by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
While milling your opponents out of cards isn’t always the best strategy in Commander, there is one mono-Blue Commander who combines Spirit Tribal with mill! Meet Cloudhoof Kirin, who mills X cards where X is the converted mana cost of an arcane or Spirit spell you cast. Granted it only affects one target player. It may not be the most efficient way to mill ever. But it’s at least fun.
In Shadows Over Innistrad, Cloudhoof Kirin got a boost from a new Spirit, Rattlechains, and a new mill card, Startled Awake. Rattlechains allows you to play any of your Spirits at instant speed, which makes Cloudhoof’s ability that much better. Startled Awake can return from the graveyard transformed as a Persistent Nightmare, which then returns to your hand after it deals combat damage. While it's not the most efficient spell, it's reusable.
Here’s a sample decklist you can build from.
1 Cloudhoof Kirin 3uu
1 Dreamcatcher u
1 Kami of the Crescent Moon uu
1 Mindshrieker 1u
1 Rattlechains 1u
1 Shape Stealer uu
1 Shapesharer 1u
1 Shriekgeist 1u
1 Drift of Phantasms 2u
1 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner 1uu
1 Lantern Spirit 2u
1 Niblis of the Breath 2u
1 Riddlekeeper 2u
1 Sage's Row Denizen 2u
1 Dreamborn Muse 2uu
1 Dungeon Geists 2uu
1 Phyrexian Metamorph 3up
1 Rushing-Tide Zubera 2uu
1 Sakashima the Impostor 2uu
1 Shimmering Glasskite 3u
1 Solemn Simulacrum 4
1 Soulsworn Spirit 3u
1 Tower Geist 3u
1 Tradewind Rider 3u
1 Battleground Geist 4u
1 Kiri-Onna 4u
1 Quillmane Baku 4u
1 Soul Seizer 3uu
1 Sturmgeist 3uu
1 Teller of Tales 3uu
1 Deadeye Navigator 4uu
1 Keiga, the Tide Star 5u
1 Sire of the Storm 4uu
1 Soramaro, First to Dream 4uu
1 Tomorrow, Azami's Familiar 5u
1 Patron of the Moon 5uu
1 The Unspeakable 6uuu
1 Myojin of Seeing Winds 7uuu
1 Tormod's Crypt 0
1 Personal Tutor u
1 Reach Through Mists u
1 Relic of Progenitus 1
1 Sol Ring 1
1 Consuming Vortex 1u
1 Counterspell uu
1 Dampen Thought 1u
1 Disrupting Shoal xuu
1 Eye of Nowhere uu
1 Psychic Puppetry 1u
1 Sapphire Medallion 2
1 Stream of Consciousness 1u
1 Veil of Secrecy 1u
1 Eerie Procession 2u
1 Jace Beleren 1uu
1 Rhystic Study 2u
1 Sift Through Sands 1uu
1 Toils of Night and Day 2u
1 Startled Awake 2uu
1 Jace, Memory Adept 3uu
1 Petals of Insight 4u
1 Ribbons of the Reikai 4u
1 Reweave 5u
1 Halimar Depths
1 Lonely Sandbar
1 Myriad Landscape
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Remote Isle
1 Shelldock Isle
1 Temple of the False God
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Looking for an old school Commander that can lead a Demon Tribal deck to victory? Well, perhaps you weren’t. But, Boris Devilboon is as old-school as it gets for playing Red & Black Demons. While he’s not all that impressive himself as a 2/2 Zombie Wizard for 5 mana, he does make 1/1 Demon tokens for 4 mana. Not a bad deal, honestly.
Despite the fact that Boris Devilboon is a Zombie Wizard, Demon Tribal is really the way to go here. Along with a few Ogre allies, you get to play with lots of your favorite Demons in Magic History. So what do you do with the Demon Tokens that Boris makes? You can use them as sacrifice fodder for some of your bigger Demons, of course! While Boris will never take over a game by himself, he’s an interesting option to consider.
Here’s an example list.
1 Boris Devilboon 3br
1 Skirsdag High Priest 1b
1 Torch Fiend 1r
1 Herald of Torment 1bb
1 Kuon, Ogre Ascendant bbb
1 Ogre Marauder 1bb
1 Soulcage Fiend 1bb
1 Blood Speaker 3b
1 Demonlord of Ashmouth 2bb
1 Rakdos, Lord of Riots bbrr
1 Sengir Autocrat 3b
1 Bloodgift Demon 3bb
1 Halo Hunter 2bbb
1 Heartless Hidetsugu 3rr
1 Indulgent Tormentor 3bb
1 Kagemaro, First to Suffer 3bb
1 Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs 3rr
1 Master of Cruelties 3br
1 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen 3bb
1 Seizan, Perverter of Truth 3bb
1 Woebringer Demon 3bb
1 Charmbreaker Devils 5r
1 Harvester of Souls 4bb
1 Malfegor 2bbrr
1 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed 3bbb
1 Ob Nixilis, Unshackled 4bb
1 Reaper from the Abyss 3bbb
1 Sire of Insanity 4br
1 Stronghold Overseer 3bbb
1 Xathrid Demon 3bbb
1 Abhorrent Overlord 5bb
1 Havoc Demon 5bb
1 Lord of the Pit 4bbb
1 Lord of the Void 4bbb
1 Rune-Scarred Demon 5bb
1 Reiver Demon 4bbbb
1 Sol Ring 1
1 Fire Diamond 2
1 Gate to Phyrexia bb
1 Mind Stone 2
1 Rakdos Charm br
1 Rakdos Signet 2
1 Talisman of Indulgence 2
1 Dark Prophecy bbb
1 Darksteel Ingot 3
1 Infernal Tribute bbb
1 Necromancy 2b
1 Phyrexian Arena 1bb
1 Read the Bones 2b
1 Unstable Obelisk 3
1 Damnation 2bb
1 Diabolic Tutor 2bb
1 Mutilate 2bb
1 Trading Post 4
1 Dictate of Erebos 3bb
1 Promise of Power 2bbb
1 Reign of the Pit 4bb
1 Staff of Nin 6
1 Grave Betrayal 5bb
1 Decree of Pain 6bb
1 Akoum Refuge
1 Blood Crypt
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Command Tower
1 Dragonskull Summit
1 Molten Slagheap
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Rakdos Guildgate
1 Rocky Tar Pit
1 Sulfurous Springs
1 Tainted Peak
1 Temple of the False God
1 Tresserhorn Sinks
1 Urborg Volcano
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Volrath's Stronghold
To save some money, you can replace Damnation with a cheaper Black board wipe, such as Crux of Fate. Also, Volrath’s Stronghold is quite good, but the deck can function without it. Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is a super good creature, but he’s pushed $20. So you could live without him, although it can do a lot of good work for you.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Emrakul's Evangel from Eldritch Moon has spent much of its life as a bulk rare. But as some Commander players have shown through playing him in various decks, he has a lot of potential. For a 3 drop, the Evangel can sacrifice himself and a bunch of your dorky creatures and turn them into an army of Eldrazi Horrors! The power swing that he can effect with a single tap is quite relevant. While his ability is a bit too slow for competitive Constructed play, at the kitchen table, he packs quite a punch!
The Commanders that have utilized his tap ability the most are Meren of Clan Nel Toth and Prossh, Skyraider of Kher. Prossh seems the more natural fit, as he brings with him a number of 0/1 Kobold tokens equal to his converted mana cost. Getting at least 7 3/2 Horrors for only 2G and a tap is pretty significant. Add to that many Prossh decks play Purphoros, God of the Forge, so that's often going to be 14 damage to each opponent! Keep in mind that Prossh brings more tokens into play each time he's cast from the Command Zone, so the Evangel's ability becomes even better!
Meren decks are more concerned with the war of attrition, and winning that war through reanimating a creature every turn. It's incredibly relevant that you're often going to get 2 or more activations of the Evangel a game in a Meren deck more often than you ever would in Prossh, where it's more often a one-shot effect. In Meren, you're playing Dictate of Erebos and Grave Pact to take advantage of your sacrifices, forcing opponents to sacrifice a great many creatures when you play Evangel and use his ability. Also, when creatures die, Meren gets you more experience counters, meaning you can reanimate bigger stuff on each of your upkeeps. Fun times!
Another really good fit for Emrakul's Evangel is Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest. Giving each one of your creatures a +1/+1 counter when any permanent is sacrificed is very strong. The only issue is that the tokens themselves don't benefit from Mazirek's ability, as the counters are placed on creatures before the tokens ever resolve. While it's not perfect synergy, he still works in the deck, regardless.
Pretty much any token based deck that's good at spitting out 1/1's can use Emrakul's Evangel. Rhys the Redeemed decks, for example, can use anthems such as Glorious Anthem and Dictate of Heliod to make the Horrors even more deadly. Also, Cathar's Crusade, one of the best +1/+1 counter producers in the game, triggers for each creature that enters the battlefield. If you make 10 tokens, you get 10 +1/+1 counters on each creature you control, including the tokens themselves! Seems like a natural fit to me!
There was speculation that the Evangel could play well in a Standard environment along with the potent token producer Secure the Wastes. That never came to fruition. But Secure the Wastes sees play in Commander, so It's rather likely that Secure the Wastes and the Evangel will be played alongside one another for years to come. The Evangel is a great creature for Commander and it's really not seeing nearly the play that it should!
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Intervention Pact is one of the cycle of five (mostly) powerful Pacts from Magic the Gathering's Future Sight set. Pact of Negation, Slaughter Pact, and Summoner's Pact are the ones that many Magic players know about. There's the also unplayably bad Pact of the Titan in Red, but Intervention Pact is actually playable. It has seen occasional pay in Modern Eldrazi & Taxes and in Commander. However, in late September of 2016, Intervention Pact went from being a $1 rare to having a TCGPlayer Mid price of nearly $12! What happened!?
Many price spikes occur due to what are known as "price corrections" meaning that the card's price relative to its demand finally normalizes as supply diminishes. However, many other price spikes occur to the dreaded buyout, as in one or a few speculators buy out the internet of a particular card with low supply that may or may not actually have future demand. In the case of Intervention Pact, it doesn't seem that many people were willing to actually pay more than $5 for this card when the price spike occurred. So in this case, we can assume this was a buyout target.
October 2016's Kaladesh release could have been a major factor in the buyout's occurrence. Two cards from the set involve taking damage in order to gain a great effect.
The first card is a powerful Sorcery called Madcap Experiment. The Experiment involves flipping over cards from the top of your card until you reveal an artifact card. Then, Madcap Experiment deals damage equal to the number of revealed cards. Intervention Pact literally not only prevents that damage, but actually gains you that much life. Yes, you have to pay 1WW at your next upkeep or you'll lose the game. However, as a Madcap Experiment deck will likely be playing both Red and White, the latter for other damage prevention spells such as Angel's Grace and Hallow, this is not a bad cost to pay.
The other card from Kaladesh making people consider Intervention Pact is Aetherflux Reservoir. This card allows you to pay 50 life in order to deal 50 damage to a target player. This is one of a Madcap Experiment deck's main win conditions, sometimes along with Blightsteel Colossus and its indestructible 11/11 body with infect or beating down with Serra Ascendants. Notably, the Reservoir can come down on turn 4, so you may never need to even play Madcap Experiment in order to get it into play.
Here are two examples from Tappedout.net of Madcap Experiment combo decks in modern: Aetherflux Experiment and Madpact Experiment. Notably, another card that has seen considerable price gains around Madcap Experiment speculation, Platinum Emperion, is not included in these two examples. However, an 8/8 creature that makes sure your life total never changes is pretty significant, although not in and of itself a win condition. You'd rather hit the Reservoir or the Colossus, I would think.
Whether this Madcap Experiment strategy actually pays off in Modern is going to be a big factor in if Intervention Pact becomes a truly $10+ card. While the brewing has been intense around this Red sorcery, there hasn't been a truly optimized list just yet. Personally, I would stay away from Intervention Pact at anything over $5. It is a low-supply card being from Future Sight, the Tarmogoyf (and Horizon Canopy) set.
What about the other damage preventers? Hallow is a common from Darksteel and Angel's Grace is a rare from Time Spiral and Modern Masters. Angel's Grace is definitely a safer investment as it is part of a known competitive combo in Ad Nauseam decks in Modern. Hallow can be found in bulk boxes everywhere. However, Intervention Pact is essentially free, and the drawback doesn't matter if you hit the Reservoir and deal 50 damage to your opponent and win. It allows you to potentially win on turn 4 by just having a copy of Madcap Experiment in hand. Anecdotal playtesting has allegedly proved this to be true.
Intervention Pact is definitely a wait-and-see card. Considering that Angel's Grace is an $8 card, it's fair to say that the Pact could be north of $10 if it's truly a four-of in a Madcap Experiment deck. But it's hard to say how competitive the archetype will be. It's definitely a fun combo deck to try out, and if you add in Blue mana to play disruption such as Remand and card selection spells such as Serum Visions, there is a shot that it can do some work in Modern. There is real potential here, but don't throw your money into the ring just yet.
by Kai Chang, Crazy About MTG
This is going to be a more serious post. I am really passionate about this issue. After listening to Shivam Bhatt on Commanderin', I felt really inspired to write this out on paper and publish it.
First of all, just to clarify, the title is not implying that Magic is not more diverse than it was when it began. The player audience and developer team has diversified since the beginning of the game, and there is now a much larger spectrum of players. However, there are still some marks left from the times where the audience and developer team were predominantly white males. Though the audience is still mostly comprised of white males, the "second generation" of Magic, which includes me, seems much more diverse in terms of race and gender.
Why is it positive to have a more diverse cast of characters? It is important to have a more diverse cast of characters because people will enjoy the game more if they have a character that looks like them, that acts like them. The more diverse the characters are, the more people can identify with them, and the more diverse the Magic audience will be. This is why a diverse cast of characters in Magic: the Gathering is important.
How far has it came? It's come very far. Very, very far. They recently traveled to Tarkir and we picked up an Eastern Asian planeswalker, Narset, however they lost their opportunity to tie her in to the general story and keep on printing new Narsets, possibly drawing in more Asian players, and possibly more female players. It's so unfortunate that they left her behind and didn't take the chance to draw in an even more diverse audience.
We've also recently gotten Kaya, an dark skinned female planeswalker. This is another large step for Magic, even more so than Narset, because she came in a set that wasn't about just people of her race, she was in a set with a lot of people of other races. However, I think they also lost the chance to tie her in to the story and include a character that more people can identify with.
So, they've come far, but there still is a critical problem. First of all, some of the more diverse characters are only allowed to be in sets with people like themselves. Like Narset, who is in a purely Asian world. Is Narset not allowed to be someone who stands out of the crowd? Does she have to only be in a world where there are only Asians? It's an improvement from pure white males, but it feels like more like something meant to please angry audiences rather than a real attempt at diversity.
They've improved by one step with Kaya. They actually put her in a set with people of other races. That's a big step for Magic, but it still feels a little bit like something meant to appease, not a real attempt because they still won't tie anyone in the larger story. Why can't you do that? WHY CAN'T KAYA JOIN THE GATEWATCH? WHY NOT?
Now, that's a nice transition to talking about the Gatewatch. What's the Gatewatch? It's the multi-planar Justice League, and it's 80% white. Anyway, Chandra doesn't look that Indian. Her father, Kiran, seems pretty non-indian.
I understand that the Gatewatch is a result of the past of Magic filled with white planeswalkers. The only planeswalkers that they chose to support are white. Hopefully they can factor more diverse characters into the Gatewatch, instead of keeping it so white. Hopefully these changes are on the way, or we're going to be watching a bunch of white people sweeping through not primarily white planes and saving them.
However, Magic has given itself one last chance. That chance is Saheeli Rai. That chance is right here, right now. You can get Saheeli Rai on the Gatewatch train as a precedent to help diversify the Gatewatch, which is seeming like the focal point of the story.
This is one of my longer posts, and more heated posts. I really feel passionate about this. I know that I'll lose lots of viewers over this, but I can't let this lie. Let the internet trolls run free in the comments section.
Kai Chang, Crazy About MTG
(EDIT: Thanks Shivam and Commanderin' for the feedback! You're all great!)
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Antiquities is a set from very early in Magic the Gathering's history. It's chock full of some very expensive rares and uncommons such as Transmute Artifact, Mishra's Factory, and Tawnos' Coffin. But there are some interesting commons in the set that shouldn't be overlooked. Here are the Top 10 commons from Antiquities that you should be happy to own in your collection.
#10: Argivian Blacksmith
This common Blacksmith may not appear exciting, but his ability is actually fairly good. Preventing 2 damage to an artifact creature is not a bad ability, and is usable in Commander. No one really plays it, though. Still, you can often get a few cents for copies on buylists, so as jank commons go, this is definitely one to watch out for.
#9: Reverse Polarity
Here's an instant no one really plays anymore, as it's only good against artifacts. However, for only 2 mana, the amount of life it can potentially gain you is meaningful. Some buylists pay a nickel for these, so there is still some value here. It's extremely situational, but very good at what it does.
#8: Artifact Possession
This is a pretty mean enchantment if you're playing against an artifact-heavy deck. Every time the enchanted artifact is tapped or uses an activated ability, Artifact Possession deals 2 damage to that artifact's controller. Unfortunately, there isn't much call for it these days. Still, it's a card that Old School players apparently use, since there is buylist demand for it. It's pretty fun to throw this on a mana rock like Sol Ring and slowly kill your opponent with it.
This card is very similar to a Modern-playable card called Nature's Claim. The main difference is that instead of the 4 life that Nature's Claim always grants the destroyed card's controller, Crumble gains them life equal to that card's converted mana cost instead.
In some cases, Crumble is actually better, but it only can target artifacts and not enchantments. This instant is actually played on occasion in Commander and is worth a few pennies on buylists. It's one not to overlook, especially with how many artifacts are played in Commander.
#6: Priest of Yawgmoth
This Priest gives Black decks the ability to sacrifice an artifact in return for Black mana equal to the sacrificed artifact's converted mana cost. It's pretty useful, although there aren't a ton of decks in Commander that use it. Glissa, the Traitor is probably the best one, as her ability to add an artifact from your graveyard to your hand whenever an opponent's creature dies provides good synergy with this. Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker and Sharuum the Hegemon are two other Commander decks that can use Priest of Yawgmoth. There are a lot of other ways to produce lots of Black mana quickly in Commander, but this is one a lot of people won't see coming, especially if you can bring back artifacts easily.
This is a pretty straight-forward card that brings back an artifact from your graveyard to your hand. That's pretty good for only a single Blue mana. It's actually a bit surprising that this card isn't played more often in Commander. As it is, Reconstruction is played in a number of artifact-heavy decks, but it's probably just unknown to a lot of players. This is a good one to keep around.
#4: Artifact Blast
This is a great counterspell specifically made for artifacts. Yeah, there aren't many Red counterspells, but this card is from a time where what each color of mana did weren't quite as well-defined. It's literally the Red version of Annul, although it doesn't affect Enchantment as Annul does. It does see some Commander play, as artifacts are all over the place in that format and Red having a way to counter them is unusual.
This little guy has been reprinted a bunch of times for good reason. Atog can win the game all by himself if you have enough artifacts to feed him. This is still one of the most popular printings of the artifact-hungry Atog, simply because it's the original one.
Another guy that's been reprinted a bunch of times, this is the most expensive printing of Ornithopter because it's the original. The original Thopter still sees play in Modern, too. Being a zero-cost artifact to cast means it can enable certain combos, as well. This is one of the best artifact creatures ever printed.
#1: Urza's Mine, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Tower
Of course, the Urza Tron lands would be number one on this list. They've been good since the day they were released due to their ability to produce tons of colorless mana when all three (Mine, Power Plant, and Tower) are on the board. They power one of the better Modern archetypes in Affinity and have been a fixture in Standard and Extended decks of the past. There were even some Legacy Urza Tron decks that had some success. If you ever come across old copies of these, even beat up ones, they're still worth money.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
From its initial spoiling, Panharmonicon appeared to be one of the most powerful four-drop artifacts ever printed. Its applications in the Commander format were apparent from the get-go. It remains to be seen what will become of this powerful tool. Considering how many triggered abilities there are in Magic, the combos seem endless.
Here are 5 Commander decks who can use and abuse Panharmonicon to great benefit. These aren't the only 5 ways to abuse Panharmonicon in Commander, but they are among the best.
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Purphoros' game plan is simple. You play a bunch of Goblins and mass token producers like Krenko, Mob Boss and Empty the Warrens to continuously flood the board with little creatures. Then the Enchantment Impact Tremors and Purphoros himself can finish off the entire table by pinging all opponents to death each time a creature enters the battlefield under your control. With Panharmonicon, these abilities trigger twice. This means you can finish off the game far more quickly.
It also doesn't hurt that Goblins who bring tokens along with them when they enter the battlefield, such as Beetleback Chief, get to make those tokens twice with Panharmonicon in play.
Tazri was the General that the Allies tribe always needed. While a White creature herself, her ability to pump all of your Allies makes her a 5-color Commander due to the color identity rules. This means that you can play any Ally in Magic history in a Tazri deck. The main synergy of Allies is effects that activate whenever another Ally enters the battlefield. While many grant abilities such as first strike or lifelink, which isn't helpful to have more than once, others gain +1/+1 counters or provide many other useful abilities. The Allies who benefit the most include Tazri herself, Hagra Diabolist (make opponents lose lots of life), Kazuul Warlord (gives all your Allies +1/+1), Ondu Cleric (gain lots of life), and Turntimber Ranger (creates Wolf tokens).
Also, Panharmonicon doesn't just copy the triggered abilities when another Ally enters the battlefield. It copies the "enters the battlefield" effects themselves. Allies just become a heck of a lot scarier when they essentially double their firepower due to the Panharmonicon. Their abilities go from being merely interesting and at times fairly powerful to deadly and lethal.
Roon of the Hidden Realm
One of the more popular Commanders around, Roon himself doesn't actually benefit from Panharmonicon. However, the fact that he removes a creature from play and has it re-enter the battlefield at the next end step does help trigger the artifact. Like what happens with the Allies, every "enters the battlefield" effect that your creatures have is literally doubled with Panharmonicon. In Roon decks, however, you're doubling the ETB effects of far more potent creatures such as Sun Titan, Avenger of Zendikar, and many more. You're essentially doubling the value of all of your creatures, then getting that doubled value again every time they re-enter the battlefield through Roon's ability.
Beyond all of the creatures with powerful enter the battlefield effects, another card that benefits from Panharmonicon in a Roon deck is Aura Shards, which allows you to destroy an artifact or enchantment whenever you have a creature enter the battlefield. You'll now be able to choose two to destroy instead. This can become very relevant as the game progresses and you start picking away at your opponents' game plans, especially when you start taking out your opponent's mana rocks two at a time!
Brago, King Eternal
The not-so-eternal King of Paliano may be now deceased in the Conspiracy storylione, but he lives on asobe of the more popular Commanders ever. Like Roon, his ability can exile creatures and bring them back intoi play. His ability is a bit trickier to activate, as Brago has to deal combat damage to a player for it to happen. However, there are two major differences between Roon's ability and Brago's ability. First of all, he can target as many nonland permanents that you control as you like to exile. Also, those permanents re-enter the battlefield immediately. This is known as "blinking," an ability named after the card Momentary Blink that first introduced this effect.
Being at instant speed, you can more readily abuse already powerful effects on creatures like Peregrine Drake (untap ten lands instead of five) and Kaladesh's own Cloudblazer (draw 2 cards, gain 2 life), and Wispweaver Angel ("blink" two creatures instead of one!) But then, you can also abuse the enter the battlefield effects of artifacts, too. Spine of Ish Sah is one that comes to mind. It destroys a target permanent when it enters, but now with Panharmonicon it can destroy two! It also causes Altar of the Brood to cause each opponent to mill an additional card each time an artifact or creature enters and/or re-enters the battlefield. Less excitingly, it also causes Prophetic Prism to draw you an additional card each time it re-enters. Neat stuff!
(As a side note, there's an Enchantment in Kaladesh called Consulate Surveillance. It's an Enchantment, and therefore not affected by the likes of Panharmonicon. However, it does give you 4 energy counters each time it re-enters the battlefield, and has an ability that costs 2 energy counters to prevent all damage that turn from a source of your choice. So if you're building a Brago, King Eternal deck, definitely look to pick up this uncommon!)
Gonti, Lord of Luxury
It makes sense that there would be at least one Legendary Creature in the Kaladesh set who would benefit from having the Panharmonicon. Gonti is a mono-Black Commander with a pretty sweet enter the battlefield ability. Every time he enters, you get to look at the top four cards of an opponent's library. You get to exile one of those face-down and send the other 3 back to the bottom of the deck in a random porder. Then, you can cast the face-sown card at any time, and spend mana if it were mana of any color to cast it.
Already, this is a very good ability on a 4-mana creature. With Panharmonicon, you get this ability twice. You could target another player, or the same player. The card selection is particularly relevant, as with Panharmonicon already in play, you'll be more likely to choose a creature or artifact with a powerful ETB effect. Black can produce incredible amounts of mana in Commander, whether it's with creatures like Crypt Ghast and Magus of the Coffers, or lands like Cabal Coffers and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, so it's rarely going to be an issue to cast whatever card you choose.
Gonti decks tend to play some pretty good creatures with triggers to copy, too, such as Gray Merchant of Asphodel and Sepulchral Primordial. In particular, Gray Merchant can do a lot of damage in multiplayer by draining each one of your opponents for each Black mana symbol on each permanent you control. You then gain all of that life. Getting that ability twice can mean the game sometimes, or put you so far ahead than it will be hard for you to lose. The Primordial already is a good card that can reanimate several opponents' creatures for you. Why not get twice as many?
What Panharmonicon helps with the most is with artifacts such as Cloudstone Curio and Minion Reflector. The Curio allows you to pick up a nonartifact permanent you control each time a permanent that shares a type with it enters the battlefield. This allows you to continuously pick up your "enter the battlefield" effect creatures such as Gonti himself. Whenever it happens to be an artifact or creature, you get to return two of that type to your hand. While you still have to recast those artifacts or creatures, you're probably not going to mind paying their casting costs when you're getting the benefits of their triggered abilities twice once again.
Minion Reflector isn't played in every Gonti deck, but it has a neat ability that can copy a creature that enters the battlefield for 2 mana. Getting to create 2 copies instead of 1 can create even more enter the battlefield effects for an extremely reduced price. True, those tokens have to be sacrificed at end of turn, but you won't mind paying an extra 2 mana for another two Grey Merchant of Asphodel activations or another powerful enter the battlefield ability.
Clearly, there are far more than 5 ways to use and abuse Panharmonicon. However, these are among the best ways to use it and gives you examples of how well it interacts with so many cards already being played on a regular basis in Commander.
How will you use and abuse Panharmonicon in Commander or otherwise?
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Cultivator of Blades is essentially a new and improved version of Wild Beastmaster from Return to Ravnica. Wild Beastmaster saw some play in Standard when the Miracle Sorcery, Blessings of Nature from Avacyn Restored, was legal. If it was the first card that you drew in a turn, you could choose to pay just one Green mana for it. This card distributed four +1/+1 counters among any number of target creatures. Ordinarily, it would cost 4G. When played with Wild Beastmaster, the game could be over pretty quick. Whenever the Beastmaster attacks, your other creatures get +X/+X where X is the Beastmaster's power. Pumping your creatures by +5/+5 is pretty devastating, especially on turn 4, when this could easily be done.
Whereas the Beastmaster was a 1/1 for 2G, the Cultivator is a 1/1 for 3GG, but also with Fabricate 2. This means you can either put two +1/+1 counters on him, or create two 1/1 Servo tokens. It's fair enough to make 3 bodies for 5 mana. But what's most interesting about the Cultivator is having the same ability has Wild Beastmaster. Whenever the Cultivator attacks, your other creatures get +X/+X where X is the Cultivator's power. It's relatively easy to pump your creatures by +3/+3 in that case.
While there are currently some decent pump spells in Standard currently, especially in Red, 5 mana is a lot to invest in this card. As it is, Wild Beastmaster wasn't a top-tier card at any point, just a nice way to quickly win games with the beats out of nowhere. Cultivator can do the same thing more efficiently on its own, but It's not going to win out of nowhere the way that Wild Beastmaster could. It requires a bit more set-up, and being on average two turns slower than Beastmaster really hurts its ability to be a competitive-caliber card. It takes what was already a fringe Standard-playable ability and puts it into a more mid-range role that just isn't going to fly in top-level play.
Cultivator of Blades is probably going to be relegated to Commander, where so many other ways to pump it exist. In token-based strategies, Cultivator of Blades is going to be extremely powerful, especially in that he can create two tokens himself. But he's a bit too fragile and too high on the curve to really impact Standard. But I can see this card doing plenty of work in Limited and Commander. While I wouldn't first-pick this in a draft, it's going to be a useful creature to have if you're running a good amount of creatures. It's a solidly designed card.
by Kai Chang, Crazy About MTG
Since I know Mandarin Chinese, and have been noticing some mispronunciations among the Magic community, I wrote this post to help correct them. Pinyin is the basically the pronunciation guide for Chinese characters. It’s widely used in Mainland China. It’s written in the Roman alphabet (the same alphabet that I’m typing in right now), and is supposed to help people pronounce Chinese. However, this article is going to help you learn how to pronounce Chinese. I’m not going to teach you inflection and tone, but I will teach you which sound to make. The main problems are with Portal Three Kingdoms cards, which are based on Chinese history in the Three Kingdoms Period (I spent a long time studying this period ).
The worst thing I hear nowadays is people pronouncing Lu Xun as though the “x” were a “z”. This however, is wrong. The true pronunciation is pronouncing the “x” as though it were a “sh”. It’s not perfect, but it’s closer. If I had audio, I could do a more precise reading, but that might be hard to mimic if you don’t know Chinese or another tonal language.
Another common error is pronouncing Quan as “kuan” or something like that. Might be related to the fact that the song “Hit the Quan” pronounces Quan as “kuan”. However, the true pronunciation is closer to “chwan”.
In newer Magic sets with Chinese legendaries, they’ve moved away from harder pronunciations and have turned to the easier pinyins for names. This may have been a good move, but I feel like they should educate, not just get rid of hard pronunciations.
I hope that this guide helped you! Sorry if my language seemed a little negative at some points, it’s just that sometimes it really annoys me.
by Kai Chang, Crazy About MTG
Hello everyone! Sometimes I get irritated when Asian languages are mistaken for other ones. This is a problem in places other than Magic: the Gathering, but I’ve sometimes seen eBay listings listing a Korean card as Chinese. Because China gets more time in the international spotlight, a lot of things that are from other Asian countries are referred to as “Chinese”. But that’s a rant for another place and time. Today, I’m going to provide a guide to recognizing the different Asian languages on Magic cards. I’ve been learning Chinese formally for ten years. I’ve also studied in both the People’s Republic of China (Mainland China) and the Republic of China (Taiwan). As for Korean, I’ve had some exposure and learned it for a few years, although I have forgotten a lot of it. As for Japanese, the internet will be my good friend.
Guess! What language is it?
It's Korean! Of the Asian cards, Korean are most easily distinguished. Korean letters are made up of mostly of straight lines and circles/ovals. Below are pictures of the Korean alphabet.
It's Japanese! Japanese and Chinese look rather similar to the untrained eye, but they aren't actually that similar. Written Japanese is composed of several scripts. The Japanese scripts, Hiragana and Katakana are combined with kanji (Chinese characters) and occasionally even Roman letters. You will see that the kanji have a translation into Japanese script located above them. Let's look at another card:
As you can see, there are kanji in the title at the top, with Japanese script on top of them. Japanese looks very inconsistent due to its blending of scripts.
Last of all, we have Chinese! So, I'm going to explain one thing before I help you learn how to differentiate Chinese. Chinese is written in two different ways: Simplified and Traditional. PRC (Mainland China) uses simplified and ROC (Taiwan) uses traditional. As you can probably glean, simplified Chinese has simpler characters, and traditional Chinese has more complex characters.
If you look closely, the right card's characters are denser. That card is traditional Chinese. However, this is not a good way to do it, since it's time consuming and is easy to get wrong. Here's a simpler trick: in traditional Chinese cards, the commas and periods hover in the center, whereas in the simplified Chinese cards, the commas and periods are lower.
Let's take a test:
CLICK HERE FOR A SHORT TEST
Hope this was helpful to all of you out there!
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Dragonlord Kolaghan was widely considered the worst of the five Dragonlords from Dragons of Tarkir. But that perception has changed over time, especially when it comes to build a deck around her in EDH. She does have some compelling abilities.
Not only is she a hasty 6/5 flyer for 6 mana, but Kolaghan also gives your other creatures haste, as well. The most interesting thing about her is the last ability: if an opponent casts a creature or planeswalker spell that has the same name as one already in that player's graveyard, that player loses 10 life. That's actually quite a powerful ability that's perfect for the top end of a control deck.
Alas, a spot for her never appeared in the Standard metagame. Famous Magic deck brewer Conley Woods built a Mardu Ever After deck with one copy of Dragonlord Kolaghan in the main deck. That deck used the sorcery Ever After to return two creatures to the battlefield from the graveyard, in this case the Dragonlord and perhaps Linvala, the Preserver or Archangel Avacyn. It was a solid plan, but the deck never really caught on. Basically, Dragonlord Kolaghan just wasn't worth casting very often in Standard, despite popping up here and there.
Oddly enough, the format that has adopted her the most is Commander, the one in which her final ability is irrelevant. Basically, it's tribal Dragon decks that just want her to grant haste to everyone, and being a big hasty flier herself doesn't hurt.
Despite apparently not finding many homes, there was still demand for her as the Standard rotation of Dragons of Tarkir approached. Even as her retail price has dropped to nearly $2, many buylists still paid close to $2. That's due to plenty of casual appeal to this Dragonlord. She is a pretty good reanimation target, albeit not in other competitive formats.
While she may not be the greatest choice to lead an EDH deck, Dragonlord Kolaghan decks do exist. She's probably going to remain a casual hit for years to come, so don't throw her into the bulk mythic rare bin.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Subtle Strike is a pretty good common from Magic the Gathering's Kaladesh set. It resembles an instant from Eldritch Moon called Borrowed Malevolence, except this is strictly better than that card. With Borrowed Malevolence, you could choose one or both effects, but you had to pay an extra 2 mana to do so.
With Subtle Strike, you always pay 1B and can get both effects: Give a target creature a +1/+1 counter, give a target creature -1/-1 until end of turn, or both. With Borrowed Malevolence, you only got to get +1/+1 on a creature. The counter is much more permanent.
Not only is this a decent combat trick in Limited, but it can be pretty good in Pauper on Magic Online. It wasn't quite good enough for Standard, but it's good value for only 2 mana on a common. I'd definitely use this in a Draft or sealed pool, that's for sure.
by Phoenix Desertsong, Pokemon Master
Popplio is definitely one of the cutest Pokemon starters I've ever seen, and that's considering how cute many of the Alola region Pokemon are. The Sea Lion Pokemon is the heaviest of the three Pokemon Sun and Moon starters at 16.5 lbs. Considering that water starters have long been among the most powerful in the Pokemon games (see Gredninja), it's possible that Popplio and his evolutions could end up being the best overall when it comes to battle. As much as I love Litten, it may be the cutest of the three, too.
The official Pokemon Sun and Moon website offers a couple of cool tidbits about Popplio. His swimming speed apparently can reach over 25 mph. Understandably being a sea lion, Popplio moves better in the water than on land, but this is true of most Water Pokemon. However, on land, it can perform tricks such as acrobatics using the elasticity of its Bubble balloons.
If I wasn't so excited about having a Fire Cat starter in Litten, Popplio probably would be my first choice for starter in Pokemon Sun and Moon. But considering that I have a commitment to using fire starters in every new Pokemon game the first time that I play, I'll have to discover the power of Popplio's evolution line later on. I really like Popplio.
by Phoenix Desertsong, Pokemon Master
When Litleo was first revealed in Pokemon X & Y, I was pretty excited for a fire-type Cat Pokemon. While it and its evolution Pyroar were cool designs, they didn't quite live up to my expectations when it came to battling. So it's pretty cool that they've created another fire-type Cat for Pokemon Sun and Moon, and this time it's one of the three starter Pokemon. I've always been partial to Fire-type starters since choosing Charmander in Pokemon Red. Litten looks like a winner and I'll be happy to choose it as my first Pokemon in the Alola region.
Litten stands 1 foot, 4 inches, and weighs about 9.5 lbs. Fun fact: Litten has flammable oils in its fur. When it grooms, it collects the fur and turns them into flaming hairballs, which power its Ember attack. Also, when it starts shedding, it turns all of its fur ablaze. This evidently powers its Blaze ability, which powers up its Fire attacks by 50 percent whenever its health falls to one-third or below. It's a great Pokemon design, in my opinion.
After having a lot of success with Fennekin and her evolutions in Pokemon X, I'm happy to continue the tradition of choosing a fire-type starter. No matter how Litten's evolution line stacks up to those of Rowlet and Popplio, I'm committed to the Litten plan.
by Richard Rowell, Gaming Successfully Staff
Rowlet is the Grass-type starter Pokemon for Pokemon Sun and Moon. It also happens to be a Flying-type, as well. This makes sense considering that Rowlet resembles a small circular owl, although officially it is known as the Grass Quill Pokemon. At only 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg), it is the lightest starter Pokemon of all time. It only stands at 1 foot tall (0.3m), so it's a tiny thing.
I like that you get access to a Flying Pokemon so early on in the game. In this case, dual-typing is pretty useful. According to the Pokemon Wikia, Rowlet has access to a new Grass-type move called Leafage.
While we don't know much yet about Rowlet or his evolved forms, I like the overall design. It may not be my first pick among the three Alola region starters, but I'll be happy to give him a chance at a later date.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Confiscation Coup is a card reminiscent of Control Magic, except that this is not an Enchantment like many similar effects. This is a 5-mana Sorcery that can steal artifacts or creatures. What it can steal is dependent on how many energy counters you choose to spend on it.
For 5 mana, Confiscation Coup gives you 4 energy counters as soon as it's cast. This means you don't have to store up energy to get good value out of it. Then, you can use it to steal something with a low mana cost and stock up on counters.
The overall consensus with this card was that it's fairly mediocre. But, the idea that you can steal a 4-drop on turn five is pretty decent. If you're already playing other cards that provide energy, a very good chance in this set, this gets even better. Keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to spend the full 4 energy this gives you to steal something.
Confiscation Coup was very solid in Limited, and proved somewhat playable in Standard in some Control decks. It all depends on what there is worth stealing indefinitely. While this is a bulk rare, it's one of the more interesting Control Magic variants that we've seen. Plus, it works into the energy counter plan about as well as anything. It's a solid little card in an Energy-based deck.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
From a flavor perspective, Deadlock Trap is one of my favorite artifacts from Kaladesh. The art depicts planeswalkers Chandra Nalaar and Nissa Revane becoming trapped within the device. This card is also one of the first, if not the only, cards that actually let you tap a planeswalker. Alternatively, it can also tap down a creature. There is one issue with this card that people have pointed out. As good as it is to prevent a planeswalker from using one of its activated abilities in a turn, there are limited opportunities for this card to actually work.
When the Deadlock Trap enters the battlefield, it comes into play tapped. However, in the process, it gives you 2 energy counters. Each activation of the Deadlock Trap takes one energy counter. People have argued, why not have this ability use mana instead? I'm actually quite certain that the only reason this card exists is because of energy counters. There are enough ways to generate energy in Kaladesh that this card is actually probably better than it looks on the surface. It's also clear that there are going to be a lot of planeswalkers between Kaladesh and Aether Revolt. It seemed probably more useful in Kaladesh Standard than it would be in a vacuum.
In the long run, though, this card is more of a curiosity than anything else and a bulk rare. But from a control perspective, Deadlock Trap is an interesting card for casual players to consider. Three mana for two activations of this card is actually well worth it, but it's slow. At the very least, it's a cool collector's card and it will slow down an opponent in the right setting.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Considering that Kaladesh is the first ever Magic the Gathering set to feature Vehicles, it would make sense that there would be Pilot creatures to crew them. Indeed, Kaladesh features a good number of Pilot creatures. One of the more interesting ones is an Uncommon called Veteran Motorist. He costs one Red and one White mana to cast and is a 3/1. Not only is he an aggressive creature that will help you crew your vehicles quickly, but he also gives the Vehicle he crews a +1/+1 bonus. Plus, when Veteran Motorist enters the battlefield you get to Scry 2.
I really like how aggressive Veteran Motorist is. It's especially cool that he lets you Scry 2 as early as turn 2. Being able to set up your next two draws isn't something you used to see much in a Red/White deck until Scry returned to Magic in a big way in Theros. Since then, though, Red has gotten to Scry a lot with instants such as Titan's Strength. So, having Scry 2 makes this creature not only good for Vehicles, but just a good creature in general.
Diabolic Tutor Reprint with Art Featuring Liliana Vess and Chandra Nalaar! - A Magic the Gathering Kaladesh Card Review
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Diabolic Tutor is a 4-mana Sorcery that lets you go get any card you want from your deck and add it to your hand. Sure, it costs twice as much mana as Demonic Tutor from the first ever Magic sets. But at uncommon, and with several printings, Diabolic Tutor is very popular in Commander. This printing in Kaladesh is welcome for newer players that may not have a copy yet.
The most interesting thing about this reprint is the new art. It features the planeswalker Liliana Vess whispering into fellow planeswalker (and Kaladesh native) Chandra Nalaar's ear. Many players have already said this is their favorite art, although others think it's quite silly.
What I'm especially happy with this card is that clearly we're beginning to see more interaction among the planeswalkers depicted on cards. The fact that they're putting this type of art and putting this much flavor into useful cards like this is good for the Magic brand overall. I expect that foils of this Kaladesh printing are going to be highly sought after since it features two of the most popular characters in Magic the Gathering.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Ornamental Courage is a one-drop Instant from Kaladesh. It gives a target creature +1/+3 until end of turn and also untaps it. Combat tricks are always pretty good in Limited, especially drafts. But, they don't typically impact Standard unless they do something more special. Untapping a creature and giving it pseudo-Vigilance is definitely useful, though. This should definitely be a good common to have in your draft pile.
As far as Constructed is concerned, Ornamental Courage could be useful in some sort of aggressive Ally deck featuring Zada, Hedron Grinder. With Zada, you can target her with Ornamental Courage and it untaps all of your creatures and gives them the +1/+3 boost. However, in an aggressive deck, you're looking more for something like Titan's Strength, which gives the opposite +3/+1 boost. It also lets you Scry 1 for each time Zada copies it. So, it's not really an ideal choice for that type of deck.
While this is definitely a good common, being more of a defensive type combat trick means it hasn't seen much play outside of Limited.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Champion's Helm is a card that previously was only available in the Political Puppets deck of the original Commander pre-constructed deck series. Due to its scarcity and usefulness in a number of Commander decks, the Helm became a $10 card. Used mostly in "Voltron" style decks that focus on attacking with their Commander, Champion's Helm offers both Hexproof for any Legendary Creature it's equipped to, plus +2/+2 no matter what the creature happens to be. It's a very solid Equipment.
Being revealed as one of the Kaladesh Inventions means that more copies entered the market. Inititally, pre-ordering for $50 on Star City Games, some players feel that this is too high of a price for it. Being such a rarity, however, with such beautiful artwork, this should be a valuable card down the road. In particular, players of Kemba, Kha Regent and Zurgo Helmsmasher, both popular Commanders who frequently include this card, may want this Invention to pimp out their decks. Really, any Commander deck that attacks with their Commander on a regular basis can use this Equipment. The $50 price tag seems more than fair for the relative rarity of this card and its usefulness in Commander.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Kaladesh has been called one of the best Magic the Gathering expansion sets in a long time. To make it even better, Wizards has introduced the Kaladesh Inventions Masterpiece series, a set of 30 mythic rare special foils featuring artifacts throughout Magic’s history. One of these is Aether Vial, one of the more useful artifacts in Modern. It once saw much more competitive play in Legacy, but now it’s basically just the primary engine that accelerates Modern decks such as Merfolk, Death & Taxes (as well as in the Legacy version), Green/White Hatebears, and Eldrazi & Taxes. Typically, it’s used to power out 1-drops, 2-drops, and 3-drops, but in Eldrazi & Taxes it can also power out the four-drop Thought-Knot Seer.
There are actually a number of printings of Aether Vial, three of which are already foil: the original Darksteel printing, the Modern Masters reprint, and the From the Vault: Relics printing. People really aren’t fond of the FTV foiling process, so that is the cheapest version at around $50. The Modern Masters foil hangs around $60, and the Darksteel foil is around $70. The first pre-orders for the Masterpiece Aether Vial have been in the $120 range due to the uniqueness and extreme rarity of this version.
Since this is a card you really need four of at a time, it’s understandable why the pre-order price on this card is so high. It’s probably going to easily be one of the most sought-after Masterpiece cards in the set. Occasionally, the Vial sneaks into some Commander decks, too, so there will be those out there that also want a single copy, particularly Sliver Tribal decks. This is a really good card. Most people will likely want to either keep their copies or trade them down to the cheaper pre-existing foils. While you shouldn’t buy-in super early, and perhaps trade them out because of the hype, Aether Vial foils are just always going to be good to have, no matter what the printing.
Nissa, Nature’s Architect is an exclusive planeswalker from one of two Planeswalker Decks released with the Kaladesh set. These decks were the first two Planeswalker decks, which replaced the under-powered Intro Packs that used to come with the release of each new Standard-legal set. While this Nissa nor her red counterpart Chandra, Pyrogenius are in the actual Kaladesh set, both cards are considered part of that set. So, yes, these planeswalkers are Standard legal just like any other cards in the decks.
We’ve already taken a look at Chandra, Pyrogenius to figure out if she’s actually playable in Standard. Of course, it's extremely unfair to compare her to the Chandra in the proper Kaladesh set: Chandra, Torch of Defiance. But, it seems that the Pyrogenius is more of a reimagined version of the original Chandra Nalaar from Lorwyn. In fact, she turns out to be weaker, meaning that she is the most underpowered Chandra planeswalker ever.
Will Nissa, Nature’s Architect fare any better than Pyrogenius? Before we compare her to her own counterpart in the set, Nissa, Vital Force, we will consider the Architect’s abilities in a vacuum first.
Like her Red Planeswalker counterpart, this version of Nissa costs a total of six mana to cast, 4 colorless and 2 Green (4GG). Nissa enters the battlefield with 5 loyalty counters, which is a fine number. As do many planeswalkers, Nissa, Nature’s Architect has three abilities. She has the traditional plus ability that adds counters, the minus ability that removes counters, and an “ultimate” ability that removes a good number of counters for a strong effect.
Nature’s Architect has a +1 ability that gains you 3 life. While this doesn’t sound exciting, it’s not the worst plus ability out there. For six mana, though, you kind of want something with a bit of punch, don’t you?
Nissa’s -4 ability allows you to reveal the top two cards of your deck. If one or both of them are land cards, you can put them directly onto the battlefield. This is an ability that I like, and pretty good value for a planeswalker ability. Additionally, if one or both of those cards isn’t a land card, you still get to add them to your hand. Drawing 2 cards is a decent enough ability. But is it worth bringing her down to 1 loyalty counter right away to do so?
The Artisan’s “ultimate” ability costs a whopping 12 counters! This is quite a high number, to be sure! What does it do? It gives all of your creatures +5/+5 and trample until end of turn. That is an extremely powerful effect, of course. But, for 12 loyalty, you kind of want something a bit more permanent, don’t you?
Is Nissa, Nature's Artisan Playable?
This Nissa planeswalker doesn’t seem too exciting. Granted, this Nissa is meant to be an introduction to planeswalkers. To newer players, I can see her just be exciting to cast. She can do something useful right when she enters, and by the time you cast her, that 3 life she gains isn’t nothing. In fact, using the life-gain ability could actually prove rather annoying to your opponent. The ultimate is awesome, if you get there, and given just a handful of creatures, it probably can end the game.
Unfortunately for Nature’s Artisan, whereas Chandra, Pyrogenius at least served as a watered down version of Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Nissa, Vital Force is just leaps and bounds more powerful.
Nissa, Vital Force VS Nissa, Nature's Artisan
We’ve already reviewed Nissa, Vital Force in the past. So, to avoid repeating ourselves too much, here’s a rundown of Vital Force’s abilities.
+1: Untap target land you control. Until your next turn, it becomes a 5/5 Elemental Creature with haste. It’s still a land.
So right off the bat, Vital Force can add a 6th loyalty counter and potentially affect the board in a big way.
-3: Return target permanent card from your graveyard to your hand.
On the surface, drawing 2 cards seems better as a minus ability, especially when one or both can go into play if they are lands. But this allows you to pick up a card you really need.
-6: You get an emblem with “Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may draw a card.
Let’s just say with how easy it is to achieve this ultimate ability, you’ll probably draw a good amount of cards with this emblem.
Obviously, Vital Force is really good at protecting herself, as that Elemental sticks around during your opponent’s next turn, too. Nature’s Architect decidedly is not. The minus ability on Nature’s Architect seems better on the surface, but knowing exactly what you’re getting to your hand is good, too. There is value in card selection, after all! The ultimate on Nature’s Architect is probably game-winning, certainly, but not as useful from a card advantage standpoint.
Will watered down and under-powered exclusive Planeswalkers be the norm for headlining these Planeswalker Decks? That would mostly be the case, although some have proven more playable in Standard than others. These aren’t meant to be as powerful as the Duel Decks planeswalkers, which were typically Standard-legal planeswalkers being reprinted not long before their exit from the format the following October.
How to Use Nissa, Nature's Artisan
These planeswalkers were designed for newer players excited about casting their first planeswalker. So, I’ll ask the same question as I did for her: is this planeswalker worth casting for 6 mana? Certainly not. Most of the time, the best case scenario is she finds you two lands to put into play and gain you 3 to 6 life. That may be worth 6 mana over the course of a couple turns in a vacuum, but I feel like she really doesn’t do enough.
That being said, she's significantly better than most "intro pack" rares we had in the past. She's still a unique planeswalker card. As a planeswalker, Nissa is highly collectible as a very popular and awesome character in Magic. These Planeswalker decks as they have been released in following years continue to be underpowered, but do manage to unleash a surprise or two once in a while.
While this Nissa would be far from Standard playable, and really not much good in any other competitive format, she has found a way into the ocassional Commander deck. Green decks that already produce an embarrassment of mana will occasionally play here. Gaining 3 life turn after turn is certainly useful. Plus, her ultimate IS actually a potential win condition that opponents actually have to keep in mind.
Yes, this Nissa planeswalker is awfully underpowered. But, she's a foil with gorgeous artwork, collector's appeal, and these Planeswalker deck exclusives are rarer than you might realize. Chandra, Pyrogenius is probably better overall, but Nissa, Nature's Artisan is a great card for any Magic the Gathering collection!
Chandra, Pyrogenius is one of two planeswalkers exclusive to the new Planeswalker Decks series that is beginning with Kaladesh. These replace the old Intro Packs which were always rather underpowered to begin with. While you won’t find this Chandra or her Green counterpart Nissa, Nature’s Artisan in the actual Kaladesh set, both are considered cards that are part of the set, so they are indeed Standard legal just like the other cards in the decks.
The big question, then, is Pyrogenius a good card that’s actually playable in Standard? It’s probably pretty unfair to compare her to the Chandra in the set proper: Chandra, Torch of Defiance. So let’s first consider Chandra, Pyrogenius on her own merits.
Pyrogenius costs a total of six mana to cast, 4 colorless and 2 Red (4RR). She enters the battlefield with 5 loyalty counters, which is a decent enough number. Like most planeswalkers, she has three abilities. In her case, she has the traditional plus ability that adds counters, the minus ability that removes counters, and an “ultimate” ability that removes a good number of counters for a strong effect.
Pyrogenius has a +2 ability which deals 2 damage to each opponent. This is not a bad ability, considering that you can use it as soon as Pyrogenius enters the battlefield. It’s a good start. This is especially good in multiplayer games, as in a 4-player game, you’re spreading out 6 damage.
Her -3 ability deals 4 damage to a target creature. This is not a bad ability, although it brings Pyrogenius down to 2 loyalty counters, which can leave her vulnerable to most run of the mill burn spells and minimal attack. This could be the way in which she “protects” herself, however, by removing the biggest creature threat on the board. In that way, it’s a good ability, especially since the next turn she can just use her +2 ability.
The ultimate of Pyrogenius costs 10 loyalty counters. This deals 6 damage to target player and each creature he or she controls. If this ability sounds familiar to seasoned players, it should. In fact, the original Chandra Nalaar planeswalker from Lorwyn had this ability, but better. The original Chandra had an ultimate that cost 8 loyalty counters, but did 10 damage instead of 6. So obviously, this version is considerably underpowered.
Considering that Pyrogenius is basically a higher costed reimagining of the original Chandra Nalaar, this doesn’t seem to bode well for her chances of seeing much Standard play. Let’s stack her up against Torch of Defiance’s abilities.
Chandra, Torch of Defiance costs only 4 mana (2RR) to cast and she enters the battlefield with 4 loyalty counters. She has two +1 abilities. One lets you exile the top card of your library, and you may cast it. If you don’t cast it, Chandra deals 2 damage to each opponent. This sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The second +1 ability adds two Red mana to your mana pool. So essentially, if you use this ability right after casting Chandra, Torch of Defiance, you basically paid 2 colorless mana for her. Wow.
The -3 ability looks extremely familiar. Torch of Defiance deals 4 damage to target creature. Like with Pyrogenius, it leaves her extremely vulnerable, but can also serve as her protection. But on a planeswalker with a +1 ability that can offer card advantage and a +1 ability that gives you free mana, this seems fine.
Torch of Defiance’s ultimate is pretty ridiculous. For a cost of 7 loyalty counters, you get an emblem. This emblem lasts for the rest of the game. It reads “Whenever you cast a spell, this emblem deals 5 damage to target creature or player.” Could it be a bit hard to obtain this? Perhaps. But it’s well worth it.
Obviously, Pyrogenius is an extremely watered down version of Torch of Defiance. Will this prove to be the case with all of these Planeswalker deck exclusives? I still think she’s a fun card, especially for newer players who are just happy to cast their first planeswalker. Is she worth casting for 6 mana? In a competitive Standard environment, I don’t really think so. Then again, these planeswalkers weren’t meant to be super powerful like the ones you find in Duel Decks, which are actual planeswalkers from Standard-legal sets, but in foil and with alternate art.
Still, I think as far as these decks replacing Intro Packs goes, I’d be happy to have this little collectible beauty than a foil of some random bulk rare and perhaps a few useful commons and uncommons. I’d be happy to pick up this and any other Planeswalker deck just for the exclusives, of which there are a few besides just the planeswalkers. While they have proven under-powered as a competitive product, they're still fun to play!
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