Thursday, September 24, 2009

Zendikar, EDH and You

Several of the spoiled cards so far have caught a lot of excitement for players of all varieties of sanctioned tournaments – Standard, Extended, Legacy, even Vintage. But not much has been said yet about the un-sanctioned formats – 5color/250, EDH. Since I don’t play 5color/250, I won’t go into that too terribly much. My focus today is going to be on what cards excite me for EDH. While I’m probably biased towards my own deck (meaning I’m more excited about Green, White and Blue stuff) I’ll try and comment on the Red and Black stuff as well.

Bear in mind, that while I’m focusing on EDH, several of these cards may overlap with your ideas for 5color/250, or even your ideas for Standard/Extended/etc etc. Also, while I could try and rank them in terms of excitement, because I’m lazy, I’m going to stick with going straight down the spoiler list – which means we’ll be going in WUBRG order.

Day of Judgment - 2WW
Sorcery (Rare)
Destroy all creatures.
"I have seen planes leveled and all life rendered to dust. It brought no pleasure, even to a heart as dark as mine."-Sorin Markov
Illus. Kev Walker#9/249

And we start off with an obvious one for all formats. Most EDH decks want to control the board in some way – removal is always highly rated. Dropping the regeneration clause from Wrath of God doesn’t significantly change how good this card is, and having a second 4-cost Wrath effect in your deck of 99 singletons literally doubles your chances that you’ll be able to sweep the board when you need to. I can’t imagine building a deck where I’d want a Wrath without also wanting a Day of Judgement.

Felidar Sovereign - 4WW
Creature - Cat Beast (Mythic Rare)
Vigilance, lifelink
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you have 40 or more life, you win the game.
Illus. Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai#12/249

This was the card that prompted me to write this article, as this guy is absolutely nuts in EDH. After all, don’t you START at 40 life? All you need to do is regain what little you’ve lost in the first couple of turns, and you’ve just won. He’s best, of course, in a deck that’s designed to gain life – which is already one of white’s key abilities. The ability to flat out win the game is nice, but even without that, for 6 mana you’re getting an extremely good creature – Vigilance and Lifelink are an excellent tagteam, letting you gain life while both attacking and defending, and the 6 toughness on his backside make it hard for other players to trade profitably in combat with him. This guy is going to pretty much be an auto-include in any white deck I put together. And as far as Standard is concerned – seems like he’d make a pretty good tag team with Baneslayer, dontchathink?

Iona, Shield of Emeria - 6WWW
Legendary Creature - Angel (Mythic Rare)
As Iona, Shield of Emeria enters the battlefield, choose a color. Your opponents can't cast spells of the chosen color.

Yes, yes. Really awesome, shuts down a whole color. For this much mana though, I’d rather be playing, say, Akroma. Besides, how often do you see people running monocolor EDH decks? Either they’re mono-blue, and can just counter her, or they’re mono-white, and have already killed you. Unless you’re running a graveyard strategy, like some people I know *coughPhilcough* leave her in the trade binder.

Luminarch Ascension - 1W
Enchantment (Rare)
At the beginning of each opponent's end step, if you didn't lose life this turn, you may put a quest counter on Luminarch Ascension. (Damage causes loss of life)
{1}{W}: Put a 4/4 white Angel creature token with flying onto the battlefield. Activate this ability only if Luminarch Ascension has four or more quest counters on it.
Illus. Michael Komarck#25/249

All of the Ascension cycle are pretty good, but this one in particular for EDH stands out. The first 3 or 4 turn cycles of most EDH decks consist of “Land, go.” Or possibly “Land, mana accel artifact, go.” Or even “Land, library manipulation, go.” If you manage to drop this turn 2, by the time you’re laying your 3rd land drop, you’re probably only one or two counters away, and by the time you take your 4th turn, this card will be online. Two 4/4 flyers on turn 4 seems amazingly good to me. Granted, it will draw you a lot of hate, but even if you only manage to get one creature out of this, you’ve paid 4 for a 4/4 flyer. Still a pretty good deal.

Later in the game, this card obviously declines in usefulness, as it paints a huge “ATTACK ME” target on your forehead once everyone else’s deck are online. This is where the politics comes in – “It’s only going to give me one counter, why not swing at Phil instead before he puts Glory in the graveyard?”

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the obvious favorable interaction with Doubling Season (one of my all time favorite cards) – now it only needs two turns to turn online, and 1W gets you double the pleasure by putting out two 4/4 flyers.

Archmage Ascension - 2U
Enchantment (Rare)
At the beginning of each end step, if you drew two or more cards this turn, you may put a quest counter on Archmage Ascension.
As long as Archmage Ascension has six or more quest counters on it, if you would draw a card, you may instead search your library for a card, put that card into your hand, then shuffle your library.
Illus. Christopher Moeller#42/249

I mention this one only in passing, as it really needs to be built around to be good. While the white Ascension only requires you not take damage, the blue actually requires you somehow draw more cards than normal, which means this one only works if you pair it with one or multiple cards – Mulldrifter, Thought Reflection, etc. That being said, if you can get this puppy online, the payoff is pretty sweet – every draw is now a tutor. Look for the combo EDH players to try to use this guy, even though getting it to six counters is going to take significant investment.

Rite Of Replication - 2UU
Sorcery (Rare)
Kicker {5} (You may pay an additional {5} as you cast this spell.)
Put a token that is a copy of target creature onto the battlefield. If Rite Of Replication was kicked, instead put five of those tokens onto the battlefield.
Illus. Matt Cavotta#61/249

I know a certain person who will assuredly be putting this into his EDH deck as soon as he gets his hands on a copy, as it fits his deck’s theme. Outside of him, I can see it being played, though – EDH games often go long, and being able to have 5 copies of the best creature on the table in a format full of awesome creatures is a really good effect for 9 mana. Even un-kicked, it’s the same price as Clone (a card I’ve always found room for if I’m playing blue in EDH) at the cost of having to be able to target the creature (no copies of Inkwell Leviathan, sadface.)

Roil Elemental - 3UUU
Creature - Elemental (Rare)
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may gain control of target creature for as long as you control Roil Elemental.
Illus. Raymond Swanland#62/249

In the land of control effects, repeatable ones reign supreme. I like being able to steal other people’s stuff and beat their face with it, but this guy is very fragile – most decks pack lots of creature removal, and at only 2 on the backside he’s hard to protect.

Bloodchief Ascension - B
Enchantment (Rare)
At the beginning of each players' end step, if an opponent lost 2 or more life this turn, you may put a quest counter on Bloodchief Ascension.
Whenever a card is put into an opponent's graveyard from anywhere, if Bloodchief Ascension has three or more quest counters on it, you may have that player lose 2 life. If you do, you gain 2 life.

Graveyards do a lot in EDH. Everybody plays spells. Everybody has creatures die to removal. All you need to turn this sucker on is 1 Volcanic Fallout and 3 opponents. Unchecked, this card can win games singlehandedly. That said, this card also paints an even bigger target on your forehead than the white Ascension, so be cautious with this one.

Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet - 5BB
Legendary Creature - Vampire Warrior (Mythic Rare)
{B}{B}{B}, {T}: Destroy target creature. If that creature is put into a graveyard this way, put a black Vampire creature token onto the battlefield. Its power is equal to that creature's power and its toughness is equal to that creature's toughness.
Illus. Todd Lockwood#99/249

Hrm, a Vampire EDH deck? I could see this guy being the general of such a deck, as repeatable removal is always valuable. The BB investment and BBB cost on his ability make me think he won’t see play outside a mono-black deck, however, even in EDH.

Beastmaster Ascension - 2G
Enchantment (Rare)
Whenever a creature you control attacks, you may put a quest counter on Beastmaster Ascension.
As long as Beastmaster Ascension has seven or more quest counters on it, creatures you control get +5/+5

I feel like the spoiler got cut off here somehow, as it’s missing artist and card number data, but even from this much of the card, I like it. What’s the number one way to win a game of Magic? Attack the other players with creatures. This card rewards you for doing what most decks do already – swing!

Khalni Heart Expedition - 1G
Enchantment (Common)
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Khalni Heart Expedition.
Remove three quest counters from Khalni Heart Expedition and sacrifice it: Search your library for up to two basic land cards, put them onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
Illus. Jason Chan

For the same reasoning, I like this card – it's something you're already doing, and no one’s going to mess with it, as it’s effect is not powerful – the key here is that it’s effect allows you to PLAY those more powerful spells.

Turntimber Ranger - 3GG
Creature - Elf Scout Ally (Rare)
Whenever Turntimber Ranger or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a 2/2 green Wolf creature token onto the battlefield. If you do, put a +1/+1 counter on Turntimber Ranger.
Illus. Wayne Reynolds#191/249

I give this one notice for one reason – Conspiracy. EDH, for me, is about building silly things, and this guy plus Conspiracy set to Ally is a two-card absurdly-large combo. Throw in a Pandemonium effect and you’ve got a combo win on your hands. Since it’s way too slow of a combo for Extended, it’s off to EDH land for us! Now where's my foil Kresh...

Eternity Vessel - 6
Artifact (Mythic Rare)
Eternity Vessel enters the battlefield with X charge counters on it, where X is your life total.
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have your life total become equal to the number of charge counters on Eternity Vessel.
Illus. John Avon#200/249

One of the few cards that’s gotten mainstream EDH attention. It’s effect is obviously very good – either someone has to be able to completely overwhelm you, or they have to score enough General damage, it’s unlikely that you’ll be losing due to zero life once you get this on the table.

Trailblazer's Boots - 2
Artifact - Equipment (Uncommon)
Equipped creature has nonbasic landwalk.
Equip {2}

JohnnyK has long been in favor of using Equipment to enhance his creatures, as they (usually) stick around if and when the creature they’re attached to dies. With that in mind, I challenge you to find an EDH player (even one running a mono-colored deck) who is running nothing but basic lands. (Hint: you won’t, with maybe one exception.) Being able to make your general (or any other creature you have lying around) unblockable is a HUGE plus for any EDH deck, and this is just the utility that will see a lot of play.

The Refuge Cycle and the Fetchland Cycle

I lump these into one, as while they will obviously see lots of play in EDH, and deserve to be mentioned, they’re not gang-busters like the non-land cards. They're just solid cards to have for any deck.

You may notice I forgot to mention any red spells. This was an intentional oversight. Red suffers from the same symptom it always has – it’s not good in multiplayer. Red’s flavor of short-term gains doesn’t work well in a massive multiplayer format, and nothing spoiled for red so far really catches my eye as something I’d want to run in EDH. Maybe there’s some awesome stuff that just hasn’t been spoiled yet – but I’m not holding my breath.


Nick H said...

My Niv Mizzet EDH has only 1 nonbasic land. Mostly cause I had to worry about getting all the real cards for it. No effort into land.

But why exert effort when no one plays EDH anymore? :o

Anonymous said...

All you need to turn this sucker on is 1 Volcanic Fallout and 3 opponents.

I think you need to read Bloodchief Ascension again...

Dartarus said...

Yeah, in reading the faq I realized I got the Bloodchief Ascension wrong, but I can't go back and fix it now. :-P