Alara Reborn – Thought Hemorrhage

Is this card for real? Here comes Alara Reborn rare, Thought Hemorrhage!

I had to read this one about twenty times.

Then I went back and looked up Cranial Extraction to make sure I was reading it right. In fact for a Resident Genius I can be a little slow on the uptake; that is, this is what my computer screen looked like at one point:

So yes, this is basically a Cranial Extraction that can potentially ka-blammo the opponent, a kind of a not-great Blood Oath grafted onto essentially the classic Cranial Extraction.

Longtime readers know that when Cranial Extraction was legal in Standard I played it very heavily; to be fair, I played it so commonly in both Standard and Extended that Two-Headed Giant teammate Steve Sadin used to express concern whenever I didn’t have three Cranial Extractions in a presented deck list. Some of my best decks including Kuroda-style Red and Jushi Blue packed three Cranial Extractions in the sideboard each.

Thought Hemorrhage, when it hits, is at least potentially more powerful than Cranial Extraction. It is essentially Cranial Extraction plus. So why will Thought Hemorrhage have such a less dramatic effect on the Standard metagame when it hits?

Let’s go back to those two decks we mentioned a moment ago…

Kuroda-style Red, played by Josh Ravitz; Top 8 2005 US National Championship

4 Sensei’s Divining Top
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Wayfarer’s Bauble

4 Arc-Slogger
3 Beacon of Destruction
4 Magma Jet
4 Molten Rain
4 Pulse of the Forge
4 Shrapnel Blast
1 Sowing Salt

4 Blinkmoth Nexus
15 Mountain
1 Swamp
4 Tendo Ice Bridge

4 Culling Scales
3 Cranial Extraction
4 Fireball
1 Sowing Salt
3 Boseiju, Who Shelters All

Jushi Blue, played by Julian Levin; 2005 New York State Champion

4 Boomerang
3 Disrupting Shoal
4 Hinder
4 Jushi Apprentice
3 Keiga, the Tide Star
4 Mana Leak
3 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
4 Remand
2 Rewind
4 Threads of Disloyalty

2 Dimir Aqueduct
10 Island
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
4 Quicksand
1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
4 Watery Grave

3 Cranial Extraction
2 Dimir Aqueduct
4 Drift of Phantasms
4 Execute
2 Rewind

In both cases Cranial Extraction was a Black splash in an otherwise monochromatic deck. Cranial Extraction — especially when it first hit the scene — had a very dramatic effect on the metagame, prompting Psychatog players to touch Morphling for instance, due to not just its ability to wipe out all of a control deck’s win conditions, but the ease of splashing the card.

Forget about Extended for a moment (where we have essentially a Negate / Countersquall situation); where in the modern Standard do we have a deck like a Kuroda-style Red or a Jushi Blue that can slide the Extraction into place? Surely Reflecting Pool Control can make use of this as one of many different available “powerful spells” in a deck that can play all the powerful spells in every color… But that is not the same thing as Cranial Extraction version one point oh, where the addition of a Swamp and some Tendo Ice Bridges could lopside a deck’s iffy (and most popular) pairing, or where some Watery Graves could justify tapping out one turn earlier in the mirror.

Still a card that prompted several double-takes and one trip to Gatherer… Just not the kind of card that will give every deck designer in the room pause, as did the original.

Where can I see this fitting in?
The most obvious home for Thought Hemorrhage is a multicolored control deck such as Standard Quick’N’Toast / Reflecting Pool Control, or what we typically see in Alara Block one-on-ones. Consider…

Scepter of Fugue / Resounding Wave that; untap, Thought Hemorrahage your Scepters. You might be down a card or two, but you’ve changed the tenor of a game where Scepter of Fugue is probably one of the defining threats (or pre-emptive counter-threats to be somewhat more accurate and / or chatty).

Snap Judgment Rating: Role-player (high)


P.S. For everyone who wants to step back in time to read about the development of great decks with three Cranial Extractions such as Playing Fair, Kuroda-style Red, Jushi Blue and others… Those and numerous other triumphs of the pre-Clark Flores Apprentice Program can be found in Deckade, triumphantly back in print over at Top8Magic!

All Alara Reborn

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#1 messels on 04.27.09 at 9:05 am

just curious but why do all your posts have videos from youtube of chicks making out? shouldn’t they be _your_ youtube videos? i’m sure it’s something served by google but still…

#2 admin on 04.27.09 at 9:23 am

That really would be more appropriate, wouldn’t it?

That said, i’m guessing that at least some of the site visitors liked the banners 🙂

We’re changing out the YouTube ads this week anyway.

#3 messels on 04.28.09 at 1:15 pm

i’m guessing that a lot of traffic goes through those youtube banners. oh, to have more idle time. heck, i must have some; i’m back here aren’t i! hahahaha.

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