Entries from January 2013 ↓

Gatecrash: Bad Habits and Urban Evolution

Earlier this week my old Apprentice Will Price aka WillPop aka SloppyStack lobbed this tweet at YT:

This is the Gatecrash card to which beloved WillPop was referring:

Urban Evolution

I must admit my snap judgment on the card is favorable. Is it really “bad” of me though? I thought I’d compare Urban Evolution to some other cards and think about how it stacks up.

Jace’s Ingenuity
When Jace’s Ingenuity first came out, I called it overrated. My system doesn’t really care if you are an instant or a sorcery in terms of CMC, and Jace’s Ingenuity was therefore just one more than Concentrate. Of course the first time I played Jace’s Ingenuity I ended up spiking a $5K. Jace’s Ingenuity was great!

Now had Jace’s Ingenuity been Concentrate, it probably wouldn’t have single-handedly crushed my combo-Exarch Twin opponent, so perhaps I was wrong on my orignal assessment of that card. From a pure effect standpoint, Urban Evolution is more effective than Jace’s Ingenuity. You get to draw the same three cards, but seeing as you will often draw an incremental land, you get a solid option tacked on. Of course, if you don’t draw another land (but you already had one), Urban Evolution is still fine with that.

Three cards against four. Four is bigger than three… But putting a permanent mana source into play is worth something. Lay of the Land and Rampant Growth have both been playable cards, and there is a reason that the extra mana is justifiable on a Rampant Growth.

One mana is about the value of a card… The two cards are therefore relatively equal in power.

Cosmetically, the first difference we see is 3UU versus 3GU; 3GU = 1G + 2U. Urban Evolution is actually exactly Explore + Counsel of the Soratami. Explore and Counsel of the Soratami (or Divination) are both / all playable cards. Putting them together like this, compacting multiple reasonable effects into a single card, actually increases its economy.


My guess is that the Explore-ness of Urban Evolution will be an incidental source of additional utility, rather than being particularly strategic to a deck’s focus. I do think it is a potentially strong basket of effects, so the real question is where Urban Evolution might see play.

Urban Evolution just seems like a better card than Amass the Components to me. The sole known Amass the Components deck already plays Farseek… The existing Bant shell can certainly accomodate Urban Evolution already.

It is probably also the kind of card we might see in a potential Enter the Infinite deck. Such a deck would have a strong interest in not just digging to Omniscience but to have lands in play to cast it. Again, I can see some hand-in-hand there.

Bad habits? I don’t know.

But sure, I’ll buy that R&D is doing all kinds of stuff to tug at ye olde heartstrings.


Gatecrash: Nothing Else Matters When You ENTER THE INFINITE

Last week I wanted to give my friend Patrick Sullivan’s RDW strategy in Legacy a whirl. I made my deck with main-deck Searing Blaze, as Patrick had suggested when I hung out with him in Las Vegas recently.

Testing was brief and miserable.

It wasn’t Patrick’s fault.

I was playing two-man Legacy queues on MTGO and — as is sometimes the case in the wee hours — you keep trying to get reps in on a two-man queue, and you just end up playing the same guy over and over. In this case, the guy was playing a Show and Tell / Omniscience deck. He got very fast draws and beat me badly a couple of times. I made a mental note that if I were to try Patrick’s deck in a real / big Legacy tournament (like the upcoming Star City Invitational in NJ in a couple of months) I would play Red Elemental Blast or thereabouts. I didn’t like having no access to meaningful interaction.

The first time we fought I sided in Ensnaring Bridge. I even drew one for his turn two or turn three Show and Tell! The opponent had beaten me in Game One with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. I decided that even if he was “legitimately” casting Emrakul (i.e. getting the free Time Walk) that I could keep him from actually attacking me.

Unfortunately instead of Emrakul, he dropped Omniscience; his next play — upon seeing my Ensnaring Bridge — was to play a free Burning Wish. He found the seldom-seen Petals of Insight and drew through his deck until he could find a non-attacking way to win. He ended up just racking up tons of reps with his Petals of Insight (all free, thanks to Omniscience), found another Burning Wish, played it (for free) and got a Grapeshot (again for free, and more than big enough to kill me).

Like I said, I dropped out of the Legacy queues and eventually worked on my Liliana of the Dark Realms deck, which turned out brilliantly, as you know. I stopped playing Legacy RDW (at least for a little while) but really admired the ingenuity of including a card like Petals of Insight, really taking advantage of the radically altered game state afforded by an on-line Omniscience.

Luckily, this is a reality limited to big formats.

Or is it?

Enter, ahem, Enter the Infinite:

Enter the Infinite
Enter the Infinite

Travis Woo has recently returned to the forefront of rogue deck design with his OmniDoor deck. A Standard Omniscience deck, Travis’s plays Omniscience and then sets up a couple of copies of Temporal Mastery. It can win all different ways including getting in multiple shots from Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker (with two extra turns it isn’t hard to get Bolas Ultimate) or just attacking you with a Thragtusk powered up by Kessig Wolf Run.

With Enter the Infinite, once you have Omniscience down, you can just draw your deck and win with whatever you want to win with. You kind of really do need Omniscience first, because even if you can cast Enter the Infinite to draw your deck, that doesn’t mean you can cast everything. “All your cards” doesn’t equal “all necessary mana” … But when you have Omniscience down that’s not a problem.

My current favorite way to close out an “infinite” game is by getting all the copies of another new card, Biovisionary:


Obviously you can just get all four and put them into play; or you can get all four, Clone and Evil Twin them, and then pass. Interacting with you at this point is probably pointless, because you can have a Counterspell (and the “mana” to use it). You probably have access to more good answers in hand (and can cast them) than the opponent has spells, total.

BDM mentioned tonight you can get circa one Laboratory Maniac [as well] and win with card draw if something happens to your Biovisionaries.

But hey!

Just spitballing.

Not much else matters when you Enter the Infinite, after all.


What Liliana of the Dark Realms Says About Grand Prix Atlantic City


A few months ago then-R&D member Zac Hill previewed Liliana of the Dark Realms over on ye olde Mother Ship. Today Zac is in NYC, so we chat, have had a coffee, etc. One thing that has come up between us is the general under-appreciation of Liliana of the Dark Realms by the Magic community at large.

Probs they’ve just never played with her.

Liliana of the Dark Realms is an unambiguously powerful Magic card. For close to twenty years man has yearned for nothing more than a one-way Howling Mine. If nothing else, Liliana is that; she’s really good at her job. Black control decks are often mana hungry. Liliana helps make sure you hit your fifth land drop (or fourth, with a Rakdos Keyrune), and is generally big enough to get a second [+1] activation. I can’t say I use Liliana of the Dark Realms to kill a lot of creatures (maybe one murdering out of three matches), but especially in Game One situations (when you don’t have Rakdos’s Return in your deck) she goes baby Ultimate by giving Vampire Nighthawk +10/+10 or thereabouts.

Oh, and game on?

I just hit submit over at the home of The Official Miser’s Guide.

Rakdos Receipt
“Click to make me big.”

So it looks like I’m pretty pot committed to Liliana of the Dark Realms at next weekend’s Grand Prix Atlantic City.

Thanks to Liliana of the Dark Realms for drawing me so many extra cards.

And thanks to Zac for reminding me that Liliana of the Dark Realms draws so many extra cards 🙂

More on this next Flores Friday (probs).