Monday, August 31, 2009

Grim Tidings #12 - Nice Places to Visit

(Contributed by John Kozlowski)

Planechase is a week away, and I have to say I’m pretty excited about this new Magic variant. If you don’t know what PC is yet, go to this week to read all about it.

Although I struggle with the idea of spending $80, (or even $0.01 for that matter) on a non-tournament legal Magic supplement, the overall game concept sounds neat. It adds a new dimension to your magic game, as effects are automatically generated by entering//staying-in//leaving the Plane itself, and even more alternate affects are generated by the Chaos roll. There is a good deal of strategy to consider to decide whether you are going to stay in or walk away from a plane, and how you maneuver the effect around your opponent.

I think a well-tuned planar deck with a matching Magic deck has the tendency to be very unfair to play against, especially in a casual setting. It’s a good thing I intend to play Planechase mostly in multiplayer games, using the communal 41-card planar deck. I think this PC variant is better, because everyone will experience the same effects, and have the opportunity to walk away from Planes if they don’t like it. At least the swingy-game-breaking-insane-and-crazy-brokenness will be random for everyone in this case.

What does this mean for 5C? Well, nothing, competitively speaking.

Casually though, it will be a lot of fun. There are many interesting places to visit that are especially helpful to a 300-card big deck. Here are my favorites so far:

Lethe Lake
Plane – Arkhos
At the beginning of your upkeep, put the top ten cards of your library into your graveyard.
Chaos: Whenever you roll chaos, target player puts the top ten cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

First stop, the milling plane. Lethe Lake has been accused of being trash, but I think that might come from someone in a 60-card deck paradigm. In a 300-card deck, losing ten cards is negligible. In fact, it helps, as cards in your graveyard are far easier to access than those still locked away in your library. Raise Dead & Regrowth spells are far more plentiful than tutor effects, so being milled is actually a good thing. Don’t be surprised if I mill myself when I roll Chaos at Lethe Lake.

Plane – Mirrodin
When you planeswalk to Panopticon draw a card. At the beginning of each player's Draw step, that player draws a card.
Chaos: Whenever you roll Chaos, you may draw a card.

Wow this is a simple plane, but it sure has a great effect. I could see many 5C players hanging out at the Panopticon for quite a while. Any time you can draw free cards in a 300-card deck, it has to be good. It will be interesting to see how greedy players get when they want to keep rolling the Chaos dice to draw even more and accidentally walk away from this (howling) gold mine.

Plane – Dominaria
Instant and sorcery cards in graveyards have flashback. The flashback cost is equal to the card's mana cost.
Chaos: Whenever you roll Chaos, take an extra turn after this one.

While Lethe Lake is the enabler, Otaria may be the killing blow. After you put 20-30 cards in my graveyard, it sure would be nice if you could just cast them all. Enter Otaria, which is sort of like the planar version of Yawgmoth’s Will. You can play all of your instant and sorceries out of your graveyard for the same cost you would have from your hand. Nice Chaos effect too. Otaria may be my favorite planar destination of the 41.

The Maelstrom
Plane – Alara
When you planeswalk to The Maelstrom or at the beginning of your upkeep, you may reveal the top card of your library. If it's a permanent card, you may put it onto the battlefield. Otherwise, put that card on the bottom of your library.
Chaos: Whenever you roll Chaos, return target permanent card from your graveyard to the battlefield.

In 5C decks with a weak manabase, the Maelstrom can be a life saver. Having trouble getting WUBRG? Visit the Maelstrom. Unfortunately, unless you have a Timmy-deck that solely relies on getting big splashy permanents into play (like Akroma,) you’re just as likely to get overwhelmed by The Maelstrom as gain advantage from it. My advice, after your upkeep, start rolling to leave ASAP. If you luck into the Chaos effect, all the more power to you. But after you get your free permanent, don’t share the wealth with your opponents.

Pools of Becoming
Plane - Bolas's Meditation Realm
At the beginning of your end step, put the cards in your hand on the bottom of your library in any order, then draw that many cards.
Chaos: Whenever you Roll Chaos, Reveal the top three cards from your Planar Deck. Each of the revealed card's Chaos Ability Triggers. Then put the revealed cards on the bottom of your planar deck in any order.

Just like the The Panopticon, Pools of Becoming is another card drawing machine. Windfall is restricted in 5C for a reason, so a plane that generate this effect every turn is going to be decent. Interestingly, the effect occurs at the beginning of your end step, so if you want to use the effect, you will have to share. I recommend counting the cards in your opponents hand and then decide if you want to go another round at the Pool. If you have 7 cards in hand, and your opponents all have 2-3, by all means, stick around. If the tables are reversed, head somewhere else.

Well, that’s all I have for this week. I think I need to play some actual games with Planechase to come up with any more in depth strategy than these meager comments, but perhaps I will see you sitting lakeside at Lethe sometime soon.

1 comment:

Beverly said...

Okay, here is my take.

Otaria is a pretty card, and Pools of Becoming is cool and funky.

And, that is the non-Magic playing maternal perspective. ;-)