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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Jul 06 2012 8:30am
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Planechase is here!  At the time I am submitting this, I haven't seen very many of these new cards used yet, but I'm pretty sure that you will be seeing these cards get played.  The cool thing about Planechase is that it is built specifically for multiplayer purposes.  That means that the new cards are pretty applicable to Commander!  Yay!

These new cards bring back some old key words that are sort of nostalgic favorites, like ninjitsu, cascade and devour.  This actually works out well for fans of those mechanics since there weren't very many of these cards to begin with.  Devour wasn't necessarily the most powerful mechanic, but cascade definitely can be, and people really like ninjas.  Who doesn't?   And Uril players really like totem armor.  So I'm guessing that you're going to see more of these mechanics in games, even if there are only 2 new cards for each mechanic.

I haven't actually played Planechase since I don't ever play Magic with pants on.  But I do like that they are providing Commander players with additional cards each summer, whether through Planechase or some other outlet.  I've heard that people are grumbling that there aren't any Legacy or Vintage playable cards provided.  Well too bad people, there's enough in this stuff for the rest of us!

On to the review! 


Krond the Dawn-Clad - Krond is the new version of Uril, or Bruna for that matter.  He is huge, vigilant and flies.  Add an aura and you get to exile problem permanents!  What more could you ask for, right?  Well I see 2 issues with Krond.  The first is his casting cost.  Without any colorless in his casting cost he's not going to be coming out quite as quick as he could with the help of Mana Crypt or Sol Ring.  Although the color fixing shouldn't really be a problem because you're in Green.  The second issue is that I can't think of any way to get multiple attacks with him in his colors.  Unlike equiping Godo with Argentum Armor, you'll only get to deal with one permanent a turn.  I guess that isn't horrible, but Godo has made me spoiled.  He can't kill as quickly as Uril and the enchantments don't keep coming back like when using Bruna.  So I would put him just a step below each of those guys.  But he is decent in a control build.  Don't forget Winds of Rath!

As a regular creature in your deck he definitely deserves to back up Uril.  He could also do well in an enchantment themed Rafiq deck, where it's possible to get multiple attacks through Time Warp effects or Finest Hour.  If you're running enchantments, you should give this guy a shot.

Maelstrom Wanderer - People love free stuff.  Just look at how happy everyone was when they got the Premium Decks during the 10th anniversary celebration!  And the Wanderer gives you 2 free cards each time you play him!  If you cascade into a creature, you can attack with him that same turn!  Just like Riku ramps into fat, I think what will happen is you will see a lot of this guy with a ramp package.  He does cost 8 mana, which means that you really have no idea what you're going to be cascading into unless you do some deck manipulation, but still:  Free stuff!  And it only takes 3 hits for him to kill with Commander damage!  Don't forget that you do not have to cast the stuff you cascade into.  He's going to be played a whole lot, and will likely be a good stuff type deck with a decent amount of creatures.  Loxodon Gatekeeper and Kismet are going to be some new friends to defend against him if he's really popular.

I can see this guy getting played in any Intet wedge Commander deck based around creatures, and probably any creature based 5 color deck as well.  The only thing really holding him back is his casting cost, but I think a lot of people would be more than happy to pay the 8 mana and throw him out there anyways.  Control players may not like him due to the randomness of cascade though.

Thromok the Insatiable - Thromok eat!  Another hydra, Thromok gets really big very easily.  So obviously you need to use him with tokens and Warstorm Surge so that you can just blow people out.  Add Fling and Soul's Fire for extra sauciness.  Honestly, he makes Ulasht obsolete, as you can probably just stick him into almost any Ulasht deck, change the cards a little, and there you go.  Just look at my old Ulasht deck and imagine Thromok as the Commander.  Works well, right?  Just give him trample and smash face.  It sort of makes me sad for Ulasht though.  I guess you can still build around him using deathtouch equipment, but still...

I gotta be honest, there aren't a whole ton of devour decks running around out there.  He could go into a Rith deck that focuses on making tokens, but without some support he gets chump blocked all day long.  Or you can shove him into your Ulasht deck as a back up.  Sure, he can get huge, but you have to have food for him.  And in Red and Green, there are only so many ways to do that.

Vela the Night-Clad - All right, Vela does a couple of different things.  First, she gives all your creatures a form of evasion.  As such I wouldn't recommend playing gold cards when using her without a good reason.  The more important ability is how she dings each opponent whenever another creature you control leaves play.  Although she was meant for use with ninjitsu, the real way to abuse her is through Deadeye Navigator.  For 2 mana a pop you can start taking chunks out of your opponents' life totals.  That's not horrible.  If you want to get really nutty you can include Nephalia Smuggler, but that doesn't seem worth the trouble.  You can also go the token route, using Bitterblossom, Infernal Genesis and Oona to make sure that when people Wrath it really hurts.  Cloudstone Curio seems like it would work also. Although not overly powerful, I like that there are options in how to use her.  I just wish they had gone all out and made her a ninja, or maybe even a ninja wizard.

I'm not really sure when you would want her as a creature in your deck.  I mean, giving all your dudes intimidate is nice.  But unless you really go the blink route, which is typically a Bant colored tactic, her secondary ability is just sort or random.  I guess you could go Esper blink, but you lose a lot of the Green stuff with that route.  I dunno then. 


 Baleful Strix - A Dimir version of Elvish Visionary, the Strix isn't horrible.  Plenty of people play the Visionary but they usually want it to be a road block or food for a devour creature.  Or another elf in an elf deck I guess.  Anyways, the Strix is playable just for the ability to be a decent defensive presence on top of the card draw.  Combine with Blink effects like Deadeye Navigator and you can do even better.  Unfortunately for the Strix, in Commander size matters and being a 1/1 will be a turn off for many players.  Deathtouch makes him better though.

 Beetleback Chief - I wasn't really impressed with the Chief at first glance, because for 1 mana more you can get Siege-Gang Commander, a superior goblin in every way.  But if you are really interested in going the goblin token route, he isn't bad.  I was looking for other token makers in Red in the 4 drop spot, and there aren't that many, with Elemental Mastery and Rakka Mar being the best ones.  However if you are going tribal and like goblins, he isn't horrible.  I thought that he might also go into Wort, the Raidmother decks, but Green just has plenty more token creators.  I guess he'll be even better when that new Red legend from M13 becomes playable.

 Brindle Shoat - This pig is around just to die.  So you have to jump through a hoop in order to get the 3/3 big piggie.  Are you going to stick this guy in your deck just to get eaten?  Because he isn't around for his token making ability.  I'm guessing there are a lot more edible creatures that can give you a little more in return, anything from persist guys to undying guys.  This shoat likely won't see much play.

 Dragonlair Spider - Now this guy is good.  Verdant Force, formerly considered a pretty good token creator for multiplayer games before the arrival of Avenger of Zendikar, only makes 1 little saproling a turn.  This spider has the potential to double or even triple that output.  Plus, this spider also has reach, which as we all know is pretty relevant with all those fliers are running around.  My only real gripe with the card is that it makes insect tokens.  Yes, I know, in the world of Magic or wherever they don't really see the difference between an arachnid and an insect, but it just bugs me a ton.  What can I say, I'm weird that way.

 Dreampod Druid - So you got a Uril or a Krond deck.  Would you put this guy in it?  I have a hard time believing you would.  Sure, if he's enchanted, he becomes a Verdant Force. (That guy is coming up a lot here....)  But really, what would you enchant him with if you were playing Uril?  Shield of the Oversoul?  Celestial Mantle?  Battle Mastery?  It just doesn't make sense to give this little Druid offensive weapons that would be better suited for a bigger, more brutish creature.  So then do you stick Indestructibility on him?  Or Spirit Mantle?  Maybe, I guess.  And what do you do with all those tokens in a Uril deck anyway?  Just seems difficult to use and not worth the effort.

 Elderwood Scion - This guy is someone that actually could see play in a Uril deck.  First, he has pseudo-shroud.  Everyone who has had to face off against a Frost Titan knows that paying 5 mana for Putrefy is super annoying.  The cost reduction effect isn't something to really ignore either.  Making Celestial Mantle or Epic Proportions cost 4 instead of 6 is a big deal.  But the real icing on the cake is that this elemental has both lifelink and trample.  That's pretty good stuff and means that your instant speed pump spells become even better.  Plus, I really like the art.  Who doesn't want a flowery elk elemental as their desktop picture?  (Full disclosure:  It is my desktop picture on my laptop.  Screw pictures of my kids, I want flowery Magic art!)

 Etherium-Horn Sorcerer - First of all, this is another minotaur, so even if Wizards refuses to print any more of our bovine friends in Standard sets at least they are getting some love in the multiplayer summer stuff.  This Sorcerer isn't going to be much of a force on the offensive end but cascade is a mechanic that seems to have slipped people's minds recently.  After Alara block there were a number of decks that attempted to use the cascade mechanic, with varying results.  The good thing about this guy is that you can bounce him back if you have nothing better to do and try to cascade into something else.  This is the ideal late game card cuz free stuff is good.  Although the good thing about Bloodbraid Elf is that you were able to limit what you were going to hit on the cascade fairly easily.  6 mana is less consistent but can hit bombier spells.

 Felidar Umbra - Lifelink is good.  Lifelink on big critters is even better.  Being able to move around a totem armor to protect the creature you want to keep around the most is even more better.  (That's not proper English, but I'm saying it anyways.)  I would like it more if it provided any sort of power boost, like Snake Umbra.  But I guess beggars can't be choosers.  This has the possibility of making it into Uril and other "enchantments matters" deck, but in all honesty it probably is more on the fringe.  Sometimes you'll use it, and sometimes you won't.

 Fractured Powerstone - The playability of this one really depends on whether or not the Planes will be usable in Commander.  When they are, and you like playing with Planes, then it is likely worthy of inclusion.  But until then, it's not worth anything.

 Illusory Angel - Just a beater.  Still, it's cool for being the first mono-Blue (non-changeling) Angel.  It is decently big.  And 3 mana for a 4/4 flier isnt' bad.  But in this format, you want just a little (or a lot more) from your critters.  If it had any other additional ability it would likely see more play.  As it is now, I just can't see it outside of an angel tribal deck.  The art is pretty sweet though.  

 Indrik Umbra - There have been a few effects similar to this, like Tower Above, Revenge of the Hunted, and old school Lure.  However aside from Gift of the Deity, this is the first aura that sticks around and gives a power boost.  On top of that it also gives first strike, which is great for getting rid of tons of critters and keeping the enchanted creature around.  I don't know what happens if you put this and Steel of the Godhead onto Rafiq, but that's why we play online and don't need judges, right?  It's great at what it does but whether you actually want this effect really depends upon your deck.  Since you're playing White creature removal shouldn't be a real problem, but it is nice to put this onto a fattie and make sure things don't get out of control, as well as make sure that the rest of your army can get through.

 Mass Mutiny - A limited Insurrection isn't a bad thing, I just wish that it cost 4 instead of 5 total mana.  I guess that's really what keeps it as "decent" instead of "freaking amazing."  Still, being able to grab the biggest or best creature from each of your opponents is better than Wrathing, and gets even better than that when you have a sacrifice outlet.  So the card doesn't really fit into Brion decks, since most of the time you'll only be able to sacrifice one creature, but if you look at a deck like my old Zirilan deck, it is probably worth an inclusion.  Probably also good in Kresh decks as well. 

 Preyseizer Dragon - You guys remember Kilnmouth Dragon?  That guy was pretty cool.  And yet, I have only seen it used once in a Commander game.  Most of the time Scion of the ur-Dragon decks have better dragons to use.  Now we have this new guy, who is similar, but in my eyes better and more versatile.  Of course you could always compare him to Predator Dragon or Voracious Dragon, but I honestly think he's better than both of those guys.  Voracious needs goblins, which is pretty limiting, and while Predator has haste, Preyseizer actually does more damage over the course of a couple turns.  Add a Lightning Greaves or Urabrask, and it does more damage on the first turn.  Great in Ulasht decks.   

 Sai of the Shinobi - Ummmmm....  No.

 Sakashima's Student - This guy I love.  So it's essentially the same as a Clone variant.  And while you won't be able to get the triggers for creatures with attacking triggers when you ninjitsu this guy into play, you still get "enters the battlefield" triggers from him.  So copying a Primeval Titan or something similar means you still get the benefit.  His ninjitsu cost is really low as well, making him even more playable.  Would you rather run Ninja of the Deep Hours or the Student for the same mana and ninjitsu cost?  Of course, if you're running a ninja deck you'll likely have both, but I think in a normal deck the Student wins this battle, hands down.  Plus it stays a ninja!  How many ninja giants are running around right now, do you think?

 Shardless Agent - Another cascade guy, but this time what you cascade into will be a lot more specific.  A while back I showcased a decklist that wanted to cascade into either Eureka or Hypergenesis (you can see at the bottom of THIS ARTICLE).  With the Agent you have another option to cascade into other 0 costs spells, such as Restore Balance or Living End.  Whether you really want to go this route is up to you.  I guess it's really strange that it is in Simic colors and cascades, but they can screw around a little bit with expectations in these summer offerings.

 Silent-Blade Oni - A demon ninja!  That's the stuff of nightmares!  When looking at this guy, though, his mana cost and ninjitsu cost are pretty high up there.  We're talking Ink-Eyes territory here.  The difference is that with Ink-Eyes you know exactly what you can get from her since you can see the graveyard.  With the Oni it's more of a crapshoot since he has a Mindleech Mass effect.  You can always go after the guy with the biggest hand, but you never know if you will actually be able to hit that guy with combat damage.  Of course, if you are using ninjitsu it isn't a problem.  Whereas the Mass has trample, you can expect to get the Oni through at least once.  It's sort of sad that Mindleech Mass has been lost in the shuffle, but the Oni will likely make people think about him again.  And why does it look like the Oni is holding a lightsaber?  

So there we go, a look at each of the new cards provided by the new Planeshcase offering from WotC.  Obviously the main things to come out of all this are legendary creatures, so I'm guessing you're going to see each of them a lot over the next few weeks.  The real question I have is whether the actual Planes and Phenomena are going to be usable in Commander games at some point in the future.  I assume that if they are, people are going to want to play with them and make some really crazy game situations.  Of course, more control players won't like having that added randomness, but a lot of people will.

Right now the Planes aren't actually playable in Commander games.  That's fine with me actually, since the extra element of randomness isn't something that I look forward to when writing these articles.  However, that doesn't mean that at some point Wizards won't make the option available in the future.  At that point, if it looks like Commander games using the Planes are popular I might actually go over them.  Until then however, I'm not going to even worry about it.

Enjoy the new cards!  Until next time.

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com



great stuff, haven't really by JustSin at Fri, 07/06/2012 - 10:13
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great stuff, haven't really had a chance to see the cards from PC there's def some fun stuff

vela could have some potential with the use of Mnemonic Wall (or similar) and Ghostly Flicker to blink every turn, but that becomes much weaker when you're in multiplayer where there are more people and an increased chance of finding an answer to it

Great job as always.People by Kumagoro42 at Sun, 07/08/2012 - 11:25
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Great job as always.

Are there really people complaining that these sets don't have enough Legacy-playable cards? What about Todd Anderson ending 5th place in a recent SCG Legacy Open with SIX of these Planechase cards in the deck? (The cascade ones.) I think this kind of set always hides a few Legacy bombs (last year's Commander decks had a few as well). For instance, your Commander-focused point of view kinda dismissed Baleful Strix (I can see why), but it's actually a high-priced chase card right now.

Cascade is featured three times, not two. (Well, it's actually featured FOUR times, but two are on the same card :)

And if you put Steel of the Godhead on a creature with Indrik Umbra, you're just wasting most of what the Umbra does, since it says "creatures able to block it", and nobody is able to block an unblockable.

I admit that I heard the by Leviathan at Sun, 07/08/2012 - 20:51
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I admit that I heard the complaints about the unplayability of the set right as it came out, so obviously before anyone had a chance to put any of the cards to practice. In addition, I know practically nothing of the tournament scene other than Jace TMS was really good, and you should run Griselbrand. I can definitely see how the cascade guys would be playable though (Hypergenesis?). The Strix is a little more surprising to me, but what the hell do I know, I just write about Commander.

I figured that was the answer about unblockability, but (especially now that the servers seem to function much better than in years past) it's always nice to think that there's some funky rules loophole that can cause the space time continuum to collapse in upon itself and for CERN to try and use the Hadron Collider to come to the rescue. Or something. Maybe that's just me.

Just for the record, my by bogtrog at Tue, 07/10/2012 - 10:16
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Just for the record, my Ulasht deck will remain an Ulasht deck. Then again my deck is of the death touch variety you mention. I might try Thormok in the 99, but until it can ping it can not command for me.

The new planechase certainly did bring some interesting elements to the table. I have had a blue black "sabotage" deck forever in paper. It started of with Oona, then went to Wrexial, but is now being lead by Vela and some of her new toys have been added too.

I like some of the new token cards for red green, and will have to consider them for my Ulasht deck.

I have seen maelstrom wanderer a lot lately as an opposing commander. He is certainly a pretty cool and potentially fun commander. Unfortunately he always seems to be commanding pretty boring RUG good stuff decks. I just think he has more potential for interesting play then that.