinn deals 3 damage to you. Then when you control no lands, sacrifice Serendib Djinn.
Honestly, if you play this guy at the right time, this Djinn can win you the game. There's really not much in Old School Magic that can touch him. So, while he has a big downside, he's not unplayable.
Djinns really were the boss monsters of Old School Magic. It's fun to how much the game has really changed - mostly for the better. But, Djinns are cool. It's too bad recent ones haven't been the boss monsters they once were. This Djinn carries a high price tag, due to being on the Reserved List, and a classic Magic the Gathering card.
Have you ever played Serendib Djinn?
~ Phoenix <3
Old Man of the Sea is an interesting creature that allows you to steal an opponent's creature. He could steal away some very interesting creatures from your opponent. He's a 2/3 for 1UU, which aren't bad stats, either. Although, if you're stealing something, you have to keep him tapped as long as you want to keep that creature under your control
Depending on what he steals from your opponent, it can go from simply being a decent early game Mind Control to putting you at a great advantage. It's an interesting card to play with and one that if printed today would certainly see some action.
In early Magic, there are many examples of cards that were simply just not very good. Merchant Ship was a card that was never reprinted because it’s on the Reserved List. But, it doesn’t really matter that it is, because it’s not very good.
Merchant Ship is a 0/2 that can’t attack unless your opponent controls an Island. Why would you attack with a card with 0 power at all, anyway? If you attack with it, and it isn’t blocked (little chance of that, really) you gain 2 life. Oh, wow, 2 life?
Also, if you control no Islands, you must sacrifice this card. This is a little odd, since if you’re playing this card nine times out of ten you will control an Island. In any case it’s pretty weak, especially for an uncommon from Arabian Nights!
There's a reason that Library of Alexandria is banned in both Commander and Legacy and limited to one copy in Vintage: it's a free draw every turn that you have 7 cards in hand. On top of that, it also can tap for a colorless mana. On the surface, it makes many people wonder, why is this banned?
Truth is, played correctly, you can basically get a free extra draw every turn. It's also not a Legendary Land, meaning you could play more than one at a time. This is why it's limited to a single copy in Vintage.
It's a bit skill-intensive to play optimally, but Legacy and Vintage are already very skill-intensive formats. It's just too good for a land that comes into play untapped and can also provide you mana if you can't get the extra card draw. It's just a really great card. Best part is, it's not even a rare. Even though it's an uncommon, though, it's on Magic's Reserve List of cards that can't be reprinted. It's always going to be one of the more expensive Magic cards out there.
Have you ever played Library of Alexandria?
~ Phoenix <3
Jihad is sort of an early version of Honor of the Pure and similar to Crusade printed in Alpha/Beta/Unlimited. This card can be a bit better than those two, though. When you play this card, choose a color. As long as your opponent has the chosen color of permanents in play, your White creatures get +2/+1.
Against mono-colored decks this can actually be a killer. White Weenie decks become a lot more powerful with this on the board. Jihad can swing a game in your favor late in the game when your board position is already set up. This will help you get that few extra power you need to deplete your opponent's life total. The drawback is that the boost is dependent on your opponent keeping a permanent of a certain color in play. So, it's not good against every deck.
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