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Magic: the Gathering - Mystery Woman

If you were at a Kalaesh PreRelease this past weekend, chances are that on one of the back of your tokens, you may find this image advertising the next MTG set, Aether Revolt.

Some think this may be a return of Saheeli Rai but we’re not making any bets on that.  What we are certain of is that she has some awesome kick-butt mods from an artificer.

What is your opinion ?

In the Zone - Library and Hand

(Index - Kev Walker)

What is the Magic Library. Originally, it stood as a tome; a spell books filled to the brim with magical incantations that could be called upon using the magic that flowed in the world around you. This is what gives the back of a card it’s unique pattern. It is, after all, meant to represent the from cover of this book. In fact, this was reflected in the Alpha, Beta and Unlimited Starter deck, as the boxes furthered this idea of a tome. But as the lore of magic has developed, and moved away from the player being a simple Wizard, what the library means now is much deeper. 

Conciser this; The library does not represent the spells you know, as if they were in a spell-book. As you cannot simply look through and choose the best for any given situation. Instead, as the graveyard reflected what was come, and has happened, your library is the future; what will come and has yet to happen. To this end, your hand would not be a physical thing, but your ability to read into the future and shape the way a game turns out. Spells that shuffle your library reshape the history that will come, and spells that tutor, as the name implies, are you learning of a new future. 

I think this way of looking at it is interesting as it really helps develop the story of the a game of magic, and the power that a player has. Not only as you slinging spells, but you are actively shaping the future and the outcome. In fact, much of the battle comes down to these few actions. 

(Temporal Extortion - Steven Belledin)

This idea is also reflected in the ways in which the colours draw cards. 

Blue, valuing knowledge and discovery, at the heart of all things, finds true value in knowing the future and shaping it as they see fit. Their focuses then fall onto this idea and so not only are they the most willing to see, they are the most driven by it. 

Red is constantly aware of it’s future, but is also too living in the moment. The future comes and goes, and it knows it. Impulse drawing reflects that as, unless they value what they see, they are unwilling to linger on it before moving on. 

Green is complacent. It finds tranquillity in not knowing what’s on ahead. It seeks not answers in it’s future but wait for answers to come. 

Black, being mages of ritual, value foresight similarly to Blue, but find it through blood and sacrifice. To them it is the knowledge itself that they value and not the value that the knowledge can bring. 

White, valuing morals and the ideal of higher powers builds the notion that what the future can bring will be, either unimportant, never change, or will only bring about a higher good. To this end, the specific knowledge of what the future brings is irrelevant.

This idea then begs some interesting questions regarding spells that affect time or draw cards, but each seems to fit comfortably within it. Consider, Time Walk or similar effects. While, themselves reflect moving forward in time, they are more than just seeing the future. They are creating more time. Playing more land, casting more spells, drawing more mana. They may not related specifically to this, they fit within the realm of possibilities.

Scry, which seems to be very similar to what I describe in this article would be, not unlike where the term comes from, like peering into a crystal ball. Unlike spells in our hand, we can’t shape when happen and chose what happens where, but instead prevent them from occurring entirely, or change the order in which we will have control over them.

At the end of the day, much of what each zone means is up for interpretation. What one things means to one person may be different to another person, and while it might not mean much in the long run, the ability to speculate is what makes this such an interesting game to play. But I want to know what people think. What does the library reflect to you and what do you think of the idea that your library are a series of events that, once in your hand, can be cherry picked by order? 

I can’t wait to see some responses

—Max, @commandtower-solring-go

Aggravation Rating: 7/10

Welcome back everybody! Who’s ready for some salt?

Quick update for everybody: I am now in college, hence the absence as I moved in and have been adjusting to my new course load and life in general. Now that the initial adjustment has been made I’ll be picking up reviews on a more “as available” basis. But let’s get into it shall we? Let’s talk about Meren!

Now the experience counter commanders were an interesting thing, and I know I’m more than late to the party here but I want to share my thoughts on Meren because I’ve had a bunch of expeiences (haha) with her that I think were less than enjoyable. Now it’s been a while so let’s see if I can remember how I do this. I start with stats right? Okay, Meren is a 4 mana ¾. That’s nothing to turn up your nose at. At 4 toughness, she survives combat pretty dang well, so investing in her for the first cast is not a huge tempo drop. Now, there’s plenty of commanders whose stats are more efficient, but there’s an important comparison I want to make later where this is a main facet. So we have a tolerable body on a relatively cheap mana cost. But as always the real frustration comes from the ability, so what’s wrong with Meren?

Well, for one thing, she has maybe the easiest ability of all the experience commanders to trigger to get counters. Death triggers are incredibly easy to abuse and generate in EDH. Hell, if you’re playing black and green you’re almost guaranteed to be playing some form of graveyard interaction anyways. Add in to that the number of creatures that can easily sacrifice themselves for value, such as Sakura Tribe Elder and Caustic Caterpillar (more on that later). Since experience counters remain on players indefinitely, the fact that Meren is so easy to trigger means she can easily begin to get her engine rolling, while the other experience commanders can be very hard to get going. But this doesn’t matter unless her ability is good right? So what does she do?

Here’s where my real frustration with her comes in. Unlike the other commanders who utilize experience counters, Meren doesn’t even need them to be an operational commander. Here’s the comparison I want to make. In my opinion, Mizzix of the Izmagnus is the most potentially broken of this cycle of commanders. Cost reduction effects are consistently broken and Mizzix has her share of absurd combos. But the thing about Mizzix is that she requires a good amount of setup and preparation to reach any utility whatsoever, and often doesn’t return dividends until a turn or two after you play her. Meren is different. Without instant speed removal, Meren is at the VERY least a 4 mana ¾ that returns a creature card to your hand. Given the number of utility creatures which Meren has access to, it’s more than likely that she will be able to return some value on her investment just by being played. This is a very important distinction to draw between broken and extremely powerful: Mizzix can be broken in her good scenarios and can often win the game with one good turn. But Meren is an engine in a card. In Mizzix’s worst case scenario, she does nothing. In Meren’s worst case scenario, she gets you value or just provides a decent body for the mana you spend.

And when we get into Meren’s best case scenario? Dear god. Again, Meren is a one card engine, providing either the ability to recast cards or straight up bringing them back for free. The number of games that I’ve played where I was locked out of the game by one target being recycled over and over again is higher than it has any right to be. It doesn’t even need to be something big like a huge threat creature. I’ve lost games entirely because rebuying a Caustic Caterpillar over and over again decimates my mana ramp, equipment, or utility enchantments. Games of EDH start out as races to establish a powerful base, and later become fights to maintain power and remain in the driver’s seat. This hinges on the fact that your opponents can’t have infinite removal… except with Meren, they can. Trying to win with artifact mana? Caustic Caterpillar hoses you for two mana per turn. Trying to win with a voltron strategy? Fleshbag Marauder says hello. A combo deck winning through spells? Good luck trying to get rid of the same hate creatures over and over again. Add in to this targets like Eternal Witness that widen the range of value to any card and you have an engine that requires no setup, provides instant value, and has a best case scenario that is easy to turn on and is practically game breaking for you.

My only reservations about Meren are that she depends on other cards to be powerful. Like any death trigger, she needs to come into play on a board that can supply her with triggers to feed off of. This isn’t particularly hard, but it is a consideration, and graveyard hate isn’t exactly uncommon in EDH metagames. In addition, Meren has proven to be a very efficient commander, but is much less broken than some of the other options for graveyard based strategies. Commanders like Karador offer more broken options in more polarized ways than Meren, in much the same way Mizzix offers more potential to be explosively broken. Meren’s efficiency however makes her a target of constant removal, and the major weakness of the experience commanders is that they have to remain in play for a while to maintain their value (Meren circumvents this a bit as I mentioned, but she still does want to stay alive for a while).

Overall my frustrations with Meren stem from the fact that unlike the other experience commanders, she will almost always get value just for being played, which to me counteracts the idea of what the experience counters mean. I hope you guys enjoyed my first review back, here’s to more to come!

Topi’s Daily Card #765:  Kambal, Consul of Allocation

Wizards just keeps adding to the enemy color commander roster, and I’m not one to complain.  Kambal though feels more like a support commander than one to build around, although he can be used in a ‘bleed and gain’ deck.  Kambal’s abilities kind of square with a hate bears feel, draining your opponents and boosting your own life total with every noncreature spell.  For some decks this can be a death sentence, particularly those who want to use infinite spell combos.  To me he feels like more of a support role in an Oloro deck or something similar, but I’d be more than happy to see what kind of decks are built around him as well.  He may not seem that impressive, but that life drain and gain will add up a lot over time.