Friday, October 2, 2009

Grim Tidings #14 - Zendikar & 5-Color

(Contributed by John Kozlowski)
Yay! I get to write another crappy article which ranks the tops cards from such-and-such expansion for this-or-that format! I agree, these list articles get boring really quick, because everyone writes about the same cards over and over again. I’ll try to keep it interesting by only talking about the crème de la crème for casual-competitive 5-Color. (Dripping sarcasm thrown in for free!)

5-color Magic is a format that requires you to build a deck of at least 250 cards, with a minimum of 25 cards from each color. I encourage everyone to go to the actual link, but basically All cards are legal, except for the Unglued/Unhinged expansions, and the is a special Banned/Restricted list specific to this format.

Highlander 5C is optional, but extremely fun. That’s how I like to play.

Zendikar Mechanics
Zendikar introduces a few new mechanics and themes to us: Landfall, Allies, Quests, and the return of Kicker.

Landfall is relevant in every format, as everyone drops lands. I don’t know how well a strategy that relies on it though will translate to a 300 card format. There’s too much other stuff going on that dilutes the mechanic. Go ahead and try it out. Rampaging Baloths generates a lot of beasty-advantage, but unfortunately will get lost in the shuffle (pardon the pun) compared to the rest of your deck.

Allies, just like any other tribal theme also tends to get diluted in the enormity of a big-deck. If you choose to play with a few Ally cards, at least make sure they stand alone. Sea Gate Loremaster always will net you +1 card each time you activate it, but never count on getting two.

ZEN Crap
#249 –Emeria, the Sky Ruin
The worst card of the set, hands down. Don’t be tricked by it’s Reya Dawnbringer-esque glitter. You will NEVER get this to o off in a 5-Color game. You’re honestly better off using a basic Plains instead of Emeria.

#248 – Archmage Ascension
Don’t be fooled by this junk either. The odds of you getting six counters on it from turns three to nine are slim to none. There are better ways of getting a tutor than wasting your entire deck strategy trying to pull this crap off. Pass.

#247 – Lotus Cobra
C’mon, a 2/1 for 2? What a rip-off. This thing ought to have First Strike and Deathtouch for a mana cost like that. And how often do you really think you’re going to trigger that mana ability in a 300 card deck? Pfft!

ZEN Good Stuff
Blah blah blah. Lets fast forward down the list, skip past reprints like Harrow & River Boa, skim over Gomozoa and Ior Ruin, and to get to the really good stuff:

#17-13 – Refuge Lands
These are actually almost playable. The key word is almost. They may not be as good as the Lorwyn Vivid Lands, but they do warrant a look-sie if you are limited by your budget. They are strictly better than the Invasion CIPT lands, though, and I occasionally see them still…

#12 - World Queller
The Queller offers moderate card advantage but is slightly unreliable. Unless you have an engine readily available to generate creatures, you ma have to sac the WQ itself to get rid of your opponents critters. It will work a little better to get rid of opposing planeswalkers & enchantments, since they are typically less common than creatures. Plus it hits all players, which makes it even better in group games. That said, it is effect optional, so you will always have a 4/4 beater at the minimum. WQ is worth a spin.

#11 – Oracle of Mul Daya
I do really like the Oracle, but think it would be better costed at G2 rather than G3. Regardless, tempo advantage is always good for 5C decks trying to gte ramped up. Hopefully you wont be too far behind when the Oracle finally hits the battlefield. Still though, its nice not having to topdeck that land when your manabase is already established.

#10 – Expedition Map
A nice colorless replacement for Crop Rotation, (if you like narrow effects like that.) Expedition Map is a tutor, so if you regularly like to search out special lands like Maze of Ith, Library of Alexandria, or Strip Mine, this card is for you.

#9 – Bloodchief Ascension
A lot of people probably are wondering where Luminarch Ascension is on this list. Don’t get me wrong, its really good for 5C, especially if you play group games. You’ll get your angels pretty quick. I like Bloodchief better though because it kills. Be aggressive, drop it turn one in your next group game. Your opponents will get you your quest counters quick enough. Then start unleashing your control elements and watch the table thin out fast. Its far more stable than Kaervek (careful, DBAD) because its an enchantment and there are generally less

#8 – Day of Judgment
This will is probably the most misspeld card in the set. “Judgment” only has one ‘E’ in it, folks. Make it simple for everyone and just refer to it as DoJ rather than imbarrassing yourself by typing ”Judgement”. Anyways, whenever they redo another Wrath of God variant, it gets attention for the big-deck eternal format. Day of Judgment is very good, as it falls into an elite group of Wraths that only cost 4. Play it (But only if you don’t have the original.)

#7 – Vampire Nighthawk
I love it when an Uncommon captures my attention like this little gem. It gives me a great budget-conscious example to suggest to new players to include in their first 5C. The Nighthawk is spectacular for its cheap BB1 cost. It has a very respectable 2/3 body. It has Flying for attacking evasion and defending versatility. It has Deathtouch to deter big attackers from coming your way. It has Lifelink to help in the war of attrition in the lengthy 5C games I tend to participate in. Nighthawk is an incredible value and my foil version has already nestled itself securely in my First Reminder deck. A+!

#6 – Rite of Replication
How can a spell that costs 9 be #2 on my list? Well, don’t be fooled by the hefty Kicker 5 cost on this spell. Kicker is optional (duh). If you look at it purely by itself, you are essentially getting Clone for the same cmc. If you luck out and actually have 9 mana available, watch out! Try this on Kokosho to net +25/-25 life per opponent. GG.

# 5-1 – Enemy Fetch Lands
Captain Obvious reports that the enemy fetchlands are good for 5C. No really, they are. Nearly all high level competitive decks run twenty of them to complement their dual lands. Plus they shuffle your library for your Diving Top effects. Now you have no excuse for a poor mana base. (BTW, WTF is a Tarn?)

Wrap up
Well there you go, short and sweet. The top 8 make my First Reminder Deck, while Bloodchief Ascension remains on the fence (for now). Although I think Zendikar will make a bigger impact to Standard format, it has a decent influence on 5C as well. Good luck and have fun!


The_Magi said...

So does this mean you are leaning towards the 250 card version over the 300 version of 5-color?

Bert said...

i think Into the Roil is a pretty decent, versatile include.

Quest for Ancient Secrets is also a 1 mana answer to a lot of problems, although it's probably strictly (heh) worse than Crypt